A Methodology Critique in Defense of Those Wascally Wepublicans

demonized conservativesYou may have heard the news by now. People who hold conservative political opinions are suffering from a syndrome in need of a cure. How do we know this? Because a professor of psychology has demonstrated it to be so. The news has been getting a lot of press lately.

Since his graduate school days, John T. Jost, who currently holds position as an Associate Professor of Psychology at New York University, has been studying the reasons by which people adopt conservative political ideology. His most publicized achievement is a 2003 article titledPolitical Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition (from here on out, I’ll refer to it as “the study.”) It was touted in the February issue of Psychology Today (Dixit, 2007) as, “the most comprehensive review of personality and political orientation to date.”

Don’t confuse comprehensiveness with integrity. The study maligns half of the U.S. population and much of the population of the world. Research resulting in mass vilification always causes the Iron Shrink to raise an eyebrow, so I examined the methodology that the authors used to arrive at their conclusion. Regular readers will know that I have little tolerance for intellectual sloppiness.

Regular readers will also know that it is not my habit to tear down the work of others. Doing so takes little talent and too much of that sort of thing rightfully drives people away. But at times, one must defend the integrity of one’s profession.

What They Discovered

Jost, along with his co-authors Jack Glaser, Arie Kruglanski, and Frank Sulloway (“the authors”), concluded that there is “a clear tendency for conservatives to score higher on measures of dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, needs for order, structure, and closure and to be lower in openness to experience and integrative complexity than [are] moderates and liberals” (Jost, 2006, p. 662). In other words, conservatives are pigheaded, closed minded, anal retentive, and less intelligent than everyone else. The authors also believe that conservative ideology is driven by “the psychological management of uncertainty and fear” (p. 369).

There is “a clear tendency for conservatives to score higher on measures of dogmatism, intolerance of ambiguity, needs for order, structure, and closure and to be lower in openness to experience and integrative complexity than [are] moderates and liberals.”

The study has received glowing reviews from the field of psychology. In its uncritical account of the piece, Psychology Today made reference to its “impeccable methodology” (p. 84). In a short piece ironically titled Psychological Science is Not Politically Correct, the president of the American Psychological Association cited the study as an example of “high quality behavioral research” (Koocher, 2006).

Impeccable methodology? High quality research? Let’s look at the research methods that have the experts all atwitter. But first, I ask for your informed consent.

Buyer Beware

I generally keep IronShrink.com free from political ideology because it is irrelevant to discussions on general psychology. But this topic is different. Political beliefs are at the core of the issue, and politics can motivate writers (like me) or researchers (like the authors) toward comfortable conclusions.

One of the most basic responsibilities of a psychologist is to provide informed consent. In my clinic, I have a legal duty to explain my methods and remind clients that I’m not the ultimate authority. That responsibility doesn’t extend to this website, but I think you have a right to know my political leanings before you read any further. Telling you is the right thing to do, so here goes…

I am a libertarian and a capitalist. I trust the free market more than I will ever trust government policy makers or university professors. I have noticed that social programs work only up to a point, after which they create resentment and entitlement in recipients. I find it unconstitutional that gays are not allowed to marry and I am reluctantly pro-choice. Ayn Rand was a sexy goddess and Ronald Reagan was correct when he said that government is the problem, not the solution. And yes, I voted for George W. Bush because his policies were, and sadly still are, better than the alternative.

Now you know where I stand and you’re free to dismiss me as a ranting extremist. Jost and his colleagues offer no such courtesy. They give the appearance of harmless, objective observers rather than armed combatants in the war of ideas.

A Brief Outline

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition is a long, complex analysis of 88 studies that have examined conservative ideology. It weighs in at a hefty 37 pages and 23,000 densely-packed, agonizing words. (I put myself through a lot for my readers.) It examines more than 20 theories, contains complex statistical operations, and is peppered with political opinion and historical threads. Copyright law prohibits me from providing you with the study, but you should be able to find it at any university library. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to sum it up briefly.

The authors begin by summarizing the struggle of social scientists and psychologists to understand conservatism over the last half century. The rise of Marxism and World War Two figure prominently in this struggle. They point out that there has been no such effort to understand political liberals – that population has barely been studied. The authors hypothesize that the beliefs of conservatives are defined both by psychological needs and by practical motivations.

They offer a two-part definition of conservatism that serves as the foundation for their study and establishes the parameters for the theories and the data they examine. They hypothesize that a meta-analysis [1] of previous studies will reveal that “people embrace political conservatism (at least in part) because it serves to reduce fear, anxiety, and uncertainty; to avoid change, disruption, and ambiguity; and to explain order, and justify inequality among groups and individuals” (p. 340).

The authors outline theories that have been developed by others to explain conservatism, and they describe some of the measures that have been developed to test those theories. After analyzing 48 pieces of literature containing 88 samples, the authors boast that “almost all of our specific hypotheses were corroborated” (p. 366). Unfortunately, proving themselves right involved at least three very serious methodological flaws.

The first methodological flaw is basing the entirety of their work on a definition of conservatism that is both maligning and simplistic. The second is a biased and unrepresentative description of the population of conservatives, including a selective use, disregard, and reassignment of statistical outliers. The third is a degree of confirmation bias that is baffling in its depth.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Methodological Flaw #1: “Webster’s Dictionary Defines Conservatism as…”

If I were setting out to understand a complex social phenomena such as conservatism, I would want to get to know conservatives. I’d want to talk to them and watch them. I would ask open-ended questions about their thoughts on government. I’d try to find out how they relate to their families, friends, and communities. I’d ask about their educations and their religions. I’d look at their voting patterns, the history of their ideology, and their desires for the future. And that’s just off the top of my head.

I would absolutely not forgo all of that in favor of a Webster’s dictionary definition. Yet, that is precisely what the authors did. Worse still, they used a Webster’s dictionary from 1958. (I own a 1949 edition. I’m poised for some serious research, baby!)

The authors’ dictionary states that conservatism “stresses the disposition and tendency to preserve what is established” and “the disposition in politics to maintain the existing order” (p. 342). That’s the first of their two-part definition of conservatism.

The second part concerns equality. Turning to the sentiments of others who have written about conservatives, the authors endorse opinions such as, “the left favours greater equality, while the right sees society as inevitably hierarchical” (p. 342).

