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

这个国家政治的两极分化和公民话语的退化背后,是存在很多原因的。

I wonder if a lack of humility is one ofthem.

我很想知道,缺乏谦逊是否是其中的一种。

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

在国安专家汤姆·尼克尔斯的新书《TheDeath of Expertise(专业知识之死)》中,描述了我们可能都认识的一种人:



Your traits determine who you are

你的特质决定了你是谁

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.

把某人的性格看成诸多特质的集合可以一路追溯到古希腊和罗马。如今已经被人们广为接受的是,性格特质受生物和遗传方面的影响很深,而且会因为个人经历而被放大或抑制。

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.”

在过去的70多年中,心理学家们已经研究了几十种不同的特质。这么多种特质之间的关系被提炼为五个维度,逐渐地被称为“五大”:“外向性”、“亲和性”、“对经验的开放性”、“自觉性”和“神经质”。

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.

用一个人在每一个维度中的表现情况就能给出其性格的梗概,然后就能用大量的其他更微妙的特质来充实之,就像是自我监测和控制点。



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,杜克大学的心理学家马克·利里很快就意识到了该特质和一系列政治和社会议题之间的潜在关系,并最终进行了一连串有影响力的研究,以研究如何利用这种特质来预知我们对自己不认可的人和思想作出的反应。

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.

利里发现,在智性谦逊上得到高分的个体,处理信息的方式和那些得到低分的个体有所不同。比如说,他们更能容忍模糊性,而且他们也能意识到并不是每一个问题都有一个单一的、确定的答案或结果。当他们听到一种主张,他们更有可能去搜寻证据,也更喜欢正反兼顾、全面公正的论证。

Unfortunately, most people do not scorehigh on intellectual humility.

不幸的是,大多数人在智性谦逊这一项上是得不到高分的。



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.

从电视和网络中,我们的观点和直觉每天都会得到肯定,这样自然就会诱导我们去自欺,把自己看得冰雪聪明。如果再加上缺少对专业知识的尊重,造成的毒害可就特别深了。

What this means for our politics

这对我们的政治来说,意味着什么呢

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

根据利里的说法,你的政党或是宗教与更高或更低程度的智性谦逊之间不存在一一对应的关系。

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,那些宗教和政治观点更为极端的人确实容易在智性谦逊这项中得到低分。普通选民的政治观点是否变得更加极端尚不清楚,但有证据表明,那些浸淫政治进程最深的人可能确实如此。

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,很多选民似乎偏爱有自信且果决的领导人,这种人不会改变他们在各种问题上的立场,而这种品质,恰恰很容易在那些缺乏智性谦逊的人群身上找到。

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.

事实上,研究已经发现:那些在智性谦逊报告中得到低分的共和党人(而非民主党人)极不可能把票投给一个随时间流逝在某议题上改变过立场的政客。所以,那些根据新证据改变过某问题立场的共和党人在谋求官职时就会很悲哀了,因为几乎肯定会被贴上可怕的“墙头草”标签。



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.

《纽约时报》的杰瑞米·彼得斯曾叹息道,政治公愤和道德义愤是美国人唯一的真正共同点。他还提到,理解我们对手的立场已经变成了一门失传的艺术。显然,缺乏智性谦逊是阻碍我们参与公民话语能力的因素之一。

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,虽然华盛顿特区可能从未出现过智性谦逊的泛滥,它却很少会像今天这样昭然若揭。