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Bloggingheads 06-28-2009 01:01 PM

Percontations: System Justification Theory (Joshua Knobe & John Jost)
 

a Duoist 06-28-2009 03:37 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Seven minutes into the dialogue and still there is not a single word about the influence of a determinst world-view upon justification of oppression. Doesn't Milgram's experiment suggest the reason for justification of oppression is determinism as a defense mechanism and willingness to blame others?

JonIrenicus 06-28-2009 07:16 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
I am probably one of the people he thinks is a system justifier.


Incidentally, the entire concept of system justification is a progressive laced critique. The more conservative world view naturally looks upon the status quo as more decent than a more liberal world view.

But to the issue of perceptions and prejudice, I will simply say this. The best way to shatter prejudice and negative perceptions, is to see counter examples.

Simply asserting that such prejudices and negative perceptions are wrong is far less effective in my view, even worse, it assumes there is no empirical and objective truth to such perceptions.


Actually SEEING physical counter examples that go against a negative perception or prejudice gives tangible, empirical, objective examples. Rhetoric and assertion is not enough if what you care about is cutting away bad perceptions.



There is one rub to such a view though, a rub many "progressives" will not be comfortable with I suspect. The possibility that certain negative perceptions have some objective and empirical truth to them.

It's OK when the subject is less sensitive like the perception, and empirical reality, that teenagers are worse drivers than adults. But shift the field to something more sensitive, and elements of what should be the case often substitute evaluations of what is the case.


i.e. My perception of Modern Islam and its practictioners is that it is MORE backwards and intolerant and violent than most other major religions in the world today.

Know what changes NOTHING about my perceptions about the nature of Islam? Assertions that it is the religion of peace.

That assertion falls on me like water on rock. What would sway me, if
I ever saw it, was the cessation of violence and murder and attacks done in its name. A more tolerant outlook in muslim nations.


I have a clear prejudice of muslim societies, a negative one. And you know what? it was well earned.


So while I find the existence of so many negative perceptions interesting, I am also concerned with the question of whether such perceptions are correct. I am sure many of them are completely wrong, but I suspect I would give more credence to a number of them than the guest would have.

Ray 06-28-2009 07:24 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118018)
There is one rub to such a view though, a rub many "progressives" will not be comfortable with I suspect. The possibility that certain negative perceptions have some objective and empirical truth to them.

It's OK when the subject is less sensitive like the perception, and empirical reality, that teenagers are worse drivers than adults. But shift the field to something more sensitive, and elements of what should be the case often substitute evaluations of what is the case.

Quit being a pussy.

If you want to say something racist, then just come out and say it.

"something more sensitive"--Jesus.

bjkeefe 06-28-2009 07:27 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118018)
There is one rub to such a view though, a rub many "progressives" will not be comfortable with I suspect. The possibility that certain negative perceptions have some objective and empirical truth to them.

You mean like, say, "Conservatives are morons?"

JonIrenicus 06-28-2009 07:29 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray (Post 118022)
Quit being a pussy.

If you want to say something racist, then just come out and say it.

"something more sensitive"--Jesus.

Added an example, though not the kind you want to hear from me. And if that disappoints you, I am greatly pleased. Thanks for that.

dieter 06-28-2009 07:45 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
I see a couple issues with this theory as presented.

1.) The stereotypes that groups have of themselves or others cannot assumed to be wrong. They might be accurate statistical approximations. These cases would not count as evidence.

2.) Low income workers who believe in meritocracy may simply reflect on their immediate work conditions rather than on the entire income distribution. It seems entirely plausible to me that plumbing is more meritocratic than tenured professorships.

3.) John Host clearly believes that social change is a good thing and activist groups for social change need to be empowered.

He forgets the many lunatic movements that have failed and, I would argue fascism and bolschewism. Nazis and Bolschewiks used exactly the method, John Host proposes, namely gathering popular support among the masses through authoritarian and conservative mechanisms to implement the utopian vision of intellectual radicals.
Open to experience individuals are certainly able to hate those groups, who they perceive to be in charge of "the system". Bankers, Americans (in the case of the european anti-american left). Antisemites believe that Jews are running the system. There you go.