Resistance to change and promotion of inequality. That’s the study’s definition of conservatism. It provides the foundation for the research they sought out and the hypotheses they sought to confirm. Let’s look at each of “the two core aspects of conservatism” (p. 343).

Conservatives Resist Change

The authors rely on little more than their dictionary to support this half of their definition. Other evidence that conservatives resist change comes from previous writers who have used similar definitions. If enough people repeat it, it must be true.

This description of conservatism is childishly simplistic and demonstrably inaccurate. To be sure, some conservatives resist some changes. But they also favor changes that are resisted by liberals, who are characterized in the study as open-minded and groovy. (Liberals exhibit “the highest levels of integrative complexity and flexibility” [p. 356]; “tolerance is an important attribute of the cultural worldview for [liberals] but not [conservatives]” [p. 365]; and conservatives are “prevention-oriented” whereas liberals are “promotion-oriented” [p. 348].)

One example of change favored by conservatives is the Fair Tax initiative. American conservatives tend to support the abolition of the IRS in favor of a system that would change the face of federal funding. It is perhaps the most profound change initiative in the public arena, and it is liberals who resist it.

It’s a complex world and sometimes we all want to rearrange the furniture.

Another example is public school vouchers. Conservatives would like to upend the administration of public education. Liberals vehemently resist this change.

A third example is the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Some Republicans (18%; 6 Senators) resisted this change while 31% of the Democratic majority (21 Senators) filibustered and tried to kill the act. Democrats such as Mike Mansfield (Senate Majority Leader), Robert Byrd and Albert Gore Senior resisted that change.

We could go on with examples of changes that conservatives would like to see, changes that liberals resist, and vice-versa. People seek change when it suits them, and they avoid it when it doesn’t. It’s a complex world and sometimes we all want to rearrange the furniture.

There is a massive body of research concerning change behavior. Since the authors base their argument on the assumption that attitude toward change is one of two variables that define political allegiance, one would expect them to have consulted that literature. Instead, they ignored it in favor of a 45-year-old dictionary and a collection of self-affirming critiques on conservative ideology.

Conservatives Support Inequality

This half of the definition relies on the opinions of previous writers and it is an unfortunate illustration of political naiveté. Views on equality comprise perhaps the single most important delineation between conservatives and liberals. It is not a particularly subtle distinction, but it eludes the grade school definition used in the study. The ongoing debate regarding equality – and I’m not sure how the authors managed to miss this – is a debate of over equality of outcomes versus equality of opportunity.

In America, conservative ideology tends to fight for equality of opportunity. Conservatives want everyone to have an equal chance at success. Liberals, on the other hand, tend to fight for equality of outcome. They want everyone to be equally comfortable.

We can’t have both. Equality of opportunity means that there will be inequality of outcome. Some people are more talented or will work harder than others. Conversely, equality of outcome means that there can be no equality of opportunity. In order for everyone to reach the finish line at the same time, some must be hobbled.

The authors’ juvenile definition of conservatism captures none of this nuance, which is vitally important to understanding the differences between conservative and liberal ideology. Americans on both sides of the aisle take equality very seriously. By framing the issue in such simplistic terms, the authors play on emotions and paint conservatives as aristocratic and oppressive.

What’s more, this simplistic definition limits the populations and the studies to be included in the meta-analysis. If you define conservatives as those who support inequality, then you will focus on studies concerning conservative anti-egalitarianism. Ditto for resistance to change. What about other issues?

What about conservative attitudes on micro- and macro-economics? The role of government? The role of business? International policy? Work habits and productivity? Individual rights and responsibility? These seem like important considerations in the definition of a political ideology.

By ignoring inconvenient issues in their definition of conservatism, the authors have fixed the game from the outset. That’s just the beginning of the methodological problems.

Methodological Flaw #2: Finding the “Right” Populations

Statistical operations, no matter how complex, can’t add quality or objectivity. Like a food processor, they can only operate on what the user inserts. If the ingredients are biased, simplistic, or incomplete, so will be the results. Accurate data begins with accurate selection of study participants.

Statistical operations, no matter how complex, can’t add quality or objectivity. Like a food processor, they can only operate on what the user inserts.

One common problem in sample selection is the lack of willing participants, and so researchers frequently resort to populations of convenience. Undergraduate college students are arguably the most heavily studied segment of the population because they are readily available on college campuses, where this type of research typically takes place, and they can be enticed. This sometimes makes it difficult to generalize the findings to the larger population, particularly in matters involving maturity and experience.

A second problem is in defining the target population from which the study sample will be drawn. Before researchers can study a phenomenon, they need to understand what it looks like in the general population. Often, going into a study, they don’t know whether their sample will be representative of the population in question because the population is still somewhat undefined.

For example, in earliest studies of schizophrenia, researchers were unclear about prevalence and symptomology of the disease in the general population. There were many unanswered questions, and this made it difficult to find study participants who were representative of the population of schizophrenia sufferers.

If a researcher doesn’t understand the population in question, he or she may draw an unrepresentative sample and end up studying the wrong thing. Of course, sometimes the population is quite well defined, but the researchers don’t bother to do their homework.

A third problem in sample selection is the presence of statistical outliers. These are people who are so endowed with the quality being measured that they skew the data, much like the genius in high school who blew the grading curve on math tests. These folks must be accounted for statistically. If not, the results of the study cannot be generalized to the larger population.

Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition suffers from each of these problems. In sample selection, population definition, and handling of outliers, we find examples of egregious methodology. Let’s look at each.

Sample Selection Bias: Psychology Majors Ain’t CEOs

The authors report that “sixty percent of the samples are exclusively composed of college or university student populations, but they account for only 37% of the total number of research participants included in our review” (p. 352). 53 of the 88 population samples were composed exclusively of undergraduate college students.

It’s rather meaningless to point out that undergraduate students comprised only 37% of the subjects across studies (even though that’s still a phenomenally inflated sample pool, given that the U.S. Census Bureau (1999) reported that college students comprise roughly one half of one percent of the general population). What really matters in a meta-analysis is each study’s effect size, not the distribution of subjects across studies. Even though effect sizes are weighted (meaning that studies with larger numbers of participants count more), meta-analysis measures the simplified results of multiple studies, not the actual participants or particularities of those studies. Effect sizes go in, effect sizes come out [2].

