Saturday, November 15, 2014

Pros and cons

It's time to fess up. My wife and I have been debating the pros and cons of converting to the right. We feel so, well so left out. Harper has Canada, and may just win another term as majority Prime Minister next year. He has brilliant strategists working full time to take advantage of situational variables that affect political orientation; there being a good deal of evidence suggesting that environmental factors such as threat can and do produce ideological shifts. Then there are the Americans who have recently filled their Houses with republicans whose conduct is definitely more orderly, conventional, and better organized. In our great province of Manitoba western conservative idealism is snarling the smiling faces of our present somewhat left leaning NDP government, it seems these novelty seeking trade-unionists may be short lived.

With our aging Canadian population, 30% of whom die with some sort of dementia, we decided to do a mind experiment to see if we could convince my wife, who is blessed with moderate dementia, of some conservative precepts. It took two minutes to affirm in her mind that the earth was flat and that God had created it 6000 years ago. This state of rapture lasted less than ten minutes before she lost her new gained wisdom, however we reasoned it would be just long enough to get her in and out of a polling booth. We could walk home hand in hand from the next major election knowing we where part of the efficacious right-wing majority.

We were somewhat concerned over a major study we saw on the association between political inclination and obesity, citing Shin ME1 and McCarthy WJ, which examined results from the 2012 presidential election in the United States. After controlling for poverty rate, percent African American and Latino populations, educational attainment, and spatial autocorrelation in the error term, they found that higher county-level obesity prevalence rates were associated with higher levels of support for the 2012 Republican Party presidential candidate. However, considering the high level of support for our universal health care system among all Canadians, we decided they would do their best to keep us functioning well into our nineties no matter how many donuts we began consuming.
For myself it has been somewhat of a struggle to come to terms with giving up my lack of order, tolerance for ambiguity, and openness to experience to embrace death anxiety, system threat, and perceptions of a dangerous world, which each contribute independently to conservatism verses liberalism. Citing The Secret Lives of Liberals and Conservatives by John T. Jost, Samuel D. Gosling, and Jeff Potter in my nogginal ambiance, differences between liberals and conservatives with respect to openness play out in terms of nonverbal behaviour and interpersonal interaction style. Liberals are more expressive, smile more, and are more engaged in conversation with confederates. Conservatives do not generally behave in ways that reflect greater conscientiousness. In the context of the experimental situation, conservatives behave in a more detached and disengaged manner in general. Although this behaviour is not indicative of conscientiousness, it does reflect the kind of withdrawn, reserved, inhibited, and even rigid interaction style that many theorists have associated with conservatism over the years.

In order to undo my liberal open-minded, creative, curious, and novelty seeking adventurous side, I have decided to take seriously the threats posed on our country by terrorist extremists and actually to listen to our dear Prime Minister's Action Ads. Forthwith, citing Bonanno & Jost, 2006, Jost, 2006, and Jost etal., 2008, since there is a good deal of evidence suggesting that environmental factors such as threat can and do produce ideological shifts, and I am going to make a concerted effort to introduce these into my life. The uncertainty - threat model of political conservatism, which posits that psychological needs to manage uncertainty and threat such as need for order, intolerance of ambiguity, and lack of openness to experience will come to prevail in my conscientiousness as a workable threat management system. Results from structural equation models provide consistent support for the hypothesis that uncertainty avoidance contributes independently to conservatism. What a relief.

This is good by George. We're going to dash this off in a Christmas letter to all our long lost friends and relatives to show them our transmogrification so they no longer have to have the great embarrassment of deleting us as black sheep from their mailing lists. It's going to be a good year.
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