Creative Destruction

March 23, 2006

Whining conservative babies

Filed under: Politics — bazzer @ 2:02 pm

Here’s a survey that will no doubt offer some glib assurances to navel-gazing moonbats. It purports to show that whiny babies grow up to become conservatives.

Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.
At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.

Needless to say, I take such studies with a grain of salt. One of my biggest beefs with this particular piece is the way it seems to equate personality traits of rigidity and adherence to tradition with political conservatism, and their absence with political liberalism. I’m just not sure that’s warranted. There are very few ways that I could be considered “conservative” in my personal life (unchurched, mistrustful of authority, general debauched lifestyle) and yet most people consider me a political conservative. By the same token, I know plenty of liberals who are as rigid and unyielding as anyone I know. This is of course anecdotal, but I do think this implied correlation needs to be supported rather than merely assumed. Also, this piece suffers from the same shortcomings as does most scientific journalism — it is written by people who have a very limited grasp of statistics and the scientific method. It’s only towards the end of the article that we read:

…there was a .27 correlation between being self-reliant in nursery school and being a liberal as an adult. Another way of saying it is that self-reliance predicts statistically about 7 per cent of the variance between kids who became liberal and those who became conservative.

Color me unimpressed. It’s meaningless, though, because most readers who do get that far in the story will likely not understand it, while others will smugly pat themselves on the back and stop reading after the first two paragraphs. What say y’all?

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2 Comments »

  1. Man. It’s not just that they ignore the scientific method. They spit in all its food, too.

    Comment by Adam Gurri — March 24, 2006 @ 4:39 am | Reply

  2. What the article doesn’t tell you is that the study was conducted in Berkley, and furthermore, the children involved were the children of professors and people who worked at UC Berkley.

    Comment by gahrie — March 26, 2006 @ 9:58 am | Reply


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