Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Voting with my brain

In honor of Election Day here in Pennsylvania, it's time for some cool-headed, left-brained rationality & skepticism.

Always remember:
1. Across the political spectrum, there are decent, rational people.
2. Across the political spectrum, some of the people with whom I happen to agree are highly irrational, and/or untrustworthy, and/or ethically suspect.
3. The more cool-headed, rational, and skeptical I am, the easier it is for me to appreciate 1 and 2.
4. The more cool-headed, rational, and skeptical I am, the more likely I am to seek out, read/listen to, and accurately remember things that challenge my convictions.
5. The more cool-headed and rational I come across to others, the more likely they are to tell me when they disagree with me and flesh out opposing arguments.

In short, the more left-brained I am--or behave--the more sides of a charged argument I will truly appreciate. And the more informed a voter I will be.

Ultimately, of course, I can reduce no candidate to his/her political axioms & arguments, and so it's reasonable for me to vote as much by gut feeling as by rational deliberation.

Also, as Stephen Dubner and Steven Levitt discuss in their November, 2005 New York Times Magazine article Why Vote?, given the vanishingly small influence of individual votes on elections, it would be reasonable for me to opt out entirely.


Or to vote only for right-brained reasons: because it feels good, and/or because, socially speaking (see Dubner and Levitt's discussion of the Swiss voting experiment), it would look bad not to.

Gotta go!

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