Here is some ripe poop from the WaPo. Headline:
Conspiracy theories aren’t just for conservatives
It's gonna suck... subhed:
Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Liberals, that’s who.
It's gonna suck so very hard. Here are quotes. They are dumb.
Take Princeton economist Paul Krugman who ominously warns that:
Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left—which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe—the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.
Krugman makes a fair point: in moderation conspiracy theories may show healthy skepticism, but in excess they can erode the trust needed for states to fulfill their basic functions and warp the respect for evidence necessary for sound decision making.
Yet Krugman is mostly wrong that nuttiness is found mainly among conservatives, and his misperception actually reveals a great deal about U.S. politics.
The "Krugman makes a fair point" line is bizarre, because it has no relation to Krugman's actual point, which has nothing to do with "moderation" as regards "conspiracy theories."
Krugman's point, which is rather self-evident, is that only one major US political party, and the social and cultural institutions that cradle it, is energetically opposed to a very specific branch of scientific inquiry: climate science. (Embarrassments as regards evolution are here also rife.) Is there a parallel as regards the leadership of the Democratic Party, its leaders, its "important people," its "powerful politicians," its "television personalities with large audiences" in relation to a specific branch of scientific inquiry, to what "powerful GOP politicians" have to say about climate change if they want to get elected to office and stay there?
No. There is fucking not.
The authors of this abominable article are smug little shits, very pleased with themselves that they are not icky like Krugman, who has chosen a side, the beastly little man. "Nuttiness"? All people who have a particular point of view are prone to "nuttiness"?
People of all political persuasions believe their views are objectively right and others hold positions that are arbitrary and asinine. Daniel Kahan finds that partisan commitments make people look for evidence to justify their conclusions. Even when, say, liberals come up with a correct answer, it may not have been because of their high esteem for evidence. They just got lucky. The implication is that people use data like drunks use lampposts: more for support than illumination. Columnist Ezra Klein concurs with Kahan, although he points out the large numbers of Republicans who refuse to accept climate science and wonders whether there is a liberal equivalent to climate change denial.
Oho, Daniel Kahan has "found" things out, by my stars and left shiny testicle.
Go ahead -- click that "they just got lucky" link up there. Read the following text. Enjoy Daniel Kahan coming across like a twerp and dickhead. And not addressing the point that of the two major political parties, only the one towards the left has a political and social leadership not hostile to scientific analysis. And beyond that... Christ, even Young Ezra figured this out.
So let's look at the idiotic social science in the WaPo article.
So are all Americans created equal when it comes to fearing collusion and conspiracies? Our recent research suggests that they are. As part of a 2012 national survey, we asked respondents about the likelihood of voter fraud as an explanation if their preferred presidential candidate did not win. Fifty percent of Republicans said it would be very or somewhat likely, compared to 44 percent of Democrats. This contradicts claims by Jonathan Chait that Republicans believe in electoral conspiracy theories far more than Democrats do.
This is breathtakingly stupid. Only one party has decided to go out of its way to pretend that "voter fraud" is a serious issue, and has thus decided to press for strict "Voter ID laws." And given these conspiratorial pressures... damn fucking straight the GOP is systematically launching an attempt to suppress the voting rights of students, blacks, and the poor. Denying that is, in fact, irrational, Indeed: it is FUCKING irrational.
But here is the punchline.
In our survey, we also measured respondents’ underlying propensity to believe in conspiracy theories — that is, the general mindset that leads people to accept or reject conspiracy theories. We asked respondents whether they agreed with four statements:
- “Much of our lives are being controlled by plots hatched in secret places,”
- “Even though we live in a democracy, a few people will always run things anyway,”
- “The people who really ‘run’ the country are not known to the voters.”
- “Big events like wars, the current recession, and the outcomes of elections are controlled by small groups of people who are working in secret against the rest of us.”
... The upshot: near symmetry between left and right.
Yeah. Because all of those statements are pretty much accurate, and are accepted facts among grownups.
But then of course we ultimately get the reversion to the mean bullshit:
We have to wonder what would happen to liberals’ belief in climate science if the solution to climate change were freer markets and smaller government.
Yeah, you would sort of have to wonder that, because it's fucking wrong. As regards, like, the facts.
At the moment, the human beings in the world at whom I am most incensed are the "reason" and "Reason" and faux-reasonable peddlers of smug bullshit who are gleefully -- or, at best, mindlessly -- wailing out about how SCIENCE shows that people who believe in things are stupid, and therefore, they themselves are great and smart ha ha.
But from a cold, rational point of view, if you know jack shit about science, you should vote Democrat. Specifically because that is the rational decision.
Which is not to say there are not problems with the Democratic Party. There are. Serious ones. But again, you should only vote for a Republican if you believe in bullshit.
As regards science education in general, I hope everyone concerned in the preparation and publication of this Washington Post article is murdered by wolverines. Also there is far too much social science "research" like this that is glib horrible garbage and is just fucking not scholarship and that sucks.