Skip

Welcome, fear-mongering overlords
April 24, 2005 8:43 AM   Subscribe

Ernst Becker proposed terror management theory to explain toxic leaders (among other things.) The war on terror provides many examples of how fear-mongering enables the rise of authoritarian regimes. Some have even found that self-inflicted fear mongering can cause permanent cognitive and behavioral impairment. Does this mean that conservativism is actually a form of mental disability? Others disagree. (previously in comments here and here)
posted by warbaby (51 comments total)

 
Yes, my ideas are so good and obviously true that to disagree with me is to exhibit a mental disorder! I hate this bullshit--it is a cheap way of refusing to engage other people's ideas, and then claiming your failure to do so shows some kind of mental/moral superiority.
posted by LarryC at 8:50 AM on April 24, 2005


LarryC: I said people disagreed about it. Is this link more to your taste? Sheesh. This thread is about Ernst Becker and terror management theory. It's not about conservative projection and paranoia.
posted by warbaby at 9:02 AM on April 24, 2005


Having studied the Jost et al. paper about Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition quite a bit, it's fair to point out that they are NOT insinuating that conservatism is any form of mental disability/illness/whatever. In fact, they've gone to great lengths to explain this, since George F. Will & Ann Coulter read the words "psychology" and "conservatism" and went off spouting this nonsense.
posted by trey at 9:04 AM on April 24, 2005


The war on terror provides many examples of how fear-mongering enables the rise of authoritarian regimes.

This is where you made your mistake, warbaby. This is patently false. How can the 'war on terror' provide examples of the rise of authoritarian regimes when no authoritarian regimes have risen since the 'war on terror' began? Dark and backhanded implications like this amount to trolls.

Incidentally, I agree with a lot of the material you link here. Conservatism attracts some nutjobs. That doesn't mean it's not right, as the authors of this paper state clearly. In fact, I think it is right. Conversely, liberalism today, while very nice, is wrong.
posted by koeselitz at 9:07 AM on April 24, 2005


oh, and the title of this post is a troll, too.
posted by koeselitz at 9:10 AM on April 24, 2005


This is where you made your mistake, warbaby. This is patently false. How can the 'war on terror' provide examples of the rise of authoritarian regimes when no authoritarian regimes have risen since the 'war on terror' began? Dark and backhanded implications like this amount to trolls.


Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but there's this Bush fellow you should probably know about...
posted by stenseng at 9:15 AM on April 24, 2005


stenseng: "Well, I hate to be the one to tell you, but there's this Bush fellow you should probably know about..."

Hence my remark about "dark implications" and "trolling." We're in Godwin already? I must have missed the sign for my exit.

posted by koeselitz at 9:21 AM on April 24, 2005


Who said anything about godwin? We were talking about an authoritarian regime, not about hitler. An administration that shuns accountability, responsibility, civility, and fiscal stability, to pursue hyper-zealous theocratic goals at the regular expense of the civil liberties of it's citizens counts as an authoritarian regime.

Planting false news stories and or false reporters

Developing national policy hand in hand with private business interests

Taking the country to a war of choice by any deception neccesary

Holding publicly financed issue events then kicking out citizens who hold opposing viewpoints

No, I didn't say anything about Hitler, but an authoritarian regime? You bet.

we need to chip in and buy georgie a nice olive green jumpsuit, some mirrored aviators, and a swagger stick, for we truly are living in a bananna republic these days.

oh, and koeselitz -

"Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. "

"A liberal is a man or a woman or a child who looks forward to a better day, a more tranquil night, and a bright, infinite future. "

We're seeing all too clearly now the havoc that your so-called conservatism can wreak, the world is clearly a more dangerous, less secure, less prosperous, and less happy place than it was four years ago, and we'd like you all to stop.

No, really.

You're making quite a mess of things.
posted by stenseng at 9:29 AM on April 24, 2005


I think that by any reasonable definition, the USA is demonstrably striding down the path of authoritarianism.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2005


... She is talking about leaders as predatory sociopaths. In business, these are the people who, for personal gain and aggrandizement, unapologetically bilk and destroy the companies they are hired to lead; who cook the books to inflate stock prices, then use their insider information to sell their own shares just days or hours before exchange regulations would make them culpable for doing so; who raid company pension funds as if they were a private treasury. In politics, these are the people for whom no malevolent act is out of bounds in the name of gaining and holding power; who sell access to the highest bidders; who pursue policies that abjectly favor the investment class while maintaining a populist rhetoric and scolding others for raising issues of class warfare; and who take us into prolonged and unwinnable wars on the basis of flimsy and false intelligence hyped to appear as solid information. ...--from the toxic leaders link, and exactly true.

great stuff, warbaby--thanks.

this is interesting, too, and related.
posted by amberglow at 9:46 AM on April 24, 2005


for we truly are living in a bananna republic these days.

stunningly ignorant. what did you eat for breakfast this morning? is your thatch roof leaking?
posted by quonsar at 9:48 AM on April 24, 2005


stenseng: calm down. It's no big deal. I know I was a little uppity in my first post, but I'm not running the country. Hell, I didn't even vote. We should try for some perspective here.

Look at it this way: I don't think it's likely that the republicans will have another term in office. The democrats are still a strong party, and it's easier for them; public opinion tends to swing away from the party in control. So it looks to me like, in three years, there'll be a democrat in the white house. If that assuages your fears about the world, good.

But it seems to me as though all this has larger implications than a party battle. The United States is coming together more than it's polarizing; and that's not a good thing. It seems to me that 'fear-mongering,' to use the sort of inflammatory term we've taken here, is common all over the States right now. For every Republic moaning loudly about terrorists, there's a Democrat muttering darkly about 'authoritarian regimes.' (I don't understand what you mean by 'authoritarian,' by the way. Isn't authority inherent in every regime? I know you mean something more specific than that; that's why I ask.)

We're more afraid than we've ever been, I think. That's because democracy forces everyone to think about stuff that most would never dream of, and would rather not. Death, not to mention death of the entire human race, is a frightening prospect to ponder; and it's no wonder to me that many people, in the face of it, turn to a frantic reactionism.

As I've said, though, the left isn't immune to this fear; the frantic urgency that is almost palpable in most 'activists' is a clear indication of this. We're all really, really scared; peace is rare in our time. So what do we do about it?
posted by koeselitz at 9:52 AM on April 24, 2005


Oddly enough, Ernst Becker grappled with these problems and tried to provide some answers.
posted by warbaby at 10:03 AM on April 24, 2005


I'm a conservative that looks forward to a better brighter future by undoing some of the things liberals did in the name of bringing about a better brighter future.
posted by Mick at 10:08 AM on April 24, 2005


So what do we do about it?
What would it take for you yourself to actually get off your ass and vote? Or do you prefer to let others decide? And to sit here and minimize all of this from all sides?

koeselitz, some of us are scared of those now in power, and of their overreaching and attempts to consolidate and continue that power--at all costs. We don't need fearmongering about Terrorists when we have trouble at home. It's a smokescreen being laid for the past few years (and related to the anti-everything rhetoric and scapegoating and diversions) that only strengthens the position of those now in power.

We are urgent because we see what America is being eroded and demolished. Another fixed election with more voter suppression like in Ohio and no paper trails or accountability? The entire country redistricted to ensure Republican majorities? More dead Judges? Laws passed proclaiming that (Evangelical) Biblical law is now the law of the land? More invasions of other countries that have done nothing to us? Jeb or Condi in the White House? At what point is enough enough? At what point are the Constitution and our laws just more squeezably-soft toilet paper?
posted by amberglow at 10:09 AM on April 24, 2005


warbaby: I thought he might. I'd really like to find out more. Sadly, there are no apparent writings of his on the internet. The closest I can find is a summary of one of his books.

