Thursday, January 11, 2007

Want Conservative minded Kids? Then Scare Them to Death

Seems fear of death is the most powerful driver of conservative thought.

This post was inspired by Psychology Today's most emailed and popular article, The Ideological Animal. Some of the conclusions in the piece are laughable. Let's explore.

It starts by introducing Cinnamon Stillwell, a women who did a 180 from left to right after 9/11. Cinnamon, a former liberal, is now a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle. The liberals felt a need to study this because she must certainly have a mental disorder. One of course that can be fixed with a mood altering prescription subsidized by President Hillary Clinton's Health Care Bill.

She changed because she realized that liberals had more sympathy for terrorists than the victims. And becasue liberals were consumed with hatred toward our country. She turned to conservative talk radio to hear thoughts more aligned to her enlightened thinking on the war on terror. She soon realized that after opening her mind to conservative thought that "smaller government, traditional societal structures, respect and reverence for life, the importance of family, personal responsibility, national unity over identity politics." and even "the idea of self-preservation in perilous times. (gun rights)" made sense.

The article tries to explain this change.

We tend to believe our political views have evolved by a process of rational thought, as we consider arguments, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions. But the truth is more complicated. Our political preferences are equally the result of factors we're not aware of—such as how educated we are, how scary the world seems at a given moment, and personality traits that are first apparent in early childhood. Among the most potent motivators, it turns out, is fear.... The fear of death alone is surprisingly effective in shaping our political decisions—more powerful, often, than thought itself.
Seems that rational thought prompted Cinnamon to change after weighing the evidence. She did not get any more educated and 9/11 did not impact her early childhood. The article goes on to blame fear of death. How about vengeance? How about righting a wrong? How about good versus evil? How about patriotism? How about the fear of an economic calamity destroying savings or our beautiful way of life? No fear of death explains it all. At least they didn't blame breast feeding or lack there of again.

I can see the republican strategists now scheming ways to speed up the avian flu pandemic and granting amnesty to all illegal Islamic extremists.

Do you suppose that Micheal Jackson's son will be a conservative?
Other excerpts from the article that was a complete waste of time. (I thought I was going to read something useful in my exploration of how to raise conservative kids)

In 1969, Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block embarked on a study of childhood personality, asking nursery school teachers to rate children's temperaments. (Anybody see any flaws here. Liberal researchers from ultra liberal Berkeley, asking liberal teachers to rate temperament of 3 year olds)

Twenty years later, they decided to compare the subjects' childhood personalities with their political preferences as adults. (To draw asinine bias conclusions. What a waste of 20 years)

Studies show that people who study abroad become more liberal than those who stay home. (The study should have concluded that people who seem to hate America tend to travel abroad more than people who love America)

Professors at major universities are more liberal than their counterparts at less acclaimed institutions. (I guess it couldn't be discrimination in hiring at the major universities. Don't worry fellow bloggers I already call the ACLU to take on the case.)

Gray type lifted from:
Publication: Psychology Today Magazine

Publication Date: Jan/Feb 2007


Anonymous said...

Good post about how ridiculous that Psychology Today article was!

You might be interested in reading this post from Michelle Malkin's blog last year, in which the 20-year study "proving" that whiney kids become conservatives was totally dismantled from the inside out. As you suspected, the entire thing was biased from the beginning, as 93% of the parents in the study were liberals! If I was a reality-minded kid with a liberal parent, I'd be whiney too!

Conservative Dad said...

I was thrilled to be mentioned in Cinnamon's blog and the audience it has atracted from coast to coast and from as far away as Australia. Add Cinnamon to your blog rolls. Insightful.


Other conservative-leaning bloggers have weighed in on the "9/11 Effect" article and reached similar conclusions. Red State Kids provides a hilarious (and accurate) take on my story in "Want Conservative Minded Kids? Then Scare Them to Death." Radio Nerd discusses "Why Conservatives are the True Bedwetters" and Yave Begnet isn't sure he's fully on board for the "Fear of Death" thesis. I'll add more links as I find them.

Cinnamon said...

Glad you found my blog post. I meant to e-mail it to you. Anyway, great work on your own blog post---you captured my political journey perfectly. Too bad you didn't write the Psychology Today article!

I'll be sure to add you to my blogroll too. Us conservative, death-fearing types have to stick together ;-)

Steve said...

One further weakness in this issue of what makes a liberal or conservative is the statement that those "...Studies show that people who study abroad become more liberal than those who stay home..." (I'm assuming that unstated presumption is the old saw that "travel broadens one.")

If traveling overseas makes you liberal, how do you account for the military personnel who are overseas quit a bit, but still (by a large majority) still vote conservative and support the war against terrorism?

This whole thing is so fatuous.

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Anonymous said...

"She changed because she realized that liberals had more sympathy for terrorists than the victims. And becasue liberals were consumed with hatred toward our country. "

This makes you seem little more than an ignorant bigot. If you're going to play the stereotype game, consider this: Liberals are more inclined to accept and consider criticism about the country because they are better at seeing more sides to an issue, according to the Psychology Today article.

If you think that conservatives are also capable of being open-minded about national issues, then in your words, conservatives also have "hatred toward our country." You need to re-examine your argument, because it's the right thing to do to acknowledge and correct your mistakes, even if someone else points them out.

I'm not delivering a blanket criticism of conservatives, so don't take it like that. I'm just using my brain. If you watch news channels like FOX and CNN too much, you will end up very conservative or very liberal.