I hold my beliefs because I think they are true and correct based on all of the information that I have been exposed to during my life. Why would I hold on to a belief that I know to be false? That would be rather stupid, wouldn't it? Is the earth flat? No. Do unicorns exist? No. Is Santa Claus white? OMG, he's a fictional character!!!
I think other people are pretty much the same as me in this regard. I've never met a person who held a belief that they personally thought was stupid. I might find that person's views to be ignorant or unsophisticated, but they themselves don't actually realize what they don't know, God bless 'em.
If I want to have a positive influence in changing my friend's belief, my theory is that it is best done by respectfully exposing them to information that will let the air out of the balloon that is a false belief. Easier said than done, though, especially when my friend acts like a self-righteous a-hole. BTW, I have also noticed that my most brilliant friends tend to be the most humble, ironically: my theory is that those folks have a greater "knowledge" of the vastness of their ignorance in terms of what could potentially be known.
Anyhoo, the reason I'm writing this diary is because I came across a fascinating article today by Rebecca Klein, Researchers Think They Know Why College-Educated People Support The Tea Party
Researchers from the University of Notre Dame said college graduates are more likely to support tea party ideas if they live in counties characterized by high levels of residential segregation based on education level. The researchers found the correlation between tea party support and educational segregation to be uniquely strong compared to factors like racial segregation and class segregation ...Emphasis mine. More below the fold.
Prior to the study, [researcher Rory McVeigh] posited that the tea party ideology, which advocates for limited government and low government spending, might resonate more among people who don't interact much with low-income individuals who may benefit from government programs. As it turns out, McVeigh was on to something.
“My thinking was that people who are likely to embrace [tea party ideology] are more likely to be people who have had some success and life and limited exposure to those who haven’t enjoyed the same advantages. ... Education is such an important predictor of how you end up in life,” said McVeigh over the phone.
Translation: college graduates (who are allegedly "smart people") tend to support the tea party when they more or less live in a special bubble: a community of other highly educated people. It seems to foster an attitude of "anybody can succeed if they really want to" because of the limited exposure to others who haven't had the same opportunities that they have enjoyed. What is fascinating to me is that the correlation between tea party support and educational segregation was described as "uniquely strong" compared to other types of segregation, including race and class. I don't have time right now to probe that further, but my instinct is that educational segregation would tend to walk hand-in-hand with racial and class segregation (in other words, in the reality of today's America, I suspect a community of highly educated persons would also tend to be generally whiter and richer when compared to folks in less educated communities).
In a press release for the study, McVeigh said “The political polarization that we witness today is linked to the way in which Americans live in segregated worlds.” When you live in a bubble with other people who think just like you do, there is little opportunity to have faulty beliefs challenged. Sadly, that seems to be true for those who support the tea party, but I think it is a truth that all of us should strive to keep in mind.