Alan Kazdin (2003), author of one of the most widely accepted textbooks on research design, discusses the problem of using undergrads in psychological research:

“Typically, students are enticed into participation in an experiment by receiving credit toward an undergraduate psychology course, by being given monetary incentives, or by being solicited as volunteers by experimenters who circulate among psychology classes. An issue of concern is whether the findings obtained with college students will generalize to other samples (p. 101).”

According to the research, says Kazdin, those who volunteer for experiments tend to be, among other things, higher in need for social approval, more socially active, less authoritarian, less conforming, more altruistic, more self-disclosing, and are more maladjusted when volunteering for experiments that involve unusual situations (p. 103). Each of these factors could greatly confound studies concerning dogmatism, openness to experience, and the other characteristics sought after by the authors. However, they seem to have made no effort to explain or account for these possible interactions.

Another potential problem is the possibility that undergrads tend to be – pardon my bluntness – politically, professionally, and economically illiterate. I know I was. For the most part, this tiny segment of the population has little or no experience of life outside the safety of academia. They have not been educated by the real-world trials that shape political ideology over the course of a lifetime.

In addition, there’s good reason to believe that students spend most of their educational career with left-leaning public school teachers and college professors [3]. This is another source of subject selection bias and a potential source of interaction; the authors acknowledge this (p. 366).

Ill-Defined Study Populations and Creative Use of Statistical Outliers

Before the authors could measure the negative traits associated with conservatism, they had to define the target population. What societies exemplify conservatism? Which ones illustrate liberalism? What historical figures serve as useful examples? Admittedly, the answers to these questions are subjective, but what the authors came up with doesn’t comport with my history books.

conservatives, according to Jost et al.

The face of conservatism, according to the authors and depending on the authors' mood.

In their attempt to identify the qualities of left-leaning or socialist populations, the authors lament that “unfortunately, little or no empirical data are available from the major communist or formerly communist countries such as China, Russia, and Cuba” (p. 343). They thus eliminate leftist outliers from their data pool.

Nevertheless, they say, “we have made a special effort to seek out and incorporate results obtained in 12 different countries, including those with historical influences of socialism or communism,” including Sweden, Poland, East Germany, West Germany, Italy, England, Canada, and Israel. All of these, despite their “historical influences” are currently pleasant, peaceful, productive countries. If you are an American liberal, this is your comparison group.

In their search for examples of right-leaning populations, the authors turn to Hitler’s Germany [4], Stalin’s Russia, and Pinochet’s Chile. If you are an American conservative, your comparison group contains the likes of Dr. Mengele. In a separate article, Jost (2006, p. 658) painted what most people consider to be mainstream, thoughtful conservatives such as William F. Buckley, Milton Friedman, and Barry Goldwater as right-wing “fringe activists.”

In this meta-analysis, left-leaning populations are devoid of ideological extremists or statistical outliers, while the right is defined almost exclusively by outliers. The authors quote Robert Altemeyer’s feigned attempt to locate left-wing dictators:

“I have yet to find a single ‘socialist/Communist type’ who scores highly (in absolute terms) on the [Left-Wing Authoritarianism] Scale…. the ‘authoritarian on the left’ has been as scarce as hens’ teeth in my samples” (p. 353; brackets in original).

Perhaps the reason that Altemeyer is unable to locate authoritarian leftists is because this line of research tends to plead the Fifth (as with China and Cuba) or define them away (as with Communist Russia).

Perhaps the reason that Altemeyer is unable to locate authoritarian leftists is because this line of research tends to plead the Fifth (as with China and Cuba) or define them away (as with Communist Russia). You may be wondering how the authors managed to lump Stalin in with conservatives, thereby avoiding the sticky business of Marxist authoritarians. The authors explain that Stalin,

“…secretly admired Hitler and identified with several right-wing causes (including anti-Semitism). In the Soviet context, Stalin was almost certainly to the right of his political rivals, most notably Trotsky. In terms of his psychological makeup as well, Stalin appears to have had much in common with right-wing extremists” (p. 343).

So there ya’ go. Stalin was less Marxist than others, mind readers have determined that he had a crush on Hitler, and he kinda looked like a conservative by our defnition. Ergo, Stalin was a conservative. Impeccable logic.

Let’s review the ideological assumptions that underlie the study’s sample selection: left wing societies are best represented by contemporary Sweden, while right-wing societies are exemplified by Nazi Germany. Joseph Stalin – the same Stalin who murdered tens of thousands under the banner of Karl Marx – is a conservative, while Milton Friedman – who earned the Nobel Prize in Economics for his work on consumption analysis – is a right-wing fringe activist. Meanwhile, authoritarianism does not exist on the left, or at least it can’t be located because there are no records of such things. Mao? Castro? Lenin? Guevara? Chávaz? Pol Pot? Never heard of ‘em.

Now that’s creative use of statistical outliers! The authors have built a wonderful foundation and are set to prove their point. All that’s needed to complete the job is a healthy does of confirmation bias.

Methodological Flaw #3: May I Help You Find What You’re Looking For?

It seems as though the authors weren’t interested in studying conservatives as much as they were interested in studying the opinions that liberals hold in regard to conservatives. Many of the theories included in the meta-analysis stem from the work of Theodor Adorno. The authors themselves appear to embrace Adorno’s ideas, though they never openly admit as much. They don’t tell us much about Adorno other than a brief, offhand observation that he was a member of the Frankfurt School. They also explain that he “sought to integrate Marxist theories of ideology and social structure with Freudian theories of motivation and personality development to explain the rise of fascism throughout Europe in the 1930s and 1940s” (p. 345).

As a member of the Frankfurt School, Adorno was a Marxist ideologue, a vehement anti-capitalist, and a supporter of communism. Among his beliefs were that humans are motivated by fear. This is the same conclusion reached by the authors, with the exception that the authors confine this shortcoming to contemporary conservatives. Adorno’s beliefs are the ideological thread that connect many of the theories the authors chose to include in their meta-analysis. How did they go about confining fear-based motivation to conservatives? By forgoing open-ended research in favor of a narrow, almost incestuous lineage of ideologically-charged political theory.

Take the example of Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) theory, which figures prominently in the study and is held up as an unquestioned explanation for conservative ideology. RWA theory was advanced by the Frankfurt School and seeks to explain the development of fascist cultures. According to RWA theory,

“harsh parenting styles brought on by economic hardship led entire generations to repress hostility toward authority figures and to replace it with an exaggerated deference and idealization of authority and tendencies to blame society scapegoats and punish deviants” (p. 345).

