Conservative Pessimism

I wonder if the term “projection” first arose in psycology or in mathematics. In math it is used to describe the process of mapping the members of one set say {north, south} into another set say {rich, poor}. In psycology it is the name of a syndrome where the individual projects his own world view onto others. For example if I am greedy I presume that others are greedy. Projection is a thrifty ways of looking at problems. You take something you have a rich model for and you project it on some other problem your not familar with.

Doing this rewards you with a comfortable model you can work with in the new domain.
For example if we have our {north, south} -> {rich, poor} mapping in hand then we can start making all kinds of silly inferences. The north is cold, so the rich are cold. The south is humid so the poor are wet. The north has seasons so there is a business cycle. It’s all a little silly; but yet somehow plausible.
Project gives you good stories to tell and allows you to seem fluent in domains about which you know little.

Projection of one’s beliefs on others is common. For example when the right wing accuses the left of dominating the press they do so because they expend so much energy doing just that. They announce that the supreme court is dominated by liberal justices because they have labored long and hard to see to that it isn’t. So this is why the right’s accusations about liberal ideas seem so bizarre at first blush. They are not statements about liberal ideas they are about the right’s ideas.

With that in mind look at this amazing, but incomplete, list of “what conservatives really believe“.  No wonder they accuse liberals of being pessimistic.

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