Friday, February 06, 2015

Conservatives have a better sense of humor

This is an article from a few years back but it reinforces much that I have been saying for many years.  And it is in the NYT!

We begin by asking you to rate, on a scale of 1 (not funny at all) to 9 (hilarious) the following three attempts at humor:

A) Jake is about to chip onto the green at his local golf course when a long funeral procession passes by. He stops in midswing, doffs his cap, closes his eyes and bows in prayer. His playing companion is deeply impressed. “That’s the most thoughtful and touching thing I’ve ever seen,” he says. Jake replies, “Yeah, well, we were married 35 years.”

B) I think there should be something in science called the “reindeer effect.” I don’t know what it would be, but I think it’d be good to hear someone say, “Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.”

C) If you saw two guys named Hambone and Flippy, which one would you think liked dolphins the most? I’d say Flippy, wouldn’t you? You’d be wrong, though. It’s Hambone.

Those were some of the jokes rated by nearly 300 people in Boston in a recent study. (You can rate some of the others at TierneyLab, The researchers picked out a variety of jokes — good, bad, conventional, absurdist — to look for differences in reactions between self-described liberals and conservatives.

They expected conservatives to like traditional jokes, like the one about the golfing widower, that reinforce racial and gender stereotypes. And because liberals had previously been reported to be more flexible and open to new ideas, the researchers expected them to get a bigger laugh out of unconventional humor, like Jack Handey’s “Deep Thoughts” about the reindeer effect and Hambone.

Indeed, the conservatives did rate the traditional golf and marriage jokes as significantly funnier than the liberals did. But they also gave higher ratings to the absurdist “Deep Thoughts.” In fact, they enjoyed all kinds of humor more.

“I was surprised,” said Dan Ariely, a psychologist at Duke University, who collaborated on the study with Elisabeth Malin, a student at Mount Holyoke College. “Conservatives are supposed to be more rigid and less sophisticated, but they liked even the more complex humor.”

Do conservatives have more fun? Should liberals start describing themselves as humor-challenged? To investigate these questions, we need to delve into the science of humor (not a funny enterprise), starting with two basic kinds of humor identified in the 1980s by Willibald Ruch, a psychologist who now teaches at the University of Zurich.

The first category is incongruity-resolution humor, or INC-RES in humor jargon. It covers traditional jokes and cartoons in which the incongruity of the punch line (the husband who misses his wife’s funeral) can be resolved by other information (he’s playing golf). You can clearly get the joke, and it often reinforces stereotypes (the golf-obsessed husband).

Dr. Ruch and other researchers reported that this humor, with its orderly structure and reinforcement of stereotypes, appealed most to conservatives who shunned ambiguity and complicated new ideas, and who were more repressed and conformist than liberals.

The second category, nonsense humor, covers many “Far Side” cartoons, Monty Python sketches and “Deep Thoughts.” The punch line’s incongruity isn’t neatly resolved — you’re left to enjoy the ambiguity and absurdity of the reindeer effect or Hambone’s affection for dolphins. This humor was reported to appeal to liberals because of their “openness to ideas” and their tendency to “seek new experiences.”

But then why didn’t the liberals in the Boston experiment like the nonsense humor of “Deep Thoughts” as much as the conservatives did? One possible explanation is that conservatives’ rigidity mattered less than another aspect of their personality. Rod Martin, the author of “The Psychology of Humor,” said the results of the Boston study might reflect another trait that has been shown to correlate with a taste for jokes: cheerfulness.

“Conservatives tend to be happier than liberals in general,” said Dr. Martin, a psychologist at the University of Western Ontario. “A conservative outlook rationalizes social inequality, accepting the world as it is, and making it less of a threat to one’s well-being, whereas a liberal outlook leads to dissatisfaction with the world as it is, and a sense that things need to change before one can be really happy.”

Another possible explanation is that conservatives, or at least the ones in Boston, really aren’t the stiffs they’re made out to be by social scientists. When these scientists analyze conservatives, they can sound like Victorians describing headhunters in Borneo. They try to be objective, but it’s an alien culture.

