Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Leftist claim of psychological dysfunction among conservatives

Leftists have been projecting their own psychological deficiencies onto Conservatives since at least 1950 -- and they are not going to give up any time soon.

The latest installment is a book by Warmist Chris Mooney called "The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Don't Believe in Science". Below is an announcement of it which I will follow with some comments

Over the last year here at DeSmogBlog, my writings have converged around a set of common themes. On the one hand, I've shown just how factually incorrect today's political conservatives are, documenting the disproportionate amount of misinformation believed by Fox News watchers and the disproportionate wrongness of the right when it comes to science.

At the same time, I've advanced a variety of psychological explanations for why we might be seeing so much political and scientific misinformation today on the right wing. For instance, I've unpacked the theory of motivated reasoning; and I've also talked about why conservative white males in particular seem to be such strong deniers of climate science.

All of this, I'm now prepared to say, is just the iceberg tip. You see, for the last year, I've been working on a book on the same topic, which explains why conservatives are so factually incorrect-drawing on the latest research in social psychology, political science, cognitive neuroscience, and other fields.

The book is now finished in draft form-due out next year with Wiley-and it is long past time to formally announce its existence. After all, it is already up on Amazon. But I can go farther by showing the draft cover image (the current subtitle is likely to change, as this phenomenon goes far, far beyond science, as does the book). I can also share the text that will soon go up to Amazon and elsewhere. Eat your heart out, Ann Coulter:
Bestselling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today's Republicans reject reality-it's just part of who they are.

From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won't Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.

* Goes beyond the standard claims about ignorance or corporate malfeasance to discover the real, scientific reasons why Republicans reject the widely accepted findings of mainstream science, economics, and history-as well as many undeniable policy facts (e.g., there were no "death panels" in the health care bill).

* Explains that the political parties reflect personality traits and psychological needs-with Republicans more wedded to certainty, Democrats to novelty-and this is the root of our divide over reality.

* Written by the author of The Republican War on Science, which was the first and still the most influential book to look at conservative rejection of scientific evidence. But the rejection of science is just the beginning.

Certain to spark discussion and debate, The Republican Brain also promises to add to the lengthy list of persuasive scientific findings that Republicans reject and deny.

I know very well that this invites controversy, so let me say (even though I expect many conservatives will ignore it!) that the book also fully documents the handicaps and drawbacks of liberal/Democratic psychology. It's a yin-and-yang kind of thing; you can't make one argument without the other.

There's a reason Winston Churchill was a better wartime leader than Neville Chamberlain. There's a reason why the Tea Party got itself elected in under two years, while Occupy Wall Street is kinda all over the place. There's a reason why we have scores of environmental groups that often can't see eye to eye. There's a reason, as George Lakoff and others have noted, why Democrats (and scientists!) focus too much on policy facts and details rather than winning over people's hearts (and winning elections).

But when it comes to determining what's true about complex, technical subjects-issues full of ambiguity and uncertainty, where you can't just jump to conclusions and have to stay open-minded and tentative in your beliefs-I'll take the scientific-liberal approach any day. And after reading the book, I think so will you.


It's laughable how he can't see his own faults and instead attributes them to others. He praises "staying open-minded and tentative in your beliefs". Yet is a member of the terminally dogmatic Global Warming crowd with their desperately asserted "consensus". If only Warmists WOULD "stay open-minded and tentative in their beliefs" -- but there's no sign of it. Jim Hansen compares coal trains with Nazi death trains: Very subtle.

On one level what Mooney says is right. There is no doubt that Leftists and Rightists have differing brains. The repeated findings about the strong genetic determination of political orientation leave no doubt of that. But how those differences work is as yet unknown. It's all speculation and theory. I point to the fact that levels of happiness are dispositional and suggest that conservatives are born happy and Leftists are born whiners. But I have no more evidence for that speculation than Mooney does for his theories. It is certainly true that conservatives repeatedly show up in surveys as happier than those on the Left but whether that is a direct outcome of brain anatomy remains to be seen.

It is true that there are various psychological studies supporting his characterization of conservatives. I spent 20 years ripping metaphorical holes in the journal articles concerned. The studies are universally poorly done. Leftists are generally too lazy (for instance) to do doorknock research. They just hand out a bunch of questionnaires to their students and their students happily give the "researchers" back what they want. And that is supposed to tell us about all humanity.

And when we add to their lack of sampling their psychometric naivety, what we have is mere progaganda -- something more reminiscent of Dr. Goebbels than of science. To take just one instance of such naivety: They have lists of questions that they use to separate out people who are conservative from those on the Left. But when it comes to actual elections, we find that their alleged indices of conservatism give zero prediction of actual vote! Alleged conservatives are just as likely to vote Democrat as Republican! So the Leftist psychologists don't even know what conservatism is, let alone being able to research it.

But let us assume that despite their methodological negligence, the Leftist psychologists have somehow guessed right. Even then there still are deep holes in their reasoning. A classic accusation -- hinted at by Mooney above -- is that conservatives are "intolerant of ambiguity". But is that a vice? Might it not be a sign of mental laziness? Surely its opposite is the search for order -- and what a true scientist does is search for order in the phenomena he studies. So Leftists must make poor scientists -- and the global warming nonsense certainly confirms that. A majority of physical scientists seem to believe it -- despite it being nothing more than a poorly-founded prophecy. They are certainly accepting a lot of ambiguity there, a quite stultifying level of ambiguity.

