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.

Continue reading “Research on Authoritarianism and Religion”

The Link between Nazism and Socialism

Originally posted elsewhere on 10/15/2010; the post has been somewhat modified here.

Shannon Love published an excellent article entitled, The Left’s Power of Self-Delusion. In it she argues that the left suffers from a profound need to always see itself as being on the correct side of history. In particular the left whitewashes its own history so that its intellectual heroes appear to be always good, always altruistic, and always working toward a more perfect justice. Love explains that this distorted perspective reduces the left’s own writing on its intellectual roots to little more than hagiography.

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George Will wonders if federal government can force obese people join Weight Watchers

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 7/04/2011

In a panel situation George Will asks whether the federal government can force obese people join Weight Watchers. The liberal members of the panel refused to answer the question. They danced around it saying that it is up to the Supreme Court to decide what’s constitutional. An admission on their part that the federal government does not have the authority to mandate participation in Weight Watchers would have left them having to explain why such a mandate was unconstitutional. The Obama administration has claimed that those who lack healthcare insurance drive up healthcare costs and indirectly impact commerce; for this reason they say that the federal government has the authority to order individuals to buy healthcare insurance. But obesity also drives up healthcare costs; following the Obama administration’s reasoning, you are forced to conclude that obesity impacts interstate commerce. Thus the federal government would apparently have the authority to order people to enroll in programs whose goal is to help them to reduce their weight. However, were the liberal members of the panel to agree that the federal government had such authority, people would be outraged because such a level of involvement in people’s lives would widely be regarded as intrusive or even tyrannical.

You can see a video of Will and the other members of the panel here.

By the way, there are members of Congress who claim that they don’t have to consider whether a bill is constitutional, since they say it is the job of the Supreme Court to make that determination. In contrast the Obama administration is on record making their own determinations as to what is constitutional. Recently we’ve seen Holder announce that he will not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act because he deems this legislation to be unconstitutional.

FAIL: MSNBC interviewer attempts to smack down Republican Congressman

Originally posted by me elsewhere on 7/20/2011

MSNBC interviewer asserts that the U.S. had been going into a depression. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) takes issues with her statement.


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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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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Originally posted by me elsewhere on 4/25/2011


Key points

  • Obama has not filled 12 of 69 inspector general positions to thwart oversight.
  • His administration is launching a criminal investigation into energy companies without any evidence of wrong-doing while Obama himself is on record announcing that the energy policies that he will adopt will cause energy prices to skyrocket.
  • By executive fiat anyone seeking a contract with the federal government has to reveal which candidates they are supporting through donations — a move whose only purpose is intimidation (more on that here).
  • Now that 3 of the 5 seats of the National Labor Relations Board have been filled by Obama (2 are union guys appointed during a congressional recess), the federal government is telling private enterprise where they can locate or whether they can move (as in the Boeing case).