Posts Tagged ‘human beings’
I heard the CBC Ideas documentary Too Dumb for Democracy on Thursday. Centered around the arguments of PhD student David Moscrop, the documentary’s thesis is that democracy isn’t perfectly compatible with the human being. Far from being perfectly rational individuals, human beings are actually substantially non-rational, and in politics we are prone to accepting claims and persons who aren’t good objectively simply because they or things they do appeal. (Rob Ford’s popularity was an example.) The argument was summarized at CBC.
“You would think that for high-involvement situations, like deciding on who to vote for, we should be creating spreadsheets of pros and cons and deliberately considering the pros and cons of candidates’ platforms,” says [neuroscientist Tanya] Chartrand.
But the truth is, most of us don’t.
Moscrop says that election campaigns are run on a presumption that voters’ political preferences are already formed.
A campaign, then, isn’t really about engaging citizens in a rigorous exchange of transformative ideas, but rather reaffirming people’s existing ideological biases and mobilizing citizens to vote for their respective camp.
If the goal of democracy is to engage in a rigorous exchange of ideas that results in a greater good for all citizens, one of the first things to do is downplay the role of television ads during election campaigns, says University of Toronto philosophy professor Joseph Heath.
“Reason resides in language and our ability to explicitly articulate how we get from point A to point B in an argument,” says Heath.
“If you’re trying to communicate through visual stimulation, it won’t encourage a rational appreciation of things, and that has a bunch of implications. Reason is very, very slow. Speed encourages gut reactions.”
What do you think?