If this seems overly complex and theoretical, the kind of pointy-headed, impractical nonsense that only a privileged intellectual could devise, it is. There are too many unanswerable questions for this to be supported empirically. How is “harsh parenting style” quantified? Where is the evidence that entire generations “repressed” hostility? Is it possible to locate a repressed hostile act in a person’s brain? What is “exaggerated deference” and how is it quantified? What is the mechanism by which one feeling is “replaced” by another, and how is that measured? How does one measure scapegoating? And how can all of these questions be brought together into a coherent, empirically-supported theory?

The questions can go on and on, but one gets the sense that the answers don’t really matter to the authors. And never mind that theories such as this fly in the face of demands for parsimony (the rule that researchers should accept simple explanations over more complex ones). Once a theory like this takes hold, others begin to repeat it and devise measures to support it.

For example, Robert Altemeyer, following the theories of Adorno, has devised ways of measuring obedience to authority in an attempt to “test” RWA theory. When such measures support the theory, they tend to be adopted into the body of work (recall the above quotation in which Altemeyer concludes that, according to his measures, there are no authoritarians on the left). Eventually, a mountain of patchwork evidence accumulates for supporters.

The beauty of theories like RWA is that, while they can’t be proved, they can never be disproved. Once a group of theorists and researchers begin quoting and citing each other, the body of work takes on an air of legitimacy, regardless of the quality of empirical evidence.

The upshot of all this? When researchers look for evidence to support their theories (as opposed to searching for objective truth) they tend to find it. Using just that approach for each of the following, the authors found affirming evidence in 22 domains of “research” that has accumulated regarding conservatives. They are:

  • The theory of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (see above)
  • Intolerance of Ambiguity (in relation to conservative prejudice)
  • Mental Rigidity, Dogmatism, and Closed Mindedness (as characteristics of conservatives)
  • The Theory of Ideo-Affective Polarity (black and white thinking in conservatives)
  • A Dynamic Theory of Conservatism as Uncertainty Avoidance
  • Regulatory Focus Theory (a theory related to parenting styles that explains the supposed lack of closeness in conservative homes and other conservative characteristics)
  • Terror Management Theory (fear of death as a motivation for conservative ideology)
  • Social Dominance Theory (group subjugation as a conservative goal)
  • System Justification Theory (blind self-interest as a motivation for conservative ideology)
  • Dogmatism (as a characteristic of conservatives)
  • Intolerance of Ambiguity (in relation to ethnocentrism in conservatives)
  • Integrative Complexity (the conservative lack of, including the desire to obtain new information)
  • Openness to Experience (the conservative lack of)
  • Uncertainty Avoidance (as a motivation for conservative ideology)
  • Personal Needs for Order and Structure (as a characteristic of conservatives)
  • Need for Cognitive Closure (as a characteristic of conservatives)
  • Threats to Self-Esteem (as a motivation for conservative ideology)
  • Fear, Anger, and Aggression (motivations of conservatism)
  • Pessimism, Disgust, and Contempt (characteristics of conservatives)
  • Fear and Prevention Loss (as motivations for conservative ideology)
  • Fear of Death (as motivations for conservative ideology)
  • Threats to the Stability of the Social System (as a motivation for conservative ideology)

If these pre-selected domains sound unflattering to conservatives, they are. In each case, the authors found precisely what they were looking for – unquestioned arguments that conservatives are mentally deficient. Clearly, the authors are not interested in discovering what makes conservatives tick, they are interested in demonstrating that conservatives have damaged souls.

It’s Tough to Get Respect

According to the authors, “we now know” (p.369; such unequivocal claims are generally not tolerated in respectable research) that variables significantly associated with conservatism include fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity, uncertainty avoidance, need for cognitive closure, personal need for structure, terror management, group-based dominance, and system justification. Conservative ideology is a “syndrome” (p. 347 & 369) and those who are caught in its dogmatic clutches are “ideal candidates to follow the next Hitler or Mussolini” (p. 346).

Beneath such rhetorical excess is a thinly veiled contempt for those who hold conservative beliefs. In a discussion concerning System Justification Theory (one of the lead author’s pet projects), the authors note that the theory is “especially well suited to address relatively puzzling cases of conservatism and right-wing allegiance among members of low-status groups, such as women and members of the working class” (p. 350).

The authors are “puzzled” as to why a woman or someone with a job (both of whom they categorize as low-status) would disagree with their viewpoint. Could it be that the woman or the worker weighed the evidence and simply arrived at a different conclusion than the authors? Impossible. Commoners cannot be trusted with such matters.

I won’t take it upon myself to apologize to conservatives on behalf of my industry. That seems presumptuous. But I am embarrassed by the methodology in this study and I am deeply troubled by the response from the psychology community. This study is being held up as exemplary research when it is better suited to the editorial pages of Mother Jones than a peer-reviewed journal.



1. Meta-analysis is a study of several other studies; it is a numerical evaluation of a body of research. Since different studies use different measures, meta-analysis uses each study’s effect size as the common metric. Effect size is a way of describing differences between experimental conditions. The goal of meta-analysis is to draw inferences from a multitude of studies that cannot be drawn from single studies alone.

2. Imagine a company board of directors in which each member holds a different number of voting shares. They are asked to vote on how much money to invest in a given venture – a little or a lot? The distribution of shares matters, but not as much as the fact that each board member is being asked to invest some amount of money. In this meta-analysis, the authors are essentially asking each study, “how screwed up are conservatives – a little or a lot?” The weight of each answer matters, but not as much as the answer itself.

3. In a 2006 National Education Association survey, 36% of members reported having voted for “mostly Democrats,” while 8% reported having voted for “mostly Republicans.” (Education Intelligence Agency, 2006). Among 1,208 college professors surveyed in a different study, 79.6% reported having voted for mostly Democrat candidates over the last 10 years, while 9.3% reported having voted for mostly Republican candidates (Current Review, as quoted in Saunders, 2006). Special thanks to Ben DeGrow of the Independence Institute for his help with these statistics.

4. Some readers may wonder, as I did, why the authors categorize Nazi Germany as a right-wing dictatorship when, functionally, there was little difference between the National Socialist party and the Communist party of Russia. Both believed in government control over production, property, education, and resources. Both insisted that the desires of the collective are more important than the rights of the individual, and both followed a philosopher-king (to quote Plato) for the glorification of the collective. These all appear to be far-left ideals and actions. However, I don’t wish to be drawn arguments over peripheral issues so I will remained focused on the methodology of the study.

