Conservative views reflect Fear…

SkyHarbor, 2012/02/09 

No wonder the Right doesn’t believe in evolution… it helps explain why they’re all so authoritarian and paranoid:

As the new research suggests, conservatism is largely a defensive ideology — and therefore, much more appealing to people who go through life sensitive and highly attuned to aversive or threatening aspects of their environments. By contrast, liberalism can be thought of as an exploratory ideology — much more appealing to people who go through life trying things out and seeking the new.

Read the whole article by Chris Mooney here: Understanding Republican Brains

Good stuff and there’s legit research to back it up. Recommended!


  1. SkyHarbor wrote,

    While the article and the papers cited therein (wisely perhaps) limit themselves to political conservatives, I would suggest that this tendency toward ‘suspicious minds’ would manifest not only in politics, but significantly in attitudes toward science and religious beliefs as well… Making it easy to understand why there would be such a dramatic correlation between right-wing ideologues and Bible thumpers and science deniers…

    I certainly don’t know enough about the human brain to speculate but there is at least a psychological common denominator: It is FEAR.

    We should expect to see it in many guises. Defensiveness should be obvious, but also a certain ‘rigidity’ and repetitiveness of behaviors, an authoritarian manner with others and a vast ‘incuriousity’ about the world in general… a lack of a sense of humour might also be expected, particularly an inability to laugh at oneself. A wistful longing for the mythical ‘good old days’, etc.

    So we shouldn’t be surprised to see these behavioral types join together with their ‘own kind’ to reinforce their own stunted outlooks. These folks all have one thing in common. They are AFRAID. And fear makes people do strange things… Dangerous things… REPUBLICAN things! 😉

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 3:45 am

  2. byronius wrote,

    That constant fear is a damaging stress, one that warps the personality into distorted nightmare forms of cruelty and sexual repression. They’re also far more herd-like, less capable of independent thought, and more vulnerable to the effects of shaming.

    Think Progress

    New Hampshire Republicans Propose Bill To Eliminate Workers’ Lunch Breaks

    New Hampshire’s GOP legislature has come up with all manner of absurd bills recently, including a proposal making public school curriculum optional, another to prevent police from protecting domestic abuse victims, and even a measure mandating that new laws be based on the Magna Carta. Some of the Granite State’s GOP lawmakers have even proposed doing away with the law that requires employers to give their workers time off for lunch, under the rationale that all employers will simply grant lunch breaks out of the goodness of their hearts:

    “This is an unneeded law,” (Republican state Representative Kyle Jones) said. “If I was to deny one of my employees a break, I would be in a very bad position with the company’s human resources representative. If you consider that this is a very easy law to follow in that everyone already does it, then why do we need it? Our constituents have already proven that they have enough common sense to do this on their own.”

    The bill’s sponsor, state representative J.R. Hoell, argued that companies failing to provide lunch breaks would be shamed over social media, thus rendering the law unnecessary. “If they are not letting people have lunch, they could put it out though the news media, though social media. I don’t think that abusive behavior would continue, the way communications are today,” he said.

    Of course, not every employer can be counted to to follow even the easiest of requirements to look after workers’ health and rights. Back in 2005, Walmart was forced to pay $172 million for denying workers their lunch breaks. Pyramid Breweries Inc. settled a case in 2008 for $1.5 million. Just a few months ago, California ordered Embassy Suites to pay workers tens of thousands of dollars for forcing them to skip breaks.

    Oh, good lord —


    Mississippi Rep. Wants The Gulf Of Mexico Renamed The ‘Gulf Of America’

    A lawmaker in Mississippi is pushing to change the name of “the body of water located directly south” of the state, the Gulf of Mexico, to the “Gulf of America.”

    State Rep. Steve Holland (D) has introduced HB 150, which says that “for all official purposes within the state of Mississippi, the body of water located directly south of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties shall be known as the ‘Gulf Of America’; and for related purposes.”

    Lot of time on his hands, lots of really stupid ideas to try out. It’s all they do.

    Next up — scrawling ‘Ronald Reagan Rules!’ across the entire Western United States. Only fifteen billion taxpayer dollars. What a deal!

    Meanwhile, everyone else has to rescue them from themselves. Without us, they’d all be dead in a couple of years. Really — imagine Rick Santorum, left to himself — that’s not gonna end well.

