An article from the Wall Street Journal. The original title might be slightly mind-killing for some people, but I found it moderately interesting especially considering that many LessWrongers formed part of the data set for the study the article talks about and a large fraction of us identified as libertarian on the last survey.  

Inside the Cold, Calculating Libertarian Mind

An individual's personality shapes his or her political ideology at least as much as circumstances, background and influences. That is the gist of a recent strand of psychological research identified especially with the work of Jonathan Haidt. The baffling (to liberals) fact that a large minority of working-class white people vote for conservative candidates is explained by psychological dispositions that override their narrow economic interests.

In tests, libertarians displayed less emotion, empathy and disgust than conservatives or liberals.

In his recent book "The Righteous Mind," Dr. Haidt confronted liberal bafflement and made the case that conservatives are motivated by morality just as liberals are, but also by a larger set of moral "tastes"—loyalty, authority and sanctity, in addition to the liberal tastes for compassion and fairness. Studies show that conservatives are more conscientious and sensitive to disgust but less tolerant of change; liberals are more empathic and open to new experiences.

 

But ideology does not have to be bipolar. It need not fall on a line from conservative to liberal. In a recently published paper, Ravi Iyer from the University of Southern California, together with Dr. Haidt and other researchers at the data-collection platform YourMorals.org, dissect the personalities of those who describe themselves as libertarian.

These are people who often call themselves economically conservative but socially liberal. They like free societies as well as free markets, and they want the government to get out of the bedroom as well as the boardroom. They don't see why, in order to get a small-government president, they have to vote for somebody who is keen on military spending and religion; or to get a tolerant and compassionate society they have to vote for a large and intrusive state.

The study collated the results of 16 personality surveys and experiments completed by nearly 12,000 self-identified libertarians who visited YourMorals.org. The researchers compared the libertarians to tens of thousands of self-identified liberals and conservatives. It was hardly surprising that the team found that libertarians strongly value liberty, especially the "negative liberty" of freedom from interference by others. Given the philosophy of their heroes, from John Locke and John Stuart Mill to Ayn Rand and Ron Paul, it also comes as no surprise that libertarians are also individualistic, stressing the right and the need for people to stand on their own two feet, rather than the duty of others, or government, to care for people.

Perhaps more intriguingly, when libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion, less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals. They appeared to use "cold" calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions about whether (for instance) to save lives by sacrificing fewer lives. They reached correct, rather than intuitive, answers to math and logic problems, and they enjoyed "effortful and thoughtful cognitive tasks" more than others do.

The researchers found that libertarians had the most "masculine" psychological profile, while liberals had the most feminine, and these results held up even when they examined each gender separately, which "may explain why libertarianism appeals to men more than women."

All Americans value liberty, but libertarians seem to value it more. For social conservatives, liberty is often a means to the end of rolling back the welfare state, with its lax morals and redistributive taxation, so liberty can be infringed in the bedroom. For liberals, liberty is a way to extend rights to groups perceived to be oppressed, so liberty can be infringed in the boardroom. But for libertarians, liberty is an end in itself, trumping all other moral values.

Dr. Iyer's conclusion is that libertarians are a distinct species—psychologically as well as politically.

A version of this article appeared September 29, 2012, on page C4 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Inside the Cold, Calculating Libertarian Mind.

The original paper.

Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Roots of an Individualist Ideology

Abstract: Libertarians are an increasingly vocal ideological group in U.S. politics, yet they are understudied compared to liberals and conservatives. Much of what is known about libertarians is based on the writing of libertarian intellectuals and political leaders, rather than surveying libertarians in the general population. Across three studies, 15 measures, and a large web-based sample (N = 152,239), we sought to understand the morality of selfdescribed libertarians. Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment, we focused on the underlying affective and cognitive dispositions that accompany this unique worldview. We found that, compared to liberals and conservatives, libertarians show 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle and correspondingly weaker endorsement of other moral principles, 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional intellectual style, and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of psychological predispositions in the organization of political attitudes.

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Inside the Cold, Calculating Libertarian Mind

If only they used less negative-sounding descriptions, like "Inside the Restrained, Shrewd Libertarian Mind"

Nowadays I just hear "Cold and calculating" as a very strong, very good compliment. Consider this 'opposite' version:

"Heated and mathematically-illiterate"...

...Yeah, I'll take the implied "emotionless and unromantic" (which obviously stems from not fully understanding the target of those words) with the nice compliment on my mathematical abilities over the obvious insult to my knowledge and self-control.

