A post yesterday in the Business Insider (which shows it was originally in Slate, so I should have known...) attempts to argue that conservatives are “more likely to believe lies” because more conservatives are people of faith. Wow. Stop right there for a minute and let’s think about what a broad brush the author is painting with. He didn’t specifically denote any religion, so he must be including all Christians, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, and anyone else who “has faith.” Coincidentally, a pretty wide swath of the progressive elements of this country believe anything and everything that science has to offer, even though the scientific method can only work so far—it cannot cover everything. To subscribe blindly to the idea that science can answer every available question with certainty is its own fallacy, and “scientism” is its own brand of faith. Last I checked, everything that cannot be empirically verified must be a theory in science, at best.
One of the pull quotes from the article states that “At the most basic level, conservatives and liberals seem to hold different beliefs about what constitutes "truth." I would argue this has less to do with conservatives believing lies, and more to do with the idea that liberals do not believe there exists such a thing as ultimate truth. This, of course, informs the moral compass of the progressives, and allows them to do things like argue that abortion is a woman’s right but that a pregnant woman shot in a church in Texas “counts” as two people. Truth is bent to what best serves the narrative.
As for me personally, my faith informs my reason, and causes me to seek out the Great Books and the best thinkers of the past (Plato, Aristotle, Kant, etc.) to review what they had to say on the idea of God. Here's a spoiler: All of them wrestle with the concept of there being a Higher Authority, and all of them determine on some level in favor of God's existence. Would the Slate author be comfortable calling these thinkers "more prone to believe lies" as well?
The other portion of this article to which I take personal offense is the author’s supposition that “revealed truth” is somehow not a “valid source of truth.” Another pull quote:
“For many conservatives, faith and intuition and trust in revealed truth appear as equally valid sources of truth.”
Yet the author goes on to explain that both liberals and conservatives are gleeful to support their own internal monologue about the facts they believe:
“And so we pay more attention and give more credence to information and assertions that confirm what we already believe: Liberals enthusiastically recount even the most tenuous circumstantial evidence of Trump campaign collusion with the Russians, and dyed-in-the-wool Trump supporters happily believe that the crowd really was bigger at his candidate's inauguration.”
So, now the author is telling us that liberals and conservatives both have the same human failing; that is, we view reports of facts favorable to our opinions as more credible than reports of facts in opposition to our opinions. I have no problem with this premise, as it is a human issue that has always been and will always be the case. I take issue with the premise that this is only a conservative problem. (It appears the author admits it is not limited to conservatives, although the title of the article certainly doesn’t accurately portray the substance of his post.)
One of the most glaring inaccuracies was this quote:
"The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Republicans believe people are fundamentally bad, while Democrats see people as fundamentally good."
Setting aside the notion that the author clearly has no grasp of the concept of Original Sin, and based solely on the invective that I have seen thrown around in the last couple of years, I would argue that Democrats may perhaps see people that agree with them as fundamentally good. For those of us that do not toe the line, they paint us all as the root of all evil. A recent Virginia Democrat running for Senate, Barbara Favola, went so far as to call all Republicans evil in her recent remarks: https://www.arlnow.com/2017/11/02/local-republicans-criticize-favola-evil-remarks/
This strategy is not limited to liberals by the way: both parties have a real problem with painting any disagreers as evil. And if we are going to get anything accomplished in this country, it's got to stop.
I would argue that the real truth of the matter is that all of us, as humans, are multi-faceted individuals, and some of the things we believe may be supported in fact and other things that we believe must be taken on faith. That is true whether you are a liberal or a conservative or an independent. It is summarily unfair to limit the concept of gullibility to a specific political party.
In fact, doing so seems to me to smack of gullibility itself: it is gullible of the author to believe that people of faith must necessarily be more likely to “believe in lies.” I would encourage the author to spend some time actually talking to a conservative; he would soon discover that we are not the slack-jawed caricature he portrays.