Thursday, May 29, 2008


Pat Buchanan knows his history, whatever else you might think of him, and he has just written a good summary of the revisionist arguments about the two world wars. I myself alluded briefly to such arguments on 23rd.

I am one of the many history buffs who agree that WWI was the big mistake so I agree with Buchanan there and I certainly agree with him that the peace-obsessed politics of the interwar period were the breeding ground for WWII.

Buchanan is however being wise in hindsight, something easy to do. What he seems largely unaware of is the psychology behind those two disastrous wars. WWI was NOT fought over the assassination of an Austrian archduke in Serbia. Politicians can be pretty foolish but we do our ancestors discredit to think that they were as foolish as that.

Strangely, WWI was the fruit of the long peace engineered by the "Iron Chancellor" of Prussia, Prince Otto von Bismarck. Bismarck gained great authority from the way he used both war and politics to extend the Prussian domain to the point that almost the whole of the German-speaking lands came under the sway of the Prussian crown in the form of a united Germany -- with the Prussian defeat of Napoleon III at Sedan being the clincher.

So how did Bismarck use that great authority and the pre-eminent German military machine that he controlled? If he had been a Leftist like Napoleon, he would have attempted to conquer the world. But he was a conservative so he did no such thing. Once he had attained his aim of a united Heimatland (homeland) -- i.e. a united Germany --- he used his great talents and resources to ensure that there were no more wars in Europe.

And the long peace from 1872 onwards allowed Europeans to concentrate on constructive pursuits for change -- leading to vast economic growth in most of Europe (including Russia). But the huge leap forward in science, technology and prosperity in the late 19th century led to hubris among the populations concened. They were so impressed by their own achievements that they thought they could conquer the world -- literally. And they actually did to some extent -- bringing large slices of what we would now call the Third World under their rule.

Sadly, however, communications then fell a long way short of the global village that we inhabit today and most people in the national populations concerned concluded that their great achievements were the fruit of a national genius peculiar to them. That other nations were doing about equally as well was lost sight of. It was, in short, a time of overweening national pride and they all thought that they could conquer anyone. So they were all spoiling for a fight. They thought that if they could have a war, they could conquer the other nations around them in six weeks. So after Bismarck was no longer there to restrain them, a pretext for a fight was found and the nations of Europe all marched into WWI in full confidence of a rapid national triumph. It was however reality that triumphed.

And after the colossal horror of WWI, who can blame the politicians of the interwar years for doing everything they could to run away from another war? That running away does more harm than good is however the lesson we must learn from that.

Buchanan's article stops before the events of WWII so I will stop there too. Much to be said there but some other time. I do think Churchill was right in his unswerving enmity to Nazism, however.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Buried Prejudice: The Bigot in Your Brain

Deep within our subconscious, all of us harbor biases that we consciously abhor. And the worst part is: we act on them

The heading and subheading above are from a recent article in that well-known Greenie publication, "Scientific American". I also reproduce the first part of the article concerned below. The article seems to be aimed towards making us less prejudiced towards outgroups. But the article exists in a reality vacuum. It totally ignores realities such as the incredibly high rate of violent crime among blacks and also ignores most of the research on impression-formation and stereotyping. It is largely a rehash of some well-known work by Banerji and Richeson that I have commented on some time ago.

The "amazing" thing that the researchers found was that whites (and some blacks) are more wary of blacks than they are of whites -- no matter how you measure or detect that. Such a finding would, however, surely surprise only a psychologist. If blacks REALLY ARE more dangerous to others, it is merely psychological good function to be more wary of them than of others. And I don't think even Leftists attempt to deny the high rate of black crime. So to call such perfectly proper wariness in people "bigotry" is itself bigoted. Bigotry is judging people according to a fixed and wrong set of preconceptions and it seems to me that that is exactly how psychologists are judging others when they refer to perfectly normal and adaptive behaviour as bigotry.

The one thing that the research literature on stereotyping shows most clearly is that the "stereotypes" people have in their heads are not usually (Except, perhaps in the case of psychologists) rigid or imprisoning but are highly flexible and responsive to the realities that people encounter (See for instance here and here). That fact fully explains all the behaviour that the psychologists described below view as "bigotry". If blacks change, the perceptions and expectations of them will change -- but I am not holding my breath.