Dixit, J. (2007). The ideological animal. Psychology Today, 40(1), 81-86.

Education Intelligence Agency (2006). Data from NEA’s most recent member and local president survey. Downloaded on January 15, 2007 from http://www.eiaonline.com/archives/20060704.htm

Jost, J.T., Glaser, J., Kruglanski, A.W., & Sulloway, F.J. (2003). Political conservatism as motivated social cognition. Psychological Bulletin, 129(3), 339-375.

Kazdin, A.E. (2003). Research Design in Clinical Psychology. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Koocher, G. P. (2006). Psychological science is not politically correct. Monitor on Psychology, 37(9), 5.

Saunders, D.J. (2006). Don’t think outside the college box. Downloaded on January 15, 2007 from: http://www.townhall.com/columnists/column.aspx?UrlTitle=dont_think_outside_the_college_box&ns=DebraJSaunders&dt=08/05/2006&page=2

U.S. Census Bureau (1999). Scholarship of all ages: School enrollment in 1998. Population Profile of the United States, 35-37. Downloaded on January 14, 2007 from: http://www.census.gov/population/pop-profile/1999/chap08.pdf.

Notes and Comments:
Hear Shawn discuss this article on 850KOA’s Mike Rosen Show, Feb 01, 2007. 10:00 A.M.11:00 A.M. Each of the authors were invited to debate and defend their methodology. All of them refused to appear.

A note about comments: This post has received hundreds of comments, both pro and con. They were lost during site upgrades.

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27 Responses to A Methodology Critique in Defense of Those Wascally Wepublicans

  1. Ed says:

    If Conservatives support equality of opportunity why did they so universally oppose the public option for health insurance, or a single payer system for that matter. How does a person who doesn’t have access to affordable health care have equality of opportunity. Many employed people aren’t provided health care by their employer. I don’t see where the equality of opportunity exists for them. Why don’t conservatives support a public health care system that can make health care less expensive. Why do they only support a system that views health care as a commodity that provides profits to the investors. I follow most of your arguments, except this one. I don’t believe conservatives genuinely support equality of opportunity. I think the health care issue is a prime example of this.

    • A Proud Conservative says:

      I’m a conservative who was registered as an independent until Bill Clinton embarrassed our country and set up much of the fierce liberal vs. conservative struggles we see today, in my humble opinion. I also have health issues and no insurance at the present time. AND, I do NOT believe in Obamacare.

      I do, however, believe in healthcare reform. The crap that was passed into law isn’t about reform, it’s about “redistributing the wealth” and forcing Americans to buy something that the government has no right to force upon us.

      Conservatives DO want reform. What about allowing insurance to be sold across state lines? What about allowing greater freedom in purchasing insurance which, in turn, would create greater supply and demand pricing? Gee, I even have some radical ideas like regulations on the pharmaceutical companies so they can’t gauge people needlessly. Why didn’t the liberals consider any of these ideas if they truly want reform?

      And, no, I don’t believe my tax dollars should pay for abortions. That is a personal choice and, as a Christian, I don’t like the idea of abortion but I do believe women have the right to choose. But, if you are going to let a minor child have a surgical procedure, one that could affect her emotional and physical health for the rest of her life, her parents should be informed. Why do liberals insist on taking away parent’s rights on their children’s health issues?

      Life isn’t fair. That’s a fact. But, in America, people have a choice to improve themselves–or not. Yes, it might be harder for some than others, but that doesn’t make it impossible. You want a better job with better insurance–go to school and work harder. Don’t sit on your butt waiting for government handouts.

      Why is that liberals want to force us to insure everyone equally by saying that it is an American right? There is no place in the Constitution that promises all Americans the right to healthcare.

      The media and the liberals have painted conservatives as a hard-hearted group that don’t care about the low income. This isn’t true–we simply think people should stand up for themselves and work to improve themselves without expecting handouts.

      And, yes, in true disclosure, I’ve been poor and I’ve received government assistance but it has been for a limited time and a limited need. Conservatives don’t mind lending a helping hand–just don’t expect it to never end. Americans are about taking personal responsibility. Why is that such a hard concept for liberals?

    • Dan says:

      Equality of opportunity means equal rights before the law, which means being left free to pursue your own life. It does not mean “access” to heath care provided by others – this is violation of the rights of those who are forced to pay for it.

      Since health care must be produced there are only two basic options: protect the freedom of everyone to invest-in, produce, purchase and profit from health care, or force those who produce to sacrifice for those who don’t. The former is capitalism, the latter is socialism; the former is based on equal rights, the latter on redistribution of wealth.

      BTW, freedom does not lead to high prices, government intervention does.

    • Conservative Psychiatrist says:

      You confuse Equality of Opportunity with Equality of Results. Everyone has the same opportunity to pursue happiness but not everyone is happy.

  2. Thank you for writing this informative criticism. I enjoyed it though I hold opinions far to the left of yours and though I would never consider myself an academic I hope I can offer what I think here. As to my own buyer beware, I am an ex-Marine and a combat veteran of the Viet Nam police action. Please don’t thank me for my service unless you have seen combat or have or had a son or daughter being deployed to the middle east. I presently work in corrections as a counselor at a regional jail/prison and have considerable experience working with persons afflicted with chronic and debilitating schizophrenia. I have also been a professional musician for my entire adult life. I do not agree with conservative viewpoints or conservative positions on most issues (none of those you address in this essay) but I often feel uneasy about assumptions concerning them. They seem so over the top, so beyond reason, that I feel sure I must have a blind spot of my own. You pointed me toward some possibilities, specifically the focus on outliers and the uneven split on support for the Civil Rights Act, which surprised me. I agree with your point that Marxist and communist dictators get too little attention and too much of a pass in the historical context of their ideology but disagree that this point properly identifies liberal philosophy; this example exemplifies the same sort of bias you correctly challenge early on. These people represent nothing if not extreme outliers regarding egalitarian ideology. In fact, to my mind, this argument belies another problem in that it reflects the same sort of thin understanding you point to as a major flaw in Jost’s research. in your analysis in that, though I consider myself an opponent of the notion that competition represents the better (as opposed to cooperation) way to achievement and human progress and of capitalism as the most fair and equitable method of distributing societal benefits. You’ve given me a better understanding of how someone might reasonably disagree with my views. I don’t usually get that from conservatives.

