Aug 092012
 

John Dean referenced Bob Altemeyer’s work extensively in his 2006 book, “Conservatives without Conscience.”

A 27-page condensed and abstracted version is available on this site at: http://sociodynamics.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Bob-Altemeyer-The-Authoritarians-Abstracted.pdf 

To read the complete 254-page original, your link is http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Also, I have found an audio CD, read by the author at: http://cherryhillpublishing.com/Bookstore/en/nonfiction/14-the-authoritarians-cd-audio-9780972329880.html

Altemeyer explains: “This book is about what’s happened to the American government lately. It’s about the disastrous decisions that government has made. It’s about the corruption that rotted the Congress. It’s about how traditional conservatism has nearly been destroyed by authoritarianism. It’s about how the “Religious Right” teamed up with amoral authoritarian leaders to push its un-democratic agenda onto the country. It’s about the United States standing at the crossroads as the next federal election approaches.”

“The feedback I’ve gotten from those who have read The Authoritarians enables me to give you the major reason why you might want to do so too.   “It ties things together for me,” people have said, “You can see how so many things all fit together.” “It explains the things about conservatives that didn’t make any sense to me,” others have commented. And the one that always brings a smile to my face, “Now at last I understand my brother-in-law” (or grandmother, uncle, woman in my car pool, Congressman, etc.)”

Ever since John W. Dean published his Conservatives Without Conscience in 2006, much interest has been vested in the research of Dr. Bob Altemeyer that was so prominently featured in the book. In CWC, Dean set out to learn why modern conservatives seemed to think and behave in ways diametrically opposite the righteous and moral values they so publicly espoused. What he discovered was an existing body of scientific research tracing back to the cinders of the Holocaust. This research focused on the Authoritarian Personality, which social scientists believe was the enabling element within German society that was so deftly exploited by Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich.  Bob Altemeyer’s research on the Authoritarian Personality, summarized in this book, won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Prize for Behavioral Science Research.

[amz-related-products search_index='Books' keywords='authoritarian conservative' unit='grid']
Jul 112012
 

Isn’t it encouraging to meet someone who takes pride in doing their job well? I’ve met several such gems recently here in town. Do you know someone like this? Tell them that you noticed. Even if it’s not the same person that I had in mind, the one you compliment will receive that positive recognition from you. You can make their day. My most recent contact made the comment that they “believe in being proactive rather than reactive.”

A person who is only reactive waits for something to happen and then responds to that event. A person who is PROactive takes initiative to make change happen, anticipates potential threats or opportunities, and takes steps ahead of time to be prepared. Things seem to go better for proactive people. The reason why is explained by the saying, “Good luck is found at the intersection of preparation and opportunity.”

As individuals, we have an advantage over lower life forms. A bacterium may simply react by moving toward food or away from an irritating chemical. In fact, when there are no opportunities or threats, there is no need for change. On the other hand, when change is at hand – when compelling change is afoot all around us – we need to respond.

Reactive change allows us to adjust with less urgency and in smaller steps. A mountain shepherd can lead his sheep to greener pastures as the season matures. However, being overly fond of old habits, characterized by reactive change, can leave us unprepared for a crisis (or even an unexpected windfall).

Proactive people are in the habit of staying so aware of their situation that they can anticipate needed changes. More than that, they are, by nature, open to examining, evaluating, and possibly embracing new ideas and opportunities. Proactive people are more likely to prosper during a time of dramatic transition.

In groups, however, there can actually be benefits to reactive behavior. You have heard the phrase that “too many cooks spoil the soup,” or “lead, follow, or get out of the way.” When change is necessary, it can do harm to the entire group if someone selfishly obstructs progress in defense of their private interests. For instance, a tribe works best with a strong, competent, visionary leader who can find solutions to difficult problems, inspire hope, and show the way forward when change is necessary. I’ll talk about this in more detail next week.

© 2012, David Satterlee

[amz-related-products search_index='Books' keywords='proactive personal' unit='grid']
Mar 082012
 

I found a relatively new poster at open.salon.com. http://open.salon.com/blog/not2late4 She writes with thoughtful passion about ways that she has had to face and reason about controversial situations. It turns out that I was the first one to “favorite” her and we exchanged several messages. She was distressed by the strong anger that one her articles had provoked and was considering withdrawing from the site. I hope that she will carry on.

