Sunday, December 19, 2010

Leaders, Followers, and Chance

Just a little post here. (Thought I had disappeared didn't you.)
ADHD takes a lot to live with sometimes even as you get older. In fact the AD part is worse and the memory slows at the same time.
Jumping from one thought and investigation to another yet not forgetting any of my “great ideas”, is a crazy maker. Yet I cannot always remember the why of the "great ideas".
Now add in “life gets in the way” and you have me.
Which brings me to these thoughts.
While reading a short article on genetics, leaders, and followers recently, I read what I think is most of the truth of it all.
Basically it is this: genetics, early environment, and chance can make all the difference. I think especially for leaders chance is important. Chance may not be the right word. Perhaps I should say an occurrence that allows or forces one to lead. For some the society in which they live can be an obstruction to leadership. Gender, and or youth for example in some societies can force a “born” leader to become a follower. Remember, for instance, the old sayings about the “woman behind the man”. (best example I can think of).
Note I wrote “most of the truth”.
I guess you can lump many other influences in the above words, genetics, early environment, and chance. I was thinking of birth order or being an only child.
Anyway, it was a pretty good article and I have lost the reference. However, this is very similar:
Link here

So here ya go a little post for what it is worth.

Hope your “holidays” are good and happy.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I was checking Thomasthis morning and read his post on Voting or Not. I believe it was dated October 4.
So I decided to post a little thought I had on the same subject.

I will definitely vote. Why?
I must vote. Why?

In particular where I live the alternative is nothing but bad news.
My vote may not make a difference but I am sure there are many that feel the same way.
Thus, the expected low "left" turnout.

Of course here in MO we have more on which to vote than the Senatorial seat. The propositions and "initiatives" are important also. Low "left" to higher "right" turnout means we will get or not get the "right" deciding for the whole state, again.

As a "lefty", I feel let down to an extent as do many. At the same time, I feel irritated at the ads coming from the "right". Mr. Rove is good at this stuff. He and his take the truth about where the unhappiness and the cynicism of "main street" came from and blatantly lie. They count on the short memory of people and the vengeance of the "right".
They use the Robert's Court decision that a corp is a person and all its implications to excellent advantage.
(What happened to the Constitutional Amendment declaring a Corp. is a business entity not a person? I hate talking about amending the Constitution, state or federal. But there are times.)

I could just sit here with my mouth hanging open once again but I grind my teeth and decide to fight back.
The only way I can fight back is to vote.

So I will definitely vote. I must vote.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Watch this video.

Don't think you can send someone else that will be any better.
The "I'm not an insider"s are INSIDERS.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Deficits and Military Spending

Just a quick post on war and economics.

Southern Beale wrotethis concerning the truth about some deficit hawks.

And try reading the full article concerning World Military spending. here
The article is both textual and visual, full of charts. This is an updated article and is one you may want to read and re-read. (I find I must read it in pieces to get full value from it. Getting old ya know.)

Now, tell me why am I cynical.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

From Great Expectations to Low

Here are some reasons for no posts in a long time: health issues, both emotional and physical; new pup in the house along with the elderly pup; too much heat and humidity.

But here is the really big reason: Cynicism.
From that follows Frustration.

a feeling of dissatisfaction, often accompanied by anxiety or depression, resulting from unfulfilled needs or unresolved problems.

(one definition)

Below are my exact feelings about my "fellow 'Murcans", mostly the ones here in the so-called heartland:

1, 3. Cynical, pessimistic, sarcastic, satirical imply holding a low opinion of humanity. Cynical suggests a disbelief in the sincerity of human motives


I am sure I'll get over it, again. But each time I go through this it takes longer to have great expectations or even positive expectations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Crows and Mulberries

Between the rain, coons, the opossum, crows, and other assorted critters; we don't have many mulberries left. I must confess to enjoying the visits from the crows.
Watching them come in to land on the tip, top, spindly branches of the tree, is an entertainment. The branches bend and waver under the weight of the large birds until you think the large birds will certainly fall. But those crows flutter and talk and they ride that branch while taking the fruits.

I want to share a little tale with you to explain my special affinity with the crow.

When I was very young my Dad brought home 3 baby crows for my two older siblings and I to raise. We fed them milk soaked bread first. We used toothpicks to get it in the gaping mouths. Then we added hamburger and slowly they ate mostly meat.
Then we started turning them loose. Two of them did quite well at learning to fly on their own. Mine, wouldn't you know, flew but didn't like it when he got to the top of the house. He squawked as only a crow can and I cried. My Dad got the ladder out; went up and rescued him. Well actually this only happened a couple of times. Dad finally refused to go get him. "He'll learn." And again as parents can be, Dad was right.

