Social Psychology biased against conservatives?

Maria Konnikova, writing in The New Yorker, October 30, 2014:

On January 27, 2011, from a stage in the middle of the San Antonio Convention Center, Jonathan Haidt addressed the participants of the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology. The topic was an ambitious one: a vision for social psychology in the year 2020. Haidt began by reviewing the field that he is best known for, moral psychology. Then he threw a curveball. He would, he told the gathering of about a thousand social-psychology professors, students, and post-docs, like some audience participation. By a show of hands, how would those present describe their political orientation? First came the liberals: a “sea of hands,” comprising about eighty per cent of the room, Haidt later recalled. Next, the centrists or moderates. Twenty hands. Next, the libertarians. Twelve hands. And last, the conservatives. Three hands.

Social psychology, Haidt went on, had an obvious problem: a lack of political diversity that was every bit as dangerous as a lack of, say, racial or religious or gender diversity. It discouraged conservative students from joining the field, and it discouraged conservative members from pursuing certain lines of argument. It also introduced bias into research questions, methodology, and, ultimately, publications. The topics that social psychologists chose to study and how they chose to study them, he argued, suffered from homogeneity. The effect was limited, Haidt was quick to point out, to areas that concerned political ideology and politicized notions, like race, gender, stereotyping, and power and inequality. “It’s not like the whole field is undercut, but when it comes to research on controversial topics, the effect is most pronounced,” he later told me. (Haidt has now put his remarks in more formal terms, complete with data, in a paper forthcoming this winter in Behavioral and Brain Sciences.)

Others have also voiced concern over the liberal slant in the field of social psychology. Konnikova links to these articles: Sociopolitical Diversity in Psychology: The Case For Pluralism; and also, Political or Politicized Psychology: Is the Road to Scientific Hell Paved With Good Moral Intentions?

Answer to the question posed in the title to the second article linked above is “NO!” because Liberalism is never about “good moral intentions” when it is practiced by intelligent people who should know better and probably do.  That they have even asked the question is progress, though.

Elsewhere in Konnikova’s article she describes the responses of liberal social psychologists when asked why they think there aren’t more conservatives in the field of psychology. A typical answer is “They aren’t smart enough.”  This is revealing of the liberal mind that describes the rest of humanity as “the masses,” and thinks “the masses” are stupid.  Multiple polls and surveys outside of academia show that when asked nearly twice as many people describe themselves as conservative as those who claim to be liberal.  Those who call themselves conservatives are in the majority of every poll. Do people go into psychology out of some need to give themselves an elevated sense of superiority?

A book on the sort of nonsense that psychology professionals have been producing since the 1960s is The Road to Malpsychia: Humanistic Psychology and Our Discontents by Joyce Milton.

You can read the rest of Konnikova’s article in the 10/30/2014 edition of The New Yorker. It’s available online.

Obama losing Millennials

According to a poll released Wednesday by the Harvard Institute of Politics Millennials are abandoning Obama and Democrats as well.  By 51% to 47% they want the GOP to control Congress. Among 18-29 year-olds who say they will “definitely be voting next Tuesday,” Obama’s job approval rating is just 42 percent, with 56% disapprove.

Young Hispanic support for Obama is falling as well: “Support for the president among young Hispanics, who just two years ago supported Obama over Mitt Romney by 51-points (74% to 23%), appears to be weakening. The president’s job approval rating among Hispanics now sits at the lowest since the IOP began tracking the administration in 2009, with only 49 percent saying they approve (46% disapprove) – a significant drop from six months ago among the young Hispanic community (60%: April 2014) and a sharp slide from five years ago (81%: November 2009).”

Obama was the blind date that excited Millennials when the evening was young, but it’s nearing midnight now and they’re anxious to ditch him and forget this nightmare ever happened.

Common knowledge, preference falsification, and preference cascades

False facts are highly injurious to the progress of science for they often endure long; but false hypotheses [theories] do little harm, as everyone takes a salutary pleasure in proving their falseness; and when this is done, one path toward error is closed and the road to the truth is often at the same time opened.

— Charles Darwin, from the preface to The Origin of Species

Most people don’t want to be an oddball. That means they may not always be truthful about their beliefs, especially political beliefs. Perhaps you believed all the predictions about a new age of global cooling that were going around in the 1980’s. It did seem to make sense, didn’t it. But then when the prognosticators suddenly shifted to dire warnings of global warming you might have begun to wonder if they really knew what they were talking about. When you noticed that seemingly everyone was fully on board with all the global warming hype it might have seemed to you that nobody else shared your skepticism, and so you became reluctant to speak out on it. You didn’t want to get into an argument, and you didn’t want to appear to be an oddball.

Now, many years later,  you know that you aren’t alone in your skepticism. There have been so many cracks in the global warming argument, the true believers have been forced to make another shift, this time from global warming to “climate change.” You can openly disagree with it now without being a weirdo. It’s okay to be a skeptic now. Probably a majority of the public is skeptical of the wild claims being made about “climate change.”

What is happening is called a “preference cascade.” It’s what happens when people who thought they were alone in their beliefs suddenly find out a lot of other people agree with them.  It’s when you realize you can be open about what you think without being shunned by your friends, at least not the ones worthy of friendship.  It’s when you find out who are the “true believers” who will cling to something they need to believe against all evidence and common sense.