Agreed, but I do think it's better to be warm and calculating!

Indeed! Warmth definitely contains more neg-entropy than non-warmth.

Consider this 'opposite' version

In general, the opposite of something vicious is also vicious.

The virtuous description being something like:

"Temperate and well-rounded"

This paragraph makes libertarians sound like J.S. Mill, seeing liberty not as a terminal value but a means to maximize global utility:

Perhaps more intriguingly, when libertarians reacted to moral dilemmas and in other tests, they displayed less emotion, less empathy and less disgust than either conservatives or liberals. They appeared to use "cold" calculation to reach utilitarian conclusions about whether (for instance) to save lives by sacrificing fewer lives.

But it hard to reconcile a utilitarian worldview with this:

All Americans value liberty, but libertarians seem to value it more. For social conservatives, liberty is often a means to the end of rolling back the welfare state, with its lax morals and redistributive taxation, so liberty can be infringed in the bedroom. For liberals, liberty is a way to extend rights to groups perceived to be oppressed, so liberty can be infringed in the boardroom. But for libertarians, liberty is an end in itself, trumping all other moral values.

The study says that libertarians are "libertarians were moderately more utilitarian than conservatives, and slightly more utilitarian than liberals." But they also value liberty as a terminal value more than liberals or conservatives. I don't see how this can be reconciled.

[-][anonymous]9y 14

The study says that libertarians are "libertarians were moderately more utilitarian than conservatives, and slightly more utilitarian than liberals." But they also value liberty as a terminal value more than liberals or conservatives. I don't see how this can be reconciled.

Assume conservatives and liberals have other terminal values besides liberty. Even if they value liberty less, other terminal goals can still pull them further away from utilitarian positions.

If liberty (however defined) is a highly weighted term in a utility function, or rather in whatever approximation of a utility function people actually use to do consequential reasoning, then we can reconcile a consequentialist worldview with prioritizing it above other values. Generally when people talk about utilitarianism they mean happiness/suffering utilitarianism, but I can forgive a little imprecision in a news article.

[-][anonymous]9y 6

The confusion might come from thinking that libertarians are a homogenous group. To make a generalization: some groups of libertarians do value liberty as an end in itself, or the ultimate moral value; others see it as the logical extension of acting on a utilitarian calculus. Given my previous involved in the libertarian community and what I know about multi-system moral psychology, this seems plausible, if not obvious. [PDF warning]

But to an outsider researcher not already familiar with the libertarian movement/mindset, I can see how they wouldn't know that and how that lack of knowledge could skew the data into the contradiction you identified.

Within libertarian circles, I've seen folks differentiate between "capital L" libertarians who think liberty is an end in itself and "lower case l" libertarians who are libertarian on utilitarian grounds.

The study says that libertarians are "libertarians were moderately more utilitarian than conservatives, and slightly more utilitarian than liberals." But they also value liberty as a terminal value more than liberals or conservatives. I don't see how this can be reconciled.

It can be reconciled if there are several other values aside from liberty that liberals and/or conservatives value and libertarians don't. (As the article suggests.)

I've only seen the distinction between Libertarians and libertarians as meaning that the former are affiliated with the Libertarian Party.

OK, you're probably right.

Defendind libertarianism in a conceptual ground don't make much sense if don't supported with free market policies. "As a end in itself" is a heuristic to average in situations where you don't have direct acess to data.

Most people don't have a systematic moral theory, where everything follows consistently from a small number of fundamental principles. Instead, they have a bundle of intuitions, emotions, principles, etc., which they use to varying extents in various situations. "More utilitarian" just means that they make moral judgments consistent with utilitarianism a larger percent of the time (which is consistent with having other terminal values besides well-being).

This study used several trolley-type problems, and found that libertarians were somewhat more likely to approve of flipping the switch or pushing the fat man (or throwing a person overboard from a lifeboat that is sinking because it has too many people on board). These dilemmas come from the utilitarianism vs. deontology debate, which suggests that libertarians might rely on cost-benefit reasoning more often and rights- or rules-based reasoning less often, but that is not necessarily true. Joshua Greene's take on these dilemmas is that the utilitarian response is based more on calculating reasoning (System 2) while the non-utilitarian response is based more on emotional aversions (System 1). So this result may just fit with the storyline that libertarians rely more on reasoning and less on emotions, with cost-benefit reasoning among the types of reasoning that they use more of.

