Two tribes, becoming more tribal!


Getting to know our own tribe: Are the two tribes becoming more tribal?

If not, we can’t imagine why. By now, powerful orgs are urging each tribe in the direction of true belief.

Such conduct is profitable, and easy to do. It helps drives tribes apart.

Of course, tribal beings can only see the tribalism in the other tribe. We thought of this after perusing this post by Kevin Drum, who isn't at fault in our story.

Uh-oh! A new Pew survey has explored belief about evolution. In the new survey, 48 percent of Republicans said they believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time.”

To our own tribe’s tribal players, this makes the other tribe very dumb. And things are getting worse Over There! In a survey conducted in 2009, only 39 percent of Republicans said they held that belief.

For what it’s worth, this doesn’t necessarily mean that anyone has changed his or her view about evolution. According to Gallup, the percentage of people who say they’re Republican has dropped by a substantial amount since the end of 2009.

Please don’t make us show our math. But it’s mathematically possible that no Republicans have changed their minds about evolution during that period. It could be that a whole bunch of evolution-believers are the ones who have quit the party, driving up the percentage of disbelief among the folk who are left.

Is that what happened? We have no way of knowing. Almost surely, the departure of evolution-believers at least helps explain the change in numbers from 2009 to 2013.

This didn’t occur to our own tribal geniuses, who swung into action in comments. Misquoting Brother Drum a tad, the third commenter offered the following bit of snark.

This represents a requisite piece of our own tribe’s pure tribal belief:
COMMENTER: “Conservative tribalism has increased a helluva lot in the Obama era.”

Hmm .... I wonder why this is? Is there something different about Obama than previous Democratic presidents? I can't put my finger on what that might be.
Everyone knew what he meant, of course, as you can in subsequent snark-ridden comments: Conservative tribalism has increased a helluva lot because Obama is black!

In our own tribe, we are all eager to say this. We are also eager to say how stupid the other tribe is, even as we fail to consider the possible role played in this matter by shrinking GOP membership.

(A few commenters eventually wondered about this possibility.)

All through the annals of time, tribes have always known that the other tribe is morally bad and very dumb. With that in mind, we especially enjoyed this eventual pithy analysis:
COMMMENTER: Conservatives are the dumbest fucking people on the planet.
Many commenters expressed a similar view. Tribes have always known this fact about the other tribe.

Here’s the problem. Conservatives are the world’s dumbest people because 48 percent of Republicans believe that humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. Also, more Republicans believe this now because of their obvious racism.

Here’s the problem: In that same Pew survey, a full 50 percent of black Protestants say they believe that same thing. According to our commenters, then, conservatives are the world’s dumbest people, along with black Protestants.

As we’ve noted in the past, this phenomenon often appears within our own tribalized tribe. We ridicule conservatives and/or Republicans for their views on various social issues, not realizing that major parts of the liberal/Democratic coalition hold the same beliefs.

In this case, our genuises trashed the GOP for their racist beliefs and for their rank stupidity. As we did this, we weren’t clueful enough to know that many blacks share the view in question, the view which make white Republicans so god-awful stupid.

Our own tribe’s geniuses constantly do this when topics like this appear.

Say hello to the human condition! Tribes always know that the other tribe’s dumb. In all such cases, all such tribes have a good shot at being right.


  1. Their taxes went down, and they say they went up.
    Doesn't make 'em dumb. It could be lying or gullibility.



    shows that a monstrous lies at the bottom of this vomit.

    Let us take 2009 December with 29 pct Repugs as the basis.

    Sure enough, 2013 dec shows 24 pct - the blogger is on to something, right?

    But Repugs plus leaning repugs is practically unchanged (42 and 43) between dec 2009 and dec 2013.

    Even if you insist on pure repugs - May 2013 shows 28 pct of them.

    Guy has been blogging for so many years and doesn't know that these numbers can be quite volatile.

    The notion that Repugs who believe in evolution started leaving the party since 2009 would be a classic for Stats 101 students to tear apart.

    Folks - this guy as a statistician is an absolute joke - you should demand better Kool Aid.

    And yes - blacks and hispanics hold conservative beliefs on abortion, gay marriage etc. - BUT THEY DO NOT VOTE AGAINST THEIR ECONOMIC SELF-INTEREST as poor, dumb whites do.

    1. We'll always have someone like you to "clarify" for us what Bob, that liberal hater, is so incapable of thinking through. Man, Bob is sure stupid, isn't he?

