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Discussions on Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition. (Split requested by Phi for All)


Acme
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Still reading away and nothing to quote from The Authoritarians study just now, however a news story caught my eye that bears on Ten oz' Southern Strategy piece. It seems that this time rather than the questionably sane conservatives trying to court the Black vote via religion, it's now Hispanics. This quote seems apropos.

Isn't that special!?

Koch brothers reach out to Hispanics

 

 

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Looking to make inroads with the rising number of Hispanic voters, conservative activists are offering English classes, health checkups and courses to help Spanish-speakers earn high school diplomas. Picking up part of the tab: Charles and David Koch.

...

Enter the Libre Initiative, an organization that has collected millions from the Kochs' political network. Libre, which is pronounced LEE'-bray and means "free," pushes a message of limited government and economic freedom between lessons on how to build family-run businesses and prayer breakfasts with Hispanic pastors.

...

"We've gone to areas that other conservative organizations don't typically go," said Libre's Texas director Rafael Bejar, who helped distribute candy-packed Easter baskets at a San Antonio elementary school. Tucked in with the sweets: a pamphlet in English and Spanish noting that the national debt is approaching $17 trillion.

...

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This will be my last comment on this matter Acme. I relise you are the OP and set the rules of engagement, and unless you get your way, you will 'take your ball and go home'. Great way to win a discussion, stifle opposing views.

 

I didn't read your linked study because I can't even stomach its title. I find it offensive ( but hey, no law against being offensive ) and bordering on hateful against almost half the american population. It seems to me you want left wing idealogues to discuss a leftwing study that calls people with opposing views insane. And as I've stated before, I'm Canadian where even our Conservatives are more left wing than your Democrats, however, I like some conservative principles as well as some liberal principles. I especially like the one about tolerance and keeping an open mind to other people's ideas. I guess that means I don't have a 'highly compartmentalized mind'. I also have a university degree in Physics, so I don't think I can be accused of illogical thinking ( check me out on the Physics forum ). As for ethnocentrism, I am an immigrant to Canada,having been born and lived some of my childhood elsewhere.

 

But hey, maybe your studies only apply to American Conservatives ( although other countries have been mentioned ). It seems to me , hoever,that if democrats had announced English courses, help obtaining diplomas and health checkups to Hispanics, one of the most disadvantaged demographics in the US, you would have fallen all over yourself congratulating them on a job well done. But since its Republicans doing it,they must have some ulterior motive,as if both parties don't try to court voters. I believe that's covered by double standards, hypocrisy, blindness to yourself and even some profound ethocentrism.

Edited by MigL
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I suppose one difference to consider in regards the conservative effort to draw Blacks and Hispanics to their party-of-choice is that Blacks tend to be Protestants whereas Hispanics tend to be Catholic. (I'll go with that casual observation and only find the stats if demanded of me.) It is unlikely we will get an interview with the Hunts in which they clarify their psychological mind-set concerning the Southern Strategy and whether or how it plays a role in trying the same approach with Hispanics that failed with Blacks.

 

On to some study material.

 

The Authoritarians

[pgs.117-118]...The first thing you need to know about religious fundamentalists, in case you havent inferred it already, is that they usually score very highly on the RWA scale. 10, 11 A solid majority of them are authoritarian followers. The two traits, authoritarianism and fundamentalism, go together so well that nearly everything I have said about high RWAs in the previous chapters also applies to high Religious Fundamentalists.

 

Since authoritarianism can produce fundamentalism if one grows up submissively in a religiously conservative family, and (conversely), fundamentalism can promote authoritarianism with its emphases on submission to religious authority, dislike of out-groups, sticking to the straight and narrow, and so on, one immediately wonders which is the chicken and which is the egg.

 

The evidence indicates authoritarianism is more basic. The RWA scale correlates better than the Religious Fundamentalism scale does with acceptance of government injustices, hostility toward homosexuals, willingness to persecute whomever the government targets, and most other things. (The big exception naturally comes when one raises distinctly religious issues.) So the problems not so much that some people are fundamentalists, but that fundamentalists so definitely tend to be authoritarian followers. But as I just said, religious fundamentalism does promote authoritarianism in some ways. And you can certainly see the influence of right-wing authoritarianism in many things that religious fundamentalists do. ...

This will be my last comment on this matter Acme. I relise you are the OP and set the rules of engagement, and unless you get your way, you will 'take your ball and go home'. Great way to win a discussion, stifle opposing views.

On-topic views from whatever perspective are welcome. Arguably it's my ball but I'm staying to see the game out.

 

I didn't read your linked study because I can't even stomach its title. I find it offensive ( but hey, no law against being offensive ) and bordering on hateful against almost half the american population.

Spoken like a true high RWA. (Regardless of whether you rate that label, your comment matches such behavior as revealed in the study.)

