March 20, 2006

Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be...

Eh, you read it.

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.

At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The co

Via Balloon Juice.

Posted by binky at March 20, 2006 10:01 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Random Thoughts


Thanks for posting this. It prompted a pre-dawn parenting panic on my part! (I can't get your trackback to work this morning,btw.)

Posted by: kcb at March 21, 2006 07:57 AM | PERMALINK

Thanks! I'll check into the trackback.

Posted by: binky at March 21, 2006 09:04 AM | PERMALINK

"'I found it to be biased, shoddy work, poor science at best," he said of the Block study. He thinks insecure, defensive, rigid people can as easily gravitate to left-wing ideologies as right-wing ones. He suspects that in Communist China, those kinds of people would likely become fervid party members.'

I find this comment interesting, since it appears to self-servingly conflate liberalism with leftism, which in this context I take to be misleading. In China, communism is dogmatic, authoritarian, and thus in some sense it is akin to contemporary conservatism in the U.S. The thought that the whiny, insecure kids might become good party men and women doesn't surprise me in the least; indeed, I think that hypothesis lends support to the study's results.

Also, as for "self-indulgent" and "ineffectual," liberals, yeah, over here -- that's me.

Posted by: moon at March 21, 2006 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

It predicts 7 percent of the variance, and that's "fairly strong" evidence? I do not deny that I was a whiny kid growing up. But I wouldn't be much of a Taoist if I was caught up in moral rigidity or if I was uncomfortable with ambiguity. Maybe they need to rename his comparison group "Goldwater conservatives." I do have honest concerns about the "insecurity" of the study's author, what with devoting so many hours of his work to proving that the guys who disagree with him were whiners when they were kids. Maybe he wasn't required to take the logic class where Ad Hominem fallacy was discussed. And maybe he didn't figure out that he was doing with conservatives what the psychologist who based his personality theory on inferiority was doing with homosexuality. Does he just not get that his aggressivenss against conservatives wouldn't be there if he himself was secure?

Posted by: Morris at March 21, 2006 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Mo - "It predicts 7 percent of the variance, and that's "fairly strong" evidence?" Uh, if it's a significant effect it's significant effect - and 7 percent of the variance isn't exactly tiny.

Posted by: Armand at March 21, 2006 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

I would like to see the study replicated -- but in a community that is as conservative as Berkeley is liberal, to filter for (among other things) the rebelling-against-parents factor.

Posted by: jacflash at March 21, 2006 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

You miss the real point here. What if someone did a research study into whether people who had abortions (or union members, or transgendered people) were whiners when they were growing up? What would it prove if they were? It proves very little about the people being studied in comparison to what it proves about the one who thought it was a worthwhile investment of his time to study these questions. Can you imagine doing an exit poll in which you asked for party affiliation, whether they think the President's doing a good job, and whether they were whiney as a child? It's adolescent, at best. This is nothing but an ad hominem attack masquerading as research to compensate for the researcher's inferiority complex.

Posted by: Morris at March 21, 2006 11:31 AM | PERMALINK
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