June 09, 2010
Personality Plays Role In Political Orientation
Political views tend to flow from personality type.
TORONTO, ON - There is a strong relationship between a voter's politics and his personality, according to new research from the University of Toronto.
Researchers at UofT have shown that the psychological concern for compassion and equality is associated with a liberal mindset, while the concern for order and respect of social norms is associated with a conservative mindset.
"Conservatives tend to be higher in a personality trait called orderliness and lower in openness. This means that they're more concerned about a sense of order and tradition, expressing a deep psychological motive to preserve the current social structure," says Jacob Hirsh, a post-doctoral psychology student at UofT and lead author of the study.
How can someone's basic political orientation be the product of their genes if they are so certain that they rationally arrived at their political beliefs and preferences thru study and reasoning? That's an easy question to answer: People delude themselves about the role free will plays in making them what they are.
The study, which appears in this month's Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, may even lend some legitimacy to the term, 'bleeding-heart-liberal.'
"Our data shows that liberalism is more often associated with the underlying motives for compassion, empathy and equality," says Hirsh.
While some people think they formed their general political orientation thru reason genetics and innate cognitive tendencies play a large role in the formation of political orientations in humans
"People's values are deeply embedded in their biology and genetic heritage," says UofT Professor and co-author Jordan Peterson. "This means you have to take a deeper view of political values and morality in terms of where these motives are coming from; political preferences do not emerge from a simple rational consideration of the issues."
Once prospective parents gain the ability to select personality traits for their children will they choose, on average, to make their kids more conservative or liberal? Will people who are somewhere in between become more rare as people choose to create children who embrace the same values and even more emphatically than their parents do? Will the center fail to hold and will humans become divided into clashing camps which differ deeply and bitterly about values questions?
Update: Also see my post Moral Reasoning Done To Justify Intuitions?.
All of these studies always come up with the same results. They reflect the prejudices of the researchers before they started the studies and highlight the reality distortions which afflict most university professors these days.
And balanced personalities are moderates ;-)
I reached this conclusion after observing that there were very smart people (smarter than I am by any reasonable measure, which is a high bar) on both sides of the political spectrum. If it were just about reasoning your way to some correct conclusion about how things work, the pattern would be for everyone above a certain intelligence to hold the same views. This is why the only real ground for reasoned debate is in convincing someone that their policy won't achieve the ends they think it will, which is sort of limiting. The rest is the province of poets and artists, who can actually change people's ideas about the shape of the world they want to live in.
If you like Myer-Briggs then the rough mapping is for the ST types (traditionalists) to be conservative, the SF types to be liberal, the NT types to be libertarian, and the NFs to be unpredictable though probably tending liberal.
BTW this also explains why certain professions tend to certain political beliefs. E.g. why are most movie or rock and roll stars famously liberal despite having a lot of money? Why are machinists generally conservative? Different psychological types prefer different professions in addition to tending to different political leanings.
I am skeptical of the conclusion because I think most people's political views come from group loyalties. If someone is a rural, married, white churchgoer they are likely to vote the GOP line. If they are none of the above they will vote Dem.
I think people are selective about who they have compassion for. How many liberals do you think have empathy for the concerns of lower class whites when it comes to immigration, trade or affirmative action? I also think that many conservatives have personal lives like the Palin family which could not be described as orderly.
So its hardwired in eh?
Fat man - I wouldn't be nearly as generous to professors. Often, smart people are just better at creating ex post facto explanations for beliefs and behaviors.
Sione - Particular beliefs aren't hardwired, just the emotional propensity for them is.
"Once prospective parents gain the ability to select personality traits for their children"it it will be one more aspect of human existence for the State to regulate, subsidize certain community valued personality traits, prohibit or penalize in accordance with the greater good. Futurists have an irrational sense of exuberance to paraphrase Allan Greenspan. Think I'm kidding, name me one thing right now the federal government does not claim authority to regulate, prohibit, tax, subsidize, manipulate, etc.
It'd be more efficient to match college students with career advisers who have a similar political temperament. There seems to be inefficient guidance for non-liberal students when many university campuses are administered by liberals, for liberals.
When worrying about future technology, it seems like a classic pitfall to point out one negative side-effect and then disregard the overwhelming direct benefits. The big picture seems to be that society would be far more efficient if 90% of the population was high IQ, with positive emotional temperament and self-control.
>> If it were just about reasoning your way to some correct conclusion about how things work, the pattern would be for everyone above a certain intelligence to hold the same views.
Most scientists are liberal... Just FYI.
I honestly think that liberalism above a certain intelligence threshold has nothing to do with their intelligence per se, the function of the system for whatever goal they've set; it's really more a moral question. People who are really smart are smart enough to realize just how meaningless most of the systems we've set up for ourselves really are. How social order doesn't really mean anything because social order can change over time.
The remaining smart people who are conservative are that way because they're entirely selfish, concerned with their own social class' advancement.
Research from Jonathan Haidt (you can google his TED talk) indicates that liberals value compassion and equality, while conservatives value compassion, equality, authority (order), loyalty and purity (have a keener sense of disgust). Professor Haidt's webpage is a yourmorals.org
Anyway, I know I was stating the obvious there, but my point is that conservatives are dicks
Conservatives value compassion for those they deem worthy (EG those of the same social class as their own). How many times have you heard your neighbors go on and on about welfare queens pumping out children to get a little bigger check in the mail?
Geez, no sooner do I post what I think ought to be the central desideratum in evaluating any and all research regarding human beings, then it's summarily ignored. I repeat: Ignore all findings regarding human subjects (and this includes biomedical) that do NOT control for IQ. Haidt et al may be right as rain, but what someone 'honestly thinks' is just so much wash. Until IQ is explicitly controlled for (and I'd want very highly g loaded tests), who the hell knows what's going on here?
