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Can movement from Conflict to Mistake theorist be facilitated effectively?

by SamLibDem1 min read3rd Jun 20195 comments


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What are the common push and pull factors that facilitate an individuals movement from Conflict theorist to Mistake theorist? What are the transitional positions and how can they best be described? Can a technique be created to facilitate this transition?

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Can a technique be created to facilitate this transition?

The first part of any such “technique” would have to be some demonstration that “mistake theory” is more correct than “conflict theory”—or, indeed, that either of them, or even the dichotomy itself, is a sensible and accurate way of describing the world. Are you in possession of such a demonstration? If so, I would be interested in seeing it!

To what extent are these just features of low-trust and high-trust environments?

Assuming that these dimensions are the same, here's my incomplete list of things that modulate trust levels:

  • Group size (smaller is easier to trust)
  • Average emotional intelligence
  • The quality of group memes that relate to emotions
  • Scarcity mindsets
  • The level of similarity of group members
  • Group identity

Some of these might screen off others. This model suggests that groups with healthy discourse tend to be small, affluent, emotionally mature and aligned.

Apart from social effects I get the impression that there are also psychological factors that modulate the tendency to trust, including:

  • Independence (of those that disagree)
  • Ambiguity tolerance
  • Agreeableness


Different answer: one thing that I've seen work is to meet someone offline. People tend to be a lot more considerate after that

3 comments, sorted by Highlighting new comments since Today at 11:44 PM

It’s surprising to me that people are even debating whether mistake- or conflict-theory is the “correct” way of viewing politics. Conflict theory is always true ex ante, because the very definition of politics is the stuff that people might physically fight over, in the real world! You can’t get much more "conflict-theory" than that. Now of course, this is not to say that debate and deliberation might not also become important, and such practices do promote a "mistake-oriented" view of political processes. But that’s a means of de-escalation and creative problem solving, not some sort of proof that conflict is irrelevant to politics. Indeed, this is the whole reason why norms of fairness are taken to be especially important in politics, and in related areas such as law: a "fair" deliberation is generally successful at de-escalating conflict, in a way that a transparently "unfair" one (perhaps due to rampant elitism or over-intellectualism)-- even one that’s less "mistaken" in a broader sense -- might not be.

Talk is cheap - politics also includes people making plenty of statements they're not willing to physically fight over.

Link to SSC's explanation of the concept.

I'd say most positions are in between complete conflict theory and complete mistake theory (though they're not necessarily 'transitional', if people tend to stay there once they've reached them). It all depends on how much of political disagreements you think is fueled by different interests and how much is fueled by different beliefs. I also think that the best position lies there, somewhere in between. It is in fact correct that a fair amount of political conflict happens due to different interests, so a complete mistake theorist would frequently fail to predict why politics works the way it does.

(Of course, even if you agree with this, you may think that most people should become more mistake theorist, on the margin.)