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« Asymmetry thesis--now we're going to need a meta-meta-analysis | Main | Beware of reacting too fast to the "TOOFAST" item in the GSS »
Monday
May082017

Are Republicans and Democrats more divided on or each more supportive of federal spending on science? Both, according to Pew Research Center

As the 14 billion readers of this blog are aware, I’ve been culling science-attitude data from the GSS for the last few weeks.  The gist of it is that there’s not a whole lot of difference between the views of politically diverse citizens.

Displaying impeccable timing, on May 1, Pew Research Center released some interesting  data (as their data always are) on support for “increased” federal spending on science that seems to contravene that conclusion.  Under the headline “Democrats far more supportive than Republicans of federal spending for scientific research,” they report a “wide and growing partisan gap . . . over how much government should spend for scientific research.”

The question has a counterpart in the GSS.  While the most recent GSS data is 2016, in the period in which the two surveys—GSS’s and Pew’s—overlap, the former has always suggested much less of a gap in partisan views.



This goes to show how much subtle language differences can make in respose to survey items and cautions against relying overmuch on any single measure when trying to assess attitudes. The better approach is to explore larger groups of items that get at the same thing & see if they form a scale, at which point covariances can supply a more reliable yardstick of who feels what way and why.

There are two more interesting things (at least) about Pew’s data.

One is that both Republicans and Democrats supported spending more and opposed spending less for science in the Pew 2017  data relative to their positions in the last 8 yrs. (the only period for which Pew has reported data for both responses). If there were reason to think these kinds of sentiments have any influence on Congress (there’s not much), this would be good news.

The other is that the widened gap between Republicans and Democrats is actually attributable not to a decline in the support of Republicans for more science funding—again, in Pew’s 2017 data, Republicans are more supportive than previously—but in the huge 14 pct point jump in Democrats who support more spending.  

Why Democrat support increased so dramatically merits more study in itself.

But in any case, relative to previous yrs, the Pew govt-spending data are consistent with the inference that there is more “pro-science” sentiment all  around in 2017 than previously. 

That’s pretty interesting. 

What do you think?

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Dan -

=={ ...relative to their positions in the last 8 yrs....again, in Pew’s 2017 data, Republicans are more supportive than previously... }==

Since [2001], Republican support trended steadily downward before a modest uptick in recent years, while Democratic support remained relatively steady before rising significantly in the current survey.


http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2017/04/28112437/FT_17.04.28_scienceFunding_divides.png


% US adults who say they would increase federal spending for scientific research

Republicans:

2001 = 38%
2017 = 31%

-------------------------------

Why are did you graph from 2002 in the GSS data and 2009 in the Pew data?

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I do get that your graph shows that since 2001 the % of Republicans who said they would decrease funding has gone down (offsetting the decrease in the % of Pubs who would favor an increase)...but it seems a bit of a gloss to characterize the Pew data as saying that Republicans are "more supportive" than previously - especially if you limit the range of the Pew data that are displayed.

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

@Joshua-- the only data that Pew has actually posted on partisan divisions for both increasing & decreasing funding is from 2009 to 2016. That's all I'm commenting on. I've asked to see the 2001 -2008 data for all 3 response levels. If you have them, please tell us what they say.

May 8, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

Link Drop:

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-people-dont-scientific-companies-involved.html

Would have liked to see this one broken down by liberal vs. conservative.

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

"This goes to show how much subtle language differences can make in respose to survey items and cautions against relying overmuch on any single measure when trying to assess attitudes."

The main difference I see in the wording is the mention of "federal government" in one and not the other. That would be consistent with my guess that it's getting mixed up with partisan differences on government spending, rather than partisan differences on science.

But an alternative hypothesis would be that there is a difference between 'want to' and 'would'. Both sides want to spend more, but only one side would. I'm sure it's not the only alternative, either.

Yes, semantic subtleties in the wording of survey questions are often more important than the survey authors assume. I think I might have mentioned this before, in other contexts, too? :-)

May 8, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@NiV--the solutions are the covariance of multiple items that are meant to measure the same thing & external validation.

May 8, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

To me this is not about wording or fixing the poll with scales of choices. This poll demonstrates the classic problem with polls: They do not capture the difference between what people say and what people do. Now, considering that most decision-making is manipulatable and contextual, the Republican machine will frame science spending as, for example, "wasteful spending on Solyndra failures" and "silly research on Fruit Flies" (remember Palin's famous criticism?). Or they'll use threats to national security in the backdrop of deficit scaremongering. Among those Republicans who were favorable to increased science spending, do you think they'll support their party's view or their survey response which given out of the context of party politics? It's so easy to manipulate the context of science spending as a means to justify spending cuts. Most people responding to surveys like these (this is not just a "republican" problem) rarely challenge their own beliefs and logical inconsistencies. And in the unlikely event that a Republican congress will propose increases to gov't spending, it's highly unlikely that there is any alignment on the types of science spending that Rs and Ds would support.

