Age, Wisdom, Sagacity, Common Sense, and Republicanism

March 19th, 2011

My friend Steve is, I think, claiming that wisdom and common sense (he seems to be implying that they’re the same thing) and likelihood of voting Republican all increase together with age.

Which putatively explains the two graphs he posts:

It’s funny that he doesn’t show the other graph from his source, showing the Dem space and the Pub space:

Hmmm…. Pay no attention to the graybeards behind the curtain.

His source attributes this, not to increasing wisdom or common sense, rather to people voting their pocketbooks at different ages. But that’s really just speculation.

Nevertheless, much interesting insight from that source. Notably:

I find groupthink frightening.

It’s what gave us — among other things — Soviet Russia, the Reign of Terror, The McCarthy Era, the Iraq War, The Holy Inquisition, thirty years of mediocre economic performance, and a global financial meltdown.

 

 

 

 

» Luckily, Manclaiming It….

  1. March 20th, 2011 at 12:40 | #1

    I shocked – shocked I tell you – to see conservative cherry-picking information to confirm his pre-conceived notions. While some people gain wisdom with age, the majority of people simply don’t spend enough time thinking about anything more important than March Madness to develop even the most rudimentary level of sagacity.

    More typically, what happens with age is ossification. The oktrends article has a lot of good and insightful stuff in it. But it also suggests that people in their 40’s will wander for a time back into the Democratic fold before reaching final fossil status as born again Rethugs. Only anecdotal, but I have never seen even a single individual do through that kind of double-back transformation.

    Further, the economic “permissiveness” scale is incorrectly constructed. I’m not even sure there is a single scalar economic concept that could give you a meaningful dimension. How do you accommodate regulation, intervention, transfer payments, tax policy, corporate bailouts, etc. into a scalable entity?

    While I recognize that Rethugs are more cohesive in their views than Dems, I contend that is because ossification, and its associated simplistic black-white world view is the common characteristic, irrespective of age. Dems are more diverse because the absence of ossification can manifest itself in an infinite variety of ways, and they populate the gray areas.

    The idea that anyone over age 50 in the lower right quadrant would vote Democratic is actually laughable. The authoritarians are in almost 100% overlap with the religious right. Their neighbors in that quadrant are teabaggers. I think the conceptual flaw is in the graph that indicates economic trumping social beliefs as one ages. It is social beliefs that ossify more (think racism, anti-gay prejudice) with age.

    The other more fundamental flaw is in imagining that peoples’ belief systems are the result of some – indeed, any – rational thought process. I contend that not one person in 10 – or 100, or maybe 1000 – has political beliefs that are derived from thinking hard about policy, the underlying principles, and the results. Most people don’t think any deeper than a sound bite with a simple message. Again, this is an area where the Rethugs excel – not limited by truth, logic, or anything else.

    People vote their comfort zone, and as one ages, that becomes more conservative and entrenched. Wisdom and common sense are, at best, orthogonal to these developments.

    Cheers!
    JzB

  2. March 20th, 2011 at 14:34 | #2

    >Wisdom and common sense are, at best, orthogonal to these developments.

    That’s really nicely put.

  3. Chris T
    March 21st, 2011 at 09:19 | #3

    The studies I’ve seen actually suggest that voting becomes fairly entrenched in one’s 20’s (as do many things it would seem). Political views tend to be more generational than what age an individual is. People who came of age in the 1980’s (Reagan) are particularly conservative, which lines up with the 30-50 demographic on the chart.

  4. Don Munsil
    March 21st, 2011 at 09:34 | #4

    I concur with Chris; the highly conservative folks were conservative when they were young and continue to be conservative now.

    I think if you come of age in an era of perceived conservative overreach, you are more likely to be liberal, and if you come of age in an era of perceived liberal overreach, you are more likely to be conservative.

    I am sympathetic to the idea that people get “more conservative” as they grow older, if they started as naively liberal. I’d say that lots of people get more realistic as they get older, which suggests they start rejecting simple answers and become less sure of the truth of the precepts of their philosophy. That’s called “wisdom”. 🙂

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