And what if social change succeeds? Will the next generation of open to change individuals not try to change the system right back? I personally know progressives who demand that smoking in cafés and bars should be banned in Austria, while at the same time arguing for dutch style marihuana coffee-shops. This is completely contradictory and can only be explaned by a motivation to change everything to its opposite.

micapam 06-28-2009 08:41 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
ATTN Percontations participants (not commenters) .. don't be put off by stupid comments. Those with least to say shout the loudest. Keep up the good work!

Ray 06-28-2009 10:53 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118018)
I have a clear prejudice of muslim societies, a negative one.

Did I call it or did I call it?

The kid is in the hizzzouse!!!

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118018)
Added an example, though not the kind you want to hear from me. And if that disappoints you, I am greatly pleased. Thanks for that.

Wut? I implied that you were being coy about your racism; you countered with religious bigotry, bordering on racism.

I'm disappointed in that it sux you're a bigot, but I'm glad my radar's still working.

N.B. Your "i.e." should be an "e.g." Nice usage of "of" with "prejudice", though.

pampl 06-29-2009 01:08 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Drinking game: listen to this diavlogue and take a drink every time Jost tries to justify a system he believes in without any apparent awareness that system justification theory applies to him as well.

JonIrenicus 06-29-2009 01:15 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Ray (Post 118036)
Did I call it or did I call it?

The kid is in the hizzzouse!!!



Wut? I implied that you were being coy about your racism; you countered with religious bigotry, bordering on racism.

I'm disappointed in that it sux you're a bigot, but I'm glad my radar's still working.

N.B. Your "i.e." should be an "e.g." Nice usage of "of" with "prejudice", though.


I countered that negative perceptions can be accurate. That is all. If this is lost on you, if you actually want to make the case that all religions are equally benevolent and benign in the ways they are practiced, and the ideas they propagate, I don't know what to tell you except that your view is a confused one.

I am an atheist, but not some Christopher Hitchens / Dawkins type. I have no qualms with people having beliefs I consider nonsensical so long as those beliefs do not get in others way.

Sam Harris made the point long ago, A Jaines religious aversion to harming all life, even insects one might step on may well be equally deranged when compared to a suicide bomber who thinks he will be rewarded for murdering a bunch of infidels, but they are NOT equally benevolent or harmless.

My view of Islam and its effects on modern life have a negative skew precisely because of the harmful effects propagated by too many of its practictioners.


Don't like my negative view? Would you prefer I lie, like you do to yourself when you suggest that you are above negative perceptions? I already told you the most effective way to shatter negative perceptions, and it does not include asserting those perceptions are false, it calls more strongly on showing those perceptions are false.

I happen to think, as I suspect most reading this do as well, that of the major religions being practiced today, Islam has the most work to do to modernize and get out of the dark ages. Yes the perception is negative, but also correct and earned.


I do not see such a negative perception as a bad or good thing, I see it as a true thing. Truth, odd how little some care about factoring that kernel into their views. And for the ones who are not clear on where I am coming from, it may be the case that 90 + % of the negative perceptions people have are Flat out wrong. But that does not give us carte blanche to chuck out all our negative perceptions.

To be fair the guest never said we should, but his examples seemed to suggest he did not have any place in his world view for many if any negative perceptions.

Some of mine, I am keeping, deal with it.

nikkibong 06-29-2009 04:17 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
What JonIrenicus wrote:

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118046)
I countered that negative perceptions can be accurate. That is all. If this is lost on you, if you actually want to make the case that all religions are equally benevolent and benign in the ways they are practiced, and the ideas they propagate, I don't know what to tell you except that your view is a confused one.

I am an atheist, but not some Christopher Hitchens / Dawkins type. I have no qualms with people having beliefs I consider nonsensical so long as those beliefs do not get in others way.

Sam Harris made the point long ago, A Jaines religious aversion to harming all life, even insects one might step on may well be equally deranged when compared to a suicide bomber who thinks he will be rewarded for murdering a bunch of infidels, but they are NOT equally benevolent or harmless.

My view of Islam and its effects on modern life have a negative skew precisely because of the harmful effects propagated by too many of its practictioners.


Don't like my negative view? Would you prefer I lie, like you do to yourself when you suggest that you are above negative perceptions? I already told you the most effective way to shatter negative perceptions, and it does not include asserting those perceptions are false, it calls more strongly on showing those perceptions are false.

I happen to think, as I suspect most reading this do as well, that of the major religions being practiced today, Islam has the most work to do to modernize and get out of the dark ages. Yes the perception is negative, but also correct and earned.