What great pets, if you can call them that. They hung around that whole year.
Those birds were smart,thinking, cons and to us clownish. They knew us* and would come down to talk and ride on our shoulders. Our 'babies" did steal too. They loved "shinies" so we knew where to look for toys and other little things that came up missing. They used the "rabbit hutch" home like a chicken going to roost every evening and as a storage facility. They also used the neighbor's clothesline as a perch. Not a great thing after they had been eating mulberries or other nicely colored fruits. Imagine the clean bright white sheets after visits from 3 large crows. It did cause a large problem, fight, with the neighbor.

We have a photo somewhere of my "baby" brother riding a "trike" with one of the crows riding the handlebars. Probably my lazy, spoiled, bird. (When I locate my copy, I will scan it in for your enjoyment.)

So now I watch the large, beautiful, black, birds and enjoy them. I really wish they would come in closer but country crows are not the same as city crows. They aren't as friendly with people in most instances-they don't have to be.

*Longer article on the study

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Returning to the Study, Groups and Group-Think

Since it has been so long, sorry, since the previous posts (see Posts April 19 and April 13) on why some are so easily led and why that leads to aggression; here are some excerpts.
April 13:
Why such aggression lately. Aggression such as carrying a gun so near the President of the U.S. Aggression such as seen during the health care reform debates in Congress and at the town-hall meetings. The list goes on and on.
Have you ever noticed that groups basically are made of the followers, submissives, and the leaders or dominators.
April 19:
Dr. Altemeyer explains that in his books on authoritarians he is mostly discussing extremely submissive “followers” of established authorities, “attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.”
He lists 3 of the personality traits of the “followers”:
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.
RWA Scale:
“The RWA scale is a personality test disguised as an attitude survey.”
the mid-point of the scale is 100. The higher the score the more the tendency to be an authoritarian follower.

Why the name “right-wing”:
The use of the word right as used here is “an adjective, right, lawful, proper, correct...”

Double Highs:
Social Dominators who also score high on the religion, fundamentalism, scale but the why is interesting. These people go to church more often than most but they go to “project a good image...”
and “It is more important to create a good image of yourself in the minds of others than to be actually be the person others think you are.”

Remember submission to “their” authorities and highly conventional. So keep in mind we are not always talking about political conservatives.

Now on to Question 2 Why are some so aggressive...
(I think it still pertains to being led and believing false “facts”.)

Lets start with more on the compartmental mind to help us understand why many can be led to an aggressive state.

The compartmental mind had no trouble in “believing that America stands for international cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict on one hand, while on the other hand insisting it has the “right” to attack whomever it wants...” (from The Authoritarians)

Here is a quotation from another source which I think fits nicely:
“Meanwhile a newly powerful states’ rights movement is demanding that the federal government not intrude into our affairs—a nice illustration of what Orwell called “doublethink”: the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in mind while believing both of them, practically a motto for our times.”

From the same story:
“But in a brilliant exercise in doublethink, people are led to hate and fear the deficit. That way, business’s cohorts in Washington may agree to cut benefits and entitlements like Social Security (but not bailouts).

At the same time, people should not oppose what is largely creating the deficit—the growing military budget and the hopelessly inefficient privatized healthcare system.”

And according to Mr Dean in his book Conservatives Without Conscience, “Many conservatives, particularly those who are clearly authoritarians, are not aware of their illogical, contradictory, and hypocritical thinking. If made cognizant of it, they rationalize it away, neglect to care or attack those who reveal their human weaknesses.” (page 27)

Now back to aggression and prejudice.

First let us examine more from Mr. Dean as regards the “followers”.

In Conservatives Without Conscience, Mr Dean discusses Stanley Milgram'swork “...on obedience to authority.” (Milgram's experiments were set up to study delivering electrical shocks to “learners” in obedience to an authority figure.) Milgram uses the term “agentic state” to describe how a person can ignore their normal conscience “...when the individual becomes part of a group, with the individual's conscience often becoming subordinate to to that of the group or to that of its leader.” But Mr Dean does not think that the behaviors of some can be explained in this manner. (see page 44 discussion of Gordon Liddy and see pages 78-81 on I. Scooter Libby)

According to Milgram, "the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person's wishes, and he therefore no longer sees himself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow." Thus, "the major problem for the subject is to recapture control of his own regnant processes once he has committed them to the purposes of the experimenter." (Milgram, 1974, pp. xii, xiii). In addition to this presumed agentic state, Milgram goes on to explain, a variety of factors lock the subject into the situation. These include situational factors such as politeness and awkwardness of withdrawal, absorption in the technical aspects of the task, the tendency to attribute impersonal quality to forces that are essentially human, a belief that the experiment serves a desirable end, the sequential nature of the action, and anxiety.
A Cognitive Reinterpretation...On Obedience to Authority

