Research on Authoritarianism and Religion

Originally published elsewhere on 01/17/2011

I happened across an article today entitled Predisposition for Religion Can Spread Quickly by LiveScience writer, Wynne Parry. Parry quotes economist, Robert Rowthorn, as saying:

All people who work in this area know there is a genetic basis to being religious, in the sense there is a genetic basis to all human behavior…

I found myself wondering why Prof. Rowthorn isn’t studying the genetic underpinnings of economic behavior since this is his area of expertise.

Rowthorn’s research article is available online as a pdf: Religion, fertility and genes: a dual inheritance model. Professor Rowthorn sets the stage for his paper by asserting:

It is widely agreed that religion has biological foundations—that belief in the supernatural, obedience to authority or susceptibility to ceremony and ritual depend on genetically based features of the human brain.

The empirical basis for his assertion is research which supposedly has demonstrated a genetic basis for the traditional moral triad of authoritarianism, conservatism and religiousness.

You may not be aware of this, but researchers in the social sciences have been trying to paint conservatives as authoritarians since the early 1950’s. According to Jonah Goldberg in Liberal Fascism, a handful of Marxist intellectuals sought to discredit their opponents by attributing their political positions to a psychological pathology. In 1950, Theodor Adorno fired the opening salvo by stating in his book, The Authoritarian Personality that conservatives scored higher on the F-scale (“F” for Fascism) than others. This kind of analysis immediately appealed to other left-leaning individuals because instead of addressing their political opponents arguments, they could simply dismiss conservative positions as being an expression of a psychological defect. And by the way Robert Rowthorn is himself a Marxist economist according to Wikipedia.

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Former citizen of USSR confronts Occupy Wall Street protesters

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 10/25/2011

Great video of a former citizen of USSR confronting protesters at Occupy Wall Street. My favorite part was when he contrasted capitalism and socialism by pointing out the difference in propsperity between South and North Korea.


And here’s a look at an iconic, satellite photo of North and South Korea after dark. Communist North Korea is the dark one that’s been outlined. Communism has caused such extensive economic collapse that North Koreans can’t afford electricity.

The hive mind that’s occupying Wall Street

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 10/09/2011

If you have watched any footage of the protesters who are part of the Occupy-Wall-Street movement, you may have noticed they have adopted the creepy custom of repeating whatever the person addressing them says. At first I thought that they were doing this so an unamplified voice could be heard over a large distance. However I have since noted that they are continuing to engage in this practice even if the speaker is electronically amplifying his voice with a bullhorn. So it has occurred to me that this repeat-everything custom has a certain liturgical quality and helps with the development of the hive mind that is growing there.

What’s a hive mind? The hive mind was featured in several of the Star Trek features. It is the mind of the collective that is known as the Borg. All individuals are submerged into a singular consciousness. So that’s what I was thinking when I came across this YouTube video. In it the civil rights leader John Lewis has appeared among the protesters in Atlanta with the aim of addressing their group. In an almost-too-painful-to-watch process, Lewis is sent packing because the hive mind asserts that no person alive is more important than any other person alive and John Lewis’ years of service and dedication to civil rights in no way elevates him over any of the people on the street.

In addition through a show of hands it actually appears as though the majority of people there want to hear John Lewis speak. But despite the chants of This is what democracy looks like!, the hive mind doesn’t buy into majority rule. The man with the bullhorn in the video is emphatic that the group’s ground rule is that they only pursue a course of action if there is consensus. Since there were dissenters, they were going to go about doing whatever was on their agenda before Lewis appeared and leave him cooling his jets. At this point Lewis left.

Okay, now time for the irony alert! In March of 2010 John Lewis complained that tea party protesters had shouted the N-word at him as he passed through their midst in Washington – a claim that BigGovernment has taken issue with. In addition the tea party movement has been much maligned because those showing up at protests were said to be “overwhelmingly white.” But as John Lewis looked out at the hive mind, he must have noticed that all those folks who couldn’t reach consensus on granting him permission to speak were… well, they were overwhelmingly white.

