Q. Where do cultural predispositions come from in the cultural cognition theory? A. They are exogenous -- descriptivey & *normatively*!
A thoughtful friend & corrspondent asks:
The question that you must have been asked many times is, ultimately, how do people obtain their cultural orientations?
If I read between the lines, part of the answer seems to be that these orientations are seeded by the people we associate with and the authorities we seek — perhaps by chance. After that seed is planted, then it becomes a self-reinforcing process: We continue to seek like-minded company and authorities, which strengthens the orientations, and the cycle continues. But there must be more to it than that. Genetics? Some social or cultural adaptive process? I'd like to say something about how we arrive at our cultural orientations.
I think the model/process you describe is pretty much right. I'd say, though, that the cycle -- the seeking out, the reinforcement -- is not the problem; indeed, it's part of the solution to the puzzle of what makes it possible for people (diverse ones, ones who can't just be told what's what by some central authority) reliably to identify what's collectively known. They immerse themselves in networks of people who they can understand and are motivated to engage and cooperate with, and use their rational faculties to discern inside of those affinity groups who genuinely knows what about what (that is, who knows what's known to science). When this process short circuits & becomes a source of self-reinforcing dissensus, that is a sign not that the process is pathological but that a pathology has infected the process, disabling our normal and normally reliable rational capacity to figure out what's known.
However, we notice the cultural insularity of our process for figuring things out only then & infer "there's a problem w/ the insularity & self-reinforcement!" But that's a kind of selection bias in our attention to such things; we are observing the process only when it is failing in a spectacular way; if we paid attention to the billions of boring cases where diverse people agree, we'd see the same insularity in the process by which diverse people figure things out. Then we'd properly infer that the problem is not the process but some external condition that corrupts it. At that point, we would focus our reason, guided by the methods of empirical inquiry, to figure out the dynamics of the pathology -- and ultimately to control them...
You then ask me -- where do these affinities that are the source of the predispositions (the enviroment in which we figure out what's what) come from. I don't know!
Or I think likely I more or less know & the answer isn't *that* interesting: we are socialized into them by the accident of who are parents are & where we live. That's the uninspiring "descriptive" account.
A more inspiring normative answer (maybe it's just a story? but it has the right moral, morally speaking) is this: we are autonomous, reasoning agents in a free society; it is inevitable that we will we form a plurality of understandings of the best way to live. That isn't the problem; it's the political way of life to be protected. So let's take our cultural plurality as given & "solve" the "science communication problem" by removing the influences that conduce to dissensus & polarization, & that disrupt the usual consensus & convergence of free & reasoning citizens on the best (currently) available evidence....'
Some perhaps relevant posts (best I can do, until you help me):
- Still more Q & A on "cultural cognition scales" -- and on the theory behind & implications of them
- The Liberal Republic of Science, part 3: Popper's Revenge....
- The Liberal Republic of Science, part 4: "A new political science ..."
- Democracy and the science communication environment (lecture synopsis and slides)
But I will invite others readers of this blog to comment--likely they can do better!