Another academic hit job on conservatives falls apart

Four years ago, I wrote an article for American Thinker that I believed was the final word on academic "studies" that were contorted to put conservatives in a bad light.  The study, which purportedly found that conservatives "are losing faith in science," said nothing of the kind.  It found that conservatives are losing faith in the scientific community.  The authors simply declared the scientific community and science are the same, thus arriving at the conclusion they so desperately wanted to reach.

It was a real twofer: a bogus study that showed exactly why conservatives are losing faith in the scientific community.

But now there appears before the court of public opinion an even better example.  Sharp-eyed readers may recall that in 2013, three professors from Virginia Commonwealth University found that conservatives tend to exhibit forms of "psychoticism," such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness. 

That's an oversimplification, of course, but not much of one and it's exactly how it was stated in thousands of articles.

Liberals were said to exhibit "neuroticism" and "social desirability" and were therefore more likely to support public expenditures on public assistance.

"Social desirability" can be stated in plain English as a "conscious effort to get along," says Steven Hayward at Powerline, who brought the important facts to light in recent days.

As he notes, the original article on the study was published in the American Journal of Political Science.  The article includes this comment.

In line with our expectations, P [for “Psychoticism”] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes. Intriguingly, the strength of the relationship between P and political ideology differs across sexes. P‘s link with social conservatism is stronger for females while its link with military attitudes is stronger for males. We also find individuals higher in Neuroticism are more likely to be economically liberal. Furthermore, Neuroticism is completely unrelated to social ideology, which has been the focus of many in the field. Finally, those higher in Social Desirability are also more likely to express socially liberal attitudes.

But here's the thing: in a recent extensive correction, the editors of the American Journal of Political Science make an astonishing announcement.  The study got it exactly backward.  The traits associated with conservatives (authoritarianism and tough-mindedness – "Psychoticism" are most exhibited by liberals.

As Hayward notes, no one who is familiar with the way liberals bully would be surprised to read that.

Similarly, the studies that consistently show that conservatives are happier are also supported by the finding that conservatives exhibit greater social desirability.

They're trying to get along, Hayward notes.

Will the mainstream press pick up this apology?  Of course not.  It made the news in the first place only because it supported their preconceived notions.

But now you know the truth.

Four years ago, I wrote an article for American Thinker that I believed was the final word on academic "studies" that were contorted to put conservatives in a bad light.  The study, which purportedly found that conservatives "are losing faith in science," said nothing of the kind.  It found that conservatives are losing faith in the scientific community.  The authors simply declared the scientific community and science are the same, thus arriving at the conclusion they so desperately wanted to reach.

It was a real twofer: a bogus study that showed exactly why conservatives are losing faith in the scientific community.

But now there appears before the court of public opinion an even better example.  Sharp-eyed readers may recall that in 2013, three professors from Virginia Commonwealth University found that conservatives tend to exhibit forms of "psychoticism," such as authoritarianism and tough-mindedness. 

That's an oversimplification, of course, but not much of one and it's exactly how it was stated in thousands of articles.

Liberals were said to exhibit "neuroticism" and "social desirability" and were therefore more likely to support public expenditures on public assistance.

"Social desirability" can be stated in plain English as a "conscious effort to get along," says Steven Hayward at Powerline, who brought the important facts to light in recent days.

As he notes, the original article on the study was published in the American Journal of Political Science.  The article includes this comment.

In line with our expectations, P [for “Psychoticism”] (positively related to tough-mindedness and authoritarianism) is associated with social conservatism and conservative military attitudes. Intriguingly, the strength of the relationship between P and political ideology differs across sexes. P‘s link with social conservatism is stronger for females while its link with military attitudes is stronger for males. We also find individuals higher in Neuroticism are more likely to be economically liberal. Furthermore, Neuroticism is completely unrelated to social ideology, which has been the focus of many in the field. Finally, those higher in Social Desirability are also more likely to express socially liberal attitudes.

But here's the thing: in a recent extensive correction, the editors of the American Journal of Political Science make an astonishing announcement.  The study got it exactly backward.  The traits associated with conservatives (authoritarianism and tough-mindedness – "Psychoticism" are most exhibited by liberals.

As Hayward notes, no one who is familiar with the way liberals bully would be surprised to read that.

Similarly, the studies that consistently show that conservatives are happier are also supported by the finding that conservatives exhibit greater social desirability.

They're trying to get along, Hayward notes.

Will the mainstream press pick up this apology?  Of course not.  It made the news in the first place only because it supported their preconceived notions.

But now you know the truth.