Tuesday, November 11, 2003


Yesterday was a rather fun day for me academically. A copy of the journal containing my first academic article (Ray, 2003) to be published in 5 years arrived in the mail. My most recent one before that came out in 1998. That I can still get them published probably means that senile dementia has not got me yet! For copyright reasons I cannot put the new article online but an early version of it is already online here. The early version is probably more readable anyway. What it shows is that older women (but not older men) tend to lie more about how good they are. Apologies to the sisterhood!

Also appearing in the same issue of the journal was yet another article (Van Hiel & Mervielde, 2003) on "Need for closure" (a terrible affliction that we conservatives are said to suffer from) by that Belgian dynamo, Alain Van Hiel. I had just started to get my head around the considerable complexities of the article when I noticed that his results were not statistically significant! In other words, you could have found similar results in a table of random numbers! I am amazed that such stuff is getting published these days. The Leftist discomfort with reality is showing up more and more in academe, I guess. And one of Van Hiel's key measures was the absurd Bieri scale of cognitive complexity. Van Hiel obviously overlooked my "deconstruction" of that particular piece of nonsense. Had he paid more attention to the way he measured things, he might have got more significant results.

Reading on further in my copy of the journal I noticed another article that was rather reverential about some prior work by McHoskey. That stirred a dim recollection that I too had once looked at the selfsame McHoskey article. So I dug deep in the archives and found a paper I had written which never got published. In the unpublished paper I pointed out that McHoskey's work showed that at least one type of conservatism was --- wait for it! --- MORE COMPASSIONATE! No wonder THAT paper never got published! Anyway, I have now uploaded the previously unpublished article here and here.

The really amusing thing about the McHoskey finding is that the conservatism scale he used (the RWA scale) was originally designed to measure a particularly UN-caring kind of conservatism. How frustrating that it gave the opposite result! I have pointed out long ago however that the designer of the RWA scale (Altemeyer) did not have a blind clue about what he was doing.

But the fun is not over yet! The author (Wilson, 2003) who was so impressed by the McHoskey work himself produced some vastly overinterpreted findings using the wacky "Social Dominance Orientation" (SDO) scale. About half the items in the SDO scale express a strong belief in equality between people. And so what was our intrepid author's main finding when you cut through all the flim-flam? That low scorers on the SDO scale (equalitarians) were idealistic! Big surprise! Yet another example of an “artifactual” (built-in, true-by-definition) finding. Will Leftist psychologists ever knuckle down and do some real research instead of constantly trying to load the dice in advance? Don't hold your breath.

Ray, J.J. & Lovejoy, F.H. (2003) "Age-related social desirability responding among Australian women". Journal of Social Psychology, 143 (5), 669-671.
Van Hiel, A. & Mervielde, I. (2003) "The need for closure and the spontaneous use of complex and simple cognitive structures". Journal of Social Psychology, 143 (5), 559-568.
Wilson, M.S. (2003) "Social dominance and ethical ideology: The end justifies the means?". J. Social Psychology, 143 (5), 549-558.


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