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Homily: How Authoritarians are Made (plus Tweets)

One of the tweets I posted here recently was one of my own. It was a Big Think video entitled ‘The Chronology of Crazy in the USA‘ featuring Kurt Anderson.

I often wonder about the various ways the minds of different people work. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert (I’m not), but at the moment I feel like I’m getting a bit of an insight into the reason some people are authoritarian and others aren’t. (Personally, I fall so low on the Authoritarian Scale, the statistical chances are most of you are more authoritarian than me! And I doubt that most of you are very authoritarian either.) The reason I’m feeling slightly more knowledgeable is a link Linda Calhoun sent me a few days ago.

It’s to a book by Associate Professor of Psychology Bob Altemeyer, The Authoritarians (pdf at link). I’m about halfway through, and it’s fascinating. If I still had the physical capacity to read as much as I want to, I would have finished it the day Linda sent the link. I don’t want to put it down.

Some of the things I’m learning I’d worked out for myself, but now I better understand them and the reasons why they are true.

I’ve just been reading about the creation of authoritarians. The book explains how our life experiences shape us more than anything else. Although it doesn’t explicitly state it, to me it explains why people in the cities of the US are less likely to be right-wing authoritarians than those is rural areas.

I’ll use homophobia to make my point. (Being anti-LGBT people is a characteristic of right-wing authoritarians in the US.)

You all probably know the following things are true without me having to provide the proof, though I can of course:

1. Younger people are more accepting of LBGT people than older people.
2. People in cities are less likely to be anti-LGBT than people in rural areas.

This is all explained by the psychology of authoritarianism, and how our life experiences are so important. I’ll take the two points in order.

1. Younger people are more accepting of LBGT people than older people because in the last fifty years, LGBT people have become more and more open about their identity. Therefore, younger people are more likely to know an LGBT person.
2. People in cities tend to meet people from a much greater range of backgrounds than those in rural areas. Therefore, if you live, or have lived, in a big city, or attended some form of tertiary education, the chances are you’ve got to know LGBT people.

This comes back to another data point that most of you will also be aware of:

People who know LGBT people are less likely to be anti-LGBT people as they know from their own experience that they’re no different from anyone else

Thus even if you grew up thinking LGBT people were “bad” in some way, your personal experience has taught you otherwise. You know they’re just like everyone else except for their sexuality.

On the other hand, conservative religion still dominates many rural areas in the US, and LGBT people often feel they have to stay in the closet. People in those areas therefore (think they) don’t know any LBGT people and continue with their anti-LGBT attitudes.

It’s one of the reasons I decided to be so open about being an atheist. Initially that was on Twitter, and now it’s on my own website. Many other have also made the same decision. That seems to be paying off. Older people still hate atheists more than any other group in the US, but younger people don’t see them as any different than any other demographic group. It’s become acceptable to be an atheist because more people know they know atheists – fewer of us are in the closet. As a result, most people are realizing we’re just like everyone else.

One of the ways to reduce the number of authoritarians is to increase the variety of people they get to know. There are many others of course.

— ooo XXX ooo —

(A majority of the tweets below are from yesterday.)

 

Political Tweets

The bird knew.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Talk about propaganda! Does anyone really believe that Paul Ryan goes around gazing at Dr King’s statue, rocking this pose, while there’s a photographer about, whether he admires him or not? Is the fact it’s a black and white picture code? 😀
(Via Ann German.)

 

Go Cory Booker!

Pre-Mueller Time Tweets

Another shoe dropping?
(Via Ann German.)

 

Human Rights Tweets

I’ve mentioned this before – the girl who took off her hijab and waved it in the air during the Iran protests has gone missing. Please consider re-tweeting this if you are able.

From the Time article in the tweet below (my emphasis):

State Department of Education records show the home’s address is the same as the Sandcastle Day School, where David Turpin is listed as principal. In the 2016-17 school year it had an enrollment of six with one student each in the fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, 10th and 12th grades.

Fellows told reporters there is no indication any student other than the couple’s children were enrolled there. He said six of those children are under 18.

No state agency regulates or oversees private schools in California, and they are not licensed by the state Education Department.

This is why schools should all be government regulated.

Space Tweets

Wow! Amazing!
(Via Amy Carparelli.)

