Wednesday, October 9, 2013


A research study published in this month’s PsychologicalScience might be of interest to political observers. 

As a person who has both been guided by dogma and found a more evenhanded approach, this study examines how rigid hyper-partisans are when it comes to their opinions.

Ideologues are very likely to believe their opinions are superior to others. Try discussing issues with left or right-wingers who seem to think that no other viewpoint has credence. The feeling of superiority, that they are correct, is insufferable. 

There is no give and take, just rigidity and snotty superiority. I used to think this was part of the political game, the bantering of competition. Just plain old stubbornness, a refusal to concede.

The result is that these hyper-partisans don’t just take a side, they actually believe that everyone who disagrees with their view must be wrong. 

It is an American study but I think it speaks to the current political climate in Canada as well. Entrenched views are hard to change, objectivity is out the window, the result is the polarization that has allowed the right to govern our country with less than 40% support.

A lot of this disaffection has to do with the extreme partisanship that has paralyzed our democratic institutions.

Researcher Kaitlin Toner was surprised by the blatant biases they saw in media coverage of the 2012 presidential election, “Pundits, politicians, and even commentators on online news articles seemed so confident that their own views were better than everyone else’s,” says Toner. “Logic would argue that they couldn’t all be right 100% of the time, so we wondered what was making them so sure of the superiority of their opinions.”

Sound at all familiar. 

The role of the media in editorializing the news has impacted elections in this province. The dire predictions of the collapse of the Liberal Party in the last provincial election became a significant hurdle for Liberal organizers. Superiority of entrenched opinions often trumped the facts.



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