  3. Fernando says:

    You point out some interesting and relevant critiques to the Jost et. al. study. I am wondering what your assessment is on their claim that conservatives are more motivated by fear than are liberals. You appear critical of this assertion and your evidence against this assertion is an ad-hominem attack on Adorno as being anti-capitalist Marxist. If such a critique is valid, then would it not also be valid to appeal to the fact that you are a capitalist as evidence that your critique is invalid because it is influenced by a pro-capitalist agenda.

    Are you aware of any evidence that shows that liberals are as equally or more motivated by fear than conservatives? If so, what explains the conservative tendency toward supporting national security and the use of military force more often than liberals do?

    Dual M.A. Candidate University of Denver

    • Shawn says:

      Hi Fernando, let me address your points individually.

      1) It is not name-calling to point out that Adorno was a Marxist any more than it is name-calling to say that Ronald Reagan was a Republican. Ad-hominem attacks involve impugning someone’s character or making personal attacks. I simply described Adorno’s beliefs. Like many privileged people of his era (similar to the privileged people of our era), he was highly critical of capitalism, and he was heavily influenced by Marx. These are facts, not personal attacks. I never said he kicked puppies or spat on the elderly.

      2) Yes, I am a capitalist. I made that perfectly clear in the tenth paragraph. That doesn’t change the shamelessly biased nature of Jost’s “methodology.” I’m critical of the authors’ assertion regarding fear because they provided no evidence of it. It’s not my job to provide evidence to the contrary. Maybe I’m missing your point?

      3) Yes, conservatives turn to national defense more easily than liberals (American conservatives, anyway. There are numerous examples of non-American leftists initiating military force.) Your question about fear is interesting, and I can only give you my opinion here.

      I think the American left and right are far more similar than different. Each side is intolerant of different things, and both sides will use violence to different ends. Conservatives, I think, despise tyranny and so they are willing to use violence against it. Liberals, I think, despise inequality and suffering, and they will use violence to fight it. (See, for example, the the violence and property destruction initiated by members of the Occupy Wall Street movement or G8 protestors.) Each side perceives a different threat, but their responses to those threats are similar.

      Are the responses fear-based? I don’t know. I tend to take people at their word, and each side would argue that they are fighting for principle, not fear.


      • Fernando says:

        Good points. I’m not sure which wars you’re referring to that were merely waged on principle and were absent of any military, economic, or strategic threat. Which wars are you referring to? I’m also wondering if your understanding of humanity is different than mine. For your comment, I’m getting that humans are such incredibly unique creatures from the rest of the animal kingdom that the vast majority of them have surpassed any responses based on the reptilian brain and make decisions about life and death based on principles. I’m also wondering how public support for for any war was gained by only appealing to principles with no mention of any threat of loss of safety or livelihood.

        I noticed that you not only called Adorno a Marxist, but rather a Marxist ideologue. That would be the first time that I’ve ever heard the word ‘ideologue’ used in a neutral, non critical manner. If I called you an ideologue, would you take it as a compliment?

        I also noticed that you mentioned In your comment that you believe that liberals are motivated by the desire to remedy inequality and conservatives by the desire to stop tyranny. Two points 1) why are conservatives more likely to be opposed to gay having the opportunity getting married while also being against inequality? It seems to me that a majority of conservatives oppose the opportunity of equality for some people. There are obviously some egalitarian conservatives who support gay marriage, you for example, but you are in the minority. The Jost study acknowledges that there are people who will not fit the mold. Nonetheless, your views are in the minority, which seems consistent with the implications of the study. 2). I’m curious about your use the the word tyranny. That seems like a subjective, vague, and loaded term. I don’t know any liberals who support tyranny. Some people think that paying taxes is tyranny. Some think that a two percent increase in taxes is tyranny. Some people believe that torture is tyranny. Some believe that censorship is tyranny. The word tyranny also implies some sort of threat, however you seemed to imply that people are more likely motivated by principle, rather than threat, of say, the loss of freedom, liberty, economic well-being, or status. I may just be confused about what you’re trying to say.

        As I’m writing this I wonder to myself whether this conversation will mold itself to the stereotype of conservatives and liberals presented in the Jost study.

        I appreciate your thoughtful response.

        • Fernando says:

          Good point on the comment about liberals being motivated to violence for different reasons, by the way.

        • Shawn says:

          Hi Fernando,

          A lot to respond to here, so let me take a stab at a few points. First, yes I do believe that humans are unique among the animal kingdom in the ability to form societies that exist more peacefully than not. That doesn’t mean we immune to baser impulses. (As for wars and suffering wrought under the banner of leftism, I’ll just refer you to the various shenanigans carried out by Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Hitler – yes the core of his platform was collectivist – Chavez, and the like. These are not nice people, and collectivism gives them an ideal platform from which to dominate others.)

          On the “ideologue” comment. The dictionary definition doesn’t really have a valence, this is just somebody who zealously advocates an ideology. But you’re right, it has a negative valence in the vernacular as someone who *irrationally* advocates an ideology, and I was using it in that sense. So I’ll grant you that I did not describe Adorno in neutral terms.

          No, I wouldn’t take it as a compliment if someone called me an ideologue, though I wouldn’t be particularly offended. The term doesn’t reasonably apply to me (I don’t think it does, anyway), and if it did, I would be so passionate about my ideology that I probably wouldn’t care. Calling him an ideologue is a far cry from calling him a rat-bastard. I view it as a description rather than an attack (I do think he was irrational), but I see your point and will refrain in the future.

          On the conservative opposition of gay marriage… honestly, it baffles me that social conservatives fight for this one, and I’ve never heard a social conservative offer a coherent explanation about the damage that gay marriage supposedly causes.

          I am not convinced that the majority of people who vote Republican really have a beef with gay marriage. I think that most conservatives don’t really care. (I’m sure there is data on this but I’m too lazy to look it up.) The Republican platform on this is becoming increasingly anachronistic and difficult to defend, and I think that is because there is no solid principle underlying this stance. “It’s to protect the children” other similar explanations are more platitudinous than principled, in my opinion.

          I, too, appreciate your thoughtful responses. Take care.


  4. BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

    The critique of the author posted at ironshrink.com is fundamentally dishonest.