The study says that libertarians are "libertarians were moderately more utilitarian than conservatives, and slightly more utilitarian than liberals." But they also value liberty as a terminal value more than liberals or conservatives. I don't see how this can be reconciled.

By starting with the assumption that not all libertarians agree with each other.

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The baffling (to liberals) fact that a large minority of working-class white people vote for conservative candidates is explained by psychological dispositions that override their narrow economic interests.

My hypothesis would be: religion; distrust of large government; white self-interest. Even if that gets the explanation a bit wrong, it shouldn't be "baffling" or require an appeal to personality types.

It's almost more interesting to ask, what sort of person does find the existence of working-class conservatism baffling? I'm going to guess and say there are at least two types, "naive people" and "activist believers". The naive ones are those who don't understand it because they are genuinely clueless about something, e.g. that schemes of economic "redistribution" are themselves an opportunity for favoritism. I think of the "activist believers" as people who do know reality (whether or not they are working-class themselves) but who for specific reasons think it's politically obvious that left is better than right for the working class. Perhaps activism is not the best label here, given the word's frequent connotation of flakiness, fanaticism, and chosen involvement in a cause. I'm thinking more of organized collective self-interest - the people who lead, and the people who participate.

In fact, it strikes me that the perception of politics as nothing but the expression of mindless tribal affiliation is itself an intellectual blind spot, present in LW's circle of ideas but also in many other places (and once again, one could ask the sociological question, who has this blind spot and why). Politics is also about alliances and negotiations, it's about your group having a seat at the table when decisions that affect its future are made. Even a household or a relationship can have a "politics".

And even a politics that expresses nothing but tribal self-interest doesn't have to be mindless. I see an "altruist" or "universalist" bias here, which assumes that politics is fundamentally about working out what's best for everyone, as opposed to just working out what's best for your tribe in a large and often hostile world, where there are powers from outside the tribe who also have political representatives.

The caricature in the US:

The left would like to fleece the rich in favor of the poor, but the rich are hard to fleece: are politically organized, have influence in government, can lobby, can hide money, etc. So in practice they do the next best thing: fleece the middle class in favor of the poor: that's where a lot of money is too, and it's easier to get it. That some working middle class types aren't fond of this should surprise no one.

There are cultural issues in the south, too.


I don't think voting patterns are that weird, I think the puzzlement here isn't genuine puzzlement, but a kind of back-patting: "but ... we are so great ..."


This is a caricature.

[-][anonymous]7y -4

I think this was adequately covered in the posts about "zebra status", each class of society signalling they are not the one under. The working class signalling they are not the welfare class etc.

Prediction: redistributive policies to people who actually have a blue-collar job would find huge popular support as long as they are different in kind, not just numbers. Because fiddling with income thresholds does not given a strong message. But figure out something a working person needs and a not working one not so much. Say, free kindergarten? I think things like this would be hugely popular.

The trick of of the popularity of European welfare states is that they do not see themselves as charities to help the the poorest poor but services providers for basically but the richest few.

Apparently it was more or less a conscious choice in America that the welfare state looks after only the neediest and purposefully leaves out the working and middle classes e.g. Medicare / Medicaid which a 21 years old factory worker at GM has little reasons to support, he will not get anything out of them for decades.

This choice - to set up the welfare state as a charity for the unusually needy, not a service provider for all, has doomed its popularity. After all, who likes to think they are unusually needy?

Working class conservatism I'd hard-.er to understand than upper class conservatism, precisely because it is harder to understand than in terms of rational self interest.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

To put it simply, the welfare goes to the class under the working class, the welfare class. They get little out of it.

Is that a fact? Is it true everywhere? Welfare systems are generally intended to tide people of speaks of unemployment. You write as though the workers never claim, and the claimants never work.

[-][anonymous]7y 0

Intended, maybe, but in fact they create a perpetual underclass. And AFAIK true in many countries and often ethnically, in the US welfare is associated with blacks in Hungary or Romania with Roma people in the UK with Pakistanis etc. of course part of this perception is the racism of the non-welfare-recipient ethnic majority, but the whole point is that they can only afford to be racists about welfare because they see welfare recipients as a distinct class from themselves.

Do not confuse welfare with unemployment insurance. AFAIK the majority of it is child-related welfare. That, of course, is a reason why it tends to be encoded in racist terms, "Those Xs breed like rabbits to get government money!" but the point is, it is not really temporary if it is child related.