I use the global warming ballyhoo merely as an example. There are many other popular ideas that are actually widespread delusions, but almost nobody wants to challenge them for fear of being labeled by others as the deluded ones. There is also the phenomenon of “preference falsification” in which people not only hold back on saying they really believe but may even profess to believe the opposite just to avoid what they perceive to be the likely condemnation by others if they spoke truthfully.  A great book has been written on this: Private Truths, Public Lies: The Social Consequences of Preference Falsification, by Timur Kuran.

This highlights why freedom of speech is so important. People already self regulate their own speech to a large degree. When social sanctions are imposed common knowledge is threatened with becoming unknowable.  Global warming hype is a good example because now that the cat is out of the bag the true believers are doing everything possible to try to silence the skeptics.  First they labeled them “deniers,” a transparent attempt to compare global warming skeptics to holocaust deniers.  The media regularly ridicules anyone who dares to disagree with the climate change dogma. Michael Mann, the author of the phony “hockey stick” graph, is suing people who speak out in print about the hoax he created.  While these suits will no doubt eventually be dismissed the defendants will suffer untold inconvenience and expense defending them. Mann probably knows he won’t win the suits, but figures it’s worth losing the battle to win the war. He’s probably going to win the war since no one wants to turn their hard earned money over to expensive lawyers. Settlement looks attractive if if will end the threat of bankruptcy. The purpose of all this is to make the skeptics shut up. 

All this does enormous damage to freedom of speech and to science.  As Darwin says, false facts are only harmful if they aren’t refuted.  In a climate of open inquiry where others are free to disagree, the path to error can be closed and the road to truth opened.

In a seminal article, Steven Pinker has written of the twin pillars of conjecture and refutation as being necessary to the advancement of knowledge. The global warming hoaxers claim to have science on their side all the while they try to prevent any refutation of their wild conjecture.  If they were truly confident in their theories and truly cared about knowledge and truth, they would debate the skeptics instead of suing them.

American Studies has become a farce of stupidity and political correctness

When I was completing a major in American Studies at the University of Colorado from 1970-1974, it was a serious interdisciplinary study that covered American history from Jamestown to 1960, American literature from the Mayflower Compact to John Updike, along with other fields such as political science and philosophy. Chemistry, physics, biology and math classes through advanced calculus and partial differential equations filled out the rest of my studies during those four years.

Today there is an American Studies Association which to my knowledge did not exist when I engaged in my studies. From all that I can find about this group, the whole idea of “American Studies” has become a farce of stupidity and political correctness. The group is having its annual meeting in Los Angeles next month. Here is an excerpt from the Presidential address of Lisa Duggan of New York University:

In alignment with the theme of this year’s conference, The Fun and the Fury: A New Dialectics of Pain and Pleasure for the Post-American Century, I am especially interested in tracing the impact of queer studies and queer of color critique, of performance studies and affect theory, of sexuality studies and the live arts, of new technologies and social media, on the interdisciplinary terrain of American Studies. I am interested in exploring how these approaches are interacting now with studies of empire and settler colonialism, analyses of the racial state and the history of work and capitalism. I am interested in the political implications of these interactions, and with their failures. Most of all, in the face of the brutal conditions of life and work so many humans and others on the planet confront, I am interested in exploring why we should care about the fun and the fury at all.

I wonder if Ms. Duggan knows which side George Washington fought on in the Revolutionary War.

Worse that anything Nixon ever did…

atkinson If what Sharyl Attkinsson writes in this book is true we don’t live in the same country anymore. We live in a country where the government spies on anyone who might reveal any of its dirty laundry. The spying is to try and find something to trump up criminal charges against that person, or her sources. It is all done surreptitiously without a warrant and without the knowledge of the target. In other words, it’s all illegal as hell.

Sharyl Attinnson was a journalist for CBS but became disillusioned when the network covered up stories about the Obama/Holder Mexican gun running operation known as “fast and furious.”

This is from The New York Post:

In her new memoir, Sharyl Attkisson says a source who arranged to have her laptop checked for spyware in 2013 was “shocked” and “flabbergasted” at what the analysis revealed. Attkisson says the source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her the computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.” The spyware included programs that Attkisson says monitored her every keystroke and gave the snoops access to all her e-mails and the passwords to her financial accounts.

Read the whole story here.

Click the book image to go to its Amazon page.

Family of Colleen O’Connor take Hickenlooper to task on Dunlap “repreive”

Those who focus their sympathy on the monster who killed 4 innocent people should be thinking about those victims. Since they are now gone and the killer remains, it’s easier to focus on him. Go here to see photos of the victims that were murdered by Nathan Dunlap.

Tom Steyer — Biggest billionaire hypocrite in America

Tom Steyer made billions running offshore hedge funds and financing coal projects. Now he wants to make Americans poorer by denying them affordable fossil fuels. This political ad tells the story in 30 seconds, which is all you get these days. Back in February Tom Steyer pledged to spend $100 Million of his coal money in this campaign season to promote the global warming/climate change hoax.

Mark Steyn interviewed by Ezra Levant on The Source

The Source is TV news show anchored by Ezra Levant on the Sun News Network out of Toronto. The discussion here is about Steyn’s new book The [Un] Documented Mark Steyn which I think is a reference to his introducing himself when he sub-hosts for the Rush Limbaugh show as the “undocumented radio talk show host,” which of course is a ploy on the Democrats referring to illegal aliens as “undocumented.” Steyn calls them “undocumented Democrats” or “undocumented voters.” This interview covers the shooting of a soldier in Ottawa, the war against ISIS, the Left’s attack on freedom of speech, and related matters.