Many Americans revere science and rationality even when they may personally reject its sway over their own decision-making. American culture, its system of values, and all its attendant rewards for reflecting those values—money, honor, social ties—skew heavily in favor rationality. Americans may like to think that when presented with “objective” facts and “hard data” they will make objectively correct choices. And, they may assume that rational decision-making is static and consistent across all of the choices they make, from which detergents they buy to whom they marry.
What they often don’t like are emotions. Emotions are variable. They are inconsistent. They are, in the language of markets, inefficient to scale and monetize. But, science (apologizing for the appeal to rationality to make a case about emotions) is fairly clear that people make decisions based on emotions all the time. And, often, how they feel about a choice can override any objective data at hand about the choice they’re making. Having mad feels is the human condition.
-Tressie McMillan Cottom