Two things interest me after reading this post and the comments. The first is a question prompted by Randall: "How can someone's basic political orientation be the product of their genes...." The more interesting thing is how you explain shifts in orientation. Did someone's genetics undergo some marvelous re-zippering?
Second, has anyone noticed how the favored and valued traits are associated with group to which the researchers probably belong. I use 'favor and valued' in the sense demonstrated so well by ASPIRANT: "conservatives are dicks" Well, of course they are, dear boy, of course they are. (And of course you aren't.)
Just ran across this little piece over at http://futurismic.com/ I didn't chase down all the links, but it leaves me considering when a person's political orientation is locked in stone--before or after the gene turns off? And maybe this is a route to nirvana for all the failed liberals trapped in the wrong orientation, as it were.
"We have known for a long time that physical sex is much more complex than simply having XX or XY chromosomes. According to this article we now understand the exact mechanism by which a body will develop either testes or ovaries. Of particular importance is the fact that this mechanism involves a gene that is not on either the X or Y chromosome, and is active for only a very short period in the embryo’s development. There are therefore definite possibilities for things to go wrong in an embryo with perfectly normal X, and Y if it exists, chromosomes.
Even more startlingly (and potentially annoying for feminist separatists) is the following:
“The research challenges several long held assumptions, such that female development happens by default, or that once formed, mature tissues are immutable or fixed.”
And near the end of the press release, there’s this:
if it is possible to change adult gonad type from ovary to testes or even the reverse, it may eventually allow individuals with gender dysphoria, who feel they are trapped in the wrong sex, to change their gonads appropriately rather than having them removed surgically as part of their treatment to undergo gender reassignment."
ASPIRANT clearly shows the compassion of liberals.
I would suggest that liberals vote liberal because they personally benefit financially from doing so. Thus, most government workers vote liberal, public school teachers, professors, scientists, all on the dole, and all tend liberal. Pure financial self interest. Greed, in other words.
It is all in how you frame the questions, folks. You can make any side look bad or good.
"If you like Myer-Briggs then the rough mapping is for the ST types (traditionalists) to be conservative,"
The traditionalists are the SJs. They're also the largest group of the four you outlined.
More interesting to me is that contrary to much liberal academic postulation (see Lakoff) warm/sensitive parenting and secure attachment is predictive of conservative political beliefs (after controlling for personality). I predict that warm/sensitive parenting will soon be seen as a bad thing.
Another factor is that there is an enormous gap between the stated goals of politicians and the results of their policies. Communists used to tell us that they wanted to rid the world of poverty and oppression. The result of their ideas was poverty, oppression, and mass murder. If somebody is a communist, does that mean he wants to end poverty and oppression? or does it mean that he is a numskull.
Long ago it was written that if you are kind to the cruel, you will become cruel to the kind. When you understand this truth, you will see how vapid the researchers really are.
As someone who was heavily involved in the local chapter of University Democrats in college - and who is presently a registered Republican - I would have to agree with ASPIRANT's assessment - conservatives ARE dicks...
This is likely, though, because as the article implies - their motivation is fear based - thus causing a decrease in empathy and openess - making them rather inflexible on most issues.
I think a far more important factor to consider - as we try to evolve socially into the next level of civilization - is that True Empathy requires above average intelligence but True Intelligence does NOT require above average empathy.
Thus, clearly, electing representaives that show above average empathy and altruism is likely to lead to a more prosperous citizenry.
And - of course - you can't judge a politician's empathy by TV sound bites - one must see the fruit of their actions - and even better yet - a standardized genetic/psychological screening for this trait should become virtually mandatory for anyone hoping to run for ANY office.
Or everyone can keep voting for Party Sponsered Corporatists like Obama and Bush and wonder why their way of life keeps continuing to erode inversely proportional to the profits of multinational banks and corporations world wide.
How's that been working for ya'?
SJ, yes. I forgot about the breakdown.
'Most scientists are liberal... Just FYI.'
I doubt that they are liberals relative to their environment (university, in general). In any case 'scientist' these days is not a very strong indication of intelligence; I expect electrical engineers have higher test scores than physical scientists.
Same thing. Hardwired in.
Well, as long as our actions are directed to putting our own prosperity above that of anyone else, human civilization is going to stay pretty problematic, at best.
I don't believe that genetics basically writes the annals of someone's soul, that their personality, and who they are (at least comparted to other people) is completely set at birth. Though it's a very attractive idea to people like Randall Parker who consider themselves to already be members of the cognitive elite, and it's easily given to confirmation bias... not to mention designing such an experiement to remove all variables would be nigh impossible.
I do believe, however, that genetic influences common to all humans infiltrate our behavior every day, and wreak havoc on our interactions with each other. We need to realize just what kind of animals we really are, and overcome the adaptations that are no longer good for us, since there aren't really any productive selective pressures anymore.
I agree with both you and Randall on this - that is to say - perhaps I am not as absolutist as Randall but he/the science makes a good case for heavy genetic influence in overall phenotypic personality.
But that is why I suggest a combination of genetic screening, psychological testing, and criminal background checking for ALL people running for political office (even just locally).
While it is not perfect - it is a reasonable definable attribute that people should be able to consider when voting for candidates.
There really is NO downside to having greater information/scrutiny about those who seek to be gainfully employeed by the Govt. - ANY Govt.
Aspirant, ask anyone who has siblings or multiple children if human babies are all born identical.
If they confirm that statement, I'd encourage them to adopt a child at birth and then watch as that child exhibits a fundamentally different temperament from their biological children.
That doesn't mean society isn't good; it just means that it's anti-humanitarian to drag our feet on the technological ability to control human biology.
Anyway, humans are so interdependent now that the ancient drive to separate from the group, and be with a small group of your own type doesn't have any point anymore. Humans are irrevocably moving towards a more communal existence; it's similar to the level of organization that led to multi-cellular organisms. Giving up a fair bit of autonomy in exchange for security. (My only problem with that is just WHO we're giving up that autonomy to, but that's a discussion for another venue)
I used to be a republican. The future I just described and annihilation were the two most probable outcomes I could imagine for human history, and I couldn't decide which I found more terrifying. The very idea of giving up a little of your own prerogative to some other entity was just more than I could bear.
Now, I'm a progressive basically. It's because I care about people other than myself now.
It's immoral to judge people on things they cannot control. That's really all I can say about that.
"Now, I'm a progressive basically. It's because I care about people other than myself now."
Either that or you really don't care about other people, but you enjoy moral preening and pretending that you know what is good for others.
I am not saying that is why you write what you wrote. It is just that it is susceptible of many interpretations, yours is one, mine is another. Mine just has the advantage of avoiding House's rule.
>>Either that or you really don't care about other people, but you enjoy moral preening and pretending that you know what is good for others.
I won't deny that possiblity. After all, I'm not very generous, I don't give to charity, or anything like that. I can feel sympathy for people less fortunate than me, but only if I get to know them first.
But progressive ideology definitely appeals to my sense of justice. That people can get rich on financery, while producing no tangible good, that someone can inherit vast qunatities of wealth unearned while others are easily bilked by those with money is just abhorrent to me.
Though, when I was a republican, I sincerely believed that capitalism was the most just system, and that the only reason everyone didn't have a nice car and a big house was because of government interference and corruption... I used to be retarded.
Could the need of everyone here to be RIGHT all the time be genetic? To have every word that issues forth from your cheeto-dust-crusted fingertips glisten with the glimmer of truth? Can't say. I used to be that way, and I can trace it back to things that happened to me in my youth. As a result, I believe that only temperaments are genetic; you can't tell what someone's going to do with their life from it.
>>Though, when I was a republican, I sincerely believed that capitalism was the most just system, and that the only reason everyone didn't have a nice car and a big house was because of government interference and corruption... I used to be retarded.
I take that back... I used to believe that was the reason why everyone *from my social class* wasn't rich. I thought everyone else wasn't rich because they were like dogs; unable to do any better.
"Yeah. Right." is just posturing. I'm guessing you are hardwired for this sort of posturing because you definitely have a tendency toward doing it.
The Blank Slate view of human nature is retarded. We evolved to have instincts and so we have instincts. We have differences in genes that cause differences in personalities, esthetic preferences, and intelligence. The scientific evidence on this is overwhelming.
It is practical and necessary to judge people on what you see them do and what you can expect them to do. Your survival and well-being depending on constantly judging the past and likely future actions of others.
As for those we deem worthy: How many liberals pay money to feed their pets rather than send the money to starving people in Africa? How many liberals build a new addition to their house rather than spend the money on the downtrodden? How many help their own children rather than poorer children down street?
Moral posturing by one side of the political spectrum toward the other side is a natural result of our instinct to achieve higher status. Find people to look down on as morally inferior. Its in our genes to do it. So naturally you do it just as I do. Lucky for you conservatives exist for you to look down on.
You ask an important question:
Could the need of everyone here to be RIGHT all the time be genetic?
I do not feel that need. I think the need must have a genetic component.
I also think curiosity has a very strong genetic component I have a very strong curiosity. But on lots of subjects I'm very unsure. My model of the world is complex enough to take in just how little can be predicted. I do not need to think I know the answer to questions which I do not know the answer to. If I can't know I make peace with it. For example: God? The afterlife? I have no idea. I'm annoyed by the people who apply feelings of certainty to far larger lists of things than they can possibly be right about. They mess up the world and are tedious to listen to.
Regarding matching people up by personality: But there's some advantage to be gained by, for example, to pair up a shy person with a more brave person who will encourage them to do things outside of their comfort zone. There are advantages of getting advice from people with other personality types.
I've written about Jonathan Haidt's research. See my post Moral Reasoning Done To Justify Intuitions? for a report on some of his work.
Regards genetic screening for candidates: To filter out who? I read a good argument recently (forget where) that corporations need psychopaths as their CEOs because only psychopaths can ruthlessly cut jobs and demote and promote to the degree necessary to make corps more efficient. A totally devious plotter (e.g. Richard Nixon, and to a lesser level of ability Bill Clinton) is needed to reconcile the conflicting irrational demands of the nutty ignorant selfish populace.
While I agree that personality type is a strong component in determining a person's politial views, I can't completely agree with the authors' conclusions. A recent survey showed that conservatives were more charitable: They donated a higher percentage of their incomes, volunteered more of their time, even gave more blood than liberals. When the rubber meets the road, liberals are not more compassionate, despite what they may like to think about themselves. I suspect that their oft-repeated characterization of "greedy conservatives" is more a combination of self-loathing and projection.
I would like to offer a possible explanation for the differing liberal and conservative traits:
Consider that for approximately two million years our ancestors existed as hunter-gatherers. They were familial tribes, egalitarian in nature, very warlike towards others (perhaps losing 2% of population per year), lacking entirely or later having primitive religion, and with little or no concept of trade or property of others. Flaunting achievement was frowned upon (knocking the tall poppies back). Socialists (liberals) are their cultural-biological descendants.
About 10,000+ years ago agriculture and settlements developed. With a new social organization, towns, came a need to control and to civilize multiple warring tribes (like the Hatfields and McCoys) into a larger ‘tribe’. Sort of an early New World Order mechanism. Cultural adaptations of the hunter-gatherers were re-adapted by the more aggressive of the townsfolk. Thus, over time, the alpha-male social hierarchy evolved into the state with rulers, satraps, etc. and primitive spirituality became organized religion with local (personal) gods. These structures suppressed discord amongst previously competing tribes and promoted the development of lower classes consisting of the hunter-gatherers. Due to the development of agriculture and positive sum economics, limited concepts of trade and property arose. What didn’t change was the warlike behavior. Fascists (conservatives) are their cultural biological descendants.
Both liberalism and conservatism are pre-modern technology and economics and are detrimental to modern civilization, as you have noticed.
>>It is practical and necessary to judge people on what you see them do and what you can expect them to do. Your survival and well-being depending on constantly judging the past and likely future actions of others.
Then judge them on their past actions, not on their genes.
>>Moral posturing by one side of the political spectrum toward the other side is a natural result of our instinct to achieve higher status.
Maybe I've given a bad impression here, by speaking about these things as I do with my friends.
I don't think I'm more charitable than my conservative self, come to think of it. I don't think I care more about others. I don't think that's why I changed to progressive so long ago. I think what really happened, is that I changed social class. I stopped thinking of myself as "White Anglo-European cognitive elite" and started thinking of myself as a regular nerd, whose group would include others from different backgrounds... In fact, the change occurred when my social group changed.
I could easily see myself helping out an intelligent regular guy from a good family who just had a streak of bad luck, and whose potential to produce after being helped out would not be deniable. I'd have been less likely to help trailer trash or an ignorant redneck plumber, no matter how bad his sob-story... Because I didn't believe that my help would change him.
Don't think for a second, Randall, that I believe myself to be exempt from human imperatives. I would absolutely love a world in which such things weren't true, but I realize that they totally fucking are and we have to deal. Humans can adapt, but they never really change....
I'm sorry, I'm in the midst of a huge change of mindset, so my views of the world aren't exactly stable right now. Maybe not the best time to be debating on the internet, eh?
Jonathan Haidt's Five Pillars model tends to find that Liberal folks are those who "simplify" (or some less loaded term) morality down to two bases, which are Equality and Harm, from a more complicated five base model operant in Conservatives. Robin Hanson suggests that folks like being both smart and consistent and sly rule benders.
Taking both of these as read, I would analyse connections between Liberalism and intelligence as so:
Liberalism, I think is connected to intelligence because it gives you the least chance of being caught up in contradictions - because you're only analysing from two moral bases, you can't be caught up in inevitable contradictions between the five and for whatever reason you either can't simply in another way or at least people don't - and because it allows a higher dimension of sly rule bending than a more legalistic ethic, and intelligent people see both of these this.
I think if you have a personality that either doesn't care too much for disorder or has few moral harm or equality concerns, you'll buck this trend to some extent though.
Of course, this is only after other variables are considered.
Also, one thing I find interesting in these discussions is whether it is a relative difference in emphasis or an absolute. I can see Conservatives caring about order as well as caring about harm and equality to the same degree as Liberals and so placing less relative emphasis on harm and equality, but I can't see them caring about harm and equality less, in an absolute sense. Maybe Liberal folks care about harm and equality less than Conservatives, but only care about them and not anything else?
I have a very hard time believing that conservatives care about equality, at least the same kind that I know. Their emphasis on family heritage, and low taxes (seemingly only to facilitate the accumulation of wealth across generations) speaks to that. A lot of liberals think that conservatives believe that minorities should not be allowed any charity... I don't think that's the case, though. When I was conservative, I just didn't believe that any wealth should go to them unearned. Whether they actually and honestly had the opportunities to earn that kind of wealth, barring huge outlier cases, was an issue I struggled with. I don't know if my conservative fellows did likewise or if it just never entered into their equations.
Conservatives seem to value equality in rights before the law over economic equality. The law favors them, however, because of their wealth. Conveniently forgotten, while congratulating themselves, is that most laws concern the protection of wealth.
As for harm, conservatives aren't the moral superiors there either. I mean, most of the harm inflicted on the cognitive dregs is passive. They have the power to do something, but they do nothing. Their moral system reserves no guilt for that. Forgotten is the fact that it's at those people's expense that they have their wealth. (I know this is debatable, conservatives believe that if those people were as special and worked as hard, as smartly, as the rich, there'd be more than enough resources to go around and everyone would have two cars in their garage and maybe an aeroplane. That's true to a (small) extent, but money isn't a fixed number; its value depends on how much other money exists. When such a small group of people control so much wealth, guess who has access to resources at the expense of whom? And exactly why do these people deserve such access?)
Anyway, I suppose my point would be you can't rely on people's self-reported intentions in surveys like that. They're going to find some reason to make themselves believe that they actually are good and righteous when they may not be. I hope Randall won't end this discussion for off-topic political bickering. I don't think it's going too far in that direction... I actually find it very illuminating, even when people try to read my own intentions. I know they're telling the truth as they see it, even if what they're saying is despicable.
I'd also be interested to hear what the other 5 dimensions of conservative morality are. Can you cite plz?
OK, the remaining three are Loyalty, Authority, and Purity. Oh my god, it sounds like a chant at a skinhead rally!
I choose my loyalty and whose authority I defer to based on harm/care and equality(Fairness). As for purity, it just seems like some way to justify your distaste for another when you can find no better rationalization.
While it was interesting, I think it's a bad idea to rely too much on these kinds of models though. It seems sometimes like the inventors have gotten too caught up masturbating to how well they already understand things that they can't incorporate new data.
Yeah, I have some more doubts about that model, actually, after reading a bit more about it than I remembered offhand.
But running with it, I'm okay with "Authority" and "Ingroup" loyalty to some extent because I think questioning everything on a harm basis is not always immediately practical in terms of time and resources at the very least. You have to give up a degree of autonomy to participate in a group and it wouldn't be practical for all groups to be a collective including all members of the system.
