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There are a lot of reasons behind thepolitical polarization of the country and the deterioration of civic discourse.

這個國家政治的兩極分化和公民話語的退化背后,是存在很多原因的。

I wonder if a lack of humility is one ofthem.

我很想知道,缺乏謙遜是否是其中的一種。

In his recent book, “The Death ofExpertise,” national security expert Tom Nichols described a type of person eachof us probably knows:

在國安專家湯姆·尼克爾斯的新書《TheDeath of Expertise(專業知識之死)》中,描述了我們可能都認識的一種人:



Your traits determine who you are

你的特質決定了你是誰

Seeing someone’s personality as aconstellation of traits goes all the way back to ancient Greece and Rome.Today, it’s widely accepted that personality traits have a strong biologicaland genetic basis that can be amplified or muted somewhat by experience.

把某人的性格看成諸多特質的集合可以一路追溯到古希臘和羅馬。如今已經被人們廣為接受的是,性格特質受生物和遺傳方面的影響很深,而且會因為個人經歷而被放大或抑制。

Dozens of different traits have beenstudied by psychologists over the past 70 years. The relationships among thesemany traits are often distilled into five dimensions that have come to be knownas the “big five” – “extraversion,” “agreeableness,” “openness to experience,”“conscientiousness” and “neuroticism.”

在過去的70多年中,心理學家們已經研究了幾十種不同的特質。這么多種特質之間的關系被提煉為五個維度,逐漸地被稱為“五大”:“外向性”、“親和性”、“對經驗的開放性”、“自覺性”和“神經質”。

Where an individual falls along each ofthese dimensions provides the skeleton for a personality, which can then befleshed out with a plethora of other, more nuanced traits, like self-monitoringand locus of control.

用一個人在每一個維度中的表現情況就能給出其性格的梗概,然后就能用大量的其他更微妙的特質來充實之,就像是自我監測和控制點。



However, Duke University psychologist MarkLeary quickly recognized the potential relevance of this trait to a wide rangeof political and social issues and ended up conducting a series of influentialstudies to explore how the trait predicts our reactions to people and ideasthat we disagree with.

然而,杜克大學的心理學家馬克·利里很快就意識到了該特質和一系列政治和社會議題之間的潛在關系,并最終進行了一連串有影響力的研究,以研究如何利用這種特質來預知我們對自己不認可的人和思想作出的反應。

Leary found that individuals who score onthe high end of intellectual humility process information differently fromthose who score on the low end. For example, they’re more tolerant of ambiguityand they realize that not every problem has a single, definitive answer oroutcome. When they hear a claim, they are more likely to seek out evidence andprefer two-sided, balanced arguments.

利里發現,在智性謙遜上得到高分的個體,處理信息的方式和那些得到低分的個體有所不同。比如說,他們更能容忍模糊性,而且他們也能意識到并不是每一個問題都有一個單一的、確定的答案或結果。當他們聽到一種主張,他們更有可能去搜尋證據,也更喜歡正反兼顧、全面公正的論證。

Unfortunately, most people do not scorehigh on intellectual humility.

不幸的是,大多數人在智性謙遜這一項上是得不到高分的。



Receiving daily affirmation of our opinionsand intuition from TV and the internet naturally coaxes us into seeingourselves as being pretty darned smart. This can be especially toxic when fusedwith a lack of respect for expertise.

從電視和網絡中,我們的觀點和直覺每天都會得到肯定,這樣自然就會誘導我們去自欺,把自己看得冰雪聰明。如果再加上缺少對專業知識的尊重,造成的毒害可就特別深了。

What this means for our politics

這對我們的政治來說,意味著什么呢

According to Leary, your political party orreligion doesn’t correlate with higher or lower intellectual humility.

根據利里的說法,你的政黨或是宗教與更高或更低程度的智性謙遜之間不存在一一對應的關系。

However, those with more extreme religiousand political views do tend to score lower in intellectual humility. It is notyet clear if the average voter’s political views are becoming more extreme, butthere is evidence that this may be true for those who are most engaged in thepolitical process.

然而,那些宗教和政治觀點更為極端的人確實容易在智性謙遜這項中得到低分。普通選民的政治觀點是否變得更加極端尚不清楚,但有證據表明,那些浸淫政治進程最深的人可能確實如此。

Furthermore, many voters seem to preferleaders who are confident, decisive – and who do not change their positions onissues – the very qualities that can readily be found in those who lackintellectual humility.

此外,很多選民似乎偏愛有自信且果決的領導人,這種人不會改變他們在各種問題上的立場,而這種品質,恰恰很容易在那些缺乏智性謙遜的人群身上找到。

In fact, studies have found thatRepublicans – but not Democrats – who are low in intellectual humility reportbeing much less likely to vote for a politician who has changed his or herstand on an issue over time. So, woe be to the Republican office seeker who haschanged a position on an issue in light of new evidence, as the dreaded labelof “flip-flopper” is all but certain to be applied.

事實上,研究已經發現:那些在智性謙遜報告中得到低分的共和黨人(而非民主黨人)極不可能把票投給一個隨時間流逝在某議題上改變過立場的政客。所以,那些根據新證據改變過某問題立場的共和黨人在謀求官職時就會很悲哀了,因為幾乎肯定會被貼上可怕的“墻頭草”標簽。



The New York Times’ Jeremy Peters bemoanedthat political anger and moral outrage are the only things that Americansreally have in common anymore. Understanding the positions of our opponents, henoted, has become a lost art. A lack of intellectual humility is clearly one ofthe factors that handicaps our ability to engage in civil discourse.

《紐約時報》的杰瑞米·彼得斯曾嘆息道,政治公憤和道德義憤是美國人唯一的真正共同點。他還提到,理解我們對手的立場已經變成了一門失傳的藝術。顯然,缺乏智性謙遜是阻礙我們參與公民話語能力的因素之一。

And while there has probably never been anexcess of intellectual humility in Washington, D.C., it’s rarely been asnakedly apparent as it is today.

而且,雖然華盛頓特區可能從未出現過智性謙遜的泛濫,它卻很少會像今天這樣昭然若揭。