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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Do people become more conservative as they age? (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Do people become more conservative as they age?
Orincoro
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Precisely. I just get all warm and fuzzy and the very cuteness of the notion that primary sources are ultimately preferable on the face.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
Heh. There are primary sources. I repeat my exact words, and I thank you to mind the context of those words: "there is no primary source of history."

Well, there is still a difference between a primary source and a secondary source. You just need to understand the different baggage that comes with each. And often, the bias of primary sources is as much a part of historical truth as the mythical objective Truth we all seek.
Exactly! Paul Revere's depiction of the Boston Massacre is important not because of its accuracy, (it's not even close) but because it was the version the Sons of Liberty were pushing during the soldier's trial, and it had a huge impact in swaying public opinion against the soldiers. As a result, the soldiers could not find legal council, and John Adams felt compelled to defend them. He suffered revilement in the short term because of it, but it was also a formative experience, and demonstrated he was the sort of man Massachusetts wanted to send to the second Continental Congress.

But that's just one snapshot.

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Orincoro
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Yeah, but, see, Blackblade, you learned all that analysis from people who read analysis and theory. Not from people who read only primary sources.

You stick to primary sources, and they won't mean anything. That's my point. You appreciate them, now, after you learned a great deal about history and how to deal with it. No particular type of information, I think, made you smart enough or prepared enough to have the good judgment that you do. Just like I know that my education and my intelligence are two things that had to go together- my having known plenty of smart people who were uneducated, and educated people were weren't terribly bright.

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BlackBlade
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Well I never meant to come across as advocating only for primary sources. Only that we need to find core primary sources, and require students to be familiar with them before discussing material. If nothing else but because primary sources are themselves part of the history. Common Sense may not be a good history, but it is something we know was a watershed moment in changing minds, and we can read what people said about it as well as look at print run numbers to get a sense for how prevalent it was.

Also, it's fun to read what Tom said about George Washington while he was president. >: )

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Blayne Bradley
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Regarding history I do believe that while significantly flawed, some kind of consistent primary source learnin' be preferable to what passes for "education" in some schools. A friend of mine who was raised in South Carolina was taught that and I am not making this up:

"America had to use the nuclear bombs on Japan because America was losing the war"

This actually happened. For who knows how many years of highschool students have been taught a terrible terrible distorted history that no longer even resembles what factually happened.

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Orincoro
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I'm dubious as to whether your friend was taught that, or gained that mistaken impression do to a more benign form of poor instruction.

You understand, I have a genius level IQ, and believed until I was 12 or so that the middle east was in South America. Nobody taught me that- I was just not taught to look at a map. Benign, yet horrible.

Granted, it is entirely possible that some idiot taught your friend that. But it's equally possible that a poorly worded account of the cost of lives needed to win the war, and the losses already suffered, was transformed in your friends mind into a more definitive statement. Bearing in mind, after the fact, it is fairly normal for a person to say: "No, seriously, my teacher literally said those exact* words."


*probably not

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
For who knows how many years of highschool students have been taught a terrible terrible distorted history that no longer even resembles what factually happened.

And in the PRC it's even worse!
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Blayne Bradley
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quote:
Originally posted by Orincoro:
I'm dubious as to whether your friend was taught that, or gained that mistaken impression do to a more benign form of poor instruction.

You understand, I have a genius level IQ, and believed until I was 12 or so that the middle east was in South America. Nobody taught me that- I was just not taught to look at a map. Benign, yet horrible.

Granted, it is entirely possible that some idiot taught your friend that. But it's equally possible that a poorly worded account of the cost of lives needed to win the war, and the losses already suffered, was transformed in your friends mind into a more definitive statement. Bearing in mind, after the fact, it is fairly normal for a person to say: "No, seriously, my teacher literally said those exact* words."


*probably not

The person in question being right now 19 and in a University Computer Science Bachelors program in Canada was taught this stuff up to about a year or so ago I have little reason to believe she in some manner misheard or misinterpreted the words spoken. As that is not some isolated incident but rather the tip of the iceberg of the horror stories of her highschool experience in general.

quote:

And in the PRC it's even worse!

Ah huh.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
For who knows how many years of highschool students have been taught a terrible terrible distorted history that no longer even resembles what factually happened.

And in the PRC it's even worse!
In Soviet Russia, history teaches you.
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Stone_Wolf_
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quote:
Originally posted by Lyrhawn:
In Soviet Russia, history teaches you.

Wait, that sounds right.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
The person in question being right now 19 and in a University Computer Science Bachelors program in Canada was taught this stuff up to about a year or so ago I have little reason to believe she in some manner misheard or misinterpreted the words spoken.
How much do you know about the reliability of eye-witness reports and human memory? If you were familiar with the psychological research, you would not expect your friend's report of what went on in the class to be reliable. Humans aren't recording machines. We are incapable of being objective observers. Since she told you the story, its like something she thought about quite a few times. Every time a person recalls a memory, the original memory gets altered. Each time your friend has recalled or retold the story her memory has become further removed from what actually happened.

But even if I had never seen that research, I've been a professor for 20 years. I've heard and read hundreds of students summaries of what I said in class. Based my experience and those shared by my fellow teachers, I know that it is extremely common for students to misunderstand the points a teacher is trying to make.

The chances of getting an accurate report about what was taught by a high school history teacher, from a 19 year college student, are vanishingly small.

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Blayne Bradley
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Speculation, it isnt strong evidence at all, it is very clear from the context of the conversation that she didnt mishear or misremember.

I showed her various sources to see what she was taught and nothing she was taught was remotely accurate. And she is an intelligent person and it was only the tip of the iceberg of what was wrong with her highschool.

I mean honestly, its a highschool. My own highschool history class in quebec was horrendously oversimplified to the point of being factually wrong.

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Vadon
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In Blayne's defense, when I was first taught about World War II, when talking about the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the teacher said if it weren't for the bombs, the war would have gone on far longer, with an unknown amount of death, and possibly an unknown victor. He argued that the bombs were to bring an end to the war.

I could see interpreting that claim as saying the bombs were a sort of hail-Mary.

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BlackBlade
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If they were a hail-Mary, one would have to wonder why we didn't give that play a shot in Vietnam.
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Mucus
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Oh, you guys may enjoy this
http://books.google.com/books?id=dIt-DzlyvCQC&pg=PA56&img=1&zoom=3&hl=en&sig=ACfU3U2otFv24F0dOOlkPmwkwvwE4bGi-A&w=1280
found at
http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/and-i-also-shouldnt-just-embed-charts-from-spy/254387/

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
If they were a hail-Mary, one would have to wonder why we didn't give that play a shot in Vietnam.

BB, by then we weren't the only ones with the bomb.
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Blayne Bradley
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Also a war crime.

However no, it was quite literally what she was taught.

Also, cmon, its one highschool.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
If they were a hail-Mary, one would have to wonder why we didn't give that play a shot in Vietnam.

BB, by then we weren't the only ones with the bomb.
I don't know what's the matter with me. I'm going to go with fatigue.
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Dan_Frank
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
If they were a hail-Mary, one would have to wonder why we didn't give that play a shot in Vietnam.

BB, by then we weren't the only ones with the bomb.
I don't know what's the matter with me. I'm going to go with fatigue.
Also the enemy infrastructure didn't quite lend itself as readily to those tactics.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Rabbit, I agree with your overall point, but your post strikes me as an extremely partisan view of the subject. I assume you're using the definition of 'conservative' as it applies in today’s political discourse rather than it’s denotation but even then it seems quite unfair to decree that those on one side just want to mass produce blind loyalty while the other side want a fair and nuanced discussion to help move the country forward. And knowing quite a few people who fall on what you call the conservative side, I can think of no one whose position came down to the impact on the loyalty of our children.
Hobbes, I know what I said is an over simplification. It's overly simplistic to think people can be classified as either conservatives or liberals. It overly simplistic to say that all conservatives share the same values and its overly simplistic to say anyone's opinions on teaching American History are motivated by only one concern.

But I think you found my comments highly partisan because your own partisan expectations colored your reading. Your summary exaggerates and simplifies my points far beyond anything I said or intended. I never said that conservatives "just want to produce blind loyalty" or that liberals want "a fair and nuanced discussion". I did not say those things because I did not intend them.

I also have a lot of friends and family members who are conservatives. I don't think conservatives are all simple minded, naive or evil. I do however think that its fair to say most conservatives value group loyalty more highly than most liberals. This is supported by considerable research and I think its true of classical conservatism and not just modern American Republicans.

