Rationality and Prejudice

Last year, Aretae wrote an interesting post and I commented.  I’ve been meaning to drag that comment into a post here, but didn’t get round to it.

Aretae’s post was interesting — I’m tempted to paste it all here, but that’s a bit off, so you should read it there.  The part that inspired me is this:

There is massive pre-rational discrimination that occurs at a subconscious level in many people, that is visible in interacting with them, which comprises the reality of a lot of discrimination claims that are reflexively dismissed by a lot of observationally biased folks on the right.  

Aretae’s main point is that this is independent of, and so not in contradiction with, HBD. But that’s not the interesting aspect for me.

For me, the implications of that one factual assertion were the important thing. The relevant bit of my comment in reply to it was this:

Sure, the first thing that follows from it is: “this applies to me. If I take conscious steps to overrule this pre-rational subconscious discrimination, then I will perceive the world more accurately, and will be able to draw better conclusions.”
That’s a good start. But what about everybody else? I do not by any means share your extreme anti-authoritarianism, but the power to dictate how other people see each other is not something I expect to have, want to have, or want anybody else to have, either. So this “pre-rational subconscious discrimination” can be taken to be a fact of life going forward for all mixed societies.
And what follows from that?  Bluntly, that, when the chips are down, I want to be surrounded by people who have a positive pre-rational subconscious reaction towards me, not a negative one. Further, I can assume other people think the same way, and will rationally act accordingly, wanting power for their in-group.
To the degree that I live in a society that is stable, peaceful, and populated by the unusually rational — that is, to the degree that the chips stay up — these considerations hold minor importance. If those conditions weaken, or look like they might weaken in the future, the considerations grow in importance.

What finally triggered me this evening to dig up the link and paste it here was Scott Alexander’s Thrive/Survive Theory. He writes… well, he writes a lot, and Isegoria has already summarized it:

My hypothesis is that rightism is what happens when you’re optimizing for surviving an unsafe environment, leftism is what happens when you’re optimized for thriving in a safe environment.
I propose that the best way for leftists to get themselves in a rightist frame of mind is to imagine there is a zombie apocalypse tomorrow.

There’s a lot more. This isn’t a response to Scott Alexander’s post — I haven’t really begun to think about that, but there’s a clear need before I start to show the degree to which I’m already looking at things the same way.

(Somehow, my argument now makes me think of this. But I stand by it anyway.)

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