Sunday, August 08, 2021

Hard problems, fear and solutions: Pick two

 Just the other day Eli was innocently pushing the search engine, coming across this article in the Washington Post from 2017. BTW, there are two published papers on the subjects that the diligent might care to read, "Immunizing against prejudice: Effects of disease protection on outgroup attitudes" Julie Y. Huang  Alexandra Sedlovskaya, Joshua M. Ackerman and John Bargh and  "Superheroes for change: Physical safety promotes socially (but not economically) progressive attitudes among conservatives", Jaime L. Napier , Julie Huang, Andrew J. Vonasch and John A. Bargh again.  Both are open, so never fear.

Now the Bunny is not so innocent in the wiles of psych papers that every word is to be believed, but the direction the article and the papers take is a useful one to ponder. Bargh writes about the roots of political orientation.

For example, over a decade now of research in political psychology consistently shows that how physically threatened or fearful a person feels is a key factor — although clearly not the only one — in whether he or she holds conservative or liberal attitudes.

 At this point a bit more reading and Eli became cautious about assigning political parties to conservative and liberal, but rather thinking of these as states of mind which are loosely correlated (a lesson taught by observing relatives). Bargh goes on 

Conservatives, it turns out, react more strongly to physical threat than liberals do. In fact, their greater concern with physical safety seems to be determined early in life: In one University of California study, the more fear a 4-year-old showed in a laboratory situation, the more conservative his or her political attitudes were found to be 20 years later. Brain imaging studies have even shown that the fear center of the brain, the amygdala, is actually larger in conservatives than in liberals. And many other laboratory studies have found that when adult liberals experienced physical threat, their political and social attitudes became more conservative (temporarily, of course). 
But, of course, politicians, at least the ones who succeed, are at a deep level aware of this, may have even read these papers, and certainly find it in life's lessons
This is why it makes sense that liberal politicians intuitively portray danger as manageable
and why  the other side is
instead likely to emphasize the dangers of terrorism and immigration, relying on fear as a motivator to gain votes.
There is something missing here, perhaps the description of one of the experiments will help
In fact, anti-immigration attitudes are also linked directly to the underlying basic drive for physical safety. For centuries, arch-conservative leaders have often referred to scapegoated minority groups as “germs” or “bacteria” that seek to invade and destroy their country from within. . . .

“Immigrants are like viruses” is a powerful metaphor, because in comparing immigrants entering a country to germs entering a human body, it speaks directly to our powerful innate motivation to avoid contamination and disease. Until very recently in human history, not only did we not have antibiotics, we did not even know how infections occurred or diseases transmitted, and cuts and open wounds were quite dangerous. . .

Therefore, we reasoned, making people feel safer about a dangerous flu virus should serve to calm their fears about immigrants — and making them feel more threatened by the flu virus should cause them to be more against immigration than they were before. In a 2011 study, my colleagues and I showed just that. First, we reminded our nationwide sample of liberals and conservatives about the threat of the flu virus (during the H1N1 epidemic), and then measured their attitudes toward immigration. Afterward we simply asked them if they’d already gotten their flu shot or not. It turned out that those who had not gotten a flu shot (feeling threatened) expressed more negative attitudes toward immigration, while those who had received the vaccination (feeling safe) had more positive attitudes about immigration.

In the context of today's mess, about COVID, climate change and more, this says that the way to conservatives' agreement is to emphasize solutions. The opposition will take the other track and seek to vilify outgoups. Denial of solutions is a tactic to increase fear, if there are no solutions, then fear is unavoidable.

Sound familiar?

So with the anti-vaxxers, the climate change deniers and yes the no-hopers, emphasize progress and solutions.

9 comments:

Barton Paul Levenson said...

Thanks, Herb. By the way, you still haven't paid for that Radiant Crystal Cancer Cure you ordered.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

What about the vibrations, Herb? Remember, the water contains memories of what was in it before. And have you tested the herbs against the alignment of the planets?

Tom said...

Gee, it sort of seems to me that we lukewarmers have emphasized progress and solutions and have been roundly vilified by the consensus community for doing so. We are accused of being luckwarmers, cornucopians, delayers and far worse.

Lukewarmers say get rid of black soot, following Hansen et al. We are accused of distracting from the real problem.

Lukewarmers say the problem can't be solved without nuclear power. General hysteria ensues.

Lukewarmers say pre-adaptation to address the weather of the present with safety margins for expected weather is something we can do now and should. We are delayers!

Lukewarmers argue that building resiliency in the developing world is perhaps the most effective tool in dealing with whatever level of climate change is already baked in. For that we are usually called deniers.

So yeah, you guys are united in your contempt for us, amply demonstrated in the archives of this very fine weblog. But you should look and see which group that you describe above resembles your own.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

T: Lukewarmers say get rid of black soot, following Hansen et al. We are accused of distracting from the real problem.

BPL: Because the real problem is carbon dioxide.

T: Lukewarmers say the problem can't be solved without nuclear power. General hysteria ensues.

BPL: Because nuclear power costs more than any other form of power, and takes the longest to deploy, and therefore isn't a solution at all.

T: Lukewarmers say pre-adaptation to address the weather of the present with safety margins for expected weather is something we can do now and should. We are delayers!

BPL: Your emphasis on adaptation implies stopping emissions is less important.

T: Lukewarmers argue that building resiliency in the developing world is perhaps the most effective tool in dealing with whatever level of climate change is already baked in. For that we are usually called deniers.

BPL: Your emphasis on adaptation implies stopping emissions is less important.

In short, if you don't want to be accused of acting like deniers, stop acting like deniers.

Tom said...

Thanks, BPL. You capture the arguments from your side most succinctly. Too bad that those arguments (and others like them) have produced 33 years and counting of inadequate activity in response to climate change.

You are wrong on each and every count. But they have become part of a religion for you. Or a cult.

You think they are equivalent to the Sermon on the Mount. However, they are instead similar to biblical restrictions on the consumption of shellfish or pork.

Unknown said...

Fuller does someone actually pay you for all the lies and rubbish you post here and elsewhere? It is people like you who have delayed any action on climate change. You are one of the despicable band of luckwarmers, you are pathetic bunch of spreaders of disinformation.

Ian Forrester

Barton Paul Levenson said...

T: they have become part of a religion for you. Or a cult.

BPL: When all argument fails, resort to ad hominem.

Tom said...

Hey, BPL--you're the one responding to the Radiant Crystal stuff. It's about on a par with what you're preaching here.

Barton Paul Levenson said...

T: It's about on a par with what you're preaching here.

BPL: And again: "preaching." I don't have to preach anything, Tom, everyone here (but you) already believes in science.