Research explains Republicans

New research suggests that misinformed people rarely change their minds when presented with the facts — and often become even more attached to their beliefs. The finding raises questions about a key principle of a strong democracy: that a well-informed electorate is best.

Sound familiar?

See and hear the story here.

Comments

  1. #1 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 15, 2010

    The original paper can be found here:

    http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bnyhan/nyhan-reifler.pdf

    The attack on Republicans seems unjustified. They studied a left wing factual issue in the study as well (whether Bush had banned stem-cell research). In that case, while liberals did not have a backfire effect, they didn’t substantially change their viewpoint. This appears to be a general problem, not a specifically right-wing problem.

  2. #2 Russell
    July 15, 2010

    IIRC, what Bush did was eliminate federal funding for any institution that did embryonic stem-cell research, outside a few existing lines of cells. Which was a ridiculous concession to the religious right.

  3. #3 Bob Calder
    July 15, 2010

    Can you say Global Warming Deniers?

    Does anybody think there is the slightest chance of catching whoever stole the email files at East Anglia?

  4. #4 Greg Laen
    July 15, 2010

    An attack on Republicans unjustified? in 2010? No, sorry, not until the dry up and blow away.

    Joshua, show me the Democratic Party analogs to Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen, Joe Wilson, and for that matter Joe the Plumber. There are none. None.

    Sow me the Republican analog to Paul Wellstone and Al Franken. Zip, zippo, nada.

    And even if you can name one or two, for every one you name there are ten opposite counterparts.

    And no fair naming old and dead Republicans. The Democratic Party today is the party of Kennedy and Wellstone as well as Obama and Biden. The Republican Party today is the party of Sarah Palin, on a good day.

    (I admit my remark is not about the study. I just assumed that the study would be helpful if we wanted to try to understand the deniers and anti science symps.)

    Regarding liberal vs. Conservative, the bias is clearly demonstrated in the paper:

    did not have a statistically significant effect on individuals who described themselves as liberal, somewhat left of center, or centrist. But most importantly, the effect of the correction for individuals who placed themselves to the right of center ideologically is statistically significant and positive. In other words, the correction backfired –
    conservatives who received a correction telling them that Iraq did not have WMD were more likely to believe that Iraq had WMD than those in the control condition.2

    IOW, when conservatives/Republicans face facts that disprove their biased presuppositions, they cling harder to their biased presuppositions, while Liberals do not .

  5. #5 John Kwok
    July 15, 2010

    # Greg Laen -

    Liberals can be as stubborn as Conservatives in “their biased presuppositions” as certain events and activities, such as Jenny McCarthy’s anti-vaccination “crusade” illustrate (And I am not saying that she, herself, is a liberal, but rather, that her views have been gaining some support via publicity at that well-known “conservative” periodical, The Huffington Post.).

    Former University of Virginia Provost Paul R. Gross has spent years documenting liberal biases against sound scientfic research, as well as, with Barbara Forrest, studying the “evolutionary history” of the Discovery Institute and Intelligent Design creationism.

    However, I do not need to delve into Gross’s work (which I have heard of, but haven’t read), to realize that science denialism isn’t confined only to many of my fellow Republicans. Poll after poll has shown that approximately 60% of Americans reject biological evolution as valid mainstream science. That percentage includes not just Republicans, but many Democrats and Independents too.

  6. #6 Greg Laden
    July 15, 2010

    Kwok, yes, that’s true that there are a lot of people who are passively liberals but who are basically numskulls.

  7. #7 steve
    July 15, 2010

    “Sow me the Republican analog to Paul Wellstone and Al Franken. Zip, zippo, nada.

    And even if you can name one or two, for every one you name there are ten opposite counterparts.”

    so if you name two, it’s a valid point, and if your opponent does, it’s not…?

    Anyway, Huffpo pretty much puts the lie to this post’s title.

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    July 15, 2010

    steve, you are obviously a republican, because you have no sense whatsoever.

    How does HufPo prove that Republicans are not ideologic morons? It doesn’t.

  9. #9 Paco
    July 15, 2010

    Shows that you can’t just throw facts at people, they have to be able to think. At least scientists have some practice considering an opposing point of view before rejecting it.

