Do conservatives prefer to use nouns?

by on February 26, 2016 at 2:26 am in Data Source, Philosophy, Political Science, Television | Permalink

The researchers, led by Dr Aleksandra Cichocka of the School of Psychology, also established that conservatives generally, to a greater degree than liberals, tend to refer to things by their names, rather than describing them in terms of their features. An example would be saying someone ‘is an optimist’, rather than ‘is optimistic’.

This use of nouns, rather than adjectives, is seen to preserve stability, familiarity and tradition – all of which appear to be valued more highly by conservatives than liberals.

Because nouns ‘elicit clearer and more definite perceptions of reality than other parts of speech’, they satisfy the desire for ‘structure and certainty’ that is common among social conservatives, the research authors found.

The research was based on studies carried out in three countries – Poland, Lebanon, and the USA. The US study compared presidential speeches delivered by representatives of the two main political parties. The sample included 45 speeches delivered by Republicans, considered to be more conservative, and 56 speeches delivered by then Democrats, considered to be more liberal.

The (gated) paper is here, and for the pointer I thank Charles Klingman.

1 Ray Lopez February 26, 2016 at 2:34 am

Shorter finding: conservatives like to deal with the past tense, the passive voice, rather than the present tense, active voice. Ergo, Hemingway must have been a Democrat.

2 So Much For Subtlety February 26, 2016 at 6:17 pm

But the real question is whether it depends on what the meaning of “is” is. According to this study, Bill Clinton is a Republican.

No doubt textbooks will be claiming that in a few more years.

3 Mark Thorson February 26, 2016 at 3:07 am

It’s pronouns you gotta worry about! That’s the rug you lift when you want to sweep meaning under the semantic carpet! Liberal politicians tell listeners and readers they’ll get more “it”, leading them to think it’s more free stuff when it’s actually taxes. Conservatives use definite terms like “Obamacare” and “free markets”, so you know exactly what they’re talking about.

4 prior_test1 February 26, 2016 at 3:18 am

‘Conservatives use definite terms like “Obamacare” and “free markets”, so you know exactly what they’re talking about.’

You mean translation into precise terms like Affordable Care Act and capitalism is required to understand what conservatives are not saying so definitely? Sounds about right, actually.

5 Heorogar February 26, 2016 at 7:55 am

Bottom-line liberals’ swear words are differently employed from conservatives’ swear words.

I used to think I was conservative. Now, I accept the fact that I’m simply an old crank.

Once again, the US ought to try capitalism and “free markets.” Maybe we’d have a little more AD and GDP growth.

6 required February 26, 2016 at 8:32 am

Asians are conservative to Asian culture which includes more socialism, but less liberty than western culture.

The meaning of conservative and liberal should be relative to what you’ve learn from your parents and the subculture around you. If you grow up around socialist, continuing socialism makes you conservative relative to what you’ve learned, but socialist compared to the rest of the nation.

Classical Liberal does not have socialism. It is about the free market and liberty.

Modern Liberal = Classical Liberal + Socialism (equality stuff that don’t exists in the past). Liberty is not equality.

7 cowboydroid February 27, 2016 at 1:13 am

Liberty is equality.

8 required February 27, 2016 at 7:54 am

Life trumps liberty and liberty trumps pursuit of happiness.

Liberty is not equality unless the right to own slaves is equality.

9 Mark Thorson February 26, 2016 at 11:03 am

We prefer the term “curmudgeon”.

10 JWatts February 26, 2016 at 9:13 pm

Or you could take the middle point of view. IE he’s a cranky curmudgeon. 😉

11 Ray Lopez February 26, 2016 at 7:56 am

Conservatives gave us such nouns as “freedom fighters” and “regime change”, though Wikipedia informs us the latter has been in use since 1925 (that would be what president, Harding?)

12 msgkings February 26, 2016 at 11:51 am


13 jim jones February 26, 2016 at 3:54 am

The Daily Telegraph is running a quiz where you can test whether you are a Liberal or a Conservative and I was surprised to be classified as “Left Wing”. Now I know why.

14 Doug February 26, 2016 at 4:15 am

Actually this finding is kind of already known in the world of software development. “Statically-typed” programming languages, where objects must be clearly defined as part of a hierarchical type system, tend to be more attractive to political conservatives. Liberals gravitate to “dynamic-typing”, where variables can be left ambitious until the moment a specific resolution is actually required.

