Durban Skeptics in the PubMay 2013

Durban Skeptics in the Pub May 2013
Thursday 16th May
Pizzetta Davenport, Durban

We will be discussing the following podcast and associated papers: So download and listen to the podcast, and / or read the papers - free links at the URL…

Peter Ditto - Morals, Facts, and Libertarians: New Developments in the Science of Ideology
September 3, 2012
Host: Chris Mooney

Several times on this show, we’ve discussed the topic of ideological asymmetry. In other words, are people of all political persuasions equally biased, equally prone to reasoning based on their emotions to support prior commitments?

A new scientific paper (PDF) has recently come out that reopens this question, so naturally, we had to invite on one of its authors. His name is Peter Ditto, and he’s a social psychologist at the University of California-Irvine who has been a leader in the study of emotional, or motivated, reasoning.

At the same time, Ditto also studies the psychological foundations of political ideology more broadly. And in another recent paper, he and colleagues including Jonathan Haidt, provide a wealth of data on the personalities and motivations of people who choose to be libertarian. So we wanted to talk about that as well.

Peter Ditto is department chair and professor of psychology and social behavior at the University of California-Irvine. His research focuses on motivated reasoning and how our differing moral emotions tend to impel it—and how it is involved in partisan political biases.

The scientific papers discussed in this episode are the following:

Liu, B., & Ditto, P. H. (in press). “What dilemma? Moral evaluation shapes factual belief.” Social Psychological and Personality Science.
Iyer, R., Koleva, S., Graham, J., Ditto, P. H., & Haidt, J. (in press). “Understanding libertarian morality: The psychological dispositions of self-identified libertarians.” PLoS ONE.

I would venture so far as to submit that virtually all our “factual” assessments are invested with a degree of emotional inertia and sentimental attachment to prior beliefs, however small these may be. This is why peer review is such a crucial part of the scientific enterprise — and note that this view mustn’t be taken to mean that it is intrinsically impossible for us to be objective.


I wonder if Madame Curie enjoyed a competitive advantage when she had her papers Pierre reviewed.


Thanks for your comments folk - apparently I am not here enough to see these in timeous fashion. :slight_smile: