Saturday, April 23, 2011

Machiavellians Believe in Conspiracies Because That is What They Would Do

Why do some people believe conspiracy theories? Because they would join conspiracies themselves.

British psychologists Karen Douglas and Robbie Sutton found that people with a machiavellian attitude toward deceiving and manipulating other people were more likely to believe in conspiracies to manipulate and deceive.

This makes me wonder what kind of people believe, as I do, that there are many "conspiracies" to help others and build up the world. Though I don't think of these as conspiracies so much as cooperation.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Moral Majority is Gone from Young Memory

As background to today's discussion of Bill Bishop's The Big Sort, I was teaching the early history of the culture war. The students knew about many of the cultural changes of the Sixties. They knew that there was a conservative backlash. One ventured "Religious Right" as the name of the conservative mobilization.

But none of them had heard of the Moral Majority or Jerry Falwell.

When I was in college in the late '70s and early '80s, the Moral Majority was as familiar as the Tea Party is today.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Contented People Are More Likely to Vote

Baylor political scientist Patrick Flavin thought contented people would be less likely to vote, and discontented people more. Just the opposite turns out to be true.

This makes sense to me. Bill Bishop argued in The Big Sort that voting is mostly a way of expressing solidarity with community values. People in the majority party or ideology are more likely to turn out to vote regularly, while the minority party or ideology is much harder to mobilize in any given constituency.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Serenity Parenting Leads to Pro-Natalism

I just read a very Gruntled Center argument. Bryan Caplan, based on twin studies and his own parenting, came to this conclusion: parenting matters less to how kids turn out than most anxious "concerted cultivation" parents think. So lighten up and enjoy your kids. He calls this "Serenity Parenting."

The corollary is more interesting: if you don't really need to run yourself ragged raising each kid, you can have more of them.

I am looking forward to reading (and blogging) his book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Social Media Builds Social Ties

The Gruntled Center is naturally interested in a blog called Gruntled Employees. Jay Shepherd writes about employment law that makes for happy employees. He had an interesting post lately, "Vote 'Yes' on Social-Media Law." He urges companies to accept social media as a fact of life, and encourage employees to use them well, rather than try to prohibit social media on the job.

One of Shepherd's arguments for a "Yes" rather than a "No" policy is "Yes, these employees can act as effective brand ambassadors for their companies, and they should be encouraged to do so."

I am not precisely an employee of Centre College, and I am not at all an employee of the Hub Coffee House. Nor do I think of the work and life of either institution as merely a brand. But I am very interested in the life and prosperity of both communities.

A real example of what Shepherd is talking about occurred while I was reading Gruntled Employees. This exchange happened on Facebook:

Samantha ___ Misses Centre College. Who's with me?

(Within minutes, 12 alums liked this status.)

I wrote (I like your sentiment in missing Centre. I am still here, sitting in the Hub. Now I am thinking about y'all.)

Ted ___ Now I miss the Hub!

By such exchanges social media help build up the ties of social life. And, incidentally, help the "brand" if it, too, builds up the ties of social life.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Virginia Commemorates Both Sides of the Civil War

Robert McDonnell, the governor of Virginia whose policies I often disagree with, has issued a solid and well-balanced declaration of April as "Civil War History in Virginia Month." I particularly appreciate this point:

The largest wartime population of African-American slaves was in Virginia, yet through their own acts of courage and resilience, as well as the actions of the United States army and federal government, they bequeathed to themselves and posterity a legacy of freedom.

Acknowledging both sides of Civil War history in Virginia is, I think, superior to the Gov. McDonnell's earlier proclamation of April as "Confederate History Month."