You gotta be nuts to vote for Bush!

You know that Bush-apologists say crazy things. They get cited, chastized and mocked for it every day on the liberal blogs, after all. You may have also wandered, by mistake, onto comment threads on Little Green Foodballs, or The Corner, or other nasty Right-wing blogs and suspected that those people are not really ‘all there’. And you may be aware that there is actually quite a large body of scientific evidence that Conservatives are Crazy and Dangerous, er, that conservative/authoritarian ideology correlates strongly with a number of (environmentally induced, i.e., through upbringing and socialization) traits usually associated with at least deep emotional problems if not outright mental ilness. Bulk of that literature has been reviewed and meta-analyzed in these two nifty papers:
Conservatism As Motivated Social Cognition (pdf)
Exceptions That Prove the Rule–Using a Theory of Motivated Social Cognition to Account for Ideological Incongruities and Political Anomalies: Reply to Greenberg and Jonas (2003) (pdf)
The research did not stop in 2003, and new studies have cropped up here and there, e.g., this, this and this.
Still, most of those studies involved analysis of more-or-less normally functioning people, free to roam around, work, have families, run for office, or preach in church. Today, however, Archy discovered a brand new study of real psychiatric patients (OK, outpatients, but still):
Are George W. Bush lovers certifiable?:

A collective “I told you so” will ripple through the world of Bush-bashers once news of Christopher Lohse’s study gets out.
Lohse, a social work master’s student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.
Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohse’s study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a person’s psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.
But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohse’s explanation.
“Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader,” Lohse says. “If your world is very mixed up, there’s something very comforting about someone telling you, ‘This is how it’s going to be.'”

And before you start weaving conspiracy theories about ‘liberal academia’, the findings emerged from data-mining and were not the reason the study was performed in the first place. Furthermore, the author is no flaming liberal:

For his part, Lohse is a self-described “Reagan revolution fanatic” but said that W. is just “beyond the pale.”

Update: As expected, many liberal bloggers took the press report of the study at face value. I hope you did not think I did – my point was to place it in the context of previous studies, alert teh blogosphere to its existence, and provoke a discussion hoping that, once the actual paper comes out we can get the opportunity to dissect it. Nobody has seen the actual study yet, so we cannot say if it is any good or not (although it is consistent with previous research) until it is released. Orac has already written some criticisms of the study from what it could be gleaned from the news article, although I think it is premature at this point. We can use his post as a guideline what to look for once the paper becomes accessible, though.

8 responses to “You gotta be nuts to vote for Bush!

  1. =LOL= I’ve wondered for years how long it would be until science came up with real evience of something I’ve known ever since I was a kid…..

  2. For some other research related to all this, see the the Whitehall Studies, which show that hierarchy kills. Literally.

  3. Did he only analyze 2004? Is there a possibility that more psychotic people simply tend to vote for the incumbent?

  4. Of course, there is a rather large difference between “a small sample of psychotics split 60/40 for a particular candidate” and “Conservatives are crazy and dangerous”. Let’s wait for this grad students paper to actually be available and then talk. If it is as flimsy as the rest of the ‘evidence’, it will make for fine 4/1/2007 writing.

  5. “Nobody has seen the actual study yet, so we cannot say if it is any good or not …”
    Yet you found this newsworthy enough to title your posting ‘You gotta be nuts to vote for Bush!’?
    “… (although it is consistent with previous research) …”
    How could one conclude even this much if the study has not yet been published?

  6. Actually, I noticed something and edited my post Bora linked to accordingly. This passage from tne news story Bora cites is actually pretty hilarious:

    Rakfeldt says the study was legitimate, though not intended to show what it did.
    “Yes it was a legitimate study but these data were mined after the fact,” Rakfeldt says. “You can ask new questions of the data. I haven’t looked at” Lohse’s conclusions regarding Bush, Rakfeldt says.
    “That doesn’t make it illegitimate, it just wasn’t part of the original project.”

    In other words, Lohse’s thesis advisor is basically admitting that he hasn’t even looked at Lohse’s conclusions about a correlation between psychosis and voting for Bush.
    If Lohse were my graduate student, I’d have slapped him down hard for publicizing his new conclusions before I had had a chance to look at them in detail and decide whether I thought they were a scientifically valid extension of his original thesis work. After all, my reputation would be on the line as much as his. I might even boot him from my lab. Ask yourself, Bora, what would your thesis advisor do if you started blabbing to the press about work that you did that he hadn’t looked at and approved yet?
    There’s more than enough information in the article to conclude that this study is almost certainly a huge, steaming piece of poo. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s never published because Rakfeldt decides he doesn’t want to risk his reputation on it.

  7. As I say, you may end up being correct. This does not disqualify previous studies (linking to which was the real purpose of this post) with a similar conclusion.

  8. Man, do I regret being busy *now*!
    So, Bora, you basically admit that you used a pejorative phrase (many people with mental illnesses find ‘nuts’ insulting) in a slanderous manner (see – the title of this post) when referring to unpublished, unreviewed work as a means of linking to *other* studies that you claim support your theory that people who disagree with you are mentally deficient?
    Now, just who is it that you often claim exaggerates, obfuscates, and lies to make emotional points?
    Further, if you go back through your comments, you’ll find I’ve been asking you to respond to serious scientific studies and critiques that show the studies you claim “prove” that “the Other” is crazy are shoddy, biased, or both… and you have usually only said ‘nuh-uh’.