Further into chapter two of Conservatives... Mr Dean paraphrases and quotes Dr. Altemeyer concerning our RWA and aggression thus; “ showing “general aggressiveness” toward others when such behavior “is perceived to be sanctioned” by established authorities...” (John Dean page 53)

In his book Dr. Altemeyer does discuss and study the religious beliefs of the RWA but as I have, at this point, some disagreement with him I will go back and restudy the chapter. Then perhaps at some point write a post on just the religious questions involved.

However, I can see Dr. Altemeyer's points about the RWA self-righteousness and their feelings that they are “guardians of the public morality”. He also mentions their view of the “ as a dangerous place...” (Dean page 55)

If you back a dog into a corner while threatening him. Watch out now as you are facing “fight or flight”. By backing him into that corner you are interfering with his ability to flee the source of his fear so he will fight or he will submit depending on his place in the pack order. Well yes, there is the issue of his genealogy but for most dogs you will get one of these responses.

Back to Conservatives Without Conscience:

“By and large these Americans have never been troubled by the execution of a prisoner,,,, and there has never been a war in with the United States engaged that they did not support.” (John Dean page 55)
Here Mr. Dean is writing his own thoughts on the church-going authoritarians and their politics.

In the last section of chapter 2, Mr Dean begins with questions of his own and some answers he gleans from Dr. Altemeyer's studies.

“...why are right-wingers often malicious, mean-spirited, and disrespectful of even the basic codes of civility?...

Here are some of the answers he found:

“This heightened level of aggressiveness has a number of psychological roots. Right-wing authoritarians, as we have seen are motivated by their fear of a dangerous world, whereas social dominators have an ever-present desire to dominate. The factor that makes right-wingers faster than most people to attack others, and that seems to keep them living in an “attack mode,” is their remarkable self righteousness.”

(John Dean pages 66, 67)

As to the leaders of these authoritarian followers with a little on prejudice:
(Remember Double High Social dominators score high as both leaders and followers. They answer the follower questions as they would have others follow them not as true “submissives.)

“Experiments reveal that right-wing authoritarian followers are particularly likely to trust someone who tells them what they want to hear, for this how many of them validate their beliefs. Social dominators, on the other hand typically know exactly what song they want to sing to followers.

Ordinary social dominators and ordinary authoritarian followers both tend to be highly prejudiced against ethnic and racial minorities.
Double Highs, however possess “extra-extra unfair” natures, and they can be ranked as the most racially prejudiced of all groups. It seems that two authoritarian streams converge in them to produce a river of hostility, particularly regarding rights for homosexuals and women.”
(Dean, page 60)

In describing more of Altemeyer's observations concerning Double Highs and the seriousness of their threat to society, Mr Dean gives us the idea that the followers are “uninclined to think for themselves...” while the Double High leaders may well lead the intensely dangerous movements. (Dean page 61)

In both books Hitleris mentioned as, I guess, the ultimate Dominator. I would say the most obvious Dominator. I can think of some milder ones. Does anyone but me think of McCarthy and the Red Scare. Or should I say Red Scares Of course, Mr Dean relates much of his early chapters to President Nixon and reasons for Watergate. I think too of recent political leaders and their use of fear and knowledge of the followers' needs. Here is a link to an article I read this morning that pertains to some recentillogical thinking.

In this post mostly using these two books we see some answers to our questions about aggression and prejudice as well as little on who their leaders are and why. We have lots of fear in these authoritarians.
We have lots of prejudice, though I don't cover all of it. The leaders are devious and mostly out to fulfill their needs for power. The followers are deceiving themselves when they consider themselves on the moral high-ground. While the followers need leaders, they fear leaders that challenge their beliefs, not just religious beliefs either. I think their beliefs about the world too.

We now have a glimpse into some reasons,theories, behind the“group dynamics” we discussed in the first post (April 13). I am trying to give the gist of the books while trying to keep the posts relatively short. As mentioned previously, I have some disagreement with Dr. Altemeyer's analysis of religion, fundamentalism, and “ineffective consciences”. I shall go back and reread his chapter on it before commenting further. Maybe I have misread.

Anyway we have spent some time with these two books* and maybe it is time to move on to other theories. Social Darwinism and Just World? I will let you know.

*Bob Altemeyer; The Authoritarians,2006 and see website
John W.Dean; Conservatives Without Conscience,Penguin Books, 2007 or visit
Mr. Deans' blog