I thought about the below excerpts from Wisdom for a Livable Planet after listening to a caller on today's Talk of the Nation segment on energy. The caller lamented the plight of the "independent" folk who live in the country -- in his case this appeared to be the Susanville/Reno area of California/Nevada. In one moment he said that this nation is all about independence and in the next he was implicitly -- and unconsciously -- asking for the rest of the country to further subsidize his "independence." I say further because the nation has subsidized this population -- can you say U.S. Mail service -- for a long time. While the nation needs farmers to grow our produce, the cost should be reflected in the market value of the crops they grow. (As a side note, I got the impression that this person lived in the country and commuted to a distant job.)
The relevant quotes:
In response to [George] Will's September 3, 1992 column, Schneider immediately wrote him a detailed letter to explain why the columnist's accusations were misplaced. A person on Will's staff called Schneider to apologize, but Will didn't detract his column....Schneider contends that "if you can't change your mind based upon new evidence and argument, you are a dangerous ideologue. You have got to be able to change your mind as you see the reason of alternative viewpoints. Otherwise, you are in deep trouble if the other guys hold an opposite ideology and nobody can agree to talk. When you have absolute values that are so strongly held, two outcomes are likely: subjugation, either you win or lose, or violence." [p.169]
[A quote from Stephen Schneider at the start of a chapter on Schneider:] What fraction of people in the world couldn't change their mind about something they deeply believe? A significant number; perhaps more than half. Of course, people are not irrational in every area, only some. What you have to do is to try to find components of their intellect where they are willing to be reasonable and negotiate with you. It really involves a value system that has to be taught. And that value system is: argument and evidence can change my mind, my belief; I can be rational. [p.164]
The key to rational behavior is to create a learning and living environment that allows the Talk of the Nation caller -- and George Will -- to avoid having to take irrational positions.