Do you have any links to stuff of his?
posted by koeselitz at 10:10 AM on April 24, 2005


and vice versa Mick,

anyway, who is to say the authoritarian streak will actually end with the Dems in power? It probably has a greater chance of ending, but I would not take it as a given.
posted by edgeways at 10:13 AM on April 24, 2005


oh christ quonsar, if you want to be so densely literalist about it, I'l revise for you:

"for we truly are living in wealthy western capitalist democracy with a ruling administration whose actions and attitudes closely resemble those of the authoritarian militaristic leaders of a bananna republic these days."

koeselitz - sorry, but the two trends aren't equivalent. The right cynically sells fear and xenophobia because that's all they got going, and it's a way to retain power. It's what's known in the parlance as "a pig in a poke."

Warning anyone who will listen about the unhealthy similarities between the actions and attitudes of our current "leaders" and the actions and attitudes of past fascist/authoritarian figures is not the same as marketing fear to retain power.

The big difference? Well, a big one is that what they're selling is about ignoring traditional American values in favor of some temporary and largely imagined security, and what we're talking about is being wary of anyone running our American government who is willing to make said faustian bargain, and the disconnect between what they do, and what we as Americans have traditionally valued most.

I'm surprised you've missed this.

And if you're still unclear on the whole authoritarian versus authority thing, a quick visit to dictionary.com would clear this up, but I'll hit it for ya just this once:

1. Characterized by or favoring absolute obedience to authority, as against individual freedom: an authoritarian regime.
2. Of, relating to, or expecting unquestioning obedience. See Synonyms at dictatorial.
posted by stenseng at 10:15 AM on April 24, 2005


It's things like this, snuck into the massive annual budget by this administration: Bush's Most Radical Plan Yet:
WIth a vote of hand-picked lobbyists, the president could terminate any federal agency he dislikes--...In practice, however, the commission would enable the Bush administration to achieve what Ronald Reagan only dreamed of: the end of government regulation as we know it. With a simple vote of five commissioners -- many of them likely to be lobbyists and executives from major corporations currently subject to federal oversight -- the president could terminate any program or agency he dislikes. No more Environmental Protection Agency. No more Food and Drug Administration. No more Securities and Exchange Commission. ...


This is NOT what Democracies do, and NOT how they should operate.
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on April 24, 2005


Becker's writings are books (Denial of Death and Escape From Evil are the most frequently mentioned) not articles, so there's not much by him on the web.

There is this movie, Flight From Death which I haven't seen but gets good reviews.

Pyszczynski, Solomon, and Greenberg have written a book In the Wake of 9/11: The Psychology of Terror. It's kind of repetitious because they do an exhaustive survey of their research, but it is quite readable. A social science citation index (SSCI) search of these guys will probably find most of the current journal articles.

Two good Search keywords and phrases are mortality salience, existential psychology

Here's one recent article on terror alerts
posted by warbaby at 10:29 AM on April 24, 2005


amberglow: "What would it take for you yourself to actually get off your ass and vote?"

Zing. Yes, I deserve that. I'll vote next time, and I already feel bad for not doing so. But, though I hate to repeat this canard, I live in Massachusetts. It's not like it would've changed much either way.

"We are urgent because we see what America is being eroded and demolished."


Just how do you see this? In the editorial pages of foreign newspapers? On internet pages? You and I don't see everything that happens in the world. I really believe that it's a lot more complex than all that. There's probably a lot more reason to fear than you or I can ever fathom. What's more, the more I examine the lives of so-called 'evil' people, the more I come to the conclusion that most of them are just misled.

Furthermore, while it would be a joyful delight to imagine that an election would solve every problem in the United States, I doubt it. Our real problems (like torture, for instance) have been around for years, and might continue. I used to run in leftist circles; I remember the euphoria after 'the battle for seattle.' I assure you, our urgency was not dulled by the fact that a democrat was in the white house. On preview, edgeways makes a good point about this.