15 Steve Sailer February 26, 2016 at 5:24 am

Westerners tend to be object-oriented, East Asians tend to be context-sensitive. See Nisbett’s “The Geography of Thought.”

16 Doug February 26, 2016 at 7:17 am

Which probably goes a way to explaining how Japan fell from the global leader on the technological frontier 30 years ago, to a disappointing, stagnant laggard. Designing engines and circuits is pretty culturally neutral. But modern high-tech is increasingly about symbolic manipulation and the structure of logically abstracted virtualized components. The fact that Westerners built the underlying foundation of these systems, means they mostly reflect Western cognitive sensibilities. Coming from a different culture is like being left-handed while using regular scissors.

17 Ray Lopez February 26, 2016 at 8:01 am

@Doug- I think you’re putting a little too much faith in design improvements like user interfaces. The best technology is often Japanese, at least for small engines and precision parts where tiny Asian hands and attention to detail make a difference. Here in SE Asia there’s a premium put on Japanese technology. I bought a Sanyo deep freezer since it was (said the brochure) “designed for the tropics” and sure enough it works fine to freeze our chickens under a range of temperature differences and bad power (under and over voltage situations are common here, as are brownouts) with a minimum power consumption.

18 Alain February 26, 2016 at 11:23 am

Ray, dude, Doug is talking about software. In particular he is saying that all of the base concepts & algorithms that we use today were constructed by westerners (generally true) and that gives westerners an advantage in using those concepts (not really sure about that, but maybe?). It isn’t UI design.

19 Ray Lopez February 26, 2016 at 9:42 pm

@Allan – thanks, though “modern high-tech is increasingly about symbolic manipulation and the structure of logically abstracted virtualized components” sounds like either bureaucratic-speak for software or for a User Interface on hardware.

20 B. Reynolds February 26, 2016 at 8:24 am

In other words, “we have to run the code to see what’s in it”.

21 RPLong February 26, 2016 at 9:20 am


22 anon February 26, 2016 at 9:37 am

At some point, after pushing around symbols for a few decades, you realize everything is a name:value pair, and naming is arbitrary.

If one lesson should be carried back to real life, it should be that. Naming is arbitrary. Take our buddy Ammon Bundy: patriot, occupier, protester, terrorist .. the names don’t change the thing. The value is what it is.

Don’t fall for the name making the thing.

23 Derek February 26, 2016 at 9:47 am

A nice thought, but the left ends up building and empowering bureaucracies. BAL anyonne?

This penchant for studiously categorizing people into tidy little boxes isn’t conservative or liberal. It is a sign of someone educated beyond their ability.

24 anon February 26, 2016 at 9:54 am
25 Derek February 26, 2016 at 10:14 am

Thanks for that link! I suspect the builders of things were humbled as well. If Apple or Goolle manage to design a viable self driving car they will be insufferable as well. Until then daily humiliation.

26 Jamie_NYC February 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

Remember, GOD is REAL, unless declared INTEGER!

27 JB February 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

I thought it was that God was Real unless declared Atletico.

28 Jamie_NYC February 26, 2016 at 3:33 pm

You are probably too young. What I wrote above refers to FORTRAN naming convention.

29 Nathan W February 26, 2016 at 4:29 am

Sometimes the desire to use nouns can be problematic. Because you’re placing people into boxes, rather than describing the present situation.

Boxes are not cool.

30 j r February 26, 2016 at 5:13 am

Not a fan of the ladies, are you Trebek?

31 too hot for MR February 26, 2016 at 11:26 am

Succinct 1-2 combo, if somewhat juvenile. 8.5

32 Axa February 26, 2016 at 5:59 am

war, peace, crisis, development, decisions…..all nouns.

33 A Definite Beta Guy February 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

War is just a box. I mean, sure, Japan sank all our battleships. But they didn’t sack Rome! So it’s not REALLY war. We need to qualify our terms. BTW, Check your Privilege.

