Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Psychology and conservatism

You may not think that psychology is likely to be of much use to conservatism as a movement, given that psychology is a soft science, and academics outside of the hard sciences are likely to espouse feel-good, politically correct ideas. I would have thought so myself, except that I accidentally stumbled upon the blogs at the Psychology Today site. I forget how I ended up there, but one of the first blogs I read was The Scientific Fundamentalist by Satoshi Kanazawa. I'm not a religious fundamentalist, but I can't help taking a title like "The Scientific Fundamentalist" as though the author had slapped me across the face with his gloves and dared me to a duel. Naturally, I couldn't resist reading some -- and I couldn't have been more surprised.

In a blog post provocatively entitled "How to Be Happy," Mr. Kanazawa offers this advice: "The best thing to do is to kill all the feminists and hippies and liberals." Why would this aid our happiness? Because, contrary to what feminists claim, men and women are very different, and "one of the ways that men and women are different is in what makes them happy." He explains, "Forget what feminists, hippies, and liberals have told you in the last half century. They are all lies based on political ideology and conviction, not on science. Contrary to what they may have told you, it is very unlikely that money, promotions, the corner office, social status, and political power will make women happy."

After a blog post like that, I naturally went on to read more of his stuff, such as Why modern feminism is illogical, unnecessary, and evil. It is fascinating stuff, and I think I would be fascinated even if I didn't find him convincing. Not everything he writes supports a conservative position, of course (although if we follow his advice and kill all the liberals, there won't be much opposition), but it all provocative. His current blogging subject is Why Do People Vote?, which concerns an interesting political problem from a psychological point of view.

There are more blogs at the Psychology Today site than anyone could possibly read. My sampling suggests that many of them are likely to be interesting; I've also discovered that Kanazawa is not the only psychologist whose conclusions support conservatism. Just today I came across a blog entry, The Danger of Self-Affirmation by William B. Swann, Jr., that points out the futility of our obsessive attempts to instill people with self-esteem.

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