Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The latest attempt to "psychologize" conservatives

There could be few more Authoritarian, rigid and closed minded people than believers in Global Warming.  Their usual response to being shown evidence about the non-correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels is, not to discuss the matter, but to appeal to authority. "97% of scientists say ..." is their typical response, with no awareness that they are misquoting.  They base their beliefs entirely on authority, not on the scientific facts.  They talk airily about "The Science" while showing an abject ignorance of any climate science whatsoever.

And Leftists generally are like that.  If a conservative mentions any fact that conflicts with Leftist gospel, the response of the Leftist is either to run away or shower the conservative with abuse  -- sometimes both. We conservative bloggers encounter it all the time.

So it is amusing that Leftist psychologists have been beavering away for over 60 years in an attempt to prove that it is CONSERVATIVES who are rigid, closed-minded and authoritarian.

But to get any result in line with their desires, they have to use very sloppy research methods, most particularly opinion inventories that lack predictive validity.  If they think that some opinion expression indicates conservatism, rigidity etc they conclude that it does without further ado.  I spent 20 years pointing out the flaws in their research methods but that seems to have had no influence whatsoever.  They liked their conclusions too much to examine the evidence closely.  I have given many examples of such pseudo "research" over the years but let me mention just a couple here.

A widely used measure of mental rigidity was the Budner scale of Intolerance of Ambiguity.  It contains both tolerant and intolerant opinion expressions.  And the two sorts of expressions are combined to produce a measure of overall rigidity.  So the two sorts of item should show a strong negative correlation between them. People who agree with the "tolerant" statements should disagree with the "intolerant" statements.  But they do not.  The two types of item are uncorrelated.  They clearly measure two unrelated things.  So which type of item measures "intolerance of ambiguity"?  Who knows?  Probably neither. But I have yet to read of any user of the Budner scale being bothered by its self contradictory nature.  They accept garbage as information.

And the means they use to assess conservatism are equally hilarious.  A very popular measuring instrument is the Altemeyer Right Wing Authoritarianism attitude inventory.  Yet its  author admitted that it gave very little prediction of vote at election time.  Roughly half of the alleged right wingers as detected by the inventory actually voted for Leftist parties.  A very strange measure of anything Right-wing!  To cap it off there was one group found who regularly did score highly on it:  Russian Communists.  But if they are Right-wing who is Left-wing?

But the "research" concerned goes on, scatterbrained definitions and all.  One of the most ardent workers in the vineyard is the  Belgian Psychologist Alain Van Hiel.  He still seems to think there is something in the research concerned.  I tried to disabuse him of that idea a few years back, but, as usual, I was pissing into the wind.  His latest paper is: "The Relationship Between Right-wing Attitudes and Cognitive Style: A Comparison of Self-report and Behavioural Measures of Rigidity and Intolerance of Ambiguity" -- appearing in the 2016 European Journal of Personality.

And Van Hiel has gone from bad to worse as far as conceptual confusion is concerned.  In his latest paper, he accepts just about anything as an index of conservatism, from the afore-mentioned "Right Wing Authoritarianism" inventory to the Rokeach Dogmatism scale, which was specifically constructed NOT to correlate with Left/Right orientation. So the numbers he gets out of his research are meaningless.  One wonders why he bothers.  He must have a great need to project Leftist failings onto conservatives


Wotta laugh!  Electoral college DEMOCRATS desert their candidate

"PRESIDENT TRUMP".  That sure sounds good! An end to Leftist tyranny.  Will the Left ever accept that they have no right to tell other people what to do?

At least five Democrats who had been committed to back Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Electoral College cast ballots for other people on Monday, the largest number of "faithless electors" seen in well over a century.

The 538 electors were voting across the country to confirm Republican Donald Trump as the next president. The event is normally a formality but took on extra prominence this year after some Democrats urged electors to revolt and switch to Clinton, who won the national popular vote on Nov. 8.

In the end, it was not Republicans breaking ranks. The Democratic dissidents - four from Washington state and one from Maine - underscored deep divisions within their party and effectively dashed long-shot hopes by some activists that Republicans pledged to Trump might back Clinton.

By late afternoon, no Republican elector was reported to have cast a ballot for anyone other than Trump, although one elector from Texas had written that he planned to do so.

The move by the five was a rare break from the tradition - and in many states a legal requirement - of casting an Electoral College ballot as directed by the outcome of that state's popular election.

Trump applauded his victory in front of the media. 'Today marks a historic electoral landslide victory in our nation's democracy,' he said in a statement to reporters. 'I thank the American people for their overwhelming vote to elect me as their next President of the United States.'

'The official votes cast by the Electoral College exceeded the 270 required to secure the presidency by a very large margin, far greater than ever anticipated by the media,' he added.

Congress will certify the Electoral College vote on January 6 and Trump will be sworn in on January 20.

With so few electors rebelling, that left a Harvard professor's claims that as many as 20 Republican electors could go faithless look like nonsense – and put Trump in cruise control to the White House.

It also left protests by die-hard anti-Trump activists taking place outside some state houses and capitols looking futile.

By 5:30 p.m., Trump's journey to the White House was complete.