 

It seems to me you want left wing idealogues to discuss a leftwing study that calls people with opposing views insane.

Were you to bother reading the study you might understand your error. Given that high-RWA are not so good at logic, and given your apparent high-RWA comment above, I wouldn't bet on it.

 

And as I've stated before, I'm Canadian where even our Conservatives are more left wing than your Democrats, however, I like some conservative principles as well as some liberal principles.

And as I have stated before, the author of this particular study is a Canadian professor teaching in Canada. (Now retired.)

 

I especially like the one about tolerance and keeping an open mind to other people's ideas. I guess that means I don't have a 'highly compartmentalized mind'. I also have a university degree in Physics, so I don't think I can be accused of illogical thinking ( check me out on the Physics forum ). As for ethnocentrism, I am an immigrant to Canada,having been born and lived some of my childhood elsewhere.

 

But hey, maybe your studies only apply to American Conservatives ( although other countries have been mentioned ).

You keep bringing your personal attributes into this which in some sense requires me to reply to them. However, as this puts me on risky ground for a staff admonition to attack the idea and not the person I'll thank you to stop introducing your personal attributes into the discussion. Again, if you had read the study you would know who it applies to.

 

It seems to me , hoever,that if democrats had announced English courses, help obtaining diplomas and health checkups to Hispanics, one of the most disadvantaged demographics in the US, you would have fallen all over yourself congratulating them on a job well done. But since its Republicans doing it,they must have some ulterior motive,as if both parties don't try to court voters. I believe that's covered by double standards, hypocrisy, blindness to yourself and even some profound ethocentrism.

The Democrats have done so. Since this thread is not specifically about parties, and as we learned from the Southern Strategy article that conservatism has migrated between parties, then discussion of Democrats really does not play into it. If you or anyone else have studies indicating that liberal and/or Democratic party politically leaning folk are mildly insane then by all means start a thread and present them.

 

----------------------------------- [Appended separate post]

Notes of note.

 

The Authoritarians

Chapter Four

Authoritarian Followers and Religious Fundamentalism

...

[pg. 120]But fundamentalists still hold more racial prejudices than most people--a fact known to social scientists for over fifty years. White churches were open to just white folks for generations in America, and many pastors found justification in the Bible for both slavery and the segregation that followed the demise of slavery. Vestiges of this remain in fundamentalist religions. Bill McCartney, the founder of the evangelical men's movement called Promise Keepers, tells the story of what happened on a nation-wide speaking tour when he finished up his stock speech with a call for racial reconciliation:

 

"There was no response--nothing...In city after city, in church after church, it

was the same story--wild enthusiasm while I was being introduced, followed by a

morgue-like chill as I stepped away from the microphone."

...

[pgs. 155-156] 14...Recently Gary Leak and Darrel Moreland at Creighton University in Omaha tested my hunch that religious ethnocentrism plays a pivotal role in the appearance of non-religious prejudices in fundamentalists. Using a mediated hierarchical regression analysis of Religious Fundamentalism and Religious Ethnocentrism scores from nearly 300 students to predict general racial prejudice, hostility toward homosexuals and prejudice toward African-Americans, they found religious ethnocentrism mediated fundamentalists other hostilities so powerfully that controlling for it always appreciably reduced the fundamentalist-prejudice relationship. In all cases, religious ethnocentrism proved to be the mediator in the relationship, not fundamentalism. After I learned of their study I performed their analysis on my sample of 638 parents' answers to the Manitoba Ethnocentrism scale and the Attitudes toward Homosexuals scale, and found the same thing. A considerable amount of fundamentalists nonreligious prejudices thus are attributable to their strong religious prejudices. Learning to dislike people on religious grounds seemingly has powerful consequences for how we react to people who are different in other ways. ...

Edited by Acme
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Knowing that you dear tender readers have been reading along with me, I'll just jump to a bit of the summary. Next up is Chapter Five: Authoritarian Leaders. Keeping this all in the perspective of politics, most who score high on the Fundamentalist questionnaire also score high on the RWA and most high-RWA folk self-identify themselves as politically conservative. Crazy, huh? ;)

 

The Authoritarians

...

[pgs. 164-165]Summary: So What Does All This Amount To?

This chapter has presented my main research findings on religious fundamentalists. The first thing I want to emphasize, in light of the rest of this book, is that they are highly likely to be authoritarian followers. They are highly submissive to established authority, aggressive in the name of that authority, and conventional to the point of insisting everyone should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various out-groups. They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups, have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often hypocrites. ...

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  • 3 weeks later...

How my daughter dresses, and the stance I take on the issue, is perhaps not the greatest example of political social conservatism, but it's an area where I feel a more traditional value, e.g. clothing that covers valuable territory instead of flaunting it, is appropriate. In my defense, I feel that way about clothing in general, for both genders. I don't favor clothes on anyone that reveals too much; if you want to be sexy, I've learned over the years that, for me, it's sexier imagining what's under the clothes rather than everyone seeing it on display. There may be a psychological factor at work here as well. I don't think dressing like a hooker is a good self-image.

 

But how people dress is hardly something I could, or would want to control. While I might think it's a good thing for everyone to dress modestly, or at least less skimpily and see-though-ily, I don't want legislation about that. But I think it would affect the way I feel about regulation in the entertainment industry.

 

[/snipped]

 

When a woman dresses skimpily, I see that she has a lot of guts... and at least a small dose of (healthy) narcissism, although I can understand the concern when it's a young person.

 

Maybe you're more conservative than you think.

 


 

I will partake if I find the time to read the PDF. Some issues already:

- How did they establish causation? Do they even know which are the mediating variables?

- Do their scales remain valid in a wide range of samples?

Edited by MonDie
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...

I will partake if I find the time to read the PDF. Some issues already:

- How did they establish causation? Do they even know which are the mediating variables?

- Do their scales remain valid in a wide range of samples?

Presuming the pdf you mean is Bob Altemeyer's The Authoritarians, details of the methodology are mostly in the footnotes. [The meta-study in the OP is also a pdf file.] Bob has another book that the free pdf The Authoritarians is drawn from and that other book contains far more detail on the statistical analysis. Here's a link to it on Amazon: >> The Authoritarian Specter by Bob Altemeyer

 

While I have been gone from this thread for a couple weeks, I have not forgotten it and I'll return as circumstances allow. Thanks for your interest. :)

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@Acme, I have not forgotten this thread either. I have been waiting till I got around to reading The Authoritarians link previous given http://members.shaw.ca/jeanaltemeyer/drbob/TheAuthoritarians.pdf before commenting further. I admittedly probably could've already made time for it.Perhaps tomorrow I shall make getting through a healthy chunk a priority.

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Acme, unless we're talking longitudinal studies, to say that one variable predicts another is merely to say that they're correlated.

Looking at the quotes, there is no mention of "mediating" variables, or variables being "controlled for."

 

Edited because I derailed. :)

Edited by MonDie
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Acme, unless we're talking longitudinal studies, to say that one variable predicts another is merely to say that they're correlated.

 

Looking at the quotes, there is no mention of "mediating" variables, or variables being "controlled for."

You simply will have to read the study yourself. As I have said several times, I can only quote a limited amount of material in respect to the author and forum rules and what I do quote is indicative of what I find pertinent to the topic of whacky behavior among political conservatives. If there was a similar level of mild insanity among political liberals then there would be studies examining and affirming that; there isn't, there aren't, and so they don't.

 

I have yet to find any criticism of Altemeyer's methodology, which is of course not to say there is none. While Bob Altemeyer is retired, I'm sure you can write him and ask for clarification of issues you feel aren't addressed in his books.

 

Keep also in mind that Altemeyer's work is just one of 80+ studies covered in the meta-study of the OP, and on the whole all those studies affirm some psychological infirmities among political conservatives. (As if it wasn't obvious. ;) )

 

...sheesh, I need to shutdown the laptop for a bit... :P

Whatever turns your crank Mr. Die.

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I was only explaining mediating variables. I'm a liberal atheist, so... :P

Mmmmmm...I failed to understand the explanation as well as failed to understand that it was an explanation. :doh: Nevertheless, you can't simply go by what I quote, so... :P

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  • 3 months later...

1) Meta study conflates multiple measures (F-scale, C-scale, voting records, RWA) that do not measure the same thing and are known not to measure the same thing.

 

2) Many effect sizes, even if statistically significant, are small.

 

3) Politics is conflated with authoritarianism even when the two contradict each other.

 

4) Important aspects associated with the "right" or "conservatism" in nations like the US or the UK fail to show any association. Namely economics, which in the US is central to the political right.

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1) Meta study conflates multiple measures (F-scale, C-scale, voting records, RWA) that do not measure the same thing and are known not to measure the same thing.

 

2) Many effect sizes, even if statistically significant, are small.

 

3) Politics is conflated with authoritarianism even when the two contradict each other.

 

4) Important aspects associated with the "right" or "conservatism" in nations like the US or the UK fail to show any association. Namely economics, which in the US is central to the political right.

1) Please point out which specific measures you take issue with so we can look at the specifics.

2) What's the use of using the term statistically significant if one can simply dismiss it as small? Either statistical significance matters or it does not. Would you likewise qualify a statistically insignificant result as large?

3) What study are you referring to here? In Altemeyer's study there is no claim that all authoritarians [per his definition/use of the term] are conservative or that the two terms denote the same measure.

