PvM posted Entry 3316 on September 11, 2007 10:42 PM.
Trackback URL: http://www.pandasthumb.org/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.fcgi/3300

The Seattle Times has an interesting article on the link between political views and the brain

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, scientists at New York University and the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a specific region of the brain’s cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

Based on the findings we can make some predictions

Based on the results, Sulloway said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

Or alternatively, conservatives will be less ready to accept new scientific ideas.

Imagine that

Well now we understand

Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times more likely than conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts and were 2.2 times more likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.

The study follows an earlier study based on a meta-analysis of various data sources:

The most comprehensive review of personality and political orientation to date is a 2003 meta-analysis of 88 prior studies involving 22,000 participants. The researchers—John Jost of NYU, Arie Kruglanski of the University of Maryland, and Jack Glaser and Frank Sulloway of Berkeley—found that conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.

The study’s authors also concluded that conservatives have less tolerance for ambiguity, a trait they say is exemplified when George Bush says things like, “Look, my job isn’t to try to nuance. My job is to tell people what I think,” and “I’m the decider.” Those who think the world is highly dangerous and those with the greatest fear of death are the most likely to be conservative.

Liberals, on the other hand, are “more likely to see gray areas and reconcile seemingly conflicting information,” says Jost. As a result, liberals like John Kerry, who see many sides to every issue, are portrayed as flip-floppers. “Whatever the cause, Bush and Kerry exemplify the cognitive styles we see in the research,” says Jack Glaser, one of the study’s authors, “Bush in appearing more rigid in his thinking and intolerant of uncertainty and ambiguity, and Kerry in appearing more open to ambiguity and to considering alternative positions.”

Psychology Today

The research paper can be found Online although it may take a liberal to actually locate it :-)

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Comment #206427

Posted by soteos on September 11, 2007 11:22 PM (e)

The irony here is that when conservatives say the research is bogus, liberals can point to the research and say “of course you think that way”.

Comment #206428

Posted by PvM on September 11, 2007 11:25 PM (e)

Glad you get the humorous part of the research. I wonder if Robert Crowther understood…

Comment #206435

Posted by PvM on September 11, 2007 11:33 PM (e)

PZ Myer on the flawed protocol although the real protocols shows how the research was actually performed

Comment #206483

Posted by Mats on September 12, 2007 4:13 AM (e)

Anyone asked what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research” ? Can I make a wild guess?

Comment #206486

Posted by Mats on September 12, 2007 4:19 AM (e)

By the way, what can be said about people who, at some time in their lives, were liberals, and then later on, became conservatives? And the reverse?

Comment #206498

Posted by ben on September 12, 2007 4:53 AM (e)

Anyone asked what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research” ? Can I make a wild guess?

You don’t like the implications of the research, so you use scare quotes and make unsupported assumptions about the political motivations of the researchers. Sounds exactly like your approach to evolution.

Comment #206499

Posted by Wolfhound on September 12, 2007 4:57 AM (e)

Anyone know what is the political, social and religious orientation of Mats? Can I make a wild guess? :)

Comment #206516

Posted by 2hulls on September 12, 2007 7:19 AM (e)

What exactly is a conservative vs a liberal?

I used to classify myself a conservative. But since the evangelicals have hijacked the term, I no longer do.

Comment #206551

Posted by neo-anti-luddite on September 12, 2007 9:32 AM (e)

Mats wrote:

By the way, what can be said about people who, at some time in their lives, were liberals, and then later on, became conservatives? And the reverse?

Well, it could be said that they’re human and that they learn from their experiences.

Not that Mats was doing anything but asking a rhetorical question to cast doubt upon the research, but the answer to his question is pretty damned simple. Like genetic traits, which cannot dictate a specific outcome in a specific individual but rather indicate a measurable predisposition to a specific outcome across a specific population (ie: the individuals who share that genetic trait), I would exepct that this research idicates that people whose “specific region of the brain’s cortex” is “more sensitive” are more likely to be liberal than conservative. End of story.

To bring this down to a more personal level, the fact that both of my parents have blue eyes may mean that my siblings are more likely to have blue eyes than children whose parents have brown eyes, but the fact that my eyes are hazel doesn’t mean that I’m not my parents’ child.

Anyone who claims genetics dictates that a blue-eyed child cannot be the progeny of brown-eyed parents is a fool, a claim that is analogous to the position Mats implies with his “questions.”

Comment #206557

Posted by harold on September 12, 2007 10:09 AM (e)

Obviously this is a very tricky area to research, but I thought that this study had a ring of truth to it. It describes group tendencies and there would be individual exceptions.

It’s important to note that “conservative” seems to be used in the contemporary American sense, and that’s how I’m using it in this post. To refer to the ideology that the average American can easily identify as “conservative”.

This research certainly fits well with the common observation that virtually all creationists are inflexible and perseverating, and that virtually all creationists are conservatives. (And at least three of the Republican candidates for president are creationists.)

Anyone know what is the political, social and religious orientation of Mats? Can I make a wild guess? :)

We can all be fairly confident that Mats is a hyper-authoritarian who perceives it as being in his interest to have what he would refer to as something along the lines of “Biblical Law” enforced.

My guess is that in cases like this, there are very significant cognitive differences from the way pro-science people operate.

For Mats, the concept that “truth”, “falsehood”, “evidence”, “faith”, or the like can be seperated from advancement of what he perceives as his own interest is alien.

He constantly projects that all science is some kind of a scheme to advance the perceived social and political interests of scientists. For him, perhaps, this is simply how everyone operates.

Comment #206560

Posted by harold on September 12, 2007 10:16 AM (e)

By the way, what can be said about people who, at some time in their lives, were liberals, and then later on, became conservatives? And the reverse?

This has been dealt with, but I will add some points.

Most of the famous converts to hard core, right wing “conservative” positions, along the lines of Norman Podohertz (sp?) were rigid, ideological leftists before they converted, not “liberals”. My guess would be that they were unable to function except in a rigid ideology, but somehow were able to switch between rigid ideologies.

Some liberals find that the world catches up to them.

There would be many exceptions, but I do think that the study suggests that it would be hard for the most rigid, perseverating “conservative” to switch to an adaptable, problem-solving mode.

Comment #206588

Posted by Dizzy on September 12, 2007 11:47 AM (e)

Based on the results, Sulloway said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

That’s a pretty big leap to take from this study alone.

Sample statistics taken from college students usually can’t be expected to provide accurate estimates of U.S. population parameters. Unless the entire population consists of UCLA and NYU undergrads.

In the context of previous research, most (reasonable) observers might draw the conclusion above; but the study itself is just a relatively small confirming datapoint. I doubt the authors of the study would agree with Sulloway’s statement, especially devoid of context, as it’s presented in the article.

If you’re going to make a generalization that’s likely to raise some hackles, as the article seems to do, you probably want a broader set of hard data and at least a few examples of falsification-withstanding. Otherwise, you’re providing ammo for the fundie “science is all a matter of opinion” crap.

Comment #206595

Posted by Dizzy on September 12, 2007 12:11 PM (e)

2hulls wrote:

What exactly is a conservative vs a liberal?

I used to classify myself a conservative. But since the evangelicals have hijacked the term, I no longer do.

The supplementary text says this:

The critical political orientation item asked participants to indicate their political orientation on a scale ranging from Extremely Liberal (–5) to Extremely Conservative (+5), with neutral corresponding to 0. This single item has been shown to provide a valid and reliable measure of political orientation that is very strongly predictive of intended and actual behavior (e.g., voting decisions).1,2

This was embedded in a larger questionnaire, but I assume “critical item” means the above item (self-identification) was the principal criterion used. That seems appropriate, if indeed such measures are “strongly predictive” of behavior.

Comment #206597

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 12, 2007 12:12 PM (e)

There was already known a strong possitive correlation between IQ, education achievment and liberalism. But, I suspect that this is vulnerable to an excluded middle error.

Comment #206600

Posted by Sam on September 12, 2007 12:26 PM (e)

I read the research article. I noticed a distinct bias in the wording of the article, but it was nowhere nearly as horrible as the wording of that Seattle times article.

The most basic finding on the go/no-go task is interesting, and the corresponding ACC activity is an expected neural correlate to the behavior, but I would hope that anyone with even the most basic critical thinking skills would be rather careful extrapolating beyond that most basic of tasks.

Comment #206626

Posted by Bill Gascoyne on September 12, 2007 2:41 PM (e)

I used to classify myself a conservative. But since the evangelicals have hijacked the term, I no longer do.

I find that the term “social conservative” is a comfortable euphemism for “theocrat.”

Comment #206653

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 3:30 PM (e)

Perhaps our thoughts are no more a reliable indication of the true nature of reality than a monkey brain, as Darwin mused.

speak for yourself. the sane among us humans actually test our assumptions against reality to see how they hold up.

it’s called “science”

Comment #206674

Posted by realpc on September 12, 2007 5:22 PM (e)

“Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.”

This makes me PROUD to be a liberal!

Comment #206681

Posted by Mats on September 12, 2007 5:58 PM (e)

So……what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research”?

Comment #206686

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on September 12, 2007 6:31 PM (e)

2hulls wrote:

What exactly is a conservative vs a liberal?

Besides the overinterpretation of the results and eventual errors in the research, I think this may be the larger problem for interpreters. These are relative groups. At least one blog (which?) noted that a US conservative can look liberal or superconservative in other countries.

Comment #206687

Posted by ben on September 12, 2007 6:32 PM (e)

You tell us; apparently you have some information you’re dying to share.

Comment #206689

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on September 12, 2007 6:39 PM (e)

Ah, I found it:

Cognitive Daily wrote:

Does this mean that liberals are “hard wired” to be different from conservatives? This data alone certainly doesn’t support that claim. After all, the go/no go task is a learned activity. The reason that it’s hard to inhibit tapping when the “M” appears is that you’ve learned to tap when you see a letter. You could also learn to tap only when you see an M, and you might be able to learn to be better at this task.

Could you learn to be liberal (or conservative)? This study doesn’t answer that question, but my suspicion is you could. After all, what’s considered liberal in the U.S. is considered conservative in many places. In other places, a U.S. conservative would be considered a flaming liberal.

Comment #206701

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:32 PM (e)

Mats wrote:

Anyone asked what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research” ? Can I make a wild guess?

No need to guess.

http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?z…

http://www.newsmeat.com/fec/bystate_detail.php?c…

Comment #206702

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:36 PM (e)

Mats wrote:

Anyone asked what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research” ? Can I make a wild guess?

No need to guess.

Jost

Glaser

I’d just like to know why tendentious political nonsense like this is appearing on Panda’s Thumb. It’s not as if it’s science, or anything.

Comment #206703

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:37 PM (e)

Mats wrote:

Anyone asked what was the political, social and religious orientation of the scientists who made this “research” ? Can I make a wild guess?

No need to guess.

Jost

Glaser

I’d just like to know why tendentious political nonsense like this is appearing on Panda’s Thumb. It’s not as if it’s science, or anything.

Comment #206705

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:41 PM (e)

Harold wrote:

Most of the famous converts to hard core, right wing “conservative” positions, along the lines of Norman Podohertz (sp?) were rigid, ideological leftists before they converted, not “liberals”. My guess would be that they were unable to function except in a rigid ideology, but somehow were able to switch between rigid ideologies.

No true Scotsman doesn’t like haggis.

Comment #206706

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:43 PM (e)

Sorry about the multiple post. The site kept giving me an error, but then posted the comment anyway!

Comment #206709

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 7:48 PM (e)

so, would the posers who call themselves critics please go on and show the flaws in methods, results, and analysis, instead of making idiotic assumptions of bias and “nonscience”?

seriously.

put up or stfu.

there is always room for debate as to the interpretation of results in a discussion section, but to call it “not science” means you have to go and point out where the methods and analysis are so flawed as to have not been worthy of publication to begin with.

so, gerard, this means you, specifically, since you’re not an idiot like Realpc.

Comment #206711

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 12, 2007 7:57 PM (e)

Which research would you like me to comment on? The recent Nature paper, or the more tendentiously described ‘meta-analysis’? This post discusses both.

About the meta-analysis, two of whose authors’ political contributions I’ve given, it is claimed “Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.”

That doesn’t strike you as biased, eh? Perhaps you’re not open-minded enough? Maybe you need to think outside the box.

