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Thread: Busting Myth, People Turn More Liberal With Age

  1. #1
    Senior Member rdf's Avatar
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    Busting Myth, People Turn More Liberal With Age

    Busting Myth, People Turn More Liberal With Age

    The stereotype of a cranky old man, set in his ways, getting more conservative by the day, is an enduring one. But new research has debunked the myth that people become more conservative as they age.
    By comparing surveys of various age groups taken over a span of more than 30 years, sociologists found that in general, Americans' opinions veer toward the liberal as they grow older.

    "All the evidence we have found refutes the idea that as people age their attitudes become more conservative or more rigid," said Nicholas Danigelis, a sociologist at the University of Vermont. "It's just not true. More people are changing in a liberal direction than in a conservative direction."

    Detailed study
    Danigelis and collaborators Stephen Cutler of the University of Vermont and Melissa Hardy of Pennsylvania State University analyzed data from the U.S. General Social Surveys of 46,510 Americans between 1972 and 2004. While the surveys did not provide data for the same individuals at different stages, they represented snapshots of the changing attitudes of respondents in different age cohorts over time. The researchers corrected for the fact that the age groups at different survey times are made of up new members with unique baseline opinions.

    The surveys assessed attitudes on politics, economics, race, gender, religion and sexuality issues. In some cases, such as racial issues and questions of civil liberties for communists, the researchers measured a greater change toward liberalism in older people than in younger people.
    "What we believe has happened, at least for the race relations, is that the older group, starting out at a position of significantly more negative feelings, had further to go," Danigelis told LiveScience.

    If people really become more liberal as they age, why does common wisdom hold the opposite to be true?

    People might find an average 60-year-old to be more conservative than an average 30-year-old, Danigelis said, but beware of extrapolating a trend. The older person, for example, might have started off even more conservative than he or she is now.

    Danigelis also blamed the misconception on pervasive negative attitudes toward the elderly in our country, and stereotypes that depict seniors as rigid, ornery and set in their ways.

    "If you look at any greeting cards about getting older you’ve got a wonderful lecture about age stereotypes," he said. "My colleague continues to cut out cartoons about getting old and trying to teach old dogs new tricks."

    Election impact

    continued
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  2. #2
    Not if you asked the older folks in my family. You should hear
    what they've had to say about Obama and Hillary. They are
    dyed in the wool Conservative Republicans and nothing else
    matters, as far as they're concerned.

  3. #3
    rdf,

    I believe people don't change their liberal or conservative attitudes so easily with age or anything else. I think that sustained disillusionment is necessary to engender a switch from one to the other. This Bush Administration has resulted in the disillusionment of many conservatives. Therefore, you are finding a liberalization of older Americans. On the other hand, if you had looked at older people in the 1980's, during the Reagan years, you probably would have seen many more conservative older Americans.

    We should also remember that many of the people who are reaching the age of 60 are post-war babies who spent their formative years during the 1960's. We are the original flower children. So, it would not be so surprising that there will be more latter-day hippies amongst aging baby boomers and that we are more liberal that the generation that followed us, those who grew up during the Reagan years. Perhaps we should thank George W. Bush. He has probably contributed more to the liberalization of America than any person ever.

    Wise.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Young
    Perhaps we should thank George W. Bush. He has probably contributed more to the liberalization of America than any person ever.
    It's pretty tough to not be labled a Liberal these days. If you believe
    that climate change is a serious issue, you're a Liberal. If you support
    any kind of realistic immigration reform, you're a Liberal. If you don't
    like borrowing money from one country to fight another, you're a
    Liberal.

    I'm not sure what Conservative is anymore. Oppression and fiscal
    irresponsibility?

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Buck_Nastier
    It's pretty tough to not be labled a Liberal these days. If you believe
    that climate change is a serious issue, you're a Liberal. If you support
    any kind of realistic immigration reform, you're a Liberal. If you don't
    like borrowing money from one country to fight another, you're a
    Liberal.

    I'm not sure what Conservative is anymore. Oppression and fiscal
    irresponsibility?

    I have said many times now that I don't think George W. Bush is conservative. He is a radical. He is fiscally radical, accumulating more debt that all the presidents before him. He is monetarily irresponsible, having lost more than 20% of the value of the dollar over the last 8 years compared to most other currencies of the world. He does not follow the Constitution, flouting it on numerous occasions. The only thing that he might be "conservative" at may be his attitude towards sex.

    Being Christian is not necessarily part of the conservative creed, in my opinion. There are many liberals who are deeply religious. Likewise, there are many conservatives who are not religious. It is also interesting what people call radical muslims are actually in terms of their own culture deeply conservative, i.e. they want to adhere to old muslims practices. So, I suggest conservative is a misnomer for people like George W. Bush.

    But, getting this topic back onto science. I want to point out that scientists are generally very conservative. Why do I say this? Well, by training, we don't believe anything and don't take action unless the p-value is 0.05 or less. In other words, we have very strict criteria for action. Only when the information that we receive tell us that something will happen with 95% certainly will be actually favor something. This is very conservative.

    In business, by contrast, most decisions are based on the 50:50 probability. If one has a 51% chance of making money, most business people would take that risk and put their money down. If some cases, a business person may even go for a situation with 45% or less chance of winning by bluffing. That is what poker is really all about, isn't it. One wins by bluffing.

    In politics, people are forced to base their decisions on 10% percentile probabilities. For example, at the beginning of the democratic primaries, there were 12 or more candidates. The chances of winning were less than 10%. Now, of course, with only two candidates, the chances are right around the 50th percentile.

    Wise.

  6. #6
    Banned adi chicago's Avatar
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    a president who veto a bill to cure humans is not the right president which humans need.[usa has the money and power to help the scientists to cure SCI].am i wrong?
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