Thursday, November 14, 2002

Dissecting John Ray

Thursday, 14 November 2002

Visitors to John Jay Ray's site Dissecting Leftism will be aware that Dr Ray is currently writing a monograph on the sociological and psychological origins of Leftism. It would be easy to dismiss this as an extended ad hominem attack on Dr Ray's political opponents, however after a little reflection on Dr Ray's thesis that Leftism is associated with particular personality traits and social factors I have begun to wonder whether Dr Ray's analysis of the relationship between psychology and sociology factors and political belief doesn't also apply to conservatism. Dr Ray clearly identifies himself as a conservative, which in my view makes him an ideal initial case study for such an inquiry.

Admittedly the available data - mainly consisting of Dr Ray's personal web pages, his articles in Front Page and his several blogs - is a little scanty and selective. On the other hand Dr Ray's blog postings on issues such as the relationship between race and IQ show a commendable freedom from what some psychologists call "impression management": the tendency to adjust our behaviour or language to conform to what we believe are socially accepted norms. Dr Ray's willingness to be so open about his beliefs should yield a wealth of psychological and sociological insight into the particular brand of conservatism he espouses.

Such an inquiry has an obvious social value: if Dr Ray is correct in his belief that Leftism is the result of pathological personality traits then a study of the healthy conservative personality has the potential to yield insights which may eventually lead to an effective therapy for Leftism, similar to the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy which is used in the treatment of clinical depression. For psychological therapy to be effective, the practitioner must have a clear notion of what the healthy mind is - there is no point trying to cure the unhealthy mind if one does not have a clear understanding of one's eventual goal. Dr Ray is obviously in possession of a healthy conservative mind which warrants serious psychological scrutiny.

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