Jonathan Weiler - Authoritarians Versus Reality

November 21, 2011

Host: Chris Mooney

Our guest this week is Jonathan Weiler, a political scientist and director of global studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Weiler is co-author, with Marc Hetherington of Vanderbilt, of the book Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics.

In it, they describes this strange and troubling creature called an authoritarian—usually conservative, usually a religious fundamentalist, and very closed minded.

Authoritarians are identified in surveys by asking people some very simple questions about the qualities that children should have: Whether they should be "independent," for instance, rather than showing respect for their elders. (See here.)

Based on this measure, Weiler and Hetherington show not only that the U.S. is full of authoritarians—but also how people with this psychological profile are driving our political polarization, as well as the divide over factual reality in the U.S

Weiler also writes regularly for the Huffington Post.

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics Marc J. Hetherington, Jonathan D. Weiler

Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

Looking forward to this.  The authoritarian lens is a very interesting way to look at contemporary political polarization and identity politics.  I just wrote a small blog post on the subject.  So much of the time, the arguments we think we are making through reason, logic or fact, are coming as much from a place of personal identity.  I think understanding this helps see the bias.  But there is also something particular to the authoritarian mindset that seems not to be allergic to this kind of introspection.  There is a certain circularity to authoritarian traditionalism that actively resists the other, the outside - including one’s own “other”, the process of meta-analysis itself.

Posted on Nov 21, 2011 at 8:59pm by vidoqo Comment #1

Two self-satisfied libs fluffing themselves does not make for a compelling podcast.

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 at 12:56pm by lpointmpoint Comment #2

Neither does a comment without substance make for a compelling post.

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 at 6:58pm by vidoqo Comment #3

I enjoyed this discussion, but having read Bob Altemeyer’s book: “The Authoritarians”, I found myself wanting to hear a more in-depth analysis of the authoritarian nature of the Tea Party, the Republicans and the current deadlock in the US government.  About 23 minutes in, Chris Mooney points out that while the Tea Party has a strongly authoritarian streak, their advocacy of “less government” seems to contradict that.  Jonathan Weiler responds that this is somewhat of a puzzle but goes on to show how Sarah Palin’s mantra: “drill baby, drill” appealed to the authoritarian stance of the Tea Party.

Altemeyer’s book provides deep insight here.  Altemeyer distinguishes between authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders.  It is the authoritarian followers who seek simple answers to complex questions and who put too much faith in their leaders.  But these people are often lead by persons with quite different personalities, the authoritarian leaders, who are the opportunistic and manipulative types we now see so prominently on the right, such as most of the Republican presidential candidates as well as Palin.  These leaders give their followers the simple answers they crave.  Further, Altemeyer’s research shows that authoritarian followers, as compared to the norm, are more likely to make logical errors when a line of reasoning contradicts their beliefs.  Perhaps not surprisingly, authoritarian followers are also more able than the average person to comfortably hold contradictory beliefs.  So, in this light, it is not so surprising that Tea Partiers want strong authoritarian leadership, but also want “less government”.  They can’t see that while they support the Constitution, with less government, the Constitution will be less important.  Lurking behind this argument over the size of government is the authoritarianism of corporate America.  While a democratic government is at least potentially answerable to its citizens, corporations are by their nature, private autocracies and are only answerable to their shareholders (often other corporations.).  So by advocating for greater “economic freedom” and “smaller government”, the result is likely to be less personal freedom and less democracy.

I would love to see Point of Inquiry do an interview with Prof. Altemeyer.  Chris Mooney seemed to be familiar with his work. His online book is here: http://home.cc.umanitoba.ca/~altemey/

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 at 9:00pm by delphi Comment #4

If lpointmpoint has a point to make in Comment #2, it might be that this subject matter is often presented in such a way that liberals appear to be a superior branch of humanity, if we associate them with non-authoritarians.  A liberal will naturally think this is true and so won’t go out of his way to point out any drawbacks with this personality temperament.  This is likely to offend conservatives and increase their skepticism of science as a liberal domain.

Posted on Nov 22, 2011 at 10:12pm by Taylor Comment #5

Well said, Taylor.  That is exactly what I was trying to communicate.  I’m most used to the tweet-like format of yahoo posts.  This is obviously a more considered venue.  Let me expand on what I heard.  Not what was said, mind you.  That is an objective matter of record.  But rather what I heard when it was filtered and shaped by my values and biases.  I heard name calling dressed up as science.  Apparently the data didn’t say much of anything because the speaker was loath to make definitive, testable claims.  Liberals were lauded for seeing complexity in the world.  Former President Jimmy Carter must be a paragon in this regard.  But what if you have an organizing principal?  Perhaps - there is no right to free stuff.  Now the data that is so confusing and nuanced to liberals becomes transparent and ordered.  Occupy (fill in the blank) is a bunch of spoiled white kids who want free stuff.  Disparate data all ‘fits’ within an ordered framework.  There is clarity.  Let’s extend the ‘organizing principal’ to your own work environment.  Do you have a co-worker who is very busy, flitting from one emergency to another?  There is no planning, no order, no priorities.  Just a wave of incoming data and a vacuum that ‘emergencies’ fill.  Your co-worker is busy, but not productive.  Compare that co-worker to another who has a clear plan.  The wave of data is transformed into information which can be compared to existing priorities.  There are very few emergencies and this quiet co-worker, who has plenty of time to speak to you by the way, is actually productive.  Are we to cheer the gadfly for seeing complexity in the world?

Also, please disabuse yourself of the notion that atheist means left wing.  Would you say that if someone doesn’t believe in Humpty Dumpty that they are left wing?  Is there any difference between Humpty Dumpty and any of the 3000* Gods man has created so far?  I know I don’t fit that stereotype and I believe the same is true of Michael Shermer. 

*Google ‘list of gods’

Posted on Nov 23, 2011 at 2:09am by lpointmpoint Comment #6

If lpointmpoint has a point to make in Comment #2, it might be that this subject matter is often presented in such a way that liberals appear to be a superior branch of humanity, if we associate them with non-authoritarians.  A liberal will naturally think this is true and so won’t go out of his way to point out any drawbacks with this personality temperament.

The Devil in this little detail is that it doesn’t always follow that “Liberal” is the same thing as “Non-authoritarian” as anybody who has lived under the old and surviving Communist systems can attest. Both of these “sides” have their share of people who use identify themselves by the liberal or conservative lable, but who think that dictatorships are a good idea.

Heinlein nailed it in The Notebooks of Lazarus Long when he wrote “Political tags—such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth—are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. The former are idealists acting from highest motives for the greatest good of the greatest number. The latter are surly curmudgeons, suspicious and lacking in altruism. But they are more comfortable neighbors than the other sort.”

Posted on Nov 23, 2011 at 6:43am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #7

Wow.  This is one of the best expositions of the scientific world view I’ve heard in a long time.

It raised an interesting question for me which I’ve not seen explored scientifically anywhere yet. 

Why are Christians mostly not running amok? 

Catholics can always confess their sins and be absolved of anything from theft to child rape and murder, so what stops most of them doing this on a regular basis…. i.e. give in to whatever base impulses they may have and then confess and be absolved?  I know one person who is in some weird religious fundamentalist sect which holds that the one and only thing which is required to get into heaven is to accept Jesus as your lord and saviour.  I flat out asked him if Hitler could have availed himself of this get out of hell free card and his answer was “yes”.  I didn’t ask him why he didn’t kill his wife and kids for the insurance money when he tired of living with them since he could still go to heaven by judicious use of that card in the last minutes of a completely amoral, hedonistic life—for fear of endangering his family, but it remains a question for me.  I know there are some Christian terrorists who take the bible too literally and do act on what they believe it instructs them to do, but these are in a small minority. 

Why is that?  More to the point, how do they explain that to themselves? As Weiler points out, there is nothing special about human pro-social behaviour. It is present in all social animals, but how do the self-proclaimed believers in the holy books explain it in terms of their beliefs?

