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Thread: Link between Religious Dogma, Political Extremism, and Stupidity

  1. #1

    Default Link between Religious Dogma, Political Extremism, and Stupidity

    A study has been completed recently which linked people who hold dogmatic religious views and/or political views at the more extreme ends of the spectrum to an inability to undertake complex tasks.

    People who view the world as black and white, who cannot see nuance and subtlety and grey, who hold that God created the earth or that people who make images representing Mohammed should be killed, are also a bit dim and slow.

    A conclusion which should come as no surprise to anyone on this board.

    Bible-bashers, capitol-hill insurrectionists, Jihadists, young-earthers, all a bit thick really.

    People with extremist views less able to do complex mental tasks, research suggests

    Cambridge University team say their findings could be used to spot people at risk from radicalisation

    Our brains hold clues for the ideologies we choose to live by, according to research, which has suggested that people who espouse extremist attitudes tend to perform poorly on complex mental tasks.

    Researchers from the University of Cambridge sought to evaluate whether cognitive disposition – differences in how information is perceived and processed – sculpts ideological world-views such as political, nationalistic and dogmatic beliefs, beyond the impact of traditional demographic factors like age, race and gender.

    The study, built on previous research, included more than 330 US-based participants aged 22 to 63 who were exposed to a battery of tests – 37 neuropsychological tasks and 22 personality surveys – over the course of two weeks.

    The tasks were engineered to be neutral, not emotional or political – they involved, for instance, memorising visual shapes. The researchers then used computational modelling to extract information from that data about the participant’s perception and learning, and their ability to engage in complex and strategic mental processing.

    Overall, the researchers found that ideological attitudes mirrored cognitive decision-making, according to the study published in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

    A key finding was that people with extremist attitudes tended to think about the world in black and white terms, and struggled with complex tasks that required intricate mental steps, said lead author Dr Leor Zmigrod at Cambridge’s department of psychology.

    “Individuals or brains that struggle to process and plan complex action sequences may be more drawn to extreme ideologies, or authoritarian ideologies that simplify the world,” she said.

    She said another feature of people with tendencies towards extremism appeared to be that they were not good at regulating their emotions, meaning they were impulsive and tended to seek out emotionally evocative experiences. “And so that kind of helps us understand what kind of individual might be willing to go in and commit violence against innocent others.”

    Participants who are prone to dogmatism – stuck in their ways and relatively resistant to credible evidence – actually have a problem with processing evidence even at a perceptual level, the authors found.

    “For example, when they’re asked to determine whether dots [as part of a neuropsychological task] are moving to the left or to the right, they just took longer to process that information and come to a decision,” Zmigrod said.

    In some cognitive tasks, participants were asked to respond as quickly and as accurately as possible. People who leant towards the politically conservative tended to go for the slow and steady strategy, while political liberals took a slightly more fast and furious, less precise approach.

    “It’s fascinating, because conservatism is almost a synonym for caution,” she said. “We’re seeing that – at the very basic neuropsychological level – individuals who are politically conservative … simply treat every stimuli that they encounter with caution.”

    The “psychological signature” for extremism across the board was a blend of conservative and dogmatic psychologies, the researchers said.

    The study, which looked at 16 different ideological orientations, could have profound implications for identifying and supporting people most vulnerable to radicalisation across the political and religious spectrum.

    “What we found is that demographics don’t explain a whole lot; they only explain roughly 8% of the variance,” said Zmigrod. “Whereas, actually, when we incorporate these cognitive and personality assessments as well, suddenly, our capacity to explain the variance of these ideological world-views jumps to 30% or 40%.”
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's actually the original French billion, which is bi-million, which is a million to the power of 2. We adopted the word, and then they changed it, presumably as revenge for Crecy and Agincourt, and then the treasonous Americans adopted the new French usage and spread it all over the world. And now we have to use it.

    And that's Why I'm Voting Leave.

  2. #2
    See also Roland Smith (and others) on "simplism" I'm generally skeptical wrt which exact conclusions we can draw from this kind of study, but the results here speak toward experiences that are familiar to many of us. Important to note that the key issue may be that the people they're talking about here may be easier to manipulate/seduce into accepting extremist views. I don't think most of them are extremists from the outset.
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  3. #3
    Am I the only one who sees an implicit bias in how extremism was defined as conservative ideologies? I'm hoping that's on the journalists' part and not the researcher's.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    Am I the only one who sees an implicit bias in how extremism was defined as conservative ideologies? I'm hoping that's on the journalists' part and not the researcher's.
    It looks like 'political conservatism' was a factor name, ranging from (presumably) quite liberal to conservative. And they had a number of other factors that they looked at like 'dogmatism', 'authoritarianism', 'pro group attitudes', etc. So I suspect that the gloss by the journalist was conflating a number of different analyses together.

