Saturday, September 15, 2007

More on those "death-fearing" conservatives

I have received the following report from a reader. It gives us some more of that pesky general population data -- the sort of data that almost all psychologists avoid like the plague. Students are SO much better at giving responses that accord with Leftist stereotypes:

Reading John Ray's September 4, 2007 critique of the Pyszczynski et al. claim that fear of death is behind conservatism, I couldn't help but analyze data from the NORC General Social Survey, one of the most respected databases of U.S. public opinion in existence, to further explore the matter. In fact, the GSS data completely support Dr. Ray's conclusion that there are no meaningful differences whatsoever in how liberals and conservatives view death. Again, the received "wisdom" concerning the psychology of conservatism espoused by Pyszczynski and academic social science in general, is shown to be speculative and fails to survive even moderate scrutiny.


For decades, the GSS has asked respondents about their political orientations under the variable name POLVIEWS and whether they believe in life after death under the variable name POSTLIFE. I recoded the variable POLVIEWS into the following categories:

* Extremely liberal/Liberal =1,
* Slightly Liberal = 2,
* Moderate/Middle of the Road = 3,
* Slightly Conservative = 4, and
* and Conservative/Extremely Conservative = 5.

POSTLIFE was recoded into the following categories:

* Believe in life after death =1,
* Unsure = 2, and
* Don=t believe in life after death = 3.


Conservatives were much more likely than liberals to believe in life after death, with approximately 80% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reporting that they believe in life after death and only 66% of liberals/extremely liberals reporting the same. (All percentages are rounded upwards.) While a person's belief in life after death is not necessarily predictive of whether he fears death, the results are suggestive and weaken Pyszczynski's paradigm. The Pyszczynski et al theories would seem to imply that belief in life after death is a cognitive defensive mechanism but a sizable proportion of individuals with liberal orientations clearly exhibit the same phenomenon, so it is as least not a peculiarly conservative defence mechanism. And in any event, the number of people who absolutely reject the possibility of an afterlife is very small, only about 9% in this database.

To further explore whether conservatives might harbor more fear than liberals regarding death, I analyzed how respondents answered an additional set of questions asked between 1983-1987. Each respondent who reported a belief in life after death was asked a further series of questions, prefaced as follows:

Of course, no one knows exactly what life after death would be like, but here are some ideas people have had. How likely do you feel each possibility is? Very likely, somewhat likely, not too likely, or not likely at all?

Among the various alternatives were the following descriptions of an afterlife: (1) A life of peace and tranquility (POSTLF1) and (2) A life like the one here on earth, only better (POSTLF3). There was very little meaningful difference between liberals and conservatives regarding their views on the matter. With respect to the first variable, POSTLF1, eighty-five percent of liberals/extreme liberals thought it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be a life of peace and tranquility, while an even greater 95% of conservatives/extreme conservatives held similarly positive views of life after death. Regarding the second variable, POSTLF3, 57% of liberals/extreme liberals thought it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be better than life on earth, and 59% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reported it somewhat or very likely that an afterlife would be better than life on earth. Again, all percentages are rounded.

Insofar as there is a discernable difference between liberals and conservatives in how they view death, if anything conservatives might appear to face the prospect with less fear and anxiety than those who lean leftward politically. Note that similar results are obtained when comparing respondents who are slightly liberal versus those who are slightly conservative.

If in fact conservatives have a more positive view of existence after death than that held by liberals, perhaps it explains why they seem to be at least as happy and as satisfied with life as liberals. The GSS asks respondents, "Taken all together, how would you say things are these days: Would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy, or not too happy?" (HAPPY). Eighty-eight percent of liberals/extreme liberals reported being very happy or pretty happy, and approximately 90% of conservatives/extreme conservatives reported being very happy or pretty happy. Again, the same trend is found when comparing slightly liberal respondents with slightly conservative respondents.

And on the prospects of future generations, conservatives appear to be at least as optimistic, if not more so, than liberals. The GSS asks respondents whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: "It's hardly fair to bring a child into the world with the way things look for the future." Forty percent (40%) of liberals/extreme liberals and 34% of slightly liberal respondents agreed with the statement, while 36% of conservatives/extreme conservatives and 33% of slightly conservative respondents agreed with the statement.

These findings represent yet another piece of evidence that conservatives suffer from no greater existential anxiety or dread than do liberals. The claims of a relationship between psychological maladjustment and social/political conservatism, posited by classical authoritarianism theory, are simply inaccurate.



The Leftist "Media Matters" claims that columnists appearing in American newspapers are overwhelmingly conservative. Copious Dissent pulls their "study" apart.

Jihadi medical student caught in Dearborn, Michigan: "Zorkot, a third-year medical student at Wayne State University, was allegedly armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and dressed in black clothing with camouflage paint covering his face when he was arrested Saturday in Hemlock Park. According to police, Zorkot was observed attempting to leave the park in a black SUV after officers had received reports of a man carrying a rifle in the area. He was placed under arrest and is scheduled to undergo a preliminary examination at 9 a.m. Sept. 21 in 19th District Court.

America and libertarianism: "Why does the libertarian think America is best understood in terms of libertarian ideas, principles, theories, and ideals? Because of what the Declaration of Independence states. Libertarians hold, with that venerable document, that everyone has an unalienable right to his life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. This means that others must secure one's permission before utilizing one's labor, time, works, resources for any purpose whatever. No one may intrude on another person without that person's permission or consent."

Iraq as ant-trap: "The Left thinks Iraq is a killing field for Americans. Actually, it is a killing field for our enemies, at a very great but vitally important sacrifice. That reflects a grand strategy, tailored to the peculiar nature of the global terror threat. You don't shoot poisonous fire-ants with a BB gun; you just set an ant trap. Ant colonies are highly "distributed" biological societies, much like the world-wide web. They can't be killed with a BB or a pressure hose; even pouring flaming gasoline on an ant hill won't work. Instead, you destroy ant colonies by attracting hungry ants to a chemical bait, and then kill them all in one small place. Ant traps work. That's the Bush strategy in Iraq. Al Qaeda isn't centralized, with big cities or steel industries like Nazi Germany. So you can't destroy the enemy by hunting them one by one. Rather, you bait a trap -- provoke them to come to you, and make sure they don't get out alive".


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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