    For how education could be better, consider: http://www.ferris.edu/library/reference/cti/rhetoric.doc

  10. #10 Marion Delgado
    July 16, 2010

    almost every part of that story is despicable BS.

    the summary is wrong: the lines beforehand raise no questions on the idea that an informed elctorate is best.

    and it does NOT surprise me that the dreadful dana milbank would wonder if facts had ever changed anyone’s mind.

    a personal note:

    I once noted a FRONT PAGE story in the WaPo (that was being recirculated, often as a front-page story, in countless other newspapers) about how a given poll was the first time a majority of Americans polled had said the Iraq invasion had not made Americans safer.

    Problem: a little more than a year before, an almost identical poll had gotten almost identical results, with a majority of Americans polled saying the Iraq invasion had not made Americans safer.

    The story had the byline of Milbank and the Washington Post polling editor. So I contacted an editor I know and reviewed it, then (under my given name, not my pen name) I contacted the WaPo. Not millbank, but the polling editor. But i left a message for Milbank as well.

    What was the WaPo’s rationalization? after all, it was the same exact firm over a year ago doing the same poll?

    Well this time around, the WaPo had been part of commissioning the same poll, along with ABC and some minor partners

    Whereas, the year before, only ABC and the minor partners commissioned it.

    So, according to the WaPo, that poll had never happened.

    then they gave some nonsense about how them not commissioning it made the poll different, and how they only used their own polls anyway.

    And that – that justified a front page story saying “for the first time…”

    And that – that, to me, sums up Dana Milbank.

    Along with Milbank’s childish and disturbing op-ed openly mocking John Conyers and the House Democrats when they were physically prevented by Capitol police under orders from the then GOP majority from meeting in Congressional buildings and had to meet in a basement like a Communist cell.

  11. #11 Marion Delgado
    July 16, 2010

    I also question the relevance:

    “Sometimes, the facts don’t matter.”

    “Sometimes, you win the lottery.”

    The study itself doesn’t really do more than make a small start towards establishing how often or under what conditions.

    If the clue phone ringer hadn’t been turned off by NPR and the WaPo a long time ago, it’d be ringing now, and the message would be, “virtually everyone has had their minds changed by the facts. It’s an astonishing question.”

    Having your mind changed by the facts is, actually, the norm – and for everyone. You think you have milk in the fridge, you open the fridge, no milk. Facts have changed your mind.

    What’s not the norm is when “sometimes” the facts don’t change your mind, and that’s why that’s an interesting area of study.

  12. #12 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ Greg -

    There are unfortunately, ample instances where liberals are as unscientific as conservatives and Republicans, as for example, the Huffington Post’s interest in – if not support – of anti-vaccination movements. I wish that some liberals would realize how important some conservatives have been in fighting Intelligent Design creationism, of which the two most noteworthy examples are biologist Paul R. Gross and Federal Judge John Jones.

    Science Denialism is not simply a trait that is confined solely to those of one poltiical party or orientation. It is a problem that cuts across vast segments of the American populace, and includes many Democrats and Independents as well as Republicans.

  13. #13 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 16, 2010

    Greg, I don’t need to give you examples of liberal equivalents of Michelle Bachmann because I’m not arguing for parity between the current political parties (in fact I think there’s a lot more anti-science and general reality denial on the right than there is on the left. That could be due to my own cognitive biases causing me to see the group I’m closer to as better but I doubt it. There are limits to how much tribalism will alter one’s thinking, especially when one is aware of the danger). The issue though is very simple: saying this research “explains Republicans” is misleading given that it showed essentially the same results on both sides of the political spectrum. If you want to argue that the weaker effect on the political left is substantial that would be a distinct claim, but given the sample sizes, and the small number of questions, I’d find that to be a deeply unconvincing claim with the data available.

  14. #14 Paul S.
    July 16, 2010

    It’s humorous (and a little scary) to see people get so partisan that they actually try to scientifically “prove” that their opponents are idiots.

  15. #15 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ Paul S. -

    Agreed. It isn’t just scary but quite pathetic.

  16. #16 Wowbagger
    July 16, 2010

    John Kwok wrote:

    Agreed. It isn’t just scary but quite pathetic.

    You should know, John – since those are two of the top three words people use to describe you; the third, of course, being ‘deranged’.

  17. #17 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 16, 2010

    Kwow, if one wanted to show that Republicans are idiots one would more likely point to the GSS data which shows that in the US people who self-identify as liberal have on average a larger vocabularly than people who self-identify as conservative. There is something deeply wrong with the Republican party today and with American conservativism. Inaccuracy of Greg’s summary of this recent research doesn’t alter that fact.

  18. #18 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ Wowbagger -

    Gee whiz. You’re really trying hard to demonstrate to everyone that you are a delusional ignorant intellectual troll. Just keep it up. I’ll be sure to remember you in my will.

