The latest attempt to "psychologize" conservatives

There could be few more Authoritarian, rigid and closed minded people than believers in Global Warming.  Their usual response to being shown evidence about the non-correlation between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 levels is, not to discuss the matter, but to appeal to authority. "97% of scientists say ..." is their typical response, with no awareness that they are misquoting.  They base their beliefs entirely on authority, not on the scientific facts.  They talk airily about "The Science" while showing an abject ignorance of any climate science whatsoever.

And Leftists generally are like that.  If a conservative mentions any fact that conflicts with Leftist gospel, the response of the Leftist is either to run away or shower the conservative with abuse  -- sometimes both. We conservative bloggers encounter it all the time.

So it is amusing that Leftist psychologists have been beavering away for over 60 years in an attempt to prove that it is CONSERVATIVES who are rigid, closed-minded and authoritarian.

But to get any result in line with their desires, they have to use very sloppy research methods, most particularly opinion inventories that lack predictive validity.  If they think that some opinion expression indicates conservatism, rigidity etc they conclude that it does without further ado.  I spent 20 years pointing out the flaws in their research methods but that seems to have had no influence whatsoever.  They liked their conclusions too much to examine the evidence closely.  I have given many examples of such pseudo "research" over the years but let me mention just a couple here.

A widely used measure of mental rigidity was the Budner scale of Intolerance of Ambiguity.  It contains both tolerant and intolerant opinion expressions.  And the two sorts of expressions are combined to produce a measure of overall rigidity.  So the two sorts of item should show a strong negative correlation between them. People who agree with the "tolerant" statements should disagree with the "intolerant" statements.  But they do not.  The two types of item are uncorrelated.  They clearly measure two unrelated things.  So which type of item measures "intolerance of ambiguity"?  Who knows?  Probably neither. But I have yet to read of any user of the Budner scale being bothered by its self contradictory nature.  They accept garbage as information.

And the means they use to assess conservatism are equally hilarious.  A very popular measuring instrument is the Altemeyer Right Wing Authoritarianism attitude inventory.  Yet its  author admitted that it gave very little prediction of vote at election time.  Roughly half of the alleged right wingers as detected by the inventory actually voted for Leftist parties.  A very strange measure of anything Right-wing!  To cap it off there was one group found who regularly did score highly on it:  Russian Communists.  But if they are Right-wing who is Left-wing?

But the "research" concerned goes on, scatterbrained definitions and all.  One of the most ardent workers in the vineyard is the  Belgian Psychologist Alain Van Hiel.  He still seems to think there is something in the research concerned.  I tried to disabuse him of that idea a few years back, but, as usual, I was pissing into the wind.  His latest paper is: "The Relationship Between Right-wing Attitudes and Cognitive Style: A Comparison of Self-report and Behavioural Measures of Rigidity and Intolerance of Ambiguity" -- appearing in the 2016 European Journal of Personality.

And Van Hiel has gone from bad to worse as far as conceptual confusion is concerned.  In his latest paper, he accepts just about anything as an index of conservatism, from the afore-mentioned "Right Wing Authoritarianism" inventory to the Rokeach Dogmatism scale, which was specifically constructed NOT to correlate with Left/Right orientation. So the numbers he gets out of his research are meaningless.  One wonders why he bothers. He must have a great need to project Leftist failings onto conservatives

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