34 Nathan W February 26, 2016 at 8:58 am

You astutely and correctly interpret what I was actually talking about. A+

35 Steve Sailer February 26, 2016 at 5:22 am

Speaking of Lebanon’s conservatives, I was interested to discover that sometimes richest man in the world and current biggest shareholder in the New York Times, Carlos Slim of Mexico, is the nephew-in-law of the late Lebanese warlord Bashir Gemayel.

After his assassination during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Gemayel’s obituary in the NYT read: “Bashir Gemayel: He Lived by the Sword.”

This factoid adds some interesting perspective to Carlos Slim.

36 anon February 26, 2016 at 9:50 am

I get it! Since he is a “nephew-in-law” he is not really “a Mexican.” Excellent work.

37 josh February 26, 2016 at 10:21 am

When I read Sailers comment, I actually thought to myself, “I wonder how somebody is going to construe this obviously interesting piece of information as a some kind of secret code for hating black people or Mexicans.” I wasn’t sure how it could be done, but I knew it would be done. Thanks.

38 anon February 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

Hey, if you think “nephew-in-law” is interesting, tear it up.

Means to me the non-news that globe trotters mingle and someone’s uncle married someone. Completely boring, if it is not sime bizarre claim about the “true nature of Carlos Slim.”

39 Steve Sailer February 26, 2016 at 11:04 pm

If you are an old fogey like me who remembers Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the subsequent U.S. intervention, the name “Gemayel” is memorable.

For 22 days in 1982, Bashir Gemayel was President-elect of Lebanon, with the backing of the Reagan and Begin-Sharon governments.

Time Magazine wrote:

“Gemayel: Ruthless Idealist
“Monday, Sept. 06, 1982

“Liberator. Warlord. Patriot. Power-mad. Those are some of the terms that Bashir Gemayel’s deeply riven countrymen have used to describe their President-elect during his years as a leader of the Christian militia forces. Part political idealist and part storm trooper, Gemayel, 34, has shown he will use whatever means necessary to achieve his nationalist goals.”

But on September 14th, 1982, Bashir was blown up (apparently by a rival Christian).

The headline on his obituary in the NYT read:

“Bashir Gemayel Lived by the Sword”

The notorious massacres in the Sabra and Shatila Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon were carried out by Bashir’s Phalangists (apparently with Israeli approval) two days after his murder.

Bashir’s brother Amine Gemayel took Bashir’s place and served from 1982-1988 as president of Lebanon.

Amine’s son Pierre was assassinated in 2006.

40 josh February 26, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Not somebody’s uncle married someone. He married the guys niece.

It’s not a conspiracy, but a reasonable person it ought to change their impression of who Slim is after learning this.

41 anon February 26, 2016 at 12:32 pm

So the story is less interesting than jet setters, and is about how Mexican he is:

“Mr Slim met Soumaya Domit Gemayel when he was 24 – their mothers, both of Lebanese-Mexican ancestry, were friends – and they married in 1966.”

Mexico is a varied place, and stereotypes are impossible. But I am sure that is where Steve started, right?

42 Steve Sailer February 26, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Carlos Slim’s wife’s grandfather Pierre Gemayel founded Lebanon’s Phalange fascist paramilitary organization in 1936 after a visit to Hitler’s Olympics:

In an interview with Robert Fisk, Gemayel stated about the Berlin Olympics:

“I was the captain of the Lebanese football team and the president of the Lebanese Football federation. We went to the Olympic Games of 1936 in Berlin. And I saw then this discipline and order. And I said to myself: “Why can’t we do the same thing in Lebanon?” So when we came back to Lebanon, we created this youth movement. When I was in Berlin then, Nazism did not have the reputation which it has now. Nazism? In every system in the world, you can find something good. But Nazism was not Nazism at all. The word came afterwards. In their system, I saw discipline. And we in the Middle East, we need discipline more than anything else.”

Carlos Slim’s father hosted in Mexico City delegations from the Phalangists.

Was Carlos Slim’s mom Linda Helu related to Phalange co-founder and president of Lebanon Charles Helou? Wikipedia says:

“Helou, Hélou or Helu is a surname that means “sweet” or “pretty” in Arabic. Notable people with the surname include:

“Carlos Slim Helu (born 1940), Mexican business magnate of Lebanese descent

“Charles Helou (1913 2001), President of Lebanon”

Carlos’s dad changed simplified the spelling of “Salim” to “Slim,” so it’s not implausible that Carlos’s maternal grandfather simplified “Helou” to “Helu.” But it’s also not proof.