Comment #206715

Posted by heddle on September 12, 2007 8:10 PM (e)

Gerard,

No true Scotsman doesn’t like haggis.

lol!

(BTW, haggis rocks.)

Comment #206717

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 8:15 PM (e)

Which research would you like me to comment on? The recent Nature paper, or the more tendentiously described ‘meta-analysis’? This post discusses both.

the post discusses the paper, so obviously that is what you were pointing out as “not science”.

gerard, just like with all the putative ID “papers” out there that were so patiently dismantled here and elsewhere, pointing out both the flaws in method and conclusion, so too if you want to claim the nature paper “not science”, must you also go and painstakingly point out the egregious flaws in method that were so obvious that they were missed by all the peer reviewers in cognitive science the paper was sent to for review.

no backpeddaling now, you can’t claim the paper is NOT worthless and then ask why Pim is bothering to discuss it here.

can’t have it both ways.

you wanna be a critic?

then do it right, or don’t do it at all.

Comment #206718

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 8:16 PM (e)

That doesn’t strike you as biased, eh? Perhaps you’re not open-minded enough? Maybe you need to think outside the box.

you need to show the bias in the methods to call it “not science”, or you’re in danger of painting YOURSELF as the biased one, right?

be careful what you wish for.

Comment #206719

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 8:21 PM (e)

That doesn’t strike you as biased, eh?

it doesn’t matter now, does it?

again, you must show that said perceived bias resulted in grossly mistaken methods used to conduct the research to begin with.

you simply can’t automatically “assume” that any personal bias results in poorly constructed research, de-facto.

do you know enough cognitive psych to be able to do an unbiased analysis of the methods used in the paper, or the way the collected data were analyzed?

well?

Comment #206720

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 12, 2007 8:26 PM (e)

…again, think about how Dembski’s “No Free Lunch” was taken apart.

of course there is bias on Dembski’s part, but nowhere did that play a role in the scientific trashing of the failed math and statistics used in that work. bias plays a role in motivation, not necessarily execution.

If Dembski hadn’t made so many poor assumptions and mistakes in his formulas, the bias he presents wouldn’t make a dent in whether or not the paper was publishable.

think about it:

by assuming bias on the part of the researchers, you in essence are saying that the peer review process is so flawed that none of the reviewers ever even thought to look for it in the paper before recommending it for publication.

Is that really what you’re trying to say?

‘cause if so, then, I’d say the bias all falls on you.

Comment #206742

Posted by Tex on September 12, 2007 10:12 PM (e)

By the way, what can be said about people who, at some time in their lives, were liberals, and then later on, became conservatives? And the reverse?

All it takes for liberals to become conservatives is for them to be mugged. For conservatives to become liberals, all they need is to be questioned by the police.

Comment #206743

Posted by PvM on September 12, 2007 10:17 PM (e)

That doesn’t strike you as biased, eh? Perhaps you’re not open-minded enough? Maybe you need to think outside the box.

Oh the irony…

Comment #206808

Posted by Popper's Ghost on September 13, 2007 1:40 AM (e)

The political proclivities of the scientists who did this work is statistically expected, as well as expected if the claims are accurate.

It’s not as if it’s science, or anything.

Why, because you don’t like it?

Regardless of whether the report’s claims are accurate, all conservatives are aholes, and Harbison is certainly no exception.

Comment #206812

Posted by Popper's Ghost on September 13, 2007 1:59 AM (e)

About the meta-analysis, two of whose authors’ political contributions I’ve given

Which establishes your bias against the researchers.

it is claimed “Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.”

That doesn’t strike you as biased, eh?

No, silly, people have biases; empirical claims and research conclusions aren’t the sort of thing to which the word applies. The conclusions may be erroneous, perhaps as a consequence of bias of the researchers, but that’s something that has to be demonstrated, not just assumed from the fact that the researchers are favored by their conclusions. That assumption is intellectually dishonest - which is a primary characteristic of “conservatives”.

Comment #206813

Posted by Popper's Ghost on September 13, 2007 2:03 AM (e)

No true Scotsman doesn’t like haggis.

It’s pretty hard to tag a “most” claim as a No true Scotsman fallacy unless you’re an intellectually dishonest ahole (Harbison).

Comment #206868

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 6:49 AM (e)

Sir_Tiejam wrote:

gerard, just like with all the putative ID “papers” out there that were so patiently dismantled here and elsewhere, pointing out both the flaws in method and conclusion, so too if you want to claim the nature paper “not science”, must you also go and painstakingly point out the egregious flaws in method that were so obvious that they were missed by all the peer reviewers in cognitive science the paper was sent to for review.

The Nature paper is barely mentioned in PvM’s post. It is simply a vehicle to unload the rest of this tendentious nonsense.

My analysis of the Nature paper; it’s a collaboration between Jost, whose political bias is clear, and who is a social ‘scientist’, and an EEG group, who did the actual measurements. What they actually detected were small electrical differences between the responses of self-declared liberals and conservatives. These sorts of EEG measurements are fraught with all sorts of difficulty; they are grossly inferior, IMHO, to fMRI; so one needs to be very cautious in interpreting what this means, and they were. The rest of the stuff above isn’t even mentioned in the Nature paper.

Frankly, this is not very good science, and I think the only reason it got into a Nature journal is the political ‘hook’.

Comment #206869

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 6:51 AM (e)

Popper's Ghost wrote:

Regardless of whether the report’s claims are accurate, all conservatives are aholes, and Harbison is certainly no exception.

Poor Popper. But I don’t believe in ghosts. Can I call you Popper’s maggot?

Comment #206873

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 7:01 AM (e)

A general observation. I’ve noticed there are two sorts of people in the anti-creationism movement. There are scientists, like myself, who are interested in defending science from external interference by the religiously- or politically-motivated. And there are hangers-on, usually not scientists, for who the evolution/creation issue is nothing more than a useful stick to beat conservatives, and who really don’t know the science or give a damn much about it.

A thread like this brings the latter crowd out in droves.

Comment #206877

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 7:33 AM (e)

Let’s be clear here. Jost’s work in general is sociology/psychology. He looks for psychological origins of political views. It’s not what a hard scientist regards as hard science.

Political reporters for newspapers are usually forbidden to make political contributions or work on campaigns. There’s a very good reason for that; to avoid even the appearance of bias in coverage. I see no reason why academics - Jost is not what I personally would call a scientist - should not be subject to the same strictures. Now, I’m in two minds about this; I like to be able to see a record of political contributions, because it’s a sign the contributor is first of all unusually politically engaged - most scientists do not contribute to political campaigns - and it says where those biases lie. I see no way Jost, a heavily politically engaged individual whose ‘research’ happens to find all sorts of reported defects in his political opponents, and virtues in people who think like him - should be mistaken for an objective researcher.

This isn’t molecular biology, where a gene sequence is what it is, and, absent fraud, the politics of the researcher won’t change a C to a G. This is sociology, where bias pervades everything from the phrasing of the questions, to the construction of hyportheses, to their interpretation.

And, once again I ask, why is this research reported on a pro-evolution website? This has nothing to do with evolution.

Comment #206884

Posted by Steverino on September 13, 2007 7:52 AM (e)

Gerard,

“A general observation. I’ve noticed there are two sorts of people in the anti-creationism movement. There are scientists, like myself, who are interested in defending science from external interference by the religiously- or politically-motivated. And there are hangers-on, usually not scientists, for who the evolution/creation issue is nothing more than a useful stick to beat conservatives, and who really don’t know the science or give a damn much about it.”

I would fall into the second camp, however…I do care about science and this issue. I care about what is being taught in our public schools and how that might be funded with public dollars.

I care about how this country, assuming you are also from the US, competes on a global scale in the future. I understand that raising a generation of morons who think “goddidit” is dangerous for the future of the US.

I also care about how this one fight has far reaching implications on other aspects of my life and that of my 11 year old daughter.

So, while I may not be a scientist, I do have a dog in this fight.

Comment #206885

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 7:55 AM (e)

‘A general observation. I’ve noticed there are two sorts of people in the anti-creationism movement. There are scientists, like myself, who are interested in defending science from external interference by the religiously- or politically-motivated. And there are hangers-on, usually not scientists, for who the evolution/creation issue is nothing more than a useful stick to beat conservatives, and who really don’t know the science or give a damn much about it.

A thread like this brings the latter crowd out in droves.’

I wonder, in this rather strange dichotomy, which am I? I certainly am not a scientist, and I absolutely hate the neo-conservative position (don’t call me a liberal, liberal is NOT the opposite of conservative) but I don’t use creationism to beat conservatives, I use my studies in politics for that.

Indeed, I use the ‘debate’ more as an interesting look at an anti-science world I don’t know much about, and admittedly stuff to use to laugh at the rubes.

Comment #206896

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 8:22 AM (e)

Gerard Harbison -

Most of the famous converts to hard core, right wing “conservative” positions, along the lines of Norman Podohertz (sp?) were rigid, ideological leftists before they converted, not “liberals”. My guess would be that they were unable to function except in a rigid ideology, but somehow were able to switch between rigid ideologies.

No true Scotsman doesn’t like haggis.

I don’t mind having my openly expressed ideas criticized, satrized, corrected, ridiculed, updated, fine-tuned, improved, or other reacted to in an honest way.

But I do mind having them distorted.

I made a valid factual claim, and backed it with one example. My statement does not remotely resemble a “no true Scotsman” claim. I most certainly did not say that someone who switches from “ regular liberalism” to being a right wing is not a “true” conservative. Of course they would be.

I noted, factually, that many touted “converts” were left wing ideologues before becoming right wing ideologues. This is a statement of fact. This is pretty much common knowledge. You know the list as well as I do.

My claim could be taken to IMPLY that this type of conversion is more likely than conversion from relative liberalism to right wing ideology. I suspect that this may be true, but that is NOT the substance of my direct claim. My direct claim was simply to note something factual.

Even if my claim were wrong, and you know it isn’t, it would merely be a wrong factual statement, not a logical fallacy.

it is claimed “Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.”

Is this biased? NO. First of all, to the extent that these can be measured (and I think they reasonably can), it’s just a statement of results. You could logically challenge how they measured “liberalism”. You could logically challenge how they measured “conservatism”. You could logically challenge how they measured the rest of these traits. You didn’t do any of that, you simply blew the whole thing off as “biased” without doing an analysis.

The fact that a PI contributed to Hillary Clinton’s senate campaign is, at this time, irrelevant. If you had documented serious flaws in the methodology or logic upon which the conclusions were based, it might well have been relevant to move forward seeking evidence of motivation for biasing results. But claims of bias are irrelevant (even if it exists) if the work stands of its own.

To me, this claim seems almost trivial. To the extent that these can be measured, it is already common knowledge that interest in some of them (art, music, literature) seems to be associated with political liberalism. Of course there are conservative artists and art lovers. Here’s an example of a conservative artist right here - http://www.iowapresidentialwatch.com/Righties/Ab…

Comment #206898

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 8:44 AM (e)

Gerar Harbison -

It’s not what a hard scientist regards as hard science.

That is true, but most people would agree that psychology has contributed a great deal to scientific knowledge and is grounded in the scientific method.

My background, for the record, is biology and medicine followed, recently, by finance and statistics. I was interested in the biology of nervous systems as an undergraduate and took a decent chunk of psychology courses, which I enjoyed.

What they actually detected were small electrical differences between the responses of self-declared liberals and conservatives. These sorts of EEG measurements are fraught with all sorts of difficulty; they are grossly inferior, IMHO, to fMRI; so one needs to be very cautious in interpreting what this means, and they were.

Although I don’t know, and don’t have time to determine, whether this is absolutely fair, this is an example of precisely the type of analysis and criticism that the paper should be subjected to. If it were my paper I would want this type of attention and critique.

A general observation. I’ve noticed there are two sorts of people in the anti-creationism movement. There are scientists, like myself, who are interested in defending science from external interference by the religiously- or politically-motivated. And there are hangers-on, usually not scientists, for who the evolution/creation issue is nothing more than a useful stick to beat conservatives, and who really don’t know the science or give a damn much about it.

This is your perception, but I think you are mistaken.

I am now and have always been “liberal”, but when I became aware of political creationism in 1999, I knew that the Kansas School Board Republicans in question were “conservative”, but had not expected other “conservatives” to unite behind them. Furthermore, I had thought that some religious “liberals” might be mislead into supporting creationism. However, things did not play out the way I expected.