Obviously, Christian dogma, (and perhaps even less so Muslim dogma), does not really provide much of a push toward a moral life.  The biggest crime to a muslim or a devout christian is to question their respective religious dogma.  Murder, torture, genocide, human sacrifice are all minor pecadillos compared to that and are easily forgiven and in some cases even encouraged.

Posted on Nov 23, 2011 at 10:34am by ullrich Comment #8

He was asked why many authoritarians paradoxically also hate the government and want less of it, but for some reason he didn’t answer the question. That’s a shame, because this was by far the most interesting question. 

My answer is the one that leftists always give. So-called anti-government authoritarians are really not anti-government at all. They are against government spending on things like welfare, education and health care, but they think it’s fine when it comes to things like the police and the military. So this kind of authoritarian isn’t really against the state/government, only certain aspects of it.

Now, as for those libertarians who really are against both the welfare state and the warfare state and really do want a much smaller state, I guess we’d have to get into a much more complicated discussion about whether they really are authoritarians and in what way.

Also, I’m a bit suspicious of this notion of the authoritarian personality, someone who thinks that all authority is to be blindly obeyed no matter what. I just don’t think there are such people, or at least not many of them. Your hardcore conservative fundamentalist Christian certainly doesn’t think that all authority figures (church leaders, government officials, parents etc) are to be blindly obeyed.

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 4:10am by Dom1978 Comment #9

He was asked why many authoritarians paradoxically also hate the government and want less of it, but for some reason he didn’t answer the question. That’s a shame, because this was by far the most interesting question. 

Quite the paradox, isn’t it???

I think you’ll find that the reasons for this have nothing to do with whatever “side” they pay lip service to. Right wing or left wing, it doesn’t matter. What’s key is that authoritarians love to be the ones who give the orders but don’t want to be the ones who end up taking the orders.

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 10:13am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #10

What’s key is that authoritarians love to be the ones who give the orders but don’t want to be the ones who end up taking the orders.

Or:  Reducing the Federal Government is a key to creating a more authoritarian local government, without the burdensome Bill of Rights, Supreme Court, or Civil Rights Act.

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:10am by Taylor Comment #11

Great podcast, not so convinced by the conclusion though. Living in Canada, the election was a historical shift in terms of voters alignment. The Conservative Party traditionally appealed to white rural voters from Alberta and immigrants would typically go for the Liberal Party seen as more open to diversity.  But in the last election, the Conservative Party won a majority government thanks to urban immigrant communities who see their values better represented by the conservative message.  Could this be a sign of what’s coming for the Republican party as well, or is Canada just too left wing a country?

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:00pm by Nicolas Comment #12

He was asked why many authoritarians paradoxically also hate the government and want less of it, but for some reason he didn’t answer the question. That’s a shame, because this was by far the most interesting question. 

Quite the paradox, isn’t it???

I think you’ll find that the reasons for this have nothing to do with whatever “side” they pay lip service to. Right wing or left wing, it doesn’t matter. What’s key is that authoritarians love to be the ones who give the orders but don’t want to be the ones who end up taking the orders.

They like the army. They don’t like redistributive programs like social security.

Posted on Nov 25, 2011 at 11:04pm by Nicolas Comment #13

What is this now, like the 47th podcast that has flayed the Right and given a pass to the Left?

After listening to seveal of these podcasts, it is now clear that the leftwing agenda is now no longer even hidden or that nuanced.  Thsi podcast used to be about science and psudo-science, now it is nothing more that a mouth piece for the Leftist agenda

Right wing means teaparty, relgious nuts that want to make people worship God, and take away other right.

Whereas the Left only wants freedom and what is “good” for us.

Well guys.  The Left in this country has passed the most authorian set of laws to ever be concieved. Literally taking control of out basic human rights and handing it off to a huge bloated government structure.  That is the right to life and to freely choose.
Obamacare forces us to buy insurance or suffer, the EPA has ruled that our very breath is now a gas that they must “control” for our good.
These are the kind of things that Stalin, Hitler and Honecker in their deepest dreams could not even conceive of.