By the way, as Lewis was leaving the site, one of the protesters was trying to offer an apology to him on behalf of the hive mind, but this riled up the hive mind who shouted the apologizer down with repeated chants of “I object!”.


Israeli/Palestinian 1967 borders were armistice borders

The video below does a nice job of re-visiting the popular narrative about the West Bank being “occupied territory.” Among the points made are these:

  • The 1967 borders were armistice borders recognized as having no political significance at the time. There were merely where the opposing camps were when the cease fire went into effect.
  • The last Muslims to exercise sovereignty over the West Banks weren’t Arabs at all. They were Turks. Turkey ceded control of the West Bank to Britain after being defeated by the allied forces in WWI.
  • The people now called the “Palestinians” were never a sovereign people. Prior to 1947 they were Jordanians. They immigrated into the area around this time in a move by Arabs to destroy the young state of Israel.

The video goes into more detail; check it out.


Has Obama discovered his inner Rambo?

I was proud of the way that our military and intelligence agencies came together to provide Osama bin Laden with the send off that he deserved. And I so wanted to be proud of President Obama for the first time in my life (hat tip to Michelle). But to be honest I am continuing to have trouble imagining Obama leading the way in an extrajudicial, unilateral, execution of a foreign national residing within the sovereign borders of a putative ally. I mean… that just sounds so un-Obama. As a candidate, Obama voiced his wish to bring bin Laden to justice:

What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr, and to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism

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Hillary Clinton on why no congressional authorization is required for war in Libya

Originally posted elsewhere on 3/28/2011

In a recent appearance on ABC’s This Week, Hillary addressed the fact that the Obama administration has not sought Congressional authorization for the war in Libya. In her words:

Well, we would welcome congressional support, but I don’t think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama were — was speaking of several years ago.

I think that this had a limited time frame, a very clearly defined mission which we are in the process of fulfilling.

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The White House is tongue-tied about Easter

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 4/25/2011

Although the White House released statements last year commemorating the observance of the Muslim holidays of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr, Hajj, and Eid-ul-Adha, this year when it came to the most sacred of Christian holidays, the White House was suddenly tongue-tied. Last year the president did mark the occasion of Easter by describing the Easter message as being, not about redemption and the triumph of God’s love over sin, but as a holiday that recognizes humanity’s aspirations to live a healthy, dignified life dedicated to service. By somehow characterizing Easter in this way, the president believed he was able to transcend the narrow confines of Christianity in his Easter message, or as the president put it:

While we worship in different ways, we also remember the shared spirit of humanity that inhabits us all, Jews and Christians, Muslims and Hindus, believers and non-believers alike… So on this Easter weekend let us hold fast to those aspirations that we hold in common, as brothers and sisters, as members of the same family, the family of man.

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“Think Progress” can’t “Think Science”

Adapted from an article I originally posted elsewhere on 2/7/2011

In this article Brad Johnson of Think Progress attempts to mock and belittle Krauthammer’s statement that:

In science, you can actually deny or falsify a proposition with evidence. You find me a single piece of evidence that Al Gore would ever admit would contradict global warming and I’ll be surprised.

Krauthammer is referring to an essential property of scientific method. Here’s a chart published by a professor at University of Winnipeg which briefly summarizes how scientific method works.

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There really are people who have “evil hand issues”

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 01/28/2011

Perhaps you saw the episode of the TV show, Angel, in which Lindsey explains that he has “evil hand issues”. It turns out that there are real people who suffer from something resembling Lindsey’s issues called “alien hand syndrome.” Wow. To read more about the real syndrome, check out this BBC article. The poor woman in the article had undergone surgery which sliced through the corpus collosum that normally connects the two hemispheres of the brain. As a result, one hemisphere was unable to exert any control or influence on the other. She ended up having two consciousnesses emerge following surgery, and one of them wasn’t so very nice. Fortunately after a long struggle doctors were able to get her on a medical regimen that ameliorated her condition.

On a much lighter note, those of you who have followed the Angel series and want to have a refresher on “evil hand issues” can do so by watching this clip: