Tag Archives | Liberals

Catch of the Day: Who Believes in Crazy Conspiracy Theories?

climate changeJust to wind certain commenters up (you know who you are), here’s Jonathan Bernstein’s critique of that article I posted “Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives,” at BloombergView:

A catch to Andrew Gelman for correcting an attempted but inaccurate catch by Alfred Moore, Joseph Parent and Joseph Uscinski, who thought they had caught Paul Krugman in an error on the always-fun topic of conspiracy theories. Not so!

Here’s Krugman’s original assertion:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left — which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe — the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

Moore, Parent and Uscinski take that quote and attack it on the basis that both liberals and conservatives are equally likely to believe in crazy conspiracy theories. That part, as Gelman agrees, is correct. Plenty of examples in both items for those liberals who are skeptical of it, but I’ll add one more anecdotal one: the belief among liberals in 2003 and 2004 that George W.

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Conspiracy Theories Aren’t Just For Conservatives

911 Was an Inside JobConcluding that “Neither liberals nor conservatives are more credulous or crazy,” co-authors Alfred Moore (Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, working on the Conspiracy and Democracy project), Joseph M. Parent and Joseph E. Uscinski (Associate Professors of Political Science at University of Miami and authors of American Conspiracy Theories), suggest that “Republicans and Democrats are equally prone to believing in conspiracy theories.” From the Washington Post:

Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Liberals, that’s who. Take Princeton economist Paul Krugman who ominously warns that:

Unlike the crazy conspiracy theories of the left—which do exist, but are supported only by a tiny fringe—the crazy conspiracy theories of the right are supported by important people: powerful politicians, television personalities with large audiences.

Krugman makes a fair point: in moderation conspiracy theories may show healthy skepticism, but in excess they can erode the trust needed for states to fulfill their basic functions and warp the respect for evidence necessary for sound decision making.

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Liberals Show ‘Truly False Uniqueness’ According to Psychological Study

SnowflakesWilsonBentleyPolitical liberals falsely assume that other liberals don’t hold their views, according to a recent study published in Psychological Science:

Via EurekaAlert:

Liberals showed what the researchers call “truly false uniqueness,” perceiving their beliefs as more divergent from the beliefs of other liberals than they actually were. Moderates and conservatives, on the other hand, showed evidence of “truly false consensus,” perceiving their beliefs to be more similar to those of other members of their political group than they actually were.

Data from a second study suggest that the relationship is driven by participants’ desire to feel unique: Liberals reported a stronger desire for uniqueness than did moderates or conservatives.

Surprisingly, these trends even emerged among nonpolitical judgments, such as preference for coffee: Liberals believed their preferences were more different from those of other liberals than they actually were, while conservatives believed their preferences were more similar to those of other conservatives than they actually were.

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Liberal Luminaries in Senate Are Swing Votes on Bombing Syria

US Senate Session ChamberMany senators began this week still uncommitted on whether they’ll vote for attacking Syria. Among the fence-sitters are enough “progressives” to swing the Senate’s decision one way or the other.

That decision is coming soon — maybe as early as Wednesday — and the Obama White House is now pulling out all the stops to counter public opinion, which remains overwhelmingly against a war resolution. The administration hopes to win big in the Senate and carry momentum into the House, where the bomb-Syria agenda faces a steeper climb.

Some Democratic senators who’ve cultivated progressive reputations nationwide — Barbara Boxer of California, Dick Durbin of Illinois and Al Franken of Minnesota — haven’t hesitated to dive into Obama’s war tank. Boxer, Durbin and Franken quickly signed on as carnage bottom-feeders, pledging their adamant support for the U.S. government to attack yet another country.

Other Democrats, like Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Tom Udall of New Mexico, have made clear their intention to vote “no” when the war-on-Syria measure reaches the Senate floor.… Read the rest

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How Can Liberals and Conservatives Communicate?

Picture: "Purple America" by Robert J. Vanderbei, Princeton.edu (CC)

There was a great article a couple weeks ago by Lynn Stuart Parramore, an AlterNet senior editor, titled What if Liberals and Progressives Could Learn to Talk to White Southern Men? in which she reminds us that for Southerners, being polite and reasonable are directly signs of their sense of honor and self-respect. Most of them, despite our political disagreements, don’t want to be seen as rash, close-minded and unreasonable. Lynn Parramore, also Director of AlterNet’s New Economic Dialogue Project, recounts stories of relating to these individuals on certain issues:

What liberals and progressives don’t seem to understand is that you don’t counter a myth with a pile of facts and statistics. You have to counter it with a more powerful story. And that’s what Obama and the Democrats have repeatedly failed to do. White Southern men want a story that makes them feel proud of America and what it can accomplish.

