Chris Santos-Lang will co-facilitate a dialog entitled “What if we are hard-wired to disagree across political divides?” on Oct 16, at the 2016 National Conference on Dialog and Deliberation. Dialog is limited by language, so the goal will be to advance new concepts into our shared language:
Division by value types can be referred to as “evaluative diversity” (Strawson, 1961)
e.g. “Moral diversity, political diversity, religious diversity, neurodiversity, cultural diversity, occupation types, high-school cliques, musical genres, personality, and computational types correlate because they all influence or are influenced by evaluative diversity.”
Division by interdependent value types can be referred to as “GRIN diversity” (Santos-Lang, 2013)
e.g “GRIN diversity is always worthy of our protection because of our interdependence, but evaluative diversity isn’t always worthy of protection because it can include obsolete doctrines and loyalties.”
Rejection of people predisposed to opposing evaluative types can be referred to as “evaluativism” (Martin, 1989)
e.g. “Like racism, evaluativism is both an explicit philosophy and an implicit instinct. The instinct is strong; Shanto Iyengar showed that evaluativism would cause over 70% of us to reject the most qualified candidate for a scholarship.”
Entities which form into a body (i.e. “corpus”) can be referred to as “corporantia” (ancient Latin). People who assign natural social roles (e.g. by GRIN type) are corporantia.
e.g. “If you are not an evaluativist, nor ignorant of GRIN diversity, then you must be a member of the corporantia described in Ephesians 4:12.”
The GRIN types discovered thus far are “gadfly“, “relational“, “institutional“, and “negotiator” (Santos-Lang, 2013)
e.g. “Hibbing defended diverse political predispositions by equating liberals with gadflies and conservatives with institutional evaluators; meanwhile, Trump is defended as being a negotiator. These types come from pure math—each specializes in relieving a different limiting factor of social evolution.”
Evaluativists and corporantia reveal their opposition to each other in the ways they respond to evidence that certain disagreements cannot be resolved as factual disagreements. They hold opposing positions on the question, “If we cannot reach agreement through education, then how shall we resolve our disagreement?”:
Evaluativists treat irreconcilable disagreements as hardships, and attempt to minimize them by avoiding dependence on people who have opposing GRIN predispositions. At a minimum, that involves some degree of segregation. As it becomes possible to use neurosurgery or other treatments to alter a person’s GRIN predisposition, evaluativists will apply such treatments to people of opposing predispositions (especially to their own children). They will also employ genetic engineering to reduce the frequency of opposing predispositions. In short, evaluativists resolve irreconcilable disagreements by minimizing exposure to opponents.
In contrast, corporantia submit themselves to be parts of something larger in which irreconcilable disagreements form a useful tension like the tension between bone and muscle. Corporantia work to ensure that conflict persists at some level (e.g. trying to balance power between GRIN types in a legislative body). Corporantia might even use medical treatments and genetic engineering to increase GRIN diversity and thus to increase social tension. Corporantia expect everyone to act like parts of a body, limiting their social roles and leaving irreconcilable disagreements to be resolved at an impersonal level.
Physical Bodies and Social Bodies
Scientists tell a story about an age in which there were no bodies on Earth. For billions of years, the only living creatures on Earth were single-celled organisms which formed ecosystems, symbiotic relationships, and even colonies, but no bodies. Cells which formed into bodies (i.e. corporantia) changed the world forever. Assured that they would never need to survive independently, the corporantia began to specialize by function, producing muscles, bones, brains, and so forth. This turned bodies into the rulers of the Earth.
Then a third kind of cell arose.
The first kind of cell, the single-celled organism, is the most disadvantaged. The corporantia are better-off because they enjoy the advantages of bodies. Yet the greatest advantage may be had by a third kind of cell: parasites which benefit from bodies as corporantia do but which are capable of abandoning one body for another. Social parasites—people who abandon one social body for another—are apparent in the modern trends of multi-national corporations, church-shopping, serial divorce, and high employee turn-over.
From the point of view of corporantia, parasites may play important roles in a body, but their power must be limited. When parasites have too much power, they suck the life out of one body and move to the next. Using the labels “evaluativists” and “corporantia” to divide society allows us to address a natural division which existed long before the labels. The labels allow corporantia to protect the body. Whether protecting the body benefits parasites or not is debatable: If the supply of bodies is sufficiently threatened, then the survival of a given parasite might require suppression other parasites, but the average parasite probably does not benefit from the labels.
Some corporantia are defenders of institutions, but not all defenders of institutions are corporantia. The corporantia promote something natural—they are guided by science—but the defenders of institutions promote something man-made. Since parasites can influence the design of man-made things, some aspects of some man-made institutions may favor parasitism. That is especially likely in communities with greater social parasitism (e.g. more multi-national corporation, church-shopping, serial divorce, and employee turn-over). In these cases, corporantia would aim to reform institutions, and parasites would aim to defend those institutions from reform.
The Dialog Challenge
Meaningful dialog is possible only where participants can find common ground. Therefore, it is impossible for corporantia to engage in meaningful dialog with parasites. Many parasites might become corporantia if society were structured to discourage parasitism. That’s not an act of dialog—it’s an act of discipline.
However, even among the corporantia, dialog has a problem: The members of the corporantia are in natural tension (e.g. gadfly vs institutional vs negotiator vs relational), and the only way for them to find common ground on which to resolve their most fundamental disputes is to examine the origins of their conflicts (and thus distinguish natural tensions from unproductive tensions). The problem is that not everyone achieves such self-awareness.
A person who is able to recognize the origins of GRIN diversity will discover that it brings advantage to the body as a whole. Such discovery objectively defines optimal distribution of authority, which in turn provides the common ground required for meaningful dialog with others who make the same discovery. But not everyone can make that discovery. Some people will be more ignorant than others.
To put the problem another way, the process of assigning social roles by natural type seems to stretch between
- Technical scientific deliberation, and
- Interpersonal negotiation
People care which social roles will be assigned to them. They figure they ought to have a say in anything that can impact their happiness so deeply, so they expect to be engaged in a negotiation. “No taxation without representation!” they cry. On the other hand, most people lack the expertise to accurately identify and understand GRIN types. They do not understand the mechanical nature of their own mind, much less the mechanical nature of our society. So they are unable to engage in the dialog directly. The best they can do is to dialog about how to maintain the accountability of the relatively small group of experts who can discern natural social roles.
The dialog starts with the question of how to identify or develop the experts. There have been points in history at which science was not sufficiently reliable to address physical health, much less mental or social health—how do we know whether we have passed beyond those points? If we have not yet passed beyond those points, how do we know what investment we should make to get there? How can we make sure parasites do not control such investments?
The kind of dialog which can resolve these questions is called “science.” For example, experiments to replicate already published experiments allow us to measure the reliability of the average published scientific claim. Experiments can also measure biases in selecting work for publication and in selecting people for employment. Science can find and address its own flaws.
Most people are not prepared to conduct such experiments, but that’s OK if there are enough people we can trust to conduct them. This is why I propose that citizen science groups which test replicability should be as common and integrated into local communities as bible-study groups and service clubs are. These groups should keep the experts accountable by testing experiments, including experiments which were rejected from peer-reviewed journals (which, you may be surprised to know, do not actually test the experiments they reject).
In the meanwhile, we need other forms of dialog and journalism to spread the new concepts. Science happens only after society reaches a certain level of mental power, and that happens only after other forms of dialog increase our mental power by creating shared language.