INAUGURATE THIS: Are we a people or are we just tribes!

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2013

Part 4—We name-call, the other tribe wins: Do “we the people” really believe the various things in Obama's address? (See THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/22/13.)

And not only that:

If we the people believe all those things, why have we the liberals had so much trouble getting legislation passed? Why do prospects for Feinstein’s gun bill look shaky, to cite one example?

Answers: Actually, very large portions of we the people don’t believe the various things Obama listed in his address. Nor do they the people pay much attention to us the liberals.

Can you completely blame them? In Monday’s address, Obama asked for all the “name-calling” to stop. We the liberals quickly assumed that he was describing the other team’s name-calling.

But what about our own name-calling—name-calling through which we tend to promote the other tribe’s view of the world?

Yes, we liberals do name-call! One day after Obama’s address, Adele Stan offered a comical review of the speech. By rather obvious implication, she dropped our favorite weapon, the R-bomb, on every Republican’s head.

We liberals love this card. It often seems like the only political play we know. Routinely, we aren’t very subtle—or even real smart—when we please ourselves with it.

But then, we love to name-call the other tribe—and even the American people! For an example of what we mean, consider Chris Mooney’s recent book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality.

In his book, Mooney explains how the other tribe’s brains make them deny reality! That makes us the smart, nuanced tribe, in case you hadn't noticed.

A bit of background:

Back in November, we awoke one morning to find the analysts badly shaken. Their favorite, Paul Krugman, had written this post, in which he belatedly praised Mooney’s book. This was part of the overblown episode in which we liberals acted like Marco Rubio had made the world’s dumbest statement concerning the age of the earth.

In fact, Rubio’s statement wasn’t especially dumb, although the reaction of some liberals was. Now Krugman was praising Mooney’s book—a book we thought was quite poorly argued when we made the analysts read it earlier in the year.

Due to Krugman’s post, we reread Mooney’s book over Christmas. For today, let’s consider one small part of the book—Mooney’s discussion of the large percentage of we the people who are “authoritarian.”

Modern history makes the A-word a rather unflattering term. Sensible people might be cautious about putting it to widespread use. (Some of the social scientists Mooney cites specifically refer to this problem.) But after spending many pages praising us liberals for being so smart, Mooney devotes a chunk of his book to the widespread incidence of authoritarianism among them the American people.

Mooney’s discussion strikes us as weak on the merits—and it’s politically clueless. On the other hand, it does provide a fair amount of unintentional comedy. By the time the discussion begins, Mooney has established that we liberals “like to think, in an effortful and self-challenging way, and take great pride is doing a good job of it.” We liberals are marked by “intellectual flexibility, curiosity, a willingness to entertain new ideas, and a toleration of different perspectives and values.”

(We invite you to try to locate such traits in Stan’s review of that speech.)

Meanwhile, Mooney has established that conservatives have their own corresponding virtues; conservatives like to be on time and they keep their offices clean! It’s hard not to laugh at such a taxonomy, especially if you’ve ever watched Roots or Planet of the Apes, in which the dominant tribes are constantly constructing such one-sided maps of the world. (BET aired Roots last week. We watched.)

Yes, we know—according to Mooney, this comically overblown tribal taxonomy is backed by sound social science. People who take pride in their effortful, nuanced thinking will perhaps be skeptical of such familiar claims.

In November, the analysts were shocked to see Krugman endorsing this book. He has been their hero for more than a decade. They think he's sharper than that.

In those earlier semi-comical passages, Mooney describes the mental and moral superiority of his own political tribe, while sprinkling in persistent claims that he’s doing no such thing. But when Mooney starts dropping his A-bombs around, they get dropped in more general fashion.