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 8:41 am

  3. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Having flown over central Nevada, there’s certainly plenty of room THERE for “Ronald Reagan Rules”… I’ve never seen such ‘god-forsaken’ country! But if we get Newt’s ‘Moon colony’ up and running, wouldn’t it be cool to have it writ really large on the Moon for all to see?
    (personally, I’d go with “Fast ‘n’ Bulbous” or “Jupiter Sheep Was Here”) 😉

    In an odd coincidence to this thread: C-PAC, the ultra-right
    “Conservative Political Action Committee” is convening in DC starting today… plotting a return to ‘Family Values’ and Jesus… Gingrich, Santorum, Bachmann and the whole gang will be there. The fear pheromones will be wafting wild!!

    On stress: Imagine living your life experiencing a near-constant low level ‘fight or flight’ response… stale adrenaline feels awful in your veins. ICK!

    UPDATE: Michele Bachmann was just speaking at C-PAC (on CNN) and mentioned Elvis Presley, referring to the ‘birthday’ gaffe during her ill-fated Presidential run… Of course, Elvis is revered in today’s conservative circles almost as much as Jesus… but it occurs to me that these were the very same people who excoriated him in the 50’s for ‘lewd’ behaviour and playing ‘the Devil’s music’ or ‘Nigger music’… To wit:

    Ahem… I rest my case.

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 12:13 pm

  4. SkyHarbor wrote,

    An ecstatic little sis Alia in perhaps the best shot from the film “Dune”

    Weirdly appropriate from Frank Herbert/David Lynch’s (sort of) “Dune”:
    “Fear is the Mind killer!”

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 2:24 pm

  5. Cat-eyes wrote,

    I find it interesting that these people who adore authoritarianism and rules and no change aren’t ardent and avid supporters of . . . communism.

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 2:31 pm

  6. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Cat-eyes: Yes, but as we know, ‘Communism’ is the mortal enemy of the Right. They’ll go with the Fascist model every time!

    A bright engineer I worked with once told me that if you take the Left/Right political spectrum and bend it into a circle, the far-Left and far-Right are nearly indistinguishable… It’s a good point and he could be correct.

    Modify “communism” to “totalitarianism” and you’re right on the money! ;-}

    I think it’s the very strict and well-defined hierarchy and ‘chain of command’ that appeals to this sort of mindset.

    *FLASH*: Thinking on these things, I just glanced up at CNN and saw a photo of a U.S. Marines company in Afghanistan… The unit’s flag? The Runic ‘SS’ as used for the Nazi ‘Schutzstaffel’:

    At the very least, an exercise in extremely bad taste!

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 2:37 pm

  7. byronius wrote,

    Meanwhile, one hundred seconds from the land of insane dicks:

    CPAC. I could handle maybe — ten seconds?

    Fricking scary psychos.

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 4:10 pm

  8. Cat-eyes wrote,

    On a Side note – I am having trouble understanding the furor surrounding birth control and the Catholic Church. a “good” Catholic would not ask for any and trying to impose their religious beliefs on any one who is not Catholic is none of their damn business. As an aside to that the definition of the lower case word catholic is a broad or wide-ranging in tastes, interests, or the like; having sympathies with all; broad-minded; liberal. Go figure.

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 6:09 pm

  9. Cat-eyes wrote,

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 6:15 pm

  10. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Cat-eyes: This tempest in a teapot over ‘the pill’ pushed my WTF? button too…

    It’s by-and-large the conservative Right that is up in arms over this, NOT the Catholics. Most American Roman Catholics have for decades routinely ignored the (frankly absurd) Papal ban on any form of contraception, including birth-control pills.

    It’s hard to get past all the right-wing static, but as I understand it, all the ruling does is to remove from the Health Care Reform Act (‘Obamacare’) an exemption for church-run organisations which allowed them to NOT include birth-control coverage in insurance policies for their employees (many of whom are NOT Catholic) ‘as a matter of religious conscience’.

    All women’s health insurance policies must offer coverage for birth control. That’s the bottom line. NO one is forced or even encouraged to use birth control, but it MUST be covered for those who DO wish it.

    Because Catholic Bishops and Cardinals are obligated to stand with the Church’s strictures (or risk the Inquisition?), most of them are opposed to this (or remain silent), but rank and file American Catholics overwhelmingly support it. Besides, the argument on ‘the pill’ is OVER and has been for many years… It is just being used as subterfuge to accuse Obama of waging a ‘War against God’.