“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.”—C.S. Lewis—

“The only freedom which deserves the name is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it. Each is the proper guardian of his own health, whether bodily, or mental and spiritual. Mankind are greater gainers by suffering each other to live as seems good to themselves, than by compelling each to live as seems good to the rest.”—John Stuart Mill—

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 7:35am by Old Hoplite Comment #14

Also, please disabuse yourself of the notion that atheist means left wing.  Would you say that if someone doesn’t believe in Humpty Dumpty that they are left wing?  Is there any difference between Humpty Dumpty and any of the 3000* Gods man has created so far?  I know I don’t fit that stereotype and I believe the same is true of Michael Shermer. 

*Google ‘list of gods’

Absolutely spot on, Ayn Rand was a atheist, yet no one could accuse re of being a leftist.

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 7:39am by Old Hoplite Comment #15

Also, please disabuse yourself of the notion that atheist means left wing.  Would you say that if someone doesn’t believe in Humpty Dumpty that they are left wing?  Is there any difference between Humpty Dumpty and any of the 3000* Gods man has created so far?  I know I don’t fit that stereotype and I believe the same is true of Michael Shermer. 

*Google ‘list of gods’

Absolutely spot on, Ayn Rand was a atheist, yet no one could accuse re of being a leftist.

Rand’s world view, despite its deficiencies, shows signs of becoming a kind of alternative humanism for people on the American right who don’t care much for religion. A mainstream humanist could argue that Rand’s disdain of the common man disqualifies her as a humanist. But then why has Prometheus Books published works by philosopher Richard Taylor which also express contempt for the common man?

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 9:04am by AdvancedAtheist Comment #16

>>Or:  Reducing the Federal Government is a key to creating a more authoritarian local government, without the burdensome Bill of Rights, Supreme Court, or Civil Rights Act.<<

I don’t think so. Authoritarians can do all of the above without resorting to using local governments. In fact, if they have the muscle of the whole Federal system at their beck and call, doing away with things like The Bill Of Rights is a whole helluva lot easier.

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 10:16am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #17

I don’t think so. Authoritarians can do all of the above without resorting to using local governments.

If that were true, abortion would already be illegal throughout the country and evolution would be taught nowhere in the US.  These people have had much greater success subverting local governments because, I presume, they face less scrutiny than the Federal government and there aren’t powerful institutions that can mobilize against them.  Divide and conquer.  Only Federal level laws keep them in check.

Posted on Nov 26, 2011 at 11:28am by Taylor Comment #18

If that were true, abortion would already be illegal throughout the country and evolution would be taught nowhere in the US.

With all due respect, you’re putting the cart before the horse with this one.

Authoritarians are trying to do what you point out on a local level because they don’t have that sort of pull on the Federal. If they did, every ban they wanted to impose from water pistols and beer to abortion would have been a done deal by now.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 12:49pm by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #19

Authoritarians are trying to do what you point out on a local level because they don’t have that sort of pull on the Federal.

Exactly.  They’ve failed at the Federal level, but winning in the 50 States gives them everything they’ve ever wanted, if they can cripple Federal power.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 3:57pm by Taylor Comment #20

IMO, the tea partiers are people who want it both ways. They object to someone (feds) telling them what to do, but are personally unable to do what needs to be done.
If the debates by the Republican candidates are an indication of the consequences of what would happen if they came to power, god help us all!!!

Can you imagine a society of some 300 million people without:

•Department of Agriculture (USDA)
•Department of Education (ED)
•Department of Energy (DOE)
•Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
•Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
•Department of Justice (DOJ)
•Department of Labor (DOL)
•Department of State (DOS)
•Department of the Interior (DOI)
•Department of the Treasury

One candidate even wants to do away with Constitutionally mandated federal functions, i.e. Interstate Commerce:

•Department of Commerce (DOC)
•Department of Transportation (DOT)

And the greatest insult of all:

•Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 at 5:32pm by Write4U Comment #21

Exactly.  They’ve failed at the Federal level, but winning in the 50 States gives them everything they’ve ever wanted, if they can cripple Federal power.