There are solutions to these problems. But they have to do with changing the way people think in general. It sounds as though Mr. Becker is on to something here, at least in a sense. although I'd rather he trace things further back than Freud and such.

On preview, stenseng: What exactly do you mean by 'traditional american values?' The philosophies of Locke and Rousseau seem mighty Machiavellian and harsh to me; might this thing that you fear be a product of America itself?
posted by koeselitz at 10:32 AM on April 24, 2005


Amberglow, that link is worth its own post!
posted by uni verse at 10:34 AM on April 24, 2005


You mean, that link is worth putting in a thread where it applies to the topic at hand.
posted by koeselitz at 10:40 AM on April 24, 2005


Our real problems (like torture, for instance) have been around for years, and might continue.
I'd say that torture is not a real problem at all, since our laws--and the international treaties and conventions we've signed--forbid it. Having people in power who might actually obey the laws they've sworn to uphold would solve that one, and many others.

That link i posted is very very applicable to the theme of this post.
posted by amberglow at 10:45 AM on April 24, 2005


Warbaby: This thread is about Ernst Becker and terror management theory. It's not about conservative projection and paranoia.

A truly disingenuous statement in a thread that you titled "Welcome, fear-mongering overlords!" This isn't science, it is an ad-hominem attack. All of the links you provided fairly brim with that we-liberals-are-so-clever smirkiness that lost the last election and will probably lose the next one.

I hope I am not coming on too strong here, but this is a worrisome trend to me, using the psuedo-sciences rather than analytical rigor to justify our views. Modern Republicans (I will not call them conservatives) are wrong because their reasoning is faulty and their actions wrong, not because they are suffering from "death anxiety . . . dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity . . . [and] fear of threat and loss . . ."
posted by LarryC at 10:55 AM on April 24, 2005


stunningly ignorant. what did you eat for breakfast this morning? is your thatch roof leaking?

Is your vote worth anything, citizen?
posted by Rothko at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2005


How can the 'war on terror' provide examples of the rise of authoritarian regimes when no authoritarian regimes have risen since the 'war on terror' began?

Since when did an authoritarian regime have to be run by Hitler et al. to be authoritarian? I can come up with a number of reasons why the Bush administration is running the country like an authoritarian regime, from the PATRIOT Act, to the concentration of domestic intelligence and investigation into the DHS, to the imposition of Christian morality through anti-gay legislation. While this doesn't make Bush = Hitler, and whether you agree with the utility of said activities or not, the reality is that these activities certainly put the United States well along the path to an authoritarian regime.
posted by Rothko at 12:13 PM on April 24, 2005


How do you apply analytical rigor to human belief and behavior? I suppose one could argue behaviorism, but there is much behavior that behaviorism can not account for... A problem is the intense complexity of an individual and the interaction between individual and society.
We will probably be trying out different theories to explain behavior forever, because frankly there is no one theory that will encompass all persons without being so broad as to be worthless. But, theories to try and explain specific instances of behavior may have merit in understanding why events happen.

perhaps that is a working definition of liberal and conservative? Liberals forever seek new explanations, and conservatives like to stick with what they already believe? Don't get upset, I'm sure that does not apply to YOU (whoever reads this).


It is interesting that a comment about ad-hominem attack, contains one within it.
posted by edgeways at 12:14 PM on April 24, 2005


More here, posted but four months ago.
posted by joe lisboa at 12:37 PM on April 24, 2005


Amberglow -weren't there examples of all the activities you say you despise under Clinton. Weren't civilians bombed in Kosovo. Terror suspects taken to Saudi Arabia and tortured. Umm... remember Waco? How many little children were burned alive there?

So you think the right as authoritarian? Ever see The Killing Fields? Hear of Stalin?
posted by vronsky at 12:40 PM on April 24, 2005


Thanks, joe.
posted by koeselitz at 12:43 PM on April 24, 2005


A truly disingenuous statement in a thread that you titled "Welcome, fear-mongering overlords!"