I guess you could object to this on the basis that ethnic grounds are not good ways to form ingroups, though that's not really necessary to having any kind of ingroup/outgroup distinction (though ethnic groups have definitely got some advantages as groups - they form more or less naturally, have a reasonably diverse group of talents - something not true of class for instance -, leverage kin selected altruism and aren't plausibly subject to defection).
As to "Purity", I tend to think that it is better to be "Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied" and purity related concerns - which seem to me to be about the integrity of humanness and what people should be - seem like they'll support that intuition while a model based on harm wouldn't (if you just care about harm, then it would better for people to be pigs if they suffer less than it would as humans).
One of the biggest reasons we judge is in order to predict. Genetic information enhances predictive accuracy. I'm going to use the best tools at my disposal to predict.
We also judge in order to ascertain what happened in the past (e.g. in criminal investigations). Genetic information helps here as well and it is already used to find perpetrators. In the future new ways to use genetic information will provide additional help in criminal investigations. If, for example, DNA samples from 3 people are found at a crime scene and the DNA from one of them has alleles that predispose a person to commit the type of crime in question then it would make sense to focus more on finding the person with that DNA. In the future DNA will enable police to form a physical picture of what the person looks like, how smart they are (and therefore what occupations are possible for that person), and even how old they are (telomere tip degradation for aging proxy).
Regarding conservative and wealth:
Conservatives seem to value equality in rights before the law over economic equality. The law favors them, however, because of their wealth.
I know a lot of poor conservatives who despise the welfare state. A substantial block of voters favors equality of rights over equality of outcomes because they recognize the conflict and prefer a rights-based society. Being very poor never made me into a redistributionist. Of course, my genes cause me to have a disposition that makes me tend to oppose redistribution via taxes.
As for the 5 categories of conservative ethical concerns: Personality measures are hard to do because what is really going on is something a lot more complicated. I've asked psychometricians about this. Intelligence measurements are much more mature and accurate than personality measurements. We do not yet have a typology that can encompass and the ways that personalities vary.
I like your contrast between hunter-gatherer people and farming people. I'm not sure the differences in personalities split between hunter-gatherers and farmers in the way you describe though. Hunter-gatherer groups probably had leaders and some degree of hierarchy. I am going to ask some social scientists with a strong evolutionary bent whether the research literature has any evidence that supports your intuitions.
I do think that the transitions from hunter-gatherer, to pastoral, to crop farming, to small town skilled tradesmen introduced new selective pressures at each step that would have changed the personality distribution in each successive ecological niche that emerged. A highly organized river farming civilization like in Egypt probably would have favored greater willingness to work in hierarchies. The small town tradesmen probably experienced selective pressures for higher IQ too.
That seems like an interesting angle, Avenist.
It does seem like some types of conservatives' favorite historical era is Pax Romana - building a great civilization - whereas many liberals are more oriented toward the pre-Roman pagan era. The Ancient Romans, after all, were "imperialists" and "colonialists," making them modern liberals' worst nightmare. (I was raised liberal with 95% of my social network being liberal, so I speak as an insider.)
I've sometimes heard liberals speak approvingly of South American civilizations that they say disappeared because everybody realized the whole 'civilization thing' with all its strife wasn't worth it, so the citizens just walked into the forest and left, returning to liberals' natural pagan lifestyle.
The Romans replaced paganism in Europe with organized religion and civilization, but the pagan impulse wasn't removed; it merely went underground.
>>One of the biggest reasons we judge is in order to predict. Genetic information enhances predictive accuracy. I'm going to use the best tools at my disposal to predict.
I wasn't saying it is incorrect. I was saying it is immoral.
This, for example, is especially bad:
>>If, for example, DNA samples from 3 people are found at a crime scene and the DNA from one of them has alleles that predispose a person to commit the type of crime in question then it would make sense to focus more on finding the person with that DNA.
To the point that it has the stink of a very subtle troll. Thank you for making this somewhat interesting!
>>I know a lot of poor conservatives who despise the welfare state.
I'd put $1000 down to say that those people are either white, or on a very off-chance, Asian. Such attitudes originate from class-bias than any genetic wiring. To put it bluntly, they believe that under redistributionist policies, their hard-earned money goes to go to feed the endless litters of nigglets being pumped out in the inner-cities, who have to be housed, and fed, and educated(as if they could learn anything) as well. If the situation were reversed, and black people were in the majority, giving handouts to poor whites, they'd likely be conservative too. Poor dumb minorities support redistribution because their group, lacking in social dominance, benefits.
People have pretty much the same selfish wiring. I'm not going to say that they're all 100% the same, and that everyone could be either a criminal or a CEO or a saint if only they were raised in a different household. What I'm saying is that human outlook and opinion can be much more easily ascribed to the situation they've found themselves in, and their choosing what's best for their own kind. After all, you have to be rich to have an opinion on the capital gains tax.
Sorry I wasn't very clear. The state is an adaptation of the hunter-gatherer alpha-male social hierarchy (authority) made possible by positive-sum economics and enabled by religion. I like this quote, it is from 'Why We Believe in Gods-Andy Thomson' http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg
"An organism is a collection of problem solving devices-adaptations-that were shaped by natural selection over evolutionary time to promote, in some specific way, the survival of the genes that directed their construction." Symons, 2005
'to promote......the survival of the genes that directed their construction.' To me this means that the state exists primarily to benefit the Elite who run it and any benefit to TC Mits (the common man in the street) is purely coincidental. This is currently very much in evidence.
'any evidence' I don't think this topic is politically correct. The left-right democracy is an extremely advantageous modification of the state by the Elites. It blurs the line between ruler and ruled, deceiving the ruled into believing they make a difference. Democracy is playing the role religion played thousands of years ago; distraction and deception.
