Getting to first principles

I am very lucky to split my time between 2 almost non-overlapping worlds. One of the worlds I live in is primarily urban, at the intersection of academic science and professional philanthropy (mostly comprised of ex-academics), and financially comfortable. The other world I am fortunate to inhabit part time is rural, made up of farmers and small business owners, and not quite as financially comfortable. In the cartoon world view of the editorial pages the people in the former world are characterized as thoughtful, open to ambuigity amd complexity, and willing to engage in spirited conversations. The people in the latter world, well, not so much. This is what accounts for modern social discourse. You are either one of us or you are one of them. And anyone who is one of them has to be reduced to a one dimensional cartoon. I am tired of the cartoons. One example: a friend (from world 1) talking over dinner about wanting to live with people of like minded politics – by which she meant people who do not ride snowmobiles, shoot guns, or hold personal prejudices she does not hold. Is this a political identity? And here I had the mistaken understanding that a political identity derived from a political philosophy based on fundamental principles of individual rights and responsibilities and the role of govenment in furthering or protecting such rights. I do not presuppose to know the political philosophy of someone based on superficial characteristics. I do not presuppose that Democrats are for education, conservation, and kindness while Republicans are happy to keep everyone ignorant, destroy every resource on the planet, and are usually mean. I have been rudely cut off by large SUVs with Obama bumper stickers and I have seen a weathered farmer carrying his re-usable grocery bags to the store. I believe there are legitimate reasons to carefully weigh the benefits of investing more and more of the budget on scientific research – without it meaning that you are anti science. I do not want to live surrounded by only like-thinking people. I want to argue, and learn, and disagree, and puzzle, and work it out! I want to be free to change my mind. And I want to have my views be internally consistent because they derive from a set of first principles.