American Consequences - February 2019

By Andrew Ferguson

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he vast majority of social psychologists – easily over 90%, by most estimates – count themselves on the left politically and culturally. So it’s no big surprise that gobs and gobs of social science have been deployed to prove that conservatives and libertarians are a little... well, you know... a little ƐŇý .

Belief in free markets and entrepreneurship, respect for

one-third were Caucasian, and all of them, by definition, were the kind of kids who want to go to Berkeley. Not even the researchers pretended that the students formed a randomly selected, statistically representative sample – of anything. Still, science never rests. With the questionnaires in hand, a team of grad students was dispatched to the students’ dorm rooms. These weren’t just any grad students. These were grad students who had been trained to codify “environmental attributes” according to the Personal Living Space Cue Inventory. (Those capital letters are impressive, aren’t they?) And code they did – every little detail they found in the living spaces. They gave numerical values to

tradition and objectivity, suspicion of government tinkering and central planning – these have been taken by many social scientists to be evidence that residents of the non-left side of the political spectrum aren’t playing with a full deck. In a word, conservatism – including right-leaning libertarianism – is a pathology. This we know, for social science tells us so. How far will our social psychologists go to discredit their political opposites? Here’s how far: One semester a little over 10 years ago, experimental psychologists recruited 76 college students at UC Berkeley to fill out a form placing their own political orientation on a scale from liberal (1) to conservative (5). It’s unclear from the published study how many of the lucky 76 identified themselves as conservative – you might have heard that Berkeley is not known as a hothouse of right- wingery. Nearly half the students were Asian,

In a word, conservatism – including right-leaning libertarianism – is a pathology. This we know, for social science tells us so.

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