Monday, June 2, 2008

Truth & Honesty - Left & Right

Progressives are less honest than conservatives; those who consider themselves morally superior yet without a strong ethical foundation valuing honesty and truth find it acceptable to act dishonestly to achieve their ends. Is any of this a surprise.

Let me preface this by saying that I have a tremendous respect for anyone who value honesty and who puts principle over expediency, whether I agree with them or not. That said, it seems that the progressives who inhabit our modern left are, with but a few notable exceptions, seem to have little use for intellectual honesty and love to pose upon the moral highground. Lastly, I am very wary of psychological studies or polls that attempt to define desirable or deragatory characteristics to people on the basis of their political leanings. I am blogging the studies below because I believe they merely support my own conclusions after years of observation - and I do try to maintain an open mind and I do value intellectual honesty.

A study was released recently measuring predisposition to honesty and integrity broken down by the individuals self described political leanings:

The headline may seem like a trick question — even a dangerous one — to ask during an election year. . . . Yet there is a striking gap between the manner in which liberals and conservatives address the issue of honesty.

Consider these results:

Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.

Ponder this scenario, offered by the National Cultural Values Survey: “You lose your job. Your friend’s company is looking for someone to do temporary work. They are willing to pay the person in cash to avoid taxes and allow the person to still collect unemployment. What would you do?”

Almost half, or 49 percent, of self-described progressives would go along with the scheme, but only 21 percent of conservatives said they would.

. . . The World Values Survey found that those on the left were also much more likely to say it is OK to buy goods that you know are stolen. Studies have also found that those on the left were more likely to say it was OK to drink a can of soda in a store without paying for it and to avoid the truth while negotiating the price of a car.

Another survey by Barna Research found that political liberals were two and a half times more likely to say that they illegally download or trade music for free on the Internet.

. . . A study in the Journal of Business Ethics involving 392 college students found that stronger beliefs toward “conservatism” translated into “higher levels of ethical values.” And academics concluded in the Journal of Psychology that there was a link between “political liberalism” and “lying in your own self-interest,” based on a study involving 156 adults.

Liberals were more willing to “let others take the blame” for their own ethical lapses, “copy a published article” and pass it off as their own, and were more accepting of “cheating on an exam,” according to still another study in the Journal of Business Ethics.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all conservatives are honest and all liberals are untrustworthy. But clearly a gap exists in the data. Why? The quick answer might be that liberals are simply being more honest about their dishonesty.

However attractive this explanation might be for some, there is simply no basis for accepting this explanation. Validation studies, which attempt to figure out who misreports on academic surveys and why, has found no evidence that conservatives are less honest. Indeed, validation research indicates that Democrats tend to be less forthcoming than other groups.

The honesty gap is also not a result of “bad people” becoming liberals and “good people” becoming conservatives. In my mind, a more likely explanation is bad ideas. Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective.

Sixties organizer Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say inspired and influenced them, once said the effective political advocate “doesn’t have a fixed truth; truth to him is relative and changing, everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.” . . .

Read the entire article. Another study was done several months ago that found those who belive they hold the they are morally superior are, unless also holding a stong ethical inclination towards honesty, can easilly rationalize cheating and lying to accomplish their morally superior ends.

None of this should come as a surprise. Whatever the left may have once been, it is now a party for whom the ends justify the means. They have, in large measure, left intellectual honesty by the wayside.

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