    I’ll be sure to ask my friends next time if those three words describe me. Am sure they will say that those very words are more approrpriately succinct descriptions of the behaviors of those who are making such accusations against me replete in their breathtaking inanity.

  19. #19 daedalus2u
    July 16, 2010

    It isn’t Republican vs Democrat, it is top-down vs bottom-up.

    Dr Novella has a post relating to Nobel laureates who go over to the dark side.

    http://www.theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=2116

    It is a social hierarchy issue. In a top-down social hierarchy, power comes from the top and trickles down. In the “reality based community”, facts and logic form the basis for ideas and actions, not the whims of the person at the top.

    This is why power corrupts and why absolute power corrupts absolutely. In a social hierarchy, you get hangers on, who derive a measure of social status and power by fawning on those at the top with real power. This is what leads to groupthink and the isolation of those at the top from the facts that come from the bottom up.

    All politics has a measure of this, but conservative politics has more. Patriarchal religions have a large measure of this too. All top-down social power hierarchies do.

    When your power derives from the hierarchy, you don’t have the luxury of paying attention to facts.

  20. #20 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    You may believe that yours is a novel means of interpreting this paper, however, your very observation could apply quite well to the Socialist-oriented totalitarian dictatorships of the 20th and 21st Centuries (Am referring of course not only to Communism, but also Nazism, and the Islamofascist dictatorships that have been a longstanding feature of Middle Eastern politics for decades.).

  21. #21 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ Joshua -

    Prefer to be addressed by my first name please. I believe we botn need to look at Paul Gross’s work at some point. You are making an assertion that, while it may be emotionally true, may not be supported by the facts, when I have noted that science denialism, especially with respect to both biological evoloution and global warming, isnt’t a trait confined exclusively to Republicans and Conservatives, who represent a minority of the American electorate. For you to express such confidence in asserting that science denialism is an acute problem more prevalent amongst my fellow Conservatives and Republicans, then you need to take into account why such rampant science denialism, with respect to both evolution and global warming, is expressed by many Democrats and Independents too.

  22. #22 LightningRose
    July 16, 2010

    What this study confirms is my long standing contention that while not all conservatives are stupid, most stupid people are conservative.

    John Kwok, using Adriana Huffington as a sample size of one does not prove your hypothesis. However, please be assured that if anyone can provide evidence you’re *not* a moron, I will happily change my opinion of you.

  23. #23 Greg Laden
    July 16, 2010

    Joshua, I was not summarizing the piece. I was taking an aspect of it and making a point, accurately.

  24. #24 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ LightningRose -

    You’re projecting. I didn’t say that Huffington Post is the only one. And by insisting that “most stupid people are conservative” flies in the face of accurate polling data from as far back as the 1990s, if not before, showing that a substantial proportion of the American electorate are science denialists. Since conservatives and Republicans make up only a small portion of that electorate, then how can you be so smug in your contention, which, regrettably, is replete in its breathtaking inanity?

  25. #25 daedalus2u
    July 16, 2010

    John, yes, all dictatorial regimes are exactly that way. All monarchies, all organizations run in a top-down manner.

    The Emperor’s new clothes is an example of one of the inherent weaknesses of top-down power structures, a top-down system is only as strong or as smart or as observant as the person at the top.

    When the person at the top is only at the top by virtue of the power that being at the top provides, you can have weak fools doing incredibly stupid things.

    Conservative thinking is inherently a more top-down way of viewing things. The nature of conservatism is to believe that the way of doing things in the past has some inherent advantage over new ways of doing things.

    When a system gives any source privileged authority, that system is inherently subject to more “gaming” than a system that does not.

  26. #26 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 16, 2010

    John,

    There’s no question that science denialism is a problem throughout the American political spectrum, but it is very clearly much more of a problem on the American political right than the American political left. The GSS data I just mentioned is but one example of the general anti-intellectual attitude of the modern right-wing. There’s a lot of data that supports this. See for example this Gallup poll http://www.gallup.com/poll/21811/american-beliefs-evolution-vs-bibles-explanation-human-origins.aspx which shows that not only are Republicans more likely to be young earth creationists than Democrats but that that remains the case even after correcting for levels of religiosity. The GSS gives almost identical data and most of the difference is likely attributable to issues of wording.