The studies hailing liberals’ nonconformity and “openness to ideas” have been done by social scientists working in a culture that’s remarkably homogenous politically. Democrats outnumber Republicans by at least seven to one on social science and humanities faculties, according to studies by Daniel Klein, an economist at George Mason University. If you’re a professor who truly “seeks new experiences,” try going into a faculty club today and passing out McCain-Palin buttons.

Could it be that the image of conservatives as humorless, dogmatic neurotics is based more on political bias than sound social science? Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who reviews the evidence of cognitive differences in his 2005 book, “Expert Political Judgment,” said that while there were valid differences, “liberals and conservatives are roughly equally closed-minded in dealing with dissonant real-world evidence.”

So perhaps conservatives don’t have a monopoly on humorless dogmatism. Maybe the stereotype of the dour, rigid conservative has more to do with social scientists’ groupthink and wariness of outsiders — which, come to think of it, resembles the herding behavior of certain hoofed animals. Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect.



Obama Versus America

By Thomas Sowell

In his recent trip to India, President Obama repeated a long-standing pattern of his – denigrating the United States to foreign audiences. He said that he had been discriminated against because of his skin color in America, a country in which there is, even now, “terrible poverty.”

Make no mistake about it, there is no society of human beings in which there are no rotten people. But for a President of the United States to be smearing America in a foreign country, whose track record is far worse, is both irresponsible and immature.

Years after the last lynching of blacks took place in the Jim Crow South, India’s own government was still publishing annual statistics on atrocities against the untouchables, including fatal atrocities. The June 2003 issue of “National Geographic” magazine had a chilling article on the continuing atrocities against untouchables in India in the 21st century.

Nothing that happened to Barack Obama when he was attending a posh private school in Hawaii, or elite academic institutions on the mainland, was in the same league with the appalling treatment of untouchables in India. And what Obama called “terrible poverty” in America would be called prosperity in India.

The history of the human race has not always been a pretty picture, regardless of what part of the world you look at, and regardless of whatever color of the rainbow the people have been.

If you want to spend your life nursing grievances, you will never run out of grievances to nurse, regardless of what color your skin is. If some people cannot be rotten to you because of your race, they will find some other reason to be rotten to you.

The question is whether you want to deal with such episodes at the time when they occur or whether you want to nurse your grievances for years, and look for opportunities for “payback” against other people for what somebody else did. Much that has been said and done by both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder suggests that they are in payback mode.

Both have repeatedly jumped into local law enforcement issues, far from Washington, and turned them into racial issues, long before the facts came out. These two men – neither of whom grew up in a ghetto – have been quick to play the role of defenders of the ghetto, even when that meant defending the kinds of hoodlums who can make life a living hell for decent people in black ghettos.

Far from benefitting ghetto blacks, the vision presented by the Obama administration, and the policies growing out of that vision, have a track record of counterproductive results on both sides of the Atlantic – that is, among low-income whites in England as well as low-income blacks in the United States.

In both countries, children from low-income immigrant families do far better in schools than the native-born, low-income children. Moreover, low-income immigrant groups rise out of poverty far more readily than low-income natives.

The January 31st issue of the distinguished British magazine “The Economist” reports that the children of African refugees from Somalia do far better in school than low-income British children in general. “Somali immigrants,” it reports, “insist that their children turn up for extra lessons at weekends.” These are “well-ordered children” and their parents understand that education “is their ticket out of poverty.”

Contrast that with the Obama administration’s threatening schools with federal action if they do not reduce their disciplining of black males for misbehavior.

Despite whatever political benefit or personal satisfaction that may give Barack Obama and Eric Holder, reducing the sanctions against misbehavior in school virtually guarantees that classroom disorder will make the teaching of other black students far less effective, if not impossible.

For black children whose best ticket out of poverty is education, that is a lifelong tragedy, even if it is a political bonanza to politicians who claim to be their friends and defenders.

The biggest advantage that the children of low-income immigrants have over the children of native-born, low-income families is that low-income immigrants have not been saturated for generations with the rhetoric of victimhood and hopelessness, spread by people like Obama, Holder and their counterparts overseas.



