With so many articles out there last week preparing people for the horror of having to talk to their “crazy Republican uncle” over Thanksgiving dinner, this announcement seems to have come a bit late. Wouldn’t it have been easier to simply “cure” your uncle in time for the big feast by converting him to liberalism? That sounds crazy, I’m sure, but perhaps… crazy like a fox.
Enter the brain trust at Yale. They’ve been hard at work figuring out the mysteries of the human brain. One result of these efforts is the discovery that they were able to turn conservatives into liberals using nothing more than a simple experiment involving, “an intense imagination exercise” prior to answering some basic survey questions about social issues including gay rights, abortion, feminism and immigration. (Washington Post)
But before they answered the survey questions, we had them engage in an intense imagination exercise. They were asked to close their eyes and richly imagine being visited by a genie who granted them a superpower. For half of our participants, this superpower was to be able to fly, under one’s own power. For the other half, it was to be completely physically safe, invulnerable to any harm.
If they had just imagined being able to fly, their responses to the social attitude survey showed the usual clear difference between Republicans and Democrats — the former endorsed more conservative positions on social issues and were also more resistant to social change in general.
But if they had instead just imagined being completely physically safe, the Republicans became significantly more liberal — their positions on social attitudes were much more like the Democratic respondents. And on the issue of social change in general, the Republicans’ attitudes were now indistinguishable from the Democrats. Imagining being completely safe from physical harm had done what no experiment had done before — it had turned conservatives into liberals.
And you wonder why people are increasingly turned off by institutes of higher education. This sort of pseudoscience doesn’t require a post-graduate degree to pick apart. Yale’s starting premise is that people who feel “unsafe” (or afraid) are more likely to adopt conservative viewpoints. They base this on a belief that people who dwell on, “the dangers of terrorism and immigration” are most likely to be afraid of immigrants and thereby adopt conservative positions on immigration and border security. As usual, this is labeled as being anti-immigrant in the usual fashion of what passes for leftist analysis.
The conflation of immigration with illegal immigration is a hallmark of Democratic political speeches, not cognitive neuroscience. The study’s authors stretch the analogy from there, referencing a previous study conducted in 2011. In that episode, they reminded people about the spread of the H1N1 flu epidemic, asking participants if they’d had a flu shot. They then asked them all about immigration issues, claiming that those who had been vaccinated had more favorable views on immigration.
Putting unrelated information into the minds of survey participants prior to asking questions has a different name in political circles. It’s known as a push poll. Rather than getting an accurate impression of a person’s opinions, you’re poisoning the well in advance to sway their feelings. It’s also little more than a temporary effect. With that in mind, I would suggest that Yale stop attempting to “cure” conservatism as if it were some sort of disease. This report appears to be little more than a phony attempt to festoon some bits of science onto a liberal, open borders manifesto.
Or, if they insist on traipsing down this particular path, I would suggest assembling a similar group of test subjects and showing them all a picture of Kate Steinle, followed by some grisly scenes of the handiwork of MS-13. Then ask them all about their feelings on immigration issues being sure to include the word “illegal.” Get back to us after you see how that works out. Who knows? You might even cure some liberals for a little while.