    All the hyperbole and screeching about ‘destroying the 1st amendment’ and ‘forced to go against their consciences’ is just that; hyperbole and screeching.

    The GOP has rushed bills to the House and Senate in an effort to stop this in its tracks. I’m confident they will FAIL.

    Right-wing zealots would have us believe that President Obama burnt the Constitution in the back yard, and have women believe that they’ll be tied down and FORCED to take birth control pills as a result of the recent ruling.

    Fear. That’s ALL the GOP EVER offers. Fear and MORE fear.

    Grrrr… I’m sick of it! FUCK THEM.

    Great ‘what they said’/’what they meant’ pic (I added an IMG tag) BTW! 😉

    Comment on 2012/02/09 @ 8:08 pm

  11. byronius wrote,

    Commentary on this issue from Balloon Juice:

    Comment on 2012/02/10 @ 1:21 pm

  12. SkyHarbor wrote,

    byronius: Great! Awww – Bloody Hell! Not ANOTHER one!
    Oh well, we can sell ’em into slavery and I hear Squibb is paying rather well for medical test ‘subjects’… So it all evens out! We might even come out a few quid ahead! Thank you Jesus! We truly have a Friend in You! 😉

    Catholic Contraception Kerfuffle *** UPDATE ***

    President Obama bowed somewhat today to irate conservatives by shifting the cost of birth control coverage from Catholic-run organisations and will now force the insurance companies to eat the expense of providing birth control. That way, Catholic organisations don’t have to directly pay for the Satanic pills which apparently piss off the Roman-Catholic-God so much…

    So now every Catholic executive will be spared the ‘terrible guilt’ of subsidizing the reproductive health of their female employees…

    Of course, the insurance companies left holding the bag for the problematic pills will simply spread the cost around… and the Catholics will STILL be paying for them. But at least their sinful fingerprints won’t be so easily detectable… Is everybody happy now?

    Surely, God in His Omniscience will NEVER figure out the shell game…

    The irony of all this of course is that it doesn’t do ANYTHING for the parts of world where birth control is really NEEDED like Africa and southern Asia and parts of Latin America: World Population Clock

    Oh well. I hope everybody’s religious ‘conscience’ is salved sufficiently now… Sheesh… your God is SUCH a tool! :-(

    Comment on 2012/02/10 @ 1:46 pm

  13. Roy Howard wrote,

    You really go after them! Good writing.

    Comment on 2012/02/10 @ 3:21 pm

  14. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Thanks for bothering to read, Dad! 😉

    The following is perhaps a bit off topic, but the World Pop-o-meter (link above) got me to thinking…

    In the poorest areas of the world the very best long term ‘birth control’ is to send your little girls to SCHOOL and teach them to READ and ‘do sums’:

    It’s hard to argue with such an obvious correlation…

    We’re not talking about advanced calculus or brain surgery here, simply a basic ability to READ. The U.N. has several agencies working hard at getting very basic education to poor children around the world, and I encourage anyone with a few spare bucks to send some to UNESCO or similar organisation or even to get involved if you’re so inclined. Just a thought.

    A little food and clean water, basic inoculation to major diseases and a local free elementary SCHOOL. Is that REALLY so much to ask for every single little girl or boy? Really?

    But some patriarchal societies frown on educating their girls… and justify this by a deliberate misreading of their various ‘holy books’ (the girls can’t read, remember?). The Taliban* and FLDS (fundie ‘Mormons’) come immediately to mind. Chattel. That’s ALL that females are to these so-called men. Period. Such ‘men’ are cowards and are unworthy of respect.

    I’ll get down off my soapbox now.

    * The boys DO go to ‘school’ of course. A madrasa where they are taught to read and memorise the Qu’ran, and that is ALL. “It’s all they’ll ever need”. The ‘brighter’ lads are also taught to make bombs… “Allah hu akbar!!” — KA-BOOM!
    Such ‘enlightenment’ I think we can do without!

    Comment on 2012/02/10 @ 9:34 pm

  15. Frank Discussion wrote,

    Seems when the economy goes south people irrationally swing to the right with an accompanying large dose of racism and xenophobia. Witness post WWI Germany and Italy which spawned Hitler and Mussolini and the horrendous crimes against humanity that accompanied this shift,

    Comment on 2012/02/11 @ 9:20 am

  16. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Hey Bro’! Welcome!