May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterMichael

"Most people responding to surveys like these (this is not just a "republican" problem) rarely challenge their own beliefs and logical inconsistencies."

Quite so. I expect if you framed it in terms of developing new designs for nuclear power stations, improvements to fracking technology for oil and gas wells, Monsanto developing new genetically engineered organisms, and so on, you'd get a different answer from Democrats. The science funding for that nuclear power design I just linked got canned by Clinton, and nobody complained or called him "anti-science" for doing so. Different administrations have different priorities.

If you want to use public money, the public get a say in how it is spent via their elected representatives. It's quite right that Democrats can stop government funding for science research on a nuclear power plant they don't like. That's what they voted for. The same principle applies when the taxpayers vote Republican.

People sometimes seem to forget that, and think scientists have a *right* to the money, and an absolute right to say how it is to be spent, irrespective of the wishes and priorities of the people whose money it is. Rather undemocratic, that. But that's what happens when you ask politicians to fund science :- you bring politics into science.

The easiest way for scientists to get Trump to fund science is to switch to doing Trump-friendly science. The trouble is, what if you're politically against scientists doing the sort of science Trump would like? Wouldn't that be "anti-science"? Most people rarely challenge their own beliefs and logical inconsistencies - but we can always help them by pointing them out! :-)

May 9, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

@Michael-- agree that these items don't measure what they seem too. But they could still be measuring something -- a kind of pro-science affect, which even if it doesn't affect political economy surrounding science spending is still useful for understanding public attitudes toward science

May 9, 2017 | Registered CommenterDan Kahan

If they're willing to spend money on something, presumably they think they're buying something worthwhile. What is it? To me the big question left unanswered by these data is, what do people think science spending -produces-?

Democrats by and large seem to be heavily on the boat that science produces policy recommendations, as well as new and fancy things. I'm not as sure about Republicans because I know so many fewer of them, but it seems to me that Republicans by and large just want the new and fancy things without the policies.

So I'm going with a "null hypothesis" that the bipartisan uptick in demand for science spending reflects people being recently impressed with the fancy new things that technology has brought, like self-driving cars and machines that play Go and 23AndMe.

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered Commenterdypoon

Link drop, related to why engineering complicated mechanisms to explain polling about beliefs is dangerous :

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/mar/20/obama-muslim-republicans-symbolic-belief

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-hasnt-diminished-americas-faith-in-elections-but-he-has-polarized-it/

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Containing a good discussion of the meaning of 'trust in science."

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/trump-hasnt-diminished-americas-faith-in-elections-but-he-has-polarized-it/

The stickiness of erroneous beliefs such as a connection between autism and vaccines is often cited as proof of a growing mistrust of science, as an institution, in American culture, but that’s probably not the most useful framing, said Dominique Brossard, professor of science and technology studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Overall, Americans don’t trust science and scientists any less than they did 40 years ago — around 40 percent of us report “a great deal of confidence” in science, according to the National Science Foundation’s science and engineering indicators. That’s enough to make science the second-most trusted institution in America, after the military. Add in the people who have at least “some confidence” in science, and you get 90 percent of Americans — a group that probably shouldn’t be framed as being at war with science.

Instead, Brossard said, these cases of people believing incorrect things have more to do with factors separate from their trust in science. “Political ideology,” she suggested, “religiosity.” Those nonscientific beliefs then get entangled with how they consume media. For instance, say you have a political belief system that leads you to be skeptical of government-mandated vaccination. If social media then handed you a paper showing those vaccination programs to be hazardous, then that science — a trusted source of information — would ring particularly true, especially devoid of context about other studies that show the opposite. Your existing sense of risk would make the paper urgent and would make you more likely to share it. The more you believe in the risk and the more your friends believe it, the more suspicious you’re likely to be of any attempts to downplay that risk. What you get, Brossard said, is a perfect social machine for amplifying an erroneous interpretation of an idea.

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

A cartoon bias?:

"A new study at the University of Illinois suggests if you're trying to convince the public to change their stance on a topic such as wind energy, you may be more successful if you use a cartoon rather than a photograph."

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-photos-credible-cartoons-persuasive.html

"Interestingly, the respondents said the content was better in the cartoon brochures (even though the text was identical), but the credibility was lower than the brochures using photographs."

Might people have a separate "authority sense" vs. "content sense"? Does science communication have to choose between these?

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

I'm always dubious about the identification of tends in widespread, complex societal behavior... apophenia is my new favorite word.... but it's beginning to get hard for me to see where politics-associated beliefs or "values" exist (at least in the U.S.) outside the boundaries of cultural cognition.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/05/12/the-one-little-number-that-so-far-is-all-of-the-protection-donald-trump-needs/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_number-850a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.03eae35e3b5e

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"A new study at the University of Illinois suggests if you're trying to convince the public to change their stance on a topic such as..."