In the following passage, Mooney attributes a very unpleasant-sounding trait to almost half the American people. We think it's a strange thing to do:
MOONEY (page 71): [W]ithin the conservative fold, there is one group that exhibits the traits just discussed—closed-mindedness, low integrative complexity, very low Openness—to an extent that is hard to say anything good about: so-called authoritarians. They’re not all conservatives, but they’re surprisingly prevalent in the United States. Based on one recent study, nearly half of the public scores a .75 or higher on a 0 to 1 scale...
What a remarkable statement! According to Mooney’s somewhat murky prose, nearly half of we the people score high on a scale of authoritarianism! This seems to make them part of a group "that is hard to say anything good about." (These high scorers aren’t all conservatives, Mooney charitably notes.)

Authoritarian! Given the ugly provenance of that term, a sensible person might want to be careful about making such an implausible statement. But as he continues, consider the basis upon which Mooney says he is making this claim:
MOONEY: Based on one recent study, nearly half of the public scores a .75 or higher on a 0 to 1 scale (which is typically measured by asking whether one would prefer to have obedient and well-mannered children rather than independent and curious children).
Nearly half the county is authoritarian! Mooney knows this based on a rather fatuous question about the traits them the people prefer to see in their children.

Presumably, there’s more to the clinical study of “authoritarianism” than that. But Mooney cites no other basis for his remarkable claim. According to Mooney, nearly half the country is authoritarian—became they want their children to be well-mannered! We think that’s a very strange thing to say. But then, we love complex thinking.

In our view, this is second cousin to a type of Very Bad Liberal Politics—a type of bad politics which has dogged progressive interests over the past fifty years.

Soon, of course, Mooney is telling us that the other tribe is full of authoritarians. Our tribe favors “complex deliberations.” Sadly, their tribe doesn't.

To see how he knows this, read on:
MOONEY (page 73): In another work, Markus Kemmelmeier, a social psychologist at the University of Nevada-Reno, tested whether right-wing authoritarians were more inclined to process information based on “quick and dirty” heuristics or intuitive cues (System 1, in other words) rather than more complex deliberations (System 2). As a result, Kemmelmeier found that authoritarians performed worse on two classic tests designed to trip up intuitive and emotional reasoners. Consider, for instance, a test in which you’re told that out of all the families in a city that have six children, 72 of them had a boy-girl birth order of GBGBBG. When then asked how many families had an order of BGBBBB, heuristic processors are more likely to jump to the conclusion that the second sequence is less likely to occur than the first, though it isn’t. Right-wing authoritarians performed worse in Kemmelmeier’s study, suggesting that they were more reliant on System 1 reasoning.

...The authoritarians are inclined to give this ‘reasoning light,’” says Kemmelmeier. “They don’t reason it through. The implication of his study, therefore, is that authoritarians may “jump at superficial information and not really understand what’s behind it.”
Those right-wing authoritarians! They’re more likely to get that question about birth order wrong! (How much more likely? We aren’t told. Apparently, we liberals aren’t inclined to ask, despite our love of complex reasoning.) And when they get that question wrong, it shows that they jump at superficial information without really understanding what’s behind it! They don’t engage in “more complex deliberations,” the way we liberals do!

(For the record, the second “classic test” of “emotional reasoners” is never described.)

On the basis of this gong show, Mooney encourages liberal readers to glory in the power of their tribe’s mental strength. Goofus jumps at superficial information without really understand what’s behind it! Gallant loves complex thinking and different perspectives! Of course, we liberals are jumping at superficial information when we swallow this presentation just because Mooney hands it to us. The analysts moped after Krugman affirmed this weakly reasoned book.

Tribal groups have formed such portraits of The Other since the dawn of time. In modern times, they've often boasted that they have the backing of science—science which is superficially presented and understood.