 

Environmental Tweets

Scary! MIT are projecting temperatures could rise 5 degrees by the end of the century. The problem is, the article doesn’t say whether that’s celsius or farenheit. It makes a big difference!
(Via Ann German.)

 

History Tweets

Very interesting! I’ve thought for years (and others have too) that plague was likely spread by humans as well as rats. It spread too fast and in such a way that it was unlikely to be rats alone. Now it looks like that was wrong too – it was mostly or all humans.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Science Tweets

Very cool!

Paleontology Tweets

The American mastodon in London’s Natural History Museum. This museum is near the top of my bucket list!

 

Scenic Tweets

Cool pic from a Danish railway station.
(Via Ann German.)

 

Just showing off! Wellington is #1, and Auckland is #11.
(Via Ken.)

 

Beautiful Amsterdam.

 

Lovely winter scene in Austria.

 

Environmental Tweets

Cley Marshes nature reserve in Norfolk.

 

Weather Tweets

It’s cold in upstate New York.

 

Marine Tweets

This is so cool! I love octopuses! (You already know that.) Look at that camouflage!
(Via Ann German.)

 

Creepy-Crawlies Tweets

Snails are quite cute really.

 

Other Animals Tweets

Poor hedgehog!
(Via Ann German.)

 

This video is over seven minutes long and more than two years old, BUT it’s cute wee hoglets feeding. One is even given a blanket bath!

 

This is another longish one, but it’s worth it. Red squirrels are another one of my faves, and Scotland is my ancestral home, so this one means a lot to me.

 

Polar bears playing soccer!

 

Bird Tweets

Penguins are cool. (I think I’ve said that before.)
(Via Ann German.)

 

Some tweets about New Zealand’s kakapo.

 

 

 

And the New Zealand fairy tern/tara-iti.

 

Dog Tweets

What’s that stall selling? No wonder he’s sitting!

 

Awww!

 

Cat Tweets

Very cool!

 

Poor Albert!

 

What a cutie!


 

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49 Responses to “Homily: How Authoritarians are Made (plus Tweets)”

  1. j.a.m. says:

    “Personally, I fall so low on the Authoritarian Scale, the statistical chances are most of you are more authoritarian than me!”

    “This is why schools should all be government regulated.”

    • Linda Calhoun says:

      Yes, Heather went to government regulated schools and turned out to be a non-authoritarian progressive.

      Much better, in your view, to have the “freedom” to keep your kids in chains and starve them. Is this really your idea of a better world? (Oh, I forgot. The “better world”, for you, only comes after you die, and then only if you did the right hocus-pocus.)

      Seven of those kids are legal adults. Which begs the question, in your world of greater “freedom”, who gets to keep the keys to the padlocks?

      L

      • greenpoisonfrog says:

        You haven’t even a small clue as to what she wrote about it appears. She was advocating for more oversight, not less.

        And I’m reasonably certain that the afterlife is not one of Heather’s driving forces.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Would you care to explain in what sense existing law was in any way inadequate to deal with this horrific situation? From news accounts, the authorities acted swiftly and decisively. The victims are safe and the victimizers are being dealt with.

        Do you have any actual evidence to suggest that existing law is inadequate to deal with any future incidents of abuse? Do you have any evidence to suggest a significantly greater incidence of abuse in private schools, compared with other variables? Since the “school” in this case was atypical in the extreme, what is to be gained by increasing the burden on the thousands of innocent others?

        I’d say a knee-jerk impulse to react to every tragedy by passing a law, or to respond to every real or imagined problem by chipping away at innocent people’s civil liberties — without any rational basis whatsoever — qualifies as textbook authoritarianism (or “progressivism”).

        In any event, it is flatly wrong to suggest that private schools are not already regulated. In fact, it takes 345 pages just to summarize these regulations.

        http://www2.ed.gov/admins/comm/choice/regprivschl/regprivschl.pdf

        • Linda Calhoun says:

          “Would you care to explain in what sense existing law was in any way inadequate to deal with this horrific situation?”

          California has no laws to inspect private schools.

          And, I don’t know if California is one of the 28 US States that exempt religious people from child abuse laws, but if it is, the charges that will stick with these people are for false imprisonment of their adult children.

          And, while it’s your opinion that the problem is “being dealt with”, that is clearly after the fact. In no sense is there any prevention. I’m glad you think that this is a solution, but if you are one of their children, especially the older ones, recovery is going to be a really iffy proposition.

