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September 17, 2008

Wherein I Do My Part to Aid the Social Sciences

Dear Editor of Ace of Spades,

I am writing you on behalf of a research team from the Psychology Department at New York University, in the hopes that you might be able to help us with our timely and important research about the cognitive bases of electoral decision-making. We would be very grateful to you if you could possibly help us recruit politically inclined respondents to our survey by posting to your blog the link to the online survey we are conducting as part of this research...

And on and on and on.

My response:

With all due respect, why bother? I've read these studies before. You already know all the answers: Liberals vote out of rationality and hope; conservatives vote out of irrational prejudice and fear.

There's no point collecting data when the conclusions have already been drafted.

Thank you for your interest, but I can write your paper for you without bothering with the middleman of data collection.



Added a PS:

To make my complaint clear:

We all know that conservatives are more fond of tradition and liberals are more fond of fads and "new things."

Now, we already know that. There is no reason to even collect data on it. It's a fact. It's 75% of what makes conservatives conservative and liberals liberal.

But rather than framing it neutrally, you -- if you are anything like the six bazillion psychologists before you -- will say "liberals show they are more OPEN-MINDED and RECEPTIVE OF NEW IDEAS AND NEW EXPERIENCES than conservatives, who are CLOSED-MINDED and FEARFUL OF ANYTHING NEW OR DIFFERENT.

I could take the same data and give it a different spin:

Conservatives are more mature and comfortable with themselves. Liberals, however, similar to juveniles, are seek out fads and transient fashions, much like teenagers "identity shop" by trying out new personae until one fits.

The thing is, the data should be reported straight. Neutrally. And if you're going to spin a value judgment on to it, there is no reason to favor the "CONSERVATIVES FEARFUL" spin over of my own "LIBERALS FADDISH AND ONLY PARTIALLY-FORMED IN THEIR ADULT PERSONAE" spin.

But I know in advance -- well, I know to a 99% certainty, based on the all of the similar studies I've read previously -- that it's going to be CONSERVATIVES FEARFUL.

Why bother? Let's just skip the whole pretense of faux scientific rigor and get right to the money graf: Conservatives suck, liberals are better and smarter. And like trying out new foods and listening to "World Music."

digg this
posted by Ace at 09:55 PM

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