Talk:Infectious Diseases and Authoritarianism
Parasite Stress Theory[edit source]
I've done a cursory reading on some of the literature regarding parasite stress theory. Which states that as infectious diseases increases within an area, the degree of support for authoritarian policies increases. This is because authoritarian policies will thincken borders and limit movement (and thus the transmition of the disease). Randy Thornhill is responsible for coming up with theory and he has recently done a podcast with Jordan Peterson where they discuss parasite stress theory (they talk about a few other topics, namely Female Orgasm and Cryptic Female Choice; I very much am more in line with the by-product view of female orgasm and disagree with almost everything Thornhill has to say in this domain; see the Penis and Female Orgasm articles).
But I must say that I feel that most of the discourse around parasite stress theory frames conservatives and right wingers as being suprestitious and idiotic (or at least offers an explanation as to why they're supposedly so superstitious and idiotic). If I were to elucidate what I think the underlying subtext of the entire discourse was, it would go something like, "I've always wondered why those right wingers always vote so stupidly; now I know why. They're all a bunch of disease addled rats." Take this article for example. It discusses how infectious diseases results in greater support for 'authoritarian beliefs' as well as support for Trump. But what I think is so telling is the following paragraph of the article:
"Moreover, in both nations and US states, higher rates of infectious disease correlated with more "vertical" laws—those that disproportionately affect certain groups, such as abortion control or extreme penalties for certain crimes. This was not the case with "horizontal" laws that affect everyone equally."
Regardless of your stance on the whole abortion issue, this is obviously incredibly disingenuous. For one, in assumes that the anti-abortion stance is incorrect. If we were to postulate that the foetus were a human life, then the obvious corollary of that would be that the mother does not have a right to kill it in the name of bodily autonomy whilst pregnant nor would she have that right postpartum; that's how most anti-abortioinists will frame their argument. We can thus abstract from this that the fundamental moral motivation here is not an authoritarian desire to control the bodies of women but rather belief in the sanctity of the child.
Conversely it would also be disingenuos to frame every pro-abortionist as being motivated by the desire to avoid the consequences of promiscuous irresponsible sex. That the author's of the paper cited so egregiously assume their pro-abortion stance and then deem everyone who is anti-abortion authoritarian becuase they don't fit their idealogical frame work reveals what's really happening.
There's the claim that infectious diseases increases support for authoritarian policies. Alright then, what do you mean by authoritarian policies? Who defines what authoritarian is? Why the liberal academia of course! So by defining the metric for what is authoritarian as being anything that doesn't fit your idealogy you can then easily reach the conclusion that an increase in infectious diseases results in an increase in support for authoritarian policies (policies that your side of the political isle conveniantly doesn't advocate for) so that you can represent your political opponents as inherently motivated by authoritarian belief.
Now I controvert the fact that an infectious disease results in an increase in support for "authoritarian" policies (as in the bullshit definition that construes right-wing beliefs as authoritarian) but I'm still open to the possibility that an increase in infectious diseases will result in an increases in support for authoritarian policies across the entire right-left spectrum. The recent pandemic illustrates this point quite nicely.
I think we can all agree that the authoritarian lockdowns and vaccine mandates are not being advocated for by actors on the right but by actors on the left. The response in Australia can noncontroversially be described as being the most authoritarian (to the point of being possibly Orwellian); what's particularly horrifying is that the policies instituted in Australia have been done so with the support of the public. So in this case, it is clear that the threat of infectious disease has resulted in support for authoritarian policies and not the "authoritarian" policies that the proponents of parasite stress theory proport to correlate with infectious diseases.
It should also be noted that on the podcast I referenced earlier, Peterson also notes that someone could make this exact point about the increase in support for authoritarian policies from the left and the pandemic. So what do you think Thornhill's answer is to the question as to why the right has advocated for the cessation of lockdowns and have controverted the vaccine mandates whereas the left has done the oppisite? Despite the fact that his theory predicts that this kind of authoritarian behaviour should stem from the right?
God. Fucking God.
You know, I consider myself somewhat religious, but even I thought that the God of the Gaps fallacy was limited to evangelicals; imagine my shock, then, when Thornhill responded that the right advocates for the cessation of lockdowns because their political leaders (in his view especially Trump) instruct them to as this is akin to God coming down and sending revelation to the masses. Does Thornhill think that everyone on the right is a religious nut (or that every religious person is actually retarded)? It's a pathetic explanation to say the least, if not downright appalling.
That sums up my musings on parasite stress theory; I think a lot of the discourse surrounding it stinks of partisanship (especially with the advent of the pandemic and the resultant policies). I was wondering if anyone else was familiar with any of the literature on parasite stress theory as it might inspire some discourse (which might in turn result in a future article if the discourse is productive).
[Some further reading: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6124128/,https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3660589/]
Counter Theories: Authoritarianism as Slow Life History[edit source]
Religious Fundamentalists and Authoritarians are those that hate pornography and also have issues "kicking the habit" See: https://doi.org/10.1207/s15327825mcs0703_2
Heterosexual Females and Gays are the most religious, Lesbians and Heterosexual Males are in the middle, and "Bisexuals" in general are the most atheistic See: https://emilkirkegaard.dk/en/2018/04/intelligence-and-religiousness-in-okcupid-dataset/
Religious Purity as paradoxical gay-bashing See: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3792537
Religiosity implies high sexual esteem but worse moral judgment See: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12119-016-9374-x
Religious fundamentalists have lower prenatal testosterone See: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jssr.12248