Who says that conservatism is produced by a fear of death
Pyszczynski did respond promptly to the criticism of his research that I posted yesterday. After the burst of personal abuse that one expects from Leftists he did have two actual points to make:
He said that the “priming” experiment that he does has now been repeated worldwide to a total of about 350 times and always gives a similar outcome. He seems to think that doing unrepresentative sampling 350 times is in some way as good as doing one really representative sample. No logic there at all, of course. So I replied simply that doing a silly thing 350 times does not make it right.
His second point concerned the “God” research that I mentioned. He commented quite reasonably that the outcome you get would depend on the concept of God involved. That the usual Christian concept of God as a God of Love might have been behind the finding I mentioned — that thinking about God makes you more altruistic — he did not address, however. He preferred abstract argument to research results. But it is consistent with his argument that the usual Christian view of God makes Christians better people. How embarrassing for him!
But as in the story by Conan Doyle (“Silver Blaze”) about the dog that did not bark, the most interesting thing was what Pyszczynski did NOT mention. His theory claims that worrying about death is behind a lot of conservatism. But my research in a general population sample has shown that conservatives worry about death and worry in general no more than do others. So his theory is disconfirmed at the bottom line. No matter what groups of tame students do when confronted by Pyszczynski’s little experiment, the conclusion from those experiments does NOT generalize to the population at large. So he is talking about something of no real-world significance. He had no reply to that whatever. I guess he didn’t reply because he couldn’t!
He also did not reply to my point that he was overinterpreting his data. In science the most parsimonious (simplest) explanation for a finding is always preferred and I offered an explanation for his basic finding that was a lot simpler than the fanciful edifice he has erected. I guess he couldn’t reply to that either! He has devoted decades of work to his little theory, however, so I don’t expect that mere evidence and logic will cause him to drop or even modify it. Jim Sidanius had the grace to go into a major backdown when I confronted him with evidence and logic about his “Social Dominance Orientation” theory but there is no sign of that from Pyszczynski — at least so far.
By the way, my Polish is not up to much but I think Pyszczynski is pronounced as “Puzinski”. You will never guess how the name of the Polish city of “Lodz” is pronounced, though. Ask a Pole some day. You will be amazed.
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