It’s comical to see the ways Mooney praises the wonder of his own tribe while denouncing the faults of the other. From this next passage, the reader can perhaps derive a small mordant laugh:
MOONEY (page 72): Authoritarians are very intolerant of ambiguity, and very inclined toward group-think and distrustful of outsiders (often including racial outsiders). They extol traditional values, are very conventional, submit to established leaders, and don’t seem to care much about dissent or civil liberties. They are known for their closed-mindedness, and, indeed, their Manichean view of the world—good and evil, right and wrong, saved and damned, white and black. They have a need for order. Conversely, they can’t tolerate uncertainty. In America, they are often religiously conservative fundamentalists who believe the Bible is the unedited word of God.
Authoritarians are known for “their Manichean view of the world?” Authoritarians are “very inclined toward group-think”—are “distrustful of outsiders?” Fair enough—but couldn’t that also be a description of Stan’s recent piece in Salon? If you can find an ounce of nuance there, let us know where it is.

We liberals slept in the woods for a very long time. Ever since we emerged from our slumber, we have been inclined to engage in a fair amount of name-calling. We drop R-bombs on the other tribe; in his book, Mooney drops the A-bomb on half the American people! Behind this instinct, there often lies a vast disdain—and an instinct for engineering endless political defeat.

In this piece in The Daily Beast, Michael Tomasky presented his own review of Obama’s address. In the following passage, he defines one of the basic divides of our failing political culture:
TOMASKY (1/21/13): Obama set some very high goals for himself in this speech. He wants to end once and for all the era of what I call default conservatism, so that average Americans, people in the middle who aren’t strongly committed one way or the other, think “better together” as their first instinct instead of “leave me alone.”
Indeed. Obama praised the power of collective action, in which we perceive ourselves as a national people and proceed accordingly.

As Tomasky notes, the current “default conservative” world is built around a different vision. In this vision, we happen to be a bunch of individuals and smaller tribes stuck together on a massive continent.

In this era of “default conservatism,” many members of we the people simply want to be left alone. They don’t see themselves as part of a collective enterprise, as part of a national people.

Does Obama want to end that? We don’t exactly know. But every time our Manichean leaders drop their bombs on them the people, they make it harder to advance the idea that we’re really One National People. Persistently, we keep telling them the people that they’re viewed with substantial disdain.

Stan’s piece came straight from a fever swamp; it’s very poorly reasoned. And yet, we pseudo-liberals love this game. We pseudo-liberals simply love to toss our bombs around.

The people described in this front-page report hear us doing it every time. It stiffens their spines, increases the odds that Feinstein’s bill won’t pass.

Next: A comical epilogue—Mooney praises our tribe

37 comments:

  1. I'm beginning to wonder if there is ever a time Bob thinks it's OK to say someone is a racist. He seems to see that word as a bomb that should never be used, and he never tells us when he thinks it's appropriate to use it.

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    1. Do you disagree with something specific Somerby said?

      I mean, is there some specific instance of Somerby saying "That shouldn't have been called racism." -- But you think it really did merit being called racism?

      Or are you just a concern troll, worried that Bob's taking away our precious "racism" toy?

      Yeah, we're supposed to believe you actually need "Bob's Rules of Racism" or you won't know what's what. Rule One: If someone says "I hate people that aren't white" it's OK to call that racist. Something like that?

      What an idiot.

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    2. "Oh, look, on a thread about liberal name-calling, someone called an idiot an idiot. LOL. Calling people idiots isn't allowed!"

      No, but for seriouses now: I'm not calling him an idiot because I think he's a conservative (or because I think he's a liberal (yeah, because *I'm* secretly the conservative, natch!)). I don't care or have an opinion on that.

      Soprano2 is just an idiot. "Waaaahh. When can I say "racist, Bob?"

      Please, idiot.

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    3. Shorter Anon 241: It's ok when Bob says it's ok.

      And because maybe you agree with Krugman instead of Bob, you're an idiot. At least you didn't say you agree with Greenwald instead of Bob... trust me, you'd get called worse.

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    4. In other words, no, you have no specific instance; you were just concern trolling, idiot.

      Thanks for clarifying that.

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    5. Anon. 2:53 -

      Get help soon.