    If one wants to talk about prominent individual conservatives of liberals, pointing to Huffington is insufficient, since one can easily respond by pointing to remarks by Jindal (volcano monitoring), McCain (bears, planetarium), Palin (fruitflies and a dozen other things). Moreover, it is noteworthy that when these sorts of remarks are made, they get almost zero response from the rank and file Republicans. Appalling remarks have failed to appall the Republican base.

    So the upshot is that although there are clear problems among people who aren’t Republicans, it is very clear that the problems are much more severe among the modern Republican party.

    (And I’ve read what a fair bit of Paul Gross. I’m not sure why you assume that because you haven’t that no one else has. Frankly, what I’ve read hasn’t struck me as terribly relevant to this issue but it is possible that Gross has other works that would be relevant that I’m missing.)

  27. #27 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ Joshua -

    Although he’s best known for exposing much of the Dominationist ties between the likes of Howard Ahmanson and the Dishonesty Institute, Gross has also been critical of liberal biases of science in the sense that they misinterpret what should be regarded as valid science. That definitely should be viewed as science denialism. While I agree that many conservatives express various sentiments with respect to science denialism, the problem isn’t confined only to them. Know of at least one moderate Democrat, Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, who is a Young Earth Creationist. During a West Coast-bound flight out of Washington, DC, immediately after the Obama inauguration, physicist Lisa Randall discussed evolution with a young Obama supporter, a Hollywood actor, who had studied molecular biology in college and then later, taught it at an urban middle school. Much to her amazement, he rejected evolution for essentially the same reasons as YECs, OECs and IDiots (Her encounter was published as part of a series of essays published in response to a question posed by Jerry Coyne and posted at The Edge in late January/early February 2009.).

    Again, I have noted that polling data with respect to evolution denialism must include substantial proportions of both Democrats and Independents, since conservatives still represent a minority of the electorate. However, on the other hand, there is definitely a strong conservative bias with respect to accepting the reality of anthropogenic global warming.

  28. #28 John Kwok
    July 16, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    Think you need to study the history of modern American conservativism. The modern period can be traced to William F. Buckley’s book “God and Man at Yale” and the creation of The National Review, both of which were bottom to the top reactions against the prevailing liberal Eastern Establishment Republican elite. Barry Goldwater’s 1964 President campaign is another manifestation of this bottom-up approach. And, of course, most recently, so too is the Libertarian-oriented Tea Party Movement.

  29. #29 daedalus2u
    July 16, 2010

    John, the tea party stuff is all astro-turf. Astro-turf is top-down pretending to be bottom-up to fool the gullible and delusional sheep.

    The birther stuff can’t be from the bottom-up. Did everyone who is a birther come up with the idea that Obama is not a US citizen on their own? No, they latched onto the lie that the first person who told it said because it matched their feelings that they didn’t like Obama. The hatred for Obama came first, then the delusional rationalization that they hate Obama because he is not a US citizen.

    Sarah Palin’s “death panel” blood libel is top-down too. An Emperor’s new clothes kind of top-down.

    You think “God and Man at Yale” is bottom-up? He is protesting academic freedom, he wanted top-down control of academics. The Abrahamic religions are all top-down. Buckley wanted old ideas to have a privileged position. Why? Simply because he asserts that they should.

    You can’t even appreciate that your ideas are all top-down. If you can’t derive the idea from facts from the bottom up, then it isn’t a bottom-up idea, it is a top-down belief.

  30. #30 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    You really need to read some history, or at least be cognizant of it. None of the major conservative movements in the United States – at least in the last eighty years – have owed their origins to an intellectual elite who were issuing “directives” from their academic think tanks. As I have pointed out, the current conservative movement owes its origins to young conservative intellectuals like William F. Buckley who saw themselves as dissidents opposing the established Eastern Establishment Republican base consisting then of moderates and liberals. And, I might add, this has been a persistent theme in American history as far back as the American Revolution, if not before (May I suggest reading the works of Brown University historian Gordon Wood, who was the one who really emphasized the radical nature of the American Revolution and how so much of it was a radical movement organized from the middle classes, and not one orchestrated from above via an affluent intelligentsia (though they did of course play leading roles, as evidenced, for example, via Jefferson and Franklin’s participation.).

    I’m not suggesting that your ideas don’t have any merit, and I must commend you for offering some of the most interesting comments I have read here. Unfortunately I don’t believe they are borne out by any American history, especially since the late 1940s.

  31. #31 Joshua Zelinsky
    July 17, 2010

    John, thanks for clarifying about Gross. I’m not arguing that there’s not a shameful problem on the liberal side(the same Gallup poll I cited earlier shows an appalling degree of creationism in Democrats as well), but that the problem is much larger among the Republicans and far more ingrained. I agree that to deal with the general anti-science attitudes in the US we are going to need to deal with them across the political spectrum.