Loyalty to a group necessarily implies that you support the group even when you think its wrong. If you only support the group when you fully agree, you aren't being loyal. You are following your own conscience. While I think it's too simplistic to say that loyalty has to be unconditional, I do think its accurate to say that if you place more conditions on your loyalty to a group, you are less loyal.

I wasn't trying to insult republicans when I said they thought loyalty was important. I don't see loyalty as something inherently bad. Group loyalty promotes cooperation and effective team work. Loyalty promotes altruism because most people are far more willing to work for the common good of the group when they believe their loyalty is reciprocated. I think a certain amount of loyalty is essential to building a strong healthy community. I think one of the reasons liberals in America have so much trouble actually accomplishing anything is that they value group loyalty too little.

I think group loyalty can become a problem when its so strong that it over shadows other moral principles. I think group loyalty can be a problem when it is used justify ignoring the legitimate needs and rights of outsiders. But I think that as long as its kept in moderation, loyalty can be a really positive trait.

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pooka
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That's interesting, Rabbit. Why are liberals in Europe seemingly more effective? Are the cultural substrates for liberalism and/or group loyalty different there?

Loyalty used to be one of my most important personal values, until about 2003 (not coincidentally when I started posting here.) I know I seem pretty conservative, but I used to be a lot more conservative. Though going back further, I used to be a liberal leaning independent. Along with loyalty, I can be vindictive where my loyalty is lost (as it was in 1998).

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by pooka:
That's interesting, Rabbit. Why are liberals in Europe seemingly more effective? Are the cultural substrates for liberalism and/or group loyalty different there?

They're just a scant decade ahead. I mean, if we had mandatory voting (a la a lot of other countries) then we'd be in about the same place, policy wise — our freemarketeers would be a maligned fringe and our liberalism would already be schisming between mainstream and far left, and competing for majority betwixt the two.
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Speculation, it isnt strong evidence at all, it is very clear from the context of the conversation that she didnt mishear or misremember.
I'm not sure if you mean to say her conversation is or isn't strong evidence. For the sake of discussion, I'm talking about the former: how can she make clear just by talking to you, someone who didn't witness events, whether or not she heard things clearly (the teacher was speaking inteligibly and audibly), understood them clearly (took something close to the teacher's intent out of his/her words), and then remembered it clearly?

I mean, unless the conversation included things like 'I took care to listen very carefully that day, and took detailed notes as the teacher was speaking, and then because it seemed so strange I reviewed them against my recollection later', I'm not sure how you can (if you are) be so sure about how correct she is about what the speaker said. Unless you simply mean sure as in 'she's usually pretty reliable, and for now I have no reason to doubt her.'

-------

On a different note, I don't have much trouble imagining a HS history teacher could have said that. I mean, my American Government teacher had more words written by Tom Clancy in his classroom than anything else, and on the subject of certainty I gauge that by the fact that the class was supremely boring and I read all of them, as well as what (little) else there was on the shelves.

It was one semester coupled with Economics, a class that at that time where I lived, everyone had to take. This was the year after I took and nailed AP American history and loved it immensely. Best single teacher I ever had, even allowing for my enjoyment. But this class there wasn't any getting out of, and the teacher was, I don't know, a basketball coach or something. Nice enough guy, I suppose, but he didn't have any business with chalk in front of s blackboard unless it had a bunch of x-s and o-s with arrows on it. Anyway, I could imagine him saying something really stupid such as that, but he didn't really stray far from the textbook and had a newspaper-well, sports page-for when he was done. Not many Fs in that class, for some reason.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
However no, it was quite literally what she was taught.

Blayne, I'm sorry but unless your friend played you a recording of the teacher saying it, chances are extremely high that your friends report is not reliable.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
That's interesting, Rabbit. Why are liberals in Europe seemingly more effective? Are the cultural substrates for liberalism and/or group loyalty different there?
I'm not sure but I have a couple of theories. First off, political loyalty is viewed much more negatively by Europeans, including the conservatives. Europeans have a strong association between Fascism and Patriotic/nationalistic rhetoric. Americans expect politicians to talk about how America is the greatest country in the world. If a politicians does that in Europe, its a serious career ending scandal.