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  2. Mooney’s thesis is a joke, as Bob points out.

    If you want to see authoritarianism, look at liberals’ and global warming. Liberals generally don’t look at the actual temperature data themselves and certainly don’t try to evaluate competing scientific theories. They pooh pooh the fact that a number of eminent climate scientists are skeptical of the various theories. They don’t notice that the warmists disagree with each other; they have a number of substantially different models. Liberals don’t acknowledge that the rise in global temperature dramatically slowed down during the last 15 years. Nor do they acknowledge that warming predictions made during the 1990’s failed to come true.

    Liberals say the skeptics are ignorant, because the liberal POV is supported by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists. Even that claim is based on authoritarianism. How do they know that that their POV is supported by the overwhelming majority of climate scientists? Liberals don’t know where that assertion is proved. They parrot that assertion because the authorities say so.

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    1. I don't know about your "liberals" David, you gigantic assh0le troll. But I do know about climate scientists.

      As a group, they don't disagree about this:

      Anthropogenic climate warming is quite real, and quite dangerous.

      Your predictable spew hasn't changed that.

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    2. When it comes to expert opinion, I am an authoritarian. For example, physicists seem very certain that everything is made of atoms. I believe them even though I've never personally seen an atom. In fact, no one has. It's not even possible to see one, so the scientists conveniently say.

      Would it make sense for me to personally replicate the hundreds of years of observation and experimentation that led to the conclusion that there are atoms? Or should I just take the scientist's word for it? Of course, there are countless other things I believe only because there is a large consensus of experts who believe them.

      Hence, there is an overwhelming consensus of climatologists who say the earth is warming due to human activity, therefore I believe them.

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    3. David, 2012 was the 10th warmest year (average surface global temperatures) since records were kept in 1880. It would have been even warmer had it not been for La Nina. The 9 warmest years since 1880 were ALL within the last 15 years! In the US, 2012 was the warmest ever. So, where is your evidence that the warming of the earth is slowing down?

      Peer review may seem like authoritarianism to you, but it's the only effective tool the scientific community has to weed out good scholarship from bad. Science is not a democracy. Not all ideas are of equal merit and they shouldn't be treated as such in our public discourse.

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    4. Right on, David! As a proud non-authoritarian, I feel the same way about evolution, the age of the earth, and cigarettes causing cancer.

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    5. Mysterion, please!

      You are playing into the hands of the troll, my friend.

      Anthropogenic warming is not proven or disproven on the scale of a year or even a decade. If you are accepting that frame you are accepting that you will argue with a troll and that what science says won't be relevant.

      That 2012 was the warmest ever is irrelevant, just as irrelevant as David's assertion that "warming predictions made during the 1990’s failed to come true."

      Climate science doesn't predict that the next year or even the next decade will definitely experience a given amount of warming.

      It predicts something very different: that over the course of several decades, average global temperatures will increase.

      That prediction is being borne out. And it will take more than a record-breakingly bitter winter in 2014 (something quite possible) to change that.

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    6. 2012 was the 10th warmest year (average surface global temperatures) since records were kept in 1880.

      It's natural that 2012 was warm, because the earth has been warming for hundreds of years -- ever since the end of the Little Ice Age. The key questions are

      -- How much of the warming is due to man's activity?

      -- Is the warming taking place at a catastrophic rate?

      -- Will schemes such as Kyoto or Cap and Trade save us, if the pessimists are right?

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    7. AnonymousJanuary 25, 2013 at 4:41 PM, you say

      That 2012 was the warmest ever is irrelevant, just as irrelevant as David's assertion that "warming predictions made during the 1990’s failed to come true."

      Climate science doesn't predict that the next year or even the next decade will definitely experience a given amount of warming.

      It predicts something very different: that over the course of several decades, average global temperatures will increase.

      That prediction is being borne out.


      1. I agree that a few years isn't significant. However, a 15 year period of little or no warming, despite big increases in anthropogenic gases, is significant.