  32. #32 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ Joshua,

    Yes, I agree with you that there is a serious problem with my fellow Republicans with regards to science (Am sure you’re familiar with Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science”, which I regard still as his book so far.). But if you include both Democrats and Independents, then you run the risk of overstating such a case, as for example, polling data on the public’s acceptance of biological evolution for the past twenty years suggests. But having said this, there needs to be recognition from liberals that there are many Republicans, myself included, who reject science denialism, and that – as the cases of Paul Gross and Federal Judge Jones clearly demonstrate – some have been quite influential in exposing the political and religious orientations of the so-called “scientific theory” of Intelligent Design creationism.

  33. #33 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ Joshua -

    A typo -

    Meant to say that I regard Chris Mooney’s “The Republican War on Science” as his best book so far, with “Storm World” a close second. Unfortunately “Unscientific America” doesn’t quite come close to the other two with regards to excellent scientific journalism from the dual perspectives of accurate scientific data and how it influences public policy.

  34. #34 DuWayne
    July 17, 2010

    First I want to be clear that I am most certainly not a fan of William F. Buckley. He was a racist fucking prig and supported a lot of vile nonsense. But to claim that Buckley had anything more than a tangential relation to the modern conservative movement is patently absurd. Buckley was completely fucking mortified by the modern conservative movement before he died.

    As far as how Buckley and other young conservatives and their perception of themselves, who cares? Self-perception and reality are rarely the same. More importantly, the notion that Buckley was somehow a dissident against the intellectual elite is patently absurd. From the beginning he was part of the conservative intellectual elite. He was just a different brand of conservative.

    And, I might add, this has been a persistent theme in American history as far back as the American Revolution, if not before…

    I would be very interested to hear your explanation of the “conservative” elements in the American Revolution. Considering that the conservatives of the day were fucking loyalists, this is just indicative of your abysmal understanding of U.S. American history.

    …and how so much of it was a radical movement organized from the middle classes, and not one orchestrated from above via an affluent intelligentsia (though they did of course play leading roles, as evidenced, for example, via Jefferson and Franklin’s participation.).

    Did you honestly just write that painfully fucking convoluted nonsense? I don’t particularly like you, for a variety of reasons. Actual stupidity isn’t really one of them. I would have thought that you aren’t actually as stupid as one would necessarily be to actually write that.

    What the fuck do you think top-down means? Can you not comprehend that when you have an intellectual elite, fostering and fomenting discontent and leading a revolution – that this is top down? Are you going to argue that Franklin, with his early dissident writing, Hamilton, Madison and Jay, with the Federalist, Thomas Paine with common sense and Jefferson, Franklin, Sherman, Adams and Livingston’s drafting of the Declaration of Independence – critical components of the Revolutionary War, were somehow the salt of the earth, as it were? Are you honestly going to try to claim that Washington was middle class?

    Yes, the American Revolution was fostered in a lot of radical notions. They were also very liberal radical notions. The idea that “all men are created equal” was so very radical, that for decades after, it was really just a pop term that had no meaning in the reality of the day.

    Unfortunately I don’t believe they are borne out by any American history, especially since the late 1940s.

    History is largely in the eye of the beholder. I just finished reading and responding to an essay yesterday (for my World Security class) that was written by one of the leading international studies scholars alive today. It was a load of shit, entirely predicated on a completely erroneous view of Cold War politics – ie. that the Cold War had a stabilizing effect on global politics and that the turbulence we have experienced since is the result of the end of the Cold War.

    We aren’t talking about some idiot blogger making this claim, we’re talking about a leader in his field, one of the people who created this post-Cold War paradigm. And he is dead fucking wrong. There are some few aspects of his essay that aren’t bullshit, but because of the fundamental premise, the whole thing is a wash.

    You want to talk about the conservative movement of the late nineteen forties? It was entirely predicated on fear, fostered by elites at the top and the anomaly of McCarthy, who was a paranoid fucking lunatic capable of whipping up a near religious fervor. But like most inconvenient anomalies, he was quietly disposed of when his usefulness turned into inconvenience.

    The politics of the state are inherently a top down phenom. Whether you are talking about conservatives or liberals, socialists or libertarians – it is all top down. As the nation state paradigm undergoes some massive shifts, as the power continues to shift into the hands of other entities, this is likely to change to some degree – hopefully for the better, though better will likely be relative and take a while. There is no question whatever, that individuals globally, have power unprecedented in the history of nation states.