As for hard evidence, probably none. I can't afford to privately fund research. Years ago I thought of correlations of blood factors like ApoE or blood types. I have to wait for ultra cheap gene screening arrays.
As for circumstantial evidence, sure, why not?
Liberals: Support abortion...hunter-gatherer mothers would take their newborn away from the tribe and examine it for defects and kill it if necessary. Perhaps burials came from that-to keep scavengers/predators away. Support gun control...h-g's lived in extended families that lost perhaps 2% of population per year in tribal warfare. If they lost that many from in group killings, probability of the tribe surviving would go down, Property rights...what property rights, it belongs to the tribe (wealth redistribution). Religion....atheists, animists, pagans would more likely become Gaia believers and Enviros (you're killing mother earth). Business....you mean socialism, don't you? See property rights.
Conservatives; Anti-abortion...the ruling Elites quickly realized that a growing, productive population meant that they could become outright parasites. An excellent survival/reproductive strategy. Religion was utilized to grow the flock of worshippers for their particular god, thereby increasing the wealth and power of the Elites. Just another crop, so to speak. Gun rights/property rights...Just like a businessman protects his shop from robbers today, so did the tradesmen, herders, and farmers wish to protect their products thousands of years ago. It's those darn hunter-gatherers, they don't have a concept of private property. Religion...essentially the state (conservatives love THEIR state and THEIR religion) based on manipulation and not force. Recently replaced by democracy as the moral high ground for the state. Business...playground for unstable conservatives. In its current form-bastard offspring of the state.
Interesting point. Liberals are more likely to go organic, off the grid, and back to nature.
I would like to add that I am definitely not liberal-hating or conservative-hating as far as individuals go. Many are my friends. I am interested in what type of mind is hovering its finger over the nuclear button and why it shouldn't have that power.
A brain that developed 10,000 to 100,000+ years ago should not be in a position to destroy the world. Joe
"Yeah right" is an expression of disbelief or disagreement. It means "I do not agree" or "I do not believe it". It means the notion under examination is considered erroneous to the point of mild contempt (serious contempt is, for obvious reasons, expressed more forcibly with passion). In this instance I do not agree with the point of view of the correspondent I wrote to. I consider the assumptions of the article silly. I was, of course, interested to see what his reponse would be.
As for your contribution; well hold up there a second, little white man.
Did I write ANYTHING about "blank slate" on this occasion?
Anything about that?
Nothing about that.
Not a whit.
And you didn't ask me about it either.
Not at all.
Had you bothered to make civil enquiry I'd have responded in kind. You'd have found I don't subscribe to your notion of "blank slate." BUT, you were just too busy attempting to raise a straw man. That's so dishonest. Just naughtiness. So now I ask, is that how you are hardwired - too many furphy genes in there...?
OK. Now you've reaped what you've sown. How about engaging and debating the topic with some honesty next time? No smears. No sly-dogging. No pretending the foreign darkie is to ignirint to treat decently. Come on! Would it really get under your skin THAT much to concede that you might have to change your position when you are in the wrong? Be brave! Take the chance! Live a little.
About the best evidence I can find against the kind of genetic determinism Randall Parker endorses is human history itself. It is rife with the repeated rise and fall of diverse human ethnic groups... Egypt once had a great civilization, and has gone on to not do much since then. Rome, despite a meteoric rise to prominence, only maintained mediocre world influence after around 500AD (give or take). During the European Dark Ages, The Ottoman Turks preserved much scientific learning, and added to it. Now the great Islamic empires have crumbled, giving way to scrappy groups of rebels desperately trying to gain influence through regressive policies and senseless violence.
You'd expect a population's overall intelligence and capacity for achievement to remain constant throughout its history, given the stock it comes from. Yet we don't see that happening.
How to respond to the liberal echo chamber comprising ~90% of the authors?
For example, Aspirant's final canard that you have to be rich to have an opinion on capital gains tax. Simply untrue. If I recognize that production requires capital, and that production drives employment, it is self-evident that if I want employment to increase then I would want to make capital available to employers. By increasing taxes on capital gains I am de facto reducing capital available to employers.
Suffice to say that I simply believe that my first order of business is taking care of myself and my family and that I endeavor to help others out through donations or pro-bono work at food banks, the Boys and Girls Club (tutoring and coaching), Habitat for Humanity (pro-bono civil engineering work), Water for People (donations), and Engineers without Borders (donations and I hope to provide some mentoring/project oversight). I simply believe that individuals make better choices than a centralized gov't, and history bears that out.
Keep in mind as well that as a person's income increases, their ability to save (and thus, provide their own insurance against future hardship) is reduced due to progressive tax rates, phase-outs of deductions, etc., and this also reduces their ability to provide capital to their immediate and extended family and their community.
So as a conservative, I generally believe that centralizing behavior control and economic control in the gov't is immoral and results in both moral and economic poverty as the state attempts to divorce behavior from its consequences. Furthermore, I believe that wealth is created (wealth is not zero sum), whereas most liberals seem to have a worldview of zero sum economies.
"Conservatives seem to value equality in rights before the law over economic equality."
This is absolutely true; because if you do not have equality in rights then economic equality becomes a judgment of the person making the law. Thus, those in power end up in the proverbial dachas, and your economic "equality" is determined by whom you associate with. There is also the difference between "equality of result" and "equality of opportunity" to be considered.
Eh. Food for thought.
Regards genetic screening for candidates: To filter out who? I read a good argument recently (forget where) that corporations need psychopaths as their CEOs because only psychopaths can ruthlessly cut jobs and demote and promote to the degree necessary to make corps more efficient. A totally devious plotter (e.g. Richard Nixon, and to a lesser level of ability Bill Clinton) is needed to reconcile the conflicting irrational demands of the nutty ignorant selfish populace."
