Rebel Yid on Twitter Rebel Yid on Facebook
Print This Post Print This Post

Pseudo Science

from Making It All Up by Andrew Ferguson at The Weekly Standard

Behind the people being experimented upon are the people doing the experimenting, the behavioral scientists themselves. In important ways they are remarkably monochromatic. We don’t need to belabor the point. In a survey of the membership of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, 85 percent of respondents called themselves liberal, 6 percent conservative, 9 percent moderate. Two percent of graduate students and postdocs called themselves conservative. “The field is shifting leftward,” wrote one team of social psychologists (identifying themselves as “one liberal, one centrist, two libertarians, two who reject characterization,” and no conservatives). “And there are hardly any conservative students in the pipeline.” A more recent survey of over 300 members of another group of experimental psychologists found 4 who voted for Mitt Romney.

The self-correction essential to science is less likely to happen among people whose political and cultural views are so uniform. This is especially true when so many of them specialize in studying political and cultural behavior. Their biases are likely to be invisible to themselves and their colleagues. Consider this abstract from a famous study on conservatism [with technical decoration excised]:

A meta-analysis confirms that several psychological variables predict political conservatism: death anxiety; system instability; dogmatism​—​intolerance of ambiguity; openness to experience; uncertainty tolerance; needs for order, structure, and closure; integrative complexity; fear of threat and loss; and self-esteem. The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.

Only a scientist planted deep in ideology could read such a summary and miss the self-parodic assumptions buried there. Yet few people in behavioral sciences bat an eye. “Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition,” which this paragraph is taken from, has been cited by nearly 2,000 other studies, accepted as a sober, scientific portrait of the “conservative” temperament.

Print This Post Print This Post

Pogo Progressives


from Thomas Edsall at The New York Times, How Did the Democrats Become Favorites of the Rich?

In their 2014 paper, Bonica, McCarty, Rosenthal and Poole tracked the sources of money flowing to Democratic candidates and parties from 1980 to 2012. As the accompanying charts show, they found that the share of contributions to Democrats from the top 0.01 percent of adults — a much larger share of the population than the Forbes 400 list — has grown from about 7 percent of total campaign contributions in 1980 to more than 25 percent of contributions in 2012. The same pattern is visible among Republicans, where the growth of fundraising dependence on the superrich has been moving along the same trajectory.

The kinds of congressional districts Democrats are now winning also tilt toward the well-to-do. Data on the median household income of congressional districts provided by ProximityOne, a company that specializes in the analysis of geographic, demographic and economic data, shows the following:

In 2014, the median income of households in Democratic districts was higher than in Republican districts, $53,358 to $51,834. Democrats represent seven of the 10 most affluent districts, measured by household income (four in California, two in Virginia and one in New York). Democrats also represent a majority of the 100 most affluent districts, 54-46.


In this third phase of Progressivism, the Progressives have become the elite ruling class the original Progressives were formed to resist.

Print This Post Print This Post

When a Hypothesis Becomes Dogma


from The Washington Post, For decades, the government steered millions away from whole milk. Was that wrong?

But even as a Senate committee was developing the Dietary Goals, some experts were lamenting that the case against saturated fats, though thinly supported, was being presented as if it were a sure thing.

“The vibrant certainty of scientists claiming to be authorities on these matters is disturbing,” George V. Mann, a biochemist at Vanderbilt’s medical school wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Ambitious scientists and food companies, he said, had “transformed [a] fragile hypothesis into treatment dogma.”

Indeed, the subsequent 40 years of science have proven that, if nothing else, the warning against saturated fats was simplistic.

By itself, cutting saturated fats appears to do little to reduce heart disease. Several evidence reviews — essentially summing up years of research — have found no link.

“There is no significant evidence for concluding that dietary saturated fat is associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease,” said one published in 2010 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


sound familiar?

Print This Post Print This Post

Rights and Privileges

from Wall Street Journal, Notable and Quotable: John Quincy Adams

But there is one principle which pervades all the institutions of this country, and which must always operate as an obstacle to the granting of favors to new comers. This is a land, not of privileges, but of equal rights. Privileges are granted by European sovereigns to particular classes of individuals, for purposes of general policy; but the general impression here is that privileges granted to one denomination of people, can very seldom be discriminated from erosions of the rights of others.

