Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Leftist emotional insensitivity

During my career as an academic researcher in psychology and sociology, my main interest was in ideological attitudes but I also made forays into personality research at times. One such foray was into the study of psychopathy, using the most widely accepted measure of it: The MMPI PD scale. One of the two articles I wrote on that subject received a very minor but perhaps significant mark of distinction: It was to a small degree quoted by later authors on the subject. One sometimes gets the impression that most academic journal articles are read by only two people: The author and his mother -- though, if you are lucky, the article might also have been read right through by the editor and referees of the journal in which it was published. I think that most authors of academic articles will assure you with some passion that referees have clearly NOT read with any care the articles they comment on.

My article which received some attention was on sub-clinical psychopathy. You can read it here. So I probably am on firmer ground than most in commenting on that subject. The hallmarks of psychopathy are a lack of normal emotional feelings, an absence of any morality or ethics and a well-disguised contempt for everybody else. In extreme cases this can lead to singularly brutal crimes. Like most personality dispositions, however, there are degrees of psychopathy. In milder cases it can have some advantages and it is those cases that I call sub-clinical: i.e. cases where the psychopath manages to keep himself out of trouble with either the law or the mental health system. And it is often asserted that a degree of psychopathy is helpful in business success.

As it was not my main focus of study, however, I never got around to examining the role of psychopathy in politics. Though I did find in my original research that psychopathy was associated with permissiveness and rejection of punitiveness, attitudes which are common on the Left. And these days I would not attempt research that looked directly at the correlation between Leftism and psychopathy because the conclusion I came to at the end of my research career was that most Leftists are incapable or unwilling to describe their real attitudes. For instance: They will almost all, if asked, claim to be ardent supporters of free speech. Yet, as almost daily posts on my TONGUE-TIED blog reveal, they are in fact relentless enemies of it.

So it seems to me that it is real-life behaviour alone that we must look at in assessing Leftists and I have already used that approach to look at some length at the relationship between Leftism and psychopathy here. As you might have inferred from my original description of psychopathy above, there is much about characteristic Leftist behaviour that a psychiatrist would recognize as psychopathic.

A recent article has emerged, however, that reinforces that conclusion. I reprint the central part of it below. It tends to show that, relative to conservatives, Leftists have a deficit in emotional sensitivity to unpleasant things -- something that is very characteristic of the psychopath. That is of course not at all a new conclusion. We know, for instance, the unfailing brutality of Communist regimes. Not the slightest human sensitivity there. And Stalin's mass murders never bothered American "liberals" during the Soviet era, though the brutality sure bothered conservatives. Nonetheless it is interesting (and a little surprising) to see from attitude research a confirmation of something we know to be true from real life. Given the relentless Leftism of academic psychology and sociology, the authors of article do of course try to "spin" their conclusions as in some way detrimental to conservatives but I think the research results speak for themselves.

One point I should make here, however, is that I AGREE with the authors below in seeing a strong relationship between emotional responses and morality. I have previously argued at some length that seeing morality as having an instinctive emotional basis is a strong position from a philosophical viewpoint and the work of Pinker and Haidt and others has also found some empirical association between morality and emotions of disgust etc.

I should perhaps stress strongly at this point, however, that neither psychopaths nor Leftists are DEVOID of emotion. The one emotion which they do have and which they do share is contempt or hate towards other people about them, contempt for the "status quo" in the Leftist case. And that can be a very strong emotion indeed: A dominant emotion, even. I say more about that here. So on to the recent article:
Liberals and conservatives are often disgusted with one another. No surprise there. But conservatives are literally the more easily disgusted of the two when it comes to such squeamish things as maggots, questionable toilet seats and the prospect of eating monkey meat. Such sensitivity, it seems, plays a role in their ideology and moral values.

Two joint studies released Friday from psychologists at Cornell, Harvard and Yale universities determined that conservatives are more fastidious about the creepier, smellier side of life reflective of a hard-wired instinct for safety and self-preservation. It raises questions about the role of disgust an emotion that likely evolved in humans to keep them safe from potentially hazardous or disease-carrying environments in contemporary judgments of morality and purity, said study leader David Pizarro, an assistant professor of psychology at Cornell who led the study.

People have pointed out for a long time that a lot of our moral values seem driven by emotion, and, in particular, disgust appears to be one of those emotions that seems to be recruited for moral judgments....

The researchers surveyed 181 adults from politically mixed swing states, offering them the Disgust Sensitivity Scale, a personality ratings system initially developed by behavioral psychologists at the University of Virginia. It poses all sorts of uncomfortable possibilities to participants gauging their reactions on a scale of 1-5 to vomit, graveyards, preserved body parts, squashed earthworms and monkey meat.

The researchers surveyed the degree of ideological beliefs of the same test group, to reveal a correlation between being more easily disgusted and political conservatism, the study said.

Disgust really is about protecting yourself from disease; it didn't really evolve for the purpose of human morality, Mr. Pizarro said. It clearly has become central to morality, but because of its origins in contamination and avoidance, we should be wary about its influences.

In another study, the researchers offered the disgust scale to 91 Cornell undergraduates, also asking them where they stood on gay marriage, abortion, gun control, labor unions, tax cuts and affirmative action.

Participants who rated higher in disgust sensitivity were more likely to oppose gay marriage and abortion, issues that are related to notions of morality or purity, the study found. Squeamish people were also more likely to disapprove of gays and lesbians in general.

The findings revealed complex emotions, indeed. Conservatives have argued that there is inherent wisdom in repugnance; that feeling disgusted about something gay sex between consenting adults, for example is cause enough to judge it wrong or immoral, even lacking a concrete reason, Mr. Pizarro said. Liberals tend to disagree, and are more likely to base judgments on whether an action or a thing causes actual harm.

He speculated that the link between disgust and moral judgment could help explain stark differences in values among Americans and be of interest to canny political strategists. He added that the findings could offer strategies for persuading some to change their views. The research was published in Cognition and Emotion and Emotion, two academic journals, and funded solely by Cornell University....


And below we have another case in point, where an apparently very Leftist female was not even disgusted by being gang raped:
Well, yes, the Taliban raped me, but they also respected me — they are not monsters

From the Brussels Journal comes the mind-blowing story of a left-wing Dutch journalist, Joanie de Rijke, who went to Afghanistan to conduct a sympathetic interview with Taliban jihadists who had just killed 10 French troops. Naturally, she was abducted and serially raped for six days. And now she is angry ... not at the chief Taliban thug — who showed her "respect," though, regrettably, "he could not control his testosterone" — but at the Dutch and Belgian governments who refused to pay the $2 million ransom the jihadists demanded.




China is once again blocking access to a lot of sites. Even my mirror sites are now inaccessible at times. I have therefore put up a second lot of mirrors as under that ARE so far still accessible:

Mirror site for "Tongue Tied" here

Mirror site for "Dissecting Leftism" here

Mirror site for "Political Correctness Watch" or here

Mirror site for "Greenie Watch" here

Mirror site for "Education Watch International" here

Mirror site for "Gun Watch" here

Mirror site for "Socialized Medicine here

Mirror site for "Australian Politics" here

Mirror site for "Food & Health Skeptic" here

Mirror site for "Immigration Watch International" here


Elections to the European parliament

Conservatives racing ahead in EU parliament voting: "Conservatives raced toward victory in some of Europe's largest economies on Sunday as initial results and exit polls showed voters punishing left-leaning parties in European parliament elections in France, Germany and elsewhere. Some right-leaning parties said the results vindicated their reluctance to spend more on company bailouts and fiscal stimulus amid the global economic crisis. First projections by the European Union showed centre-right parties would have the most seats - between 263 and 273 - in the 736-member parliament. Centre-left parties were expected to get between 155 to 165 seats. Right-leaning governments were ahead of the opposition in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, while conservative opposition parties were leading in Britain and Spain. Greece was a notable exception, where the governing conservatives were headed for defeat in the wake of corruption scandals and economic woes. Germany's Social Democrats headed to their worst showing in a nationwide election since World War II. Four months before Germany holds its own national election, the outcome boosted conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel's hopes of ending the tense left-right "grand coalition" that has led the European Union's most populous nation since 2005. "We are the force that is acting level-headedly and correctly in this financial and economic crisis," said Volker Kauder, the leader of Merkel's party in the German parliament. France's Interior Ministry said partial results showed the governing conservatives in the lead, with the Socialists in a distant second and the Europe Ecologie environmentalist party a close third.

Anti-EU party wins big in EU elections!: "UKIP early this morning appeared to be the main beneficiary of another set of disastrous results for Labour in the European elections. A big protest vote against all the main political parties because of the MPs’ expenses row led to increases in the votes of all smaller parties, with UKIP making a breakthrough in several regions. The anti-EU party got its first seat in Wales, retained its seats in the Eastern region, the South East and Yorkshire and the Humber and increased its share of the vote. The party looked set to overtake Labour and come second behind the Tories, with the Lib Dems coming fourth. Initial predictions of the share of the vote across Britain suggested that the Tories would poll 27 per cent, roughly the same as in 2004, UKIP would come second with 17 per cent, one percentage point up from last time, with Labour a dismal third on 16 per cent, down 7 percentage points, its worst ever result. The Lib Dems were expected to get about 15 per cent of the vote, with the Greens and BNP getting 7 to 8 per cent each."

