I had a bit of a laugh recently about the “worldview defense” research of Pyszczynski and friends. I could see no good evidence for his claim that conservative views arise out of a need to defend a worldview.
The evidence Prof. P. offers for his claims concerns attitudes. What students say about their views is the foundation of his theory. I replied by pointing out (among other things) that proper general population survey research into conservative attitudes does not reveal the correlations to be expected from Prof. P.’s theory.
There is however abroad these days one very strange set of attitudes: The attitudes of the “truthers” — people who believe that the dumb but strangely clever George Bush conspired with the neocons, the Jews and various others to blow up the twin towers on 9/11. Apparently the twin towers were deliberately detonated by GWB rather than being knocked out by bin Laden’s henchmen flying hijacked airliners. Some of the claims of the truthers have a superficial plausibility but all have often been debunked (e.g. here).
The interesting thing about truther theory is that, for all its vast implausibility, it is widely believed. According to a general population poll carried out by Zogby 42.6% of Democrat voters believe some version of it versus 19.2% of Republican voters. Nearly half of Left-leaning voters say they believe in a total absurdity!
So why do they do that? A simple answer: It is BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome). Bush is so hated by many on the Left that they cannot accept any evidence that might support his policies. Their worldview requires that Bush be (as they often say) akin to Hitler and the embodiment of all evil. That he might have had reasonable grounds for his overthrow of two aggressive Islamic regimes (in Afghansistan and Iraq) just cannot be accepted. Rather than accept that it is preferable to believe a total absurdity.
So if that is not worldview defense I would like to know what would be. It is worldview defense carried to the extent of an extreme mental pathology. So, as I have often previously remarked, Leftists are great projectors — they attribute to others things that are really true of themselves. So to find out what is true of them, just listen to what they say about conservatives. Prof. P. was so alive to the phenomenon of worldview defense precisely because it fills the heads of many of his fellow Leftists — and maybe even his own head.
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