    But as of yet, there are few, actual grassroot movements that have any kind of real power.

  35. #35 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ DuWayne -

    I am not a fan of Buckley either, especially since he supported Intelligent Design cretinism at the end of his life. But if you want to know how the modern Conservative movement arose, you need to look at his early career, including not just the raison d’etre and the subsequent writing of “God and Man at Yale”, but also how he was able to start up The National Review, and turn it into the leading voice of the then nascent modern Conservative movement.

    As for your understanding of history, it is as putrid as everything else you have said with regards to me over at the Tom Johnson blog thread. Thanks for demonstrating that you are merely a backwoods hick who claims to be educated enough to take a college course on the history of global security.

    As for the American Revolution, it wasn’t top down (unless you consider Sam Adams and Thomas Paine, among the early intellectual leaders of the revolution, as members of the “elite” (And if you do, then yours is a gross distortion of your understanding of the history of the American Revolution.). It was a radical political movement which transformed American society and culture. Suggest you read Gordon Wood’s work, if nothing else to understand how Ken Miller obtained a clearer understanding of the longstanding streak of anti-intellectualism in American history and made a most persuasive argument in “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”. Next to his mentor, Bernard Bailyn of Harvard University, Gordon Wood is regarded now as the preeminent historian of the American Revolution, the drafting of the United States Constitution and the early history of the republic until 1820 (Moron, you may have guessed already that Wood was one of my college professors, but I wasn’t aware of his impact on our understanding of the early history of the United States as a democratic republic until much later.).

  36. #36 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ DuWsyne -

    More so than William F. Buckley, it was Barry Goldwater who was appalled by the modern Conservative movement’s embrace of Fundamentalist Xian zealots and gave a notable address back in 1981 rebuking his fellow Republicans. But it wasn’t Goldwater who founded the modern Conservative moment. Instead, it was Buckley, as the founder and publisher of the National Review, who gave the Conservative movement a an important means to disseminate its views to the general public and become a more unified political movement.

  37. #37 DuWayne
    July 17, 2010

    Kwak -

    Thanks for demonstrating that you are merely a backwoods hick who claims to be educated enough to take a college course on the history of global security.

    Believe me when I say that I am not the least bit impressed with your perceived understanding of U.S. American history. Nor am I impressed with the people you claim to know. And I am especially not impressed by your assessment of me. I have been judged by far better people than you and garnered their respect. I have also been judged on my merit in school and not been found wanting – in spite of an eighteen year gap between dropping out of high school and entering college.

    You are a pathetic fucking putz, who is particularly keen on exposing his abysmal ignorance of virtually everything he touches – with the exception of evolutionary theory. You are a despised, nasty fucking excuse for a man, who gets his jollies by making sexually charged comments about women he doesn’t approve of. And you are a rude fucking bastard who hides behind “polite” language, so as to appear the pathetic victim.

    I don’t need to defend myself from your attacks on my intellect and rhetoric, my writing speaks for itself. Unfortunately for you, so does yours.

  38. #38 John Kwok
    July 17, 2010

    @ DuWayne -

    You’ve just proved my point about you being a backwoods hick. I suggest you read the writings of a retired Brown University historian who is regarded by most historians as our leading authority on the American Revolution and the drafting of the United States Constitution. What makes you think you know more than he does about this subject, especially when he has devoted his entire academic career to it?

    Do you really think I care whom I do know? Can’t you tell when I am pulling your leg, just to see more breathtaking inanity from you and your fellow intellectually-challenged, quite delusional, fanatical Fundamentalist New Atheists (You and your “friends” are doing a great job in promoting Atheism; so much so that I had to read carefully what several prominent – and moderate – atheist philosophers have written on behalf of Atheism as a better alternative to organized reliigon.)?

    I consider myself fortunate that I know some well-known people and count them as friends, not as some crazy creepy stalker type (Though I’m going to plead the fifth on my cousin James Yee – the former United States Army chaplin who was falsely accused of treason for helping some Muslim detainees at Camp Gitmo more than five years ago – since he doesn’t represent or speak on behalf of me and the rest of our extended family.).

    Too bad I can’t expect a reasonable online conversation with you. But what more can I expect from a backwoods hick who thinks he has acquired some quantity – if not quality – of higher education?

  39. #39 DuWayne
    July 17, 2010

    What makes you think you know more than he does about this subject, especially when he has devoted his entire academic career to it?