I think we’re talking past each other here. I understand what these people are trying to do and why they’re doing it.

The POINT however is that if they controlled the Federal Government, they wouldn’t have to bother making the effort.

Posted on Nov 28, 2011 at 12:22am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #22

With regards to the actual podcast:
The author’s characterization of Communist governments as “conservative” sort of gives away the game. They’re conservative because they’re authoritarian and they’re authoritarian because they’re conservative. It is easy to arrive at your conclusion when you define your variables so.

Posted on Dec 01, 2011 at 4:25am by Charles Collom Comment #23

If communists in the former Soviet Union counted as right-wing authoritarians to Altemeyer, what did communists in the United States of an authoritarian mindset, supporting the Soviet Union, count as?  Both right-wing with respect to the Soviet Union and left-wing with respect to the U.S.?

I wonder to what extent the thesis of motivated reasoning/authoritarian reasoning contributes to the success of conspiracy theory, creationism/intelligent design, AGW denial, etc., in the following way:  it seems to me that it is often the case that advocates of these views are better informed about the details of relevant theory and evidence than most of the people they end up clashing with, which they find as confirmation of their views’ correctness.  The genuine experts consider them crackpots and refuse to engage, which they also find as confirmation of their views’ correctness.  Their most common critics don’t know the details of their crackpot theories and how to refute them, which they also find as confirmation of their views’ correctness.

To the extent that labeling their views as “motivated reasoning” or the product of an authoritarian mindset is used as an excuse to avoid investigating and rebutting the details of their claims, it is potentially counterproductive in persuading them (or inoculating others from such views)—as well as itself an example of motivated reasoning to avoid contact with potential counter-arguments and evidence.

Posted on Dec 01, 2011 at 10:38am by Jim Lippard Comment #24

First post here, thought I’m active on both the JREF and SGU Forums.

I was considering writing this as a private message to Chris Mooney, but I don’t see any harm it posting my concerns publicly.

Point of Inquiry is one of a handful of skeptical podcasts I listen to. I have been perceiving a gradual politicization of the podcast, to what I feel is its detriment.

I am an atheist. I am a conservative. I am a Republican.

I don’t see why a skeptical podcast has to become so political. I just listened to the podcast that’s the topic of this thread, and came away with two observations:

1) Chris tried repeatedly to get his guest to come to conclusions beyond the scope of his study. While the guest was linking political stance and authoritarianism, Chris tried to get him to come to more sweeping conclusions which would reinforce Chris’ beliefs about the right in general. I think bias like this harms the quality of the interview and the show in general.

2) Chris seemed flummoxed about how those racist Tea Partiers, you know, the ones who call Obama a socialist and question his country of birth, how they can be so racist and still get behind Herman Cain? Wow! Might one obvious answer be that for the most part, the Tea Party is not racist, and the concerns of its members have a different genesis? Of course there are some racists in the Tea Party - there are racist everywhere, and on the right and the left.

I really hope Chris can get a handle on his political bias and attempt to keep it out of the shows. I stopped watching Chris Matthews a couple of years back when he became too biased. I’d hate to have to swear off of this podcast as well, but I will if it continues down this path.

Posted on Dec 02, 2011 at 8:04am by FastEddieB Comment #25

First post here, thought I’m active on both the JREF and SGU Forums.

I was considering writing this as a private message to Chris Mooney, but I don’t see any harm it posting my concerns publicly.

Point of Inquiry is one of a handful of skeptical podcasts I listen to. I have been perceiving a gradual politicization of the podcast, to what I feel is its detriment.

I am an atheist. I am a conservative. I am a Republican.

I don’t see why a skeptical podcast has to become so political. I just listened to the podcast that’s the topic of this thread, and came away with two observations:

1) Chris tried repeatedly to get his guest to come to conclusions beyond the scope of his study. While the guest was linking political stance and authoritarianism, Chris tried to get him to come to more sweeping conclusions which would reinforce Chris’ beliefs about the right in general. I think bias like this harms the quality of the interview and the show in general.