      2. More generally, how do we know a theory is correct? Causation is hard to prove. How can we be sure that man's activity is the main driver of the warming? At the very least, the models should be able to predict with relative accuracy.

      3. Models in the 1990's predicted big temperture increases, which haven't been borne out (so far). Unless one includes warming years in the 1970's and 1980's in the period of being "borne out". But, it's no confirmation for a model to "predict" something that already happened.

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    8. Mysterion, let's find out how authoritarian you are. No peer reviewed papers at all say that steps like Cap and Trade or Kyoto are enough to save us (if the pessimists are correct.) In fact, if you believe the catastrophe models, these steps would produce negligible benefit.

      So, do you nevertheless support these steps? Do you go with your tribe or with the science?

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    9. "No peer reviewed papers at all say that steps like Cap and Trade or Kyoto are enough to save us (if the pessimists are correct.) "

      David, you have got to be kidding. Climatologists aren't concerned with policy. They're concerned with the climate.

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    10. "Anthropogenic warming is not proven or disproven on the scale of a year or even a decade. If you are accepting that frame . . ."

      I know, Anon, and I'm not accepting that frame at all.

      But a 15-year time span which records the 10 highest annual global temperatures since 1880, together with the increased levels of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, does give more support to the theory of man-made global warming.

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    11. David in Cal, regarding your "pessimists" and their "catastrophe models," I have no idea who you are talking about since you provide no names of groups or individuals.

      I do know that the prestigious IPCC erred on the side of being too optimistic back in the 1990s. Go ahead and see for yourself: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=climate-science-predictions-prove-too-conservative

      On second thought, don't bother, because it clearly won't make any difference to you.

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    12. By the way, it doesn't help your case to link to a Bjorn Lomberg op-ed. Although he accepts the reality of man-made global warming, he still doesn't make sense half the time. For example, he seems to think that droughts in French wine country aren't a consequence of climate change if the vineyards in England are fluorishing, which is bizarre.

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    13. But a 15-year time span which records the 10 highest annual global temperatures since 1880, together with the increased levels of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, does give more support to the theory of man-made global warming.

      Not quite. It provides support for the idea that the globe has been warming. It says nothing at all about the cause or causes of the warming.

      Regarding the droughts, msterion, here's the story: The globe has been warming, but the number of droughts hasn't gone up. Global warning hasn't cause the number of droughts to increase. If GW caused droughts, then their number would have increased as the globe warmed. So, there's no justification of attributing a particuar drought to GW. See?

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    14. Mysterion -- the Scientific American article you cite is spin. Unfortunately this magazine has been quite biased on the subject of GW.

      The proper way to testwhether predictions in the 1990's were conservative would be to compare the predicted temperatures for the period 2000 - 2012 against the actual temperatures. The article never does this. Instead it claims to show that the earlier predictions were conservative by saying the some current modela predict higher temperatures than the models of the 1990's did. That's no test. The right test is always to compare predictions against actual results.

      Also, SA switches from temperature to extreme events. That discussion isn't particularly accurate IMHO. But, set that aside. In the 1990's the models predicted high temperatures in the period 2000 - 2012 (and beyond). The actual temperatures in 2000 - 2012 were lower than had been predicted.

      Essentially the models predicted rapid warming to continue, but instead warming leveled out. That SA article went out of its way to avoid pointing this fact out to their readers.

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    15. You can see how deceptive that SA article is by comparing it to a news report today that includes facts, rather than spin:

      GLOBAL warming is likely to be less extreme than claimed, researchers said yesterday. The most likely temperature rise will be 1.9C (3.4F) compared with the 3.5C predicted by the Intergovern­mental Panel on Climate Change.