4) I think you will find religiosity -to name another aspect- is rather high in association with conservatism in the US.

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1) Please point out which specific measures you take issue with so we can look at the specifics.

2) What's the use of using the term statistically significant if one can simply dismiss it as small? Either statistical significance matters or it does not. Would you likewise qualify a statistically insignificant result as large?

3) What study are you referring to here? In Altemeyer's study there is no claim that all authoritarians [per his definition/use of the term] are conservative or that the two terms denote the same measure.

4) I think you will find religiosity -to name another aspect- is rather high in association with conservatism in the US.

 

 

1) I did point out the specific measures. Look at the tables that includes data from the studies used in the meta-analysis. In the second column they typically indicate the measure used. This varies widely from F-scale to C-scale to RWA to even voting records.

 

2) This is a common misconception. Statistical significance means that some test had a p-value small enough to pass some threshold of being signficant...i.e. having a low probability of occuring by random chance. However, p-values do not tell you what the effect of something is. The ""effect size" references how large the effect was. I can hit a nail with a small amount of force that drives it in 1/8th of an inch or I could hit it with a large amount of force that drives it all the way in. Both amounts of force can have a consistent and statistically significant effect even if their actual effect size is quite different. If something is only weakly correlated with something else, then there may be a significant correlation, but the effect is going to be smaller than something that is perfectly correlated. Effect size is very important in all kinds of things, like drug studies. A new drug may have a statistically significan effect, but if its effect is only very tiny, then it may still never make it to market because there are more effective drugs out there.

 

3) I am referering to the specific meta-study originally linked to. They and the subsequent media releases equivocate Altemeyer's "right-wing authoritarianism" with right-wing politics.

 

4) So? That's irrelevant to my point. I'm not saying that economics is the only aspect of political conservatism, I'm saying that as a major aspect of political conservatism, a failure to find a correlation of the traits in question with this important political ideology throws into question whether or not their study actually political conservatism or whether they are in fact conflating another measure/attribute and thus guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. If what their study has found actually has significant bearing on explaining political conservatism, then measures like fear of death should be reflected in major politically conservative (in the US and UK, not other nations) positions like economic conservatism. A common problem in any study that evaluates multiple variables is the problem of multiple testing. If you run 20 tests and have a cut-off p-value of say 0.05, then by chance alone you will have at least one test show a statistically significant association. In meta studies, the inability to control for all the variance between the studies included make this problem much worse. In evaluating the study then, we should be asking whether or not the data actually explains or at least correlates with major and important characteristics of the phenomena in question and if it does not, then this begs the question of how valid the results are.

 

A lot of the data in the study comes from Sweden, for instance, which has a very different political history and tradition than the US or the UK. There have been other studies that used Altemeyer's scales in Eastern Europe and found Left-wing Authoritarianism as a factor of the those nations very different political histories and traditions. I have a fundamental problem that looks at the issue of "political conservatism" conflating different measures based on an assumption of the Western European/North American world. It makes assumptions about human behavior and politics that are rooted in a narrowized political history. Its exactly the same issue that pervades all of psychology in having primarily studied WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democrat) college students. We assume that this is the norm and base our research on this failing to account for the vast diversity of humanity and history. Even in the meta study in question, many of the studies included looked at WEIRD college students.

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1) I did point out the specific measures. Look at the tables that includes data from the studies used in the meta-analysis. In the second column they typically indicate the measure used. This varies widely from F-scale to C-scale to RWA to even voting records.

So each measure should be taken in the context it is given. I don't have a problem with that. Just because apples aren't oranges does not mean they are not fruit.

 

2) This is a common misconception. Statistical significance means that some test had a p-value small enough to pass some threshold of being signficant...i.e. having a low probability of occuring by random chance. However, p-values do not tell you what the effect of something is. The ""effect size" references how large the effect was. I can hit a nail with a small amount of force that drives it in 1/8th of an inch or I could hit it with a large amount of force that drives it all the way in. Both amounts of force can have a consistent and statistically significant effect even if their actual effect size is quite different. If something is only weakly correlated with something else, then there may be a significant correlation, but the effect is going to be smaller than something that is perfectly correlated. Effect size is very important in all kinds of things, like drug studies. A new drug may have a statistically significan effect, but if its effect is only very tiny, then it may still never make it to market because there are more effective drugs out there.

So using your analogy, the studies have just as sure a result as the nail is driven. One does not drive a nail all the way in if they intend to hang their hat on it. ;)

 

3) I am referering to the specific meta-study originally linked to. They and the subsequent media releases equivocate Altemeyer's "right-wing authoritarianism" with right-wing politics.

Well, Altemeyer's work does show that his 'right-wing authoritarians' tend to self-identify as conservative so it shouldn't be surprising to see that reflected in the meta-study.