    I would suggest you reread my comment and explain exactly how it conflicts with Dr. Wood’s perspective. I am not claiming that I know more than Dr. Wood about the Revolutionary War – I am only claiming the very narrow comment I made about the fostering of the U.S. American Revolution. Specifically, I am claiming that yes, it was a top down movement. It was also a very radical movement – I never argued that it wasn’t. Indeed I gave an example of just how radical it was.

    I read The Creation of the American Republic when I was thirteen, btw.

    Do you really think I care whom I do know?

    It is more than a little obvious that you do, given how often you compulsively drop names.

    Can’t you tell when I am pulling your leg…

    Now you’re just lying. And I don’t use that word lightly, but it is exactly what you are doing here.

    I consider myself fortunate that I know some well-known people and count them as friends, not as some crazy creepy stalker type.

    Err…I am not all that sure you know them as anything but a creepy stalker. Though I suppose if you’re not talking about women, it might be true. You have struck me as the sort of coward who would only stalk women. You should be aware though, that some women are armed and/or strong enough to kick your ass.

  40. #40 daedalus2u
    July 17, 2010

    John, you are not understanding what I am meaning by a top-down power hierarchy, I think because you cannot conceive of any other type of social hierarchy. I think that is a blind-spot that conservatives have. A top-down social structure simply feels so right that nothing else can even be thought about.

    Who was at the bottom of the social hierarchy at the time of the American revolution? It wasn’t Washington or Jefferson, it was black female slaves, then black male slaves, then Native Americans, then poor white women, then rich white women, then poor white men, then rich white men. Washington and Jefferson were rich white men. They owned slaves. Jefferson had sex with the black female slave that he had educated to be a playmate for his daughter. Why did he have sex with her? Because he owned her. She was his property. How many black female slaves were key leaders and instigators of the American Revolution? None. The American Revolution would have succeeded with zero input from black female slaves.

    The Abrahamic religions are all top-down. At the top is God, then God’s Prophets, then God’s priests, then God’s followers, then God’s believers. At the bottom are the non-believers. All the Christian BS about “love thy neighbor” always comes after “obey God”. If God says to kill someone, that trumps “love thy neighbor”. The way that God sends the message to kill someone is through His top-down power hierarchy. First He tells His Prophets, they tell His Priests and the priests tell the followers who to kill. Invariably it happens to be those at the bottom of the hierarchy.

    Every type of power hierarchy where there is a “leader” and people who follow the “leader” is a top-down power hierarchy. Even if the “leader” starts at the bottom and works his/her way up, the power structure remains a top-down power hierarchy.

    An academic institution where the faculty are independent and don’t have to obey the “leader” of the school is not a top-down power hierarchy. The situation at Yale was that of a non-top-down power hierarchy, and that so offended Buckley that he wrote “God and Man at Yale”. Buckley wanted to re-impose the top-down power hierarchy of religion on academics at Yale. Buckley wasn’t upset with “political correctness”, he was upset that his pet beliefs didn’t have the privileged authority that he thought they should have. Buckley wanted a top-down power hierarchy, with Buckley at the top. He wanted everyone to follow his “conservative correctness”, the correct conservative ideology as he saw it. Pure top-down, just with him at the top.

    Conservative worship the top-down power hierarchy. That is why the GOP had no issues with Bush, Bush was at the top, and he was one of them. Bush could do no wrong. To a conservative, the person at the top can do no wrong simply because he/she is at the top. By definition, so long as he perpetuates the top-down power hierarchy.

    Conservatives don’t like Obama for one reason and for one reason only, because Obama is not perpetuating the top-down power hierarchy as much and in a way as the conservatives would like, and in ways that the conservatives can move up it. That is why the conservatives are moving to a different power hierarchy, the hierarchy of money. Now the conservatives worship the wealthy, and the wealthy can do no wrong. That is why they apologize to BP for that meanie Obama forcing BP to be accountable. That is why they are blocking financial reforms. They are trying to increase the wealth of the wealthy at the expense of the poor, so that as the poor move down, the conservatives move up.

  41. #41 John Kwok
    July 18, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    I recommend reading Gordon Wood’s work, especially since that work informed Ken Miller’s thinking in writing about American anti-intellecualism in Ken’s “Only A Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America’s Soul”. Wood was the first historian who recognized how radical the American Revolution was, as a transformative event which greatly altered not just the political, but also, social fabric of the thirteen colonies, led by those who primarily from lower classes, not a wealthy elite.