I'll cop to being scared. Here's my fear: Modern Republicans (neocons) are wrong because their reasoning is faulty and their actions wrong. Their reasoning is faulty and their actions wrong because they are suffering from "death anxiety . . . dogmatism-intolerance of ambiguity . . . [and] fear of threat and loss . . ." Any attempt to discuss this will be like taking the bottle from the baby.

It's pseudo-science to the extent that any other part of politics is. This is a far more worrisome trend. The entire public space has come under Godwin's law, as far as I can tell. There's a good deal of analytical rigor in Becker and Josh. That they deal in social sciences will always make them open to charges of pseudo-science, especially when they appear in an APA bulletin. Meanwhile, it's right out in the empirical open that the U.S. administration is composed of congenital liars as oil barons. This has far more too do with losing elections than any wake up call.

It appears to me that warbaby went to some lengths to present his *controversial* topic with at least some nods to other views. Even the title itself is a humorous cliche focused directly on the topic. About the only other thing warbaby could do is just not bring it up.

This topic is nothing new, and its history is peppered with charged of pseudo-science, whether Reich's The Mass Psychology of Fascism, Deleuze and Guattari's Anti-Oedipus, or even Bertram Gross's Friendly Fascism (which was highly researched for its day). Call it smirking all you want.

Now, that other stuff from vronsky about Clinton and Kosovo and the Saudis and Waco are all well taken points and to it we should add years of sanctions on Iraqi children. Neoliberalism was the perfect entrance for neoconservatism, as it was just a milder form of the same illness. At no point should the smirking and everything else over this ever cease. If anything, warbaby was a little too tempered in his presentation.
posted by 3.2.3 at 12:54 PM on April 24, 2005


Oh, Joe. I only used the Google search for "Ernest Becker" I should have used the MetaFilter search as well. Live and learn.
posted by warbaby at 12:55 PM on April 24, 2005




(The Power of Nightmares was made by the BBC)
posted by influx at 3:41 PM on April 24, 2005


oop--looks good tho : >
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on April 24, 2005


I'm a conservative that looks forward to a better brighter future by undoing some of the things liberals did in the name of bringing about a better brighter future.

Such as?

Seriously.. what are some things you hope to reverse? And what are you actually doing about it?
posted by odinsdream at 4:49 PM on April 24, 2005


I'm a conservative that looks forward to a better brighter future by undoing some of the things liberals did in the name of bringing about a better brighter future.

Like big government, deficit spending and social engineering?

I think you better form a conservative party then...
posted by srboisvert at 7:42 PM on April 24, 2005


He probably means the 40-hour workweek, Workplace Safety Legislation, Child Labor Laws, Unions, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, The New Deal in general, and Anti-Discrimination Laws, Equal Rights Legislation, the Family and Medical Leave Act....
posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on April 24, 2005


This lays it all out: ... If Mr. or Mrs. Conservative is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed they will get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some Liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Its noon, Mr. Conservative needs to make a Bank Deposit so he can pay some bills. His deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC because some liberal wanted to protect peoples' money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the depression.

Mr. & Mrs. Conservative has to pay the Fannie Mae underwritten mortgage and a below market federal student loan because some stupid liberal decided people and the government would be better off if they were educated and earned more money over his life-time.

Mr. Conservative is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive to Dad's; his car is among the safest in the world because some liberal fought for car safety standards....

posted by amberglow at 7:53 PM on April 24, 2005


Koeselitz, I hear what you're saying about how conservatives, however repugnant, may be right, and liberals, however gleaming, might be wrong. But how can you separate the ideology from its flawed practitioners? In other words, if you don't have the right tools to build your ark, how can ark building really be the best idea?

I feel like this points to the conservative-liberal divide as being a false dichotomy.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:47 PM on April 24, 2005


The war on terror provides many examples of how fear-mongering enables the rise of authoritarian regimes.