2) Chris seemed flummoxed about how those racist Tea Partiers, you know, the ones who call Obama a socialist and question his country of birth, how they can be so racist and still get behind Herman Cain? Wow! Might one obvious answer be that for the most part, the Tea Party is not racist, and the concerns of its members have a different genesis? Of course there are some racists in the Tea Party - there are racist everywhere, and on the right and the left.

I really hope Chris can get a handle on his political bias and attempt to keep it out of the shows. I stopped watching Chris Matthews a couple of years back when he became too biased. I’d hate to have to swear off of this podcast as well, but I will if it continues down this path.

And you would start listening to Fox?  It is unavoidable that politics enter the discussion, it is the overriding political topic of the entire nation. The Tea Partiers are political motivated, no? That the skeptical community is discussion this with some passion and urgency is a good thing. Else no one would listen to these dry intelligencia who live in ivory towers. Witness the current crop of republican candidates, who appear to be living in imaginary bubbles.

I am glad that you decided to post to the general forum.
You sound very intelligent and you make a good points, but to consider dropping the only non-biased forum where the issues are actually debated from different perspectives seems self defeatig. At least here you do have a serious, generally well informed audience which tries to skeptically analyze what is being advanced by a variety of guest speakers.

Posted on Dec 02, 2011 at 2:54pm by Write4U Comment #26

And you would start listening to Fox?

I no longer do. I listened to Rush Limbaugh on my car radio for years, and even watched his TV show for the short time it was on. I used to watch Chris Matthews on Hardball every day, followed later in the day by Bill O’Reilly. Watched Crossfire when it was on. And the TV would be on Fox News or CNN in the background all the time.

A couple years ago I went “cold turkey” on the news. Now my wife and I just watch the NBC Nightly News, and I tune in Meet The Press on Sundays.

It is unavoidable that politics enter the discussion, it is the overriding political topic of the entire nation. The Tea Partiers are political motivated, no? That the skeptical community is discussion this with some passion and urgency is a good thing.

Of course. Discussion is good. Blatant bias by a podcast host not so much.

Witness the current crop of republican candidates, who appear to be living in imaginary bubbles.

Suppose I paraphrase: “Witness the current president, who appears to be living in an imaginary bubble”. I think I could make a case for that, but does it really move the discussion forward?

You sound very intelligent and you make a good points, but to consider dropping the only non-biased forum where the issues are actually debated from different perspectives seems self defeating. At least here you do have a serious, generally well informed audience which tries to skeptically analyze what is being advanced by a variety of guest speakers.

Thank you. I’m not really addressing the qualities and the perspectives of this forum - I just joined and don’t have a handle on that yet. My point was that it was difficult for me to listen to a supposedly skeptical podcast, where the host seems to feel Republican=Conservative=Religious=Fundamentalist=Anti-Science=Racist. He’s written a book on anti-science Republicans, so his stance should come as no surprise. I just think he’d be a better podcast host if he could at least attempt to keep a lid on his biases for the duration of the podcast.

Posted on Dec 03, 2011 at 4:50am by FastEddieB Comment #27

Fair enough, though I would recommend looking at MSNBC for accurate reporting even though it has a liberal bias. At least the facts are accurate, backed by evidence. Hardball is still on MSNBC, but has been joined by some knowledgeable heavies, who do not shy away from exposing the truth, even if it is critical of Obama. At least they don’t try to assasinate the character of candidates and people in the news, unless of course they do so themselves. The recent crop of republican candidates are in the class of Beavis and Butthead.

Posted on Dec 03, 2011 at 7:10am by Write4U Comment #28

Fair enough, though I would recommend looking at MSNBC for accurate reporting even though it has a liberal bias.

