Monday, April 24, 2017

Leftists never learn

I reproduce below an article by some VERY uncritical thinkers. What they write reveals their thinking to be just about the same as the thinking of Adorno et al. in 1950.   The great mass of criticism and refutation thrown at the Adorno work (See for instance the first half of Altemeyer's first book) has had no impact on them at all.

But there is a reason for that. In the minds of most psychologists, the Adorno work is impervious to criticism.  No matter how aware they are of the criticisms and refutations of it: Its conclusions are just too delicious to let it go.  In the best projective style, it accuses conservatives of all the faults that liberals themselves have, such as authoritarianism.  Its conclusions are emotionally irresistible.  So the authors below are not alone in continuing to produce "research" that repeats the old catnip.  They quote many others who have not learned from the criticisms either.  Their article is in fact mainstream among Leftist psychologists.

But it takes only a  moment of inspection to show that the latest study, like most before it, is entirely reliant on value judgments.  What seem like sober empirical findings are in fact all "spin".  As is so common among psychologists, they take some highly detailed laboratory task and draw huge conclusions about all humanity from it.  They do not rest at saying that liberals and conservatives respond differently to a particular experimental task but rather claim with great expansiveness that this shows how conservatives think generally.

And they do it all on the basis of responses from an available group of university students -- and students have often been shown as responding very differently from the population at large. The authors conclude that "liberals" behave in a certain way rather than "A non-random selection of 44 students from Northwestern university" behaved in a certain way.  In the absence of representative sampling the latter is the only conclusion they are entitled to draw from their data but they are far more expansive than that.

But two can play at their silly game.  Where they conclude that:

"Liberals solved significantly more problems via insight instead of in a step-by-step analytic fashion"

I would conclude from the same set of results that liberals leap to conclusions whereas conservatives are more careful.  Broadly, "conservatism=caution" so that is hardly a startling conclusion.

An amusing feature of the article is that they accept that liberals have a need for novelty.  They are sensation seekers.  I reported the same many years ago -- and my sample was a random one.  I interpreted the finding as showing that liberals are impulsive airheads but the authors below seem to see it as a good thing.  "De gustibus non disputandum est", I guess.


Adorno,T.W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D.J. & Sanford, R.N. (1950) The authoritarian personality. New York: Harper.

Altemeyer, R. (1981). Right-wing authoritarianism. Winnipeg: University Manitoba Press.

The politics of insight

Carola Salvi et al.


Previous studies showed that liberals and conservatives differ in cognitive style. Liberals are more flexible, and tolerant of complexity and novelty, whereas conservatives are more rigid, are more resistant to change, and prefer clear answers. We administered a set of compound remote associate problems, a task extensively used to differentiate problem-solving styles (via insight or analysis). Using this task, several researches have proven that self-reports, which differentiate between insight and analytic problem-solving, are reliable and are associated with two different neural circuits. In our research we found that participants self-identifying with distinct political orientations demonstrated differences in problem-solving strategy. Liberals solved significantly more problems via insight instead of in a step-by-step analytic fashion. Our findings extend previous observations that self-identified political orientations reflect differences in cognitive styles. More specifically, we show that type of political orientation is associated with problem-solving strategy. The data converge with previous neurobehavioural and cognitive studies indicating a link between cognitive style and the psychological mechanisms that mediate political beliefs.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2016 Jun; 69(6): 1064–1072. doi:  10.1080/17470218.2015.1136338


The Greatest Threat to America Isn’t Islam – It’s the Left

These days, many people are anxious about the threat that Islam poses to the West. The fear is understandable but misplaced. And there are a host of reasons why this proves to be true.

Islam is a religion stuck in pre-medieval times and has rarely produced any civilizational, scientific or technological advancements. Around 40 percent of Muslims worldwide are illiterate. Muslim nations are unable to manufacture even the most elementary of things without the aid of Western engineering, knowledge, and technology. To a great and powerful civilization, Islam can never pose a threat.

The only reason Islam was ever able to conquer two-thirds of the Christian territories after the death of Muhammed was because the Roman and Persian empires had weakened themselves and each other through centuries of warfare. Also, plague and famine had decimated the population in the Mediterranean region, leaving them vulnerable to attack.

The problems we are now facing with Islam are only symptoms of the left’s success in paralyzing the West and preventing it from asserting itself. Islam was never strong. The West has become weak.  That is why fear of Islam is misplaced. The real enemy of the West is the ideological left, an adversary from within which slowly but surely destroys western civilization by debilitating its cultural and political immune system. In many ways, the left is like HIV, and Islam is like a cold. A cold is annoying but hardly life-threatening to someone with a healthy immune system. To someone ravaged by the HIV, however, even a common cold can be lethal.

For more than a century, the left has waged a relentless jihad on the West. In the 19th century, Karl Marx saw Christianity as the cultural carrier and defender of capitalism and launched an intentional attack on religion in general, and Christianity in particular. He believed that, if Christian values could be undermined, it would be much easier to replace capitalism with utopian socialism. As an articulate intellectual, Karl Marx attracted many academics to his cause, and gradually left-wing radicals took over western universities. From this position of intellectual power, they were slowly able to poison the minds of most young people by feeding them lies that effectually turned them into enemies of their own civilization.