What business is it of science to find ways to convince people? Isn't that the art of propaganda?

Educate them, sure. Enable their decisions by providing the most accurate and comprehensive understanding of the question you can, OK. But when your aim is to change beliefs in a specific direction you're using science in the service of politics. Is that a good precedent to set?

I sometimes wonder if the people doing these studies realise how bad it looks to outsiders.

-

"but it's beginning to get hard for me to see where politics-associated beliefs or "values" exist (at least in the U.S.) outside the boundaries of cultural cognition."

Ah! The mysterious mystifying mystery of why Republicans would support a Republican Trump presidency! There can be no other possible explanation than "cultural cognition".

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Apophenia (on my part), or an actual trend?

Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s “watchdog role”), while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same. That is a 47-percentage-point gap, according to a new online survey conducted March 13-27, 2017, among 4,151 U.S. adults who are members of Pew Research Center’s nationally representative American Trends Panel. The gap stands in sharp contrast to January-February 2016, when Americans were asked the same question. Then, in the midst of the presidential primary season, nearly the same share of Democrats (74%) and Republicans (77%) supported the watchdog role.

Pew Research Center has asked this question since 1985. While Republicans have been more likely to support a watchdog role during Democratic presidencies and vice versa, the distance between the parties has never approached the 47-point gap that exists today. The widest gap up to now occurred during the George W. Bush administration, when Democrats were 28 points more likely than Republicans to support a watchdog role. It should be noted that prior to 2016, the question was asked by telephone rather than the web, which can elicit slightly different response patterns.1 Even taking possible mode effects into account, though, this year’s difference is so stark that it would still be the largest gap in the Center’s polling on this question.

http://assets.pewresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2017/05/09103106/PJ_2017.05.10_Media-Attitudes_0-01.png

http://www.journalism.org/2017/05/10/americans-attitudes-about-the-news-media-deeply-divided-along-partisan-lines/

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Consider this strange behavior: not actually believing in X, but experience positive affect when saying they do believe in X, and saying they do as a result, where "saying" could also be "responding in a survey".

Is this CC? I don't think so, because it is not belief related. How likely is it?

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Link drop:

https://phys.org/news/2017-05-distrust-experts-human.html

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

Interesting point. Maybe it isn't CC. I need to think that through a bit.

May 12, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"Today, in the early days of the Trump administration, roughly nine-in-ten Democrats (89%) say news media criticism keeps leaders in line (sometimes called the news media’s “watchdog role”), while only about four-in-ten Republicans (42%) say the same."

The obvious explanation is that journalists are mostly left-wing, and therefore are more effective at watchdogging right-wing administrations than left-wing ones, and more popular with left-wingers for doing so. It was especially noticeable during the GW Bush years (rightwingers called it "BDS"), and it seems to have reappeared with even greater intensity under Trump.

The question is, why are most journalists left wing? Do only left-wingers apply? Or is there discrimination in those who get/stay employed?

--
Jonathan, from your link:

"To restore trust in experts, we need to remember they are, first and foremost, human beings."

I don't think that's precisely the issue. People who doubt experts are well aware that experts are human and therefore both policy partisans and fallible. They're not distrustful because they think they're not - they're distrustful because they think they are.

The climate scientist Stephen Schneider expressed the core principle of partisan science more clearly:

On the one hand, as scientists we are ethically bound to the scientific method, in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but — which means that we must include all the doubts, the caveats, the ifs, ands, and buts. On the other hand, we are not just scientists but human beings as well. And like most people we’d like to see the world a better place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we need to get some broad based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This ‘double ethical bind’ we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.

The people who doubt climate scientists do so because they believe the 'experts' are picking a point on the 'effective-to-honest' spectrum more towards the 'effective' end. They believe the scientists doing that are fallible, and can make mistakes.

Trust in experts can only be restored by *forgetting* that scientists are fallible partisans, and to believe as we once did that they are impartial seekers after truth, following wherever the evidence leads, and that 'peer reviewed science' means someone has checked it and excluded the possibility of any errors.

What I think your article is arguing is not that we have forgotten that scientists are human, but that we ought (for some reason never adequately explained) to trust them without question *despite* the fact they are human, and therefore fallible partisans. (Although presumably the same thing doesn't apply to the experts put forward by the other side.) It is, in effect, a call to have absolute faith in the approved scientific authorities (of the author's preferred side) precisely *because* they make mistakes. Our faith in experts must be blind to human bias/fallibility *because* scepticism would only lead to distrust of those experts.

The thing that puzzles me, though, is why anyone would think this argument would have any merit - to the point where they published it as a 'serious' article on phys.org? Isn't the illogic obvious? Or does "motivated cognition" mean that the authors genuinely cannot see it?

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

The NYTimes (again) has collected "experts" who can rank importance of issues (y axis, increasing) versus "normalcy" - left undefined - on the x axis (also increasing). Windmills are presumably included with climate change policy changes: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/upshot/how-abnormal-was-comeys-firing-experts-weigh-in.html?_r=0

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Jonathan -

Methinks you might find this interesting...in particular the bits that are directly lied to CC:

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/beautiful-minds/the-personality-of-political-correctness/

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

Thanks for that link - very interesting. But frustratingly, with all of its supporting links, the article omits the link to the Brophy Peterson study that it is primarily about. I can't find any such paper in the usual places.

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

Yeah, the writer if the blog post where i got the link count find it either. There us thus, though:

https://youtu.be/sHcy4R0ZWw8

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Btw, just for the record, my instinctive reaction is that most of their conclusions- are bullshit, although I don't doubt that there is at least some validity to their data and recognize the problematic nature of not being able to support my intuitive skepticism with a data-based argument.

May 13, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

There is no article link because no psychology journal will publish Peterson - however he has a forthcoming book, already expected to be a bestseller in his native Canada and, I hope, elsewhere as well:
http://torontolife.com/city/u-t-professor-sparked-vicious-battle-gender-neutral-pronouns/

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

I watched the youtube video. There's some of what they're saying that I find believable - such as the existence of left authoritarianism. There's also a lot of justification that I don't think amounts to much - such as the Freudian mother-role-gone-wild stuff. Also, I think I read somewhere that their view on conscientiousness is perhaps outdated - that the correlate with right-wing politics is really the orderliness component, and not the industriousness component of conscientiousness. I'll see if I can find that paper - it wasn't too long ago.

Anyway, their equation of "PC egalitarian = Liberal" seems also a bit far fetched - there are liberals who argue against PC-ness (although this might be subject to the no-true-Scotsman fallacy).

But, their thesis that sensitivity to offence is independent from the political scale, and produces different reactions on either side - that seems very plausible.

As far as "no psychology journal will publish Peterson" is concerned - that's not what I found:
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=wL1F22UAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Ok - weird. When I said this:

"Also, I think I read somewhere that their view on conscientiousness is perhaps outdated - that the correlate with right-wing politics is really the orderliness component, and not the industriousness component of conscientiousness. I'll see if I can find that paper - it wasn't too long ago."

I didn't expect to find a source and see Jordan Peterson as a coauthor! But I did: DOI: 10.1177/0146167210366854

So, about that part of the youtube video when he remarks about liberals and conservatives needing each other in order to start new ventures (liberals) and run them (conservatives), the rationalization he appears to give seems to misrepresent his own research. Unless, when he says conscientiousness in the video, he's referring only to orderliness - but the context suggests otherwise.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

=={ There's some of what they're saying that I find believable - such as the existence of left authoritarianism. There's also a lot of justification that I don't think amounts to much - such as the Freudian mother-role-gone-wild stuff. }==

Agreed on both accounts.

But more generally, I think that their confidence in associations between temperament and ideology are stretched beyond usefulness. Although obviously I don't have a carefully controlled database to compare against theirs, I do have a lifetime of interpersonal experiences and observations that tell me, for example, that the differences between individual conservatives with respect to "compassion" are far greater than the difference between "conservatives" and "liberals" in that regard. Perhaps other assemblages of data would confirm the patterns they describe, but unless I see further confirmation of their data analysis , and cross-validation of their methodology to assign levels of compassion in the real world to the answers to questions respondents gave on their surveys , I will at best remain dubious of their conclusion that "conservatives" as a group are meaningfully less compassionate than "liberals" as a group.

=={ Also, I think I read somewhere that their view on conscientiousness is perhaps outdated - that the correlate with right-wing politics is really the orderliness component, and not the industriousness component of conscientiousness. I'll see if I can find that paper - it wasn't too long ago. }==

I'd like to read it if you find it.

=={ Anyway, their equation of "PC egalitarian = Liberal" seems also a bit far fetched - there are liberals who argue against PC-ness (although this might be subject to the no-true-Scotsman fallacy). }==

I find the notion that PC-ness is disproportionately distributed across ideological boundaries to be implausible (what would the causal mechanism be) in addition to in contrast to obvious evidence (e.g., the constant wails about political incorrectness I see every time I read "conservative" blogs or read/watch/listen to "conservative" media - mainstream and otherwise).


=={ But, their thesis that sensitivity to offence is independent from the political scale, and produces different reactions on either side - that seems very plausible. }==

I also agree with that, and agree that it is plausible.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

both counts, also.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Joshua,

"But more generally, I think that their confidence in associations between temperament and ideology are stretched beyond usefulness. ... I will at best remain dubious of their conclusion that "conservatives" as a group are meaningfully less compassionate than "liberals" as a group."

