University of Michigan Professor Admits She is a Hater

Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan. She writes:

I hate Republicans. I can’t stand the thought of having to spend the next two years watching Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Ted Cruz, Darrell Issa or any of the legions of other blowhards denying climate change, thwarting immigration reform or championing fetal “personhood.”

Wow. This professor admits publicly she is a Hater. She hates. Yes, she has her rationalizations for her hate, as all haters have their rationalizations for their hate. But what is striking is that this person is a professor of communications. You would think a person in such a position would be enlightened enough to eschew hate and take a more nuanced approach to life.

After confessing she is a hater, Douglas then tries to posture is if she is an objective scholar:

party identification and hatred shape a whole host of non-political decisions. Iyengar and Westwood asked participants in their study to review the resumés of graduating high school seniors to decide which ones should receive scholarships. Some resumés had cues about party affiliation (say, member of the Young Republicans Club) and some about racial identity (also through extracurricular activities, or via a stereotypical name). Race mattered, but not nearly as much as partisanship. An overwhelming 80 percent of partisans chose the student of their own party. And this held true even if the candidate from the opposite party had better credentials.

How did we come to this pass?

Given her hatred of Republicans, I think we can safely predict who she is going to blame:

Obviously, my tendency is to blame the Republicans more than the Democrats, which may seem biased. But history and psychological research bear me out.

LOL! It “may seem” biased. Er, professor….it is biased. After all, haters are not well known for their ability to approach the subject of their hate in an objective fashion, now are they?

Let’s watch her rationalize:

Let’s start with the history. This isn’t like a fight between siblings, where the parent says, “It doesn’t matter who started it.” Yes, it does.

A brief review of Republican rhetoric and strategies since the 1980s shows an escalation of determined vilification (which has been amplified relentlessly on Fox News since 1996). From Spiro Agnew’s attack on intellectuals as an “effete corps of impudent snobs”; to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech; to the GOP’s endless campaign to smear the Clintons over Whitewater, then bludgeon Bill over Monica Lewinsky; to the ceaseless denigration of President Obama (“socialist,” “Muslim”), the Republicans have crafted a political identity that rests on a complete repudiation of the idea that the opposing party and its followers have any legitimacy at all.

This is what is called cherry picking. Note it never occurs to the professor that Republicans could make a very similar laundry list. And of course they can.

At this point, it is clear the professor’s hate is being propped up with selective memory and confirmation bias.

It gets even more funny when the professor tries to make her hate sound sciencey:

Why does this work? A series of studies has found that political conservatives tend toward certain psychological characteristics. What are they? Dogmatism, rigidity and intolerance
of ambiguity; a need to avoid uncertainty; support for authoritarianism; a heightened sense of threat from others; and a personal need for structure. How do these qualities influence political thinking?

According to researchers, the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance. The need for certainty, the need to manage fear of social change, lead to black-and-white thinking and an embrace of stereotypes. Which could certainly lead to a desire to deride those not like you—whether people of color, LGBT people or Democrats. And, especially since the early 1990s, Republican politicians and pundits have been feeding these needs with a single-minded, uncomplicated, good-vs.-evil worldview that vilifies Democrats.

I smell cargo cult science. Why? When the “research” so perfectly maps to the stereotypes folks like Douglas have about Republicans and conservatives, it has that cargo culty smell to it.

Look, she provides no references, so who knows what the hater is talking about. But let’s ask one simple question – Did self-identified liberals or conservatives do this “research?” It is a relevant question. For example, many in academia would find it highly relevant if tobacco research was conducted by scientists employed by the tobacco companies. Just as they find it highly relevant when pharmaceutical research is published by scientists working for pharmaceutical companies. It’s called conflict of interest and more and more journals expect it to be acknowledged.

By the same logic, if social scientists are going to be doing research on “liberals and conservatives,” and the conclusion of that research sounds like it came out of a sack of political talking points, we need to know the political leanings of those researchers. It smells like conflict of interest.

Oh, and there’s the problem. Douglas’s hate may not be all that uncommon, as it turns out that the research is not being conducted by a politically diverse community. On the contrary, it certainly appears to come from a community that is intellectually inbred and highly suspceptible to group think.
See for yourself, by checking out a paper linked by this article.

Or if you would like to keep it simple, consider the the following data outlining political donations from members of academia:

Does that look like a community that has any credibility when it does “research” that finds “the two core dimensions of conservative thought are resistance to change and support for inequality. These, in turn, are core elements of social intolerance?”

In summary, a professor at the University of Michigan has felt free to proudly tell the world that she hates those who have different political views. She then tries to rationalize this hate by cherry picking from recent political history and appealing to unsourced “research” that not only comes from a community that is intellectually inbred, but just happens to oh-so-perfectly confirm her biases and prejudices.

All haters can rationalize their hate. Douglas is no different.

This entry was posted in academia, confirmation bias, Politics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to University of Michigan Professor Admits She is a Hater

  1. Cory says:

    It’s an embarrassing display. I actually feel sorry for her; she’s either too blind or too dumb to see that her entire rationale is self-defeating.

  2. GRA says:

    Douglas is a “professor” of communications. Plus she wrote book about feminism & sexism so her response isn’t so much of a shock but an “Ah, at least you finally admit it. It’s what I suspected all along.”

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