I do not see such a negative perception as a bad or good thing, I see it as a true thing. Truth, odd how little some care about factoring that kernel into their views. And for the ones who are not clear on where I am coming from, it may be the case that 90 + % of the negative perceptions people have are Flat out wrong. But that does not give us carte blanche to chuck out all our negative perceptions.

To be fair the guest never said we should, but his examples seemed to suggest he did not have any place in his world view for many if any negative perceptions.

Some of mine, I am keeping, deal with it.

What nikkibong heard:

Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118046)
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah


bjkeefe 06-29-2009 05:12 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nikkibong (Post 118059)
What JonIrenicus wrote:

What nikkibong heard:

I think he said something about "proud to be a bigot."

Ray 06-29-2009 08:26 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118046)
To be fair the guest never said we should, but his examples seemed to suggest he did not have any place in his world view for many if any negative perceptions.

Some of mine, I am keeping, deal with it.

I am dealing with it! I'm trying to help you!

I'm encouraging you to man up and out with it. You know you're inches away from "The Sons of Ham" and "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion". Why not just go for it?

shmoe 06-29-2009 03:14 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

"...not a single word about the influence of a determinst world-view upon justification of oppression."
Most determinist thinkers find that as a working philosophy it is self neutralizing; in other words the fact that the universe is predetermined need have no effect on one's daily life or sense of agency. Furthermore, most people are probably not of a deterministic bent, i.e. determinism is statistically insignificant in the population.

claymisher 06-29-2009 05:24 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Haven't finished this one yet but I'm really enjoying it.

I got into the social science polymath Jon Elster a couple of months ago after I stumbled across the idea of endogenous preferences (that is, explaining where wants come from instead of taking them as given). Elster wrote a terrific little book called "Sour Grapes" about how people shape their preferences to reduce the pain of cognitive dissonance, often in ways that amplifies their own oppression. It never occurred to me that you could try to demonstrate it experimentally. Pretty cool!

claymisher 06-29-2009 05:37 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JonIrenicus (Post 118046)
I happen to think, as I suspect most reading this do as well, that of the major religions being practiced today, Islam has the most work to do to modernize and get out of the dark ages. Yes the perception is negative, but also correct and earned.

Maybe you haven't noticed that right now there are devout Muslims dying in the streets fighting for their democratic rights.

I think you'd be better off being less judgmental and just seeing how things play out. Reality is full of surprises.

psattler 07-04-2009 12:56 PM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
I have a question about the Implicit Association Tests (IATs), which is similar to the criticism that Joshua raised and John dismissed.

I agree that social stereotypes can "get in your head" and affect your performance on various IAT-types tests. You may respond more quickly to associational pairings that support social stereotypes, regardless of your own group membership or your explicit beliefs about those groups. But, as Joshua notes, could this simply reflect an "awareness of certain kinds of associations within our society" -- an awareness that makes certain matching tasks easier than others, regardless of beliefs?

Here's a too-simple example. Many stereotypical associations are crystallized in insulting phrases -- phrases like "dumb blonde," "greedy Jew," "bleeding-heart liberal," and so on. We all know these phrases. We could complete them without a second thought (Password-style).

Wouldn't it makes sense, then, if you took a test that forced you to act quickly and immediately, that it would be easier to make connections that coincide with or even repeat these cliches? To put it simply, "dumb ... blonde" is going to pop into your head a lot more easily that "dumb ... brunette." "Greedy ... Jew" will beat out "greedy ... Irishman." And the same goes for other associations that reinforce -- but do not exactly repeat -- these cliches and shortcuts.

But here's the real point. Does it make sense to talk about these results as evidence (necessarily) of beliefs, implicit or otherwise? Are people who make "dumb ... blonde" pairings more quickly than "dumb ... brunette" pairings really showing us that they "implicitly associate" intelligence with hair color in any strong sense? Or does it just show us that it's, overall, easier to react quickly to things that are cliched, stereotypical, pattern-repeating, and/or familiar?

I can imagine a IAT that demonstrated that people have implicit associations of wisdom with owls (as opposed to crows) and memory with elephants (as opposed to rhinos). That is, many people beable to select pairings that reinforced these associations more quickly than pairings that didn't. But would that test tell us anything about these subjects' beliefs? Would it even show that they associate owls with wisdom? Or would it simply show that the mind can often work more effortlessly with common cultural linkages?

