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Friday, July 20, 2018

Science and Built in Prejudice

For John, BLUFI think it iss still early days for the social sciences and there is still much to learn.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

From New York Magazine, by Mr Jesse Singal, 15 July 2018.

Here is how it starts out:

Imagine you and I are out for drinks at a bar. A couple beers in, apropos of nothing, I announce to you, “You know, liberals are way more authoritarian than conservatives.” “No way,” you respond. “Way,” I say, confidently. I pull a sheet of paper from my shirt pocket and slide it to you. “This is my Jesse Singal Authoritarianism Scale, or JSAS for short,” I tell you. “I had 500 people take this short scale and liberals scored way higher than conservatives.”

You look down at the scale and it reads:

For each of the following items, please indicate your level of agreement, from 1 (disagree completely) to 7 (agree completely), with a score of 4 indicating neither agreement nor disagreement.

1. In certain cases, it might be acceptable to curtail people’s constitutional rights in order to stop them from spreading climate-change denialism.

2. The government needs to do a much more comprehensive job monitoring Christian-oriented far-right terrorism.

3. Some people want to act like the causes of racism are complicated, but they aren’t: Racists are moral failures, and that’s that.

If you’re a thoughtful reader, you will, of course, find my claim ludicrous. By dint of the subject matter of my questions the test is basically built to “discover” that liberals are more authoritarian than conservatives. All my questions are rigged in a manner that will, in almost all likelihood, cause political liberals to score more highly than political conservatives on the scale, thus spitting out the “finding” that liberals are more authoritarian.
Actually, being a classic liberal, but not a progressive, I thought the questions quite reasonable.  However, they are a reflection of how political psychologists ask questions in a way that has given us the Rigidity of the Right model.

This reminds me of a presentation at a Conference I attended in 1972, at Notre Dame University.  The presenter talked about a hand scored psychological inventory of the people in a small, rural, economically depressed region of the United States.  There were a high percentage of Pentacostal Protestants in the largely Protestant area.  When the scorers knew who were the Pentacostals they scored those people as being less emotionally stable.  However, when it was blind scoring the Pentacostals were scored the more stable personalities.  We all have our built in prejudices.

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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