Dear Kat,
People who write like you do are really annoying. This is actually a good thing. Don’t worry about it. Keep it up. Perfect your art. I got a bumper sticker for my wife’s car that said, “Well behaved women seldom make history.” Margaret Mead is quoted as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”  You may also draw more encouragement from http://herestothecrazyones.com/ As an award-winning elementary school teacher, my wife always kept the quote prominently framed on a wall … at student’s eye level.

If you read some of my stuff posted at SocioDynamics.org (some of which is cross-posted at open.salon) you will see that I have been wrestling with the questions of why some people are persistently fearful, angry, ignorant, or bigoted. I’ve found many answers in the science of psychosocial development. Unfortunately, the answers point to the fact that, in sequential developmental stages, there will just be things that many people can’t understand yet. And, they will dislike you intensely for discussing those things.

Introducing a new idea is, for them, like bringing a new cat into the house. There is no, hello-how-do-you-do. There is just reflexive hissing, arched backs, and hair on end. But, in time, it (usually) settles down to shared naps in the sunny spot on the floor. If there is hope for cats, there is hope for the public discourse of ideas… and maybe even all of humanity.

[amz-related-products search_index=’Books’ keywords=’new cat’ unit=’grid’]

Mar 062012
 

A graphic look at one man’s family values.
Just ignore the pictures on the right; I just threw them in for no particular reason. So, any interpretations are those of the viewer, not those of the author.

“Happy to be with loved ones.”

“Hanging out with friends.”

800px-two_genuine_raggare_at_power_big_meet_2005.jpg

“Having fun together in the living room.”

recliners

“My favorite girls.”

daily_dixie.jpg

“A moment shared with a role model.”

Obama and daughter with Lincoln

[amz-related-products search_index=’Books’ keywords=’obama family values’ unit=’grid’]

Feb 092012
 

By David Satterlee

All politicians are aware that they need to be careful of their words. Words have the power to invoke strong emotions, which can distract from rational debate. These words, repeated over and over, confer the conviction of certainty and authority, even when they lack any basis in fact.

But, Republicans seem to have made the cynical use of emotional words (instead of the discussion of ideas and consequences) a primary focus of their message for many years. Do not misunderstand me. I will say again that all politicians use influential words. However, my premise is that Republicans seem to operate on the unabashed theory that they can make anything true by saying it often enough to the uninformed. Let’s compare some early Newt Gingrich to some contemporary Frank Luntz.

In 1994, Newt Gingrich described his goal as “reshaping the entire nation through the news media.” (New York Times, 12/14/94) His aggressive negativity fits with his philosophy that, “fights make news.” (Boston Globe, 11/20/94). In a GOPAC training tape of that era, he advised creating ‘shield issues’ to deflect criticism: “You better find a good compassion issue where, you know, you show up in the local paper holding a baby in the neonatal center, and all you’re trying to do is shield yourself from the inevitable attack.”
The 1996 GOPAC memo, “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control” went further by listing words to use to accuse Democrats and defend Republicans. It’s cover letter from Newt Gingrich explained that, “The words in that paper are tested language from a recent series of focus groups where we actually tested ideas and language.” The memo said:

As you know, one of the key points in the GOPAC tapes is that “language matters.” In the video “We Are a Majority,” language is listed as a key mechanism of control used by a majority party… As the tapes have been used in training sessions across the country and mailed to candidates, we have heard a plaintive plea: “I wish I could speak like Newt.”
That takes years of practice. But we believe that you could have a significant impact on your campaign and the way you communicate if we help a little. That is why we have created this list of words and phrases.
This list is prepared so that you might have a directory of words to use in writing literature and mail, in preparing speeches, and in producing electronic media. The words and phrases are powerful. Read them. Memorize as many as possible. And remember that, like any tool, these words will not help if they are not used.
Contrasting Words
Often we search hard for words to help us define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.
decay… failure (fail)… collapse(ing)… deeper… crisis… urgent(cy)… destructive… destroy… sick… pathetic… lie… liberal… they/them… unionized bureaucracy… “compassion” is not enough… betray… consequences… limit(s)… shallow… traitors… sensationalists… endanger… coercion… hypocrisy… radical… threaten… devour… waste… corruption… incompetent… permissive attitudes… destructive… impose… self-serving… greed… ideological… insecure… anti-(issue): flag, family, child, jobs… pessimistic… excuses… intolerant… stagnation… welfare… corrupt… selfish… insensitive… status quo… mandate(s)… taxes… spend(ing)… shame… disgrace… punish (poor…)… bizarre… cynicism… cheat… steal… abuse of power… machine… bosses… obsolete… criminal rights… red tape… patronage
Optimistic Positive Governing Words
Use the list below to help define your campaign and your vision of public service. These words can help give extra power to your message. In addition, these words help develop the positive side of the contrast you should create with your opponent, giving your community something to vote for!
share… change… opportunity… legacy… challenge… control… truth… moral… courage… reform… prosperity… crusade… movement… children… family… debate… compete… active(ly)… we/us/our… candid(ly)… humane… pristine… provide… liberty… commitment… principle(d)… unique… duty… precious… premise… care(ing)… tough… listen… learn… help… lead… vision… success… empower(ment)… citizen… activist… mobilize… conflict… light… dream… freedom… peace… rights… pioneer… proud/pride… building… preserve… pro-(issue): flag, children, environment… reform… workfare… eliminate good-time in prison… strength… choice/choose… fair… protect… confident… incentive… hard work… initiative… common sense… passionate