    It claims the following assertion, one of the core arguments made by Conservatives, Libertarians alike, to attack Liberals.

    The claim is that “Conservatives want equality of opportunity, Liberals want equality of outcome”.

    First, let’s delve on the latter. The latter is fundamentally untrue. Will come to the proof of that separately. Let’s set that aside for the time being.
    “Conservatives want equality of opportunity” is a lie. Define “opportunity”.

    Opportunity is a chance at success.
    Equality of opportunity…unless you’re playing word games, is (approximately) the same chance at success (within statistical tolerance perhaps).
    Jack and John started at different inherited wealth levels: Jack was born of rich parents, John of poor parents. All other things constant, God somehow made them identical in every other way.

    They do not have “equality of opportunity”. If one really wanted them to have EQUAL “opportunity”, one would put together Jack and John’s wealth, divide it equally among the two, and ask them to go seek their happiness. That is equality of opportunity.

    What conservatives seek is that everyone pays the same number of $ for the ‘opportunity’ of protection of property rights, human rights, civil rights.
    Note I did NOT state it as ‘SAME opportunity’. Because fact is the opportunity is again not the same. The opportunity of protection of property rights/human rights/civil rights via the government is NOT the same for Jack and John (assuming nobody divided their wealth equally between the 2 of them, and let them live their lives as they started).

    Fact is, Liberals stand for accountability: you want protection of property rights etc from a government, and you stand to gain more, you pay more. Conservatives stand for lack of accountability, and would rather free-ride, by threatening to dump government and go their own.

    This is the same reason Conservatives vehemently oppose an all other things constant increase in taxes on account of the wars.

    In 2001, BEFORE the wars, I didn’t hear conservative opposition to the tax policy AFTER Bush passed his Tax cuts. So I’ll assume those taxes were “fair” according to what government was doing, then.

    Government then was forced to add to its expense list, a couple of Multi Trillion $ wars. Not one Conservative to date has volunteered to pay more for the wars, despite agreeing with the wars by voting for, re-electing the war-mongers. The standard argument from Conservatives is to change the Social Contract that they found was agreeable in 2001 (before 911), so as to essentially cut for example SS benefits (that they found was fair in 2001, just before 911).

    I say, go your own way. Leave the countries you’re in, do a John Galt (or Jack Galt, from my example).

    And cut out the baloney about equality of opportunity. I am not for equality of opportunity OR equality of outcome.

    And you, conservatives, are not for equality of opportunity…not unless you’re playing word games.

  5. BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

    Let me now deal with the “Liberals want Equality of Outcome” lie.

    Liberals prefer a progressive tax system as opposed to a Flat tax system. We can go into the reasons separately. But the point pertinent to the above lie (about wanting “Equality of Outcome”) is: Progressive Taxes does NOT equate to a highest marginal rate of 100%.

    When Jack and John, with (by assumption) the “same opportunity”, earned different incomes, say Jack earned 1 Million $ and John earned 10,000$…it would be seeking equality of outcome if one were to say John pays some % of Tax on his 10,000$…and Jack pays the same % on the first 10,000$…and 100% marginal rate on his income over 10,000$.
    That is equality of outcome. Not even Communists seek that (Communists seek STATE controlled diktat of incomes; does NOT translate to ‘equality of residual income). And certainly Liberals don’t seek “equality of income” just because they support progressive taxation.

    These lies and misrepresentations only add evidence to the author’s point. Once someone proposes a Progressive Tax System, Conservatives try to work up fear of a 100% marginal rate which then creeps up on everyone. Fear sells…if you’re a Conservative. Point proven above.

    • Shawn says:

      Hi BGSC,

      You and I disagree on the equality-of-outcome / equality-of-opportunity distinction. Fine.

      That doesn’t mean that I have lied, which you repeatedly accused me of doing. It simply means that we see things differently and probably are working from different premises. I try to keep a friendly website here. I don’t like name-calling and accusations.

      You also implied that I attacked liberals. I did no such thing. I attacked the methodology and motives of the authors. In fact, I give both political camps the benefit of the doubt, and I view both sides as comprised of basically good people who have good intentions, individual bad-actors aside.

      Your opinions are welcome here; the personal smears are not.


      • BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

        Claiming to be for equality of opportunity is a lie.

        I demonstrated to you why neither you nor I is for “Equality of Opportunity”.

        You are misrepresenting your beliefs.

        If your beliefs were really about “Equality of Opportunity”, you would, in my example, force Jack and Jill to divide up their inherited wealth equally and go from there.

        You are not for that (neither am I). Why do you claim to be about “Equality of Opportunity”? You’re using words that you don’t mean at their literal meaning, with the intention to mislead others about what your ideas mean for people.

        Your ideas certainly do not mean an equal opportunity for Jack and John, in my example.

        “Equality of Opportunity” is a marketing catch-phrase invented by Right-Wing media. It’s not reflective of your beliefs.

        • Shawn says:

          You did not demonstrate it to my satisfaction, you simply called me a liar. Now you’re implying that I’m too simple to understand my own beliefs. Let’s just agree to disagree.

          • BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

            No, I’m not claiming you’re too simple.

            I demonstrated to you what EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY meant.
            Equality of opportunity means something neither you nor I backs.

            I do not claim to be for equality of opportunity OR equality of outcome.

            You claimed to be for equality of outcome.

            I demonstrated with an easy example why your claim is not true.

            Show me how you’re going to get Jack and John EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY FOR SUCCESS with my example.

  6. BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

    If we’re talking about smears, let’s start with the smear about “Equality of Opportunity vs Equality of Outcome”.

    YOU projected a belief on yourself which was demonstrated to be untrue.

    You also projected beliefs on other people which was patently untrue.

    I understand this is your website, but that doesn’t change the fact that the smearing was started by you.

    I called you on your smearing. Doesn’t make me a smear merchant. Haven’t yet said anything about you that isn’t true, from your writings.

    • Shawn says:

      OK. Have a good day.

      • BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

        Walk away, reboot another day. I’ve seen this strategy time and again. Doesn’t change the fact that you are not for equality of opportunity.

        Now, you may have used words without thinking through their meaning. Maybe you didn’t INTEND to lie.

        But your words are NOT true, you are NOT for equality of opportunity. What’s not clear or satisfying about my demonstration?

        • Shawn says:

          Hi BGMC,

          I think you’re missing my point in the article.