The other type of study the moon-man refers to is activity studies in the brain. And it seems true that in the same situation, different areas of the brain "light up" among Leftists and Rightists. That is perfectly to be expected from the genetic studies. But the moon-man tries to infer things from such patterns of lighting up. But such research only scratches the surface of brain function so all such inferences are just speculation. More on that here

On the question of whether religion makes conservatives anti-science, I have what I think is an amusing commentary here

The moon-man will give comfort to Warmists but it is comfort that is as poorly founded as Warmism itself


My favorite politician speaks

Nigel Farage is head of UKIP --a party that want to get Britain out of the EU. Like all good libertarians he wants less government and ditching EU rule would be a large step in that direction. He is incensed below by the proposal to increase the powers of the EU to deal with the crisis in Greece and elsewhere. He is the best political speaker that I know. He pulls no punches. It is good to see him back in good form after his serious injuries in an aircraft accident last year.


The Real Scandal

The real scandal in the accusations against Herman Cain is the corruption of the law, the media and politics.

Let's start with the law. Some people may think the fact that the National Restaurant Association reportedly paid $45,000 to settle a claim made by one of its employees against Mr. Cain is incriminating.

Most of us are not going to part with 45 grand without some serious reason. But that is very different from the situation of an organization in the present legal climate.

The figure $45,000 struck a chord with me because, some years ago, my wife -- who is an attorney -- was fervently congratulated when her client had to pay "only" $45,000 in a jury award when the plaintiff was demanding a million dollars, in a case that was as frivolous a lawsuit as you could find.

The person who was suing was a drunk driver, whose car went out of control and slammed into a tree. After the sheriff's deputies arrested her, she sued them on dubious charges, and the sheriff's department was glad it had to pay "only" $45,000.

The department was painfully aware of the uncertainty about what ruinous costs a jury might impose on the deputies.

The real scandal goes far beyond the case of Herman Cain and his accusers. The real scandal is that the law allows people to impose heavy costs on others at little or no cost to themselves. That is a perfect setting for legalized extortion.

The fact that neither judges nor juries always stick to the letter of the law means that people who have zero basis for a lawsuit, under the law as written, can still create enough uncertainty to extract money from people who cannot afford the risk of going to trial.

As for a $45,000 settlement, that is what an organization would pay to settle a nuisance lawsuit -- if they are lucky.

If we had a legal system where judges threw frivolous cases out of court, instead of letting them go to trial, that would put a damper on legalized extortion.

If those who bring charges that do not stand up in court had to pay the other party for their legal fees -- and should have to pay for their time as well -- these games could not go on.

It turns out that the women making televised charges against Herman Cain have past histories that do not inspire confidence, including in at least one case a history of making similar complaints against others.

Another woman who has come forward tells of Herman Cain asking her, at some conference, to see if she could locate some woman in the audience who had asked him a question, so that he could take her to dinner. This apparently struck her as suspicious.

This too reminded me of something I knew about personally. Many years ago, I was at a conference where a woman made some very insightful comments, and I took her to lunch to continue the discussion.

It so happens she was a nun. Contrary to cynics, there is more than one reason for a man to take a woman to lunch or dinner.

The same mainstream media whose responses to proven charges against Bill Clinton was, "Let's move on," is not about to move on from unproven charges against Herman Cain.

What role does race play in all this?

It is probably not racism, as such, that motivates these attacks on Herman Cain. The motivation is far more likely to be politics, but politics makes a prominent black conservative like Clarence Thomas or Herman Cain far more dangerous to the Democrats than an equally prominent white conservative.

The 90 percent black vote for Democrats is like money in the bank on election day. A prominent black conservative who offers an alternative view of the world is a serious danger politically, because if that alternative view has the net effect of reducing the black vote for Democrats just to 75 percent, the Democrats are in big trouble at election time.

In this political context, merely defeating a black conservative at the polls or at confirmation hearings is not enough. He must be destroyed as an influence in the future -- and character assassination is the most obvious way to do it.



The United States of Adult Dependence -- in an age of unemployment

Obama's economy-wrecking policies are poison to young people

The youth is the future, as often said. Thanks to the crushing effects of this economy however, our youth is finding it difficult to grow up.

To move from one's parents is often a crucial step towards full maturity. This crucial phase is being stifled, delayed, and curbed by the Great Recession. The impact is reported by the Pew Research Center. Of those living in what they define as "multigenerational homes"; seven in ten of these households are with adult children under the age of thirty.

Furthermore, Pew finds that 37% of adults ages 18-to-29 are either unemployed or out of the workforce. In an effort to evade poverty, more individuals are moving back in with relatives or acquire a roommate as a form of informal charity shelter. Many have been forced to return to a state of childhood dependence despite their best effort at independence. Among those of age 25-to-30 who living with their parents, 35% claim that they once lived independently on their own.

College enrollment has also skyrocketed as of late as another avenue of escape. Unfortunately, disappointment often waits on the other side of graduation. To illustrate, take the number of graduates in May 2011 compared to the number of jobs created that very same month.

A total of 3,205,000 post-high school degrees were conferred in May of 2011, yet only 54,000 new jobs were created that month. With a labor market already approximated at around 198 million people, such a ratio of new-jobs-to-new-graduates spells easily falls short of what's necessary to launch the promise of a new generation into the labor market. Even the most optimistic of estimates places a rate of 130,000 jobs per month as necessary if a return to pre-recession unemployment is to be obtained. The 84,000 jobs created in October, though a "recent high" still falls woefully short of a solution.

Since the days of the baby-boomers, college enrollment has gone up by 15.6%. Never before has a generation arisen with the promised of highly developed talent and education, prepared to lead us into the new, service-based economy of the Information Age. Without the opportunity to put these talents to practice however, suppressed income and dismal dependence will prove to be the killer of this Dream.



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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)


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