    2. One troll talking to another doesn't make a consensus much less a correct statement.

      Are you saying that the % of Republicans in the Pew surveys compared did not drop? Or are you saying that the % was higher in May than in December (the month compared), therefore Bob is wrong? That makes no sense at all. What matters is the % in the samples being compared not previous or future months. If there were 28% in May and that were the month compared with 2009, there might be no change in belief, but we don't know because that wasn't the comparison reported by Pew.

      If you imagine that hispanics are Democrats because of financial concerns, you are mistaken. It was the recent immigration policies of the Republicans that drove them toward the Democratic party, after being fairly evenly split previously. It is hard to argue that blacks have prospered economically due to their support of Democratic candidates and it seems most likely they vote Democratic because of civil rights, not economics. Although Republicans certainly like to promote the idea that they are Democrats because of the lavish handouts they purportedly receive. Do you really want to take that position?

      Bob may be occasionally mistaken, but it would be pretty dumb to call him stupid.

    3. You make it a troll threesome Anonymous @ 6:59.

      Show me when Bob has made a mistake. He is so on top of things even Krugman has credited him at least three times for showing how script has taken over journalism. And Bob is so modest he gives Krugman credit for defining script even thoguh Krugman gives Bob credit for the concept.

    4. Anonymous @6:59, you seem to be unable to grasp sarcasm and or irony. I hardly think that Bob is stupid. Nor do I think that he is a "liberal hater." I'm sorry that I need to explain that to you.

  3. So I don't get it, Bob. Are the TWO "comments" you pulled and highlighted supposed to represent ALL members of some sort of "tribe"?

    Surely, you can't saying that all "liberals" think exactly like the two commenters you chose. Because I remember a day when Bob Somerby used to rail about such behavior in reporters who would say thinks like, "Some members of the Democratic Party strongly disagree with Obama . . ." then they would "quote" one or two people. Speaking anonymously of course.

    1. Warning Wil Robinson...Straw man ahead.

    2. It is good our tribal geniuses only come out in comments in Mother Jones. As least only smart people like BOB notice them there and then shame them here where the really cool tribal thinkers reside. If only our tribal leaders, like Diane Ravitch and Valarie Strauss were as discreet.

  4. Sure enough my local paper has a letter that begins, "It is appalling to read that only 43% of Republicans believe in evolution..." If the letter-writer were truly appalled, he'd be worried about 33% of all Americans who don't believe in evolution. But, as Bob points out, this letter-writer is using this survey to take a shot at the other tribe. Disbelief in evolution is being used as a cudgel to beat up Republicans.

    BTW it's not the case that disbelief in evolution means one is incapable of doing top-level technical and scientific work in all fields other than evolution or that one is stupid or ignorant. Christians like Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama presumably believe in far-fetched miracles as described in the Bible. That belief doesn't make the Clintons and the Obamas stupid or incompetent.

    1. If and when the Clintons or Obamas allow their religious convictions to dictate their understanding of something as profoundly important as evolution then I will criticize them heartily. If I were a Republican I would be upset that so many of those who share my party affiliation - a much higher percentage than among Independants or Democrats - do not believe in one of the most important theories of modern science. There are several possible explanations for the big shift in the GOP in the past 4 years - and an 11 point change is a big shift - but surely none of them speak well of one of our two major political parties which currently controls one half of our Congress. Even if Bob is correct and some of this gap can be explained by some people who believe in evolution leaving the GOP, it still leaves one of our major parties being controlled by people who don't believe in evolution. If we found out that a majority of Democrats now claim they don't believe in gravity it would be bad news regardless of exactly how it came to pass.

    2. I wouldn't attribute literal belief in the Bible to the Clintons solely on the basis that they are Christians.

      P.Z. Myers (evolutionary biologist) says that both those who do not believe in evolution and those who claim to believe in evolution guided by God are mistaken. Evolution by definition is unguided. It works via random mutation and natural selection. There is no room in the definition of evolution for guidance by God. So the questions is stupid.

      The remaining small percentages leftover are most likely to be college-educated scientists of both political persuasions. There is certainly no justification for all those people who claim evolution is guided by God to be patting themselves on the back and calling others stupid.

    3. False beliefs can lead to bad policy. E.g., many creationists want to teach creationism in the schools as part of the science curriculum. That movement needs to be resisted, and has been pretty well resisted. However, the Republicans have no monopoly on false beliefs.