A very significant confounding influence, since 1999, has been the interaction of the Bush administration and the “conservative movement” with science. At this point, we have three Republican candidates (out of eight total) who openly denied evolution during a debate.

I understand that you’re just a right wing hard-ass who wants to cut the free lunches at public schools, or ramp up the use of the death penalty, or some such thing.

I won’t deny that I think that economic and demographic data available today make a far stronger case, with some exceptions, for economic and social policies perceived in the US as “liberal” (but perhaps perceived elsewhere as “moderate” or “centrist”). Nevertheless, you can certainly favor harsher policies, yet be a strong supported of honest, unbiased science, free of religious and political interference. There is no inherent conflict.

But you do have to deal with the facts. Creationism/ID is attached to the “conservative movement” these days.

Comment #206903

Posted by realpc on September 13, 2007 8:56 AM (e)

“Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.”

Liberals are so cool!! Can I be a liberal even if I believe in ID?

Comment #206916

Posted by fnxtr on September 13, 2007 9:29 AM (e)

Sure. Except that you will then be known as “A new-age flake”.

Comment #206920

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 9:48 AM (e)

Realpc -

Liberals are so cool!! Can I be a liberal even if I believe in ID?

Wait a minute. You mean you “believe in ID”, and you’re a conservative, and according to this, you assume that the default position is that ID and being conservative go together? That “belief in ID” would be more unusual in a liberal? So unusual you’re not even sure if they can go together?

Can you explain why that would be? I can guess all day, but I’d like to hear it from you. I’m sure Gerard Harbison would be even more interested.

Comment #206926

Posted by PvM on September 13, 2007 10:11 AM (e)

The Nature paper is barely mentioned in PvM’s post. It is simply a vehicle to unload the rest of this tendentious nonsense.

Ah that conservative bias again :-)

Comment #206927

Posted by realpc on September 13, 2007 10:12 AM (e)

harold,

I am a liberal because I believe in group inter-species marriage.

Comment #206928

Posted by PvM on September 13, 2007 10:14 AM (e)

And, once again I ask, why is this research reported on a pro-evolution website? This has nothing to do with evolution.

It may have a lot to do with why religious conservatives are quick to deny science when it comes to such issues as global warming, evolution, etc…

Why is it reported? Because it’s fun…

Comment #206938

Posted by Dizzy on September 13, 2007 10:39 AM (e)

Besides the overinterpretation of the results and eventual errors in the research, I think this may be the larger problem for interpreters. These are relative groups. At least one blog (which?) noted that a US conservative can look liberal or superconservative in other countries.

That’s irrelevant for the study, which clearly defines “conservative” and “liberal” based on subjects’ self-identification, and points to sources that demonstrate self-identification as a strong predictor of behavior (see my earlier post, #206595).

Comment #206944

Posted by realpc on September 13, 2007 11:02 AM (e)

Liberals are cooler than conservatives. God bless liberals.

Comment #206945

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 11:03 AM (e)

Realpc -

I am a liberal because I believe in group inter-species marriage.

I am a liberal. I very strongly oppose sexual exploitation of those who cannot give true consent, and may be physically or psychologically damaged, such as animals or minor children. As do all other liberals I know.

I nominate this for the troll comment of the century.

It was motivated largely by a desire to avoid a legitimate, intelligent question.

It exemplifies the creationist tactic of accusing liberals or humanists of supporting exactly the type of thing that liberal or humanist values (and some conservative values, too, yes, there is some overlap in some cases) most specifically and vehemently oppose.

Comment #206948

Posted by Dizzy on September 13, 2007 11:05 AM (e)

It may have a lot to do with why religious conservatives are quick to deny science when it comes to such issues as global warming, evolution, etc…

I think articles like the Seattle Times one above have a lot more to do with that.

An article that implies, however subtly, that very narrow study results are “evidence” that liberals in general somehow have more innate “brainpower” than conservatives is making a (scientifically) unfounded leap to a controversial conclusion.

If a layman gets the impression that all scientific conclusions are based on such shoddy reasoning, it’s no wonder he feels free to reject any conclusion he finds unpalatable.

Unfortunately, this stuff happens all the time in the media - context-free quotes from people who weren’t even involved in the study, references to other studies without clear information about the relationships between them, almost complete absence of the most relevant qualifying/limiting factors. The more it will tick people off, the more papers it will sell.

Comment #206949

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 13, 2007 11:12 AM (e)

I don’t know why this piece is on this website. Generally this blog stays away from stereotypes of the religious and of political folk. If it’s science, then fine, but we’d need the science, not a report on the brains of “conservatives” when we have no idea what the criteria for picking them out were.

I mean, were “conservatives” picked out because they had less tolerance for ambiguity and were less open? Okay, probably not. But then were they picked out because of proxies for being less open and less tolerant of ambiguity? Then again, how could we know? It’s a meta-analysis of 88 studies, some of which may have had conflicting criteria for who the “conservatives” were and who the “liberals” were, and perhaps came to varying conclusions as well. Well sure, you say, it’s a meta-analysis.

Fine, but it does matter who did the studies, and the mere fact that academics tend to be liberal does not void the potential bias. I do not ask whether liberals or conservatives did evolutionary studies or did physics, but I do ask who were the ones who studied conservatives and liberals, because liberals and conservatives typically have prior conceptions about each other.

I can’t find the article in a timely fashion, but I recall a piece in the Economist about one of the studies on “conservative” minds which had found them to be the results of secure upbringing. The matter was discussed for a while, then they brought up the fact that another study had found the complete opposite, that “conservative” minds were the result of anxious upbringings. I don’t doubt much that one could find “conservatives” of either stripe, and a host of issues of selection bias and what academics think are the markers of “conservatism” could play into the studies.

I’d note that the “conclusions” are almost completely what one would expect. Perhaps that means that it is right, but perhaps it means that our (and their) expectations were a selectional aspect of many or most of the studies. I have to wonder, are the “conservatives” simply “liberals” who managed to get into life situations which they wish to preserve? I mean, does anybody really think that “conservatives” and “liberals” are immutable categories? I know that the switch isn’t as immediate or complete as the second to the last sentence might suggest, but it’s startling how rapidly some people change. There is truth in the observation that every revolution becomes conservative the day that it takes power.

One aspect of which I would not be concerned is whether or not “American liberals” and “American conservatives” are representative of “liberals” and “conservatives” throughout the world. First of all, I suspect that the analysis wasn’t claimed to be universally applicable. Secondly, it is unlikely that “conservative” or “liberal” minds have anything to do with any “absolute measure” of political or social conditions, but instead it would be expected that “conservatives” and “liberals” would sort themselves out to roughly equivalent areas of each society’s spectrum. Cross-cultural studies would tell us whether or not that assumption is true, at least if we have good information with which to work.

The truth of the matter is that there are a whole lot of questions that ought to be asked of a “meta-analysis” of 88 studies, the latter of which we know almost nothing, and few are in fact being asked. Nor do we hear the familiar refrain that at most these are tendencies, and they may (probably, IMO) not tell us much about any individual “liberal” or “conservative”. The confirmation bias appears to be too comforting to raise the “hard questions,” yet there’s little excuse for acquiescing to what may be “junk science” (I question more the studies than the analysis, the latter of which presumably follows fairly good methods—but if garbage is going in…) in this case, while complaining that IDists accept junk “science” for the sake of their own biases.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #206951

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 11:23 AM (e)

‘Liberals are cooler than conservatives. God bless liberals.’

The two terms are not mutually exclusive. Why do a large number of people, specifically in the US use them as if they are?

Comment #206952

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 13, 2007 11:29 AM (e)

I should have mentioned that I was only addressing the meta-analysis in my last post.

One thing I’d note about the more recent study is that not only might it be skewed due to the fact that extremists tend to go more toward the right in America, as Skitka notes, but that these are college students who self-identify as conservatives in an environment that tends to be liberal.

That is to say, they have to be resistant to change in order to remain conservative where the environment favors liberalism. The “flexible” (or possibly the easily influenced) ones are more likely to fit in with liberalism that exists on the campuses.

Thus there is likely to be an inherent selection bias by choosing “conservative” college students. If you went to an environment where the environment favored conservatism, you might find rather more “flexible” conservatives. Indeed, the most “flexible” minds might tend to cluster wherever the dominant ideology happens to be at a given time, and in college that is quite arguably toward the left of the spectrum.

For myself, I’ve pretty much given up looking for truly open minds. I tried the left, I tried the right, and as far as I can tell, most people have beliefs that resist change.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #206953

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 11:29 AM (e)

harold wrote:

I understand that you’re just a right wing hard-ass who wants to cut the free lunches at public schools, or ramp up the use of the death penalty, or some such thing

And you’re a person who substitutes slogans for thought and ad hominems for argument.

Comment #206957

Posted by Dizzy on September 13, 2007 11:33 AM (e)

One thing I’d note about the more recent study is that not only might it be skewed due to the fact that extremists tend to go more toward the right in America, as Skitka notes, but that these are college students who self-identify as conservatives in an environment that tends to be liberal.

That is to say, they have to be resistant to change in order to remain conservative where the environment favors liberalism. The “flexible” (or possibly the easily influenced) ones are more likely to fit in with liberalism that exists on the campuses.

That’s pretty much the point I made in my post far above; a college environment differs in many important ways from the general population’s environment.

But that’s only one aspect in which the article’s “extrapolation” is pretty horrible.

Comment #206958

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 11:33 AM (e)

Harold wrote:

I made a valid factual claim, and backed it with one example. My statement does not remotely resemble a “no true Scotsman” claim. I most certainly did not say that someone who switches from “ regular liberalism” to being a right wing is not a “true” conservative. Of course they would be.

I see it blew right by you. You claimed that a liberal who switched to conservative is not a “regular liberal”, but a dogmatist who happened to adopt a left wing positions. No true liberal, in other words.

Comment #206960

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 13, 2007 11:38 AM (e)

harold wrote:

I understand that you’re just a right wing hard-ass who wants to cut the free lunches at public schools, or ramp up the use of the death penalty, or some such thing

And you’re a person who substitutes slogans for thought and ad hominems for argument.

Well, doesn’t that pretty much support what I wrote? I used to hope that conservatives might be relatively open and flexible, but haven’t found that generally to be the case. But those hopes (and inevitable disillusionment) came after my disillusionment with a “liberalism” which had its mind made up about issues, and about people like Gerard here (to be fair, today’s “liberalism” is not as puritanical and intolerant as an earlier “liberalism”).

I think it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to get to that liberal principle most often observed in the breach, of judging people individually. That’s even true of IDists and creationists, I’d point out, however that these are both dishonest concepts cannot (and should not) be prevented from affecting the way we view their supporters collectively.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #206961

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 11:39 AM (e)

‘I see it blew right by you. You claimed that a liberal who switched to conservative is not a “regular liberal”, but a dogmatist who happened to adopt a left wing positions. No true liberal, in other words.’

I know I’m not important, and my knowlege of this matter as a student of politics will go unnoticed, but seriously, left wing=/= liberal.

Please, stop saying it does. It’s a massive pet peeve of mine.

Comment #206965

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 11:41 AM (e)

I don’t know why this piece is on this website. Generally this blog stays away from stereotypes of the religious and of political folk. If it’s science, then fine, but we’d need the science, not a report on the brains of “conservatives” when we have no idea what the criteria for picking them out were.

It’s a bit of trolling by Pim. Given the important status of Pandas Thumb as one of the most authoritative pro-evolution websites, it’s pure irresponsibility on his part to use the site in this way, but then I expect liberals to be dilletantish, irresponsible, motivated by a desire to shock or annoy, need constant stimulation, and be unable to concentrate on a goal for very long.

:-)

Comment #206966

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 13, 2007 11:43 AM (e)

One thing I’d note about the more recent study is that not only might it be skewed due to the fact that extremists tend to go more toward the right in America, as Skitka notes, but that these are college students who self-identify as conservatives in an environment that tends to be liberal.

That is to say, they have to be resistant to change in order to remain conservative where the environment favors liberalism. The “flexible” (or possibly the easily influenced) ones are more likely to fit in with liberalism that exists on the campuses.

That’s pretty much the point I made in my post far above; a college environment differs in many important ways from the general population’s environment.

But that’s only one aspect in which the article’s “extrapolation” is pretty horrible.