Trump: it wasn’t Russia wot won it

It’s the Democrats who threaten to undermine American democracy.

Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. More than a month later, Democrats can’t accept that fact. Rather than face the reality that millions of voters rejected Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party, they have embraced conspiracy theories to try to explain their loss. And in a serious threat to democracy, they are now relying on these half-baked notions to try to overturn the result.

Since the election, Democrats and liberal pundits have blamed Hillary’s defeat on a series of nefarious interventions and unjust set-ups: from FBI director James Comey’s letter to congress about new evidence regarding Clinton’s emails, to an avalanche of ‘fake news’ duping the voters, to an unfair electoral college and rigged vote counts. (In Wisconsin, a recount paid for by the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and backed by Clinton, saw Trump increase his vote tally.) The latest and maddest scheme was sparked by a Washington Post report claiming that the CIA has ‘high confidence’ that Russia hacked the Democratic Party’s emails with the aim of helping Trump to victory.

This story is far from a ‘bombshell’. But you’d never know it from the hysterical reaction. First, we don’t have the full story, and the Washington Post is basing its report on anonymous ‘senior administration officials’. There’s no new evidence. It was reported in October that Russia was suspected of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails. What’s supposedly new is the CIA’s assessment of Russia’s motives, namely that it tried to tip the scales towards Trump. But it has also been reported that America’s other intelligence agency, the FBI, rejects this conclusion, and apparently not everyone within the CIA agrees either.

With such partial and inconclusive information, a wise response would be to remain calm and investigate further. But for Democrats and their supporters, it’s plenty evidence to shriek that the election was fixed by a foreign power. For New York Times op-ed writer Paul Krugman, the election is ‘tainted’ and Trump is ‘illegitimate’. To other liberal pundits, Comey and Republicans in Congress have committed ‘treasonous acts’ by allowing Russia to get away with its hacks.

These responses might be laughed off as just the screeches of sore losers, the grown-up versions of the campus crybabies who need counselling and Safe Spaces to cope with Trump’s win. But matters have taken a more serious turn. Yesterday, former Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta announced his support for a ‘special intelligence briefing’ for the electoral college ‘electors’ before they vote on 19 December. Podesta’s and the Democrats’ hope is that these 538 electors, after viewing evidence of Russian hacking, will overturn the votes of millions of Americans and install Clinton. If it ever came to pass, such a move would represent a grave threat to democracy.

Let’s get some perspective. It would not be a shock if it was eventually proved that Russia was involved in hacking. As it happens, all major countries, including the US, engage in cyber-spying. Furthermore, it is rich for the US to get all self-righteous about interfering in elections, when it has a long history of meddling in the internal affairs, including the elections, of other countries. Moreover, it would also not be a surprise to learn that Vladimir Putin would prefer to have Trump in the White House, especially after Clinton, while secretary of state, called Russia’s 2011 elections fraudulent, and Putin accused her State Department of backing protests in Moscow. Clinton’s hardline, neo-Cold War stances during the election didn’t endear her to Putin either.

But while Russia may be behind the hacks of Democratic Party computers, and may have had a preference for Trump, it is far-fetched to claim that Russia swung the election result. Amid all of the issues raised during the election, the Wikileaks revelations were not a big deal. If anything, they only confirmed suspicions voters already had about Clinton’s lack of honesty. Putin didn’t force Clinton to use a private email server and take dodgy donations for the Clinton Foundation. He didn’t convince her to ignore the working-class voters of the Midwest, to play divisive identity politics, to rely on celebs like Lena Dunham, to flip-flop on issues like the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal. He didn’t magically turn her from a dynamic, inspiring candidate into the wooden ‘unlikeable’ we know.

Underneath all of the apologies that Democrats make for Clinton’s loss is a deeply patronising outlook: that voters are too dumb to sort through what they hear in the media. In this worldview, a typical voter who read about a Wikileaks revelation, Comey’s comments or came across a ‘fake news’ report must have then automatically voted for Trump. The elites can’t imagine that a voter weighed up the arguments, and, recognising the weaknesses of both candidates, decided to go with the anti-establishment one. The condescension embodied in the post-election explosion of excuses – which all, at root, evince a low opinion of the American voter – is in itself a big part of why Trump won.

The rationalisations put forward by Democrats have a single aim: to delegitimise Trump. They know that denying him the White House is a long shot, but at a minimum they want to cast a cloud over the presidency, without having to challenge his policies. This represents a continuation of the approach adopted by Clinton, who sought to depict Trump as abnormal and unfit for the role while avoiding engaging in substantive arguments. This wasn’t convincing during the campaign, and it still isn’t.

‘We now know that the CIA has determined Russia’s interference in our elections was for the purpose of electing Donald Trump’, wrote Podesta in his statement. ‘This should distress every American.’ What is truly distressing is the Democrats’ attempt to overturn the election result on the hyped-up charges of Russian shenanigans. Liberals like Paul Krugman like to say that Trump violates ‘democratic norms’. But there is nothing more anti-democratic than what the Democrats are doing now – denigrating voters’ choices and threatening to reverse the outcome of the election. Their deeply held belief that they know what’s best means they are willing to ditch democracy to get their way. We can’t let them get away with it.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


No comments: