Sunday, December 20, 2015

Psychologists discover the truth of an old conservative saying

The saying is "A conservative is a liberal who got mugged last night". It is of no certain origin but is often attributed to Irving Kristol or some other NYC neoconservative -- though it is also attributed to Frank Rizzo, who rose from police chief to Mayor of Philadelphia.  The point is of course the notoriously poor reality contact of liberals. Most of what they believe is at variance with reality, with "all men are equal" being the most obvious example plus global warming and most of feminism being other examples. Here's that pesky graph of the satellite temperature record again:

And the wisdom of the "mugged" saying was shown in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when attitudes among American adults were shown to have shifted Rightward after the attacks.  The attacks may be said to have "mugged" America, at least temporarily.

A new article (below) extends the finding to Britain -- concerning the time in 2005 when Britain had its big attack by Muslim terrorists. And the interesting thing this time is that it was ONLY liberals who changed their attitudes.  By 2005, British conservatives had learned from the 9/11 attacks and more or less expected what happened in Britain.  But liberals were caught by surprise.  They had NOT learned from 9/11.  So the attitude change was among British liberals only.

Amusing that the authors below describe heightened caution about Muslims as "prejudice".  I would have thought that it was POSTjudice -- evidence of learning, not evidence of hostility

Liberals' attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants became more like those of conservatives following the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, new research shows. Data from two nationally representative surveys of British citizens revealed that feelings of national loyalty increased and endorsement of equality decreased among political liberals following the terrorist attack.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Terrorist attacks on major international capital cities such as Paris, Ankara, or London are rare and dramatic events that undoubtedly shape public and political opinion. But whose attitudes do they affect most, and in what way?

"Our findings show that terrorism shifts public attitudes towards greater loyalty to the in-group, less concern with fairness, and greater prejudice against Muslims and immigrants, but it seems that this effect is stronger on those who are politically left-leaning than those who are right-leaning," explain psychological scientists from the Center for the Study of Group Processes at the University of Kent.

"The overall impact is to create a climate in which it may be harder to promote or sustain intergroup tolerance, inclusiveness and trust," says Julie Van de Vyver of the University of Kent, one of the authors on the study.

Research from psychological science has shown that people often adopt ideological belief systems that reduce their feelings of threat. Based on these findings, the research team hypothesized that the bombings would cause liberals to shift moral perspectives in favor of protecting the in-group, akin to the values typically reported by political conservatives. They speculated that this shift would ultimately lead to an increase in prejudice toward the out-group among liberals.

Historic survey evidence gathered by two of the study authors, Diane Houston and Dominic Abrams, provided the research team with real-world insight. The researchers analyzed newly available data from two nationally representative surveys, administered about 6 weeks before and 1 month after the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. The bombings, which occurred on public transport, led to the deaths of 52 people and injury of 770 people. The bombings were part of an Al Qaeda attack carried out by three British-born Muslims from immigrant families and one Jamaican convert to Islam.

In the two surveys, participants rated their agreement with statements that represented four moral foundations: in-group loyalty (i.e., "I feel loyal to Britain despite any faults it may have"), authority-respect (i.e., "I think people should follow rules at all times, even when no one is watching"), harm-care (i.e., "I want everyone to be treated justly, even people I do not know. It is important to me to protect the weak in society), and fairness-reciprocity (i.e., "There should be equality for all groups in Britain").

Participants also rated their agreement with statements about attitudes toward Muslims (e.g., "Britain would lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Britain") and immigrants (e.g., "Government spends too much money assisting immigrants").

As expected, attitudes towards Muslims and toward immigrants were more negative following the attacks than before, but only among liberals; conservatives' views stayed relatively constant. Thus, liberals' attitudes seemed to shift toward those of conservatives following the bombings.

This increased prejudice was accounted for by changes in liberals' moral foundations. Specifically, liberals showed an increase in in-group loyalty and a decrease in fairness, and these shifts accounted for their negative attitudes toward Muslims and immigrants.

The results show that people's moral perspectives aren't necessarily constant - they can change according to the immediate context.

"An important challenge following dramatic terrorist attacks is to know how to engage with public perceptions and attitudes, for example to prevent an upsurge in prejudice and its effects," says Abrams.

"For people working to tackle prejudice, it is important to be aware that terror events may have different effects on the attitudes of people who start from different political orientations," the researchers write.

Based on these findings, the researchers argue that terrorist attacks may ultimately lead conservatives to consolidate their existing priorities, making them resistant to change; at the same time, such attacks may prompt a shift in liberals' priorities toward more prejudiced attitudes.

This shift in attitudes may be reflected in the UK parliament's recent decision, following the November attacks in Paris, to approve bombing missions in Syria—a reversal of its decision in 2013. The researchers note that the greatest change in voting occurred among Labour Members of Parliament, who fall on the left end of the political spectrum; they showed a 20% increase in support for the bombing missions from 2013 to 2015.



