Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Berkeley: Education Sans Integrity

As per the comment in my recent post, "Yet Another Bush/Hitler Comparison," I have read the attached study by researchers at Berkeley which attempts to pigeon-hole conservatives as fearful, dogmatic, uncertain warmongers. Now it is time to react, and to give my own amateur rebuttal.

You see, I don't have a PhD or any kind of graduate degree. In fact, as a sophomore in college, I have probably spent less than 1% as much time in higher education than any one of the researchers involved in the Berkeley study. However, I do know that being a conservative does not put me into the cookie-cutter image portrayed by the aforementioned study.

I grew up in an atmosphere of moral integrity. My family goes to church, and I have been raised in a loving and caring household. These facets of my life have formed the base of my political ideology and allowed my beliefs to grow into what they are today. It is pretty safe to assume that my situation can at least partly be echoed by nearly every good conservative in the world today.

You see, anyone can take data from a plethora of studies and form their own opinions based on pre-formed biases. The fact that a study from a well-respected university begins with a statement like, "...at the core of political conservatism is the resistance to change and a tolerance for inequality," shows that the research team never intended to come up with an objective view of the conservative ideological structure.

All academics aside, there is one comment in the study that completely ticks me the f*** off. It goes:
Hitler, Mussolini, and former President Ronald Reagan were individuals, but all were right-wing conservatives because they preached a return to an idealized past and condoned inequality in some form. Talk host Rush Limbaugh can be described the same way, the authors commented in a published reply to the article.
Can you seriously tell me with a straight face that Reagan in any way compares to Hitler or Mussolini? We are talking about the recently-crowned "Greatest American" here, as voted by over three million Americans. You can comb through hundreds of thousands of pages of studies spanning decades or even centuries and sooner or later there will be some way to compare God to Satan. This doesn't make it true, or even necessary to divulge these findings.

The fact that this research team actually published their so-called "study" just shows how degraded the moral standing of UC-Berkeley has become. It no longer qualifies as a bastion of higher education, it is merely a breeding ground for the next generation of professional protestors and left-wing whackos. It may seem just as crude a generalization as that I just got done blasting, but hey if they can do it why can't I?

28 comments:

RT the LT said...

Being a rodent is SO yesterday! :)

Anonymous said...

The comparison between Reagan and the others is valid in some respects. It was the Reagan "revolution" that began an extended period of us versus them politics. Previously Republicans and Democrats could agree to disagree. Politically that didn't work. When you channel the discussion with why do you hate America as Republicans under Reagan did you demopnize your opponene t and make it easier to hate. The current crap put forth by conservatives about not supporting the troops if you dislike the Presidents policies continues to divide. Now with the pending collapse of the Whits Hosue staff, both GOP leaders in the Congress looking at criminal charges, the War in Iraq, Sumpreme Court nominee etc etc etc, the conservatives are starting to eat their own and can't even get people to run in certain areas. You dug your own pit people and while there are many of you out there who will blame liberals, just look in the mirror and there is your problem

jri said...

"I grew up in an atmosphere of moral integrity. My family goes to church, and I have been raised in a loving and caring household."

And yet you vote republican.

Jeremy said...

the sadistic sarcasm of the left never ceases to amaze me...

circlethewagons said...

"sadistic sarcasm"?

the mock outrage of the so-called right never ceases to amaze me.

Anonymous said...

You equate church with having a moral upbringing? Christianity is the most absurdly anti-social religion on the planet; face it, you believe that everyone who isn't saved is going to hell, and that's just one step away from hating and killing them. "But Jesus says love . . . la la la" Yes, I know, and that's how Christians keep from every having to actually love and care for others, by loving Jesus you can claim to be good by proxy rather than dealing with the real world, (which you all seem so ready to shoot at). Get a real religious philosophy.

emtoh said...

Think fourth grade math class, Venn diagrams. The sets "fearful, dogmatic, uncertain, warmonger" and "churchgoer", "loving and caring family", "atmosphere of moral integrity" are not mutually exclusive. One could be a member of all sets.

The comment about Reagan and the Fascists refers specifically to an appeal to a past ideal, and to the acceptance of inequality. There is no reference to the genocidal practices of the Fascists.