The link in post #1 is not the meta-study itself; I give that link in post #22. As to the meta-study itself equivocating, I think the authors were quite straight-forward. They say:

...The Ideology of Conservatism

The ideology of conservatism has long served as subject matter for historians (e.g., Diamond, 1995; Kolko, 1963), journalists (e.g., Lind, 1996; I. F. Stone, 1989), political scientists (e.g., Carmines & Berkman, 1994; Conover & Feldman, 1981; Huntington, 1957; McClosky & Zaller, 1984), sociologists (e.g., Anderson, Zelditch, Takagi, & Whiteside, 1965; Danigelis & Cutler, 1991; Lo & Schwartz, 1998; Mannheim, 1927/1986, 1936; A. S. Miller, 1994), and philosophers (e.g., Eagleton, 1991; Habermas, 1989; Rorty, 1989). Our goal in the present article is to summon the unique analytical powers drawn from a variety of psychological theories of motivated social cognition to shed light on the anatomy of conservatism. Following Abric (2001), we argue that political conservatism, like many other complex social representations, has both a stable definitional core and a set of more malleable, historically changing peripheral associations (what Huntington, 1957, referred to as secondary issues). It is the ideological core of political conservatism (more than its peripheral aspects) that we hypothesize to be linked to specific social, cognitive, and motivational needs.2 ...

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

 

 

 

 

4) So? That's irrelevant to my point. I'm not saying that economics is the only aspect of political conservatism, I'm saying that as a major aspect of political conservatism, a failure to find a correlation of the traits in question with this important political ideology throws into question whether or not their study actually political conservatism or whether they are in fact conflating another measure/attribute and thus guilty of the fallacy of equivocation. If what their study has found actually has significant bearing on explaining political conservatism, then measures like fear of death should be reflected in major politically conservative (in the US and UK, not other nations) positions like economic conservatism. A common problem in any study that evaluates multiple variables is the problem of multiple testing. If you run 20 tests and have a cut-off p-value of say 0.05, then by chance alone you will have at least one test show a statistically significant association. In meta studies, the inability to control for all the variance between the studies included make this problem much worse. In evaluating the study then, we should be asking whether or not the data actually explains or at least correlates with major and important characteristics of the phenomena in question and if it does not, then this begs the question of how valid the results are.

 

A lot of the data in the study comes from Sweden, for instance, which has a very different political history and tradition than the US or the UK. There have been other studies that used Altemeyer's scales in Eastern Europe and found Left-wing Authoritarianism as a factor of the those nations very different political histories and traditions. I have a fundamental problem that looks at the issue of "political conservatism" conflating different measures based on an assumption of the Western European/North American world. It makes assumptions about human behavior and politics that are rooted in a narrowized political history. Its exactly the same issue that pervades all of psychology in having primarily studied WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democrat) college students. We assume that this is the norm and base our research on this failing to account for the vast diversity of humanity and history. Even in the meta study in question, many of the studies included looked at WEIRD college students.

I'd say that, at least in regards to Altemeyer, he is straight-forward about the demographics as well as about what shortcomings his work has and what further studies may be desirable to fill in gaps.

On the general idea of studying psychology, science is always amendable and that can only serve as a lenitive to your fundamental problem. You would not be the first here to just declare that you don't believe there is legitimacy to comparing political persuasions, however people are as people do and the interest appertains whether you join or not.

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4) Important aspects associated with the "right" or "conservatism" in nations like the US or the UK fail to show any association. Namely economics, which in the US is central to the political right.
Economics is central to the political "right" everywhere English is spoken, by definition.

 

Conservatism is rightwing in places with a tradition of corporate capitalism and private ownership of the means of production. A conservative member of a traditionally communist or tribal community would be leftwing, ideologically, if transplanted into a modern industrial State.

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...4) Important aspects associated with the "right" or "conservatism" in nations like the US or the UK fail to show any association. Namely economics, which in the US is central to the political right.

I'd like to revisit this complaint. In the thread on the demise of science I alluded to having read 80% of Altemeyer's book. Checking now I must amend that to ~64%. Anyway, I got off on other interests and duties and didn't finish the read so today I picked it up where I left off and in short order found a telling passage in regard to your above claim. To whit:

 

The Authoritarians

Chapter 5

(pg. 162) ... Social dominators and high RWAs have several other things in common besides prejudice. They both tend to have conservative economic philosophies--although this happens much more often among the dominators than it does among the social conservatives--and they both favor right-wing political parties. ...

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Well, Altemeyer's work does show that his 'right-wing authoritarians' tend to self-identify as conservative so it shouldn't be surprising to see that reflected in the meta-study.