          And, why do you characterize passing preventative laws as a “knee-jerk reaction? It’s possible that laws that are passed are well-considered.

          L

    • You clearly misunderstand the meaning of authoritarian. My assessment from your comments over the years is that you would fall extremely high on the authoritarian scale. You think the kind of school regulations that were part of the reason these poor children were never duscovered is fine though.

      The sort of regulations you like govern things like abortion, same sex marriage, marijuana use etc. Those are the sort of things I don’t think a government should be preventing.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Those three issues are very different. Respectfully, judging from your own comments, I would have to observe that I’m far more libertarian than you. You want Big Brother to institute command-and-control over the medical profession and ration care. You’re okay with Big Brother forbidding desperate parents from seeking privately-funded medical treatment for their infant son. You’re okay with Big Brother vitiating freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of association of anyone who dissents from politically correct “progressive” dogma. Yet you are not willing to see the state fully protect the right to life.

        • j.a.m. says:

          And I’m for separation of school and state, while you favor indoctrination by Big Brother.

          • Linda Calhoun says:

            “And I’m for separation of school and state, while you favor indoctrination by Big Brother.”

            Why do you assume that there is no indoctrination in private schools?

            There is indoctrination in both private and public schools, but at least in public schools it can be addressed. Private schools have no need to have minimum standards.

            Just to give one example: The indoctrinating position for the Civil War is that it was about “States’ rights”. But, if you read the secession declarations of the seceding states, several of them specifically state that protecting slavery was their reason. In public schools, students who do the research must be allowed access to the documents, while in private schools they can be disciplined or kicked out.

            One of the basic principles of the founding fathers was that citizens should have access to public education. The undermining of public education is a right-wing goal, not a progressive goal.

            And, speaking of conscience, I don’t want my tax money funding religious schools. I think religion is vile. It teaches people to hate each other. It’s violent. It’s dishonest. And, I try not to spend my money in places that hate women. So, the “charter” schools that are founded by religious people want to promulgate their poison, without any oversight, with MY tax money.

            Do I not have the same right to conscience as you?

            L

          • As a true authoritarian, j.a.m. will ignore this evidence as it doesn’t suit his world view. He will instead attack something unrelated if he responds.

          • I do not favour indoctrination. I favour everyone getting a thorough, rounded, education from properly trained and educated teachers, including kids in private schools.

            Are the Turpins capable of running a school or homeschooling? Clearly not. They should never have been given permission to do so. I can’t imagine any documentation they submitted to register their school would meet criteria that ensures children are properly educated by people up to that task.

          • j.a.m. says:

            @LC: “There is indoctrination in both private and public schools, but at least in public schools it can be addressed.”

            You’ve got it exactly backwards. Private schools are accountable because families are free to vote with their feet. Bureaucracies answer to interest groups — or to no one.

            “One of the basic principles of the founding fathers was that citizens should have access to public education.”

            There were no tax-supported schools or universities in the founding era, and the founders (especially Jefferson, the foremost champion of education) would regard with abject horror the unionized government-run anti-intellectual monstrosity of our day.

            “The undermining of public education is a right-wing goal, not a progressive goal.”

            It may not have been their goal, but left-wing politicians, bureaucrats, academics, social engineers, and unions have been pretty darn effective at undermining public schools and public support for them. In any event, they’re just propping up a failed archaic system long past its sell-by date — at a time when technology offers the opportunity to reinvent education. They’re on the wrong side of history, you might say.

            “And, speaking of conscience, I don’t want my tax money funding religious schools.”

            I’m glad to see you’re coming around to my way of thinking! I don’t want my tax money funding schools with an agenda of any sort. I don’t want my tax money funding schools where the most important questions and issues are illegal. I don’t want my tax money funding charter schools. For that matter, I don’t want my tax money funding schools, period. Better to provide financial aid for families based on need, rather than involve the state in owning and operating an obsolete system in the 21st century.

            (P.S. I also don’t want my tax money funding the abortion industry.)

        • Linda Calhoun says:

          Would you be OK with an ER doc performing an abortion on a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy if the fetus still had a heartbeat?

          What about THEIR right to conscience?