Oh, and a bit more than one percent of the US population is not what could be considered a ringing endorsement of RR as Saint Ron.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... it might be more enlightening to actually read the study rather than a media relations 'summary' of the study. Since you attach the media summary, I can only assume that this is what you read (please correct me if I'm wrong). I personally haven't read the study so I can't comment directly on that, but I can state with certainty that media simplifications of research (whether it be in the physical or social sciences) are generally quite misleading and will tend to oversimplify a topic. I have seen many situations where certain claims are made in the summary that are not made in the actual research article. There is likely some element of that in this case, so it would likely be worth the effort to read the actual research paper before becoming outraged at its contents...

Anthony Hall said...

You seem like a reasonable kid but your rebuttal isn't much of a rebuttal... and the "study" you refer to isn't a study, just a deliberately juicy press release for what is probably a dull paper.

By getting all upset about having Reagan and Hitler on the same line and pretending this is a Hitler =Reagan comparison you are just ducking any real attempt to understand or rebut the core arguments of Berkeley piece. The summary also mentions left wing dictators ... what they have in common with right wing dictators is that they are dictators... people have common traits aswell as opposing traits.. The line that spurred your mock outrage was perfectly clear... the common link is a reverance for an imagined past of purity and simplicity.. the form and degree of this yearning varied among the individuals mentioned but it is absolutely a fact.. so I can say it with a straight face.

You finish up by just bashing Berkeley.. without ever having made a point. Try harder young man!

I'm also not an academic but there are a couple of things that really ring true in the summary. Although conservatives may share some laudable qualities there are core tendencies that make it very hard for conservatives to think clearly. One is their universal need to shoehorn complex and subtle realities into neat, simplistic models for reasons that are more psychological/ontological than intellectual. Second, although there is enormous variation among conservative thinkers you'll never find one who doesn't instinctively love hierarchy in all things.

Try writing something that actually addresses the core ideas that offended you, I'd love to read it. cheers.

Ryan S said...

J Wick,
You have a good blog. Keep fighting the good fight.

Furthermore, I don't care whether your source is the "research paper" or the media relations. The "researchers" are obviously trying to portray through their media relations that their "research" says all conservatives are warped. Not only do these "researchers" try to connect conservatives to Hitler and Mussolini, but also Stalin. That's Berkley for you.

Anonymous said...

Ryan S said "Furthermore, I don't care whether your source is the "research paper" or the media relations."

Given that researchers generally have very little to do with generating the summary, I would imagine that you should care... I think it would be fair to gripe at the way the Media Relations office at the University handled the publicity aspect of this study, but if you're going to state that the researchers did something biased and wrong, then it seems obvious that you'd have to actually read what the article said. Don't you think that would be reasonable or do you simply prefer to make assumptions that substantiate your opinion about Berkeley without regard for the facts?

Anonymous said...

"I wish we lived in the America of yesteryear that only exists in the minds of us Republicans."
-Ned Flanders

esmense said...

I grew up in an atmosphere of moral integrity. My family goes to church and I have been raised in a loving and caring household. These facets of my life have formed the base of my political ideology and allowed my beliefs to grow into what they are today. It is pretty safe to assume that my situation can at least partly be echoed by nearly every good liberal in the world today. It is definitely echoed in every good liberal of my personal acquaintance.

It seems to me (and I speak only for myself not for anything as global as an ideology) that the difference between me and most modern conservative activists and writers I encounter in politics, on the web, and in other media, is that while I acknowledge their religious tradition, they completely deny mine. That while I recognize that we have moral differences, they deny that I have any morality at all.

Jefferson said, "I tolerate with upmost latitude the right of others to differ from me in opinion without imputing to them criminality."

This is a notion that today's absolutist conservatives do not embrace.

Anonymous said...

" In fact, as a sophomore in college, I have probably spent less than 1% as much time in higher education than any one of the researchers involved"

Are you telling us here you you were a screw off in your sophomore year? Skipping class and blowing the thousands you loving parents spent sending you to college?
That kind of bahavior never crossed my liberal mind. Of course I had to work three jobs and pay my own way.

Anonymous said...

I think Wick was comparing the amount of time he has spent as a student (an entire freshman year and a portion of a sophmore year) to the researchers' total time studying, researching, and teaching in higher education including undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate work. In that case, Wick is probably on target. Also, who's to say Wick doesn't pay for school himself. Being conservative doesn't mean having your parents pay for school, just like being liberal doesn't mean getting federal aid, loans, and working to pay for school. Talk about your stereotypes.

Jeremy said...