    That being said, this had an n of 300-some people. It's essentially meaningless given the volume of data they collected on each person. I really don't like to see the words 'exploratory factor analysis' in a study this small and complex.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    Am I the only one who sees an implicit bias in how extremism was defined as conservative ideologies?
    Don't worry, many studies have definitively proven that centrism is also a mental sickness
    You've been waiting for the truth to come find you
    Are you speaking for yourself or your pain? Do you sleep in the silence to wane the passing shame?
    You are more than what your history made you, let the ghosts of our fathers pass on.
    There's a new dawn to come when the past mistakes are gone

  6. #6
    Thank you, Steely. I was primarily thinking about how authoritatian statist left/liberal "GET THE RICH" types were themselves clearly extremist, clearly drawing in those favoring simple black and white divides and hence falling under the rubric of the study and mentally the same as Lewk, even if they come at it from a non-conservative ideology. I'm glad you recognized who I was thinking about.
    Last night as I lay in bed, looking up at the stars, I thought, “Where the hell is my ceiling?"

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    Don't worry, many studies have definitively proven that centrism is also a mental sickness
    Nobody escapes their humanity mate
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by LittleFuzzy View Post
    Thank you, Steely. I was primarily thinking about how authoritatian statist left/liberal "GET THE RICH" types were themselves clearly extremist, clearly drawing in those favoring simple black and white divides and hence falling under the rubric of the study and mentally the same as Lewk, even if they come at it from a non-conservative ideology. I'm glad you recognized who I was thinking about.
    If you actually read the study, it shows that leftist beliefs are highly correlated with personality traits such as being awesome, cool, right all the time, fun, smart, etc whereas centrist beliefs tend to show a less strong but still pronounced correlation with simplistic modes of thinking such as arriving at conclusions by taking two mutually incompatible beliefs and then just picking the middle point between them.

    Sorry, man, it's just science.
    You've been waiting for the truth to come find you
    Are you speaking for yourself or your pain? Do you sleep in the silence to wane the passing shame?
    You are more than what your history made you, let the ghosts of our fathers pass on.
    There's a new dawn to come when the past mistakes are gone

  9. #9
    Curious why this psych study was published in a bio journal...
    Hope is the denial of reality

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Loki View Post
    Curious why this psych study was published in a bio journal...
    It falls very roughly under their 'neuroscience and cognition' category, which is one of the four basic focus areas. It was part of a special issue looking at the neurocognitive basis for political positions. Frankly, I think the categorization makes a key error (also replicated in this study), assuming that the 'cognitive disposition' of a person is fixed or predictive of political leanings and ideological attitudes, rather than the other way around. I do not think that biology is destiny when it comes to this sort of thing.
    "When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: Why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first." - Werner Heisenberg (maybe)

  11. #11
    I mean, plenty of people undergo radical changes in their political outlook over their life, often in response to world events or changes in their life circumstances, something which this idea that people are just hardwired to be either conservative or liberal is powerless to explain.
    You've been waiting for the truth to come find you
    Are you speaking for yourself or your pain? Do you sleep in the silence to wane the passing shame?
    You are more than what your history made you, let the ghosts of our fathers pass on.
    There's a new dawn to come when the past mistakes are gone

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by wiggin View Post
    It falls very roughly under their 'neuroscience and cognition' category, which is one of the four basic focus areas. It was part of a special issue looking at the neurocognitive basis for political positions. Frankly, I think the categorization makes a key error (also replicated in this study), assuming that the 'cognitive disposition' of a person is fixed or predictive of political leanings and ideological attitudes, rather than the other way around. I do not think that biology is destiny when it comes to this sort of thing.
    You'd think the people would prefer to publish this in a psych journal for career reasons if nothing else. Assuming that was an option.

    I get suspicious when groundbreaking findings aren't published in top disciplinary journals.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    I mean, plenty of people undergo radical changes in their political outlook over their life, often in response to world events or changes in their life circumstances, something which this idea that people are just hardwired to be either conservative or liberal is powerless to explain.
    Look what happened to Dread. Went from making fun of ron paul supporters, to possibly becoming one, to bordering on lewk behavior.
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  14. #14
    So .... became more stupid over time.
    Quote Originally Posted by Steely Glint View Post
    It's actually the original French billion, which is bi-million, which is a million to the power of 2. We adopted the word, and then they changed it, presumably as revenge for Crecy and Agincourt, and then the treasonous Americans adopted the new French usage and spread it all over the world. And now we have to use it.

    And that's Why I'm Voting Leave.

  15. #15
    On the flip side loki and fuzzy have both moved to the left and I'd say that was caused pretty equally by their aging into true adulthood and the party of the right going full blown retarded.
    "In a field where an overlooked bug could cost millions, you want people who will speak their minds, even if they’re sometimes obnoxious about it."

  16. #16
    I didn't move toward the left. What passes for the right in this country just went utterly and irreparably insane.
    Hope is the denial of reality

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Ominous Gamer View Post
    Look what happened to Dread. Went from making fun of ron paul supporters, to possibly becoming one, to bordering on lewk behavior.
    Disgracing yourself through increasingly desperate attempts to own your partner's friends and siblings because they annoy you is a natural stage of the human male life cycle and there's no need to pathologize it
    “Humanity's greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.”
    — Bill Gates

  18. #18
    I'm looking at the study and unless I'm interpreting this wrong, the effect of something like conservatism is 2/10 of a standard deviation...

    See Figure 4: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/d...RSTB20200424F4
    Hope is the denial of reality

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