Even Vlad likes The Donald

Note that Russians drink tea.  That's teacup in the pic

After staring down months of opposition and criticism, U.S. Presidential hopeful Donald Trump has finally received a rare piece of ringing, unequivocal support.

Unfortunately, it comes from the provocative and confrontational Russian president Vladimir Putin.  Today Putin offered his thoughts on the Republican party nomination for the White House, and offered nothing but praise for the billionaire businessman.

He said: 'He is a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented. He is the absolute leader of the presidential race.'

Putin went on to describe him as 'flamboyant', and claiming Trump wants to move to a 'deeper level' of relations with Russia, added: 'How can we not welcome it? Of course we welcome it.'

Putin went on to state Russia is ready to improve ties with the U.S. and work with whomever is elected its next president.



The Donald replies

Donald Trump hesitated on Friday to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin for allegations the Kremlin has killed high-profile journalists critical of the leader, saying "our country does plenty of killing also."

During an interview with MSNBC’s "Morning Joe," Trump expanded upon his welcoming of praise from Putin, remarking that "when people call you brilliant, it’s always good, especially when the person heads up Russia."

Co-host Joe Scarborough then asked Trump what he thought about the number of high-profile murders of journalists who have been critical of Putin. "He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know unlike what we have in this country," Trump responded.

Scarborough pressed Trump again on the issue.

"Well I think our country does plenty of killing also, Joe," Trump said. "So, you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on, a lot of stupidity."

Asked then, whether he would condemn Putin's hostility toward journalists, Trump said, "Oh sure, absolutely."



Trump: ‘We Have To Be Much Tougher’ on Families of Terrorists

My comments at the foot of this report -- JR

 Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump reiterated his previous assertion that he would "go after the wives" and family members of terrorists.

 "We have to be much tougher" on terrorists’ families, Trump said when asked about his previous statement during the fifth GOP presidential debate held in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

"Recently Donald Trump mentioned that we must kill the families of ISIS members. However, this violates the principles of distinction between civilians and combatants in international law. So my question is: How would intentionally killing innocent civilians set us apart from ISIS?" Georgia Tech student Josh Jacob asked on Facebook.

Trump replied: "We have to be much tougher, we have to be much stronger than we've been. We have people that know what’s going on. You take a look at just the attack in [San Bernardino] California the other day. There were numerous people, including the mother, that knew what was going on. They saw pipe bombs sitting all over the floor, they saw ammunition all over the place. They knew exactly what was going on.

"When you have the World Trade Center go, people were put into planes that were friends, families, girlfriends – and they were put into planes and they were sent back, for the most part, to Saudi Arabia. They knew what was going on. They went home and they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.

"I would be very, very firm with families. And frankly, that will make people think, because they may not care much about their lives. But they do care, believe it or not, about their families' lives."

But Trump’s position on targeting the families of terrorists was challenged by both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY).

"This is another example of [Trump’s] lack of seriousness," Bush responded. "Look, this is troubling because we’re at war. They’ve declared war on us, and we need to have a serious strategy to destroy ISIS. But the idea that that is a solution to this is just crazy. It makes no sense to suggest this."

 "If you are going to kill the families of terrorists, realize there is something called the Geneva Convention that we would have to pull out of," Paul also pointed out. "It would defy every norm."

"So they can kill us but we can’t kill them?" Trump asked.


Yes.  I think the point is that Muslims have set the example.  If they keep attacking innocent men, women and children, that gives us a warrant to do the same to them if that is helpful to  our self-defence.  The Geneva convention was set up because all sides realized that what they did to others could be done to them in retaliation. The signatories were protecting themselves in signing it.  But if Muslims don't obey the Geneva convention, they put themselves outside it and cannot expect it to protect them.  "As ye sow, so shall ye reap". (Galatians 6:7) -- JR


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Anonymous said...

Killing terrorist families may be strategically necessary. Important, though, is from where we act, from emotion or from sensible reason. Whatever is done should be done because it is required, not to satisfy any sense of revenge. When combat becomes emotional it gets messier than it already is; loses sight of its cause and objective. For best results combat must be kept rational and its cause and objective maintained.

The Russians are good at keeping emotion out of combat. They make good soldiers, chess player, boxers and wrestlers for that reason. Smart western leaders would work closely with the Russians in planning and managing Middle Eastern problems. The Russians are their own people though, not westerners or easterners.

Robert said...

Exterminating the entire bloodlines of terrorists makes plenty of sense. One of the incentives routinely promised to suicide bombers and other jihadists is that their families will be richly rewarded financially. If perpetrating an act of predatory war were instead to mean that a jihadist's entire family would be exterminated, that could easily change the incentives - (empty) promises of eternal paradise in a celestial brothel, versus certain extermination of one's entire bloodline. Hmm, which to pick?