To the most recent anon commenter, thank you. I hadn't even read your comment and complained about the prior comment but you totally must be psychic. I was referring to the time studying, etc. I also am paying for my own education. Nicely done, and I wish it wasn't necessary for good people such as yourself to have to be "anon" for fear of getting random crap sent to you for putting up your real name/blog...

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that the lead author is a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, far from a bastion of liberalism and/or anti-conservatism. If the idea is to suggest that this is typical of Berkeley's academic predispositions, then this fact does somewhat change things. Just a thought...

Homework assignment: Read the research article and determine whether the authors' methodology is appropriate. Discuss whether the conclusions are supported by the available data and provide a critique of the results where appropriate. Important note: The sociological and psychological implications of the statistical data should not be criticized simply because it doesn't fit personal anecdotal experiences. [This assignment is worth 10% of the final grade and is due in one week.]

Anonymous said...

Can you seriously tell me with a straight face that Reagan in any way compares to Hitler or Mussolini?


Yes.

Anonymous said...

I have only been reading political blogs for a few months and I have been disgusted and even frightened by the degree of hatred I see from conservatives to liberals. So I thought I'd inform those hate mongers that, like our conservative young friend here...

I grew up in an atmosphere of moral integrity. My family wnet to church and I was raised in a loving and caring household. These facets of my life have formed the base of my political ideology and allowed my beliefs to grow into what they are today. It is pretty safe to assume that my situation can at least partly be echoed by nearly every good liberal in the world today.

masaccio said...

Your education, Christian or otherwise, seems to have left you innumerate.

"In fact, as a sophomore in college, I have probably spent less than 1% as much time in higher education than any one of the researchers involved in the Berkeley study."

You have been in college for one year or so. For this sentence to be true, every researcher would have to have 100 years or more of exposure to higher education.

Before you start criticizing formal scholarly studies, you probably should brush up on arithmetic.

PK said...

For anyone interested, the actual study is published here (this link is through ScienceDirect and likely available through most university links but maybe not all). The article was followed by a critique and a subsequent rebuttal, which deal with the different issues that are involved in relating political ideology with psychological and sociological tendencies. I haven't gone through most of it, but thus far it's been a very interesting read.

I note that thus far, Jeremy has resisted the temptation to respond to the challenge (Comment #8) presented earlier about his use of a press release as a foundation for criticism of a research study. Considering the specific language of the text is the foundation of the argument, I believe that it is imperative that Jeremy take the time to look more closely at this issue and clarify his position. It may be that your opinion remains unchanged after reading the article (and I suggest the follow-ups as well), but at that point your opinion would be based on facts and not perceived facts.

//Opinions should derive from facts, not the other way around.\\

Anonymous said...

Dude,

Did you actually read the STUDY or the PRESS RELEASE? Well, regardless, you seem to prove:

"Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity"

I go to Berkeley. It is a wonderful school. Most of the kids are just trying to make the grade and get into law/med school. It ain't Hippieville anymore. It hasn't been for 2 decades. Yet the right continues to live in the past.

Write-off Berkeley if you need to ("Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity"), but you are wrong to smear the entire school. Any prof. would give your analysis an "F".

Finally, the LEAD AUTHOR is from STANFuRD. Typically, one assumes the lead author is the main researcher. So do you have any smears for the conservative, wealthy, whitebread school that is Stanfurd?

Keep hitting the books, you've got a lot to learn.

Anonymous said...

In response to the last anonymous comment, the author of this article clearly states: I have read the attached study

Moving on, it is obvious the author is taking things out of context from the attached study. While quoting them on Hitler and Mussolini, he neglects to include the first sentence of that paragraph, which qualifies the statement made: "Disparate conservatives share a resistance to change and acceptance of inequality, the authors said."

That suggests the authors of the study aren't equating Hitler and Reagan, they are instead trying to say that both are conservative, and both exhibit traits x, y, and z.

Sorry to work backwards, but next I'd like to comment on Wick's 4th paragraph where he leaves out the fact that the study begins with the statement "Four researchers who culled through 50 years of research literature about the psychology of conservatism report that..."

In other words, what Wick suggests is a pre-formed bias is in fact the conclusion of the study.

My Conclusion: Jeremy Wick gets a D for this article.

Cal Alumni said...

"Now it is time to react, and to give my own amateur rebuttal."

Well, it qualifies as amateur at least.

