One thing I have observed in life is that the very same stimulus can yield opposite responses in different people. Psychology is frustratingly unpredictable, yet most people act as if they believe everyone thinks just as they do.
Does care for our fellow citizens make us statists or libertarians? Protecting our countrymen from criminals and unfair business practices requires a strong government, but protecting our countrymen from government corruption and injustice requires that government be weak. Those on both sides of this issue speak as though those on the other side obviously only care about themselves, treating it as a given. They never give the issues any deeper thought. I have even seen professors of psychology and political science – who should know better – do the same.
Does greed make us capitalists or communists? On the one hand, capitalists seem to be motivated by the desire to acquire resources. They love to earn money. On the other hand, communists also seem to be motivated by the desire to acquire resources. The poor want the wealth of the rich redistributed to them and the politicians want the power to manage the whole system of redistribution.
Does valuing liberty make us pro-choice or pro-life? Obviously, liberty includes the freedom to choose, and the freedom to get abortions, but a dead person can make no choices, and so liberty must also include life and the freedom to not be aborted. A libertarian can support either side and still call themselves libertarian, no matter what other libertarians might say.
Does valuing being true to one’s self make us pro-transsexual or anti-transsexual? It’s a sad thing when someone hates another. It’s even sadder when one hates themselves. Being who you were born to be means accepting reality and embracing the body you have, not the one you wish you had. However, being who you were born to be can also mean accepting the reality that the body you have doesn’t fit the “real” you.
Is Darwinism or The Bible more racist? On one hand, the Bible teaches us that all mankind descends from just two people, Adam and Eve. We are all brethren. On the other hand, racists have used Noah’s curse on his son Ham as an excuse to discriminate against Ham’s supposed descendants. On one hand, Darwinism goes even further than the Bible, teaching us that not only all humans, but all life including plants and bacteria, are descended from a single ancestor. On the other hand, racists have used Darwin’s ideas to support the claim that some people are more evolved than others and that some people are basically just animals. Both sides claim the ideas of the other are too dangerous to be taught to our children. Evolutionists claim that Christianity breeds racial conflict, while Christians claim the same about evolutionary theories. Evolutionists also claim that those not taught evolution as children will never develop the science skills necessary to be good engineers, which is silly. Christians also claim that those taught evolution as children will all become atheists, which is equally silly. It’s all so very silly.
Does belief in an afterlife make you a better person or a worse person? Thinking that this is all there is and knowing that there will be no permanent consequences for bad behavior can cause one to live to enjoy the moment by giving in to selfishness or even sadism, while believing in a reward-punishment program after death can incentivize one to behave morally. On the other hand, thinking that this is all there is and knowing that riches will fade can cause one to give up on selfish accumulation and instead seek to serve others during the little time they have left, while believing in a reward-punishment program allows one to be manipulated by false religious teachers to engage in immorality such as terrorism.
Are Calvinists or Arminians more likely to evangelize? Believing that God always gets his way with or without anyone’s help, saving whom he pleases and damning the rest, has given some Calvinists an excuse not to waste their time trying to win people whose fate one way or the other is already certain. At the same time, believing that each individual ultimately ends up where they want to be by their own choices has given some Arminians an excuse not to waste their time trying to win people who have already made up their minds.
Does being surrounded by temptation make us weaker or stronger? There have been studies done suggesting that the subconscious associates food cravings with scarcity. Keeping your house well-stocked with candy and other supplies sends the subconscious the signal that there is no need to accumulate anything more, and the cravings go away. On the other hand, whenever I know there is candy in the house I cannot think of anything else until it consumed. When I have to travel all the way to the store for candy, my laziness wins out. Some people have suggested that willpower is like a muscle that must be exercised in order to strengthen it. This is why many people give up something for lent. However, studies have shown that whenever people feel as if they have been deprived (either by themselves or others), they will subconsciously grant themselves some liberty to make up for it. Those who give to charity are ruder. Those who skipped dessert yesterday will eat twice as much today.
Does going through a period of scarcity make one more generous or more stingy? On the one hand, those who have experienced poverty might be extra careful never to experience it again by never giving anything away, while the rich have such abundance they don’t mind giving much of it away. On the other hand, those who have experienced poverty know firsthand how it feels and might better empathize with others going through the same thing, while the rich don’t have a clue and might never think of anyone but themselves.
It’s all in the application.
My name is Dan. I am an author, artist, explorer, and contemplator of subjects large and small.