Information icon.svg Our policy on articles on living people is under review. Your comments and inputs are welcome on the relevant project talkpage.

Nominations and campaigning for the RationalWiki 2020 Moderator Election is underway and will end on November 23.

Talk:Bob Altemeyer

From RationalWiki
Jump to: navigation, search
Icon sociology.svg This article contains information about one or more living persons.

Articles about living people must be handled carefully, because they are more open to legal threats.
Reference any contentious allegations solidly; unreferenced allegations should be removed.
If legal threats are raised on this page, please direct the potential litigant to RationalWiki:Legal FAQ; do not interact with them.


I don't quite understand this label, especially since a lot of his work builds on Richard Hofstadter and historical studies of fascism. EVDebs (talk) 15:52, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Looks like somebody who Listener-X, our favourite non-liberal, has taken objection to for some reason.--BobSpring is sprung! 16:03, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
You'd also expect that category to be on an actual pseudoscience, not an individual. Scarlet A.pngmoral 16:09, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
Well, I'm sure it can be cleaned up... Among other things, Altemeyer does point out that one does not have to be specifically a right-winger to be a right-wing authoritarian. (That may be a somewhat poor choice of name in that case, but it is what it is.) The easiest way to describe it, in my opinion at least, is a hyperpaternalistic view of the world with a distinct stratification between leaders and followers and a natural order in society that shouldn't be deviated from -- RWA leaders use it to feed their entitlement, and RWA followers tend to accept their place as a matter of moral principle. EVDebs (talk) 16:10, 12 May 2010 (UTC)
He mixes politics and psychology — a very lethal mix that has been heavily employed by extremists and roundly criticized by liberal people; I fail to understand why a denunciation of this should be labeled "non-liberal." I further submit that the need to use phrases like "right-wing authoritarianism is not inherently right-wing" in defending Prof. Altemeyer's work rather exposes it for what it is. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:40, 24 August 2010 (UTC)
Have you actually read the book? Among other things he does point out that the mindset is one of obedience. I believe he mentions that there were a fair number of RWAs (by his definition) in Stalin's USSR. The mindset he discusses is based on obedience and a sense of natural order, with no small amount of sadism and shit-stirring involved. The "right-wing" description comes from the fact that these are traditionally associated with conservative politics, but Mao, Kim Il Sung, and Pol Pot were quite definitely left-wing RWAs. (I have no opinion whatsoever on Lyle Rossiter, not knowing very much about his work.) EVDebs (talk) 01:58, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I read the abstract and first chapter (the one where he lays out his Right-Wing Authoritarian Scale when he finds the time to take a break from a bunch of political ranting); this was quite enough to tell me that the book is not serious scientific work, but his personal pet exercise in demagoguery, which he essentially says himself. (I was fully aware that his "Right-Wing Authoritarians" at least nominally included what the Political Compass terms the "authoritarian left;" I am not, however, aware why this is relevant to the question at hand.) Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:20, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I think you may have given up a bit early on the book. There's a fair amount of case study to make his point. Also, perhaps his choice of terminology was inappropriate, but the concept itself is a pretty fair description of what drives, eg, fascist movements, especially the populist aspect. EVDebs (talk) 03:26, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
To put my point in small English words: It ain't peer reviewed. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 03:37, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
That's usually not to be expected for a popular work, which is what The Authoritarians is. There are chapter end notes for further reference though, including some of his published journal articles. EVDebs (talk) 03:50, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
You are perhaps talking about the one paper published in the Journal of Social Psychology? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:31, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
  • That's as may be, but it still doesn't make him a quack. Do find more out about the subject. In the meantime, I think we need some other opinions. EVDebs (talk) 04:39, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I should think he fits all the criteria for being a crank; self-funded research, very little of it published through conventional peer-reviewed channels, and the inability (even in a work that he calls "scientifically up to snuff") to exclude his personal political views from the science.
But perhaps I am too accustomed to the stringency shown in this area by my own discipline in the hard sciences; perhaps it is customary for soft-scientists to insert political rants in their scientific papers and employ twists and turns of language on important terminology; perhaps I am overreacting.
In any case, I agree that it would not hurt to get a third opinion in. Meanwhile, precisely which point in the deleted section do you dispute? Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 04:55, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
Well, first, there does seem to be a fair bit both by and referencing him (positive and negative, journal-based and otherwise) on Google Scholar, so he's hardly off the grid scholastically. As for specific objections, it's your issue with the definition of the term. His choice of terminology is rooted in the idea that it's a common characteristic of a right-wing mindset; it isn't necessarily bound to right-wing politics, but it's where it seems to be strongest. A political analogy would be my private division of sex scandals into "Democratic" and "Republican" -- the difference IMHO is that "Democratic" sex scandals seem to tend not to involve behaviors stigmatized by their peers. You know who had a "Republican" sex scandal? Eliot Spitzer. He made his bones as a hardass (and a Democratic one), then got caught associating with a prostitute, who was someone he cracked down on. Putting aside the ephebophilia issues, Mark Foley had a "Democratic" sex scandal -- it wasn't much of a secret in Washington that he was gay, and despite being a conservative he wasn't particularly anti-gay in his policies.
A lot of this is a red herring though -- whether the person in question is wrong or right, you still have to get your definitions right before talking against it. That's why I have nothing to say about Lyle Rossiter -- I have no familiarity with him. EVDebs (talk) 05:23, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
I made a Venn diagram of Altemeyer's assertion: EVDebs (talk) 05:32, 25 August 2010 (UTC)
As to the citations on Google Scholar, let us just say that the scope of that search engine is not restricted to scientific papers.
No matter how much verbiage he throws at it, his use of "right-wing" still amounts to bullshit; a common characteristic of bullshit being that long-winded or tricky explanations are used in support of it. Compare: Claude Shannon reportedly said to Norbert Wiener, "Use the word 'Cybernetics,' Norbert, because nobody knows what it means. This will always put you at an advantage in arguments." And this is, of course, not to mention that the test for his RWA Scale is phrased such that a Red, even a Stalinist, would be highly unlikely to score very high on it (although they might get caught on the gay questions).
I hope that Venn-diagram is not for my benefit. Mjollnir.svgListenerXTalkerX 05:48, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

