Dangers of group identification in politics. Or; Bad Reasoning in the Real World part 2

Further to my last post, it will not surprise that there is no stop to the bad reasoning in response to Senator Hanson-Young’s tweet. I thought I’d raise this particular example as it relates to a larger project I am beginning.

Another facebook user says this in response to post which I objected to in part 1:

“your views should quite simply not be herd [sic]. You are decisive and racist and a xemophobe [sic]”

Now there is nothing explicitly racist in the original post so I can only surmise that this is intended is intended as an attack on the motivation behind the post. (I’d also note that the author of the original post chose to respond to this but not my point about the failed analogy). Why would this second poster assume that the prior poster’s motivation was racism? I think a clue comes from their profile picture. Their profile is a Greens logo, which suggests strong identification with Senator Hanson-Young and her political party. It seems like the Greens are treated as this person’s in-group and so any ‘attack’ on them is an attack on the person, and so the poster is motivated to punch back, as opposed to engage with argument. I might be wrong but this seems like the best explanation of this irrational response.

What this example points to, is a danger in not work against our tendency to treat out-group members as less than (in this case by being racist) in-group members. Whilst some who disagree with Greens policy may well do so on the basis of racism, it does not follow that all who do are racists. However, one might think that all who disagree with the Greens policy are racist if all non-Greens are grouped together as a single out-group.

There is, as we have seen, plenty to disagree with in the original post, but any disagreement ought to be based on reasons and not simply by the fact that their conclusion differs from the official view of one’s in-group.


PS- I acknowledge that this post may have been intended as mockery (“I didn’t come to help, I came to mock”) but it’s not funny enough for this to be plausible.


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