I'm not saying that stereotypes cannot take the form of authentic beliefs -- beliefs that people actually hold about categories of people (or birds). And I'm not saying that implicit beliefs cannot affect out actions, positively or negatively.

But it does seem to me that the IAT mechanism does not necessarily measure anything that we normally characterize as beliefs per se -- or even "associations." It may just tell us something about the mechanisms of memory, processing, and reaction time.

Perhaps, then, there is a more banal way of reading that old Onion op-ed, "Stereotypes are a real time-saver."

Praxeologue 07-06-2009 09:30 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory
 
I think we have to be highly suspicious of theses like these which amount to 'if you are smart and get my theory, you will be a democrat, otherwise, stay ignorant and remain republican'. I believe Haidt has come to much same conclusion by an unfair reductionism of the more conservative position as one that is afraid of change.

I don't say this because I support either side. I am not American and am more of a classical liberal/libertarian, incidentally not mentioned in the discussion. I am not justifying the system I live under despite being a major beneficiary of it! But this elastic thesis answers this contradiction by saying those that fight it will come from an affluent middle class which is able to deal with ambiguity. Guilty but I would say, assuming I know why I think what I think, it is because I have had the benefit of a lot of time to read and think about these things and believe, with good reason, in classical liberalism.

It doesn't take much reflection to think of many issues which democrats or republicans are passionate about and if they lived in a 'system' where those values held, they would appear in empirical tests to be happy with the system. Maybe they are happy with the system because it is the one they want? The fact that you are happy with a system does not mean you have therefore been duped because the guy taking the survey's ideology does not think you could be, if only you knew the 'right' way to think...

This reminds me of Marx being able to tell everyone else how they physically could not think outside of their own class interest, holding especial venom for the bourgeousie... of which, erm, he was a member.

Maybe he wasn't human?

commonsensical 09-11-2009 03:58 AM

Re: Percontations: System Justification Theory (Joshua Knobe & John Jost)
 
I may be one of those disadvantaged activists that Jon referred to, and I do not believe in subjective systems of classification.

I have noticed some biases raised against being determinate and certain, so I am fearful and a little apprehensive of a looming angry retort. Let me assert that I am against modern reductionism and determinism, relativism and unjustified skepticism. I blame those systems for getting us here. I am a semanticist. My work is in the field of language systems, information systems and semiotic or symbol systems-- utilitarian systems.

I think equality or certainty are the wrong focus here. Being corroborated by common experience has nothing whatsoever to do with the abstract concept of certainty, and in my view, very little to do with equality.

Actually, I think people are satisfied by the unity of their awareness. When a cognitive dissonance sets in, they can become dissatisfied, though I haven't a shred of any but anecdotal evidence to support that observation. In any event, I take unity of awareness is a much better focal point than either equality or certainty.

The American Philosopher and logican Charles Sanders Pierce wrote "that the function of conceptions is to reduce the manifold of sensuous impressions
to unity, and that the validity of a conception consists in the impossibility of reducing the content of consciousness to unity without the introduction of it." I take that to mean that unity is the object of the intellect and perception and also the objective of cognition.

The problem with equality is that it can only be interpreted by reference to a class of subjectively viewed affects and effects with a specious or temporal relation to objects comprising the state-of affairs. Any cause is lost in the mist or fog of speculative and subjective reasoning. Nothing is certain and equal as this forum projects those concepts.

Don't citizens deserve more from experts than a sea of assumptions founded upon still more assumptions. I believe common percontation assumes there are reliable grounds and methods for conducting an inquiry that is determinate enough to reconcile an awareness. Percontation is senseless without determinate elements, functions and a framework for conducting an inquiry.

John Dewy wrote in "The Theory of Inquiry": "Inquiry is the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so determinate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole."

I take that to mean that percontation requires a framework expressing boundary and engagement conditions for characterizing the input and dividing determinate objects and thematic relationships from the indeterminate situation. Critical systems thinking demands secure, reusable and dynamically configurable cognitive methods for setting and collecting the determinate objects, setting and testing the boundaries of situations. What methods have the common man? What explicit foundation or basis does the common citizen have to form a grounded interpretation of the facts.