Ah, yes, sorry I missed it previously. I ignored this particular blog for a good while, because I tend to view such studies rather skeptically from the start.

I’m glad to see some skeptical thought being brought to bear on this, beyond what I’d seen in the last few posts.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #206967

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 11:44 AM (e)

I know I’m not important, and my knowlege of this matter as a student of politics will go unnoticed, but seriously, left wing=/= liberal

‘Liberal’ = left wing’ in American vernacular, pretty much. It’s an unfortunate misappropriation of a useful word, I agree, but those of us over here live where we live. ‘Libertarian’ in ‘murrican is probably closest to European ‘liberal’.

Comment #206986

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 12:39 PM (e)

Gerard Harbison -

I see it blew right by you. You claimed that a liberal who switched to conservative is not a “regular liberal”, but a dogmatist who happened to adopt a left wing positions. No true liberal, in other words.

First of all, as Ian pointed out, no-one ever honestly described pro-Soviet ideologues as “liberals”. It’s assinine to even think about doing so. If that’s your definition of “liberal”, then I’m not “liberal” either.

Second of all, my point was STILL just a factual reference to the ideologies that famous conservative “converts” held before they “switched”. With Norman Podohertz as an example. That’s all it was.

I understand that you’re just a right wing hard-ass who wants to cut the free lunches at public schools, or ramp up the use of the death penalty, or some such thing

And you’re a person who substitutes slogans for thought and ad hominems for argument.

You cherry-picked a mild, humorous insult out of my posts, while ignoring the substance, so that you could claim victimhood.

However, logic troubles again. It’s not an “ad hominem”. If you find it insulting, it’s an insult (I assume, therefore, that it isn’t accurate - imagine what a flaming hypocrite you’d have to be to screech “ad hominem” if it were accurtate - please put up a post indicating that you are in favor of school lunch progams and don’t support expanding the death penalty, just for clarity). Insults and ad hominems are different things.

I can reassure you that I do not substitute slogans for thought. That must have been projection on your part.

I’ve made a number of efforts to reach out to you and engage in reasonable discussion, and found it to be impossible.

You are 100% predictable and inflexible, quite like the conservatives described in the study, irony of ironies.

Any time “conservatism” or “conservatives” are mentioned on PT, you’ll show up angry as a wasp and hurl a lot of unfair nonsense around. The rest of the time you’ll basically lurk.

I allowed your scientific credentials to mislead me into thinking that you were someone with whom some kind of serious discussion could be held.

For the record, I’ve had self-described “conservatives” as both respectful colleagues and personal friends. Unlike you, they were people who could tolerate differences in opinion.

Well, there’s my post. Get to work. You’ve got some distorting and misrepresentation to do. This time you’ll enjoy the luxury of having your distortions ignored, at least by me.

Davidson -

Well, doesn’t that pretty much support what I wrote? I used to hope that conservatives might be relatively open and flexible, but haven’t found that generally to be the case. But those hopes (and inevitable disillusionment) came after my disillusionment with a “liberalism” which had its mind made up about issues, and about people like Gerard here (to be fair, today’s “liberalism” is not as puritanical and intolerant as an earlier “liberalism”).

I can’t understand what you’re saying here. I use the term “liberal” as one of convenience from time to time. I don’t subscribe to any rigid, puritanical, or intolerant ideology. My strong support of free expression, human rights and the democratic process would make that irrelevant, if not impossible, at any rate, as I strongly support the right of anyone who disagrees with me to say so and time and way they want, and to vote against the ideas I support, subject only to the restrictions of a constitutional framework of invioble human rights.

The implication that I am more prone to “think in slogans” that anyone else is laughable, given that if anything, I have the exact opposite tendency. If you’re intention was to endorse that statement, then you’re as wrong as the person who first made it. Hopefully that was not your intention.

I did not use “ad hominems” against Harbison. The ratio of accusation of ad hominem to actual existence of ad hominem on this site is approaching infinity. It was mildly insulting and presumptive of me to suggest that he is against school lunch programs and in favor of expanding the death penalty, although my intent was humorous. Unless I actually accurately described his views. In that case his objection would represent the height of hypocrisy and intrapersonal conflict.

Comment #206987

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 12:44 PM (e)

Well, it’s too late now, but my post above may be too harsh.

Such is the tenor in the US today. There is an atmosphere of intense and bitter political division. Tempers flare, including mine.

I’ve seen better days in the past, and I’m looking forward to better days in the future.

Comment #207000

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 13, 2007 1:20 PM (e)

‘Libertarian’ in ‘murrican is probably closest to European ‘liberal’.

What?? IANAP, but the Libertarians in America are hard-core capitalists on top of being social liberals. I don’t know which government (or liberal party) this would describe in Europe, but it would have to take the majority of these positions (reading from Libertarian Party’s website):

* Personal freedom and responsibility; sorry, no government supported welfare or charity of any kind.

* Privatization of all public services and public lands.

* Individuals have the right to do whatever they wish with their bodies, including ingest drugs, have abortions, have sex however they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others.

* Freedom of religion, communication, and press.

* Right to bear arms with no restrictions.

* Government is inefficient, free-markets are great, people pay their own way, etc.

Comment #207002

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 1:33 PM (e)

‘is probably closest to European ‘liberal’.’

Stupid statement. There’s no such thing as a “European liberal” nor is the CORRECT definition of the word (that is, the one that doesn’t stupidly insist liberals are left wing, I’m certainly not a liberal but I’m left wing as hell) “european”. The abuse of a political term by the USA and others really pisses me off, is all.

Incidentally, libertarians would be considered as centerists/center conservatives here. Your left wing is our center-left. Our left wing gets branded as “commie” over on your side of the pond.

Comment #207003

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 1:35 PM (e)

In fact, after reading the bits from the Libertarian website, libertarians are actually pretty much neo-liberals.

Like Maggie “milk snatcher” Thatcher.

Comment #207004

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 1:44 PM (e)

I am a hard core capitalist myself.

I ASLO believe in generous taxpayer funded social programs, and strong environmental and public health regulations for the common good.

I believe in a foundation free market financial and economic system that allows entrepreneurship, creativity, and individual economic aspiration, but that is buffered from excess, unsustainability, and inhumane outcomes by democratically determined social systems and regulations.

I think that the system in Western Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, the US (yes, the US) and some parts of the rest of the world seems to be the way to go. There are many things I would change in the US, but there are many things I support.

I agree with about half of that Libertarian stuff…

*Individuals have the right to do whatever they wish with their bodies, including ingest drugs, have abortions, have sex however they want, as long as it doesn’t harm others.

Yep.

* Freedom of religion, communication, and press.

Yep.

* Right to bear arms with no restrictions.

Not exactly. However, I’m by no means a “gun control advocate”. This issue is more complex than the soundbite suggests.

* Government is inefficient, free-markets are great, people pay their own way, etc.

No, government is inefficient and inappropriate for some things but necessary and great for others; free markets are often great but not unconditionally so.

I thought I would seize this opportunity to document some specific opinions, as there has been perhaps too much heat and not enough light on this thread.

I realize my comments here are still relatively general, but they may clarify some things.

Comment #207007

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 13, 2007 2:02 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #207010

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 13, 2007 2:10 PM (e)

I agree with about half of that Libertarian stuff…

Sorry, but how are your political views pertinent?

Comment #207011

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 2:11 PM (e)

My analysis of the Nature paper; it’s a collaboration between Jost, whose political bias is clear, and who is a social ‘scientist’, and an EEG group, who did the actual measurements.

that’s not an analysis, that’s a personal attack on the researchers.

ready to STFU yet?

Comment #207012

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 2:13 PM (e)

And you’re a person who substitutes slogans for thought and ad hominems for argument.

as Pim said earlier:

Oh, the irony.

you don’t see how much you’re projecting when you say that, do you?

I take it back, you ARE as bad as realpc, you just think you’re smarter.

Comment #207013

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 2:18 PM (e)

Frankly, this is not very good science, and I think the only reason it got into a Nature journal is the political ‘hook’.

right…

then, you really are an idiot.

next time you want to voice your opinion on how scientific journals work, you’d be far better off NOT.

otherwise, you continue to risk just how little you know of the process.

we don’t need people who think the peer review process is entirely biased because they have personal issues with a specific group of researchers.

seriously, gerard. get your thinking straight, or go join the ID camp, while they whine about how bias is preventing them from getting published.

as it is, your contributions are worse than worthless.

Comment #207017

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 2:44 PM (e)

Guye Fauxe -

Sorry, but how are your political views pertinent?

It became clear that Gerard Harbison’s definition of “liberal” included Marxist ideologues. (Incidentally, if you are a Marxist ideologue, I have no problem with that, as long as you respect the rights of others and use only attempted persuasion, and never violence, in your quest for a Marxist society.)

How did this become clear? To summarize and paraphrase from above, a creationist actually asked a reasonable question - essentially, what the implications of the findings of this paper (assuming they are replicable and so on) would be with regard to Americans who switch political association from liberal to conservative, or vice versa.

I made a partial answer by noting that some famous “converts” to right wing conservatism were actually Marxist ideologues before they changed. Through a series of somewhat confusing and perhaps excessively hostile exchanges, it eventually became clear that Gerard Harbison was criticizing me for not counting Marxists as “liberals”.

But of course, Marxists are not liberals, and even if we did call them liberals, the vast majority of self-described “liberals” would not be Marxists.

Because it was obvious to me that there was some confusion with regard to the definition of the word “liberal”, and because I had identified myself as a “liberal”, when I saw an opportunity to clarify a few of my own very general views, I took it.

Although I think it is silly to apply the term “liberal” to Marxists, I do think that it is understandable that so subjective and fluid a term could lead to misunderstanding. I felt that some brief clarification of what one particular “liberal” actually believed might be of value.

Thank you for your vigilant attention to the relevance of posts.

Comment #207022

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 3:06 PM (e)

gerard tips his hand as to what he is really thinking over at Cognitive Daily:

Of course, now you’ve got neurological effects demonstrated, you can come up with ‘treatments’ for conservatism, and put us away in nice friendly hospitals until we’re ‘cured’. It’s not as if the left hasn’t tried this before.

so Gerard is afraid the big, bad, liberals will use this paper as some kind of justification to created forced medical programs to eliminate conservatives.

um… ok….

reminds me of the hysterical overreaction to EO Wilson’s Sociobiology in the 70’s.

Comment #207038

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 4:36 PM (e)

Stupid statement. There’s no such thing as a “European liberal” nor is the CORRECT definition of the word (that is, the one that doesn’t stupidly insist liberals are left wing, I’m certainly not a liberal but I’m left wing as hell) “european”. The abuse of a political term by the USA and others really pisses me off, is all.

I’m amused to encounter that rare beast, a normative linguist, who thinks there is a ‘correct’ definition of a word. Must be one of those dogmatic leftists that Harold warned us about. Watch out, Ian, you’re going to be conservative in 20 years! Bit it doesn’t matter. American English usage has invariably won out. Resistance is futile; you will be assimilated.

Comment #207043

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 4:41 PM (e)

IanBrown_101 wrote:

In fact, after reading the bits from the Libertarian website, libertarians are actually pretty much neo-liberals.

Funny about that. Maybe it’s better to do your research before you flame.

Comment #207046

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 4:45 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

that’s not an analysis, that’s a personal attack on the researchers.

. Claiming that calling them EEG researchers is a personal attack is a bit harsh; while I trust fMRIs more; they’re doing wonderful things with arrays of EEG sensors these days.

Comment #207049

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 4:49 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

next time you want to voice your opinion on how scientific journals work, you’d be far better off NOT.

My paper count just hit 88. I get called to NIH two or three times a year to review. How about you?

Comment #207050

Posted by heddle on September 13, 2007 4:49 PM (e)

Man o’ man. This agonizing thread reminds me why, at times, PT can be the Edsel of the science blogs.

Comment #207052

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 5:15 PM (e)

I’m amused to encounter that rare beast, a normative linguist, who thinks there is a ‘correct’ definition of a word.

On the other hand, there is such a thing as using almost any word in a completely wrong way. And including pro-Soviet Marxists as “liberals” would be an example of that.

My paper count just hit 88. I get called to NIH two or three times a year to review. How about you?

I’ll assume that you can do that competently and fairly within your field of expertise.

It has nothing to do with your comments on this thread.

Comment #207055

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 5:21 PM (e)

You cherry-picked a mild, humorous insult out of my posts, while ignoring the substance, so that you could claim victimhood.

I could care less about victimhood. I have nothing against school lunch programs; they’re cheap and a reasonably efficient way of getting kids one square meal a day. I would be perfectly happy replacing the death penalty with life without parole. But I’m not sure I can stand much more of this creative, nuanced, intellectually curious stuff y’all are throwing. I have no problem dealing with pile-ons - in fact, I sort of expect them on a topic like this on this forum, but if you’re one of those piling on, don’t expect tender loving care. I get my shots in where I can.

What I really do care about, and you can believe this or not, is that this forum is supposed to be about evolution and its antagonists. There are a hundred places online where you can discuss what Neanderthals conservatives are. Daily Kos, I’ve heard, is a fine one. Go play there.

Comment #207058

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 5:26 PM (e)

‘Funny about that. Maybe it’s better to do your research before you flame.’

Err….what?

First of all, I wasn’t flaming anyone. Being a pedant, yes, but then, as a student of international politics, when I see the use of a political term that goes against political philosophy and the definitions in place, it kinda makes me a tad peeved.

Secondly, I pointed out that they are effectively neo-liberals. Your point was libertarians were like european liberals, which I told you was nonsense, because there is no such thing. This isn’t a victory for you.

Thirdly, since I do this kind of thing at university, it’s fair to say I do my research, so the next time you want to make an asinine attempt to label someone as an uneducated fool trolling for fun, pick someone who actually is, m’kay?

Comment #207059

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

Harold wrote:

On the other hand, there is such a thing as using almost any word in a completely wrong way. And including pro-Soviet Marxists as “liberals” would be an example of that.

Now, let’s be fair. Someone asked about converts from liberalism to conservatism. You then said the famous cases were often actually rigid, dogmatic leftists. Either that remark is completely off-topic, or else you were the one who initiated the conflation.

Comment #207060

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 5:28 PM (e)

‘I could care less about victimhood.’

The phrase is couldn’t care less. what you said is the exact opposite of what you meant.

Comment #207062

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 5:34 PM (e)

Your point was libertarians were like european liberals, which I told you was nonsense, because there is no such thing.

Be sure and tell these guys. Be gentle. They haven’t done well electorally recently; but still, hearing they don’t actually exist may be a bit of a blow to them.

Oh, there’s another url for them, by the way. It’s http://www.liberale.de

Comment #207066

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 5:38 PM (e)

The phrase is couldn’t care less. what you said is the exact opposite of what you meant.

Pretty standard American usage. Sorry.

Comment #207069

Posted by harold on September 13, 2007 5:48 PM (e)

You then said the famous cases were often actually rigid, dogmatic leftists. Either that remark is completely off-topic, or else you were the one who initiated the conflation

Well, at least we can clarify this.

I meant that they were never really “liberal” to begin with.

That’s not a “no true Scotsman” claim, because Marxists really aren’t liberals. Someone who is born to completely non-Scottish parents and raised entirely in a non-Scottish millieu, and despises and rejects Scottishness, is not a Scotsman. (I apologize to all the true Scotsmen out there for implying that someone could despise and reject Scottishness.)

I’m not saying that no-one ever started out as an honest-to-goodness liberal and became a conservative, and as we both admit, although those words can be misused, they are not exactly strictly defined either.

I was just noting that some people who famously went from “left to right” were never really liberal. A relevant anecdotal observation.

Comment #207073

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 5:54 PM (e)

‘Be sure and tell these guys. Be gentle. They haven’t done well electorally recently; but still, hearing they don’t actually exist may be a bit of a blow to them.

Oh, there’s another url for them, by the way. It’s http://www.liberale.de

Point was that there is no such thing as ‘European liberal’ as distinct from American liberal, jackass.

There is but one liberal, popular misuse or no. So next time, try actually reading for comprehension.

Comment #207077

Posted by Glen Davidson on September 13, 2007 5:58 PM (e)

I have no idea where harold gets his ideas about the neo-cons being pro-Soviet rigid ideologs. “The family” was anti-Soviet well before a number of them became neo-cons. Remember, the Soviets were opposed to Israel, and the neo-cons are pro-Israel (mostly Jewish).

I don’t know where anyone gets the idea that to be leftist is to be a rigid ideologue. Indeed, the shifting of “the family’s” allegiances ought to suggest that many were not, along with the evolution of the Nation over the years (unfortunately, they’re pretty much just liberal now). Sure, both conservatives and liberals want to say that leftists are unthinking ideologues, but from my perspective they have been generally diverse, often fighting with each other, and with changing alliances.

Perhaps the real liberals, by today’s standards (where libertarian and liberal are not synonymous), were indeed the leftists of the fifties and sixties, since a number of once-leftist ideas are incorporated into today’s mainstream (even if economic “conservatism” has taken over liberalism and conservatism for the most part).

Anyway, one ought to actually have some sort of evidence that being leftist, or being neo-con, is a matter of rigid ideology, rather than simply assuming it and condemning both based on flimsy claims of liberal superiority.

Glen D
http://tinyurl.com/2kxyc7

Comment #207082

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 6:21 PM (e)

Point was that there is no such thing as ‘European liberal’ as distinct from American liberal, jackass.

Oh dear, it appears you’re blaming me for your inability to express yourself.

But even so, you’re still completely wrong, oh student of politics.

“Enough should have been said by now to indicate that liberalism in the American usage has little in common with the word as used in the politics of any European country, save possibly Britain” - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

“The term “liberal” is used here in its older, European sense, now often called classical liberalism. In America today the word has come to mean something quite different, namely policies upholding the modern welfare state.” Fareed Zakaria

Comment #207083

Posted by Adam on September 13, 2007 6:40 PM (e)

harold wrote:

On the other hand, there is such a thing as using almost any word in a completely wrong way. And including pro-Soviet Marxists as “liberals” would be an example of that.

Sorry, Harold, but in modern American usage, “liberal” is synonymous with “leftist”. Of course, there are degress of leftism, and pro-Soviet Marxists are at the very extreme end of it, and most liberals are not communists. Nevertheless, they are all on the left side of the political spectrum.

There’s a reason why during the the Cold War there were plenty of Soviet sympathizers among Democrats and other movements called “liberal,” but not among Republicans and other conservative political organizations.

Of course, that’s not to say that there weren’t also some very strong anti-communist liberals like JFK, but that does not negate the fact that they are all part of the left. Both the left and the right have their extreme elements.

Comment #207086

Posted by Adam on September 13, 2007 6:49 PM (e)

Glen Davidson wrote:

I have no idea where harold gets his ideas about the neo-cons being pro-Soviet rigid ideologs.

Indeed, the first generation neocons were originally Trotsky sympathizers, so they would have be quite hostile to the Soviet Union when they came of age in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

They mere babes at the time of the October revolution, so we can’t know how they would have reacted to it, but my guess is they would have supported it, given that most Trotskytes viewed Lenin positively.

Comment #207087

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 6:57 PM (e)

My paper count just hit 88. I get called to NIH two or three times a year to review. How about you?

then you’re just choosing to out and out lie about how papers get reviewed then?

are you saying that you commonly impose your own personal biases on the papers your review?

uh, what university do I complain to?

bottom line, moron (yes, even morons publish papers), you DID NOT even make the slightest attempt to evaluate the methods utilized in the paper before firing off your “it’s not science” declaration.

Methinks it’s time for you to consider retirement.

Comment #207091

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 13, 2007 7:03 PM (e)

In fact, after reading the bits from the Libertarian website, libertarians are actually pretty much neo-liberals.

… and the republicans of old (c.f. Goldwater): firmly on the right.

Comment #207092

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 7:04 PM (e)

I could care less about victimhood.

then why are you playing the victim, as indicated by your posts here and on and on Cognitive Daily?

when are you going to stop babbling about how much you know, and actually do something befitting someone with reportedly 88 papers under their belt?

seriously, where in all your conservative ranting have you even given the slightest indication you have even READ the paper, eh?

seem the cog psych guys didn’t see any bias in the methods, so do please tell us again how the paper itself is biased, instead of how the results are interpreted, by folks like yourself, for example.

still waiting for you to say something, ANYTHING, substantive, rather than making simple arguments from authority (88 papers published), or mere opinions based on your own personal biases.

your credibility is waning greatly, and I did actually have some respect for you previously.

Like I started off saying, if you want to criticize how the results are being interpreted at large, fine and dandy, as that’s essentially why Pim started the thread.

if you want to attack the paper directly, then you bloody well better get to it, or STFU.

Comment #207094

Posted by Adam on September 13, 2007 7:06 PM (e)

Sir_Toejam wrote:

then you’re just choosing to out and out lie about how papers get reviewed then?

If you really think that the review process is completely objective and is absolutely imune from politcal or other ideological bias, you obviously have no experience with the process.

FYI, bad papers occaisonally get published for ideological reasons, even in the best journals, and no field is completely immune. The review process is good (at least in the hard sciences as well as the more quantitative social sciences), but not perfect.

I’m not nearly as accomplished as professor Harbison, but as a tenure track junior faculty member of a major research university, I am also familiar with the review process having published and reviewed several papers myself.

Comment #207095

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 7:09 PM (e)

…and before mr. “I don’t care about victimhood” accuses me of piling on, do note that i couldn’t care less about your politics.

you’re supposed to be a scientist, damnit, and letting your own personal biases influence your commentary on a paper that HAS gone through peer review is shameful at best.

I only see this in academia when someone is nearing retirement age, usually.

think about it hard, before you review your next paper.

Comment #207097

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 7:18 PM (e)

FYI, bad papers occaisonally get published for ideological reasons, even in the best journals, and no field is completely immune. The review process is good (at least in the hard sciences as well as the more quantitative social sciences), but not perfect.

duh. shit happens. no kidding. nothing is perfect.

However, you need to PROVE bias in the paper itself, you can’t just conclude it based on the behavior and commentary of the authors.

jeebus, I would have thought if YOU had enough experience with peer review, you’d see the simple point in this.

I NEVER SAID THERE WASN’T BIAS in the paper, what i said is YOU HAVE TO PROVE IT. Nobody here has even touched the paper itself, which was exactly my point for Gerard.

not doing so is EXACTLY the same as the IDiots claiming the reason they DON’T get their idiocy published is because of political bias.

see?

Heddle is right, but likely for the wrong reasons, as usual, PT is becoming a waste of time.

when even those IN the field of science forget that the important thing is evidence and proof, instead of assumption of bias, we really are doomed.

Comment #207098

Posted by Dizzy on September 13, 2007 7:20 PM (e)

What I really do care about, and you can believe this or not, is that this forum is supposed to be about evolution and its antagonists. There are a hundred places online where you can discuss what Neanderthals conservatives are.

Agreed. I thought this was a science vs. creationism/ID blog, not a “my politics vs. your politics” blog. Granted, ID is an almost purely political movement, but equating “conservative” with “anti-science fundie creationist” across the board is folly. I would think we’d want to reach out to conservatives who support science, not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Comment #207100

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 7:24 PM (e)

I would think we’d want to reach out to conservatives who support science, not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

part of “supporting science” is not letting personal bias influence how you regard any specific bit of research.

hence, all the time and care that was taken to deliberately dismantle the poor science and lack of methods in all the “works” that have been produced by the IDiot crowd.

It’s just not good enough, and in fact plays into their hands, to simply point out their obvious biases outside of the work, without pointing out the flaws in the work itself.

seriously, we don’t need ANYBODY, conservative, liberatarian, or communist, who thinks the way to defend good science is by pointing out the sociological biases of the participants.

Comment #207108

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 13, 2007 7:41 PM (e)

‘Oh dear, it appears you’re blaming me for your inability to express yourself.

But even so, you’re still completely wrong, oh student of politics.

“ “Enough should have been said by now to indicate that liberalism in the American usage has little in common with the word as used in the politics of any European country, save possibly Britain” - Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

“The term “liberal” is used here in its older, European sense, now often called classical liberalism. In America today the word has come to mean something quite different, namely policies upholding the modern welfare state.” Fareed Zakaria’

Firstly, I appologise for my inability to get hat I meant across, and then blaming it on you. I thouhgt I had implicitly stated what I meant, I was wrong.

