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Why do people support policies that end up hurting them?

“So here we are, forming an orderly queue at the slaughterhouse gate….The acceptance of policies which counteract our interests is the pervasive mystery of the 21st Century. In the United States, blue-collar workers angrily demand that they be left without healthcare, and insist that millionaires should pay less tax. In the UK we appear ready to abandon the social progress for which our ancestors risked their lives with barely a mutter of protest. What has happened to us?…Progressives…have been suckers for a myth of human cognition…that people make rational decisions by assessing facts….A host of psychological experiments demonstrates that it doesn’t work like this….We accept information which confirms our identity and values, and reject information that conflicts with them….Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change….We should argue for the policies we want not on the grounds of expediency but on the grounds that they are empathetic and kind; and against others on the grounds that they are selfish and cruel. In asserting our values we become the change we want to see.” (George Monbiot) On the other hand, D.R. Tucker writes in “Confessions of a Climate Change Convert” that he was indeed persuaded by the IPCC’s presentation of facts. His skepticism about climate science has been replaced with skepticism as to whether it is “even possible to be a libertarian and an environmentalist–or a conservative and an environmentalist.”


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