Monday, October 27, 2014

A silly little Leftist lady tries to "psychologize" conservatives

One does not expect much in the way of profundity from the  crusading Australian Leftist organ, "New Matilda", but a rather long diatribe just up there is particularly feeble.  Author Lissa Johnson starts out claiming that conservatives are psychopaths but gives neither reasoning nor evidence that could lead to that conclusion.  She particularly targets Tony Abbott, Australia's conservative Prime Minister.

So what psychopathic characteristics does Mr Abbott show?  Is he, for instance, extremely self centred?  Seeing Mr Abbott has for many years taken substantial time out to work hands-on in Aboriginal communities, creating and upgrading facilities for the use of the community's people, that accusation has to earn a resounding "Not Guilty" verdict.  I know of no Leftist who has shown anything like Mr Abbott's personal committment to Aboriginal welfare.  It is because of that committment that the reviled Prof. Spurr called Abbott an "Abo lover".

So what about the various other attributes of the psychopath?  Ms Johnson is a clinical psychologist so she should know them well. Which of those does she find among conservatives?  She does not say.  She offers no evidence for her assertion.  What she does do is however amusing.  She offers a survey of the psychological literature on the psychology of conservatism.  And her survey is a broadly  accurate one.  But nowhere in that literature are conservatives accused of psychopathy!  Her own literature survey refutes her opening assertion!  The evidence that Leftists are pychopathic is however abundant.

So let us look at the psychology literature Ms Johnson believes in.  The big problem with it is that it is almost  entirely written by Leftists --  with all the lack of ethics and objectivity that one expects from that.  The author in that literature most favoured by Ms Johnson is the amusing John Jost, senior author of a paper that purported to be a meta-analysis of the literature on the psychology of conservatism, and which claimed, inter alia, that Stalin, Khrushchev and Castro were conservatives!

And one of his co-authors was the anti-scientist Frank Sulloway, who tried to use litigation to suppress publication of a research report that contested one of his theories.  Leftist attempts to suppress speech that they disagree with are notorious (See TONGUE-TIED) but Sulloway stands out even in that company.

And suppressing contrary evidence was Jost's bag too.  His article purported to be a meta-analysis and should, as such, have offered a comprehensive view of the relevant literature.  It did not.  It omitted about half of the relevant research.  Which half?  The half that disagreed with his foreordained conclusions, of course!  Any hope of finding truth in the writings of Prof. Jost and his ilk is therefore highly likely to be disappointed.

And even if one conceded every claim about conservatives made by Leftist psychologists, the gruel is thin. They have such a lot of trouble finding something wrong with conservatives that they confine themselves almost entirely to cognitive style variables.  And such variables can be seen in a variety of lights. Even Jost ended up admitting that.  For instance, one of the earliest accusations hurled at conservatives was that they are "intolerant of ambiguity".  But that can equally be parsed as showing that conservatives seek order.  And seeking order in natural phenomena is precisely what real scientists do.  The idea that such a cognitive style is in any way aberrant is simply ludicrous.

I in fact have had many papers published in the academic literature on cognitive style research and repeatedly found that the measuring instuments used fell far short of accepted psychometric standards.  So even the literature that Jost & Co. reviewed was inadequate to support their conclusions.  My most recent article in that genre is here

And I would be remiss if I did not take some note of two more of Ms Johnson's academic inspirations:  Altemeyer's RWA research and the SDO scale associated with Jim Sidanius.  Both are fairly hilarious pieces of work, as I show here in the case of SDO and most recently here in the case of Altemeyer.

The unfortunate Ms Johnson is simply credulous.  But Leftists believe what they want to believe anyway, and damn the evidence

Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.).

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