Monday, January 29, 2018

Why Hollywood is liberal

A sociology professor writes in the NY Times:
It’s award season in Hollywood, and it looks like the big winner will be progressive politics. ... What makes actors so liberal?
He gives some explanations, including demographic ones, but strangely omits the most obvious demographic, except to say that the industry "had become an ethnic niche for Jews."
There is, however, a third explanation worth pondering: that the emotional requirements of acting are conducive to progressive politics. ...

But in a recent paper, the psychologist Adam Waytz and his colleagues report a more nuanced finding: The main thing distinguishing liberals and conservatives in this regard isn’t how empathetic they are overall; rather, the key difference is how much empathy they feel for specific groups. Where conservatives empathize foremost with family members and country, liberals extend the bounds of empathy to include friends, the socially disadvantaged and citizens of the world, to whom they’d like government to lend a hand.
No, I really doubt that the Harvey Weinsteins of Hollywood have any more empathy for anyone, except fellow Jews. They live in gated communities and want personally nothing to do with the socially disadvantaged. Pretending to have empathy for specific groups is just part of their religion.

The same paper has this interview:
[Philip Galanes] The motto of the foundation is: “Every life has equal value.” And in your new book, Steven, there’s the idea that we can’t want something good for ourselves without wanting it for everyone. But in truth, I want better things for my husband and my kids than for you. Is that evil, or human?

[Bill Gates]]BG That’s natural. It’s even predicted by evolutionary logic. What makes Papua New Guinea — where there’s no police and revenge after revenge — different from Western society is that when we give ourselves over to the law, we want it to be executed impartially. We gain stability. But if you could get your son off, of course you’ll try.

[Steven Pinker] You left off a crucial piece in framing the proposition, Philip — which comes from Spinoza. He said those under the influence of reason desire nothing for themselves that they do not desire for all humankind. But reason is not a powerful part of human nature. Innately, we favor family over strangers, our tribe over other tribes. It’s only when we’re called upon to justify our beliefs — not consult our gut feelings, but convince others of the right way to act — that we conclude that all lives have equal value.
Spinoza was a 17-th century Jewish atheist philosopher. Pinker's "Better Angels" book attacks Christianity, and instead credits Spinoza for inventing peaceful thinking. Pinker has a sequel about to be published, Enlightenment Now.
In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason and science can enhance human flourishing. ... Enlightenment Now makes the case for reason, science, and humanism ...
I am skeptical about humanism, but I'll wait for the book. I previously criticized Better Angels.

Thinking that all lives have equal value is not a rational or enlightened view. It is just what I call kindergarten morality. That is, it is something we tell small children in order to induce certain behaviors. With small kids, you can get away with unjustified platitudes if they sound fair to a 5-year-old.

Even Gates seems to concede that his own slogan runs contrary to evolutionary logic. Saying that lives have equal value is just a dumbed-down way of saying that we get stability from applying the laws impartially.

Update: I see that the Grammy Awards TV show featured Hillary Clinton reading from an anti-Trump book, and the show had the lowest viewer rating in its history. Face it -- Hollywood is at war with mainstream America.

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