Monday, March 08, 2010

Science at its finest, Part II

I just finished reading The Authoritarians by psychologist Bob Altemeyer. His very scientific research has found that a large segment of white Americans are basically proto-Nazis, and of course they're all on the right. His "Right-Wing Authoritarian" scale strongly taps traditionalism, aggression, and respect for government authority.

I couldn't sleep for nights after hearing his campfire stories of bloody, hook-handed Christian Right Bogeymen. I was also surprised to learn that the RWA scale proves that hardline Russian Communists are actually right-wingers!

Naive person that I am, I would've guessed that aggression and government-worship were prevalent at least among some Democrats; how about American blacks, for example? I don't know about you, but armed Black Panthers and students taking over campus buildings look like fascists to me.

I noticed a couple posts back that blacks score higher than whites on an aggression scale, and I just checked the traditionalism scale among MIDUS respondents: the black mean surpassed that of whites by almost a third of a standard deviation. And does anyone doubt that blacks adore government more than whites? 

Altemeyer devotes many pages warning us of the dire threat of Christian fundamentalists to American democracy. Nuremberg rallies, megachurches on a Sunday morning--what's the difference? But Bobby seems to think that Bible thumpers can only be white. He must have missed the memo. In the MIDUS study, I calculate that 29 percent of whites strongly agree that the Bible is the actual Word of God. Blacks must be about--what--10 percent? Try 66 percent. Blackshirts, black all over.

Legitimate researchers are supposed to identify factors that predict the subject of study. At least that's what I thought that scientists did. But what do I know? I didn't win APA's highest award.

Altemeyer devotes many pages calling us to crusade with righteous fervor against the fascist takeover of the United States, but somehow never identifies race as relevant to the study of authoritarianism. I suppose that wouldn't be objective.

Please download the free book and send it to all your friends. Professor Altemeyer doesn't care about a profit when the issue is the moral salvation of the country. With your help and that of Almighty Science, we will prevail against the Forces of Evil.  


  1. Anonymous3:34 PM

    "And does anyone doubt that blacks adore government more than whites?"

    Hm. Dunno.

    Anyway, maybe blacks are just more impressed by show of force, whereas whites are more interested in whether the authority is actually right. The show of force is more likely to just piss them off. Authority is also a convincing argument to children who also confuse being strong and in authority with being right.

  2. David Friedman has an interesting response here.

    John J. Ray says the "authoritarian personality" should just be called "old-fashioned personality".


Meta-analysis of clinical trials: Eat walnuts

I am always looking for easy eating choices that are good for you. This new meta-analysis of 26 clinical trials looked to see if walnuts ma...