Second, party leaders have a lot more real power in the Parliamentary system. In the parliamentary system, if you don't tow the party line the leadership can kick you out of office. In the US system, party leaders can only offer their supporters a carrot. In the Parliamentary system the leaders have the option of using both the carrot and the stick.

I think it may also have a bit to do with the way the American culture war is playing out in American Politics. I don't think there is the kind of cultural divide between the major political parties in Europe the way there is in the US.

Also, European countries tend to have multi-party systems so voters aren't limited to two predetermined political packages. I think that results in a more nuanced political debate.

I'm not saying there aren't also downsides to European style parliamentary democracies, there are plenty of them they just aren't all that relevant to pooka's question.

[ March 16, 2012, 11:27 AM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Blayne Bradley
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Also the political left is much more organized in Europe offering a consistent voice and lobby, while in the US it's been largely defanged and disintegrated as a cohesive movement.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
Originally posted by Blayne Bradley:
Also the political left is much more organized in Europe offering a consistent voice and lobby, while in the US it's been largely defanged and disintegrated as a cohesive movement.

Yes, but that is a circular argument.
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kmbboots
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Europe is less hampered by Puritan roots.
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Mucus
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Some thoughts from a bit closer.

Patriotism and nationalism don't work nearly as well in Canada as in the United States as political enticement because there's a much bigger chance of that backfiring. Between Quebec and large groups of minorities in key swing ridings, you simply cannot afford to alienate people in the same way that you can in the US. The Canadian Conservative party understands this and that greatly influences the "centre."

It's true that political leaders in the Parliamentary system have more power for a number of reasons. First you're guaranteed to at least have a plurality in Parliament, which reduces the chance of deadlock a la the current US system. The equivalent of such a deadlock often leads to elections in minority governments which is a high stake roll of the dice that many on both sides of the aisle try to avoid (unless you engineer your own defeat, which is also a potential tactic that increases the power of the leader).

The multi-party system helps of course too. But the main issue here (in Canada) I think is the demographics, the distribution and types of people are simply different.

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Rakeesh
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I think that last bit is critically important, and its impact would be hard to overstate, Mucus. In many of the nations being compared in the current conversation to the US, there are simply sharper and more numerous divides along racial and religious lines-and unsurprisingly (to me, at least) when the not-quite-homogeny is threatened, things start to go a little screwy and look a little less like the secular egalitarian examples that we often think of when we look at Europe. I mean, African and Middle-Eastern immigrants to various areas of Europe probably don't think things are so super-spiffy.
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DDDaysh
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
DDDaysh, I'm guessing from what you said that your grandfather is quite elderly and possibly suffering from a general decline in his mental abilities. It seems likely that he says more racist or paranoid things because his ability to self-censor has decreased and not because he's actually becoming more racist and paranoid.

There are some interesting studies that have tried to control for the effects of declining cognitive ability versus general aging by matching elderly people with younger people that have similar cognitive abilities.

Maybe, but he's only 70 and still works full time. That doesn't mean he's not suffering from declining abilities, but it's not like he's senile.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Europe is less hampered by Puritan roots.

Yeah, never bought that for a hot second. Not only were the majority of America's settling groups definitely *not* puritans, but in my opinion the pervading ethos of American civic participation is Calvinism, not puritanism. They are often conflated, but they are very different in source and nature.

And you can still spot a great deal of Calvinist influence all over Europe. Germany, certain parts of Britain (particularly Scotland), and Scandinavia as well.

Remember, America was being colonized at the forefront of the reformist movement. That naturally lured a good number of protestants to the Americas in the early years. That doesn't mean that a) all of them were puritans, or b) that had as big of an effect on our political or social culture as people believe. It certainly had *an* effect. I just don't think it's really fair to say that America has "Puritan" roots. It has protestant roots. But many protestants from Italy and France were Waldenses. Many from England and Scotland were Anglican. There weren't really *that* many puritans around. They were a marginal group.

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kmbboots
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You're right. In fact I usually blame Calvin and have done so before. Sloppiness on my part or I backed away from dissing Protestantism entirely.
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Olivet
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Let's not forget that some 300 years ago, Europe was the world's largest exporter of religious extremists, and guess where they exported them to?

As to the thread title, I'm definitely more liberal than I was 30 years ago. When I was twelve. Even when I was 20, I never thought I'd be pro-choice.

*shrug* Stuff happens.

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