The link in post #1 is not the meta-study itself; I give that link in post #22. As to the meta-study itself equivocating, I think the authors were quite straight-forward. They say:

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

 

Have you ever taken or seen the questions in Altemeyer's survey? They are inherently biased and slanted in a way as to portray any traditionally Left-wing cause as rebellious/free-thinking and any right-wing cause as authoritarian. The questions are also inherently of a moral/religious nature with overemphasis on traditional family values. Altemeyer's survey is set up to confirm the starting assumptions he has made regarding "right-wing authoritarians".

 

If the questions were altered so as to present "authoritarianism" on the side of Left-wing values and right-wing values as non-comformist, one could easily slant the results as to portray the political Left as "authoritarian". The subjective wording of the questions introduces bias by Altemeyer and other researchers using his scale.

Edited by chadn737
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Have you ever taken or seen the questions in Altemeyer's survey?

Yes. They are in the book I have been reading and referencing.

 

They are inherently biased and slanted in a way as to portray any traditionally Left-wing cause as rebellious/free-thinking and any right-wing cause as authoritarian. The questions are also inherently of a moral/religious nature with overemphasis on traditional family values. Altemeyer's survey is set up to confirm the starting assumptions he has made regarding "right-wing authoritarians".

 

If the questions were altered so as to present "authoritarianism" on the side of Left-wing values and right-wing values as non-comformist, one could easily slant the results as to portray the political Left as "authoritarian". The subjective wording of the questions introduces bias by Altemeyer and other researchers using his scale.

If what you say is true -and from what I have read it is not- then you should be able to start a thread on liberals being slightly insane and cite multiple studies to support the idea. Have at it.
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Yes. They are in the book I have been reading and referencing.

 

If what you say is true -and from what I have read it is not- then you should be able to start a thread on liberals being slightly insane and cite multiple studies to support the idea. Have at it.

 

If what I say is true, the Altemeyer's questions are biased to achieve a desired outcome and are therefore relevant.

 

The questions can be viewed here: http://www.panojohnson.com/automatons/rwa-scale.xhtml

 

There is an inherent bias in the questionaire to ask only questions of a certain religious/moral nature where agreement in any way is associated with "authoritarianism". Non-authoritarian questions associated with the right-wing in English speaking nations are completely absent as are any questions related to left-wing authoritarianism. For instance, take a question such as this: "You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting for women’s abortion rights, for animal rights, or to abolish school prayer." If reworded to be "You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting to save lives from abortion or to lower taxation", you would get a VERY different answer from someone of a left-wing persuasion. Or consider a question regarding gun ownership and government regulation: "The government has the right to limit ownership of guns and we need a strong leader to restrict gun ownership amongst private citizens". Agreement with this statement is clearly authoritarian as they support more power and oversight of a particular activity by individuals. In the US, the right would tend to disagree with such a statement and there would be greater support amongst the left. By biasing the nature of the questions, Altemeyer sets up the questionaire to reaffirm his own suspicions. It is also interesting to note, that the scale has a minimal score of 20 and a high of 180. The average response for adults of older generations in the US is a 90...not very high on the scale.

 

You seem to miss the point in trying to get me to take my argument somewhere else. Its not that liberals are insane. Quite frankly I think any suggestion that half the population is "insane" to be both insulting and incredibly arrogant. Labeling the side you disagree with as "insane" is a classic propganda technique, no different than those used in war-time posters. The issue is, does Altemery bias his questionaire with loaded questions intended to achieve specific results. The answer is undoubtly yes.

Edited by chadn737
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If what I say is true, the Altemeyer's questions are biased to achieve a desired outcome and are therefore relevant.

 

The questions can be viewed here: http://www.panojohnson.com/automatons/rwa-scale.xhtml

Yes, I have read the questions in the book, as well as the discussion concerning their validity. From your link:

Is the RWA Scale Valid?

 

According to the High Laws of Science (you do not have to genuflect here), ideas must be repeatedly tested to see if they fail. So the next (and extremely important) question is, does the RWA scale really measure what it says it measures? Are the test scores valid? If they are, we should find that high scorers submit to established authority more than most people do, aggress more in the name of such authority, and are much more conventional. What’s the evidence?

The examination of this topic runs from pages 15 to 29 of chapter 1 of The Authoritarians, and therefore exceeds what it seems reasonable to reproduce here. However, interested persons may read it online. Indeed, they may read the entire book online.

Give me a few minutes to access that section as I have to complete some updates.