Obama is Just Doing a Jim Dandy Job!

By Rich Kozlovich

While 54% of voters want no new taxes and more budget cuts, President Obama is expected to propose a near $4 trillion federal budget that includes tax and spending increases. However, 16% actually do favor a federal budget that increases spending and 21% think we should continue spending like drunken sailors at the same level. Only that would “be an insult to drunken sailors – at least they’re spending their own money”.

So now we absolutely know one thing from that poll - we have 37% of the American population that never took arithmetic in school. Is possible that reading, writing and arithmetic isn't taught in American schools any longer?

Rasmussen polls show society isn’t all that thrilled with their health care and don’t expect Obamacare to fix it. Furthermore they think society is better off without government interference in the nation’s health care system. All these things Americans don't like are foundational to everything Obama is doing and yet Rasmussen’s Daily Presidential Tracking Poll gives Obama a 51% performance approval rating. Does that make sense to anyone?

I don’t really know if Rasmussen can be trusted any more than other pollsters, but I put pollsters as a whole in the same category as snake oil salesmen. They ask questions in ways that will generate affirmation versus reality. Having said that - I've followed the Rasmussen polls for some time now and I keep seeing a majority who claim they dislike Obama's policies and yet think he's just doing a Jim Dandy job. Is that rational? Is that a case of cognitive dissonance or was Gruber right – people are stupid?  The second question we need clarity on is  this - if so many people are stupid, did they get that way on their own?

I think it’s a combination of the following. An American educational system that's turned into an expensive failure, cognitive dissonance is rampant, the pollsters are corrupt, people are largely misinformed and uninformed by choice, a corrupt media wants to keep them that way - and Gruber was right. There is only one question I think needs to be answered. Since Gruber was attacked as ‘arrogant’ by various writers – we need to clearly define in our minds if he was being arrogant or was he merely making an observation of reality that no one liked?

Here’s an insight to the correct answer. Newsweek gave a test to 1000 people and found that 29% of Americans didn’t know who the Vice President was, 27% didn’t know the President of the U.S. was in charge of the executive branch and 70% didn’t know the supreme law of the land was the U.S. Constitution. One commenter made the observation that perhaps they thought it was the Prime Directive from the United Federation of Planets. I would be willing to bet if that question was part of the test a fair number would have agreed – and believed it! Is that an indication the American educational system has failed to teach history and civics?

Apparently 33% don’t know the official date for the signing of the Declaration of Independence was July 4, 1776. Hummmm, I wonder if they go around asking why July 4th is a national holiday. Oh wait….I know….I know…’s a national holiday created to lend economic support to fireworks manufacturers…Right?

But that’s only a third of the population, perhaps I’m just being picky since 65% didn’t know the Constitution was written by the Founding Fathers at the Constitutional Convention – that’s 65%, - and only 12% could name one of the writers, 43% didn’t know the first ten amendments to the Constitution is called the Bill of Rights and 63% didn’t know there were nine justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, perhaps I'm just being picky again, but is this another indictment of American education?

Now for those who are snickering– how many amendments are there to the U.S. Constitution? Answer without looking it up!

Eighty percent didn’t know who the President of the U.S. was during WWI and 40% didn’t know the U.S. was fighting Germany, Italy and Japan during WWII, with a full 73% being unaware the “cold war” was over the spread of communism. Now does all of this give anyone the impression that someone in American education is clearly dropping the ball?  Is it any wonder why so many believe "going green" is good, in spite of the fact the green movement has been responsbible for more death and suffering than the socialist monsters of the 20th century.

And 51% believe Obama, who increased the national debt from a little over ten trillion dollars to a little over eighteen trillion dollars in six years without having much of an impact of the "Great Recession", is just doing a Jim Dandy job!

Have a really good day!



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Rich Kozlovich said...

I made a correction to an incredibly stupid error in my article about Obama doing a Jim Dandy Job. The Declaration was signed on the 4th of July, not the Constitution. That's been fixed.
Best wishes,

JR said...

Fixed by me too now