Intended, maybe, but in fact they create a perpetual underclass

Is that a fact? Is it true everywhere?

In any case, its not very relevant to the original point. Its not very much in the interests of working poor to oppose welfare to spite the non working poor,

BTW, if you sign up for YourMorals vs LW, you get entered into the LW group and you can compare directly, I think: http://lesswrong.com/lw/8lk/poll_lesswrong_group_on_yourmoralsorg/

Does anyone else associate the description "cold and calculating" with intelligence? I was wondering if you could describe dumb animals that rape and kill each other as cold and calculating and decided not. To me this article is suggesting libertarians are more intelligent.

Disclosure: I would not describe myself as libertarian (maybe because I'm not particularly interested in politics) although I did donate money to Ron Paul once and have read some libertarian documents, whereas I would describe myself as "feminine."

"Cold and calculating" also sounds synonymous with "sociopathic".

So, this description is bad.

I agree, it's not a positive description. But looking on the upside...? Plus I was wondering if people realized or agreed that they were suggesting libertarians were smarter.

The type of murderer who just completely flips out isn't described as "cold and calculating" but we might describe a strategic killer that way. However, that comparison just means the strategic one is thinking more - not necessarily that the thinking being done is more intelligent. It might only imply that the strategic one isn't flying off the handle in response to emotion.

Try this scenario:

There's a murder who wants to kill a certain victim. The murderer watches the victim for a while to discover their commuting habits. They make a plan and purchase supplies. After a few weeks of planning, the murderer waits in the bushes, possessing everything necessary to kill their victim - formaldehyde for a snare, handcuffs for restraints, a knife, and a first aid kit in case the victim hurts them in a struggle. They wait for an hour until the victim is in exactly the right spot, and then they pounce with the formaldehyde. The murder handcuffs the victim and takes them to a different location where nobody can see. Then the murderer kills the victim.

Is this murderer cold and calculating?

Did the murderer use more strategy than the average person might use on a camping trip that involves hunting?

I think the answer to that is "no", so the meaning is potentially more like "cold enough to calculate" not "cold but intelligent".

Also, "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care". If people see you as malicious but weak, say a child who fights with the other kids, they're likely to write you off as an annoyance and ignore you.

However, if they see you as malicious but strong, a fully grown person who is a rapist we'll say, then one is seen as a threat and people will pull out all the stops to get rid of you. A serial rapist gets news coverage. People stay indoors to avoid them. Police put in extra effort.

How often have there been news reports of a child bully wandering the sidewalks, urging you to protect your children? Probably never. That would just make people laugh. But I've seen rapists on the news plenty of times.

I think LessWrong would be better off with a label that means something more along the lines of "harmless nerds" or "intelligent people who care about the world".

I'm pretty sure cold and calculating means something more like "monstrous".

I hadn't realized LessWrongers were being called cold and calculating. Despite Hanson writing some libertarian things, my impression was the plurality of lesswrongers subscribed to socialism or liberalism. Is this erroneous?

Does the description imply that the person thinks they are superior to or separate from other people? If I were worried about being described as cold and calculating, I think I'd try to show I cared about and could relate to normal people, despite being, in some ways, atypical. So if a libertarian, or anyone, were worried about being described this way, maybe they should think of ways to show they're not indifferent to the masses.

I think I agree with your remarks in general, although I'm not sure I understand what the kid/rapist example is saying. I'm getting the impression that "cold and calculating" means inhuman/monstrous, but also not like the animals, so maybe an impassive, evil robot monster.

I hadn't realized LessWrongers were being called cold and calculating.

Really? There's an article link in the OP. The Wall Street Journal did an article on LessWrong. Why don't you read it?

Despite Hanson writing some libertarian things, my impression was the plurality of lesswrongers subscribed to socialism or liberalism. Is this erroneous?

The article links to a survey that LessWrongers did and so does the OP.

I see you're new here. FYI people are not going to take kindly to it if you comment on threads without reading the OP and/or closely related materials (such as the WSJ link and survey in the OP). This is because a lot of the people here are very well read. Maybe you are, too, and can understand this. They also don't take kindly to it if people haven't endeavored to read about reasoning skills. Maybe you have already read some books on things like logic and biases or have read the sequences or something. If not, I'll let you know that you need familiarity with these types of subjects if you want to fit in.

I had read the article extract included in the OP, didn't look at the link. The article itself says that lesswrongers were part of the data set but I didn't take this to mean this was about lesswrong in general.

What are the reasoning skills you identified as lacking in my comments? I clicked on all the links, certainly. The WSJ refers to the yourmorals and I had clicked on that but didn't think it was lesswrong because it's offsite and seems inaccessible. My information on the plurality being liberal/socialist is from a 2011 lesswrong census I read on this site, although I may be misremembering.

Is the point you're disagreeing with that calling libertarians "cold and calculating" does not equal calling lesswrongers this? I agree that it's calling a subset of lesswrongers "cold and calculating"- the libertarian subset.

I think to a certain audience I would describe myself as libertarian, although not to the lesswrong audience. My impression is that in general liberals are stereotyped as emotional, educated hippies whereas conservatives are stereotyped as selfish, stupid traditionalists. I had less idea what libertarians were stereotyped as, probably since there are less of them so people don't really bother.

I want to know if I'm being irrational, that's the whole point of this. But I'm unsure how to interpret your words or your tone. Is it a language thing, like you're saying specific libertarian lesswrongers were called cold and calculating but I'm saying lesswrong as a community is not called this? Maybe it's common for people to say things like this to each other, and I appreciate if you're trying to help me, but that's not how I'm left feeling after this interaction- maybe it'd be more helpful if you were more specific, just my impression- please don't interpret this as a plea for you to sink time into educating me or something, I guess unless you want to of your own volition.

Sorry if I somehow offended you in the first place. Maybe you're annoyed I didn't get your child/rapist example? I think I understood your point about people fearing the rapist more, but I don't see how it relates to the "cold and calculating" topic, unless you're suggesting the kid would not be called this. It can be hard to communicate tone via the internet and I'm new to all internet forums as of a few months ago so I'm not desensitized yet or accustomed to internet culture. I've already realized people often come off very differently online vs offline.

The article itself says that lesswrongers were part of the data set but I didn't take this to mean this was about lesswrong in general.

I read the subject line for the OP but the title of the article was so similar I didn't notice it wasn't exactly the same. Sigh. I think I've been had by change blindness. (There's an interesting LW article I'm being reminded of right now.). My title oversight explains most of the confusion here.

What are the reasoning skills you identified as lacking in my comments?

None. It was perceived lack of motivation to read things that prompted that. This perception is fixed now. I'm sorry about that.

Maybe you're annoyed I didn't get your child/rapist example?

I am constantly alienated and usually somewhere near my limit for alienation. Often past it, often just below it. If I seem annoyed, that is probably to blame more than anything. I'm perma-annoyed.

I want to know if I'm being irrational, that's the whole point of this.

If you want to continue after my oversight with the title, I will engage, but I should probably start over and re-focus. What specific perception(s) do you want to discuss?

Thanks for your reply, it makes me feel much better and I'm glad and impressed we're not annoyed at each other, especially considering I can also be easily annoyed. I think a lot of people can understand being alienated but I don't know what the rationalist solution is. For me, it was one of those things that was a feedback loop and thus really hard to get out of. That's part of why I like HPMOR- Harry is like an alien trying to make a single friend. In his case, he's alone because he's superior to everyone and thus can't rely on anyone else, which may be some cold comfort, but that wasn't exactly my situation...

Thanks for your reply, it makes me feel much better and I'm glad and impressed we're not annoyed at each other, especially considering I can also be easily annoyed.

Oh! Yay! (:

I think a lot of people can understand being alienated but I don't know what the rationalist solution is.

It seems to me that many on LW are alienated, and it's resulting in the most ridiculous clusterf... People desire to quickly jump to the conclusion that the person they're talking to is not worth talking to (I think this might apply more to new people than others)... because they are so alienated and have to do something about it, but there's this wild mix of causes of annoyance and it just makes a mess. There are older users who are spitting out logical fallacies, newer users who are clueless, new users who are sharp, old users who are sharp of course... and sometimes one annoys one's self (which is what happened to me just now). And of course if people DON'T ignore annoying users, or at least tell them that they're doing it wrong, they're encouraged to stick around without improving the annoying behavior... but this is wrought with peril because as you have seen, if I am the one who made the mistake, and I tell you that you've made a mistake, I get to look like an idiot, and you get to feel bad for no reason. Many times, when somebody points out my mistake, it's the same problem - they made a mistake but didn't notice it, possibly because they're so annoyed with the last 10 people that annoyed them that they're not giving me the benefit of the doubt. Occasionally they do point out some mistake I made, so that's good. But it seems like people here are a bit too apt to reach for the 2 x 4.