So, the New York Times’ financial savior has a rather interesting and ironic background, but not one that ever seemed to come up before …

43 tokarev February 26, 2016 at 5:42 am

I’ve noticed that research about supposed differences between conservatives and liberals is usually presented as “look at this weird thing about those weirdo conservatives.”

Ironically, liberals are more representative of the globally rare W.E.I.R.D. sociocultural profile (western, educated, industrialized, rich, democratic), and western conservatives are relatively closer to what is “normal” on a global scale. I don’t think liberals fully grok how abnormal our views are, partially because of the social-stratificaiton echo chamber effect and media filtration.

44 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 5:47 am

Most of the world lives in more primitive conditions with fewer chances of growth and development. Perhaps what you’re saying is a conservative mindset works if you’re in a world that isn’t going anywhere or a world that is falling apart (Mad Max movies, Walking Dead etc.).

45 Doug February 26, 2016 at 7:06 am

Actually foragers and hunter-gatherers typically exhibit liberal impulses (egalitarian sharing, social norms against dominance, polyamory, personal mysticism over codified religious tenets, etc.). Conservative mores rose along with farming society and the large, structured hierarchical civilizations that came with them. Since the neolithic era resulted in a permanent acceleration in the rate of human development (albeit still very slow by modern standards), conservatism arose from a speed up in growth, not a slow down.

46 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 10:25 am

Yes a conservative mindset may have advantages in a society dominated by agriculture…which is still a large part of the world today (there are very few hunter-gatherers left). Agricultural society did lead to the expansion of the human race but not to much improvement in the living standard of the average human.

I think you can make a case that the ‘conservative mindset’ is sort of like the ‘Soviet mindset’. It pushes the individual towards accepting getting jibbed because it supposedly serves some larger good (an organized faith, the ‘party’, etc.) or if they are lucky or exceptional taking the advantages of achieving a top position (high priest, party boss, etc.). Hunting-gathering societies do encourage the individual to prize their self-pleasure very highly but also don’t reward trashing others simply for the sake of trashing them.

Agricultural society, though, has had several thousand years to produce new results and they’ve been pretty thin. The industrial and information revolutions, on the other hand, have rewarded us with much more growth and hint that the non-conservative mindset may be the optimal way to both get ahead in them and for such societies as a whole to operate.

For example, since the 80’s a lot of ‘conservative values’ don’t work very well in the modern world. For example, deep loyalty to your employer or union? Good way to end up unemployed and downsized in your 50’s. Where do those values work best? Well careers in the military, police and public schools. Of those three only teaching seems like a career that might grow in the long future (barring a Mad Max future, we can be pretty sure there will be more stuff to know in the future than there is now) but that is facing pressure to transform.

47 A Definite Beta Guy February 26, 2016 at 8:40 am

Yes. However, all civilizations are more fragile than they appear. Even if societies don’t undergo macro-collapse, they might have “minor” problems like a 10-year Depression, Hurricane Katrina, or the Dust Bowl.

We will never arrive at a post-scarcity society. Even if we did? So what? Even the post-scarcity Federation had to fight Klingons. So the conservative mindset always has value.

48 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 10:12 am

How did a conservative mindset help us with Katrina or the Dust Bowl?

As for how a conservative mindset helps us fighting Klingons. It hasn’t, Klingons are fictional.

49 Pshrnk February 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

The conservatives on the Mississippi coast did much better with Katrina than the population of New Orleans.

50 JB February 26, 2016 at 12:36 pm

Starting off in a bowl below sea level, when the problem is a storm surge of ocean water, will tend to reduce your prospects.

51 mc February 26, 2016 at 5:51 pm

Loyalty, authority, etc. are traits necessary to a well-functioning military and police force. Libertarians are mostly useless to do the actual grunt work of fighting enemy armies and street criminals.

52 a definite beta guy February 26, 2016 at 6:46 pm

That creaking is the sound of the goal post moving. The first point is that we are not at the post scarcity world imagined by utopian dreamers, and never will be.