I was suggesting it be an attribute candidates have ascribed to them - not necessarilly a way to filter them out - at least not in our current Republic as it works. A bit of - let the voter beware - kind of thing...
As far as needing CEO's and Political leaders to be sociopaths or worse - I don't buy that for a second - one as a narcissist myself who has had little problem delegating authoritatively since I was just a youth - and two being friends with a guy whose dad is a Billionaire AND a leading captain of industry (think Bill Gates) but who is about one of the most egalitarian and interesting engineers you would ever want to meet.
(And this is not just personal bias - I spoke with him many times at college after speaking engagements before he knew I was friends with his son)
So, again, effective leadership does NOT require immorality nor viciousness to bring forth a progressive, functional and efficient modern society.
>>For example, Aspirant's final canard that you have to be rich to have an opinion on capital gains tax. Simply untrue. If I recognize that production requires capital, and that production drives employment, it is self-evident that if I want employment to increase then I would want to make capital available to employers. By increasing taxes on capital gains I am de facto reducing capital available to employers.
Sure, if you take for granted that the trickle-down effect actually works. (it doesn't) Also, the discussion was about general human nature, not the cognition of an outlier such as yourself.
>I simply believe that individuals make better choices than a centralized gov't, and history bears that out.
>>Keep in mind as well that as a person's income increases, their ability to save (and thus, provide their own insurance against future hardship) is reduced due to progressive tax rates, phase-outs of deductions, etc., and this also reduces their ability to provide capital to their immediate and extended family and their community.
And that's why we have high infant mortality rates with certain populations in the industrialized world.
>>Furthermore, I believe that wealth is created (wealth is not zero sum), whereas most liberals seem to have a worldview of zero sum economies.
A system that's made to create wealth isn't set up to manage resources effectively. It's set up to drain them as quickly as possible, to turn them into the easiest profit (note I didn't say "greatest common human benefit", as you would have tried to imply there). We may find that the last bit of petroleum we needed to finally implement a new technology that would eliminate energy scarcity forever was used long ago to create little plastic drink umbrellas. It's worse than zero-sum. It's net-loss.
I used to be like you, NED. I sincerely believed that conservative policies were what was best for the world. But it seems like as everyone matures, they wake up to a new reality. Kind of odd that, contrary to the common story, my awakening made me into a progressive. For me, it was the group reality that humanity is running itself into the ground, pretending to be good while at their core being total assholes. Maybe I should be proud that the elites of our era at least need to PRETEND to be good, rather than unapologetically fucking everyone over like in the past.
I used to be confused why the older republicans I spoke with never went into the social justice aspect of conservatism except as a brief aside, or when pressed on the issue. They always focused on the dirty LIBERALS and their grubbing desire for power at our own expense. I now know that the reality they awoke to was a personal one, where they realized that mom and dad weren't providing for them anymore, and the only person who was going to look out for them was they themselves. They had to protect their own interests. So, they did what came natural. They rationalized their baser motives.
This leads me to wonder... Am I rationalizing something?
(I don't believe you're rationalizing, NED. I believe you really believe what you say, and haven't learned that ghastly adult skill yet. And though I sound condescending as hell here, I don't mean it that way at all.)
Productivity being net-loss, rather than multi-sum or even zero-sum doesn't seem balanced. When one resource is utilized to the point of scarcity, that merely creates research pressure to find a new way to do things. If productivity was net-loss, civilization wouldn't be characterized by the explosive growth we see.
To put it simply: we don't live in caves anymore; productivity works.
Okay ASPIRANT - Where has centralized gov't succeeded at anything other than killing millions of people (see USSR, China, Nazi Germany, Hirohito's Japan, most African countries, Iran, etc.)? Where has centralized gov't brought anything other than poverty, deprivation, and corruption? Collectively, 300 million people are going to make better individual choices for their own lives and well being than a centralized gov't could ever hope to make, because the gov't is not capable of managing efficiently.
And yes, the trickle-down effect is actually a fact. You ever get a job from a poor person? No.
Your infant mortality citation is a typically dishonest one - not intended to be dishonest by yourself, but dishonest in how other countries report infant mortality. In Britain, for example, babies born at less than certain specifications for height, weight, and gestation are not counted in their statistics. In America, we report every live birth, no matter how pre-mature the baby is born. In other words, the countries of Europe have chosen to discount the value of certain births in order to make their numbers look better. The results of this are to devalue human life in general (which is typical in strong, centralized government controlled societies - see above). The policy of discounting pre-mature births is subversive in that it incentivizes doctors to concentrate on babies who meet the minimum criteria and spend less time on babies who fail the minimum criteria. One reason for the state to do this is that children born pre-maturely are much more likely to have persistent health problems that will then have to be taken care of by the state medical system; a system which is already overtaxed.
Now, as is typical of liberal worldview, you believe that profit is a wrong. I believe that profit is nothing more and nothing less than the value added by the person who is selling a product or service. Every worker is selling their services to a company and their take-home pay after taxes is profit. The profit that a company makes in a given year is the worth of the value provided to the individuals who purchased their products and services. The belief that profit is wrong is another devaluing of human individuality; at its core it means that there is no value added by the individual b/c the individual is immaterial or irrelevant to the community as a whole.
"A system that's made to create wealth isn't set up to manage resources effectively."
Precisely wrong. A system that is made to create wealth and opportunity for all is the most efficient resource management system. That's because people will trend towards areas that use their talents/resources the most effectively. Commodities (which are worthless in the ground, but have value once they are extracted and refined) are valued at the sum of efforts used to extract them from the ground plus the value added that the commodity will provide to the end-user; the most efficient use of that resource will be by the end-user that is capable of paying the most b/c the commodity will have the most value to their final product. Furthermore, the freedom that is provided in a capitalist/decentralized system results in millions of individual decision makers, the sum of whose decisions will result in a better outcome than the decisions of some hundreds or thousands of bureaucrats.