Yes, it does. Kind of like Lincoln's fight to 'preserve the union' did, and FDR's war on poverty, and LBJ's war on communism, Do you have a point?

Modern Republicans (I will not call them conservatives)

Thank you. Bush & Co are about as conservative as Paul fucking Krugman.

Seriously.. what are some things you hope to reverse? And what are you actually doing about it?

The taxing of the poor into homelessness to subsidize GE et al? The looting of middle-class Americans' savings to pay for ridiculous foreign adventures in Iraq? (And what am I doing about it? I'm evading my taxes.)

If Mr. or Mrs. Conservative is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed they will get a worker compensation or an unemployment check because some Liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

Nope, not me, because, guess what, I work for a fuzzy non-profit. How liberal! And guess what, that means my employer is exempt from paying my unemployment — w00t! Yay for limousine liberals getting to fuck their employees up the ass, sans lube! (cf. Ralph Nader)
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:49 PM on April 24, 2005


Liberal/Conservative is misleading anyway.

The desirable party would be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. I don't think we've got any of those in North America.

In the USA, the democrats are socially liberal and fiscally conservative; the conservatives are socially conservative and fiscally liberal.

I don't think Canada's parties even fall into those categories, they're so damn schizophrenic.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:05 PM on April 24, 2005


Gack. Bedtime for bozo. Ignore all that, then, k?
posted by five fresh fish at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2005


Neoliberalism was the perfect entrance for neoconservatism, as it was just a milder form of the same illness.

Well said, 3.2.3. I was too young to see this during Clinton's term, but it'll be a long time before I vote Dem again. The US needs deep-down structural reform, mostly to do with how we regard and regulate corporations.

amberglow, if you don't FPP that Rolling Stone article, I'm going to. It's too big to be buried inside a thread.
posted by squirrel at 10:17 PM on April 24, 2005


Koesy: Rousseau and Locke seem Machiavellan to you? Either a) you're talking about Machiavelli in an uncommon sense (with regard to his republicanism) or you've b) managed to come up with a wholly bizarro-world take on either the Enlightenment or the Renaissance political philosophies. I mean, if you wanted to argue that Hobbes is a descendent of Machiavelli, and that Locke is a direct reaction against Hobbes (and that Rousseau takes Locke and Hobbes to task), then maybe I could see the connection. But you're talking about, on the one hand, a philosophy based upon expediency without regard to philosophical underpinnings or idealism and philosophies based on the logical extrapolations of fundemental axioms about the human condition on the other.
I mean, not to pile on or anything. It's just kinda like saying "The cherry and the strawberry jellybeans always remind me of the licorice ones." Yeah, they're all philosophers, but they're further apart than Kerry and Bush.
posted by klangklangston at 11:53 PM on April 24, 2005


First, a brief reply to the interesting, if bafflingly wrong, television program linked by amberglow, The Power of Nightmares: this transcript seems to show that they're not very serious about understanding the thought of those they're talking about. I can only speak about Strauss, as I'm more familiar with him than Qutb, but I can say: they get Strauss horribly wrong. Hell, Strauss is the wrong place to go: he's not even important to the neoconservative movement. People just like to name-check him; but it's obvious that whoever wrote this stuff never actually read his books, which are about Plato and Maimonides, not the cold war. This is a man who ran from the Nazis, and who spent his whole life trying to answer 'the Jewish question.' He was interested in Medieval Philosophy, not the cold war.

Second:

klangklangston: "Rousseau and Locke seem Machiavellan to you?"


Yes, that sounds a bit ridiculous. I reacted mostly out of annoyance at the jingoism I kept having to answer. Let me try to say a bit what I mean:

It seems to me that the spirit of Machiavelli animated the enlightenment from beginning to end, or at least until Hegel. His thesis-- that the reign of the church must end and the free republic must take its place-- was accepted by all, even those who reacted against him. Hobbes was a reaction to Machiavelli, but he continued his essential project. I even think that Locke, who, as you say, seems worlds away from Machiavelli, is, I think, more in his spirit than it appears at first glance. His prose seems prosaic, but he expresses the harsh ideas that republican freedom requires, and in a new way that accomodates them to the lives of citizens.