          The only thing I asserted — and I maintain — is that each side is arguing from what they see as a higher principle.

          Jost painted conservatives as simple-minded and frightened, while it is the left exclusively who operate from principles of open-mindedness, etc. I’m suggesting that perhaps conservatives operate from what they see as principle rather than simply being motivated by fear.

          Maybe that conservative principle fails in real life. Maybe you are right and they are terribly misguided. I don’t know. That’s a separate question that I’m not particularly interested in.

          I’m done now, and I’m not going to try to prove or disprove your point. It’s a peripheral issue to my original article. But I will think about it because it’s an interesting question, and maybe you are right.


          PS – if you don’t mind feedback, perhaps you have seen people walk away from discussions “time and again” because you’re heavy-handed. You certainly came at me with both barrels. You will probably persuade more people if you soften your approach.

          • BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

            Thanks for your feedback.

            I tend to take feedback the same way I make my arguments: when there could be bias, I look to the statistics.

            My Statistics say…100% of people who when I present them with arguments with the same heavy handed all barrels approach AND I was able to get to think about their assertion (such as, in this case, the assertion regarding E. of OP v.s. E. of OC) self described themselves as “Fiscally Conservative, Socially Liberal”.

            100% of people who walked away and rebooted later from the same position, describe themselves as Socially Conservative and (use that as a Certificate for a claim of being) “Fiscally Conservative”.

            The statistics speak for themselves. My methods do have room for improvement, and I do amend my methods…only after getting the above signal. Most Faux Fiscal Conservatives who are actually Social Conservatives masquerading as Fiscal Conservatives (using the above certificate method)…are not open to consideration of the argument made by the other person (at-least, the ones I have encountered).

            They’re there to preach the Bible, directly or indirectly. Their purpose is to use themselves as preaching agents. Where I don’t find the above honesty (as I found from you), I don’t change my heavy-handed approach either.

          • Fernando says:

            It doesn’t seem like the idea that people are motivated by principles is inconsistent with the study. What human need does living by one principle meet than another principle doesn’t meet. Surely the selection of principles isn’t completely arbitrary and is motivated by some other underlying need. Why would someone choose one principle over another? Why are there so correlations with personality personality types and the selection of particular principles?

            I agree that people are motivated by different principles. My understanding is that the study is looking at precognitive motivators of behavior, i.e. personality and psychological dispositions come before cognition, not the other way around.

  7. BigGovernmentSocialConservative says:

    “Conservatives want everyone to have an equal chance at success.”

    See? All I did was pick up your words and hang you by them. It’s not me that hung your argument, it’s your words.

    How do your methods give Jack and John an equal chance at success? Let me know when you have an answer to that. You can contact me by email if you find an answer to that, I’d be interested to know your answer.

  8. Timothy Shaw-Zak says:

    As a teenager, reading academic psychology journals, I became convinced of the notion that we were developing a new science of phrenology. An “Art of Bigotry”.

    It amused me because I felt so sure that no one would notice that scientists are making a case for eugenics, usually without realizing it. This time it would come in the guise of objective science. It would permit empirically founded discrimination on a fundamentally new scale: An accurate one.

    I saw this from the way in which our high priests denounced phrenology was denounced in the strongest moral category available to them: As pseudoscience.

    In other words, it would no longer be fundamentally unjust to be bigoted, so long as the bigotry was modulated precisely to the level the evidence merited it.

    I had expected the continued evolution and use of categorical indices of character traits.

    That academics wield this shabby methodology as a crude political bludgeon is disappointing. It is not an auspicious gesture for the beginning of a Eugenics movement whose handiwork can never be unmade.

  9. Scott Wagner says:

    Dude- I soo appreciate the huge effort you put in to address this study, which has so much cachet among the academy and hangers-on. I have a of Dr. Jost’s work I just happened to do at the APS site. There, I tried to set his effort in the context of the overall problems of misspecified academic work on dimensions of conservative personality and other characteristics.

    For me, the primary fault of his research is in the language and design choices. The problems had already occurred before he looked at the studies he based his metadata on. You cover this, but I must emphasize it. Each of those negative characteristics evaluated as conservative has a restatement that is neutral, favorable, or extremely favorable. You did some of that restating yourself. Sometimes- most of the time- the simple restatement is enough to provide a completely different perspective on characteristics, or at least provide a dimensionality to the characteristic that must be considered in the mix. “Fear-based”, for instance, has a rich set of ‘synonyms’ that are appropriate in the case of conservatives, all contingent on context: dutifulness; care; parochial (in the good, locavore-ish sense); safety-conscious. Liberal tend to be “fear-based” with regards to potential disasters and situations of a certain type (nuclear power; big business/franchise infiltration) in a context of compassion, or caring for an unfair exception, or trying to steward the nation through certain kinds of important unknowns. Being fear-based is extremely useful to think of in liberal and conservative contexts, but only if we further delineate what fears we’re talking about, and what underlying characteristics that fear might spring from. It’s actually important that we do this, because explicitly hashing over our respective statistical ideological touchpoints helps us sharpen the focus on both commonalities and contrasts. Jost, however, as do many researchers, uses an inefficiently detailed description (fear-based) to assert a contrast that, while it exists, ain’t what he thinks it is. This is why I like to characterize his work as 1) answering the wrong questions, and 2) trying to end a conversation around a concept (fear-based, say) before it’s properly begun.

    One of my favorite is by Paul Meehl, arguably the most important social psychologist of the last 50 years, in which he lays out how incredibly difficult it is to do the kind of thing Jost is trying to achieve. I recommend that anyone anxious to wade into the waters of ideological difference read his thoughts on grappling with this kind of problem set. All of us could benefit from getting clearer, in our gut, how nearly impossible it if from our vantage point to assay dynamic populations for insight. It might help us be a little less anxious to pull out our vorpal blade and go snicker-snack at the slightest offing.

    This kind of critique is so welcome- thanks much. Iron shrink, indeed. Kind regards, Scott

  10. Kelly says:

    Altering research and factual information does not prove a point, it just leads to bias, discrimination, and negativity.

    Intelligent and wise people are interested in the pursuit of the truth, but never says they have found it, or proclaim it. Truth is in the eyes of the beholder, and everyone has a different set of eyes. There is no such thing as pure black and pure white, appreciate the differences and others points of view and this world would be a happier place.

    You’ll never hear a wise person say they are NOT ignorant.

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