As others have noted, the lead author of this study is from STANFORD - Stanford's Graduate School of Business no less. Damn those highly-regarded private graduate business schools, I say, damn them all! They are "Education Sans Integrity," and this "just shows how degraded the moral standing of" Stanford's Graduate School of Business has become! "It no longer qualifies as a bastion of higher education, it is merely a breeding ground for the next generation of..." blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

You really should have paid more attention in school, Jeremy: reading comprehension cleary isn't your strong point.

MikeMudd said...

"I grew up in an atmosphere of moral integrity. My family goes to church, and I have been raised in a loving and caring household. These facets of my life have formed the base of my political ideology and allowed my beliefs to grow into what they are today. It is pretty safe to assume that my situation can at least partly be echoed by nearly every good conservative in the world today."

My family are born-again christians and have been so for the last 35 years. NONE of us are conservative as we were bought up to question why things are the way they are and to apply our own moral compass to each situation. Not one single thing that the Bush government has done meets any kind of rational or moral standard that I can think of. A more venal, amoral and power-drunk collection of liars would be harder to assemble.
I have always said that as soon as the US find a way to profit from war, we are all in big, big trouble..
Dream on conservatives. Your comfortable existence is finished, you just dont know it yet.

Railroad Stone said...

Reagan didn't have anyhere near the charisma or intelligence of Hitler.

Did you ever see footage of Eva Braun whispering answers to Adolph while he just stood there and shrugged?

(And no, don't take that as a compliment of Hitler.)

Chris said...

Wow--you have a lot of comments here. I only read your rebuttal not the study. I'd just like to say that just because 3 million Americans voted Ronald Reagan the Greates American ever doesn't make it so.

esmense said...

You should pay attention to the comments here about Stanford. And get over your notion that political "liberals" must be behind any and everything you disapprove of, as well as against everything of which you approve. (And that everything associated with our nation's heavily corporate-supported (especially in terms of research) universities is "liberal."

From my experience as a long time marketing professional, familiar with the uses and markets for which research products are primarily aimed, I'd say that a better description of the values (and motivations) that produce this study is likely to be "corporate," rather than "liberal." I would also bet, based on their long enthusiasm for and use of this kind of psychological and "values" research in determining election strategy, that an important customer for THIS research material is/was the Republican Party.

It's likely at least some of the "50 years of research" referred to in this study was part of the "Values and Lifestyles" research that (sponsored by corporate interests) arose from Stanford in the mid 70s and was sold most enthusiastically, in the late 70s and early 80s (through SRI the influential research institute that spun off from Stanford's research department in the late 70s) to the Reagan administration and the Republican party, as well as, of course, to corporate clients (who viewed it quite a bit more skeptically than the party and didn't embrace it very broadly or for long.)

Values and Lifestyles (or, VALS)research, fairly enough, slices and dices the population by income and zip code in order to determine purchasing patterns. But, in selling their research SRI went an (in my view) offensive step further and claimed that Values and Lifestyles research could make accurate psychological evaluations/predictions/assessmentsof INDIVIDUAL behavior (beyond product purchasing), including MORAL behavior, based on these same zip code, income and neighborhood purchasing patterns.(This rearch, of course, is the basis for the "values and lifestyles" appeals that continue to be the basis of Republican marketing.)

Worse yet, in addition to claiming VALs could assess individual moral values (and therefore moral worth) another contention for VALs (a contention extraordinarily offensive to traditional American notions of democracy, equality, opportunity, risk taking and upward mobility), as explained by the SRI representative who tried to sell it to my ad agency in the early 1980s) was that people did not, COULD not "mature" psychologically beyond, that is could not escape, the VALs category indicated by their current zip code, income level and neighborhood purchasing patterns.

This meant that those at the bottom of the VALs moral and economic ladder (the "Survivors") could be and should be written off as hopeless cases of no potential value to marketers or concern of politicians and government agencies. (Amusingly, and yet tragically, this "lifestyles" and, most important "values" explanation for the poverty of "Survivors" was insisted on despite the fact that the research clearly indicated that these people were primarily extremely elderly, or, young and urban. Proof, in fact, that CIRCUMSTANCES -- age and location -- were the defining characteristics of their poverty.)

Before you get all huffy about a little study from evil "Berkley," stop and consider that the "values" and "lifestyles" arguments that you have been raised on arose, not from deep moral thinking and concern, but from aggressive marketing and manipulation.