Now, Rousseau, as you say, stands against these. He questions the state of the project started by Machiavelli; and he attempts to return somewhat to the first state in order to correct it. And I should point out that Rousseau is therefore the ancestor of any legitimate modern conservatism, one that sees the modern movement and wants to put some kind of limits on it. In this sense, loosely, can Rousseau be labelled "harsh;" he says many things that I have a feeling some might find offensive even now. But to say that he is simply Machiavellian, although his relationship to Machiavelli is certainly complex, is wrong.

I should say also that it's been a long time since I read any of these three, and that I'm probably more familiar with Machiavelli than the other two. I'm in the midst of Spinoza right now, so they have come to mind, but I haven't returned to them. Also, I really like Machiavelli, even though he still gets a bad rap; and if I disagree with him, it's for reasons generally unrelated to his 'harshness.'
posted by koeselitz at 1:02 PM on April 25, 2005


amberglow, if you don't FPP that Rolling Stone article, I'm going to. It's too big to be buried inside a thread.


Go ahead, squirrel--i've been posting too much lately.
posted by amberglow at 2:46 PM on April 25, 2005


And now it can be told:

The text in the FPP is a commentary on the Google searches that found the links.

The controversy over the research article was obvious -- there were more opinion articles deploring it ala Coulter. This also shows up in the wordspy examples.

The descriptive text was my best attempt at describing the information on the web -- it was not in any way an attempt to frame the issues as larryc has claimed. I'm still a little baffled by his mudslinging with the "pseudoscience" claim. It seems pretty obvious that he never read the links nor is his characterization of them at all accurate.

The most ironic aspect of the whole trainwreck is the claim of conservatism being a form of mental disability was the creation of conservative commentators like Coulter as a rhetorical strawman.

The "Welcome, fear-mongering overlords" was a snarky reference to the squid overlords t-shirt ads that seemed to be everywhere a short while back. I guess larryc doesn't know about those.

So there you have it. The word conservative must not be used in FPPs or any text becomes an ink-blot for the projection of people's interior landscapes. Honestly, I think larryc owes me an apology, but he's been flaming off such weird emotions that I don't think he can get his head straight around it.

Live and learn.
posted by warbaby at 3:56 PM on April 25, 2005


Warbay, I am glad that I came back to this thread. I value civility and did not mean to offend, but I see that I did. I do apologize for my intemperate phrasing.

That said, I do stand by my characterization of psychology, at least as Becker et. al. are practicing it, as pseudoscientific. Becker begins with his own subjective definitions, including what constitutes a "toxic leader," and then proceeds with his "scientific" analysis.

On the other hand, I used to think that all sociology was B.S. as well, until I became friends with a sociologist. He showed me how most of the crap is published under that banner is not really sociology at all, and how real sociology could be legitimate. So the same may be true of psychology.
posted by LarryC at 9:13 AM on April 26, 2005


Thanks.

For what it's worth, most psychology is really about self insight and is done exactly the way you describe it. The clinical studies test if the personal insight can be generalized. In Becker's case, the answer appears to be yes.

In the Wake of 9/11 is a serious work and it's published by the American Psychological Association.

I've found it useful in my work regarding terrorism and political violence. I've been advocating a public health model and Becker's insights have application to the convergence of right-wing domestic terrorist movements during the last ten years. There is considerable "mortality salience" in the propaganda behind the convergence of white supremacists and anti-abortion terrorists, for instance.

The study that caused the big political flap was peer-reviewed and sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
posted by warbaby at 6:25 PM on April 26, 2005


« Older Gregory Crewdson   |   CuteAnimalBlog Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post