Friday, April 13, 2012

The genetics of politics

After my broad-ranging comments on the psychology of politics yesterday, I thought I might focus in a little more on the major factor behind one's political stance: genetics. I saw the ground-breaking 1986 article by Martin & Jardine on the heritability of politics as soon as it came out (I had a chapter in the same book) so ever since then I have been pointing out how strong is the genetic influence on political stance. What is not yet clear is WHICH genes are involved and exactly what is inherited.

One fairly straightforward study from a couple of years ago is worth a mention. It ties in nicely with something I found in 1984 -- that Leftists tend to be sensation seekers. They are restless people in search of anything new and different. This can of course lead directly to a desire for change -- which is of course a central feature of Leftist thinking. They are always wanting to change something.
People with left wing views may have their political opinions controlled by a "liberal gene", according to scientists.

The research suggests that some people have an inherent bias against conservative thinking, that is independent of their education or upbringing.

The effect is caused by a neurotransmitter in the brain called DRD4 which could be stimulated by the novelty value of left of centre opinions, say US researchers.

In people who are naturally outgoing, the feature encourages them to seek out companions with unconventional views as they grow up.

This in turn means they tend to form less conventional political viewpoints as adults, according to the study by the University of California and Harvard.

The research, based on 2,000 Americans, is published in the Journal of Politics. It found those with a strain of the DRD4 gene seek out "novelty" - such as people and lifestyles which are different to the ones they are used to. This leads them to have more liberal political opinions, it found.

The person's age, ethnicity, gender or culture appeared to make no difference - it was the gene which counts.

DRD4 is controlled by dopamine which affects the way the brain deals with emotions, pleasure and pain and can therefore influence personality traits.

UC Professor James Fowler said: "It is the crucial interaction of two factors - the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence - that is associated with being more liberal. "These findings suggest that political affiliation is not based solely on the kind of social environment people experience."


That study is of course far from the end of the story. There are indications of other genes being involved as well. But it clearly has some explanatory power.


Are conservatives lazy thinkers?

An article by Eidelman et al. claims that they are and it has predictably got a fair bit of attention from Left-leaning journalists.

I noted the article at the beginning of this month and dismissed it out of hand on the grounds that its taxonomy was wrong: Eidelman had no idea of what conservatives actually think.

Leftist psychologists generally seem to consider it beneath them to talk to such despised people as conservatives so form their impression of conservatism from some simplistic stereotype that has built up among them over the years, a stereotype which is almost wholly wrong. So when they think they are studying conservatism they are not.

I subsequently had a short correspondence with Eidelman but he simply stuck to his definition. I pointed him to my huge historical survey of what conservatism is but he offered no evidence for his view. Evidence is optional among Leftists.

And the more closely I look at his paper the more evident it becomes that my initial critique was correct. He relies, for instance, on the Kerlinger questionnaire about ideology. But what Kerlinger found was that Leftism and Rightism, far from being opposed, are actually unrelated to one-another. In other words, half of all conservatives are Leftists -- which makes no sense at all. Kerlinger had no idea of what conservatism is either.

To put my critique into psychometric terms the measures of conservatism used by Eidelman are simply not valid: They do not measure what they purport to measure.

I could go on with yet more swingeing criticisms (e.g. lack of sampling) but what's the point? Eidelman's work is clearly useless for proving anything.


Jonathan Haidt

I sent a link to my article yesterday under the heading "The psychology of politics" to Jonathan Haidt. The article was chiefly concerned with Haidt's understanding of ideology. Below is the gracious reply I received from him:
Dear Prof. Ray:

Thanks so much for appreciating that my motives are more honest. i fully agree with you on the unscientific partisan motives that sometimes distort research.

It is quite possible I've misunderstood leftists. But the love of imposing constraint that you mention is why I give them relatively low scores on liberty, in ch. 12 of my new book. It's not quite the same, psychologically, as deference to an authority, a boss, a leader. I think the left and right are still different here. But yes, the left is often anti-liberty, in service of other values, and I think this is a reason the American left does so poorly, and triggers such resentment.

With best wishes,
jon haidt

It would seem that he has not taken fully on board my contention that nothing Leftists say about themselves can be trusted but maybe his own experience will convince him of that in due course.


Media dishonesty and race hustlers


When NBC's "Today" show played the audio of George Zimmerman's call to a Sanford, Fla., police dispatcher about Trayvon Martin, the editors made him appear to be a racist who says: "This guy looks like he's up to no good. He looks black." What Zimmerman actually said was: "This guy looks like he's up to no good or he's on drugs or something. It's raining, and he's just walking around, looking about." The 911 officer responded by asking, "OK, and this guy – is he black, white or Hispanic?" Zimmerman replied, "He looks black." NBC says it's investigating the doctoring of the audio, but there's nothing to investigate; its objective was to inflame passions.

In his Associated Press article titled "Old photos may be deceptive in Fla. shooting case," Matt Sedensky pointed out that the photos carried by the major media were several years old and showed Zimmerman looking fat and mean and Martin looking like a sweet young kid.

Jesse Jackson told the Los Angeles Times that "blacks are under attack" and that "targeting, arresting, convicting blacks and ultimately killing us is big business," adding that Martin is "a martyr." President Barack Obama chimed in by saying, "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon.
Let's look at some non-news cases. On March 14 in Tulsa, Okla., a white couple suffered a home invasion by Tyrone Woodfork, a 20-year-old black man. Ninety-year-old Bob Strait suffered a broken jaw and broken ribs in the attack. His 85-year-old wife, Nancy, was sexually assaulted and battered to death, ending their 65-year marriage.

On March 4, two black Kansas City, Mo., youths doused a 13-year-old boy in gasoline and set him on fire, telling him, "You get what you deserve, white boy." Last summer, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel ordered an emergency shutdown of the beaches in Chicago because mobs of blacks were terrorizing white families.

Several years ago, in Knoxville, Tenn., a young white couple was kidnapped by four blacks. The girl was forced to witness her boyfriend's rape, torture and subsequent murder before she was raped, tortured and murdered. Before disposing of her body, the three men and one woman poured bleach or some other cleaning agent down her throat in an effort to destroy DNA evidence. A jury found the four guilty, and they were sentenced, but because of the judge's drug use, a retrial is being considered.

None of those black-on-white atrocities made anywhere near the news that the Trayvon Martin case made, and it's deliberate. Editors for the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune admitted to deliberately censoring information about black crime for political reasons, in an effort to "guard against subjecting an entire group of people to suspicion."

One doesn't have to be a liberal, conservative, Democrat or Republican to see the danger posed by America's race hustlers, who are stacking up piles of combustible racial kindling and ready for a racial arsonist to set it ablaze. Recruiters for white hate groups must love President Obama's demagoguery in saying that a son of his would look like Trayvon but not saying that Melissa Coon's 13-year-old son, who was set on fire, could have looked like a son of his. After all, the president is just as much white as he is black.

Even if the president and his liberal allies in the media and assorted civil rights hustlers don't care much about blacks murdering whites, what about blacks murdering blacks? During a mid-March weekend in Chicago, 49 people were shot, 10 fatally, including a 6-year-old black girl, making for more than 100 murders this year. Philadelphia isn't far behind, with murder clipping along at one a day since the beginning of 2012.

Have we heard Obama make a statement about this carnage or that most homicide victims are black and that their murderers are black? No, and we won't, because black-on-black crime, like black-on-white crime, does not fit the liberal narrative of the continuing problem of white racism.



Van Jones: Dishonest, intolerant slavery advocate

Obviously, the tyranny advocates of the world, like Obama and his collectivist buddies, are getting a little scared that the philosophy of freedom has been growing by leaps and bounds recently. So the megalomaniac brigade has ratcheted up its Orwellian propaganda, trying to tell everyone that freedom is slavery, peaceful coexistence is hateful and intolerant, and massive extortion and violent domination is compassionate and noble.

Van Jones, a collectivist state-worshiper comrade of Obama's, recently referred to libertarianism as a "despicable ideology," claiming that libertarians "hate" various groups of minorities, and generally trying to paint people like Ron Paul as Satan. Now, if the average couch potato had said these things, I would guess that he was merely an unthinking parrot of the usual statist propaganda. But in the case of Van Jones, he can't plead ignorance. He says what he says because what he desires above all else is to violently force others to be whatever he thinks they should be, and the idea of freedom interferes with that agenda. He is not alone in his megalomania; almost everyone in "high" public office, of any color, religion, or party affiliation, is there because he wants to dominate his fellow man. Despite being black, Van Jones is, just like Obama, an aspiring slave-master. If you think I exaggerate, read on.

