The question I am mulling over today is this: Are some people particularly likely to be hypocritical about a given topic or are hypocrisies somewhat randomly spread around? Is there some kind of personality that is very likely to hold conflicting viewpoints and not notice or be bothered by doing so?
It was brought on by a conversation that I had over the weekend with Good Old Days who was going on about the ills of our modern society. In particular she was upset that there were planned demonstrations that were going to be a nuisance for the upcoming G20 summit. Her solution for the demonstrations was for the government to figure out who planned to demonstrate and take them up to the northern parts of Canada for the duration of the event. She also blamed demonstrations (among other things) on 'imports' aka immigrants.
I was completely floored by this. For one, Good Old Days is only second generation Canadian, her parents were immigrants and she clearly thinks they had pretty much everything figured out correctly. I don't think that this is simple racism because I have not observed that in my other interactions with her; I think it is that she simply thinks of immigrants as all terrible and subversive and her parents as fantastic with no recognition of the contradiction.
Good Old Days' attitudes towards government are traditional Conservative. The government should stay out of people's affairs, not tax them and not interfere. However, she also wants them to track people's histories, political affiliations and other characteristics and preemptively arrest those who might do something embarrassing or annoying like protesting and cart them thousands of kilometers away. The idea that the government would record things about her or take her away without any crime or cause is anathema of course.
What causes people to have the sort of mindset that allows these contradictions? I suggest that religion is the prime candidate - it should come as no shock that Good Old Days is a Christian and has been so for her whole life. Generally organized religions push the idea of Faith As A Virtue, which is specifically that belief in something that is logically unsupportable and even self contradictory is a good thing. It encourages people to believe what someone else in a position of authority says in the face of all evidence or reasoning and praises the ability to maintain that dedication through any circumstance or revelation. I have no statistics to back my claim but being trained through childhood to accept statements at face value without any critical thinking seems certain to cause a person to be susceptible to holding hypocritical viewpoints.
There may well be other factors that contribute. Certainly old age could be correlated since the older we get the more challenging it is to learn new things and change our minds. I do think that the age correlation is weak just from considering the selection of people that I know; even that may be tainted by the fact that hardcore religion is on the wane in Canada so older people are more likely to have been exposed to it. Most likely education would be a factor since the more one learns about a topic the harder it becomes to ignore incompatible viewpoints. Perhaps exposure to different cultures and lifestyles would even be helpful in reducing hypocrisy since the more you hold your own habits and norms up to scrutiny the more challenging it becomes to assume that your beliefs are infallible.