Frank Luntz recently wrote, “Words matter. The most powerful words have helped launch social movements and cultural revolutions. The most effective words have instigated great change in public policy. The right words at the right time can literally change history.” (Huffington Post, 3/1/11)

In “The 11 Words for 2011” he comments:

  • “Uncompromising integrity.” Of all the truthiness words, none is as powerful as “integrity,” but in today’s cynical environment, even that’s not enough. People also need to feel that your integrity is absolute.
  • “The simple truth” comes straight from billionaire businessman Steve Wynn, and it sets the context for a straightforward discussion that might otherwise be confusing or contentious. It’s the perfect phrase to begin and end the budget-deficit-debt debate.
  • “You decide.” No, this is not paying homage to Fox News. The lesson of 2010 is that Americans want control of their lives back, and they don’t want Washington or Wall Street making their decisions for them. So add the phrase “you’re in control” and you’ve said exactly what Americans want to hear.
  • “You deserve.” This comes from DNC Chairman Tim Kaine and it was first employed by him in his highly praised 2006 SOTU response. It tells voters precisely what they should expect from their politicians and their government.

Notice that his focus is not on integrity, truth, or reason (although these words are used), but on the ability of these words to manipulate and persuade. Spend some time with this point; savor it and use it as an illumination in a dark corner. Is a product really better because a different color makes it “new and improved?” Can you really believe that the new automated customer service phone system was installed “to serve you better?” Do you really believe all the accusations that Republican candidates threw at each other (or at our President) during the 2011/2012 GOP primary debates?

Do not misunderstand me. I will say again that all politicians use influential words. My objection is to the use of falsehoods and unsubstantiated accusations wrapped in phrases designed to trigger emotional responses IN PLACE OF persuasive rhetorical reason. This is especially onerous when the audience is predisposed to respond to calls for loyalty and obedience to authority more than to understanding and reason.

What was that? Did I just say that there is something wrong with conservative audiences? Yes and no. Research into individual and cultural development shows that all individuals and social groups mature through a predictable series of worldviews. Each worldview in this progressive dynamic of maturity embraces all previous worldviews. And each new worldview transcends and supersedes previous ones as they no longer succeed in explaining, making meaning of, and guiding decisions about life circumstances.

Earlier worldviews respond predominantly to emotions, power, and authority while later worldviews respond more to evidence, empathy, and the dynamic nuances of collective benefit. This makes it easier to recruit holders of earlier worldviews using simpler assertions that appeal to their predispositions.

In brief, individuals and cultures move through a predictable path in areas such as cognition, morality, emotions, and faith. There have been many researchers in these developmental areas. Although they may assign different stage names, they all identify systems of developmental levels. Let’s take an example:

Don Beck, in his book Spiral Dynamics, based on the research of psychologist Clare Graves, identified and described:

  • SurvivalSense – Instinctive – “Express self to meet imperative physiological needs through instincts of Homo sapiens.”
  • KinSpirits – Tribal – “Sacrifice to the ways of the elders and customs as one subsumed in group.” This is the level of traditional cultures.
  • PowerGods – Preconventional/Egocentric – “Express self (impulsively) for what self desires without guilt and to avoid shame.” Expressed by the mentality of street gangs, Vikings, etc.
  • TruthForce – Pre-Modern/Traditional – “Sacrifice self for reward to come through obedience to rightful authority in purposeful Way.” Embodied by fundamentalist religions.
  • StriveDrive – Modernism – “Express self (calculatedly) to reach goals and objectives without rousing the ire of important others.” Expressed in the Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution.
  • HumanBond – Postmodernism – “Sacrifice self-interest now in order to gain acceptance and group harmony.” Expressed in 1960s pluralism and systems theory.
  • FlexFlow – Integral – “Express self for what self desires, but avoid harm to others so that all life, not just own life, will benefit.”
  • GlobalView – Holistic – Sacrifice self-interest purely out of principal to achieve greater good.