      The Norwegian study says earlier predictions were based on rapid warming in the Nineties. But Oslo University’s department of geosciences included data since 2000 when temperature rises “levelled off nearly completely”.


      http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/373396/More-signs-that-global-warming-is-just-hot-air

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    16. The news report you cite is pure garbage. The fact that you so uncritically accept it shows what a powerful thing confirmation bias is.

      First of all, the temperature rise will be 1.9C over what period of time? The report doesn't say, which is a tip-off to the reader that they are going to get some pretty shoddy "science reporting."

      Second, the report misstates the IPCC projections. IPCC projections actually vary from a rise of 1.1C to 6.4C over the next 100 years.

      Moreover, they are not predictions, they are projections. Prediction is what astrologers and witch doctors do. Once it is made, it is set in stone. Projections are what scientists do, as their findings are always being revised to account for new evidence and new techniques.

      Both you and the reporter are committing what can be called "the fallacy of unreasonable accuracy." In other words, you are imposing a level of accuracy on climate models that is unwarranted given the complexity of the earth's climate system and the variables involved in climate forecasting.

      By the way, based on your comments, it isn't even possible to say whether or not your unnamed climate models from the 1990s were accurate or not since you never actually present a standard by which you are judging accuracy nor do you attempt to justify that standard. In short, you are not arguing your case in good faith.

      Thirdly, there is a disconnect between the headline ("More signs that global warming is just hot air") and the actual content of the article. While the headline makes it seem as if the findings of the Norwegian institute disprove global warming, the experts quoted make it clear that their findings are not an excuse for skepticism or complacency about global warming. Disagreement over the pace of warming is not the same as disagreement over the fact of warming or its causes.

      Fourthly, it is also clear that you have no idea what "catastrophe" means. Even the most conservative models that you cite (and probably accept) are, in fact, catastrophe models. Another rise of 2-degrees Fahrenheit over the next century means we would be living on a different (and harsher) planet. You know, desertification, sea level rise, melting glaciers, Northwest Passage, fine English wines, bigger hurricanes, etc., etc.

      Lastly, your comment regarding droughts makes no sense. What does "the number of droughts has not increased" mean? If a drought affects the entire Midwest does that count as one drought? It would be better if we discussed it in terms of acreage, or percentage of cultivated land. In any case, the droughts of recent years (in Russia and the US) have been devastating.

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    17. Regarding droughts, NATURE reports a new study:

      "Little change in global drought over the past 60 years"

      http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v491/n7424/full/nature11575.html

      mysterion, although that news report didn't say what the 1.9C represented, a better report shows that the Norwegian Scientists were looking at the impact of a doubling of CO2.
      http://www.scribd.com/doc/122347692/Norwegian-Study-Finds-Limited-Warming-from-Doubled-Greenhouse-Gases

      Global temperature has risen by 2C since 1800 with no catastrophic consequences. That's why I don't believe a 1.9C increase would be catatrophic.

      BTW, aside from the projection, that Norwegian study mentions the fact that tempertures have leveled out during the last 15 years. Some liberals are so authoritarian that they're not even willing to concede this fact.

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    18. "Global temperature has risen by 2C since 1800 with no catastrophic consequences. That's why I don't believe a 1.9C increase would be catatrophic."

      I'm not as sanguine as you are. In my opinion, it makes no sense to expect no bad consequences from a fever just because you felt better after recovering from hypothermia. In this analogy, the hypothermia I'm referring to was the Little Ice Age, which ended around 1800. The fever represents our recent global warming.

      "Little change in global drought over the past 60 years"

      Your cherry-picked quote is supposed to mean what, exactly? Past performance is no guarantee of future results and the NATURE report explicitly states that drought is expected to increase in the future as a result of climate change.

      "That Norwegian study mentions the fact that tempertures have leveled out during the last 15 years. Some liberals are so authoritarian that they're not even willing to concede this fact."

      My guess is the significance you attach to that leveling differs from that of the Norwegian scientists. I could be wrong, but it's just a guess.