          You’re OK with Big Brother keeping women from having access to birth control. You’re OK with Big Brother preventing citizens from voting. You’re OK with letting gun nuts massacre children, lest the poor dears have some restrictions. You’re OK with censorship. You’re OK with allowing our Pr*sident to violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution because he’s a member of your tribe.

          L

          • j.a.m. says:

            @LC: “You’re OK with Big Brother keeping women from having access to birth control.”

            Rubbish. By “access” you mean “getting free shit that other people are forced to pay for”.

            “You’re OK with Big Brother preventing citizens from voting.”

            Rubbish. I’m for preventing non-citizens from voting. I’m for preventing the deceased from voting. I’m for preventing non-humans (including, but not limited to, cartoon characters and companion animals) from voting. I’m for preventing people from voting more than once, or in a jurisdiction where they are ineligible. I’m for making every valid vote count.

            “You’re OK with letting gun nuts massacre children, lest the poor dears have some restrictions.”

            Rubbish. I’m all for restricting anyone who hurts others. I’m against restricting the rights and liberties of innocent people without some rational basis.

            “You’re OK with censorship.”

            Rubbish. Example?

            “You’re OK with allowing our Pr*sident to violate the emoluments clause of the Constitution because he’s a member of your tribe.”

            I’m not a member of a tribe (and I don’t get the impression that our President sees himself as one, either). If there are sound factual and legal grounds for a case that he’s flouting the emoluments clause, let’s hear it. (I do find it amusing that the people urging strict interpretation in the instance are generally the same people who treat the Constitution like silly putty when they feel like inventing another fake constitutional right.)

            “Would you be OK with an ER doc performing an abortion on a woman with a life-threatening pregnancy if the fetus still had a heartbeat?”

            It has nothing to do with what I’m “okay” with. It has to do with when society permits the direct, intentional, and avoidable killing of an innocent person. Generally speaking, in the emergency room situation you describe, the baby’s death would be unavoidable and not directly intended.

        • As I said above, you clearly do not know the meaning of Authoritarianism. It is not a synonym for progressive. Further, libertarian is not a synonymous with non-Authoritarian.

          You also mis-characterize my general pov. It amazes me that you can come away with that idea of how I think after all these years. However, ignoring the evidence that doesn’t support your opinions is a characteristic of Authoritarianism.

          I strongly support freedom of conscience, freedom of expression etc. What I don’t support, unlike you, is forcing my personal ideas on others. You insist you’re a Libertarian (which I personally consider an extremely selfish and ignorant political philosophy), but are happy to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. You think you should be able to stop couples in love marrying if they’re the same sex.

          Personally, I think smoking marijuana is a stupid idea, but I don’t think it should be illegal. You agree with me on the first part, but, unlike most Libertarians, want to keep locking up those who smoke it. Or is that because the majority charged with smoking marijuana are black? Is it perhaps a good way to keep those uppity blacks down? (Sarcasm alert.)

          And medical care is rationed in your system too, and distributed very unfairly. The poor get little or no care. No one in my country is bankrupted by the cost of healthcare. No one has to worry that they won’t get help in an emergency. The poorest and sickest get more than the healthy and wealthy. Being born with some kind of medical condition doesn’t condemn you to a life of penury. There are no lifetime limits on healthcare. I could go on. I consider the US health system cruel, wasteful, inefficient, and a disgrace to your nation. That the wealthiest nation the world has ever known fails to look after their most vulnerable citizens is beyond me. The money is there. You spend more per capita on healthcare than almost every other nation. It’s the will that’s missing.

          • Linda Calhoun says:

            Consumers’ Union reported at the end of 2016 that personal bankruptcies had decreased in the US by 51%. Most bankruptcies are due to medical bills, so the ACA was the mitigating force.

            Republicans hate that. They want people to go under financially so that the 1% can suck up the leavings.

