Posted by: Brad Stanford | December 12, 2013

Assumptions

I read this article discussing how data reveals that after a certain population density, votes tend to go to Democrats, while under that it goes Republican. The headline of the article quoted a twitter response to the report: “If You Live Near Other People, You’re Probably a Democrat. If Your Neighbors Are Distant, Republican”.

This makes perfect sense to me. Birds of a feather are flocking together in America, and they have been since 1965. But then I realized people will assume wildly different things from that headline. Think of these possibilities:

  • If you like being around people, you’re a Democrat.
  • If you’re less connected, you’re a Republican.
  • If you’re not strong enough to have an identity outside of what “everyone else” is doing, you’re a Democrat.
  • If you value independence, freedom, and self-reliance, you’re a Republican.

These are just four possibilities I immediately thought of right after I read the headline. I’m sure there are many more to be considered. But here again is a problem for any society: if data means everything, then data means nothing. If we can’t draw a conclusion that helps us see the world more truthfully, then the data is useless to us.

Unfortunately, being able to draw a logical conclusion based on data is a skill that is in rapid decline.

In this case, I have to conclude that humans are continuing to do what they always do: whatever is easiest. And it’s far easier to deal with friendly neighbors than not. And friendly is most easily found in agreement. It follows that we will continue to physically locate ourselves near people we somewhat or strongly agree with.

However, the result of this natural action will not be appreciated by most, but will be fought, even though it is akin to fighting gravity. Some will push policies of forced association, and the pushback will come from those who wish to be left alone, and those who value free thought.

There is another civil war on the way, and it’s all because of some really bad assumptions, plus some ignorance of the nature of things. But I do enjoy the irony of the disagreement. There is an extreme irony in the diversity crowd forcing their ideas on people who don’t believe the same things, is there not?

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