 

There is an inherent bias in the questionaire to ask only questions of a certain religious/moral nature where agreement in any way is associated with "authoritarianism". Non-authoritarian questions associated with the right-wing in English speaking nations are completely absent as are any questions related to left-wing authoritarianism. For instance, take a question such as this: "You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting for women’s abortion rights, for animal rights, or to abolish school prayer." If reworded to be "You have to admire those who challenged the law and the majority’s view by protesting to save lives from abortion or to lower taxation", you would get a VERY different answer from someone of a left-wing persuasion. Or consider a question regarding gun ownership and government regulation: "The government has the right to limit ownership of guns and we need a strong leader to restrict gun ownership amongst private citizens". Agreement with this statement is clearly authoritarian as they support more power and oversight of a particular activity by individuals. In the US, the right would tend to disagree with such a statement and there would be greater support amongst the left. By biasing the nature of the questions, Altemeyer sets up the questionaire to reaffirm his own suspicions. It is also interesting to note, that the scale has a minimal score of 20 and a high of 180. The average response for adults of older generations in the US is a 90...not very high on the scale.

 

You seem to miss the point in trying to get me to take my argument somewhere else. Its not that liberals are insane. Quite frankly I think any suggestion that half the population is "insane" to be both insulting and incredibly arrogant. Labeling the side you disagree with as "insane" is a classic propganda technique, no different than those used in war-time posters. The issue is, does Altemery bias his questionaire with loaded questions intended to achieve specific results. The answer is undoubtly yes.

Blah blah blah. If you don't agree with the studies' methods or conclusions that is fine. If you want to keep harping here, fine too. But you can't simply say the questions are biased and then fail to produce non-biased questions and so declare any such questions are invalid. People take political stances, other people find the why's and wherefore's of those stances of interest because political stances and actions affect lives and so studying the situation is valid. Moreover, people give themselves political labels such as conservative, liberal, libertarian, etcetera so implying that these assignments are imposed by academics is fallacious.

Be back in a bit with information from the book section referenced above. If you haven't read the book, I suggest you do.

The Authoritarians

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Quite frankly I think any suggestion that half the population is "insane" to be both insulting and incredibly arrogant.

Although I agree with you that some bias in the questions of that study is visible, the question itself is reasonable. In a society as vulnerable and targeted by sophisticated psychological manipulation as this one, the notion that half the population is afflicted with a definable and observable psychiatric disorder in consequence - "mildly insane" - is not arrogant or unreasonable in itself. One must make the case, is all.

 

And frankly, never mind the study, there is plenty of evidence for that. Merely the posting of politically rightwing biological professionals in the GMO threads goes a fair ways toward making that case. Something is wrong with your mental workings. If you find that insulting, than that's regrettable - but is it really invisible to your rational mind?

 

Look at this, from a simple and abstract pov: a GMO critic posts

1) incorporating significant extra glyphosate herbicide and related engineered genetics, never before ingested by humans, into the daily diet of millions of Americans - pregnant, infant, elderly, ill, all of them - carries risk, which has not been researched properly; and

2) since glyphosate is one of the most benign, least dangerous, and effective herbicides we have, destroying its usefulness by eliciting the rapid evolution of resistance to it through abusive employment (in standard Darwinian fashion no less) is harmful - that such consequence was an obvious risk beforehand, an easily predicted, all but inevitable, and significant, harm done by the deployers of glyphosate resistant GMOs afterwards;

 

and the politically rightwing professionals, fully knowledgable in their field and college educated in their reasoning, respond in agreement thus: the critic is contradicting themselves, by first claiming glyphosate is dangerous, and then claiming it is safe.

 

That is a symptom, not just a mistaken bit of reasoning. There is a visible mental disorder of some kind involved in that sequence. And it is not unique, around here - there are dozens of examples in the GMO threads alone.

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Yes, I have read the questions in the book, as well as the discussion concerning their validity. From your link:

Give me a few minutes to access that section as I have to complete some updates.

 

Blah blah blah. If you don't agree with the studies' methods or conclusions that is fine. If you want to keep harping here, fine too. But you can't simply say the questions are biased and then fail to produce non-biased questions and so declare any such questions are invalid. People take political stances, other people find the why's and wherefore's of those stances of interest because political stances and actions affect lives and so studying the situation is valid. Moreover, people give themselves political labels such as conservative, liberal, libertarian, etcetera so implying that these assignments are imposed by academics is fallacious.

Be back in a bit with information from the book section referenced above. If you haven't read the book, I suggest you do.

The Authoritarians

 

1) You are shifting the burden of proof and introducing a red herring. It is not necessary for me to produce a counter-set of "unbiased" questions to show that the questions Altemeyer uses are inherently biased. We only need ask whether or not the questions he uses assume a particular political slant and do the questions encompass the breadth of that political slant. Either one of these can introduce bias. By limiting the scope of his questions to a narrow set of positions held by some within that political orientation, the test is biased towards finding only a very narrow and specific type of authoritarianism. Its a classic case of cherry-picking. As I demonstrated earlier, the questions can be altered to include certain non-authoritarian questions which would lead to very different conclusions.