            L

          • j.a.m. says:

            “But it is possible to say that medical bills did not cause a majority, or even a large plurality, of bankruptcies. And that another problem remains substantial: the number of people who fervently believe something for which there is no good evidence.”

            http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/01/the_persistent_myth_of_the_med.html

          • j.a.m. says:

            A study published in the journal Health Affairs reviewed Justice Department data and discovered that among Americans who cited medical debt as a contributing factor in their bankruptcy filing, nearly 90 percent of their obligations are unrelated to health care.

            https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/abs/10.1377/hlthaff.25.w74

          • nicky says:

            @ jam.
            Drovane and Millinson’s study is not without it’s criticism. The most important shortcoming is that they only counted actual medical bills cited as actual causes for bankruptcy, ignoring that medical debts are often buried in credit card balances and second mortgages.
            Himmelstein, Warren, Thorne and Woolhandler respond:
            https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Steffie_Woolhandler/publication/7269374_Discounting_The_Debtors_Will_Not_Make_Medical_Bankruptcy_Disappear/links/0c96052c6c53a4ecff000000/Discounting-The-Debtors-Will-Not-Make-Medical-Bankruptcy-Disappear.pdf

          • j.a.m. says:

            @H: I’m just going by the textbook definition:

            au·thor·i·tar·i·an – əˌTHôrəˈterēən – adjective
            favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom

            Favoring greater state control over life than is rationally justified is an authoritarian inclination. That certainly characterizes many so-called “progressive” positions, and the knee-jerk “progressive” reaction to bad news.

            You may like to tell yourself that you don’t want to force your ideology on others, but that’s precisely what you’re wishing for when you wish for state monopolies to control schools, doctors and hospitals. You would (literally) outlaw self-determination in the two areas of my life where I hold it most dear, in order to impose your idea about what’s best. No thanks.

            By “thorough, rounded, education” you mean, “excluding ideas I disapprove of”, and by “properly trained and educated teachers” you mean, “excluding people I disapprove of”. As for health care, your remedy is a classic case of prescribing a cure that is far worse than the disease. (Or of swatting a gnat with a sledgehammer.)

            Now let’s set the record straight: I’ve never said a word here about marijuana. As far as legal recognition of unisex “marriage” goes, to my knowledge I’ve never commented except to note that the big atheist countries, and non-Christian countries in general, have so far failed to get on board with the supposed “right side of history”. And above I correctly characterized my own views as relatively more small-L libertarian (adjective) than yours, but I have never identified myself as a capital-L Libertarian (noun), nor am I now.

          • I’d like to know what reference book that came from because it’s far from adequate in describing the personality type. Try taking the authoritarian test on pages 11-12 of the pdf at the link.

            I do not know what you mean by, “You would (literally) outlaw self-determination in the two areas of my life where I hold it most dear, in order to impose your idea about what’s best.” I do not know the two areas of your life you hold most dear. However, assuming one is your faith or religion, you’re quite wrong. I do not want to outlaw religion. As far as I’m concerned, people should be free to believe whatever they want.

            In fact, I would not outlaw any type of self-determination for adults.

            You, otoh, would. You would outlaw abortion. I think adults should be allowed to choose death in certain circumstances. You would never let this be legal.

            All I want is for government and religion to be separate, as they are supposed to be in your country according to the First Amendment.

            I also do not advocate for state monopolies for doctors, hospitals etc. I advocate for universal healthcare. It is not the same thing. We do NOT have a state monopoly on health in NZ. Doctors, both specialists and GPS, still have private practices. We still have private hospitals, and people still buy medical insurance to be able to use them should the need arise.

            I also do not advocate state monopolies for schools. Again, we have private schools and faith schools in NZ. However, and I do approve of this, they are required to meet certain standards re their curriculum. I see that as protecting the children. They should know about evolution, even if their parents have wrongly decided it’s a lie. They should have the opportunity to decide for themselves.

            I do not consider myself the right person to decide a school curriculum. I think that is best left to professionals. I am not a professional, and nor are priests, ministers, imams, etc who have no professional background in educating children.

            I do not know which countries you consider the “big atheist countries”. However, in general, the more atheist a country, the more likely same-sex marriage is to be legal.

            I have a very strong belief in freedom to live your life as you choose. You actually do not believe that. I think there need to be rules to allow freedom, such as road rules, food preparation and cleanliness rules in restaurants, and several other things. Those rules are about making life safe for others, and safe to believe and live as they choose, and for there to be equality of opportunity for all. The rules I approve of are about responsibility towards the happiness of our fellow human beings. You only care about the happiness of you and yours. You want YOUR rules to be followed, and don’t care if others believe the same as you. You still think they should follow YOUR rules whether they share your beliefs or not, such as when it comes to abortion and God.

            So what do you believe when it comes to marijuana and marriage equality. The fact you won’t say I think makes it clear. You want to force your opinions on others. If that’s not the case, then good on you. You don’t have to agree with marriage equality yourself in order not to think you have the right to force that belief on others.