Thought you might be interested in a letter I sent to MSNBC some time back:

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Dear Hardball,

I’ve attempted to watch Hardball with Chris Matthews pretty much every day for many, many years, either recording it for later viewing or listening to it on satellite radio (when available). I also recorded the Chris Matthews Show every week for later viewing.

I’m somewhat conservative, but always found his point of view interesting. But recently Matthews has drifted further and further left, and has left me behind.

First, it was denigrating the Tea Party as “tea-baggers” and heaping derision on them whenever possible.

Second, it was his attacking Sarah Palin for giving speeches written by someone else. This from someone who was formerly a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter.

Now, this exchange from the May 3 Hardball, regarding the Times Square attempted bombing:

MATTHEWS: Well, two questions. First of all, how do you rule out just a right-wing attack by somebody on the right who‘s mad at the establishment? How do you know for sure it‘s not an American versus America situation here?

CRESSEY (NBC News terrorist analyst): Oh, you don‘t. And you could easily find out that this wasn’t someone who was—either had a right-wing agenda or was mentally disturbed or had other things that were driving—driving it. My caution on a—on the right-wing extremists is that, typically, they go after symbols of authority, symbols of power. Times Square is a symbol of American culture, American society.

Why right-wing? Hasn’t as much violence been propagated by left-wing, or even anarchist groups/individuals? Not to mention the obvious first choice, Muslim terrorism, which again turned out to be the case.

Anyway, goodbye Chris - its been fun.

_____________________
Ed Benson
Mineral Bluff, GA

Posted on Dec 03, 2011 at 7:17am by FastEddieB Comment #29

The recent crop of republican candidates are in the class of Beavis and Butthead.

And our current president is in the class of…

...no, I won’t go there.

Posted on Dec 03, 2011 at 7:19am by FastEddieB Comment #30

The recent crop of republican candidates are in the class of Beavis and Butthead.

And our current president is in the class of…

...no, I won’t go there.

Do some study on what he has done, and you might be surprised. Listening to the shrill lies and soundbites from people who vowed to bring him down from day one is not critical analysis of his performance.
Trust me on this, please. 

See here and make sure you check out what he has accomplished in spite of opposition which borders on sedition.

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/

and make sure you also check this from his opposition

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/rulings/pants-fire/

While he has not been able to accomplish all his stated goals, it seems to me that on the whole he has done extremely well under the circumstance.  Please be fair.

A president does not create jobs, that is done by the private sector. But his current plan for stimulating job creation and the resulting stimulus to the economy is being stonewalled by the republicans for all the wrong reasons.

Posted on Dec 03, 2011 at 7:34am by Write4U Comment #31

I am a bit behind on my PoI podcasts and am catching up and just got around to this one. I agree with those who are troubled with the left wing bent of this and many other episodes of recent. I am a live and let live agnostic and a libertarian and agree with the right and left frequently as well as disagree with them.
I found this episode particularly troubling due to the loose use of the word “fear.” Here “fear” is used as a general term, but fear is pretty much always a reaction to something (as opposed to anxiety as a psychological disorder); it has a cause. Fear of terrorism, fear of homosexuals, fear of government intervention, these are all specific fears that tend to manifest themselves on the right politically. However to state these fears specifically makes the argument that the right is motivated by fear—as a general way of solving problems—harder to maintain. I could just as easily come up with a list of fears that the left uses politically: fear of climate change, fear of the 1%, even fear of those practicing “the politics of fear.” However, I am sure that many of those on the left would caveat them as “justified” fears. As such it’s simply just a matter of competing worldviews.
I think that the left has come up with a narrative that those on the right are practicing the politics of fear and it helps them comfort themselves and justify their own beliefs as the product of rationality. It allows them to explain away other viewpoints without ever having to confront them on facts. But it ignores the fact that even they are mere human beings driven by emotions and with a limited amount of knowledge about the world around them.
Often when Chris talks about his interest in the right it comes across as condescending. In this Chris presupposes their wrongness. He tries to figure out why anyone would want to hold a wrong viewpoint rather than trying to figure out how different people can come to different conclusions and having a respect for that process. It is entirely possible to hold a set of views and try to convince others of your views while still having respect for those who hold different views. I do not pick that up from Chris.
To me, what’s most troubling about these types of podcasts is the lack of introspection. They’re aimed at explaining away the behavior of opponents, but without using the same tools to examine those on the same side. It’s as if the point of these podcasts is to avoid giving the listeners tools to come to better conclusions, but instead give them arguments to dig their heels in on their correctness of their existing arguments. They are anti-introspective.
The Point of Inquiry podcasts that I enjoy are the ones that give an explanation of all human behavior (or even specific applications of our behavior) or giving critiques of specific pseudioscientific and religious movements. Some of the episodes I think exemplify this are the Scott Atran episode on terrorism and the Jonathan Kay episode on truthers. I hope to see fewer right bashing episodes and more of the type I mentioned.