53 Ricardo February 26, 2016 at 11:38 am

The reason we know civilizations are fragile is that we know empirically that they can collapse and that as often as not the “conservative mindset” did nothing to avert the collapse. In the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa, it turns out one factor that made it as bad as it did was the Muslim tradition of family members washing the bodies of their dead. As people died from Ebola, people refused to listen to the warnings of pointy-headed, know-it-all public health officials and instead followed their time-honored and tested traditions surrounding death. The result is that they caught it themselves and fueled an epidemic.

Conservative ideas might, on average, help a society survive problems or challenges that have affected them before but they won’t prepare a society to face a brand new threat. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns.

54 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Civilization in either West Africa or New Orleans did not collapse in response to ebola and Katrina. It’s very popular to say civilization is very fragile but is the evidence really there? How many examples on a global scale can we cite of civilization getting rolled back? How many could you cite if I told you it had to be examples from the last 200-300 years so the Roman Empire doesn’t count.

55 a definite beta guy February 26, 2016 at 6:43 pm

What are your parameters? Somalia, Afghanistan, sections of Iraq, Lebanon, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Bosnia, Congo, Liberia. Do Leningrad and Stalingrad count?

56 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Do Leningrad and Stalingrad count?

You mean at their worst in WWII? No they don’t. Nor would Hiroshima qualify as a ‘civilization’. A section of a civilization can fall apart in a disaster or it can decline as society and economy shifts elsewhere (thinking Detroit today, old West ‘ghost towns’ etc.). This just demonstrates civilization can adapt to change and crises leading us away from the ‘its fragile’ hypothesis.

57 a definite beta guy February 26, 2016 at 7:21 pm

Looking at total collapse a la Roman Empire gives people a false sense of security. Those temporary “collapses” mean many deaths if not properly managed.

The analogy is a disaster kit at home. Your home functions fine most days. You run a non-trivial risk of natural disaster that adds up over time and need to hedge against that risk.

58 Ricardo February 27, 2016 at 12:27 am

“It’s very popular to say civilization is very fragile but is the evidence really there?”

I’m not a conservative so I’m probably more optimistic. But still, Syria and Cambodia are two good candidates in recent history. The case of Cambodia tells us something about the modern world and why the 200-300 year horizon may be misleading. Cambodia is not an entirely failed state and society today because of massive levels of intervention by the outside world — first by Communist Vietnam which invaded and occupied the country for ten years at Soviet expense and then by the United Nations bankrolled mostly by Western countries. The international system provides a safety net for at least some failed societies some of the time but that depends on global stability and cooperation which history tells us also doesn’t last forever.

59 Boonton February 27, 2016 at 7:01 am

It is interesting that Syria and Cambodia are failed or semi-failed civilization because of outside intervention. This counters the ‘fragile civilization’ thesis. Their failures happened because the world is populated by large and powerful civilizations to begin with. If the world was suddenly empty of everyone but those two nations I suspect they would expand and grow into large and powerful civilizations on their own.

60 Miguel Madeira February 26, 2016 at 5:55 am

Also interesting is that conservatives, who usually are the guys worried with the “defense of western civilization”, are in many way less “western” in their values than the “multiculturalist” liberals.

61 Ricardo February 26, 2016 at 7:52 am

Some points of view from both sides translate poorly to countries with very different cultures that face different challenges. Some American conservatives seem to have a hang-up about things like hunting and red meat consumption as being part of the essence of masculinity. Such a point of view would be completely alien to conservative Hindus in India or conservatives in Buddhist countries, though.

One could try to boil conservatism down to an essence of respect for tradition, hierarchy, and sources of traditional authority such as family and religion. Even then, though, every society has minority groups who tend to fear — often justifiably — that the majoritarian identity politics that tends to go along with conservatism poses a threat to them. The views of these minority groups will tend to be shaped by pragmatism more than anything and they often support left-wing or liberal political parties as a result.

62 TMC February 26, 2016 at 12:12 pm

tokarev, survivors bias.

At the end of the day the fact that the left needs to build fences to keep people in, and the right builds fences to keep people out.

63 JB February 26, 2016 at 12:37 pm

So the USA is, despite Republicans’ protests, still a basically right-wing country? Good to know Obama’s efforts to fundamentally transform the country over the last 8 years have been an abject failure.