The left has been insidious in accomplishing this feat by subtly rewriting academic history textbooks. Today, most positive elements of Western civilization have been erased from academia. Modern students do not learn that capitalism raised billions of people out of poverty and that every single day hundreds of thousands enter the middle class around the globe, thanks to free market economics.

At the same time, negative occurrences about other cultures have been carefully removed. Ask an average student in university, and he will know nothing about the one hundred million people who were effectively murdered under communist totalitarianism. He has not been made aware that almost all places that suffer from poverty in the world are governed by left-wing, anti-capitalistic regimes.

Instead, leftist professors teach only about the vices and atrocities that have occurred in our own history. As a student, you will learn that the West became rich due to slavery and imperialism, but they will never teach that slavery was endemic to all cultures across the world, and that it was Western Christian nations which ultimately abolished slavery.

University professors proclaim all the wealth of the West was stolen from innocent, peaceful cultures around the world. Students are taught that whites are fundamentally racist, but it will go unsaid that all these cultures from which we allegedly stole our wealth had been dirt poor for thousands of years and any racism that existed in the West pales in comparison to that of other cultures.

The professors may not use words like “evil,” but it isn’t necessary. Students infer this conclusion on their own based on the deceptions they are fed. They deduce that the West in general, and specifically the United States, must be destroyed so that all the other respectable and decent cultures of the world can blossom again to create the nirvana that existed before our ruthless impoverishment and exploitation.

The worst part is that decent conservatives and libertarians across the world have allowed this to happen practically without moral resistance. Why? The left has found the great weakness of conservatives: their conscience and decency. When someone accuses them of being racist or some other form of evil, their reflex is to apologize and appease. The more conservatives placate and soothe, the louder the left screams racism – because it works.

The cultural decay of our civilization will continue until conservatives choose to stand up and say “enough.” And the first step in what will certainly be a long process of restoring respect for American culture and values is to quit apologizing and cease pacifying the left.



No, Trump Is Not a Neocon


With U.S. missiles flying in Syria, the “mother of all bombs” exploding in Afghanistan, and an aircraft-carrier strike group heading toward North Korea, has there been a revolution in President Trump’s foreign policy?

His most fervent supporters shouldn’t get overly exercised and his interventionist critics shouldn’t get too excited. What has been on offer so far is broadly consistent with the Jacksonian worldview that is the core of Trump’s posture toward the world.

Trump’s views are obviously inchoate. He has an attitude rather than a doctrine, and upon leaving office, he surely won’t, like Richard Nixon, write a series of books on international affairs.

What we have learned since he took office is that Trump is not an isolationist. At times, he’s sounded like one. His America First slogan (inadvertently) harkened back to the movement to keep us out of World War II. His outlandish questioning of the NATO alliance, an anchor of the West, created the sense that he might be willing to overturn the foundations of the post–World War II order.

This hasn’t come to pass. It’s not possible to be a truly isolationist president of the United States in the 21st century unless you want to spend all your time unspooling U.S. commitments and managing the resulting disruption and crises. And such an approach would undercut the most consistent element of Trump’s approach — namely strength.

His set-piece foreign-policy speeches during the campaign were clear on this. “The world is most peaceful and most prosperous when America is strongest,” he said last April at the Center for the National Interest. “America will continue and continue forever to play the role of peacemaker. We will always help save lives and indeed humanity itself, but to play the role, we must make America strong again.”

In direct contradiction to isolationism, he said repeatedly on the campaign trail that he would take the war to ISIS and build up our defenses. He even called himself — in a malapropism — “the most militaristic person you will ever meet.”

Now, there is no doubt that the Syrian strike is a notable departure for Trump, and he defended it in unapologetically humanitarian terms. But it’s entirely possible that the strike will only have the narrow purpose of reestablishing a red line against the use of chemical weapons in Syria and reasserting American credibility.

That is particularly important in the context of the brewing showdown with North Korea, which he roughly forecast in his speech last April. “President Obama watches helplessly as North Korea increases its aggression and expands further and further with its nuclear reach,” Trump said, advocating using economic pressure on China to “get them to do what they have to do with North Korea, which is totally out of control.”

The Tomahawks in Syria and saber-rattling at North Korea have Trump’s critics on the right and left claiming he’s becoming a neoconservative — a term of abuse that is most poorly understood by the people most inclined to use it. All neocons may be hawks, but not all hawks are neocons, who are distinctive in their idealism and robust interventionism.

We haven’t heard paeans to democracy from Trump, or clarion calls for human rights. He hasn’t seriously embraced regime change anywhere (even if his foreign-policy officials say Assad has to go). He shows no sign of a willingness to make a major commitment of U.S. ground troops abroad.

Trump is a particular kind of hawk. The Jacksonian school is inclined toward realism and reluctant to use force, except when a national interest is clearly at stake. As historian Walter Russell Mead writes, “Jacksonians believe that international life is and will remain both violent and anarchic. The United States must be vigilant, strongly armed. Our diplomacy must be cunning, forceful, and no more scrupulous than any other country’s.”

This tradition isn’t isolationist or neoconservative, and neither is Trump.



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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

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