NED: Interesting you completely missed the dimension to this discussion on human nature and made it into a vanilla political debate.
I've seriously made every single argument in your post before, and I don't feel like picking it apart today. Maybe tomorrow.
What I am saying is about human nature and not simply a political debate. There is a reason that centralized control fails and it is directly related to human nature. Manipulation of economies by a central control structure results in an inefficient production and consumption model as people react to the controlling authority. People then seek alternatives to allowed methods of production and consumption resulting in crime and/or corruption.
Consider that centralizing control results in smaller and smaller ratios of regulators/governors : regulated/governed persons, meaning that more and more often individual circumstances must be disregarded in order to comply with centralized control. The smaller the ratio, the higher the rate of dysfunction caused by centralization, where the regulation inhibits good decision making. I have clients that spike project proposals simply on the basis of the amount of regulation they will have to comply with during the permitting and operational processes. The regulatory costs outweigh the benefits that could be provided to the community.
In any case, I certainly understand your feelings re: arguing the same points over and over. Me too. I don't believe political views are a hard-wired thing - I believe they are experiential. I believe that our learning processes include feedback loops whereby our worldview is changed based on our experience, and our experience is biased through our worldview perception. The experience/worldview feedback generally approaches a limit that provides for an understanding of how the world works and what political systems will be most effective therein. I do believe that in societies like ours where the government and other institutions actively work to disassociate the effects of bad decision making from the consequences results in a cognitive dissonance in worldview from real world as the experience of the decision maker is that there are no consequences to bad decisions.
Political orientations are rooted in morality and morality is a suite of adaptations based primarily on the survival instinct. Different cultures had different survival needs and their moralities were suited to these needs. Hunter-gatherers lived primarily in a zero-sum economics world with a high time-preference and their code of behavior (morality) reflected this. Their descendants are liberals.
The sedentary people (townsfolk) exist in a positive-sum economics world and tend towards a low time-preference. Don't eat your seed corn, etc. Their morality is different and their cultural descendants are conservatives.
Minarchists/anarchists are the cultural and intellectual descendants of the conservatives. They have basically concluded that the best, most just society is one that provides the most freedom and the most goods. This means the best positive-sum economics system, the free market, and the smallest number of parasites living off the labor of productive people. That is, no government.
You might like this from: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-01/euhs-esl012406.php
It exposes the high dudgeon of both liberal and conservatives.
Public release date: 24-Jan-2006
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Contact: Beverly Cox Clark
Emory University Health Sciences Center
Emory study lights up the political brain
When it comes to forming opinions and making judgments on hot political issues, partisans of both parties don't let facts get in the way of their decision-making, according to a new Emory University study. The research sheds light on why staunch Democrats and Republicans can hear the same information, but walk away with opposite conclusions.
The investigators used functional neuroimaging (fMRI) to study a sample of committed Democrats and Republicans during the three months prior to the U.S. Presidential election of 2004. The Democrats and Republicans were given a reasoning task in which they had to evaluate threatening information about their own candidate. During the task, the subjects underwent fMRI to see what parts of their brain were active. What the researchers found was striking.
"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," says Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory who led the study. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts." Westen and his colleagues will present their findings at the Annual Conference of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Jan. 28.
Once partisans had come to completely biased conclusions -- essentially finding ways to ignore information that could not be rationally discounted -- not only did circuits that mediate negative emotions like sadness and disgust turn off, but subjects got a blast of activation in circuits involved in reward -- similar to what addicts receive when they get their fix, Westen explains.
"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," says Westen. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."
During the study, the partisans were given 18 sets of stimuli, six each regarding President George W. Bush, his challenger, Senator John Kerry, and politically neutral male control figures such as actor Tom Hanks. For each set of stimuli, partisans first read a statement from the target (Bush or Kerry). The first statement was followed by a second statement that documented a clear contradiction between the target's words and deeds, generally suggesting that the candidate was dishonest or pandering.
Next, partisans were asked to consider the discrepancy, and then to rate the extent to which the person's words and deeds were contradictory. Finally, they were presented with an exculpatory statement that might explain away the apparent contradiction, and asked to reconsider and again rate the extent to which the target's words and deeds were contradictory.
Behavioral data showed a pattern of emotionally biased reasoning: partisans denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate that they had no difficulty detecting in the opposing candidate. Importantly, in both their behavioral and neural responses, Republicans and Democrats did not differ in the way they responded to contradictions for the neutral control targets, such as Hanks, but Democrats responded to Kerry as Republicans responded to Bush.
While reasoning about apparent contradictions for their own candidate, partisans showed activations throughout the orbital frontal cortex, indicating emotional processing and presumably emotion regulation strategies. There also were activations in areas of the brain associated with the experience of unpleasant emotions, the processing of emotion and conflict, and judgments of forgiveness and moral accountability.
Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning (as well as conscious efforts to suppress emotion). The finding suggests that the emotion-driven processes that lead to biased judgments likely occur outside of awareness, and are distinct from normal reasoning processes when emotion is not so heavily engaged, says Westen.
The investigators hypothesize that emotionally biased reasoning leads to the "stamping in" or reinforcement of a defensive belief, associating the participant's "revisionist" account of the data with positive emotion or relief and elimination of distress. "The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data," Westen says.
The study has potentially wide implications, from politics to business, and demonstrates that emotional bias can play a strong role in decision-making, Westen says. "Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,' " Westen says.
Coauthors of the study include Pavel Blagov and Stephan Hamann of the Emory Department of Psychology, and Keith Harenski and Clint Kilts of the Emory Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences.
This study is just saying that people who are conservative are conservative, while people who are liberal are kiberal. Its kind of like say that people who like food tend to eat more. What is the point?