If Mr. Jones was merely stupid, I could believe that he really can't tell the difference between right-wing statist control freaks, and those who believe in the non-aggression principle (libertarians). But he's not that stupid. He is intentionally trying to make his audience accept the idiotic lie that believing that everyone should be allowed to run his own life, make his own decisions, and spend his own money (a.k.a. libertarianism), is the same as hating everyone who isn't like you, and wanting to oppress and enslave everyone else.

Mr. Jones seems to be doing quite a bit of psychological projecting in his accusations. If you want to see an intolerant, hateful, pack-mentality control freak, look no further than Van Jones. Or Obama, for that matter. It is really sad that anyone would believe, based on the color of Obama's skin, that he actually cares about black people. Obama doesn't care about the average American black any more than George Bush cares about me. Despite the patently idiotic tripe we're all taught to the contrary, people don't seek positions of power and control in order to help and serve those whom they seek to control. Do you think Van Jones, or Obama, wanted to be where they are so they could leave you alone? They wanted the "Ring of Power" so they could USE it. And the only way anyone can use the power of "government" is to violently control people. That's all "laws" are: threats of violence.

Let's take an example Van Jones brought up, which even makes many pro-freedom advocates tread softly, for fear of offending anyone. (Don't expect any soft-treading here.) Many of the so-called "anti-discrimination" laws are unjustified and evil. People who grasp the principles of liberty and self-ownership understand this. Take the example Van Jones used, of some racist restaurant owner who refuses to serve blacks, or some other minority group. This makes a fine example of why the belief in "government" is such a horribly dangerous and destructive superstition. If you accept the notion that "government" has the right to violently impose "fairness" and "rightness" upon everyone, then the tyrants (like Obama and his collectivist buddies) can always find a way to trick you into advocating thuggery and oppression.

Imagine, for example, that some white guy went up to Van Jones, and said, "I'm going to follow you around for a few days, to make sure that you're spending enough money at white-owned establishments." How do you suppose he would react? I'm guessing he would have a temporary fit of righteous indignation and moral clarity, and say, "You have no right to tell me how to spend my money!" And he'd be right.

And, for the exact same reason, no one has the right to force some Aryan Nation member to hire a black man. Incidentally, there's a word for forcing someone to serve someone else--which is what Van Jones is advocating. That word is "slavery." I realize that in a country governed mainly by meaningless, emotional, rhetorical mush, that might sound strange to most people. But it's called a principle. Each person owns himself, and owns the fruits of his labors. No one owns anyone else, and no one has the right to take what anyone else has earned without his consent. Freedom means freedom. If someone wants to spend his own money in a way that I think is racist, rude, or economically idiotic, I have no right whatsoever to interfere.

If, for example, some black store owner refuses to serve me because I'm white, or because I have reddish hair, or because I said nasty things about Fuhrer Obama, it is his absolute right to choose not to trade with me. And being someone who actually understands and abides by principles, if anyone tried to force the store owner to serve me--whether via the state violence of "legislation" or by any other means--I would be first in line to defend the store owner's right to be a rude, racist dumbass, by not allowing me in his store.

Why? Because I have moral principles, and I value peaceful coexistence. And peaceful coexistence doesn't mean a giant love-in where everyone is the same. It doesn't mean everyone will like everyone else, or everyone will agree on everything. It doesn't mean everyone will approve of each other's choices or lifestyles. It doesn't mean everyone will say nice things about each other. It means only that people--whatever religious, racial, economic, philosophical, or any other differences they may have--will tolerate the existence of each other, and not initiate violence against each other. That's what it means to be civilized.

Despite how the collectivists have mangled the term, that is what "tolerance" actually means. It doesn't mean you like something, or approve of it--it means that you allow it to be, you don't attempt to violently eradicate it just because you don't like it. It means that, whatever you might think of it, you tolerate its existence. Libertarians do that. Obama and Van Jones do not. Instead, they seek to use the power of the state to violently impose their ideas of fairness and politeness upon the rest of humanity.

The real reason Van Jones hates libertarians--and yes, I do mean "hates"--is because if they get their way, he will become as irrelevant and powerless as he should be. Of course those who crave dominion over their fellow man hate libertarianism, and find it "despicable," because in a world where the principles of self-ownership and non-aggression are understood and embraced, there will be nothing for tyrants like Van Jones to do, no way for them to trick people into giving them power. Libertarianism will always pose a threat to megalomaniacs like Van Jones, because megalomaniacs will always pose a threat to peaceful coexistence, i.e., rational and moral civilization.




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 (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


No comments: