Conservatives are less interested than liberals in viewing novel scientific data

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Plazma Inferno!, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. Plazma Inferno! Ding Ding Ding Ding Administrator

    Conservatives are less interested than liberals in viewing novel scientific data, according to a psychology researcher at The University of Alabama.
    Dr. Alexa Tullett, assistant professor of psychology at UA, recently conducted the project, titled “Is ideology the enemy of inquiry? Examining the link between political orientation and lack of interest in novel data.”
    In three separate studies, Tullett and colleagues offered participants in both the Deep South and West Coast a chance to view data on three topics: the justness of the world, the efficacy of social safety nets and the benefits of social media. Participants were given no advanced knowledge of what the data would tell them. Tullett found that conservatives were less interested in viewing empirical data than liberals in all three studies. Moreover, conservatives were more skeptical about the value of science compared with liberals. These differences suggest that conservatives and liberals may differ with respect to the kinds of information they find persuasive in the context of political debate.
    According to author, one reason for increases in political polarization may be that people aren’t always speaking the same language. There seem to be epistemological differences between liberals and conservatives. They disagree about the value of scientific evidence, and if you’re relying on different types of evidence, you’re less likely to come to an agreement.
    danshawen likes this.
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  3. Seattle Valued Senior Member

    Conservatives are adverse to change, already have their "worldview" formed and therefore don't think they are going to learn anything they don't already "know".

    They also probably don't trust the source and therefore are less interested in reading the article. I don't know that it's about not being interested or believing in science unless they are especially religious and the science doesn't fit in with their religious views.
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  5. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    This appears to be yet another "Pope discovered to be Catholic" story. What do these people think "conservative" means, in its political sense?

    Surely it means a tendency to maintain tradition and to be wary of novelty, doesn't it?
    cosmictotem and sideshowbob like this.
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  7. wellwisher Banned Banned

    These are all liberal foundation premises, used to divide, extort or manipulate, which could explain why Conservatives are not interested. These studies all sing to the liberal choir.

    The justness of the world assumes the evil white guys from the USA, need to be restricted and pay retribution. The inefficiency of social safety nets means you need bigger government since these programs are not efficient. The war on poverty is over 50 years old and has gained no ground even after spending trillions of dollars. It is not designed to solve the problem, but to be a prop for political skim. While the media can't be trusted to provide solid analysis since they need to entertain to maintain market share and/or do their job as propaganda wings of political parties.

    For example, a real science study, would be like the black Professor from Harvard Business School, who analyzed data about police shootings as a function of skin color to conclusively prove the accepted liberal and media correlation. He was expecting to get the conclusion spoon fed by liberal propaganda, which is the evil police target blacks. But to his surprise, it turns out there is no statistical difference between police shootings when it comes to skin color. He did science the right way, which is let the data decide, and not let the political conclusions come first and then use theatre and the propaganda wings to make it happen.

    The back lives matter movement is an illusion needed to consolidate the black vote. It does not reflect science or reality. It is part of an extortion racket, that will never solve the problem. It also show just how vulnerable liberals are when it comes to political science. Even when their key premise is disproven by science, they will still drink at the trough, since the propaganda driven media will choose which studies that are allowed to see or not see.
  8. origin In a democracy you deserve the leaders you elect. Valued Senior Member

    You mean this study?
    If this is the study you are talking about, then leaving out the clear racial bias in almost every other aspect of encounters between the police and blacks, kind of makes you a supplier of conservative propaganda; doesn't it?
  9. Ophiolite Valued Senior Member

    One does not require a degree in Sociology to notice that you use a significant number of "emotional" rather than objective terms in your post. Examples are words and phrases such as extort, manipulate, spoon fed, drink at the trough. Such usages often illuminate an agenda driven post, rather than an objective analysis.
  10. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    What's a "conservative"? What's a "liberal"?

    I consider myself a political conservative. That's because I am a lover of liberty and of popular sovereignty. I believe in democracy in other words, in the idea that power should reside in the people themselves, not in their ruling elites. I'm profoundly distrustful of paternalists who seek to control every aspect of my life, including what I think and believe (for my own good, of course). I make up my own mind and don't take kindly to the feeling that I'm being herded by others for their own purposes.

    That's one meaning of 'conservative' in contemporary usage. But another is something like 'traditionalist'. People who favor old ways are said to be 'conservative'.

    'Liberal' has just as wide a range of meanings. In Britain and Europe, 'liberal' is often interpreted to refer to views on individual liberty similar to mine, though for historical reasons popular soverignty has often been confused with the views of the business community. (Witness the Economist, a magazine with historical Liberal party roots, but which today is essentially the voice of the London business elites.) 'Liberalism' is often taken to be the enemy of the left in Euro-speak.

    While in the United States, 'liberal' typically means 'statist', more akin to what Europeans think of as 'social democracy' or even 'socialism'. American liberals reflexively identify with the paternalistic elites, believing that any problem is the fault of the crude and backward populace out there in middle America, and needs to be solved by the exertion of a little more force by the federal government (which they assume will always be on their side). States rights and decentralized power are assumed to be roads to racism, sexism, obscurantism and no end of evils. (Which just illustrates how the elites view the people that they ostensibly lead.)

    Those are politically charged subjects. The first two, certainly.

    I seem to recall the political left reacting very badly in the 1980's to sociobiology. There were no end of books and papers published about how it was bullshit to think that the human mind isn't a tabula rasa and that human behavior might have evolutionary predispositions. The fear was obviously that race differences and sex-roles might turn out to have evolutionary roots as opposed to being entirely socially-determined by an evil capitalist system (and thus thoroughly malleable through social change). That hostility was a-priori and prior to any evidence being presented.

    E.O. Wilson, the famous Harvard biologist who wrote a hugely influential book entitled 'Sociobiology' that more or less pioneered what is now called 'evolutionary psychology', received no end of grief. There were campus demonstrations demanding that he be fired. He was physically assaulted on at least one occasion. His lectures were disrupted by demonstrators. Prominent colleagues like Steven Jay Gould attacked him. Nobody wanted to hear what he had to say.

    I guess that the bottom line is that both the left and the right can have fears that 'science' is being used ideologically to promote dangerous and unwelcome social agendas. There are plenty of examples.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
  11. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Complete bullshit.

    That destruction of political vocabulary was purposeful, accomplished by men we can name at times we can point to: as the organizers of CPAC honored in 2009, when they handed awards and standing ovations to

    and this if memory does not betray me is a direct quote,

    "The man who made "liberal" a dirty word".
    So "left" is freely interchangeable with "liberal" now? How'd that happen? It wasn't that long ago, mind, that liberals were the people advocating laissez faire capitalism. Famous for it.

    Still are, btw. Among those of vaguely intellectual persuasion, with dictionaries and stuff like that.

    Do you suppose a dangerous and unwelcome social agenda would have had anything to do with a concerted media effort to identify liberals with the worst aspects of authoritarian leftwing political impositions?
    1) The left and the right are not the same as the liberal and the conservative.
    2) The question of who has fears is not the same as the question of who is wrong. There is a reality. The question of whether this or that aspect of science is being abused and misrepresented to further a social agenda (welcome or unwelcome) is largely a question of fact.

    Willingness to undertake that inquiry honestly - into the matters of fact involved - is a defining, characteristic aspect (one might even say virtue) of liberalism. That's the basis of the common (though inverted) observation that reality has a liberal bias. Which is why you read posters who regard this study as an example of discovering the Pope's religion, or the usual location of bear feces.
  12. Russ_Watters Not a Trump supporter... Valued Senior Member

    Lol, I've seen a lot of twisted, biased political studies, but this may be the worst. "Novel scientific data"? I was expecting string theory or the LHC! But yup, they proved liberals care more about liberal causes than conservatives do. Well done, someone give that girl a grant!
    Yazata likes this.
  13. billvon Valued Senior Member

    I consider myself a social liberal, a financial conservative and a political independent.

    I am a social liberal because I think that people's rights should trump government's rights. I think that everyone, no matter what their sexuality, race, religion or color, should have the same rights. I think that progress is good; that as we grow as a society individual rights will grow, and so far that has happened. I think that progress also moves us from older, marginally good ideas (like coal power, government ownership of telecom and government control over spaceflight) to better ideas (nuclear energy, renewable energy, privatization with regulation rather than control.) An idea is not good simply because it's old.

    I am a financial conservative because I think that government has a way of growing with time even when it does not need to, and that it tends to become too big - and thus effort must be expended to keep it in check. That means regular reviews (and cuts) in programs we no longer need, and better use of the tax money we take in. I also think we should make a better effort to balance the budget, and that means both reducing spending and increasing taxation.

    I am a political independent because neither side represents me well. Democrats spend too much and too often see government (and government assistance) as a quick and easy solution to intractable problems. Republicans fight to reduce the rights of Americans, and support wars that cost the country lives and money.
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    That must have been about the time the moral majority (aka the social conservatives) set about to ban the teaching of evolution altogether from schools. Wonder how many copies of Sociobiology they actually burned.
  15. wellwisher Banned Banned


    If you were a scientist and were a doing a study to determine the unknown animal or animals that are killing your livestock, you will profile to help narrow down the research, to get the most for your limited dollar. You will not spend half your resources investigating rabbits, deer and squirrels, just because you saw them in the yard. You might do that if you had a blank check with unlimited resources and were trying to pretend to do science.

    But in the real world of science, you would look only for animals that are carnivores, and that are large and strong enough to do the witnessed damage to the livestock. Even if you have not seen a mountain lion in your yard, this animal may be on your list, since they have the capacity to do this damage, and they are indigenous to your area.

    Liberals are not scientists so they don't understand how rational science thinking works. They like big government which benefits by waste and redundancy, which is why they will insist rabbits and lions both need to be studied, equally. It is more about the blank check and the need to expand the study, with extra people so they can use up all the money on the blank check.

    If you look at the law and then look at crime statistics for drugs, assault, robbery, shootings, etc., especially in poor areas, the main predators are black men. This does not mean all black men are criminals. A scientist, with limited resources will look at the data, then the opportunity and capacity, and then he will target his research. Although this is not always right, it will give the best yield for a limited amount of resources.

    Liberalism is about irrationality and government waste and inefficiency, where other people's money is being spent and can be printed at the mint. In that case, it may seem better for the police to do a blind study, that includes shaking down old ladies at the same rate as street thugs. Or ignoring the mountain lions as much as the rabbits, so the project never seems to end. This will create the need for larger government, while taking away the rights of honest citizens; Liberalism 1.0.

    Conservatives like smaller government because smaller has to work smarter and more efficiently. Smaller will need to narrow down, profile and target to get the most for it limited resources. They will need to copy science.

    When money pit studies appear, Conservatives are not interested. In the free market the spoils go to quality and inefficiency. They would like government to copy this. They don't want common sense science to copy big government mentality.

    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
  16. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    No they don't. They want a big well-financed military, laws to control people's sex lives, more prisons, laws to control women's reproductive rights, laws to outlaw marijuana, laws to protect gun owners, laws to protect business owner rights to discriminate against gay people, and laws to exempt rich corporations from taxes and regulation. Did you know the new Republican Party platform declares pornography a public health crises? lol! They want to defund science, and art, and education, and set up a 1950's isolationist fascist police state where you can be arrested for using the wrong public restroom if you are transgender. If conservatives were really all about less federal government, they wouldn't be trying to overrun Congress every 2 years with lobby-bought douchebags who pass laws protecting the interests of corporations and the 1%. Talk about government interference. You are the ones trying to control people's lives. You are the one's turning our democratic government into a servant of rich special interest groups. Own your actions!
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2016
  17. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I guess that I do too.

    I'm rather close to what 'liberal' means in Europe, except that I don't associate 'freedom' with 'whatever the big business elites want' the way we see in traditional British liberalism and in the 'Economist' magazine.

    Exactly. I believe very strongly that sovereignty lies with the people and flows upwards, not with the elites on top such that the people on the bottom only have those rights that the elites allow them to have. (I'm a citizen, not a subject.) That's my basic motivation for favoring smaller and less intrusive government whenever possible. Thomas Jefferson stated it very well in the US Declaration of Independence. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

    The words "endowed by their Creator" might make atheist knees jerk, but it's there for a reason. In the traditional 18th century European view, derived from the 'divine right of kings', the only individual with true freedom is the Sovereign. (That's what the word means.) The rest of the people only have those rights and freedoms that the Sovereign allows them to have. The American view, based on the Founders' reading of ancient Athenian democracy, was that the people themselves are Sovereign and that their rights and powers come from a source higher than any human King and can't be taken away. That's what justified the American revolution, in Jefferson's view.

    I agree again. (I would prefer that Jefferson's "all men are created equal" be replaced with 'all people are created equal', just to make sure that nobody tries to interpret 'men' to mean males.)

    I don't think that should be interpreted as 'anything goes' though. Certainly criminal and tort laws are necessary and justifiable. I can support some regulation of things like medical practice and favor things like building codes. The problem is that when we move from airy talk about 'Liberty' to actual legislation that might impose on somebody's freedom, things get a lot more controversial. With that in mind, I'm basically in favor of local option on many of the social issues that currently divide us. But I also favor strong constitutional protections that circumscribe the freedom that localities have to regulate the lives of their people.

    I'd like to see a minimal federal government that handles things like defense and foreign affairs, along with Supreme Court Constitutional protections. If people want more government, they can enact it on the state level. If people in localities want still more government, they can enact it on the county level. Those who can't get enough government can enact it on the city level. That would enable the people's republic of San Francisco to exist, without necessarily imposing the same programs and regulations on rural Idaho. It would result in different rules in different places, but that's diversity.

    I'm not sure what I think about 'progress'. I'm very skeptical about the idea that history has a built-in goal or direction, or that the direction is good and desirable. That's an 18th century enlightenment myth in my opinion, derived ultimately from Christianity, which imagined everything headed inexorably towards the Kingdom of God. I'm more inclined to think of history in evolutionary terms, in terms of modern day evolutionary thinking that has junked the idea that evolution is an ascent, directed at producing higher and higher forms of organism, culminating in Man. It's more of a tree of life, where tapeworms are just as much a product of evolution as we are.

    Just as older doesn't necessarily mean better, newer doesn't necessarily mean better either.

    I don't share that faith. I think that right now, we are moving in the opposite direction, towards greater and greater centralization and statism. Power is concentrating in fewer and fewer hands. We used to have retailers on every block, today we are heading towards having just one, Amazon. Google and a handful of national news outlets have more and more control over what we know and believe. China is the world's rising power and it is the paradigm of a top-down pyramid. Islamic law is making a huge resurgence as Muslim women put on their hijabs. Europe and the United States are surrendering more and more power to federal bureaucracies, largely because of the elites' fear of their own people. That's why 'populism' has become such a dirty word and such a hot issue on both sides of the Atlantic.

    I agree entirely.

    I feel the same way. I perceive the Democrats as increasingly representing the urban elites (governmental, journalistic, entertainment, academic and increasingly business) along with their poor and minority clients whose votes are paid for with promises of more programs and free stuff. And the Republicans have long been strongly influenced by the religious right, which I viscerally dislike.

    I think that both parties behave so as to reduce the rights of Americans. I can't have plastic bags any more, because Democrats think that if I ever get my hands on one, the Earth will spin out of orbit and fall into the Sun. In every area of life, however minute, there are more and more federal, state and local laws regulating what people can and can't do, most enacted and enforced by Democrats. My point being that both parties are up to their eyeballs in restricting Americans' liberty and in most cases it isn't the Republicans who are the worst offenders.

    This is why the upheaval in the Republican party this year is so refreshing. It's the religious right losing a great deal of its influence in the party. Donald Trump isn't a social conservative in their image, he's an American nationalist. (That's why foreigners fear him so much.) He doesn't care very much about abortion and has been rather favorable towards gays. His big issues have been illegal immigration and trade deals that aren't in the interest of American workers (even if they are in the interest of big business).

    I think that thoughout the 20th century, Democrats were associated with most of America's wars. The reason why Republicans are blamed is largely the result of the Iraq war, which was well and truly botched. The error was imagining that Iraqis were longing for democracy and to live Western-style lives like ours. We thought that we would be welcomed as liberators, elections could be quickly set up and that we'd be out of there in a year. But we just ended up creating a power vacuum that all kinds of bad actors surged into and filled.

    And unfortunately, the lesson wasn't learned. When the hugely media-hyped 'Arab Spring' hit, once again we entered into fantasy-land. Everyone wanted to be just like us! (A small minority of Arab young people using 'social media' proved it!) So the West pushed Moummar Qaddafi out of power in Libya without any thought to what might replace him, resulting in Libya becoming a failed state filled with Islamist militias. We cheered the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, only to have him replaced by the Muslim Brotherhood. And we see loud voices in both parties currently calling for the overthrow of Bashir Assad in Syria, which would create another power vacuum in which only the Islamic State is in any position to pick up the spoils. I do think that Obama is to be praised for trying to exert military power at minimal cost to the US, though the effectiveness of his strategy is questionable. My point is that both parties face these kind of challenges and the elites that advise both of them don't seem to be learning the lessons. One of which is that secular tyrants aren't the worst thing that can happen in the Middle East. Democracy in our own image and the triumph of our own values isn't inevitable or even likely there.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2016
  18. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    These conservative folk narratives are problematic.

    • That hostility was a-priori and prior to any evidence being presented." ― The problems of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology presented in consideration of race and sex were apparent from the outset. The application in the general public discourse since then has only affirmed those complaints. The problem is that the underlying foundations of sociobiological and evopsych presentation over the decades has required politically convenient presuppositions constricting the context for assessing evolution. Here's a basic one from politics: The evolutionary foundation argued against homosexuality, for instance, and also the evopsych/socbio harping against women, involves the presupposition that evolutionarily, men are supposed to have sexual intercourse with females. This presumed evolutionary impetus is subordinate to presuppositions of human copulation as evolutionary-historical baseline, and is exactly incorrect. The evolutionary impetus of the male is simply to distribute seed. Colloquially speaking, it's why we're all a bunch of wankers.​

    ↳ Consider, analogously, the potential for an evolutionary psychology of religion. What we hear from the supremacists requires a constriction of context, that the brain has specifically evolved to recognize and worship God, therefore ... er ... ah ... usually it's something validating the proposition that this or that God exists and is the One True God. More accurately, our evolution has resulted in certain creative, empathic, and organizational outcomes that include what we describe as religious sentiments and ideas. That is, the same parts of the brain we use when we believe in God also have other, more observable and immediately relevant applications in perpetuation of species. In order to accept the validation of God as produce of evolutionary psychological or sociobiological processes, we must necessarily constrict the context by which we assess the evolutionary outcome―we must ignore or actively subordinate all other related functions. The presupposition, a priori, of primary purpose required to declare the validation of God according to evopsych is, as with male- and hetero- supremacist political arguments, exactly incorrect.​

    If we tear away all the political accretions, what is left? Are the presuppositions, the a priori, of sociobiology and evopsych, objectively sound? There is a reason why these arguments find their greatest application in anti-scientific assertions of supremacism. It looked like pseudoscience, waddled like pseudoscience, and quacked like pseudoscience; intervening decades have only reiterated these perceptions.

    The general proposition of an evolutionary psychology is and always has been compelling. Current iterations, however, are grossly insufficient. Actual applicable uses will have nothing to do with supremacism.

    That an abstract potential exists does not mean any given assertion of actualization is valid.
  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You are being systematically misled, to the point that you live in delusion, disconnected from physical reality.

    There is nowhere in the US you can't have plastic bags, and no one who exaggerates the harm they do in that fashion. The Party currently responsible for most of the actual, existing, restrictive laws on your daily life (from drug laws to "covenants" affecting your house) is the Republican Party and Republican people in your community - the Democratic Party is more responsible for restrictions on corporate behavior. And most of the enforcement is by way of the police - not famous for being Democrats, amirite?

    Add in the Republican Homeland Security stuff, militarization of the police, ID laws and so forth, religious strictures on school curriculums, and it should be clear to anyone that in most cases it has been Republicans who have been the worst offenders. Not that the Dems are guilt free in that regard, but that their offenses have been comparatively minor.
    Your perception there is haywire. Rightwing conservative corporate interests control most of the media, control more of the governance than not (think of all those mayors and governors and so forth), overwhelmingly dominate "business", and increasingly influence academia. To the extent that the Democratic Party represents these interests, they have become what the Republican Party was in 1965.

    There are essentially no non-urban elites, btw.
    Nonsense. It's the other way around, if anything - the votes of the rich being bought with programs and free stuff. The people voting Republican receive more benefits from government programs and "free stuff", on average, than the people voting Democratic. The Tea Party rallies were stuffed with such recipients, for example.

    Black people don't dislike Republicans because of refusal to supply them with "free stuff". They dislike Republicans because that Party has for almost fifty years now chosen to support and enable and appeal to the racial bigotry of white people. That choice has a name: the Southern Strategy. It's famous.
    No, it isn't. It wasn't with Reagan, it wasn't with W, and it isn't with Trump. Trump isn't an upheaval, he's par for the course; Reagan with a vulgar mouth, Limbaugh with political ambitions. Central and mainstream Republican politics.

    There is nothing new about the Republican Party of Donald Trump. Rush Limbaugh has been its leading intellectual force since 1992. How did you miss that, all those years?

    When you nail down where you got that worldview above, you will have identified the major source of US political dysfunction.
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2016
  20. billvon Valued Senior Member

    ALL LAWS impose on someone's freedom. Laws about medical practices? That denies the doctor the right to use a treatment he thinks is superior, but has no proven medical merit. Building codes? Denies a contractor the right to out-compete his fellow contractors by reducing the structural wood in a building. These laws can have serious consequences - the contractor might fail as a result, and the dozen people who work for him would find themselves unemployed and unable to feed their starving children. However, since we place a high priority on our homes not collapsing, we consider this an acceptable tradeoff.
    Agreed - to an extent. Any issue which affects people across state lines (pollution, damming of rivers, highway construction) should be managed by a central authority. Doesn't have to be the government; could be a private company that operates under laws passed by the government. But those need to be there - it's not OK for Arkansas to dump all their waste in the Mississippi and just assume that someone downstream will deal with it.
    Not all change is progress; not all change is good or desirable. Prop 8 in California was a good example. However, the term "progress" denotes improvement - and that's been happening across almost all fields of human endeavor for centuries now.
    Agreed. But progress _does_ imply better.
    That's one area.

    Out here in San Diego, we used to have Bud, Coors and Miller as beer options. Now we have over 150 microbreweries.
    We used to have a few choices for newspapers in a given area. Now we can get thousands on our computer.
    You used to be able to purchase only the books at your local store. Now you can get millions from authors no one has ever heard of. (Case in point - Andy Weir's book was first published on his website, and put on Amazon only after a few fans demanded it. He charged the minimum for it just to get it out there. Now it's a major motion picture.)
    We used to have one choice - gasoline - as a fuel for vehicles. Now we have diesel, natural gas, E85 and electricity, all available locally.
    But they have far less control than the San Diego Union-Tribune had here 30 years ago.

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