Further Thoughts On Psychology Today's "9/11 Effect" Article
Last week, I posted an item about a Psychology Today article titled "The Ideological Animal" (now fully available at the website). The article purports to explain what motivates those of us who made the post-9/11 shift from left to right and it uses my story, as well as the discussion group I started, the 9/11 Neocons, as an example.
As I indicated at the time, I have no serious complaints about the article's take on me, which I found to be generally fair. Mostly, I objected to the inaccurate use of the term "pro-war rallies" to describe my days as a counter-protester at leftist rallies. By doing so, the author, Jay Dixit, missed an opportunity to shed light on the sort of negative behavior exhibited by the left (anti-Americanism, anti-Zionism, anti-Semitism) that helped solidify my political transformation.
I also expressed some doubts as to the objectivity of the conclusions reached in the article that I now wish to elaborate on. In short, like most psychological studies and articles examining political persuasion, conservatives are made out to be the bad guys, while liberals come off as enlightened beings. This may be because, nine times out of ten, such "studies" are conducted by liberals and are biased from the start.
Indeed, the Psychology Today article makes use of one particular 1969 study, that of leftist U.C. Berkeley professors Jack and Jeanne Block, which has been roundly debunked in the rightwing blogosphere. Michelle Malkin and The Volokh Conspiracy provide a sampling of the criticism and it isn't pretty.
My own anonymous tipster actually knew some of the people engaged in conducting the Berkeley study and describes them as "flaming Berkeley multi-culti liberal moonbat types who set out to prove from the get-go that conservatives were inferior." So much for scientific objectivity.
The Psychology Today article's central thesis, that the move towards conservativism is based on fear of death, is questionable at best. When a true threat to one's self, family, community, country and civilization exists (i.e. Islamic fascism) and he or she responds by wanting to fight that threat, I'd call that engaging with reality, not simple fear of death. And isn't the instinct for self-preservation based on a fear of death? It would seem that those who think themselves and their civilization invulnerable are the the delusional ones, not those who understand human nature and mortality and act accordingly.
Finally, the article's closing paragraph indicating that if one is simply encouraged to "think rationally" none of this political shifting (presumably to the right) would be required, is not only silly, but insulting. It was just such rational thinking that led me to reject the left and embrace those (most of whom, it turned out, were on the right) that fully understood the dangers of Islamic fascism. If it's irrational to want to fight against the great totalitarian threat of our day, then count me in.
Other conservative-leaning bloggers have weighed in on the "9/11 Effect" article and reached similar conclusions. Red State Kids provides a hilarious (and accurate) take on my story in "Want Conservative Minded Kids? Then Scare Them to Death." Radio Nerd discusses "Why Conservatives are the True Bedwetters" and Yave Begnet isn't sure he's fully on board for the "Fear of Death" thesis. I'll add more links as I find them.
Cross-posted at Kesher Talk.