Disagreer’s Dilemna

There’s a tension between (a) wanting to believe that people who disagree with us aren’t so smart or successful and (b) wanting to believe that our opponents are successful because of external factors such as wealth, social status, and rhetorical ability. Liberals as well as conservatives can be torn, I think, between (a) thinking of their political opponents as pitiful losers, and (b) resenting the other side for having all sorts of unearned advantages.

That is Andrew Gelman, recommended by TGGP.  Naturally die-hard disagreers presume their opponents are both stupid and witty/well-connected.

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  • rob

    Is it not possible that a lot of die-hard disagreers presume their opponents are much like themselves? I think a key is whether you view those you disagree with as an enemy or a mere opponent. I might view an enemy as stupid and successful, but an opponent I sneer at as no better than me.

  • I don’t see a tension between the two ideas at all. People use both of them often in the same sentence and without any apparent mental conflict over it.

  • Hal Finney

    It’s a cliche that political parties blame their opponents for being both stupid and evil.

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