That's part of why I like HPMOR- Harry is like an alien trying to make a single friend. In his case, he's alone because he's superior to everyone and thus can't rely on anyone else, which may be some cold comfort, but that wasn't exactly my situation...

What was your exact situation?

I am an alien for sure. I relate to not being able to rely on anyone else, but it is not comforting that I'm usually better at figuring things out than those around me. I have plenty of friends but the friendships are one-sided: I am understanding and emotionally supportive to them, but they do not understand me deeply enough so they aren't really useful for me to talk to about my thoughts and feelings. I've noticed that most of the other aliens haven't mastered staying rational when they've discovered an interesting alien they might get close to. This has ruined the vast majority of my attempts to get to know other aliens. I used to have a problem with staying rational when meeting other aliens myself - but that's not my problem anymore. Now my problem is that nearly everybody else is going about it in dysfunctional ways and I'm burnt out on that. I have no idea how to solve this, so I'm just walking away from that catastrophe and I've decided to fill my time up with group projects for now.

People desire to quickly jump to the conclusion that the person they're talking to is not worth talking to

I think I especially have this problem on the internet. For me part of it is I can't see the person and my mental model for "random internet person" is a jerky male idiot so I assume this is who's talking if I disagree with the remark (if I agree, then my mental model shows a smart, nice person). This mental model has not been accurate so I've been trying to imagine these internet personalities as more normal humans so I don't end up saying something I wouldn't say in real life. Not to imply that I am always super charming in real life!

I think I generally got along well with nerds or artsy people but when I entered my teens and got increasingly judgmental I also became awkward and shy with people whose virtues weren't immediately obvious to me. If I thought you were smart or talented, we'd be friends right away, but if I thought you weren't, then I just had nothing to say. The set of people I judged to be worthy decreased to single digits for a few years- others seemed subhuman to me, which is ridiculous considering I was just a kid and didn't know anything about almost all the people I judged. Also, ignoring me was a sign of idiocy bc it should be obvious to intelligent people that I was awesome; thus it could be tricky to be judged positively by me.

I became a lot better adjusted as a result of nerd camps, gifted programs, and selective art classes, I think partly because I got used to assuming everyone around me was a real human being worth talking to. I'm getting better adjusted all the time, but I'm still judgmental. So, unlike Harry, I wasn't an alien to many people because I was smarter than them; I was an alien to many people because I was judgmental and egotistical. In fiction, judgmental people fear being judged themselves and have some gaping insecurity, which is more reason for me to try to not be that way.

If you're doing group projects, that sounds like you're not super alienated. In past group projects, sometimes one part of the group would say I was a great collaborator while the other part would say I had trouble communicating. I think this was because I highly favored the opinions of people I deemed cool, which was probably not someone less successful than me (normalizing somewhat for individual situations), and almost certainly not some random I'd never even met. Why try to win over people who "don't matter"? Is trying to have mass appeal being Slytherin, or is it just being more compassionate and empathetic, relating better with your fellow humans? Either way, I only recently decided to make an effort to be more like my one friend who absolutely everyone loves and respects. Everyone wants to work with him and likes him, whereas mainly nerds want to work with me. For a time, I thought that was what I wanted, but often you have to cooperate with people you wouldn't normally choose for your team (and vice versa), so even from a purely pragmatic perspective I am trying to not be alienated from anyone.

Instead of judging someone's perspective as boring, I'm trying to use my imagination to think about things from their perspective more, and also communicate my perspective more effectively even if I think it could be a waste of time. I also remind myself that many people more talented than me are still friends with me, so I should try to learn from them. I think my most effective form of communication is writing, which is suboptimal because most strangers don't want to read my lengthy musings, so I am trying to practice to communicate more effectively with all types of people in person. I should probably also practice writing with less words...

The type of murderer who just completely flips out isn't described as "cold and calculating"

Unless it will sell more newspapers.

Hah! Ok. They can be inappropriately described. :P But perhaps you mean something more along the lines of "it's not worth thinking about this because WSJ is just saying that to make it sound more interesting."

Does anyone else associate the description "cold and calculating" with intelligence?

"Cold and calculating" is a boo light for intelligence.

[-][anonymous]9y -2

I was wondering if you could describe dumb animals that rape and kill each other as cold and calculating and decided not.

