One day last year, Slate Star Codex blogger Scott Alexander “woke up” to discover that “they had politicized Ebola.”
It was, he explains, more than just a series of partisan cheap shots. Though there were plenty of those. It was something more startling, and in its own perverse way impressive. Everybody seemed awfully certain about what should be done, immediately, and along ideological lines, red and blue:
How did both major political tribes decide, within a month of the virus becoming widely known in the States, not only exactly what their position should be but what insults they should call the other tribe for not agreeing with their position?
The answer to the question?
Each tribe has its myths, er, “narratives,” and members of each concentrate on those stories that seem to demonstrate the truth of their . . . narratives. How you cover Ebola depends on other beliefs you already hold.
“Ideas are forces,” 19th century writer G. H. Lewes put it. “Our acceptance of one determines our reception of others.”
The result of sticking to one’s in-group mythos can have negative consequences, however. You can end up in Silly Putty Country, “saying ISIS is not as bad as Fox News, or donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the officer who shot Michael Brown.”
Conservative journalists see everything through red-tinted glasses, liberal journalists refuse to look at the world through anything but blue-tinted one. And too many people follow their lead.
Occasionally, we could try on lenses of different colors.
But perhaps I speak so confidently because I come from another tribe. Green? Orange? Purple?
What color is liberty?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.