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  3. There is an entire industry of "experts" pushing this theory that conservative's ability to reason is fundamentally defective. It's the latest pop psychology craze.

    This theory holds that those seemingly fine conservative family men and women have a dark secret. They're right-wing authoritians!

    These right wing authoritians apply "double standards". They are hypocritical. They have a remarkable ability to engage in cognitive dissonance, or believing two contradictory ideas at once. They are far too trusting and sympathetic to authority, and slow to believe authorities are doing bad things. And if trusted authority figures are giving the orders, there is almost no limit to what they are capable of doing.

    I have found the evidence provided by advocates of this theory to be very unconvincing. First, the questions asked to determine whether someone is an "authoritian" are pretty much the same ones you would ask to determine whether is politically conservative. See what we did? We defined authoritian as being politically conservative, therefore conservatives are authoritarians! Brilliant, huh?

    At the very very best, these theorists have shown that conservative are very slightly more prone to the bad qualities outlined above. In reality, those bad qualities are defects of the human race generally, not just of conservatives.

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    1. "I have found the evidence provided by advocates of this theory to be very unconvincing."

      Same here. "Pop psychology" is an apt description, Anon.

      If conservatives tend to be authoritarian, then how does Mooney explain their paranoia about the power of the federal government, and their distrust of scientific authority and even religious authority. I haven't read Mooney's book yet, so maybe I'm missing something.

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    2. "more" authoritarian.

      It's the "more" that's important, don't forget!

      How much more? In other words, how "authoritarian" are even we liberals supposed to be, according to Mooney?

      We know better than to ask, that's how much!

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    3. My guess is that Chris Mooney and the others would say that conservatives, given as they are to holding contradictory beliefs, don't really mind authoritarian policies as long as they trust the leader who carries them out. We are supposed to be frightened by the fact that these authoritarians aren't aware of the contradictions in their beliefs ("They claim to be libertarians but they want to outlaw gay marriage").

      The problem is, liberals have the same tendencies. Many if not most liberals stopped caring about civil liberties pretty much the day Obama got inaugurated. And maybe some conservatives do reason selectively to support their preconceived notions. Isn't that something anyone is capable of doing?

      And maybe they don't see the contradiction of being against gay marriage and being against government intrusion. Maybe they think gay marriage a despicable act on par with murder. Certainly wrong, but not a contradiction. There's just a real lack of imagination on the part of these psycologists.

      My question is, if it really is genetics that causes someone to believe abortion is murder or that gay marriage is vile, why did almost everyone believe these things 100 years ago? Evolution doesn't happen that fast. And why are people who believe these things concentrated in the south? Is there a southern gene?

      My unprofessional diagnosis, these rightwingers have a serious case of being human.

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  4. The GBGBBG/BGBBBB question seems to depend on a knowledge of basic probabilities more than "heuristic processing" - if you don't know how to combine probabilities you have no choice of processing method. I wonder how many people got this right - another case of missing numbers.

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  5. Does Bob seriously think that Republicans are not more racist than Democrats? Does he think that calling Obama a muslim, socialist, communist, fascist, etc. etc. has as much truth as saying that the Republican party is the party of racism?

    Of course not too long ago the racism/party alignment was the other way around - were Democrats more liberal than Republicans in 1950 considering their attitudes on race? Both the tribes have always had a variety of people in them.

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  6. I anticipated Mooney's theories years ago by attending family dinners. Political orientation does seem more a matter of psychological disposition than intellectual reasoning. Whatever reasoning a person does goes toward justifying predetermined views. The people on Fox and in the R party just seem, you know, different from me. Meanwhile, I feel much more comfortable with the Dems and the folks on MSNBC, even the ones who make me a little sick or drive me nuts.

    On the other hand, is it realistic to suppose that so many older white people are of one psychological type while the vast majority of African Americans and a growing majority of Hispanics are of the other?

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  7. Conservatives are daddies.

    Liberals are nannies.

    'Nuf sed.

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