Emigrants from Germany, therefore, or from elsewhere, coming here, are not to expect favors from the governments. They are to expect, if they choose to become citizens, equal rights with those of the natives of the country. They are to expect, if affluent, to possess the means of making their property productive, with moderation, and with safety;—if indigent, but industrious, honest and frugal, the means of obtaining easy and comfortable subsistence for themselves and their families. . . .

Print This Post Print This Post

Political Thoughts 2015 10 04


Why do I vote as I do?

At the current time I see the priorities of our political requirements as being 60% economic, 30% foreign policy, and 10% social issues.  Why?

The economic issues includes other domestic policy initiatives such as education, but our ability to fund our welfare state, any necessary military and foreign policy initiatives, and so many other demands and requirements depends on our ability to pay for them. We need to generate wealth before we can distribute it.  The progressive wing of the Democrats, which dominates them more than the Tea Party dominates the Republicans, has sacrificed economic growth to a host of progressive dreams with the bill now coming due. Calling an expense an investment does not make it so, and it creates an expectation that will not be fulfilled.  The reason that so many of both parties are so disappointed in their political leadership and that they have been promised more than their leaders can deliver.

Large systemic changes such as the ACA create disappointments, but are seductive political objectives.  Solving component problems (access, insurability, cost) can be more effectively addressed individually, but this requires real problem solving rather grand political gestures. Real problem solving is not subject to effective sound bites and electioneering.

The Progressive Democrats believe they have political solutions to economic problems, and they hide true costs behind Rube Goldberg mandates and Kafkaesque regulations.  Even when a problem is apparently partially solved it is at far too great a cost.

While there is much I do not like about the Republican front runners on some issues and while I abhor the boorish style of a Trump, and the inexperience of a Carson, I find the Democrats so sorely lacking on the economic and domestic policy issue, and since I weigh that portion so heavily, it is unlikely that I will find a Democrat I can support.  The Democrats complain about the effects of their policy of the last eight years as if they had nothing to do with it.

I do not think either party has a lock on foreign policy, although I think the reign of Obama and Hillary has been a disaster.  Bush for all of his controversies at least had a policy, well-formed and thought through. Parts of it may have been proven mistaken and misguided, but at least such a policy can be adjusted to unfolding realities, however uncomfortable they may be.

Obama’s policy is wishful thinking and leading from behind.  He is so afraid of military power that he negotiates from severe weakness and we see the result.  Foreign policy is difficult and he is not up to the task.  Other Democratic candidates have not presented any change, and apparently the statute of limitation on blaming Bush for every wrong on the planet has expired.

The GOP must get beyond Neocon blustering, but I do not see any Democrat superiority on this issue. There used to be a much greater consensus between the two parties on foreign policy and this was critical because effective foreign policy cannot tolerate dramatic changes every election cycle.

I disagree with the Republicans on some social issues but even if I disagreed with them strongly on every one, I weigh those issues relatively small compared to the importance of the other two.  There is just not much that I think would change as a result of their coming to power.  Yet this is their weak spot with the electorate.

Our modern history has been one of increasing progressive power punctuated by exhaustion and a retrenchment of government power, This happened after Wilson , and after Carter and after eight years of Obama I believe we are at that point again.

In choosing a candidate I place their governing philosophy and principles first and their character and competence second.  Who would want a competent politician effectively enacting disastrous policy? Hillary is clearly not to be trusted on anything and her only guiding principle is whatever brings her the most power and money.   Bernie can be trusted to try his best to add our country to the long list of socialist utopian failures in recent history.

There are several GOP candidates that have promise, but as a group they are killing the party.  There is much I do not like about several of them and they are as prone to gaffes and singularly stupid comments as any other, but compared to the last 8 years and the promise of the Democrats to continue down that path, selecting a candidate should not be so difficult.

As bad as the Republican candidates can be on any single news cycle, the Democrats so far have still managed to be the less desirable choice.