Fortunately, the same literature tells us that once we get to know a particular person as an individual, the importance of the stereotype recedes rapidly -- so that the particular person will then in general be treated as we find him/her, regardless of any expectations we have about the group to which he/she belongs. A rather amusing example of that which I once came across was a white neo-Nazi whose best friend was a very dark-skinned Bengali. And there was another guy who could not stand "Chinks" (East Asians) but who was happily married to one. And Wilhelm Marr, the man who in 1879 invented the term "antisemitism" (he thought it was a good thing), was actually married to a Jewish lady! Psychologists have traditionally seen such behaviour as perverse but a good knowledge of the impression-formation research would have told them that it is normal.
"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life," Jesse Jackson once told an audience, "than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery-then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved."

Jackson's remark illustrates a basic fact of our social existence, one that even a committed black civil-rights leader cannot escape: ideas that we may not endorse-for example, that a black stranger might harm us but a white one probably would not-can nonetheless lodge themselves in our minds and, without our permission or awareness, color our perceptions, expectations and judgments.

Using a variety of sophisticated methods, psychologists have established that people unwittingly hold an astounding assortment of stereotypical beliefs and attitudes about social groups: black and white, female and male, elderly and young, gay and straight, fat and thin. Although these implicit biases inhabit us all, we vary in the particulars, depending on our own group membership, our conscious desire to avoid bias and the contours of our everyday environments. For instance, about two thirds of whites have an implicit preference for whites over blacks, whereas blacks show no average preference for one race over the other.

Such bias is far more prevalent than the more overt, or explicit, prejudice that we associate with, say, the Ku Klux Klan or the Nazis. That is emphatically not to say that explicit prejudice and discrimination have evaporated nor that they are of lesser importance than implicit bias. According to a 2005 federal report, almost 200,000 hate crimes-84 percent of them violent-occur in the U.S. every year.

The persistence of explicit bias in contemporary culture has led some critics to maintain that implicit bias is of secondary concern. But hundreds of studies of implicit bias show that its effects can be equally insidious. Most social psychologists believe that certain scenarios can automatically activate implicit stereotypes and attitudes, which then can affect our perceptions, judgments and behavior. "The data on that are incontrovertible," concludes psychologist Russell H. Fazio of Ohio State University.

Now researchers are probing deeper. They want to know: Where exactly do such biases come from? How much do they influence our outward behavior? And if stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes are burned into our psyches, can learning more about them help to tell each of us how to override them?

Friday, May 09, 2008

Conservatives are happier because they are less angry

That seems to be the conclusion to be drawn from the report of a piece of psychological research below. But that conclusion must of course be interpreted to make conservatives look bad. So the assumption is injected that they SHOULD be angry! No argument is offered to say why. I will probably say more about this when the actual academic journal article underlying the report below comes online. One of the authors, John Jost, has however previously been shown as having some strange ideas about how to define conservatism so I expect further idiocy and bias in his measure of "rationalization". There is already an extended comment on the study up at STACLU

Individuals with conservative ideologies are happier than liberal-leaners, and new research pinpoints the reason: Conservatives rationalize social and economic inequalities. Regardless of marital status, income or church attendance, right-wing individuals reported greater life satisfaction and well-being than left-wingers, the new study found. Conservatives also scored highest on measures of rationalization, which gauge a person's tendency to justify, or explain away, inequalities.

The rationalization measure included statements such as: "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are." To justify economic inequalities, a person could support the idea of meritocracy, in which people supposedly move up their economic status in society based on hard work and good performance. In that way, one's social class attainment, whether upper, middle or lower, would be perceived as totally fair and justified.

If your beliefs don't justify gaps in status, you could be left frustrated and disheartened, according to the researchers, Jaime Napier and John Jost of New York University. They conducted a U.S.-centric survey and a more internationally focused one to arrive at the findings. "Our research suggests that inequality takes a greater psychological toll on liberals than on conservatives," the researchers write in the June issue of the journal Psychological Science, "apparently because liberals lack ideological rationalizations that would help them frame inequality in a positive (or at least neutral) light."

The results support and further explain a Pew Research Center survey from 2006, in which 47 percent of conservative Republicans in the U.S. described themselves as "very happy," while only 28 percent of liberal Democrats indicated such cheer. The same rationalizing phenomena could apply to personal situations as well.