I have seen other studies to the effect that compassion correlates with being liberal - I can find them if you'd like, but I suspect following the references/cites from that Jordan Peterson paper I linked would get you there. My own take is that this might be another case (like conscientiousness) where diving into the sub-components would shed more light. Specifically, I suspect that being liberal correlates with non-group-specific compassion while conservative correlates with own-group-specific compassion. I may have read something to that effect, but it feels at this point like my own opinion, so I'll go with that. I think there is more complexity here still, such as the possibility that liberals can view an individual or group to be "in power" and hence less worthy of compassion, and a corresponding "shunning" on the conservative side via exclusion from the own-group.

A meta-opinion is that liberals, due to their non-group-specific compassion, and due to their view that compassion is a very important positive personality trait, really don't want any such correlation result - they'd rather it be that non-group-specific compassion be equally possible from everyone.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -

=={ I have seen other studies to the effect that compassion correlates with being liberal - I can find them if you'd like, but I suspect following the references/cites from that Jordan Peterson paper I linked would get you there. My own take is that this might be another case (like conscientiousness) where diving into the sub-components would shed more light. }==

I've seen some arguments presented along those lines also. I remain unconvinced, however. My sense is that people express compassion in different ways and feel compassion differently on different issues - in association with ideological orientation (and socialization). For example, Libz are more likely to feel compassion for people who risk their lives to trek thousands of miles through dangerous landscapes in order to work hard to sent meager amounts of money back to their starving families, whereas Conz feel compassion for a young woman who was murdered by someone foreign born who doesn't have documents to be in the country and came back here after being deported numerous times. Or maybe even there, both groups have heaps o' compassion in each context, but choose to express that compassion different when asked questions about their compassion. And my guess is that it is naive to think that you're going to get some kind of clear answer about how people are differentiated across group identification by asking a decontextualized set of questions to ascertain "temperament." IMO, temperament is almost always context-related when it comes to attitudes or beliefs (as opposed to physiological markers or physical behaviors) - particularly if you're trying to identify something meaningful w/r/t group-associated differences across groups in comparison to within groups.

Not to mention that I don't get how it's supposed to work. Does being born into a (liberal) compassionate family change your brain structure so that you, also, tend to be more compassionate? So that, then, overrides the outcomes of your brain architecture? Or are some people born with a brain architecture that tends them towards being compassionate, and thus people become liberal or conservative, depending?

=={ Specifically, I suspect that being liberal correlates with non-group-specific compassion while conservative correlates with own-group-specific compassion. }==

Having spent a lot of time in Asia and working with Asians (and other cultures) in breaking down cultural differences, that makes some sense to me...as I believe that I have seen group/cultural differences in attitudes vis a vis in-group/out group identity and attitudes (briefly, Asians have a different hierarchy in terms of importance of collectivism versus individualism). But I think that such generalized differences across cultures with long histories of distinguishing experiences and with completely different languages are much more likely to be of a meaningful and measurable magnitude as compared to those differences within a national culture on the basis of ideology - especially if that culture is, in itself, an amalgam of different cultures.

=={ I may have read something to that effect, but it feels at this point like my own opinion, so I'll go with that. I think there is more complexity here still, such as the possibility that liberals can view an individual or group to be "in power" and hence less worthy of compassion, and a corresponding "shunning" on the conservative side via exclusion from the own-group. }==

Maybe - but the opinions about who is a "in-group" differ. Consider the self-victimization from Conz about how they are treated unfairly by "The librul MSM," and as such, no doubt, deserving of compassion.

=={ A meta-opinion is that liberals, due to their non-group-specific compassion, and due to their view that compassion is a very important positive personality trait, really don't want any such correlation result - they'd rather it be that non-group-specific compassion be equally possible from everyone. }==

That certainly seems to hold up to me as a logical conjecture, given the premise that Libz have more compassion for out-groups....but I don't buy it. I think that Conz have as much compassion for out-groups as do Libz, and Libz have as much animosity towards out-groups as do Conz...it's just that they define in- and out-groups based on a CC filter. Or at least if there are group differences in some generalized and ideologically independent way, they are small in an absolute sense, and dwarfed by the influence of CC, and dwarfed by the comparative intra-group diversity (the distance between the outliers in each group is far greater than the difference between the averages of the groups relative to each other).

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan -

Sorry - that should have read...

Maybe - but the opinions about who is "in-power" differ. Consider the self-victimization from Conz about how they are treated unfairly by "The librul MSM," and as such, no doubt, deserving of compassion.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

I suppose that the following needs more thought:

IMO, temperament is almost always context-related when it comes to attitudes or beliefs (as opposed to physiological markers or physical behaviors) - particularly if you're trying to identify something meaningful w/r/t group-associated differences across groups in comparison to within groups.