Secondly, however, those quotes are not technically correct. While they may be correct in terms of general usage, they are not correct in academic terms. In a similar way to how theory is misapropraited by the “it’s only a theory” crowd, the common usage isn’t what the term actually means.

Just because your average person on the street thinks liberal= left wing does not technically make it so, just as how to the average Joe Bloggs, a theory is similar to a guess, or hypothesis.

Comment #207116

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 7:57 PM (e)

they are not correct in academic terms.

Gerard seems far more concerned with being pedantic that with being academic these days, or at least he seems to choose to act so most of the times he visits science blogs.

IMO what he is doing, is choosing to deflect serious criticism of behavior unbecoming a scientist onto a discussion of issues that are nothing more than semantics.

seriously, I really feel I can’t let this go. If I was in a group who were even casually reviewing a recent paper, at a faculty luncheon or graduate seminar, say, I can’t even imagine the number of eyebrows that would go up if one of us decided to review the paper by examining the politics of the people who did the study, especially if they didn’t then follow up by at least pointing out how the veracity of the methods and results of the study itself were related.

coming from someone like Donald, this is to be expected, but coming from someone with Gerard’s background and experience, it deserves heaping mounds of steaming scorn.

Comment #207117

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 8:13 PM (e)

… I hope you all understand why this issue has my dander up, but if not, here’s the bullet points:

-what Gerard has done fuels the fires of those who claim bias controls the publications of articles in journals to begin with

-shovels shit on all those who actually spend the time to carefully review the methods, results, and statisticaly analyses within a given paper, and judge the paper on those INSTEAD of bias

-suggests that, since he reviews papers for NIH (his words), that his personal bias, and by extension that of other scientists, would affect how the final review of a paper would look.

It’s like “reverse Sternberging”, and simply cannot be tolerated if we want to maintain the value of the peer review process, and indeed attempt to minimalize the amount of bias present within the review process.

Gerard can easily fix this by simply actually reading the paper, doing some background research on the methods used, and then evaluating the methods and results as to their veracity.

goddamn simple. We used to have graduate students do this on a weekly basis, so surely someone with Gerard’s background can do it, right?

again, it really doesn’t matter if the author’s are left of West if you’re facing North, an automatic assumption of bias without review is unwarranted at best, and damaging to everyone involved at worst.

Comment #207118

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 8:15 PM (e)

… I hope you all understand why this issue has my dander up, but if not, here’s the bullet points:

-what Gerard has done fuels the fires of those who claim bias controls the publications of articles in journals to begin with

-shovels shit on all those who actually spend the time to carefully review the methods, results, and statisticaly analyses within a given paper, and judge the paper on those INSTEAD of bias

-suggests that, since he reviews papers for NIH (his words), that his personal bias, and by extension that of other scientists, would affect how the final review of a paper would look.

It’s like “reverse Sternberging”, and simply cannot be tolerated if we want to maintain the value of the peer review process, and indeed attempt to minimalize the amount of bias present within the review process.

Gerard can easily fix this by simply actually reading the paper, doing some background research on the methods used, and then evaluating the methods and results as to their veracity.

We used to have graduate students do this on a weekly basis, so surely someone with Gerard’s background can do it, right?

again, it really doesn’t matter if the authors are left of West if you’re facing North, an automatic assumption of bias without review is unwarranted at best, and damaging to everyone involved at worst.

I have no stake in this paper, only in the review process, and if the paper passed review with serious flaws in it still, this is what is important to know, not what the sociological bent of the authors is.

Comment #207120

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 8:25 PM (e)

Watch out, Ian, you’re going to be conservative in 20 years

you mean when he’s ready to retire, Gerard?

Comment #207127

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 8:50 PM (e)

Here’s some choice quotes from Gerard’s own mouth, on his own website:

from: “Outing political opponents and their families”

For some time, it’s been a tactic of much of the left to expose the personal lives of their opponents.

really? coulda fooled me. If so, it’s because they learned it from the pros (*psst* - that’s you guys, as even demonstrated here where you smear a paper by attacking the personal lives of the authors).

from: “A new low for PZ Myers/Scienceblogs”

What Karl Rove’s dad did in his spare time is (1) nothing to do with Karl Rove or his political career (2) nobody’s business but his dad’s and (3) appeals to the lowest level of human prurience.

What a foul bunch.

indeed, I would go further and say that even what Karl himself does in his spare time shouldn’t have anything to do with his career, right?

so then what the authors of this paper do in their spare time shouldn’t affect your opinion of the work, right?

Gerard is projecting no more and no less than any creationist that has ever appeared on this site, he just thinks he’s above that, apparently because he has managed to publish a few dozen papers over his lifetime.

think about it, Gerard.

Comment #207129

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 8:54 PM (e)

Even Gerard, consciously or unconsciously, recognizes the very issue that makes him project.

from his own description of himself:

The Right Wing Professor is the web name of Gerard Harbison, an atheist, libertarian-conservative chemist. That enough cognitive dissonance for you?

evidently, it appears more than enough cognitive dissonance for poor Gerard.

Comment #207141

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 9:25 PM (e)

then you’re just choosing to out and out lie about how papers get reviewed then?

I’m just discounting what you write as the ravings of a lunatic, now, if that’s OK?

Plonk.

Comment #207145

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 9:40 PM (e)

I’m just discounting what you write as the ravings of a lunatic, now, if that’s OK?

Plonk.

so, you decided on the STFU option. understandable.

hmm. think I’ll follow you over to your blog tommorrow, and raise the issue of your behavior there as well.

face it:

you’re a chemist, have no clue whether or not the methods used in this or other papers published by these authors are sound, and are simply projecting your own fear of the left onto your commentary.

the lunatic ravings are entirely being projected from yourself, and you know it (heck, I even quoted some of the better ones from what you wrote on Cognitive Daily and on your own site)

Funny about that. Maybe it’s better to do your research before you flame.

indeed, perhaps you should have thought about that before you commented on the paper, eh?

maybe next time you might take the time to consider that you are indeed, suffering from severe cognitive dissonance. so much so that it makes you fear being forced to take meds to “cure your conservatism” from those horrible nasty liberals?

time to retire, doc.

Comment #207161

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 13, 2007 10:36 PM (e)

Secondly, however, those quotes are not technically correct. While they may be correct in terms of general usage, they are not correct in academic terms. In a similar way to how theory is misapropraited by the “it’s only a theory” crowd, the common usage isn’t what the term actually means.

Perhaps, son, you should google ‘Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’, before you question his credentials to speak authoritatively about American liberalism. Actually, you really ought to know Fareed Zakaria also, but let’s take small steps.

Comment #207162

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 10:47 PM (e)

that’s right, focus on the deflective issue of no consequence, and try to avoid dealing with the fist in your mouth.

so tell us, Gerard, those papers you supposedly review for NIH…

do you apply the same “rigorous analysis” you did with this paper?

I’m gonna keep grinding you on this until you either admit your comments were nothing more than unsubstantiated bias coming from someone who should know better, or you leave this thread altoghether.

Comment #207165

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 13, 2007 10:56 PM (e)

Perhaps, son,

careful, when old people like Gerard get all condescending and refer to those who disagree with them as “son”, they’re absolutely sure they’re right.

right, pops?

Comment #207190

Posted by Crudely Wrott on September 14, 2007 12:16 AM (e)

Having heard the cliche “it takes all kinds,” and having observed that there are indeed all kinds (of people, of course), and having to continue to suffer the embarrassment of this administration, its opposition and the disinterest of so many citizens, I can only say that I would rather risk error with the fleet of mind than stand solidly in mud with the smugly dogmatic. More Brain Research!

Comment #207192

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 12:31 AM (e)

Jost is not what I personally would call a scientist

and biologists are stamp collectors, right Gerard?

thank the FSM you don’t get to decide what is and is not science.

Comment #207196

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 12:54 AM (e)

parting shot, showing the amazing level of projection exhibited unknowingly by Gerry:

A general observation. I’ve noticed there are two sorts of people in the anti-creationism movement. There are scientists, like myself, who are interested in defending science from external interference by the religiously- or politically-motivated. And there are hangers-on, usually not scientists, for who the evolution/creation issue is nothing more than a useful stick to beat conservatives, and who really don’t know the science or give a damn much about it.

A thread like this brings the latter crowd out in droves.

It sure brought YOU out, eh?

you needed to add a third category:

scientists who are ignorant of fields outside their expertise (you’re a chemist, remember?), but choose to expound their biased views anyway.

lot of those appear in threads like this, too (often engineers). In fact, by accusing the original researchers of not even being scientists, you, in fact, are using your political motivations to attack science, instead of defend it.

think about that the next time you want to claim a paper published in nature is by “nonscientists doing nonscience”, without even bothering to actually analyze the methods or results themselves.

again, feel free to rightfully attack the metanalysis that the idiotic press spews forth as commentary, but don’t confuse it with the actual paper itself.

Comment #207252

Posted by IanBrown_101 on September 14, 2007 4:06 AM (e)

‘Perhaps, son, you should google ‘Arthur Schlesinger Jr.’, before you question his credentials to speak authoritatively about American liberalism. Actually, you really ought to know Fareed Zakaria also, but let’s take small steps.’

The definition of liberalism, much like the definition of theory hasn’t changed, ok?

Just because it’s begining to spread into common usage with a different meaning, and this meaning is accepted as the common usage by academics doesn’t mean that it is the correct political theory term.

Do you no longer use theory in the common meaning?

If the definition of liberal has changed then so be it, but since the classical definition remains the same, and liberalism is still defined by it’s classical tenents, the common american usage is still wrong in academic terms. If you were to point out to me anywhere where the general agreed use of the term liberal has been totally altered across the board then I would recant my defence of this and offer a full appology. You haven’t, you’ve just shown two people using it in the common parlance, rather than the academic term.

Comment #207422

Posted by harold on September 14, 2007 2:08 PM (e)

Adam -

Sorry, Harold, but in modern American usage, “liberal” is synonymous with “leftist”. Of course, there are degress of leftism, and pro-Soviet Marxists are at the very extreme end of it, and most liberals are not communists. Nevertheless, they are all on the left side of the political spectrum.

To lump people who support human rights together with people who support authoritarianism together, on the grounds that they are on the “right” or “left” side of a “spectrum” (implicitly, a spectrum of economic policy) is crazy.

I’m a person who strongly supports individual rights, (and a regulated capitalist system).

I am “liberal” by any modern standards. I support legal gay marriage. I oppose the death penalty. I believe in free tuition at public universities. I am an “environmentalist”. I support legalizing marijuana. I despise racism, homophobia, and discrimination against women. I want someone to mildly increase my taxes so that poor people can have better social programs (this is not selfless, I think it would make the country I live in a better place).

Like all liberals, I support the right of some other guy to BE a communist (or creationist), as long as he obeys the law and respects my rights. That may be where you’re confused. Yes, some liberals defended communists (and everyone else) when right wing authoritarians violated the human rights of communists.

However, I am adamently opposed to censorship, political imprisonment, one party rule, and total government control of the economy. So is every “liberal” I have ever heard of or met in my life.

How would you like it if I simply did the same thing to you, and claimed that “conservative” means “rightist”?

Sorry, Adam, but in modern American usage, “conservative” is synonymous with “rightist”. Of course, there are degress of rightism, and pro-Nazi fascists are at the very extreme end of it, and most conservatives are not fascists. Nevertheless, they are all on the right side of the political spectrum

Do you see how obnoxious that is?

However, it’s actually more fair than what I’ve done. Because theocrats and authoritarians have infiltrated the “conservative movement”, and that is a serious problem for people who support “conservative” economic policies but also support human rights. In essence, people who actually are authoritarians have highjacked the term “conservative” as their personal euphemism.

But there are some decent people left, even at the tail end of the Bush era, who define themselves as “conservative”, and who are NOT fascist authoritarians.

“Liberal” and “conservative” are much less extreme terms.

Comment #207453

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 2:58 PM (e)

All it takes for liberals to become conservatives is for them to be mugged. For conservatives to become liberals, all they need is to be questioned by the police.

Having had both experiences I can personaly demonstrate that this glib generalization is false.

Comment #207462

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 14, 2007 3:24 PM (e)

How would you like it if I simply did the same thing to you, and claimed that “conservative” means “rightist”?

Sorry, Adam, but in modern American usage, “conservative” is synonymous with “rightist”. Of course, there are degress of rightism, and pro-Nazi fascists are at the very extreme end of it, and most conservatives are not fascists. Nevertheless, they are all on the right side of the political spectrum

It’s not obnoxious, because in a bipolar political spectrum you wouldn’t be wrong. What’s wrong with degrees, here?

The beliefs you espouse sounds like democratic socialism; which is on the same side in a left-right spectrum as communism, including Soviet-Era Communism. Also playing for “your side” are the post-modernists and relativists of every stripe.

Other than the normal problems associated with such a one-dimensional view of things, which happens to represent the common-parlance usages of “leftist”, “rightist”, “liberal”, “conservative”, what exactly is obnoxious about this?

Comment #207477

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 3:43 PM (e)

In the first few years of the Dungeons and Dragons game (or what became that game) there was a simple “Good v Evil” dichotomy. This was unsuccessful prompting many arguments about how a particular PC or NPC action was either consistent or inconsistent. The response was to add a second dimension, Law v Chaos. This prompted just a much meta-game as the prior rules, but the arguments were more interesting.

American conservatives have become theocratic neo-fascists, or in D&D terms “Lawful Evil.”

The Libertarians are opposed to government generally but particularly laws protecting the environment, workers, immigrants, and public education, but in favor of unlimited greed, drugs and sex. In D&D they are clearly “Chaotic Evil.”

The new-age, post-modern touchy-feely crowd fall in the D&D “Chaotic Good” corner. Examples are too numerous and common to need presentation.

The American founders believed that people could by law collectively work for the common good, and that these Laws could stem from the ideas of humankind by rational thought (not the emotions of greed and fear, or revelation from gods). Clearly they were liberals in the classic condition or in D&D terms, “Lawful Good.”

Comment #207479

Posted by Neo-anti-luddite on September 14, 2007 3:48 PM (e)

So, Gary, are the Swiss “Lawful Neutral,” or are they “True Neutral”?

Obviously, the anarchists are “Chaotic Neutral”…

Comment #207485

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 14, 2007 3:53 PM (e)

The American founders believed that people could by law collectively work for the common good, and that these Laws could stem from the ideas of humankind by rational thought (not the emotions of greed and fear, or revelation from gods). Clearly they were liberals in the classic condition or in D&D terms, “Lawful Good.”

Must disagree with your D&D terminology here. “Lawful Good” puts the emphasis on law, i.e. a strong central government. Benevolent monarchies are Lawful Good, as well as functional Communisms. The founding fathers, what with the revolution against a tyrannical state, were clearly Chaotic.

Comment #207493

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 4:02 PM (e)

So, Gary, are the Swiss “Lawful Neutral,” or are they “True Neutral”?

Obviously, the anarchists are “Chaotic Neutral”…

Ah Ha!

This shows the brilliant nature of my observations! ;) The concept of “Neutral” was merely a direction toward the artificial origin of an arbitrary 2d space. The closer one can come to the origin, the more “true neutral” one becomes.

Sing it for me: “Om Om Sweet Om.”

Comment #207495

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 4:06 PM (e)

Syntax Error: mismatched tag 'kwickxml'

Comment #207498

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 14, 2007 4:11 PM (e)

William Saletan’s column on this study is well worth reading

RIGGING A STUDY TO MAKE CONSERVATIVES LOOK STUPID.

Concluding paragraphs:

The conservative case against this study is easy to make. Sure, we’re fonder of old ways than you are. That’s in our definition. Some of our people are obtuse; so are some of yours. If you studied the rest of us in real life, you’d find that while we second-guess the status quo less than you do, we second-guess putative reforms more than you do, so in terms of complexity, ambiguity, and critical thinking, it’s probably a wash. Also, our standard of “information” is a bit tougher than the blips and fads you fall for. Sometimes, these inclinations lead us astray. But over the long run, they’ve served us and society pretty well. It’s just that you notice all the times we were wrong and ignore all the times we were right.

In fact, that’s exactly what you’ve done in this study: You’ve manufactured a tiny world of letters, half-seconds, and button-pushing, so you can catch us in clear errors and keep out the part of life where our tendencies correct yours. And now you feel great about yourselves. Congratulations. You haven’t told us much about our way of thinking. But you’ve told us a lot about yours.

Comment #207499

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 4:13 PM (e)

The founding fathers, what with the revolution against a tyrannical state, were clearly Chaotic.

Right… not

The Founding Fathers were opposed to taxes without representation. This was presented as a legal act regarding a legal issue.

That is why they wrote a Constitution. They hated law so much. ;) The Constitution is remarkable that it is a Law that tried to limit the rights of government to create Law.

I still vote “Law/Good.”

Comment #207503

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 4:26 PM (e)

RIGGING A STUDY TO MAKE CONSERVATIVES LOOK STUPID.

There is no need to rig anything to make conservatives “look” stupid- they are mostly stupid.

Who was it that said, “Not all conservatives are stupid, but nearly all stupid people are conservative.”

The Nature article authors have shown that there are different ways to solve problems. This is not original. They have shown that different ways to solve problems have different kinds of neural activity which is clearly publishable. That different ways of problem solving are correlated with political behavior is publishable.

The actual problem that the Nature article presents is that the authors cannot demonstrate that there are inherent strenghts or weaknesess to different ways of problem solving. I am reminded of sexual and developmental differneces in figure/ground discrimination tests.

Comment #207504

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 4:26 PM (e)

why is that worth reading, Gerard?

because it does the same thing you did in not even bothering to analyze the paper itself, and instead just poot the same kind of biased metanalysis you criticized in your first post in the thread?

you really can’t even see how much your own personal biases affect what you view as science, can you?

pathetic.

Comment #207506

Posted by CJO on September 14, 2007 4:32 PM (e)

Who was it that said, “Not all conservatives are stupid, but nearly all stupid people are conservative.”

John Stuart Mill, I believe.

Comment #207528

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 14, 2007 5:09 PM (e)

I still vote “Law/Good.”

Come on: “Give me liberty or give me death.” Or, from the Declaration if Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

Revolutions (and the Decleration) are a chaotic. But, then I agree with you, Constitutions are lawful. So, I’m willing to settle for Neutral Good founding fathers if you’ll oblige.

Comment #207534

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 14, 2007 5:15 PM (e)

That is why they wrote a Constitution.

You also forget that the Founding Fathers trashed two governments, not just one: the Articles of Confederation lasted for about a decade before the rebellious Fathers threw it out.

Comment #207539

Posted by GuyeFaux on September 14, 2007 5:20 PM (e)

In fact, that’s exactly what you’ve done in this study: You’ve manufactured a tiny world of letters, half-seconds, and button-pushing, so you can catch us in clear errors and keep out the part of life where our tendencies correct yours. And now you feel great about yourselves. Congratulations. You haven’t told us much about our way of thinking. But you’ve told us a lot about yours.

Nice proxy for a real scientific analysis.

Comment #207543

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 14, 2007 5:26 PM (e)

Guye Faux wrote:

Nice proxy for a real scientific analysis.

I think you missed the point. Saletan concedes, or at least stipulates, the science. He’s arguing the speed with which errors are detected in a simple button pushing test doesn’t mean a whole lot. And turning this into a paean to the virtues of liberals says more about the paean writers than their subjects.

As I wrote above, the paper itself is very cautiously interpreted. It’s the meta-analysis - which of course isn’t science and didn’t pass peer review - that is ludicrous.

Comment #207545

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 5:33 PM (e)

I think you missed the point. Saletan concedes, or at least stipulates, the science.

uh, so why haven’t you, again?

oh, that’s right, you’re biased against anything you consider to be not “hard science” and against anything that disagrees with your extreme political biases.

I notice you’re not spending much time on your own website these days.

you should spend more time there.

Comment #207547

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 5:42 PM (e)

just to remind, you, since you seem to repress your own biased commentary…

your commentary wrt to the Nature paper itself concluded:

Frankly, this is not very good science, and I think the only reason it got into a Nature journal is the political ‘hook’.

you are still on the ‘hook’ for that comment, which you have yet to substantiate in ANY way.

Comment #207652

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 14, 2007 9:22 PM (e)

Neutral/Good was how I always tried to play.

Comment #207661

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 14, 2007 9:47 PM (e)

damnit, you’re making me all nostalgic for a game of PnP DnD

btw, I always let my actions determine my character’s alignment, but it usually worked out to neutral good.

seems a pretty good catchall for most people, anyway.

Comment #207828

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 15, 2007 5:31 AM (e)

Gerard Harbison’s arguments have been like a trip down memory lane for me. When I was in graduate school in sociology the USSR was in its dying throes. Naturally, economic sociologists were seeing major problems with the Soviet economic system. And yet all of the arguments coming from the Marxists were along the lines of, “we don’t have to consider your points. If you reached a conclusion that agreed with your politics, it’s obviously biased.”

And, gee, here we are with an actual HARD SCIENTIST making exactly the same argument! It kind of lends credence to Harold’s contention that the extremes of left and right are pretty much alike, doesn’t it?

Glen D’s point about the research possibly only applying to undergrads, on the other hand, is exactly the sort of issue that sociologists have to pay attention to. Like, they come up with an hypothesis, test it, get feedback, refine the hypothesis, retest it…. Kind of like, you know, science….

Comment #207894

Posted by harold on September 15, 2007 9:21 AM (e)

Guy Fauxe -

I took the time to re-rebut something that I rebutted and you repeated.

My post was lost.

I’ll try again.

Political views are NOT a bipolar spectrum.

Your “spectrum” ignores the individual rights dimension, and lumps authoritarians with democrats for perceived similarities in economic policy. And it oversimplifies economics, too.

I am adamently opposed to authoritarianism regardless of economic system.

I am adamently opposed to a command Marxist economy, too. And in practice, that couldn’t exist without authoritarianism.

If you must use a simple classification system, try a quadrant, with human rights on one axis, and degree of economic and social cooperation on the other.

I support very strong human rights.

Within the group of people who support human rights, I support fairly high economic and social cooperation. But I am not a “socialist” (although I don’t take that word as an insult, and am aware that some people whose views are similar to mine use that word). I am utterly a capitalist. I am a capitalist who believes that capitalist societies should and must be generous and respectful of the common environment, if they want a sustainable and relatively crisis-free existance, but I am still a capitalist.

Comment #207905

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 15, 2007 9:51 AM (e)

Kind of like, you know, science….

Actually, that is sociology in a nutshell. “Kind of like, you know, science…”.

One more time. The Nature paper is a very limited piece of work, which doesn’t come to much of a conclusion beyond that there are responsiveness differences between self-declared conservative and liberal undergraduates. The major dispute here is about the ‘meta-analysis’ published in Psych. Bulletin, by Jost, Sulloway, et al., which attributes all sorts of value judgments to a review of studies employing much more diffuse psychological testing. “intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature.” can equally easily be written as “distractability, inability to delay gratification, dilletantism, self-indulgence, and low concentration span”. My rephrasing is obviously consciously negative; but theirs is worse, because it’s apparently unconsciously positive. That’s not an assumption of bias; and it’s not simply a dislike of their conclusions. It’s a recognition that they were unwilling, or unable, to report their conclusions in an objective way.

Of course, much of the social sciences has been infected with postmodernism, which rejects the very idea of objectivity. There are very good reasons why there is a very common division between the ‘natural sciences’ and the ‘social sciences’. And knowing a lot about the natural sciences, and having observed the social sciences as an outsider for quite some time, I’m afraid I give anyreport in the latter considerably less weight.

And I was under the impression pandasthumb was a site where the natural sciences, or a subset of them, were discussed.

Comment #208021

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 15, 2007 3:34 PM (e)

The major dispute here is about the ‘meta-analysis’ published in Psych. Bulletin, by Jost, Sulloway, et al.,

and yet, one more time, you failed to recognize that you indeed attacked the original paper, and essentially still are, along with entire fields of science. Moreover, while you appear to now accept (based on the article from Saletan???) that the original nature paper is indeeed “science”, you fail to oepnly admit you made an error in judgement, and instead choose to focus on the meta-analysis of your own making. Strangely enough, you even choose to end your missive by implying that the very meta analysis you yourself are pushing isn’t even appropriate discussion for the likes of the ‘Thumb, which makes one wonder why you even bothered to comment at all! BTW, CHEMIST, cognitive psych IS considered a subset of the natural sciences, which you would have known if you had even bothered to consider biology as more than just “stamp collecting”. heck, a cognitive psychologist was on my advisory committee at Berkeley long ago when I was a grad student in Zoology. funny, but if psych, sociology, and related were not considered “science”, I wonder why my major prof would have thought they were, considering he’s published 3 times as many articles in his field as you have in yours (since you seem to think authority is important to argument).

You simply appear mentally incapable of not only recognizing that a pattern of obvious bias appears repeatedly throughout the vast majority of your opinion pieces wherever you post, especially on your own blog, btw, but when it is pointed out to you repeatedly (not just by me, that’s for sure), you then exhibit a perfect case example of deflection and denial.

so, you start off with massive projections based entirely on your worldview, followed by deflection and denial.

regardless of the fact that you knock creationists, you suffer the same exact psychological maladies that prevent them from evaluating evidence.

this doesn’t concern you?

It’s not like I haven’t seen this before; I’ve seen several older profs in various depts. over the years succumb to such “hardening of the mind”.

face it, you’re simply a chemist, albeit an above average one, and all you have been doing here is showing your LACK of knowledge of how cognitive psych works, and attempting to bully others into thinking all sociology is merely the biased work of extremeists like yourself.

I rather think you started your blog as an unconscious cry for help. I do hope that, rather than continue in the vein of pretending to be a serious reviewer of anything outside of your own field, you consider pulling your public persona and having third parties begin to analyze your thinking processes.

as far as you reviewing papers from NIH, I do hope you manage to keep your biases out of your professional evaluations there, even if the papers are only related to issues within the field of chemistry.

Comment #208024

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 15, 2007 3:39 PM (e)

Of course, much of the social sciences has been infected with postmodernism, which rejects the very idea of objectivity.

see? another bold assertion, uncluttered by something real scientists like to call “evidence”.

shall I compare your statement to a current creationist that has posted on numerous threads within the last few days, or would you like to do that yourself to avoid further embarrassment?

‘cause, damn, man, it sure does sound like the endless bleating of the sheep who call all of evolutionary biology infected with the “religion of atheism and darwinism”.

can’t you see exactly how much you sound JUST LIKE THEM??

Comment #208264

Posted by Gary Hurd on September 15, 2007 8:56 PM (e)

Well, I suppose that no thread can stay on topic for this many posts.

I took my doctorate in anthropology because I wanted to work in anthropology. My orals committee had a biologist and a chemist as well as three anthropologists and a sociologist. My disertation committee was a sociologist, an anthropologist and a chemist (all had sat on my orals). The sociologist was the chair. I have more papers coauthored with the chemist. The fuss that some “hard” science workers make about their intellectual superiority is pathetic.

Paul Gross, for example, has an irrational and overwhelming hatred of anthropology. I found it very funny that in his puiblished review of “Why Intelligent Design Fails” (2004, Rutgers University Press) he identified me as a taphonomist. It is true that I am a taphonomist. Indeed most taphonomists I am aware of are anthropologists. But taphonomy is a minor part of my published work with the majority in medicine, cultural anthropology or archaeology. To have correctly acknowledged I am an anthropologist Paul would have had to say something nice about an anthropologist. That was too much for him to bear!

Comment #208308

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 16, 2007 12:01 AM (e)

The fuss that some “hard” science workers make about their intellectual superiority is pathetic.

beyond pathetic into the realm of entirely counterproductive.

I’ve always thought that maybe it’s just a form of jealousy for the fact that much field research, sociological research, and anthropology gets those involved out of the lab for a while at least.

It looks like this particular issue is winding down though. I think Gerard has said his piece, for what it’s worth. I guess according to Gerard, we could have not even bothered reading his take on the issue, and just read Saletan instead.

of course, the difference being that I couldn’t care less what the popular press has to say about the veracity of an article published in a scientific journal, where I do care quite a bit about someone with Gerard’s credentials, making unsubstantiated claims as to not only the nature of peer review for the single most popular science journal in the world, but about the nature of what constitutes “real science” itself.

If we want to continue to actually minimize the role bias plays in peer review, Gerard does far more damage than good.

Comment #208365

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 16, 2007 2:58 AM (e)

Hmm. It sounds like Gerald Harbison has spent considerably less time trying to eliminate bias in sociology questionnaires than I have spent in chemistry labs.

If you give a group of people a questionnaire with descriptive terms and ask which ones apply to them, the collective self-reports will ALWAYS come out somewhat positive. Without seeing how the conservative students described themselves it’s impossible to say the survey was slanted in favor of liberals.

I think it’s good that Gerald Harbison, who is apparently a conservative, is fighting the good fight against the forces of anti-science. We need people from various backgrounds. But I also think my graduate work in the sociology and history of science allows me to contribute in ways a chemist might not. Being hard-nosed about only admitting ‘real’ scientists strikes me as counterproductive.

And GH’s insistence that PvM shouldn’t even have raised this topic here is probably not the best way to convince others that he’s open to new experiences.

Comment #208366

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 16, 2007 3:00 AM (e)

P.S. Sorry. I just realized I’d said Gerald not Gerard.

Comment #208409

Posted by Torbjörn Larsson, OM on September 16, 2007 6:25 AM (e)

Catching up on threads.

Dizzy:

Dizzy wrote:

That’s irrelevant for the study, which clearly defines “conservative” and “liberal” based on subjects’ self-identification,

I’m confused by you drawing this conclusion from the study. How does self-identification not support the claim of relative groups? See also my comment #206689.

Comment #208510

Posted by PvM on September 16, 2007 11:59 AM (e)

Seems that some have ‘responded’ to the research by claiming that

Rigging a study to make conservatives look stupid.

Interesting approach… But is that really what the study did? Or is it the response to the study which is the real interesting part of the experiment?

You be the judge

Comment #208518

Posted by PvM on September 16, 2007 12:11 PM (e)

As a counterbalance I offer Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition

The whole concept of authoritarianism and its evolutionary components seem quite interesting.

Comment #208701

Posted by Hey Skipper on September 16, 2007 11:53 PM (e)

Gary Hurd:

Regarding your statements about conservatives:

American conservatives have become theocratic neo-fascists, or in D&D terms “Lawful Evil.”

There is no need to rig anything to make conservatives “look” stupid- they are mostly stupid.

Who was it that said, “Not all conservatives are stupid, but nearly all stupid people are conservative.

Having the experience of being a conservative, I can personaly attest that these glib generalizations are false. And pernicious. And ignorant.

Perhaps you should do a little studying about the basis of conservatism before you spout off any further. In particular, pay close attention to the conservative view of human nature with respect to the liberal view. Then consider which is closer to reality.

The Libertarians are opposed to government generally but particularly laws protecting the environment, workers, immigrants, and public education, but in favor of unlimited greed, drugs and sex.

You have acquitted yourself no better here. The Volokh Conspiracy recently had a fairly in depth discussion about libertarianism (href=”http://volokh.com/posts/1189661948.shtml).

You really should read it, so you can better gauge the distance between your caricature and reality.

Comment #208707

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 17, 2007 12:03 AM (e)

Then consider which is closer to reality.

what you really mean:

“Then consider which fits my projection onto reality better”

which of course, is an impossible task, without any reference to wtf you mean when you say “reality”.

I wouldn’t exactly paint modern conservatives with quite as broad a brush, but you haven’t actually done much to assuage his criticisms yet, either.

that said, I’ll bite:

what is “the basis of conservatism”

pray tell.

Comment #208893

Posted by Gerard Harbison on September 17, 2007 3:29 PM (e)

And GH’s insistence that PvM shouldn’t even have raised this topic here is probably not the best way to convince others that he’s open to new experiences.

So post some porn. Oh, wait, you say this isn’t a porn site…?

Comment #208982

Posted by david m. brooks on September 17, 2007 11:58 PM (e)

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact. Mark Twain

This thread has worked out the way soteos suggested:
“The irony here is that when conservatives say the research is bogus, liberals can point to the research and say ‘of course you think that way’”

I wonder if those who defend this study as real science and the comments of the authors and their associates (“Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty”)as valid have bothered to read the Nature article?

The study involved 42 college students. The political scale question was part of a larger questionnaire involving multiple personality and attitude questions. They took a bunch of EEG measurements, and measured the accuracy of responses to the “W” and “M” flashes.

The political scale goes from -5, “most liberal,” through “0” to +5, “most conservative.” No tabular breakdown was given, but there is a graph (available at the Nature link) showing apparently only seven students whose scores ranged from +1 to +3; there were no +4 or + 5 students. There were -4/-5 students; the bulk of the scores were on the left side of the scale.

Given that there were apparently only seven students on the right side of scale, and those only moderately so, is it appropriate to make the generalization that differences in EEG scores and apparent accuracy in responding to a “W” stimulus that liberals are better able to handle informational complexity?

Looking at the graphic comparing ENG (one of the EEG measurements) vs. political orientation, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the students who scored +1 to +3 (remember there were no +4/+5s) and the -2s, -1s, and 0s. The regression line is below the averages of the +2 and +3 students, and seems weighted down by the -2, -2, 0, and +1 students. In other words, it’s meaningless.

The study claims an r of .30 for measured accuracy (not well described) significant at the .05 level. No graph is shown of this data, but one could suspect that it was less impressive than the ENG graph, which had a larger r. An r of .30 is of course an >R-squared> of 0.09. Potential confounding factors, such as sex, age, etc. are not provided nor is any indication that they are controlled for.

The study states that multiple personality and attitude questions were asked, and multiple EEG measurements were taken. If say some 20 personality and attitude factors were measured, and one of them turns out to be “statistically significant” at the .05 level vs. some measurement (even forgetting the multiple EEG measurements) what does that really mean?

If the purpose of the study was to measure accuracy on some test of liberals vs. conservatives, one would think that the experimenters would have made sure that the sample size was large enough so that they had more than seven data points in the conservative side of the scale and that there were enough on the right side to cover the entire range of the scale, all the way to +5. They wouldn’t have regressed a bunch of personality/attitude variables against a bunch of EEG measurements would they?

Comment #208987

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 18, 2007 12:47 AM (e)

So post some porn. Oh, wait, you say this isn’t a porn site…?

so, because you can’t see the relevance in discussing human behavior on a site about evolution and the antiscience movement, it’s irrelevant.

congratulations.

you’re a chemist. ever think the reason you are challenging its relevancy is simply because the results make you cry?

so what is you experience in sociology and evolution again?

yeah, that’s what I thought.

better pull down your entire blog, GH, as 99.99% of it is entirely irrelevant to anything but hearing a bigot rant.

good luck with that.

Comment #208988

Posted by Sir_Toejam on September 18, 2007 12:49 AM (e)

btw, Gerard, take a look at what David wrote, and compare it to what you wrote.

do you see a difference?

boy, I sure do.

he gives something more to chew on than ragged assertions of bias.

Comment #208992

Posted by Popper's Ghost on September 18, 2007 1:06 AM (e)

Fine, but it does matter who did the studies, and the mere fact that academics tend to be liberal does not void the potential bias.

Uh, Glen, no one claimed it does. But a certain ahole did claim that “the mere fact” constitutes bias. So please direct your criticisms in the right direction.

Comment #208993

Posted by Popper's Ghost on September 18, 2007 1:09 AM (e)

I wonder if those who defend this study as real science

Perhaps you could name names, with supporting evidence (quotations). The exercise might illustrate the gap between fact and impression.

Comment #208996

Posted by hoary puccoon on September 18, 2007 1:35 AM (e)

david brook’s analysis of the Nature article raises an interesting point. Since there were so few students on the conservative side of the scale, was this study really measuring libralism vs. conservatism– or was it actually measuring political involvement?

This is the sort of issue sociologists end up having to address if they want their research to be respected.

I really don’t care if people consider sociology ‘real’ science. But good sociology does involve a lot of hard work, and actually, a lot more questioning of assumptions and searching for unconscious sources of bias than I ever saw during the many hours I spent in chemistry labs.

Comment #209126

Posted by Adam on September 18, 2007 12:15 PM (e)

The study involved 42 college students.

Fourty-two observations? LOL. And this study makes it into one of the most perstigeous natural science journals? I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

I can tell you for sure, if someone sent an empirical paper drawing inferences from only 42 observations to one of the top journals in my field (financial economics), the editor would reject it without even sending it to a referee.

I’ll be sure to bring up this POS article next time someone from the natural sciences tries to disparage my field.