Actually you can. Snakes can be described as cold and calculating. Also a serial killer that rapes and kills other humans can be described as cold and calculating depending on his style. But yes overall it does also carry this implication:

To me this article is suggesting libertarians are more intelligent.

And generally higher IQ is correlated in our society with more libertarian social and economical positions.

Snakes can be described as cold and calculating.

...Why? You can ascribe any adjectives to any nouns, but why would you associate these with snakes in particular? I mean, cold, yes, strictly speaking, unless they have been on a warm rock lately. Or even in the sense that they probably lack humanlike emotions, but is that even meaningful to say about a snake, and even if it is, why would you want to put it in such a negative-affect-laden way?

And calculating? My pet snake is probably way worse at math than the average dog, let alone a bright parrot or five-year-old human. What would she even calculate? She finds warmth appealing and cold unappealing and drinks when she's thirsty and strikes when I dangle a dead mouse in front of her and flinches when surprised and hides under her half-a-log when she's got nothing else to do; this is not rocket science, her brain is about the size of a small raisin and it doesn't need to be any bigger.

And calculating?

Sure. Have you never heard of an adder?

The story I heard from reading Campbell's myth series of books was that snakes were originally considered powerful and wise creatures because they knew the secrets of immortality - they could shed their skin and become young again. This got wrapped up into the general Semitic set of myths and tropes, where the snake re-appears in the... Garden of Eden tempting Adam & Eve into the Fall. Eventually it and the angel 'Satan' got wrapped up into a new Manichean framework as the source of all evil and the Evil One himself, whereupon the powerful and wise aspects became negative (my good mentor is 'wise'; your evil mentor is 'calculating').

The cold part is probably just literal: I've never picked up a warm-feeling snake.

[-][anonymous]9y 5

...Why?

I'm not sure but I've heard them being described in that way. Maybe because they are literally cold blooded and people fear snakes, so they have the cultural association of sociopathy attached to them.

I wasn't saying it was a good description, I was just saying it is a description people would use. People kind of anthropomorphize everything, children I've observed pretty much do assume on some level animals have human like minds but that they chose to behave differently from social norms.

Wish we could taboo the regular expression libert[a-z]*

What do you have against libertines?

Nothing; I don't aim to get rid of those concepts, merely the unneeded connotational ballast introduced by the word "liberty", the linguistic equivalent of the One Ring.

the word "liberty", the linguistic equivalent of the One Ring.

Too much liberty makes you "feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread."? Come to think of it there is an element of truth to that.

Decision paralysis is a cruel binding that falls only on the unfettered.

Well, they tend not to be the most pleasant of people.

Why not all of liber[a-z]*?

Perhaps for the Liberian people?

I don't think you deliberately overlooked the other instances of "liber", though if you're a programmer of moderately high caliber, you could fairly easily look up all words that contain "liber" (if you're in the habit of liberally applying your programming skills).

Also, the above sentence contained three instances of why you don't want to (and didn't look that contrived), although I'm pretty sure you have to be deliberately looking for them.

Sorry, you're correct at least insofar as I should have said ^liber[a-z]*

The adverb "liberally" will be a casualty since it's a homonym for the politically charged version I'm trying to avoid.

I'll grant that "liber" and "liberate" also fall victim here, but I would be surprised if it was hard to rephrase either of those in almost any conversation.

^liber[a-z]+ will allow liber as well, just not liberate.

...don't you mean libert[a-z]*?

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Thanks, fixed.

[-][anonymous]9y 4

About that paywall. I just clicked on the download button and got the paper.

[-][anonymous]9y 3

Bah, my mistake, thank you for pointing it out.

[-][anonymous]9y 0

Abstract: Libertarians are an increasingly vocal ideological group in U.S. politics, yet they are understudied compared to liberals and conservatives. Much of what is known about libertarians is based on the writing of libertarian intellectuals and political leaders, rather than surveying libertarians in the general population. Across three studies, 15 measures, and a large web-based sample (N = 152,239), we sought to understand the morality of selfdescribed libertarians. Based on an intuitionist view of moral judgment, we focused on the underlying affective and cognitive dispositions that accompany this unique worldview. We found that, compared to liberals and conservatives, libertarians show 1) stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle and correspondingly weaker endorsement of other moral principles, 2) a relatively cerebral as opposed to emotional intellectual style, and 3) lower interdependence and social relatedness. Our findings add to a growing recognition of the role of psychological predispositions in the organization of political attitudes.

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