          • j.a.m. says:

            I got the definition from Google, which apparently gets it from OxfordDictionaries.com.

            https://www.google.com/search?q=authoritarian
            https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/authoritarian

          • It’s not wrong, but it is inadequate, and has given you a wrong understanding of what is a complex personality trait.

            As well as the test on pages 11-12, there’s one at the beginning of chapter 5 for religious fundamentalism. (c. page 166 iirc).

            The tests are short and take very little time. What are you afraid of?

          • j.a.m. says:

            @HH: Your description of my views is completely inaccurate. On the other hand, it strikes me that there would be little daylight between us if you really believe as you profess.

            You profess to have a very strong belief in the freedom to live one’s life as one chooses. (I certainly do hold that belief.) The key phrase is “live one’s life”. Unfortunately, you would deny a lot of people the right to live a life at all, because they have a disability, or they’re the wrong sex, or just because they’re perceived to be unwanted.

            You say, “The rules I approve of are about responsibility towards the happiness of our fellow human beings.” But that’s just it: By setting yourself up as the philosopher-king who decrees what constitutes happiness — rather than letting people make their own choices, including bad ones — you’re either restricting everyone’s freedom, or you are at least restricting it for those who don’t share your particular values.

            “You only care about the happiness of you and yours… You want YOUR rules to be followed, and don’t care if others believe the same as you. You still think they should follow YOUR rules whether they share your beliefs or not, such as when it comes to abortion and God.”

            Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, one area where I don’t take the strict libertarian line is the duty of a civilized society (even the most libertarian one) to prevent the direct, intentional and avoidable killing of innocent persons. (Otherwise what is the point in even having a state?) Similarly, a civilized society has a duty to protect vulnerable sick and elderly persons from euthanasia and suicide. There is nothing sectarian about the right to life. It is a universally recognized human right.

          • A foetus isn’t a person.

            You completely either mischaracterize, misrepresent, or lie about my position. I’m sick of you constantly attempts doing this. We just end up going around in circles. Therefore this discussion is over.

          • j.a.m. says:

            @HH: “However, in general, the more atheist a country, the more likely same-sex marriage is to be legal.”

            I’m afraid the facts don’t bear that out.

            [A] Per Pew, the countries with the largest *proportion* of unaffiliated persons are Czech Republic, North Korea, Estonia, Japan, Hong Kong, China, South Korea, Latvia, Netherlands, and Uruguay.

            [B] Per Pew, the countries with the largest *numbers* of unaffiliated persons are China, Japan, USA, Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, Germany, France, North Korea, and Brazil.

            China, Japan and the Koreas are on both the [A] and [B] lists, so it’s fair to call them big atheist countries.

            [C] Per Wikipedia, the following countries recognize unisex “marriage”: Colombia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, UK, USA, Uruguay.

            Now, we’re rigorous empiricists here at Homilies, so immediately we notice a pattern. The eight least religious countries from the [A] list are not on the [C] list. People of color are hugely underrepresented on the [C] list, and no country whose population is predominately Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, unaffiliated or non-Christian is on the list. The [C] list, then, is comprised of Western or Westernized countries whose culture has been shaped primarily by the Western Judeo-Greco-Christian tradition, and whose largest religious grouping is Christian.

            http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/table-religious-composition-by-country-in-percentages/

          • Unaffiliated doesn’t mean atheist. In North Korea, for example, they worship their leader and his father and especially his grandfather as gods. That is not atheism.

      • j.a.m. says:

        “You think the kind of school regulations that were part of the reason these poor children were never discovered is fine though.”

        These poor children were not abused at school. They were abused at home.

        The knee-jerk impulse to increase burdens on peaceful and law-abiding people — because of a billions-to-one chance that something bad might happen somewhere someday — is extremely irrational and authoritarian.

        It’s the same familiar dynamic as with the “progressive” fanaticism over firearms. Acts of gun violence are already illegal (indeed the most grave felonies). There are countless existing laws governing the sale, possession and use of firearms. The belief that one more will make anyone safer is irrational. The belief that it should be imposed anyway, without regard to the rights and liberties of law-abiding citizens, is authoritarian.