64 tokarev February 26, 2016 at 3:58 pm

America has never been a right-wing country, we just have a relatively conservative electorate. If our voter turnout was as high as it is in Europe, America’s political center would be to the left of Bernie Sanders!

65 Miguel Madeira February 26, 2016 at 5:57 am

But I suppose that the differences of grammar rules in english, polish and arabic could be so big that perhaps this does not mean much.

66 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 6:22 am

Presumably even with a different language you will have some speakers who use nouns less often than other speakers.

67 Rich Berger February 26, 2016 at 7:12 am

Perhaps liberals can host “noun-themed” parties to make fun of those wacky conservatives.

68 msgkings February 26, 2016 at 11:58 am

But they would simply call them “noun parties”, wouldn’t they?

69 josh February 26, 2016 at 7:51 am

There is a long tradition among liberal intellectuals of professing not to believe in the existence of nouns. Just saying.

70 rayward February 26, 2016 at 8:05 am

Conservatives are authoritarian, preferring words that are associated with force and strength, a simple (some say cartoonish) view of the world separated by clear distinctions between good and evil, the good guys and the bad guys, right and wrong. Thus, the Republican candidates promise to “carpet bomb” the bad guys in the middle east. One of the many ironies is that force and strength require a strong government and military and submission to authority, the opposite of individual liberty conservatives are supposed to support. Of course, all politicians use words as dog whistles, to convey a subliminal message, but conservative politicians have taken it to an all new level, often using words the opposite of their ordinary meaning.

71 msgkings February 26, 2016 at 12:01 pm

Conservatives are not about individual liberty, that’s libertarians. Conservatives are about submission to certain group norms: family, church, military, country. They only favor the individual over the collective outside of those other institutions, which is pretty much ‘government’.

72 bellisaurius February 26, 2016 at 8:23 am

My wife would say (as she often accuses me of) that a preference for adjectives is about ‘qualifying’. things. It’s a way of avoiding just saying what you mean in a starightforward manner, and (my understanding) is that it comes across as smarmy/snarky/etc.

73 TMC February 26, 2016 at 9:36 pm

+1 Exactly. I hate that moving definitions of words today. I say this, but tomorrow it means that.

74 mb February 26, 2016 at 8:45 am

I think this is another social psychology study that will not be replicated. A simple test would be run a word grouping algorithm against conservative and liberal texts or web sites. My guess no statistically significant difference will be found. The programming language preference (if it is real) would be highly correlated with age, salary and maturity of the business as well I would bet, so if you controlled for those I doubt there would be any difference.

75 Itch February 26, 2016 at 9:03 am

Science: Find correlation. Gratuitously impute causation. Publish. Repeat.

76 Urstoff February 26, 2016 at 9:19 am

Generalizations are dumb.

77 Chris s February 26, 2016 at 9:29 am

In general, yes.

78 msgkings February 26, 2016 at 12:01 pm


79 RPLong February 26, 2016 at 9:21 am

Are weasel words typically nouns or adjectives?

80 Florian von Schack February 26, 2016 at 9:40 am


81 Pshrnk February 26, 2016 at 9:24 am

Use of nouns rather than descriptors glosses over individual differences and shows greater belief in the importance of efficiency and the validity of categorization represented by the noun.

How does this relate to tendency to use more deductive or inductive reasoning?

82 Chris s February 26, 2016 at 9:31 am

Fundamental Attribution Error. People ARE their behavior, they don’t HAVE behavior and an identity separate from that.

In social psychology, the fundamental attribution error, also known as the correspondence bias or attribution effect, is the tendency for people to place an undue emphasis on internal characteristics (personality) to explain someone else’s behavior in a given situation rather than considering the situation’s external factors. It does not explain interpretations of one’s own behavior, where situational factors are more easily recognized and can thus be taken into consideration.

83 josh February 26, 2016 at 10:18 am

“People ARE their behavior, they don’t HAVE behavior”

Utter nonsense.

84 Chris S February 26, 2016 at 10:54 am

Agreed. But therein is the difference between a noun and and a characteristic.

85 Nathan W February 26, 2016 at 12:13 pm

E.g. “he’s a criminal” (unchangeable?) as opposed to “he committed a criminal act”.

E.g. “he’s an addict” (unchangeable?) as opposed to “he suffers from addiction”.

E.g. “he’s a terrorist” (unchangeable?) as opposed to “he committed an act of terrorism” (why?)

E.g. “he’s mentally ill” (unchangeable?) as opposed to “he suffers from a mental illness” (can be treated?)


86 Pshrnk February 26, 2016 at 12:39 pm

” There is no such thing as a homosexual or a heterosexual person. There are only homo–or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices.”
Gore Vidal

87 chuck martel February 26, 2016 at 9:34 am

Noun or adjective, it’s a feeble and inaccurate attempt to apply a simplistic label to complexity.

88 Derek February 26, 2016 at 10:03 am

Worse than that. If you can’t code you focus on the type of people who use different variants of techniques to find meaning for your uselessness.

The current attempt to enforce PC norms is similar. Like the marginal and stupid born into a class system who become the vigorous enforcers of class norms in an attempt to justify their belonging. The boxes are nice and secure comforts in the face of untenable reality.

Ooh, I know what a verb is. And a noun! I can manipulate a script function on a word processor!! My depths of historical knowledge and understanding brings me to the understanding that there are two parties in US elections. The speeches of leaders are digitized, and there is an import function on my word processor.

I’m certain these people will be great psychologists. Not too hard, the bar is pretty low.

89 Joshua R. Poulson February 26, 2016 at 10:11 am

Adjectives aren’t arguments. They are name-calling.

90 josh February 26, 2016 at 10:17 am

Aren’t nouns name-calling? Idiot! (kidding, but see!)

91 Pshrnk February 26, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Adjectives merely refine the name calling.

92 Boonton February 26, 2016 at 10:34 am

Nouns do seem to be more name calling than adjectives to me. Adjectives also seem more inclined towards those who hedge from making a strong stand:

“I support the police.” or “F the police”

“I support good cops while I think bad cops should be provided good retraining or have their job status reclassified if that is not possible”.

The first set sounds very clear while the second may be a more ‘sensible’ approach it doesn’t sound like something a passionate person would say. Note that “F the police” isn’t something you’d expect from a typical right winger but suppose you have a gun advocate saying “F the BATF” or “F the IRS”?

It’s possible that we can say the Right and Left wings are dominated by conservative and liberal mindsets but you can often find the opposite mindset among a subset of people in those political movements (like the strident Occupy Wall Street protestor or Jeb Bush)

93 chuck martel February 26, 2016 at 10:58 am

A Right and a Left wing are required because the western mentality operates in a polar manner: Good-Evil, Black-White, Up-Down, In-Out, Male-Female. There is no room for nuance. Fools, or maybe just normal Westerners, not only feel a need to belong to a specificity, they also need an opposition for legitimization. If no one is opposed to you, who are you, what’s your purpose? At the same time, there can’t be many opponents, there must be a focus. Once the Soviets threw in the towel, another danger had to be created, the Islamic terrorists are it now. In the case of domestic US politics, there must be two parties of somewhat divergent ideologies in order to create a polar situation that’s essentially meaningless. But only two. Three or more, as many parliamentary democracies have, would split up the spoils too much.

94 msgkings February 26, 2016 at 12:04 pm

But the ‘western mentality’ you are describing with only 2 parties is just 1 western country. The rest of the west has parliaments.

95 Pshrnk February 26, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Dualism is alive and well in the east. Yin and Yang. Ahura Mazda and Angra Mainyu. Etc.

96 Boonton February 27, 2016 at 7:03 am

Yin and Yang are premised on both sides being present in a healthy individual, position, stand, society, etc. This is unlike, say, the Force in Star Wars where you’re expected to pick on side and see it thru to the end.

97 Rich Berger February 26, 2016 at 2:19 pm

So here’s another instance of name-calling masquerading as a study, and the usual suspects take it from there.

98 FE February 26, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Calling a spade a spade satisfies an epistemic need, who knew?

99 Hopaulius February 26, 2016 at 6:15 pm

A data set of Republican and Democratic presidential speeches would seem to be an inadequate set for the topic under discussion. I’m sure it would be easy to come up with a data set that more nearly reflects how people communicate when the entire planet is not listening.

100 Larry February 28, 2016 at 8:45 pm

Liberals have unmoored another suite of nouns in recent years. People now “identify as male” rather than being men, etc.

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