Since temperament is by definition innate, I guess that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. What I guess I was going for is that the manifestation of one's temperament is context specific - particularly if you're talking about emotions or attitudes or the expression of beliefs. Does one's temperamental emotional character show a consistent signal across all contexts? I tend to doubt it. Although person A's general emotional temperament might be characteristically different than person B's...I doubt that it would play out across all contexts (e.g., person A might be more volatile in general but less volatile in association with a particular issue), or even w/r/t how one answers a battery of questions about beliefs. I suppose that if I looked at their assessment tool I could become more convinced, but I am dubious that they can measure a how a temperament like "compassion" plays out in the real world (with all the contextual variables) by asking a (abstracted) serious of questions.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Jonathan - the link you posted
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=wL1F22UAAAAJ&hl=en&oi=ao
has exactly one item by Peterson himself, his book also mentioned in the Toronto Life article, while all the rest are articles with co-authors, none on the specific topic of political correctness as a form of totalitarianism. However I do not know whether he actually submits to journals any articles on that topic and must therefore qualify my statement to reflect this. Thank you.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Joshua,

"...but I am dubious that they can measure a how a temperament like "compassion" plays out in the real world (with all the contextual variables) by asking a (abstracted) serious of questions."

You probably know by now that I agree with this assessment of surveys. Self-report is already problematic, then add to that problems due to abstraction and separation from the stimulus. And, report honesty - as I alluded to with that "strange behavior" post. But, surveys are the easiest way to get lots of data.

Of course, self-reflection on one's real world experience is also problematic. Perhaps even more so.

May 14, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Peterson's research grant application has been rejected by the Canadian federal government but a crowdfunding effort has already raised enough for at least 2 years of an estimated 5-year effort. The rejected application is available online
https://www.therebel.media/support_jordan_peterson_research
and contains citations specific to his PC research not always included in the google scholar list.

B.1. General Psychometrics and Personality Research: Measurement and Understanding
1. DeYoung, C.G., Peterson, J.B. & Higgins, D.M. (2002). Higher order factors of the big
five predict conformity: Are there neuroses of health? Personality and Individual
Differences, 33, 533-552.
2. Hirsh, J.B., DeYoung, C.G. & Peterson, J.B. (2009). Meta-traits of the Big 5 differentially
predict engagement and restraint of behavior. Journal of Personality, 77, 1-17.
3. DeYoung, C. G., Peterson, J. B., Séguin et al. (2008). Externalizing behavior and the
higher-order factors of the Big Five. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 117, 947-953.
4. DeYoung, C. G., Quilty, L. C., & Peterson, J. B. (2007). Between facets and domains:
Ten aspects of the Big Five. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93, 880-896.
5. DeYoung, C.G., Weisberg, Y.J., Quilty, L.C. & Peterson, J.B. (2013). Unifying the
aspects of the Big Five, the interpersonal circumplex, and trait affiliation. Journal of
Personality, 81, 465-475.
6. DeYoung, C. G., Flanders, J. L., & Peterson, J. B. (2008). Cognitive abilities involved in
insight problem solving: An individual differences model. Creativity Research Journal,
20, 278-290.
7. DeYoung, C. G., Grazioplene, R. G., & Peterson, J. B. (2012). From madness to genius:
The Openness/Intellect trait domain as a paradoxical simplex. Journal of Research in
Personality, 46, 63–78.
8. DeYoung, C. G., Peterson, J. B., & Higgins, D. M. (2005). Sources of Openness:
Cognitive and neuropsychological correlates of the fifth factor of personality. Journal of
Personality, 73, 1-34.
9. Kaufman, S. B., Quilty, L. C., Grazioplene, R. G., Hirsh, J. B., Gray, J. R., Peterson, J.
B., & DeYoung, C. G. (2016). Openness to Experience and Intellect differentially predict
creative achievement in the arts and sciences. Journal of Personality, 84, 248–258.
10. DeYoung, C.G., Quilty, L.C., Peterson, J.B. & Gray, J.R. (2014). Openness to
experience, intellect and cognitive ability. Journal of Personality Assessment, 96, 46-52.
11. Hirsh, J. B., & Peterson, J. B. (2009). Personality and language use in self-narratives.
Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 524-527.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

Jonathan -


=={ . But, surveys are the easiest way to get lots of data. }==

Yes, and their data are information and the patterns they reveal are interesting.... I'm just not sold on their confidence in their conclusions - particularly lacking a well-articulated mechanism.

What I would find interesting would be a real-world assessment of how compassionate people are in real-world circumstances, in association with political ideology. IMO, that would be perhaps a more useful way to form conclusions, but at least should be some kind of requirement before drawing such confident conclusions. The first thing I thought of when I heard what they were saying about compassion was the stuff you hear about charitable giving among libz vs. conz (of course, those comparisons are usually pretty bogus, but they do put into question the argument that conz are significantly less compassionate than libz, and also the question of whether the in-group/out-group issue is a moderator or mediator).

=={ Of course, self-reflection on one's real world experience is also problematic. Perhaps even more so. }==

I'm not getting your framework of self-report in contrast to self-reflection. They seem more complimentary to me than contrasting....

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

PS additional articles included in application linked in previous post. The entire application is very interesting.