    Yes, this gets back to the main thesis of this thread, which is about a defensive and fearful mindset… and why that’s not a good or healthy thing.

    (byronius and I have discussed this era and the rise of Nazism here several times… just search in the ‘Dig’ box)

    In post-WWI ‘Weimar’ Germany, the shock of actually losing a war* was unacceptable to the Prussian militaristic mindset of many/most Germans. As the economy collapsed, the search for a scapegoat became desperate. German anti-Semitism was nothing new, but the idea of a ‘double-crossing Jewry stabbing Der Deutsche Volk in the back’ proved extremely attractive to many. Adolf Hitler exploited that simmering resentment and a ‘return to true Teutonic values’ (sound familiar?) to a fare-thee-well…

    Almost before they themselves knew it, Germany went from a world center of arts and sciences to a heavily armed pack of murderous hyenas… the worst example (so far) of an entire society gone pathological.

    Fear. Fear and an overblown but fragile sense of superiority. Dangerous stuff. A cautionary tale for the GOP… This election season is going to get plenty nasty before it’s over!

    * Government propaganda had told the German people that they were ‘winning’, right up until they suddenly WEREN’T… This increased the trauma of the situation. The over-harsh terms of the Versailles Treaty completed the German humiliation.

    Comment on 2012/02/11 @ 11:48 am

  17. byronius wrote,

    One can probably trace the whole thing back to the biochemistry of Gaut, an Alaric who left his tribe to seek his own fortune. He took a woman with him, and together, they became the mother and father of the entire Teutonic event.

    Actually, I blame this:

    JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Scientists have discovered fossils in Namibia that they say are the world’s first animals.

    The sponge-like fossils dubbed Otavia antiqua were found at Etosha National Park in northern Namibia and at other sites in the southern African country, a team of international researchers said in an article published in the South African Journal of Science.

    Otavia antiqua is said to be a tiny creature that lived in the world’s earliest oceans, surviving in low-oxygen conditions.

    While animal life was previously thought to have emerged 600 million to 650 million years ago, these fossils were discovered in rocks dated to between 760 million and 550 million years ago, researchers said.

    Damn the sponges. They knew not what they were wreaking.

    Creepy looking dude.

    I’ve been reading about Kaiser Wilhelm II, his withered left arm that he was so defined by, and his dismissal of Bismarck’s progressive and peace-oriented policies in 1890. Bismarck was focused on building a stable Europe; Wilhelm was focused on playing with toy ships, imagining war as some sort of exciting game, perhaps one that he could win.

    Some historians absolve him, but I think he was quite dual-natured, and both urged the Great Conflict on while feeling insecure and troubled about the whole thing. In the end, he became the symbol for incompetent monarchy, and was given a funeral in Berlin festooned with Nazi flags. Hitler hated Wilhelm, but was not above using him.

    Anybody notice how Germany is rising again? Non-militaristic, anti-Nazi, socially progressive — and economically unstoppable.


    Comment on 2012/02/11 @ 1:12 pm

  18. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Blame ‘Sponge-Bob Square Pants’!
    If there’s a way to screw things up, we life-forms will FIND it every time!

    And relating back to the German discussion:

    (I love Cmdr. Riker’s sideways look ‘askance’ at Data! 😉 )

    Auf dem Kaiser: I think it was those pointy helmets that started the long slide into Hell… No doubt they were receiving subliminal transmissions from the ‘Death Star’…

    Comment on 2012/02/11 @ 1:35 pm

  19. SkyHarbor wrote,

    byronius: In the two decades since the fall of The Wall and Reunification, the ‘New’ Germany has made remarkable strides… both economically and in rehabilitating itself after the ‘unpleasantness’ of the previous century.

    It’s probably over-simple to say that Deutschland has finally ‘learned its lesson’, but that nation KNOWS ‘in its bones’ more than any other nation except perhaps Japan the true wages of aggressive WAR in the modern era.

    Going back to Kaiser Wilhelm II, we can (with 20-20 hindsight) see how the dominoes fell with sickening certainty toward an utterly ruined Europe*.

    But today, as the last of the Nazis finally die off and those horrors fade to black, the world can begin to see once again WHY we admired the Germans in the FIRST PLACE.

    France is doing ‘comme ci comme ça’ at the moment I think, and Italy is… well, Italy! ;-} Britain and Germany are the standard bearers for the EU and Western Europe, with Germany now sharing a leading role as it SHOULD.

