So a Yale law professor (and apparently amateur statistician) did a study. Reports Politico:
Yale law professor Dan Kahan posted on his blog this week that he analyzed the responses of more than 2,000 American adults recruited for another study and found that, on average, people who leaned liberal were more science literate than those who leaned conservative.At the actual post, the Professor says:
However, those who identified as part of the tea party movement were actually better versed in science than those who didn’t, Kahan found. The findings met the conventional threshold of statistical significance, the professor said.
I've got to confess, though, I found this result surprising. As I pushed the button to run the analysis on my computer, I fully expected I'd be shown a modest negative correlation between identifying with the Tea Party and science comprehension.Paging Pauline Kael!
But then again, I don't know a single person who identifies with the Tea Party.
All my impressions come from watching cable tv -- & I don't watch Fox News very often -- and reading the "paper" (New York Times daily, plus a variety of politics-focused internet sites like Huffington Post & Politico).But that's not the best part.
I'm a little embarrassed, but mainly I'm just glad that I no longer hold this particular mistaken view.
Of course, I still subscribe to my various political and moral assessments--all very negative-- of what I understand the "Tea Party movement" to stand for. I just no longer assume that the people who happen to hold those values are less likely than people who share my political outlooks to have acquired the sorts of knowledge and dispositions that a decent science comprehension scale measures.
The blog comment thread is.
At the time of this writing, it runs 249 comments long, overwhelmingly pro-TEA Party, and IMHO this one is the best:
Let me add an international twist:The anti-Tea Party comments? Mostly ad hominems and "Your data/conclusion is not valid" arguments.
I am a Brazilian self-taught Software Engineer. I also taught myself English, to the point where I managed to hold a Cambridge CPE, despite the fact that I've never stepped on anglophonic soil and zero formal training. So my analytic and reasoning faculties seem to be in working order.
Now, with that out of the way, here's why I strongly identify with the Tea Party: in my view, they are right, and they are the US's lifeline. They represent the virtues that led to American Exceptionalism (and YES, this does exist).
I find caricaturing Tea Partiers extremely ironic, and it would be hilarious, weren't it so revolting. In my experience, being a lefty liberal is EASY. It is the default stance of the intellectually lazy. All you have to do is feel (specially "good about myself" kind of feel), and never solve anything. Here's, in my view, why:
I live in the logical endpoint of Fabian socialism. Born to and raised in a culture where the concepts of "right" and "left" are non-existent (I take that back, actually "right" is a language stand-in for "evil"). We have over 30 political parties, and they are all some variant of the left. From Social Democrat parties to "Trotsky-ish" parties. Our *current* constitution, which dates back all the way to the Gun'n' Roses era (1988), is pretty much a Soviet Constitution (1936) copy/paste job. Culturally, the population is in pretty much a state of "1984 meets Brave New World" in terms of ideology.
Brazil is also a country where:
- the utter government control of the private sector trough bureaucracy managed to destroy entrepreneurship. To the point that it exists, it has to deal with the accepted fact of life that the bribes which feed the corrupt bureaucrats demand to allow business to exist have to be factored in business plans.
- a crushing tax burden that sustain a permanent dependent underclass of favelados in welfare ensures the populists remain eternally in power and that any semblance upward mobility is quickly "corrected". For an employer to put 10.000 in the pocket of an employee, with will costs him nearly 18.000, so jobs market are always tepid at best so informal work and tax dodging schemes are commonplace.
- The relentless attack on Catholicism (the historical prevalent brand of Christianity practiced here) over the past decades eroded any semblance of morality form a large chunk of the country, and that coupled with utter corruption and/or incompetence of law enforcement made way for drug cartels to take over. Violence and crime spiraled to such inhuman degrees that between the 50K murders in average a year, this year we saw a soccer referee stab a player to death and then be beheaded and quartered in the field by the spectators for his trouble. His head was placed in a spike in the middle of the field, as an added dramatic bonus (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2357453/Brazilian-referee-beheaded-Angry-fans-head-stake-stabbing-player.html).
This act barely caused a murmur.
I could go on for ages with more evidence of social rot, but you probably already got the gist of it.
Now, remember, being immersed in this cultural cesspool since birth I, like most Brazilians, never even *knew* that this wasn't actually just "the way things are". I mean, we get a gut feeling that something is off, but like Plato's cave dwellers, light is something really frightening and instinctively avoided. And the *obvious* solutions by all the *smart people* are always the same: more government "compassion". More "social programs". More "awareness". Less "greedyness".
Imagine my shock when by a quirk of fate a Mark Levin book ended in my hands. That led me to Burke, Locke, Smith, Mises, Friedman, Hayek and many others. Conservative philosophy is what gave me a glimpse of the shinning city in the hill and a will to fight, along with a battle plan, to improve my lot in life, and of those I can reach.
So, Dan, I understand you are surprised that your results showed Tea Partiers not the raging bufons the media portrays them as being. The most obvious things are often the easiest to miss. But never doubt that being conservative is quite the intellectual effort, if only to overcome the moroseness of the mind that liberalism creates imposes with all its group-think and easy answers.
PS: written in a hurry on lunch break, no time to proof-read, so apologies in advance for eventual typos.
October 18, 2013 Rodrigo Del Cistia Andrade
I cannot help but wonder if we're not approaching another preference cascade.
Edited to add: I'll just leave this right here: