This Week's Pop-Culture Blogswarm
I'm predicting that this article in The Toronto Star, titled "How To Spot A Baby Conservative", will generate quite a bit of comment around the blogosphere this week. Excerpt:
"Remember the whiny, insecure kid in nursery school, the one who always thought everyone was out to get him, and was always running to the teacher with complaints? Chances are he grew up to be a conservative.
"At least, he did if he was one of 95 kids from the Berkeley area that social scientists have been tracking for the last 20 years. The confident, resilient, self-reliant kids mostly grew up to be liberals.
"The study from the Journal of Research Into Personality isn't going to make the UC Berkeley professor who published it any friends on the right. Similar conclusions a few years ago from another academic saw him excoriated on right-wing blogs, and even led to a Congressional investigation into his research funding.
"But the new results are worth a look. In the 1960s Jack Block and his wife and fellow professor Jeanne Block (now deceased) began tracking more than 100 nursery school kids as part of a general study of personality. The kids' personalities were rated at the time by teachers and assistants who had known them for months. There's no reason to think political bias skewed the ratings — the investigators were not looking at political orientation back then. Even if they had been, it's unlikely that 3- and 4-year-olds would have had much idea about their political leanings."
That should get some 'net-wide discussion going. As the article discusses later, an alternate conclusion, seeing that the study took place in Berkeley, may be that the whinier kids become political and social rebels, is also probably valid. I love the way that the researcher's cultural biases are subtly revealed, though:
"A few decades later, Block followed up with more surveys, looking again at personality, and this time at politics, too. The whiny kids tended to grow up conservative, and turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity.
"The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests. The girls were still outgoing, but the young men tended to turn a little introspective."
I think "hewed closely to traditional gender roles" is PC-speak for "more likely to be heterosexual".
Looking around Technorati, it appears that the left-leaning side of the blogosphere has fired the first shots...