    I also think that America should be proud of its part in rebuilding a strong, peaceful, industrious and LIBERAL modern Europe. As I’ve said before, the post-war ‘Marshall Plan’ was the most enlightened piece of foreign policy of the 20th century. Europe wouldn’t be where it is were it not for us! And the EU, even as it suffers economic stress right now, just couldn’t exist. We Yanks can take justified satisfaction from that.

    Sure, it has its problems, especially the issues stemming from the ‘Great Recession’… which, we must admit, was mostly America’s fault. And some of Europe’s probably over-generous social programs in an aging population aren’t helping. Still, the US, Canada and the EU form an economic and political ‘block’ which is (for now anyway) UNBEATABLE.

    * Although it must have been cold comfort at the time, there ARE advantages to having to start all over again from scratch.

    Comment on 2012/02/11 @ 3:24 pm

  20. Cat-eyes wrote,

    I’ve been considering the dichotomy of people who support and vote GOP when it can be clearly demonstrated that it would far better serve their own self-interests NOT to support the GOP. I suspect it is the other half of the fight or flight response of Fear. The pundits are (incredulously enough) the fighters. Fearing change the fight with denial supported by counterfeit information, blatant lies, propaganda and dirty deals in which they seek to benefit only themselves. The rank and file on the other hand, are the flight faction. They are scared and simply run where the stampede is going, a mindless, very dangerous mass of destruction caused by the ‘gun shots’ of the foolishly afraid fighter pundits. Indeed, for them the sky is truly falling.

    Comment on 2012/02/12 @ 7:47 am

  21. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Cat-eyes: Hmmm… I absolutely agree with you that Republican voters with incomes of less than 7 figures are voting against their own self-interests. I also agree that most people, when faced with a Fight-or-Flight situation, will choose FLIGHT and head for the hills: (the GOP rank and file)

    The ‘herding’ instinct in people probably deserves a post of its own and give us mob mentality and mass panic events, which usually end quite badly.

    However, I don’t quite follow your argument that ‘pundits’ (I’m assuming you mean TV news so-called ‘expert’ types) represent the FIGHT side of the equation. For instance, in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003, I was frustrated that almost all of mainstream ‘pundits’ were very compliant with the Bush/Cheney ‘line’ of WMD’s, mobile poison gas ‘factories’, ‘yellow cake’ Uranium, ‘mushroom clouds’ and the rest. They were pounding the war drums as loudly as anyone. I classify that as ‘flight’ behaviour. Those few who resisted the stampede to war were either tarred as ‘unpatriotic’ or ‘cranks’ or (horrors!) ‘liberals’, and some were even actively suppressed*… I’d call THAT a ‘courageous’ or ‘FIGHT’ response, but again, that stance was taken by only a very tiny minority of ‘pundits’ until well after the invasion was a fait accompli.

    Or maybe I’m simply misunderstanding your point! Perhaps if you’d give me a specific example or two of what you mean… please?

    * Consider the Valerie Plame CIA ‘outing’ in reprisal by Dick Cheney for her husband’s (fmr. Amb. Joe Wilson) refusal to ‘play along’ with the Iraq/Niger ‘Yellow Cake Uranium’ myth which he exposed publicly in the NYT as a fraud designed to frighten Americans.
    (“What I Didn’t Find In Africa” — very actively suppressed)

    Comment on 2012/02/12 @ 2:19 pm

  22. Cat-eyes wrote,

    Ah Sky, the items you list are exactly the kind of thing I was speaking to. I think the misunderstanding was in my use of the term pundits, but which I meant the GOP, right wing, and fundamentalist talking heads, and politicos both incumbent and retired.

    Comment on 2012/02/13 @ 6:29 am

  23. SkyHarbor wrote,

    Cat-eyes: All becomes clear… We are in agreement!
    Be sure to check out my ‘GOP Rank and File’ link for a smile! ;-}

    Comment on 2012/02/13 @ 6:44 am

  24. byronius wrote,

    Good lord.

    Comment on 2012/02/13 @ 6:15 pm

  25. New Worlds Weam » Carl Sagan (1934-1996): Teacher. Visionary. wrote,

    […] flat when compared with Carl’s own words. And I can’t help but think about my recent critique of conservatism… Our only hope is to leave that sort of calcified small-mindedness BEHIND, to remove power […]

    Pingback on 2012/02/13 @ 9:04 pm

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