Bad news for the Warriors of Destiny: "Fianna Fáil, the most successful political party in Western Europe, was facing up to its worst electoral performance in its history last night with the likelihood that it would lose a European Parliament seat in Dublin. The party’s woes were compounded by disastrous results in local council elections and two Dublin by-elections. Another loser last night appeared to be Declan Ganley, founder and leader of Libertas, which brought the Lisbon Treaty ratification process to a standstill when it spearheaded the No vote in last year’s Irish referendum. Mr Ganley polled better than predicted, but his 16 per cent share in the Ireland North West constituency was not likely, after the first round of counting, to secure him its third seat. [Yes. Fianna Fáil really does mean "Warriors of Destiny". Irish political loyalties owe as much to history as anything else but in non-Irish terms they are a centrist party]

British anti-immigration party wins EP seats: "Nick Griffin, leader of the far-right British National Party, has won a seat in the European Parliament. Mr Griffin, standing in the Northwest of England region, was the second candidate of the anti-immigration party to be elected. Hours earlier, Andrew Brons won the party's first European seat in the nearby Yorkshire and the Humber region. Both seats were at the expense of Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour Party, which suffered a devastating result across the country. Mr Griffin had earlier hailed Mr Brons' win - with almost 10 per cent of the vote - as "a huge breakthrough'' for his party, and used the victory to reiterate his party's anti-immigration and anti-Islam stance. He denied his party was racist, but said: "We do say this country is full up. The key thing is to shut the door.'' Mr Griffin told Sky News television: "This is a Christian country and Islam is not welcome, because Islam and Christianity, Islam and democracy, Islam and women's rights do not mix. "That's a simple fact that the elites of Europe are going to have to get their heads round and deal with over the next few years.''



Palin defeats all ethics charges: "The accusations made news, but with another dismissal of an ethics charge last week against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential nominee has quietly been cleared of every ethics complaint filed since the torrent of allegations began in 2008. Mrs. Palin, who became a target of such complaints after being named Sen. John McCain's running mate, is 14-for-14 in fighting off the complaints. She's been cleared of 13 charges by the independent State Personnel Board and of another complaint by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). After the latest complaint in Alaska was dismissed last week, Mrs. Palin's team said that having to fend off the pile of accusations was wasting state money. "This complaint cost the governor personally, and the state of Alaska, thousands of dollars to address," said Thomas Van Flein, the governor's attorney. "It is regrettable that the ethics process has been diverted for partisan purposes by some, but it is also commendable that the board remains focused on the law."

Righteous Gentile: "Nicholas Winton is a name that ought to be better known. He has been called the British Schindler. As the Nazis were dismembering Czechoslovakia and preparing for mass persecutions, he went to Prague and set up an office there. At the time, he was 29 and a stockbroker’s clerk, nobody special. It was a feat to organize eight trains that brought Jewish children to London — they all needed sponsors, complex paperwork, and funding. In all, Winton saved 667 children, though sometimes the figure is given as 669. The ninth train was due to leave on September 3, 1939, the day war was declared, so it was canceled. The 250 children who would have been on that train were soon murdered. There’s been some recognition. Books have been written about him, and films made. The Queen knighted him and the Czechs proposed him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Winton makes no claims for himself, merely saying, “I just saw what was going on and did what I could to help.” This admirable and modest man has just celebrated his 100th birthday.

Funds ask SCOTUS to block Chrysler sale: “Opponents of Chrysler’s sale to Fiat are asking the Supreme Court to block the deal. Three Indiana state pension and construction funds filed emergency papers at the high court early Sunday to put the sale on hold so they can pursue an appeal. The federal appeals court in New York approved the sale Friday, but gave objectors until Monday afternoon to try to get the Supreme Court to intervene. Chrysler wants to sell the bulk of its assets to a group led by Italy’s Fiat as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy protection.”

Israel: Netanyahu to give major speech in response to Obama: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will discuss the future of settlement construction and the establishment of a Palestinian state during a major policy address at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday. In the speech, Netanyahu will lay out his plans for Israel’s relations with the Palestinian Authority and Arab countries, a source close to the premier said yesterday. It remains unclear whether Netanyahu will recognize the principle of two states for two peoples in the speech, which is meant as a response to U.S. President Barack Obama’s address in Cairo last week. Obama stressed the two-state solution, saying it is good for both Israel and the Palestinians”

CA: Politicians contemplate rewrite of “social contract”: “With empty pockets and maxed-out credit, California is debating whether it can continue honoring all parts of its social contract [sic] with the state’s most vulnerable residents. The state faces an unprecedented drop in tax revenue and a widening budget deficit amid the deepest recession in decades, prompting Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to propose cost-cutting steps that once seemed unthinkable.”

North Korea’s defiance puts Obama in a corner: “North Korea’s defiant nuclear test May 25 presents President Obama with a challenging new set of problems on the international scene. The test is a setback for the Obama concept of engagement with rogue nations. It vastly complicates his attempts to defuse Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s leaders may reasonably conclude: If North Korea can get away with building a nuclear arsenal largely unscathed, why not us? Indeed, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was quick to rule out nuclear negotiations with other nations, declaring: ‘Iran’s nuclear issue is over, in our opinion.’ This, in turn, injects some tension into Mr. Obama’s relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.”

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or 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" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Rolf Krake said...

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My best regards