How far can the common citizen get raising an issue or argument? It makes a difference if you are a scientist or a lawyer. Such a person has both credibility and a means of conducting formal inquires and realizing testable theories and conclusions. It makes a difference for the common man and woman too. Remember the Thomas theorem (circa 1928)? "If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences."

Consider the health care debates in the town halls. Reasonable people resorted to anger, threats and totally unsociable behavior. Is this because they have personal knowledge of a missing determinate -- so they resort to escalating and blind behavior driven by their own frustration. Of course, that is only my interpretation and some may say it is subjective to. Maybe so.

Nonetheless, I am wondering if participants have considered any objective systems for interpreting what is happening. Just because you haven't noticed or thought about one, or may not need one to live a relatively un-oppressed life in our secular society, does not mean it would not be empowering.

For example, a system of reflexive abstraction with a collection of abstract, cognitive methods for unifying external objects and relations with individual conceptions and with a unified awareness, is an objective system. ZFSet theory, category theory, reflexive abstractions, bijections, etc. are objective mathematical objects the can be expressed in an objective algebra, in much the same way as geometric shapes and topological surfaces are explained by geometry- an exact or more or less certain science.

In such a system, cognition would be characterized by mental processing, performing mental operations/actions using abstract and cognitive methods reflective of the substance of being there and using or observing what is actually happening. Using a projection principle, the fixed cognitive methods can be viewed as configuration filters over distant affairs. That is, the cognitive methods are open for utilitarian uses and evolving realizations.

To just throw out one salient example, I mentioned above that I was fearful. As humans, I suspect that most participants in this group may have empathy or sympathy for my expressed fearfulness, which seems justifiable to me. I don't expect my fear is any different than your fear. Just like I don't reckon that the fear of the Christian, being murdered by the Muslim is any different than that of the Muslim being murdered by the Jew, whose fear is no different than when the Jew is murdered by the Muslim or anyone else.

When some one says: you should be afraid, it induces a conception of fear. That is to say that one can asses the situation by way of the symbolic interactions unifying any particular instance with the context and knowledge of fear, i.e., the corroborative individual cognition of each reader.

That particular feeling of being vulnerable or open to a destructive force or influence is so universal, the directors of the horror movies of western cultures can turn that emotion on or off, on the event of little more than a whim or dare, and with less effort than the drop of a hat.

Now remember what Freud wrote in Totem and Taboo: "There is an intellectual function in us which demands unity, connection and intelligibility from any material, whether of perception or thought, that comes
within its grasp; and if, as a result of special circumstances, it is unable to
establish a true connection, it does not hesitate to fabricate a false one."

What sort of impression can any free-thinking American form in their awareness without the objective and factual basis on which to build accurate corroborative characterizations? Americans' should not be surprised when feelings of hatred fester and grow --in the face of Orwellian misinformation and disinformation-- into actions expressed by anger in someone who knows no better.

The question is: Have any participants considered any objective system for automatically reconciling the emotional activity represented or mediated (as psychologist tend to say) by words and expressions, with an individual, personal cognition and awareness?

Oh, one more thing. Those of Jewish faith are obligated to spy, deceive, and use assassination, if necessary, in support of the State of Israel, or if told to do so by elders -- on pain of death or expulsion from the faith. I don't see that as any different than the violence and warfare advocated in the Quran, or any less or more significant than the murder and mayhem unleashed by the European Christians in the crusades, or by modern Christian soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan today.

And lastly I do not confuse religions for secular politics or take false attributions of religious motives for truly political motives. I lived and traveled in Saudi Arabia and I cannot recall once being afraid. I lived on the economy while working as a technology consultant to Saudi Ministries in Riyadh, and elsewhere. I did it for about four years. Long enough to recognize there are good and bad Muslims, just as there are kind and wacko Christians and Jews (or any other religion's fanatics) too.

Don't forget that most Muslims are Arabs or Nomads, or an assortment of tribal peoples not unlike old west American Indians. They have been rudely awakened by their interdependency and the external demands of the twentieth century. Tribal culture is not dominated by religious practice and demands. Not any more than American hegemony is driven by religious motivations. It is supported by them. Religious motives do not account for their hatred and anger. Being oppressed for a very long time does; and that is supported by Jon Jost's research and the theory of system justification.

Thank you for allowing me to post here Joshua, and keep up the good work and important research Jon.


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