Are conservatives healthier?

I am indebted to Deniz Selcuk, my indefatigable Turkish correspondent, for drawing my attention to the 2007 article below.  The article argues that emotions of disgust have evolved to drive us towards being more hygienic and hence healthier.

As is, I think, well-known by now, Jonathan Haidt has found that conservatives are much more easily disgusted than Leftists.  Since even mass-murder does not seem to disgust Leftists, that stands to reason.  So are conservatives healthier and therefore more long-lived?  It is the obvious inference to be drawn from combining Haidt's work and the paper below.

I consulted Professor Google on the matter and the most useful article seemed to be This one.  It basically pointed out that most indicators did seem to confirm better health among conservatives but also pointed to a much-quoted study by Pabayo which found liberals to be more long-lived.

The Pabayo study, however, seems to have been withdrawn so there were obviously problems with it.  None of the studies, however suggest a big difference in lifespans according to your politics.  There are of course many factors influencing lifespan so that is not inherently surprising.  But, in any event, conservative are probably more hygienic.

A natural history of hygiene

Valerie A Curtis, PhD


In unpacking the Pandora's box of hygiene, the author looks into its ancient evolutionary history and its more recent human history. Within the box, she finds animal behaviour, dirt, disgust and many diseases, as well as illumination concerning how hygiene can be improved. It is suggested that hygiene is the set of behaviours that animals, including humans, use to avoid harmful agents. The author argues that hygiene has an ancient evolutionary history, and that most animals exhibit such behaviours because they are adaptive. In humans, responses to most infectious threats are accompanied by sensations of disgust. In historical times, religions, social codes and the sciences have all provided rationales for hygiene behaviour. However, the author argues that disgust and hygiene behaviour came first, and that the rationales came later. The implications for the modern-day practice of hygiene are profound. The natural history of hygiene needs to be better understood if we are to promote safe hygiene and, hence, win our evolutionary war against the agents of infectious disease.


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