Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's a lot like a mathematician who says he has mathematically invented time travel and it's up to those physicists to figure out the details

An interesting post, Humanities Scholars Overturn Biology, Discover Trait-Based Politics In Fear Response by Hank Campbell. A very rough and tumble takedown of some sociologists dressing up sloppy work to appear to be science when it is in fact prejudice seeking justification. Campbell's writing is rhetorical in this piece rather than analytical but his point is made. I think he also overdoes the science versus humanities aspect. One of the five is from that stepson of the humanities, Political Science but really this is an issue of dogma and ideology versus the scientific method.

Sometimes it seems as if our most pressing form of pollution is cognitive pollution - people actively pumping out ideology/bias driven "research" which is either straight-up wrong or elusively wrong (wrong but protected by a whole sneak or pack of weasel words such as could be, might be, possibly, would seem, etc.)

Essentially, the authors want to create a basis for believing that people who do not share their political world view are genetically damaged in a fashion that prevents them from seeing the light. Campbell comments on the effort.
Sure, no actual scientist has found evidence for trait-based fear, but this is a humanities study, those are always engaged in an open war on science - all it takes is looking at some surveys and writing up some statistics and it feels science-y. In this case, they picked their survey targets using related people, consisting of twins, siblings, and parents and children - then they made sure to narrow the pool into a group that would give them what they wanted by 'assessing' them using social psychology tools.

Conclusion: Some people had common characteristics and therefore a genetic propensity for a higher level of baseline fear. What is this genetic propensity? Hey, that is for biologists to figure out. When the humanities try to be science-y, it's a lot like a mathematician who says he has mathematically invented time travel and it's up to those physicists to figure out the details.


The non-scientists make sure to cover themselves by saying genetics only plays a 'part' in influencing political preference - yet they don't show evidence it plays any role at all, this is just the self-recurring meme invented by people who want to pretend their cultural intolerance is evidence-based. Evidence that voting is genetic? Still none, so their desire to do more studies to show how genetic pathways influence fear is a logical fallacy.

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