Bivariant Correllations do not equal Causality

Chris Lawrence — “a libertarian political scientist wanna-be” — withheld judgement about the Jost study of conservative psychology [discussed here] until actually reading it. Then he declared it a pile of crap, largely on a variety of methodological points. Fair enough.

Relentless decades of the “humanities” have buffed my scant knowledge of social scientific statistics down to a soothingly dull little nub, so I happily defer on these issues to the trained experts, like Lawrence and the American Psychological Association. They’ll have to duke it out with each other over the failure to integrate previous hypotheses and exceptional cases in the meta-survey’s research design. That is what peer review and journal publication are for.

As an exercise, it might also be useful to take some of Lawrence’s objections and set them alongside “well-published political psychologist” John Ray’s extensive work on leftist psychology (particularly his more recent unpublished work, which he tends to cite in most of his arguments). Especially since Lawrence cites Ray as an authority, and Ray cites himself as an authority, and then… well that’s about it. Ray cites himself.

And he has been citing himself up a storm over this “Berkeley” study, I tell you what.

He’s also letting some of his readers get a non-academic word in. One of Ray’s “Midwestern” readers responded by dismissing the Jost meta-study as a nothing but a stacked deck… but then went through the things it claimed to say about conservatives and agreed with almost all of them:

“being intolerant of ambiguity,”

Midwesterners would say “Call a spade a spade…”

“high on the need for closure, “

Midwesterners would say “Shit or get off the pot…”

“might be associated with such generally valued characteristics as personal commitment and unwavering loyalty,”

Midwesterners actually think these characteristics are IMPORTANT.

Right. So that would mean that this person actually agrees with the study. A study done by people in California?? (Hey, it mighty be best if you don’t spread that fact around in the Midwest… I hear they tend to call a spade a spade out there.)

And to really confuse people, in a post where Ray was accusing liberals of projection, he posted this witty and subtle reposte by another of his readers:

Elite Liberals are beyond being “Mean Spirited” – they are truly evil. Only an evil person would want to tear down a great country like ours – that so many young men and women have died for – just to make big government jobs for themselves.

Now the logic here is like a delicate filigree of rhetorical grace, but try follow it if you can:

  • Liberals say conservatives prefer black-and-white dogma.
  • Liberals are projecting — they are the dogmatic ones.
  • Not only are they wrong, they are Truly Evil.

In a way, it really is genius. How can anyone even respond to that?

At least one thing is certain — man alive, does that John Ray hate Adorno! Who would have thought that the Frankfurt School would still be pissing off the culture industry all the way in to the 21st century? Let’s hear it for the boys!