Rolling back ListenerX's recent changes[edit]

His changes are here for reference. I believe we need to come to some kind of consensus on this. EVDebs (talk) 01:58, 25 August 2010 (UTC)

George Lakoff has the missing link about right wing and left wing authoritarians[edit]

As explained in many books and video lectures George Lakoff has identified two concepts of a family that he connects to Right and Left wing ideas about governance. For the Right Wing ("Strict Father") there is great correspondence with Altemeyer's strong RWA personality and for the Left Wing ("Nurturing Parent") there is strong correspondence with Altemeyer's low RWA scores.

However there are two groups that express strong "Strict Father" morality but do not fit the standard RWA model. The first is Libertarian that has all the "Strict Father" morality, but instead of submitting to the "Strict Father" instead rebels and subverts the strict father, only to seek to become the strict father straight away. These may not test well as RWA but will more readily form coalitions with RWA's than with "Nurturing Parent" Left because they cannot conceive of Nurturing Parent Morality.

The second is also rebellious, but seeks to install a new order taking on the apparent policies of the Left, without taking on the morality of the ("Nurturing parent") Left. These are the LWA that are discussed and frequently fit the RWA issues of inability to operate cooperatively, or most of the other limitations Dr. Altemeyer notes.

There is considerable evidence that both paths exist at birth (as opposed to no paths)though perhaps even at different strengths at birth, but the balance shifts by experience, with childhood abuse pushing to RWA though a rescuer (a person that can provide respite in the situation 'grandparent, uncle, neighbor) can prevent such effects, but they are very strong by 4-5 years old, and even a totally different family will be hard to cure it.

In any case the broader discussion that includes many threads should be included., , to name just a few. 02:59, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

Lulz, George Lakoff. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 03:04, 16 September 2012 (UTC)

Regality theory[edit]

Should not the regality theory be mentioned in the article? It is a similar model but in sociobiological key. — Unsigned, by: / talk

It's new to me and I don't think I'm ready to comment on the relatedness of them. Also it's new and obscure, and the citations on wikipedia don't seem to go to any evidence based research. Hm. Yeah, definetly not ready to commit to its relevance. ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 21:54, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
Follow up, based on further examination of wikipedia and the history of their article, are you, personally, the Agner Fog who proposed this theory? ikanreed 🐐Bleat at me 22:03, 29 August 2018 (UTC)
No, I am not Agner Fog nor have I contributed to the Wikipedia page. I read about that theory a few years ago in a book by Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg, who has also written about sociobiology and neo-evolutionism. I can assure you that I have nothing to do with the subject and I never work in biology, I just seems that as an interesting model to explain certain political phenomena.-- (talk) 02:49, 31 August 2018 (UTC)