Posted on Dec 09, 2011 at 10:38am by Lando Comment #32

Well guys.  The Left in this country has passed the most authorian set of laws to ever be concieved.

Do you mean the Alien And Sedition Acts?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_and_sedition_act

Posted on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:10am by TromboneAndrew Comment #33

While I’m at it, this thread seems to be a good example of a bunch of people flinging the terms “right” and “left” around like they’re easy real estate.

Please.

Let’s throw out these bigoted terms and talk about what matters: what is correct and what is not correct. Complaining about left-wing bias and right-wing bias doesn’t really get anyone any closer to understanding what the hell is good and bad about anything we’re talking about; it just confuses the issue. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about whether any argument is right or left biased, as long as it is correct.

Posted on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:16am by TromboneAndrew Comment #34

This thread is about an episode that talks about left and right and many of the complaints of the bias center around whether or not said bias gives an accurate portrayal of the truth.

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 at 12:48pm by Lando Comment #35

If communists in the former Soviet Union counted as right-wing authoritarians to Altemeyer, what did communists in the United States of an authoritarian mindset, supporting the Soviet Union, count as?  Both right-wing with respect to the Soviet Union and left-wing with respect to the U.S.?

Altemeyer’s right/left distinction is with respect to the individual’s “in-group” and “power/authority group.” For Altemeyer, people are right-wing if these “followers have personalities featuring:
1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in
their society;
2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.
Because the submission occurs to traditional authority, I call these followers right-wing authoritarians.” - “The Authoritarians” p. 9.

Left-wingers are members of the group that’s against the establishment. So, in the US, a (politically) left-wing authoritarian would be a member of the SLA, the SDS, the Weathermen, etc. In the Soviet Union a (politically) left-wing authoritarian would be someone who was a member of a group which was trying to usurp the power of the Communist Party. Right-wing authoritarians were those people who spied on their neighbors and reported “subversive activities.”

So, for Altemeyer, hard-core communists in the Soviet Union were right-wing authoritarians.

” But someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger. So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics.”  - “The Authoritarians” p. 9

Posted on Jun 25, 2012 at 4:05pm by gwcape Comment #36

As usual they can’t wait to call conservatives racist, which is ironic since liberals are the ones who divide people by race. The fantasy that the republican party is the party of old white men is fading fast.

Posted on Sep 04, 2012 at 7:54pm by KenMacMillan Comment #37

As usual they can’t wait to call conservatives racist, which is ironic since liberals are the ones who divide people by race. The fantasy that the republican party is the party of old white men is fading fast.

Not for Joe Biden…

Biden was addressing a rally crowd in Danville, Va., on Tuesday that included hundreds of black people. He said Romney wants to get rid of new Wall Street regulations Obama signed into law after the financial collapse of 2008.

Said Biden: “Unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put y’all back in chains.”

Posted on Sep 05, 2012 at 3:35am by FastEddieB Comment #38

Wait…

....I’ve been informed he meant “economic chains”.

My bad.

I don’t know how I possibly could have jumped to this…

http://www.cutbit.com/uploads/201203/Slavery.jpg#black slaves 468x313

Posted on Sep 05, 2012 at 3:36am by FastEddieB Comment #39