      E.g., consider the ignorant belief in the bad science that supposedly proves catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is "settled science". Add this to the false belief that humanity can reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to prevent disaster. These false beliefs have led to policies that waste billions of dollars a year. Democrats more than Republicans hold these particular false beliefs.

      In addition to the waste of billions, believers in CAGW have succeeded in adding that theory to many schools' curriculums. Various organizations have done a pretty good job of keeping creationism out of schools science curriculums. Unfortunately, there's been less success keeping CAGW as settled science out of the schools.

    4. How effing funny. You are the honest, omniscient broker. Not!
      A billion has been spent promoting climate change skepticism and denial (including attempts to ruin the careers of pioneering, top-notch climate scientists). You ignorantly buy into that thoroughly debunked anti-science crud and then fault others as being hoodwinked. Laughable.

      I will agree that it is common for people of all political stripes to not familiarize themselves with the science enough to know why they believe what they believe about things scientific including AGW/climate change.

      Read for a month or so and you might be "cured".

    5. There is a brilliant video on comparing side by side the bought-and-paid-for "scientists" denying global warming with the bought-and-paid-for "scientists" who once denied a link between smoking and lung cancer.

      Deja vu all over again.

  5. So Bob, are all black people Protestants? How many self identify as such?

    1. If this is a serious question, here is one source:

      Here is a more direct answer, albeit less recent:

      It looks like 75% were some variety of protestant (59% historically black Protestant church members) in the 2009 report. I assume this survey was done by self-identification. The rest were 5% Catholic and the remainder non-believers or don't know/won't say. This % of protestants is far greater than the general population.

    2. "some variety of protestant"

      Which makes "Protestant" such a broad category as to be meaningless.

    3. I don't recall what term Pew uses -- maybe mainstream Protestant. It refers to the 15% not African American Protestant. I don't think it covers as much territory as you suggest. "Some variety" was my term.

    4. Pew uses the term "black Protestant."

      They do not differentiate between "mainline" and "evangelical" or any other "variety" in the extremely broad spectrum of Christianity as they did for white Protestants.

    5. They do in their survey of African American religion. Just not in their survey of Religion. That is because their focus is different and it is too difficult to main such finegrain distinctions in the broader survey, which does not focus just on African Americans but on the broader population. Did you even look at the links I posted above?

  6. "Christians like Bill and Hillary Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama presumably believe in far-fetched miracles as described in the Bible."

    Why do you presume that? Not all Christians are Biblical fundamentalists. In fact, most mainstream ones are not.

  7. AnonymousJanuary 2, 2014 at 6:59 PM

    "These are some of the key findings from a nationwide Pew Research Center survey conducted March 21-April 8, 2013, with a representative sample of 1,983 adults, ages 18 and older."

    The repug percentages were 27 and 26 for Mar and April 2013

    Its highly questionable why the blogger is claiming that this small decrease (and 29 is one of the highest scores in 2009 ) accounts for the big difference in disbelief in evolution among Repugs.

    If we make the reasonable assumption that the 2009 poll was also conducted approximately in the same months the numbers are 27,24,28 and 25 (there were two samples in Apr and Mar) which are statistically the same as the 2013 data.

    Actually the data is best explained by previously non-political tea-party types identifying as Republican.

    And on blacks/hispanics/poor whites you miss my point - THEY SHOULD ALL VOTE DEMOCRATIC for rational reasons. Choosing to call humane government "handouts" is a Repug game.

  8. "a full 50 percent of black Protestants say they believe that same thing."

    Which leads us to:

    "many blacks share the view in question, the view which make white Republicans so god-awful stupid."

    Which is what happens when rank amateurs analyze data for the answers they want.

    No, Bob. This survey doesn't tell us what "many blacks" believe. It tells us that 50 percent of the blacks who self-identified as "Protestant" don't believe in evolution. And since "black Protestant" was the only subset in which blacks were listed, it does not tell us how many of those "black Protestants" were "mainline" or "evangelical" -- a distinction that the survey makes for white respondents.

    It also doesn't tell us how many blacks who responded self-identified as "Protestant" or as "unaffiliated." It could be disporportionate one way or the other, and until we know that, we can't say with any degree of confidence what "many blacks" believe or don't believe.

    Unless, of course, we have our own script to advance.