Note to Dan Kahan

The reason you are obtaining improbable predictions using the CC covariance matrix is that the underlying system is nonlinear. (I am assuming that CC is a model similar to that analyzed by the sociologist Robert K. Merton on shifting allegiances among in- and out-groups). You are probably familiar with the Lorenz equations - now called chaotic systems - but Lorenz got the concept from Poincare, in this passage:

https://brocku.ca/MeadProject/Poincare/Poincare_1905_12.html
page 190
"....The state of a system at a given moment depends on two things —its initial state, and the law according to which that state varies. If we know both this law and this initial state, we have a simple mathematical problem to solve, and we fall back upon our first degree of ignorance. Then it often happens that we know the law and do not know the initial state. It may be asked, for instance, what is the present distribution of the minor planets? We know that from all time they have obeyed the laws of Kepler, but we do not know what was their initial distribution. In the kinetic theory of gases we assume that the gaseous molecules follow recti-linear paths and obey the laws of impact and elastic bodies; yet as we know nothing of their initial velocities, we know nothing of their present velocities. The calculus of probabilities alone enables us to predict the mean phenomena which will result from a combination of these velocities. This is the second degree of ignorance. Finally it is possible, that not only the initial conditions but the laws themselves are unknown. We then reach the third degree of ignorance, and in general we can no longer affirm anything at all as to the probability of a phenomenon...."

If the CC specs are updated in regular intervals and the predictions only concern one interval ahead then a Kalman filter should work. Predicting flow reversal - at what point do people revolt against prescriptions of PC and turn into boorish trolls regardless of scientific expertise? - is of course by far the more interesting question, but at least you know short-term you are at Poincare's ignorance level 1 or 2, not 3.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterEcoute Sauvage

On the question of whether "values" and "beliefs" are a consistent measure of why people form political opinions, as compared to the mechanism of CC, or the subset of behaviors related to CC: identity- aggressive/defensive behaviors.

Here is how it works: Rather than defend President Trump’s specific actions, his conservative champions change the subject to (1) the biased “fake news” media, (2) over-the-top liberals, (3) hypocrites on the left, (4) anyone else victimizing Mr. Trump or his supporters and (5) whataboutism, as in “What about Obama?” “What about Clinton?”

And related to the findings that because of innate temperament, conz are more inclined towards orderliness than libz:

But perhaps most important, we saw once again how conservatism, with its belief in ordered liberty, is being eclipsed by something different: Loathing those who loathe the president. Rabid anti-anti-Trumpism.

That view is consistent with mine, in that trying to tie differential temperament to the ideological identification of libz and conz doesn't properly account for contextual (real-world) influences: The prioritization of a temperamental inclination towards order among conz is conditional.


Of course, I see no reason to think that identity-protective cognition predominating (relative to conservatives' "values") as an explanation for how conz are acting, that Sykes is describing there, is something new as the result of Trump, nor that it is a phenomenon that is disproportionately true of conz compared to libz.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Link drop:

http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2017/05/the-primacy-of-doubt-in-an-age-of-illusory-certainty.html


Joshua: "I'm not getting your framework of self-report in contrast to self-reflection. They seem more complimentary to me than contrasting...." I didn't mean to imply contrast, unless they lead to contrasting beliefs.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

" Specifically, I suspect that being liberal correlates with non-group-specific compassion while conservative correlates with own-group-specific compassion."

I'd say they're both equally compassionate about those they consider "deserving", but they define that in different ways, and propose different solutions. (You can look up the studies on which gives more to charity yourselves - while it's debatable that conservatives give more, as commonly claimed, I don't see any saying they give notably less.)

The different definitions mean that when (mostly liberal) social science researchers set questions to measure "compassion", they pick characteristically liberal definitions. For example, they often reference inequality rather than absolute poverty, or they'll use examples of inequality of outcome that liberals care about, rather than the inequality of opportunity that conservatives do. It's subtle. But it's precisely the sort of bias you would predict when the political balance among social science researchers is so lop-sided.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

NiV,

"Although the term bleeding-heart liberal is often used pejoratively, the current findings suggest that liberals do indeed tend to have higher levels of compassion. These higher levels of compassion likely contribute to the liberal’s preference for fairness and equality. In contrast, the term compassionate conservative may be something of an oxymoron. It is true that individuals with a more balanced personality profile may endorse both conservative and liberal values, but conservatism as a political orientation appears to be negatively associated with compassion. This does not mean there are no compassionate conservatives, but it suggests that the extent to which conservatives are compassionate may reflect the extent to which they possess the underlying motivation driving the liberal value of egalitarianism."

DOI: 10.1177/0146167210366854

You're welcome to argue your point with Jordan Peterson et al.

May 15, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Related to my conversation with myself about whether there is a trend towards increased cultural cognition:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/even-the-biggest-scandals-cant-kill-party-loyalty/

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"You're welcome to argue your point with Jordan Peterson et al."