 

2) "Unbiased" questions are easily produced. For instance:

 

A) "People should obey the law even if they disagree with it"

B) "Certain institutions possess moral authority"

C) "Protest is never justified"

D) "Under some circumstances it is ok to break the law"

E) "Superiors should be obeyed"

........etc

 

These questions are general, they make no presumption about a person's political attitudes, religious beliefs, etc. One could easily ask such questions, guage the "authoritarianism" and then match such data after the fact to self-proclaimed political attitudes, behaviors, etc. In this way the test is not biased a priori to achieve a specific result.

 

3) Of course if you ask questions that are biased in such a way towards a certain to political belief and then ask people to self-identify, you are more likely to find a correlation between the two. Thats why the results, the questionaire, are biased. They are specifically designed to be more likely to produce results that confirm the hypothesis.

 

Your arguments here are really lacking. You need to show that these questions are NOT biased. I have pointed out how the questions language and nature are inherently geared towards a priori assumptions about the nature of the right and left wing. I have shown how altering the question can easily done to be more likely to produce authoritarian answers the Left and non-authoritarian answers from the Right. I have even provided examples of politically unbiased questions. I have done my part in showing the inherent bias of Altemeyer's scale. You now have to show that its not.

Although I agree with you that some bias in the questions of that study is visible.....

 

 

If you agree that there is evident bias in the nature of Altemeyer's questions, then you and I can actually agree then that his results are going to be biased and should therefore be questioned. After all.....to acknowledge a biased nature in the wording of the questionaire and try to justify the results after the fact is pretty much an admission that one is willing to accept biased results that conform to one's own prejudices.

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If you agree that there is evident bias in the nature of Altemeyer's questions, then you and I can actually agree then that his results are going to be biased and should therefore be questioned.
Of course. To some degree.

 

Questioned, that is. Honestly. Not dismissed out of hand, disparaged as a priori arrogant, etc, but analyzed and compared with other evidence.

 

It's not as though that study were the only evidence or indication we have of the validity of its conclusions, after all.

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Yes, I have read the questions in the book, as well as the discussion concerning their validity. From your link:

 

If you have read discussions of their validity, then I'm sure you are also familiar with John Ray's comparison of Altemeyer's RWA to seperate scales of conservatism and authoritarianism? John Ray developed two different scales. One attempts to measure "Authoritarianism" in a politically unbiased manner. The second is meant to measure "conservatism", but using a mix of questions that reflect both "authoritarian" and "non-authoritarian" aspects of the political right.

 

John Ray then correlated results of Altemeyer's scale with these two separate scales. The expectation being, if Altemeyer's scale actually measures both conservatism and authoritarianism, then it will correlate with both scales to some degree. That was not the case. While RWA has high correlation with Ray's conservatism scale, it actually has zero correlation with the authoritarianism scale (r=-0.049). This work shows that the RWA does not actually measure "authoritarianism."

 

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224545.1985.9922883#preview

Of course. To some degree.

 

Questioned, that is. Honestly. Not dismissed out of hand, disparaged as a priori arrogant, etc, but analyzed and compared with other evidence.

 

It's not as though that study were the only evidence or indication we have of the validity of its conclusions, after all.

 

 

Indeed, we have other studies that call it into question, see the work of John Ray above who showed that there is absolutely no correlation with Altemeyer's RWA with an alternative measure of "authoritarianism".

 

So using your analogy, the studies have just as sure a result as the nail is driven. One does not drive a nail all the way in if they intend to hang their hat on it. ;)

 

 

I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at, but it seems to missunderstand the importance of "effect size" vs "statistical significance". All statistical significance indicates when comparing two groups is that there is enough difference or low enough variability compared to some null distribution to say that there is a low probability (determined by a predefined threshhold) that these differences occurred by chance alone. It DOES NOT mean that the differences are important in terms of having a meaningful effect. The effect size tells you the maginitude....how big....the impact of that difference really is. I do lots of gene expression studies. Using a standard cutoff of p < 0.05 after multiple testing correction you will often find many differences....but not all are that meaningful. There can be a big difference between a gene that is induced 1000 fold verus one that is induced say 0.5 fold. In genetics, we often measure the contribution of individual genes towards explaining the variance of a phenotype. You will sometimes find genes that contribute large amounts...in some cases 100%....of the observed variation. These genes have large effect sizes. You will oftentimes find genes of small effect, some contributing < 1% of the variance. All are statistically significant, but some are biologically more important and meaningful in explaining the variation. Something with a small effect size.....you could be making a pretty big deal about something that really explains very little, even if it managed to pass some statistical threshold. All that p-value tells you is that you were able to detect a difference....doesn't tell you what the difference means or how important that difference really is towards explaining what you are trying to understand. For that...you really need other measures like effect size.

 

Here is some information on effect size.

 

http://www.statisticshell.com/docs/effectsizes.pdf

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