Saturday, November 26, 2005

Encountering the Muslims and the Chinese

Social scientists and others rely (or should rely) on extensively sampled data to support generalizations that they make.  Valid generalizations can hardly arise from anything but sampling of a wide range of relevant data.  To generalize about a given population, you at least need to sample it in some way.

Nonetheless, statistical generalizations do NOT seem to be very persuasive to most people.  Not unreasonably, people tend to be much more influenced by observations and events that they know personally or that people they know have told them about.  So generalizations will not usually gain much traction without illustrative examples.  Anecdotes are at least as persuasive as well-founded statistical generalizations.

So what I want to do below is give two small anecdotes from my life that do in my view illustrate at the personal level two generalizations that I believe are well supported by other historical and psychometric data:  That many Muslim populations are emotionally immature and that the Chinese are innately a highly civilized people.  There are exceptions to every rule of course but what I want to do is give examples that illustrate the rule.

I often eat out for breakfast.  And in highly multicultural Australia the providers of breakfasts are ethnically highly varied.  And the “ethnics” often do not understand English well.  So getting a breakfast from them can sometimes have its communication difficulties.  On one such occasion, I was having difficulty getting what I had ordered from a Muslim (Iranian, I think) business.  After communication had repeately failed, I began to get a bit irate.  When I did so, however, the Muslim owner got irate with me and accused me of insulting him.  At that point I simply turned on my heel without another word and walked out— and I never went there again.  He went broke a few months later.

On a second more recent occasion, a similar situation transpired in a business run by a Chinese man.  Did his “honour” get besmirched by my annoyance?  Not a bit of it.  He was apologetic and conciliatory. I did not walk out of HIS eatery.  I enjoyed my breakfast when I eventually got it and I will eat there again.  I shook his hand as I left by way of apology for my bad temper.  And I am betting that he won’t go broke.  Give me the Chinese any day.  I have known Chinese people since childhood and have had umpteen opportunities to observe their behaviour here in Australia—and the example I have just given is absolutely typical of them in my experience: Truly smart, patient and civilized people..

Monday, November 21, 2005

Celebrating the feast of Christ the King at "Our Lady of Victories"

It has from time to time been said on this blog that if you want to live in an entirely white society, you need to move to Eastern Europe. In Brisbane you can do that with relative ease. This Sunday morning, I attended a mass at "Our Lady of Victories" church -- Brisbane's major Catholic church with an entirely Polish congregation. The service was mostly in Polish but, being a bit deaf, I found it hardly more incomprehensible than the service at the Metropolitical Cathedral of St. John -- a marvellous stone Anglican church to which I also occasionally go for the music. Being a great fan of early church music (the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina is my favourite in that department) I am often to be found in places where few atheists go.

Anyway, the service at "Our Lady of Victories" was overwhelming. The congregation was of course entirely pink-skinned and mostly elderly. There was Gregorian chant even before the service began and young nuns in wimples were much in evidence. The service began with a magnificent ecclesiastical procession with all sorts of flags, banners and uniforms -- with the distinctive caps of the heroic Polish armed forces much in evidence. There was no order of service or prayer-book handed out. People KNEW what to do and when to do it. Sanctuaries were opened and closed, bells were rung and trumpet fanfares were sounded. And best of all was the heartfelt singing of Polish hymns. And, quite amazingly, after the service was over and we left the church, we all processed right around the church and resumed devotions while standing outside it -- with the clergy officiating from the entrance staircase. There was a definite reluctance to let go of a great community occasion. It was all pretty foreign to my poor old Presbyterian heart (the lady I was with was also of Presbyterian origins) but the power of the occasion was still very evident to me nonetheless.

So, yes. I do appreciate the ways of my Volk -- with that term VERY broadly defined -- and I believe that they are so powerful that they will never go away. That the Poles have endured so much and still emerged victorious in all the ways that matter is proof of that.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

An article that slipped through the net

It is part of the conventional religion among psychologists to believe that conservatives are the ones who are “authoritarian”.  Joe Stalin, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers party just did not happen, you see.  And like most Leftist beliefs, this one is impermeable to evidence.  I have reported in the academic journals heaps of carefully conducted research  showing the belief to be false but I was wasting my time of course.  You can’t argue with something that people need to believe.

Still, every now and again, a piece of research pops up which questions the orthodox faith and one such article is: “Is political conservatism synonymous with authoritarianism?”, in The Journal of Social Psychology of Oct 2005, volume 145, issue 5,  p571ff. by H. Michael Crowson, Stephen J. Thoma and Nita Hestevold.  Their research is of course the usual rubbish that passes for science in psychology:  No attempt at sampling, no awareness of what the questionnaires they use actually say, internally inconsistent indices treated as informative, negligible correlations reported as if they offered useful information etc. but it is still nice to see a challenge of sorts to the orthodoxy being put up.  I would give a more detailed critique of what they did but I don’t want to discourage them too much.  They should probably read this and this and this, though.