Sure. Checking the questions for which they were reporting a correlation, they're mostly about the sociability aspects of asking about people's well-being, taking time for others, taking an interest in others, being interested in others problems, and so on. OK, I can see several ways that might come about. But then Hirsh et al. jumps from this to the speculation: "These higher levels of compassion likely contribute to the liberal’s preference for fairness and equality" completely without evidence.

The speculation assumes that 'fairness' and 'equality' are equivalent (a liberal position), and that the problems the compassionate person is likely to be expressing sympathy for are the ones of 'unfairness' and 'inequality' that liberals are most concerned about. It assumes that the reason for conservative lack of concern about inequality is because they're just generally unsympathetic with other people, rather than that they disagree about what's 'fair'. (See Aesop's fable of the 'Ant and the Grasshopper' for the distinction.)

The body of the study reports some correlations about one aspect of personality, but then jumps to unsupported conclusions about its causal connection with a particular conservative value. It's a common liberal stereotype that conservatives don't care about 'fairness and equality' because they lack compassion - the authors are simply repeating this trope without evidence.

It's not even as if this metric necessarily measures the sort of compassion that would cause that sort of concern for others. I know people who are intensely shy and hate that sort of socialising, and will dismiss with contempt all the shallow people griping about their self-inflicted first-world problems, but they'll give up their job or give their last penny for a friend in desperate trouble. (They're often people who have been in horrific difficulties themselves.) I also know people who are always on the social circuit and will sypathise vocally and at length with all your troubles, but wouldn't actually go out of their way to offer any more material help. They just like talking to people. There are lots of different aspects to personality which metrics like this don't capture, and you can't make deductions about what people who score highly on one aspect will do on another, just on the label attached to the measure. Most of the names used are only very crude indications of what they're really measuring.

The study makes a potentially valuable contribution pointing out that 'agreeableness' has a problem in being composed of two sub-characteristics that move in opposite directions (although I think they could go a lot further along that line of thought) - but everything else they derive or conclude from that observation is the result of the usual liberal bias. If there were a few more conservative reviewers around in social science, it might have been pointed out to them before they published.

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

Link Drop:

https://neurosciencenews.com/inferred-real-visual-objects-6690/

It's about visual perceptual confusion, but might a similar process help explain some CC? Might the combination of our ability to tie together non-semantically-contiguous information into a single cohesive narrative, by bypassing our error signal triggered reflective correction mechanisms, appear to us as more reliable than more fully developed information sources?

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan

Jonathan -


=={ It's about visual perceptual confusion, but might a similar process help explain some CC? Might the combination of our ability to tie together non-semantically-contiguous information into a single cohesive narrative, by bypassing our error signal triggered reflective correction mechanisms, appear to us as more reliable than more fully developed information sources? }==

It certainly looks to me like a kissin' cousin to CC. IMO, CC is rooted in our foundational cognitive process of pattern finding (along with our basic psychological need to protect our identity) - which is why I highly doubt that CC is disproportionately allocated across ideological orientation (i.e., it is rooted in shared human attributes that are deeper in our makeup than ideological orientation).

The article you linked seems to me to be somewhat related to this

Which I have always considered to also be a kissin' cousin to "motivated reasoning," if not actually an example of "motivated reasoning."

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

=={ ... but everything else they derive or conclude from that observation is the result of the usual liberal bias. }==

What confidence!

Fascinating.

Apophenia strikes again!

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

Or perhaps Agenticity would be more accurate?

May 16, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterJoshua

"It's about visual perceptual confusion, but might a similar process help explain some CC? Might the combination of our ability to tie together non-semantically-contiguous information into a single cohesive narrative, by bypassing our error signal triggered reflective correction mechanisms, appear to us as more reliable than more fully developed information sources?"

Maybe, but as an argument for trusting Argument from Authority (which I presume is what you mean by "more fully developed information sources"), I'd say it lacks something. It would be confirming the consequent to take it as more than one of an infinity of alternative hypotheses.

Are you arguing that people ought always to take the assertions of experts as more reliable than the evidence of their own direct perceptions? Or is is possible that it's actually the more rational and justified position to take, despite perception's known fallibility? (If so, would it constitute CC?)

I'd put up the example of the stage magician again. Perceptual illusions conflict with other sources about what's possible. What do most people consider the most reliable source of information, and why? What's the justification? When is it triggered? How do people balance the competing evidence - if they do - and on what sort of basis? Emotional? Evidential? Cultural?

"What confidence! Fascinating. Apophenia strikes again!"

Evidence? Argument? Oh, no. We don't do those any more!

You seem remarkably confident that opinions disagreeing with your prior beliefs must be apophenia for someone decrying overconfidence. Can you describe what sort of argument wouldn't be explainable as apophenia? Is your theory falsifiable?

May 17, 2017 | Unregistered CommenterNiV

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