We are what we are studying

I find Andrew Gelman inscrutable when he talks about multilevel models and annoying when he talks about data visualization, but he's always interesting.  Today, in a post on the anthropologist Marshall Sahlins,  he captured my aspirational worldview on matters political:

"What struck me is the relevance of this 'anthropological'  mode of thinking to political science, where we must have understanding and sympathy for a wide spectrum of political opinions ranging from opposition to interracial marriage (supported by 46% of respondents in a recent poll of Mississippi Republican voters) to support for the nationalization of the means of production (still a popular position in many European countries, or so I’ve heard). As a political scientist studying public opinion, I have certain tools and academic experiences. But I am fundamentally the same kind of object as the people I am studying. It’s an obvious point but still worth remembering."

As much as we divide ourselves into tribes, we're all pretty much the same. Step back, take a breath, and remember that our variations are small and our commonality is big. There is no 'other.' The other is you.