"There is no reason to think that the effects we have identified here are unique to economic forms of inequality," the researchers write. "Research suggests that highly egalitarian women are less happy in their marriages compared with their more traditional counterparts, apparently because they are more troubled by disparities in domestic labor."


Saturday, May 03, 2008

The vast hypocrisy of "There's no such thing as right and wrong" -- again

When Leftists say, "There's no such thing as right and wrong", they are normally referring to moral judgments. They use that formula when confronted with something as uncomfortable as their unwavering support for murderous Communists and Muslims. And, as such, it is a transparent fraud. They themselves reveal that such talk is at best a tantrum by going on themselves to use the language of right and wrong to condemn "intolerance", "Zionists" or the Iraq war etc. Talk of right and wrong is meaningless when conservatives use it but highly meaningful when Leftists use it, apparently. To call such reasoning "sophomoric" is to praise it too highly.

Under the rubric of "postmoderninsm", they also however extend their condemnation of "right and wrong" to statements of fact. If anyone presents facts that conflict with Leftist beliefs they evade it in various ways. One stratagem is to say that that is just "your reality" etc. Or if some fact upsets some theory that they are wedded to, they simply deny the fact in some way -- often by ad hominem arguments such as saying that the person presenting the pesky fact is "in the pay of big oil" -- or some other totally discreditable stratagem that tells you no more than that the Leftist does not want to believe the fact concerned.

And the latest example of convenience as a criterion for truth is the amazing spectacle of Pastor Wright claiming that blacks and whites have inherently different brains. He has famously said that:
"Africans have a different meter, and Africans have a different tonality," he said. Europeans have seven tones, Africans have five. White people clap differently than black people. "Africans and African-Americans are right-brained, subject-oriented in their learning style, ....They have a different way of learning."

or as Heather Macdonald summarizes:
At the NAACP meeting, Wright proudly propounded the racist contention that blacks have inherently different "learning styles," correctly citing as authority for this view Janice Hale of Wayne State University. Pursuing a Ph.D. by logging long hours in the dusty stacks of a library, Wright announced, is "white." Blacks, by contrast, cannot sit still in class or learn from quiet study, and they have difficulty learning from "objects"-books, for example-but instead learn from "subjects," such as rap lyrics on the radio. These differences are neurological, according to Hale and Wright: whites use what Wright referred to as the "left-wing, logical, and analytical" side of their brains, whereas blacks use their "right brain," which is "creative and intuitive."

Most people have reacted very adversely to these utterances -- recognizing how far outside the mainstream they are. But I think that there may be something in what he has said. The behavioural differences between blacks and whites are plain to any honest observer and that the differences might have a genetic basis is entirely in accord with what the scientific literature keeps telling us about the vast influence of genetics.

I myself have also been saying for decades that black and white brains are different -- but I have been rewarded for that by being figuratively cast into outer darkness -- even by other conservatives. Anybody who mentions the plain psychometric fact that blacks are on average of much lower intelligence and that the difference is hereditary is completely outside the pale of civilization. To accept the lie that there are NO important genetic differences between the races is not just the conventional wisdom: It is a necessary passport to being acceptable and respectable in polite society. And rejecting that lie is even worse than rejecting global warming!

As Dr Goebbels knew, a big lie is often more plausible than the plain scientific facts and those of us who draw attention to the facts can easily be marginalized. Perhaps fortunately, most of the lies, deceptions and legends that I campaign against are in the medical field -- where the fate of the skeptic is mostly to be ignored rather than being stigmatized. But all the lies, deceptions and accepted myths concerned are very harmful to people. I would not bother about them otherwise.

So how come Pastor Wright can say the opposite of what is normally regarded as correct about race to thunderous applause at a NAACP convention? Simple: To a Leftist, the truth of a statement depends entirely on the use to which it is put. If a statement about an inborn difference seems to be derogatory to a favoured group (Leftists are so mentally limited that they think almost entirely in terms of groups) then that statement is WRONG. But if it defends the deviant actions of the same group it is RIGHT.

Leftists really do mean it when they say that there is no such thing as right and wrong -- absurd though that it. I guess that they do know deep down that there are real truth differences but truth is very subordinate to their political convenience. It just does not matter. They have no regard for truth at all. Truth is what is expedient. Manipulating people has priority over all else.

Ed Morrissey has also noted the hypocrisy in the response to Pastor Wright's claims.