    In the meantime, we are left with this nutgraph, which Bob doesn't seem to even want to touch:

    "There also are sizable differences by party affiliation in beliefs about evolution, and the gap between Republicans and Democrats has grown. In 2009, 54% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats said humans have evolved over time, a difference of 10 percentage points. Today, 43% of Republicans and 67% of Democrats say humans have evolved, a 24-point gap."

    1. 59% were African American Protestant, a different denomination than either mainline or evangelical. Only 15% were members of white Protestant denominations. See the link to the Pew study above. Yes, this study didn't break it down the same way but why would the proportions be substantially different?

  9. There are two tribes here: trolls and non-trolls. Guess which are dumbest.

    1. Which tribe do the sock puppets belong to?

  10. Folks he has flat out lied to you:
    David A. Graham Dec 31 2013, 1:43 PM ET

    It's not surprising that Republicans are less likely to believe in evolution that Democrats are; while the numbers vary from survey to survey, there has been a consistent gap. Republicans are also less likely to believe that the earth's climate is warming, or, if they accept that it is, to believe that the change is caused by human activity. But belief in climate change is actually on the uptick, among both Democrats and Republicans, having reached a nadir in 2009. (Some academics believe the recession helped to depress belief in warming, as people's worries about their immediate livelihood trumped longer-term concerns.)

    What's surprising in the new Pew evolution numbers is the trend—a more than 10-point drop in belief among Republicans. What explains it?

    Pew doesn't speculate but remarks on the confusing result:

    Differences in the racial and ethnic composition of Democrats and Republicans or differences in their levels of religious commitment do not wholly explain partisan differences in beliefs about evolution. Indeed, the partisan differences remain even when taking these other characteristics into account.

    One possibility is that respondents who identified as Republican and believed in evolution in 2009 are no longer identifying as Republicans. Fewer scientists, for example, are reportedly identifying with the GOP, and the overall trend is for fewer Americans to call themselves Republicans. But both Gallup and separate polling from Pew found approximately the same party ID in 2009 and 2013."

    Sheesh. Kool Aid drinkers - this is not a matter for judgement - HE FLAT OUT LIED TO YOU ABOUT AN EASILY VERIFIABLE FACT.

    And yes - most Repugs are so dumb and hateful that THEY DON"T KNOW if they believe in evolution - thy just know that saying that they don't is a vehicle to express librul-hatred. And librul-hatred does have its ebbs and flows.

    "What does that leave? Maybe the gap represents an emotional response by Republicans to being out of power. Among others, Chris Mooney has argued that beliefs on politically contentious topics are often more rooted in opposition to perceived attacks than anything else—an instance of "motivated reasoning." Given that Democrats have controlled the White House and Senate since 2009, this could be backlash to the political climate, though it will be hard to tell until Republicans control Washington again."

    1. "...though it will be hard to tell until Republicans control Washington again."

      In that case I hope to a) live to be 1,000 years old, and b) never have this theory confirmed.


    2. And the point of this post was not about changes in belief or the reasons for them. It was about the tendency to call the other tribe names, such as stupid, for holding different beliefs, and the tendency of liberals to attribute differences to racism -- a very ugly name applied to the other tribe. The evidence for that was in the comments.

      So, it is interesting speculating about the source of the gap, if there is one, but Somerby's point was that attributing it to racism and/or stupidity is tribal.

    3. (Some academics believe the recession helped to depress belief in warming, as people's worries about their immediate livelihood trumped longer-term concerns.)

      Perhaps the fact that there's been no warming for the last 16 years helped depress belief in warming. Sadly, I'm not surprised that "some academics" would assign reasons for the drop in belief about GW without even knowing the basic scientific facts about the subject. This comment says more about "some academics" than about the people who disbelieve in warming.

      BTW note that the word "warming" as used by Anon 8:03 AM and by myself actually means more than it says. Most skeptics acknowledge that the earth has been warming. In this context, "Belief in warming" means something like:: "Belief that the IPCC models are reliable, that man's activity will cause catastrophic warming, and that it's possible to avert disaster by reducing the use of fossil fuels."

    4. You are responding to the troll. No one else here wants to discuss warming with you.

    5. David,
      Your AGW stuff is embarrassingly trite and easily refuted. Get a clue and open your mind to some quality science: (content maybe too hard for you but this is the real shit!) (easier/better for the not-so-science-ey)

    6. "It was about the tendency to call the other tribe names, such as stupid, for holding different beliefs . . ."

      And how did Somerby go about proving this thesis? By picking two comments from a blog comment box. Weak tea, indeed.

      If one were to venture into the mind of Somerby, one might see evidence of classic projection -- condemn in others that you are most guilty of.

    7. Two representative comments.

    8. Representative of what? But of course, don't look up the comments for yourself. Bob has already told you that they are "representative".

    9. Representative of the problem he describes in his post. Did you not read it?

  11. AnonymousJanuary 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    The issue is the multiple lies from one who nit-picks others:

    "According to Gallup, the percentage of people who say they’re Republican has dropped by a substantial amount since the end of 2009."

    (1) This suggests that GALLUP is making the assertion - whereas the blogger is making it using Gallup data.

    (2) What is "substantial"?

    (3) Why the "end of 2009"? Month-by-month data certainly disprove the "substantial" lie.

    At any rate, there has been a general trend towards independents from both parties - he comes nowhere near explaining the belief-in-evolution data with his lies.

    Even if it is true that Repugs ("we shouldn't be the stupid party" - Bobby Jindal - one of their own) drove off scientifically inclined folks after 2009 - thats nothing to write home about.

  12. AnonymousJanuary 3, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    "If one were to venture into the mind of Somerby,"

    I think "we liberals" is a dead giveaway. Practically no liberal calls him/herself a liberal in today's USA. "Liberal" is always a cuss-word used by wingers.

    The blogger's librul-bashing is a running job-application to FOX. Unfortunately, they prefer leggy blondes (bottle OK) as their attack bots.

    1. Assuming you are the same anon who habitually denominated TDH as "bone gnawer" and even viler, "shit sucker", I want to thank you for forsaking that practice. But, at the risk of asking too much, the constant reference to "Libruls" and "librul bashing" ain't in the least amusing (it's the opposite) so could you just spell it correctly from now own? Thanks.

    2. I second that. Also, many of us do consider ourselves liberal rather than the more commonly used "progressive" because there is a real distinction in meaning between the two terms, as well as a historical difference. I don't spend much time on the red side of the media, so I don't know or care how they use the word. I don't think I am revealing myself to be a conservative when I call myself a liberal (and proud of it). And I am not auditioning for Fox any more than Somerby is.

  13. Even granting Mr. Bob's dubious assessment of the matter -- that "libruls" (whoever the hell he has in mind this week) are just as stupid and tribal as Repubs, one might ask what he expects "libruls" to do about it, in the current climate? Does he propose that libruls triumph by being, say, nice?

    Respect an opposition which despises liberals and whose hatred precedes, by decades, liberal fight-back? Turn the other cheek? Compromise principle even more than, say, Somerby heroes Clinton & Gore, in the interest of brotherly love? Pretend that these differences are not fundamental -- indeed eschatological -- and can be tolerated (say, half our science funding goes to evolutionary biology; the other to creationism? same with global warming?)

    Apparently, the real problem, according to Bob, is not that liberals have been too accommodating, but not accommodating enough! Besides, libruls are mean! And I've got comments to prove it! This must stop immediately! Or is this just what "politics" means?

    Of course there's another possibility. Mr. Bob doesn't actually care about any of these questions, any more than (according to him) libruls care about the educational achievements of black children. Because, you see, it's all about Mr. Bob being right....

  14. He proposes we stop being tribal. That means stop calling everyone racist and demand that liberal spokespeople address the issues clearly and factually so that people will support liberal causes. He wants the left to persuade not propagandize.

    1. Oh, really? Who are the "liberal spokespeople" and who elected them? The owners of MSNBC? And who is "we", sd in "stop being tribal"? You? The commenters on select websites, selectively selected? Anyone who makes an argument Somerby doesn't like? Or points to the racial resentment underlying tea-party politics?

      And address the issues clearly? Really? That's how you persuade a country of 300 million, the vast majority of whom are not listening to you? Where has that strategy worked before, exactly, in a corporate-controlled media state? On for-profit TV, where left-wing arguments are banned as a matter of course?

      One would never guess, listening to guys like you, how successful the vert strategy you claim to condemn is and was for the over side.

      Of course, if your hero is Bill Clinton, it hardly matters who gets elected, so there will be no compelling interest in the outcome of electoral politics in the U.S.

    2. We have met the enemy and he is us.