19 February 2011

Color Me Shocked


It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.
“This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity,” Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a “tribal-moral community” united by “sacred values” that hinder research and damage their credibility — and blind them to the hostile climate they’ve created for non-liberals.

Two words describe this situation:  self-selection bias.  Dr. Haidt is wrong, for he is not dealing with a random sample at all, and therefore there should be no expectation of randomness.  In fact, the expectation of randomness in any and all professions is patently ludicrous, for all profession suffer from self-selection bias.  Therefore, there is no reason to get upset if, say, blacks only comprise 3% of registered OB/GYN nurses.  The sample is not random to begin with, so expecting it to be random is simply asinine.

Of course, it’s not surprising that liberals are so attracted to psychology.  It’s a discipline where you can literally make p nonsense and present it as serious research.  And as we all know, liberals are incredibly talented at making up serious-sounding nonsense.

All kidding aside, when one looks at the political affiliation of various professions, the more intellectually or physically strenuous the job is (like being a fire fighter or mathematician, for example), the more conservative one likely is.  This suggests, then, that liberals are lazier than conservatives.  (Given the general ideological differences between the two groups, this conclusion should make sense.)  As such, it should be no surprise that liberals dominate the pseudo-science of psychology.

And yes, psychology is a pseudo-science.  The closest it ever gets to real science is when it delves into neurology, which is an entirely different discipline altogether.  That aside, one can easily tell that psychology isn’t a real science because its analytics are tautological in nature and it is not falsifiable.  There is simply no way to prove psychological hypotheses wrong because there is nothing to measure or quantify.  And that is not science.

But, since liberals are incredibly pretentious, it would make sense that they would become part of a profession that allows them to pose as scientists without actually requiring them to do work.

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