        • Their home was a registered school. They did not leave home to go to school because their home was supposedly their school. The fact that the father was allowed to set up a school with no requirements, and no checking on the kids, is appalling.

          I’m all for adults living their lives as they choose as long as they don’t hurt others. As a society, we have to protect children, and that requires laws.

          I’m not sure how we got onto guns. However, there are so many holes in your gun laws, so many people colluding to circumvent them, and such a broad failure to enforce them, that there does need to be something done about them. As I’ve said over and over again, there is a reason that the US has multiple more gun deaths than any other country, and it’s not any of the ones blamed by those who support a loosening of the laws. Guns are too easy to get by the wrong people in your country.

          • j.a.m. says:

            The point, as previously stated, is that there are plenty of laws on the books — child protection laws, laws covering private schools, gun laws. If there is factual evidence of some gap, whether of law enforcement or of statutory authority, then let’s have a rational and specific discussion about how to narrowly address the specific problem in a rational way that does not infringe anyone’s rights and freedoms.

          • They were allowed to register a school without proving any ability to run one. That is a gap in the law. We find now that, as most of us suspected all along, these people were motivated by their beliefs in God.

    • Thanks. I’ll check them out,

    • Linda Calhoun says:

      I’ve read a lot of Altemeyer, both his popular stuff and his articles in professional journals.

      He’s always so right on, and his research is elegant and impeccable.

      I recently was browsing a far-right-wing site. One of Altemeyer’s defining characteristics really jumped out at me. He says that RWAs strongly overestimate the number of people who agree with them because they don’t spend much time around anyone who’s different from them. I was really struck by how many of them expressed the belief that they were a strong majority, and that progressive viewpoints were just going to fade away due to their unpopularity.

      Of course, this view does not comport with their strong need to suppress differing views. You’d think that if they really believed that people were coming around in droves to their views, that they wouldn’t be so adamant about shutting us up.

      Which brings us to another of Altemeyer’s traits, that they are highly compartmentalized, and don’t have any trouble with inherent contradictions between the various of their beliefs.

      Just, wow.

      L

      • All the stats show that the US is becoming more progressive. Even amongst Republicans a majority now support the legalization of marijuana. A majority also support marriage equality, are pro-choice, and increasing gun safety regulations. When you show these data to an authoritarian, they dismiss the polling organisation as liberal. I have heard a host on Fox News say, “I don’t trust any statistics given to me by a liberal.” The assumption is they’ve been doctored to support their position. Also, throughout the Obama administration, I heard constant questioning of any good news statistics such as reductions in the unemployment rate.

        • j.a.m. says:

          I’m surprised and disappointed to hear that you are so credulous. Healthy skepticism with a dose of salt is almost always justified, because bias is inevitable. Left-wingers may not be worse than others, but they tend to dominate the media and academia.

          When it comes to opinion surveys and the endless supply of junk statistics, methodology is extremely problematic and often opaque. First, everything depends on subjects’ understanding of the questions and issues they’re being asked about. Second, a sample has to be mapped onto an extremely heterogeneous population of about 250 million living, breathing adults spread out across a continent, and that itself is a fraught process, even if it statistically valid.

          • That is why there are +/- calculations on the results of every good statistician. Often results are spoken of as being within the margin of error. And the problems are bigger the smaller the sample that is taken, and it is extremely important how the question is designed.

            But there are certain organisations with a reputation for providing reliable results on both sides of the political aisle. For example, Fox News’s political statistics are amongst those that are reliable. So are CNN’s, Washington Post’s, Wall Street Journal’s, ABC’s and Nate Silver’s (Five Thirty-Eight). The results those organisations come up with are always very similar, and always very close to actual results if/when proven.

            You could say a US election isn’t valid. Who’s to say that the 50% of people who didn’t vote weren’t all going to vote for Clinton, but didn’t bother because they thought she would win, or Gary Johnson because they thought he would lose? However, people who’ve studied those who didn’t vote in the past have shown that their voting pattern would be roughly the same as those who did.

            Polls are taken because they are a reliable indicator if good statistical methods are used to ensure a valid and representative cross-section of the population.

            When Trump voters, who mostly only know other Trump voters, began complaining to Fox News before the last election about the polls supporting Hillary being lies because everyone they knew supported Trump, Fox actually schooled their viewers about polling and assured them that they were reasonably accurate.