Each new worldview allows individuals or communities to deal successfully with an increasingly complex world. On the other hand, each worldview is a necessary and universal, if temporary, stage in development. Each worldview serves its purpose at a particular stage, and is retained and still available to those who have acquired the ability to deal with more complex issues.

Unfortunately, people holding earlier worldviews have difficulty in understanding the reasoning and motives of those who have moved on to more-comprehensive systems of thought. Because of this, it is easy to persuasively misrepresent scientific thought to a tribal culture, or lie about the motives of someone holding a global view to someone pledging obedience to a specific leader or religion. No amount of explaining would have convinced the Victorian English colonial empire that they should “make love, not war” or organize meetings so as to be sure that everyone had a chance to express their feelings.

This same dynamic makes it easy to misrepresent liberals to conservatives. Whoops! You may be thinking that I did it again. I DID NOT SAY, “liberals good, conservatives bad.” If your worldview is working for you and you have values that move you to behave virtuously, that is a wonderful thing. In fact, you can’t become liberal without passing through a conservative phase. Been there, done that, moved on. However, there is no reason to think that this makes you better than your neighbor. Some of your neighbors are also moving on. This is all good.

At some point, some people begin to discover that their current way of thinking isn’t working for them anymore. If they struggle hard enough, it is possible to break through to a new way of thinking. When this happens, events take on new meaning, uncomfortable ideas begin to make sense, and you feel like you can see more clearly. But, you will be tempted, after several frustrating attempts to explain yourself to your old friends, to just say, “It’s complex.” They may accuse you of being a superior son-of-a-bitch and stop spending time with you. Then they will tell each other how much you hate them now. ‘sorry ‘bout that. Been there, done that, moved on.

My point is simply this: when the time comes to take a larger view…

  • Be willing to give up emotional reflexes for rational evidence.
  • Be willing to give up small-group loyalty for large-group tolerance.
  • Be willing to defer gratification now for more important gains later.
  • Be willing to give up selfishness to care about the welfare of others.
  • Be willing to balance individual liberties with the common good.
  • Be willing to come together in middle ground to work together to make life better for everyone.

And, don’t let dishonorable people lie to you and use you to achieve their own selfish advantage.

[amz-related-products search_index=’Books’ keywords=’newt gingrich language’ unit=’grid’]

Dec 252009
 
Lecture 11 – Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Emotions, Part I

This class is an introduction to the evolutionary analysis of human emotions, how they work, why they exist, and what they communicate.

In particular, this lecture discusses three interesting case studies, that of happiness (e.g., smiling), fear and the emotions we feel towards our relatives.

Finally, this lecture ends with a brief discussion of babies’ emotional responses to their caregivers.

Watch it on Academic Earth

 

Lecture 12 – Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Emotions, Part II

Professor Bloom continues the discussion of emotions as useful evolutionary adaptations for dealing with our social environment.

In particular, this lecture describes evolutionary explanations for several important emotional responses, such as the love between parents and their offspring, the gratitude we feel towards cooperative behaviors, the spite we feel for cheaters, and the cultural differences in feelings of revenge.

Watch it on Academic Earth

Dec 232009
 
Lecture 10 – Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Evolution and Rationality

This lecture introduces students to the study of psychology from an evolutionary perspective, the idea that like the body, natural selection has shaped the development of the human mind.

Prominent arguments for and against the theory of natural selection and its relationship to human psychology are reviewed.

Students will hear several examples of how studying mental phenomenon from an evolutionary perspective can help constrain theories in psychology as well as explain many prevalent human instincts that underlie many of our most basic behaviors and decisions.

Watch it on Academic Earth

Dec 212009
 


Lecture 9 – Evolution, Emotion, and Reason: Love (Guest Lecture by Professor Peter Salovey)

Guest lecturer Peter Salovey (Professor of Psychology and Dean of Yale College) introduces students to the dominant psychological theories of love and attraction.

Specific topics include the different types of love, the circumstances that predict attraction, and the situations where people mistakenly attribute arousal for love.

Watch it on Academic Earth