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Sam Harris, Joe Rogan, Islam And The Future Of Liberalism

Sam Harris writes about the fallout from a recent visit with Joe Rogan on his blog:
I recently had a very enjoyable three-hour conversation with Joe Rogan on his podcast, where the topics ranged from jihad to probability theory to psychedelics. But I subsequently received a fair amount of abuse online for a few things I said about Islam and our adventures in the war on terror. For instance, I appear to have left many viewers with the impression that I believe we invaded Afghanistan for the purpose of rescuing its women from the Taliban. However, the points I was actually making were rather different...
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Why Facts No Longer Matter In The Media Discourse

birthHow should we understand this latest and most troubling insight into the reality of our media ecology?

In the aftermath of the resolution of the Great Birther bash-up, even as President Obama tried to lay the issue at rest by producing the document that showed, proved, verified, documented, and validated his birth in one of the great states of our disunion, it was said that its release would only fuel more debate, and convince no one.

In other words, in the end, this long debated fact didn’t matter.

Facts no longer seem to matter on other issues, too, as articulated in the now infamous memo issued by retiring Senator Jon Kyle whose office, when confronted with evidence that he misspoke on the matter of how much money Planned Parenthood spent on abortions—he claimed 90%, the truth was but 3%—issued an advisory that said, “The statement was not meant to be factual.”

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert had a lot of fun with that but one thing that’s not funny is that even when media coverage discredits or exposes some canard, public opinion is not necessarily impacted.… Read the rest

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“Liberals” Take Over The Media

zine diagram-DAs far as memes go, “liberals control the media” seems pretty prevalent. People who long for the days of school spankings shriek it at the top of their lungs – actual liberals believe it if only so they can believe they control something. But as we slowly descend back to Earth we realize The Media is a business.

And the point has been made that you could look long and hard through the board of directors of any of the media giant(s) before you find an honest-to-God Liberal. Liberals are tolerated in the media to the extent that they can make their bosses money.

All these points became clear to me in light of a new propaganda film (made by Citizens Against Government Waste) making the rounds where we see a group of Chinese circa 2030 cackling over America’s demise. Maybe you’ve seen it too – where some communists attribute America’s immanent doom to our use of socialism.… Read the rest

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Chances Are, They’re Not Nazis

Bush & Obama As HitlerAaron Cynic writes at Diatribe Media:

Back in the halcyon days following George W Bush’s inauguration, detractors and opponents of many stripes referred to W and his administration as Nazi’s. Even before the days of borderline fascist government policies like the PATRIOT ACT or warrantless wiretapping and torture apologists, lefties and others handed out poorly Xeroxed pamphlets featuring W’s face with a Hitler mustache.

Now, the jack boot is on the left foot, with hard line right wing conservatives dropping the Nazi card when referring to all things not Right as some form or another of Nazism. Most recently, Fox News chief Roger Ailes called the top brass at NPR “the left wing of Nazism” and said they have a “Nazi attitude.” Allies’ comments refer to the firing of NPR news analyst Juan Williams, after he told Bill O’Reilly that Muslims make him “nervous.”

It seems somewhere along the line the word “Nazi” devolved to something of a schoolyard insult like “dork” or “geek” on the political playground.… Read the rest

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Keith Olbermann Suspended by MSNBC

Photo: kirstenlovesputi (CC)

Photo: kirstenlovesputi (CC)

Wow — Comcast (owners of NBC) didn’t waste any time coming to terms with the United States’ political shift to the right! The leading liberal television commentator Keith Olbermann is left in the dust… From the New York Times:

Keith Olbermann, the top anchor on MSNBC, was suspended on Friday after the channel discovered that he had made campaign contributions to three Democrats.

The MSNBC president, Phil Griffin, issued a statement saying, “I became aware of Keith’s political contributions late last night. Mindful of NBC News policy and standards, I have suspended him indefinitely without pay.”

No one at NBC News would speculate about what this might mean for Mr. Olbermann’s future, though one NBC executive suggested this was not a step toward firing him.

Politico had reported Friday morning that Mr. Olbermann’s contributions were in apparent violation of MSNBC policy.

Mr. Olbermann hosts the most popular program on MSNBC, “Countdown.” He worked at MSNBC in the late 1990s and re-joined the channel in 2003.

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