      • nicky says:

        RWA? Ready, Willing and Available? Risk Weighted Assets? or Republican Wealthy Authoritarians? I guess the latter.
        Note, it mirrors the echo-chambres of the regressive leftists, clearly also Authoritarians.

      • j.a.m. says:

        Yeah, that’s a pretty common human foible. A famous example is the lefty film reviewer Pauline Kael. When President Nixon carried 49 states to win re-election in a landslide, she said, “That can’t be — nobody voted for him!”

        (The actual quote was creepier: “I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”)

  2. greenpoisonfrog says:

    You should also check out the professor’s follow up on the Tea Party and a couple others. Available at his web site:
    http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

  3. HaggisForBrains says:

    From the link:

    The paper, published on Wednesday in Nature, found that global temperatures could rise nearly 5 °C by the end of the century under the the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s steepest prediction for greenhouse-gas concentrations.

    Sorry Heather, seems clear to me.

  4. nicky says:

    Where is that ‘Authoritarian Scale’ test?
    I fancy myself to be not authoritarian, but I’m sure my young kids will not agree.
    In the workplace some would disagree too, although many consider me a softy (I think so myself), others think I’m too impatient. I basically never get angry, but sarcasm is highly feared in my workplace. On occasion I can’t help myself.
    Well, yes, I have no patience with deliberate slacking and not taking responsibility.
    [The reverse side of the ‘delegating medal’ is that the delegated to (always willingly) should take responsibility. And in the end it still is my responsibility, so a lack thereof shows I delegated wrongly, and I get the flak. Note, these things are extremely rare and do not entice me to tarnish my idea that people grow if you give them the means. Generally it works well, sometimes in an unexpectedly greatway.]

    • It’s pretty near the beginning of the book. There are 22 questions iirc.

      There’s a very short one on Vox that provides a good indication too.. I’ll try and find the link in a few hours when I’m on a different device.

      There is at least one good one online because I took it about a year ago. I have no idea now where it is though.

    • j.a.m. says:

      Let’s not pathologize differences of opinion. Attacking character and personality, rather than debating the substance of an issue, is a sure sign of a weak case.

  5. nicky says:

    Cephalopods, and octopuses in particular, are masters in changing colours fast. Contrary to chameleons they do use it mainly for camouflage. Octopuses can also change the texture of their skin in the blink of an eye, real masters of that art.
    Curiously -since they give colourful signals- it was thought they were colourblind since they have only one type of photoreceptor. I aways found that extremely weird, but not impossible (there were some hypotheses). We have three colour receptors (blue, green and yellow -not red), birds and most reptiles have four, while the mantis-shrimps have more than a dozen. But poor octopus was stuck with only one.
    Turns out that they do not use pigments with different absorption maxima, but chromatic aberration, and by moving their retinas slightly they are pretty good at distinguishing wavelengths. Completely different mechanism, same result. Can we still call that convergent evolution?
    Octopuses (locally known as sea-cats here) are also considered the most intelligent, moody and temperamental of all invertebrates.
    The Crown of Creation, or rather the Apex of Evolution? 🙂

  6. Linda Calhoun says:

    @j.a.m.

    “I’m for preventing non-citizens from voting. I’m for preventing the deceased from voting. I’m for preventing non-humans (including, but not limited to, cartoon characters and companion animals) from voting. I’m for preventing people from voting more than once, or in a jurisdiction where they are ineligible. I’m for making every valid vote count.”

    All those things have probably happened, but they don’t happen in any quantity. “Voter fraud” is a right-wing canard.

    Have you ever noticed that when right wingers scream about “voter fraud”, it’s when they’ve lost? They never consider the possibility that there could be voter fraud when they’ve won.

    And, many states have Republican Secretaries of State. Are you accusing them, too?

    Exhaustive investigations of voter fraud usually turn up a few isolated cases. Some of those are perpetrated by Republicans, who are not exactly the picture of innocence.

    OTOH, we also have situations as in Alabama, where Dept. of Motor Vehicle IDs are required, and the State closed 31 of those offices, all in majority black districts. We have situations where voters are given ballots from the wrong district, which then have to be thrown out. We have gerrymandering. We have purges based on misidentification of someone’s common name. We are on the verge of having purges based on non-voting. Tell me, would you support suspension of someone’s Second Amendment rights because they have not recently purchased a gun?

    L

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