    I’m not disputing that top-down hierarchies have been an important part of human history, and that we can cite numerous examples from the Achamenid (my apologies for misspelling) Persian Empire of Cyrus, Darius and Xerxes, through the Roman (and later, Byzantine) Empire, Mongol Empire, Ming Chinese Empire, Ottoman Turkish Empire. But before applying it to American history, you need to read that history, and clearly, what Wood has demonstrated with respect to the American Revolution doesn’t fall into your preconceived notion. Wood’s work has influenced several generations of historians, and has informed the writings of popular writers like, for example, David McCullough.

    As for the birth of the modern American Conservative movement, it occurred through the efforts of young (and a few older, established) intellectuals like William F. Buckley who were reacting against the decades-long domination of the Republican Party from a well-entrenched Liberal and Moderate East Coast establishment. I wouldn’t mention Senator Joseph McCarthy in the same breath, since he wasn’t at all associated – except maybe tangentially (and that’s really a stretch IMHO) – with the movement that was being led by Buckley and others.

    Sincerely,

    John

  42. #42 John Kwok
    July 18, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    I might add that what Buckley saw with regards to Yale also influenced his thinking with respect to the current state of American conservativism back in the 1950s. He wanted to see a unified political movement and created the National Review as a means of providing a journalistic “organ” for such a movement. Might also add too that “God and Man at Yale” was the work which made other conservatives take notice of Buckley; had that not occurred, it’s highly doubtful that he would have gotten sufficient financial support to launch National Review.

  43. #43 John Kwok
    July 18, 2010

    @ daedalus2u -

    Your reading as to why conservatives dislike Obama is incorrect. Actually Obama wants more top – down government control, and both long-time conservatives (like yours truly) and the Tea Party Movement are strongly opposed. He is acting contrary to the wishes of those of us who want less government and less taxes. But, more importantly, we’ve tried his substantial government expansion, and frankly, it isn’t working in the sense of improving the economy and getting hundreds of thousands of people back to full-time employment.

    What Obama wants is what we have seen in Western Europe for decades, and ironically it is at the very time when many in Western Europe are rethinking the long-term social democratic policies of their governments (Maybe a classic case in point is German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s interest in reducing her country’s deficit, decreasing government spending and informing Obama that these are goals which his government ought to pursue too here in the United States.).

  44. #44 DuWayne
    July 18, 2010

    Kwak –

    Put up or shut the fuck up. Seriously, your blather is fucking annoying. All you have done thus far is make an argument from authority – and badly even at that.

    If you think that Wood’s analysis actually implies what you think it does, then explain it and how. Explain how the elites of the time managed a bottom up process. Or conversely, explain how Jefferson, Madison, Jay, Franklin, Washington, Hamilton, Samuel Adams, or any of the signatories to the Declaration of Independence can arguably be considered anything but elites. An argument can be made that Thomas Paine wasn’t an elite, but that can only be based on economic status – there is no question whatever that he was certainly an intellectual elite. And ultimately, it is due to shit luck that he wasn’t also rather wealthier than he was.

    As for the birth of the modern American Conservative movement, it occurred through the efforts of young (and a few older, established) intellectuals like William F. Buckley who were reacting against the decades-long domination of the Republican Party from a well-entrenched Liberal and Moderate East Coast establishment.

    Which first of all, doesn’t make it a bottom up movement. The notion that Buckley was at the bottom of anything is absurd. Second of all, what Buckley began bears little resemblance to the modern conservative movement. Neither does anything that Goldwater ever did. The modern conservative movement is more concerned with xenophobia, fear of anything not Christian, public programs they don’t like and fighting a war against Islam, than they are in fiscal conservancy.

    The modern conservative movement has far more in common with McCarthyism and anti-intellectualism, than it does with Goldwater Republicanism or Buckley’s conservative intellectual movement. And the modern Republican party is wholly owned by the anti-intellectual religious right at this point.

    Your claims about my intellect and understanding of U.S. American history is rather ironic, given your complete and utter inability to form a coherent argument for yourself.

  45. #45 daedalus2u
    July 18, 2010

    Top down control that limits what kinds of things people can do tends to protect people at the bottom of the power hierarchy.

    Outlawing slavery protects the people who would be enslaved.

    Taxing the wealthy reduces their power and so protects the non-wealthy from power exerted by the wealthy by virtue of their wealth.

    Preventing corporations from polluting the environment protects the poor who have to live in the environment the corporations would otherwise pollute.

    Preventing financial scams prevents the financial scammers from exploiting the victims of scams.