Why are Conservatives so credulous?

I’ll mention Obama, but only as an example. This is not meant to be an Obama thread.

At another website I see:
[ul][li]Obama is a Muslim[/li][li]Obama is not a U.S. citizen[/li][li]Obama is a socialist[/li][li]Both parties want to take away our freedom[/ul][/li]I’m not entirely sure what they mean by those last two. ‘Socialist’ like Soviet Russia or East Germany? And what is this ‘freedom’ they talk about, anyway?

More than that, there have been many ‘urban legends’ they’ve bought into. Not ‘urban legend’ as in ‘Guy wakes in a bathtub without a kidney’, but more along the lines of ‘So-and-so said this’ or ‘This company did that’ or ‘Check out this video of a bear driving a car!’. Obama’s citizenship and religion are easily found out. The various ULs can easily be debunked by checking Snopes.

But even when provided evidence contrary to things they believe they dismiss it and state more rudely that the falsehood is true. I can understand it when the subject is religion. That’s one place where facts will only make people angry.

Now, Conservatives are not the only people taken in by things that aren’t true. I saw that video of the airplane losing its wing. (I only saw it once.) Given that some airplanes can fly on their sides, using the fuselage for lift while the wings basically act as vertical stabs, I thought it was plausible. I started a thread on it. I was immediately shown an earlier thread, and I saw that the video is a hoax. Did I say, ‘No! Airplanes can do that!’? No, I accepted that I’d been fooled.

There have been any number of threads here where someone says, ‘Wow! Look at this!’ or ‘Did X really happen?’. Information is provided and ignorance is fought. Conservative or Liberal, at this site people accept facts. But elsewhere, for whatever reason, people dismiss the facts and continue to believe what they believe. There are Liberal wackos who believe Conspiracy Theories, but in my non-expert, non-scientific observations it seems that most of this credulity is on the part of people who tend to lean Conservative.


Politics is a lot like religion, i.e., faith-based. The flock listen to their shamans (party leaders), and nod “Amen!” often without regard to facts. Regardless of the party.

I didn’t intend the OP to focus on politics, but on things in general that are believed.

The right wing is good at simplifying matters and expressing them in simple, easy to grasp concepts. For instance:

“Obama pals around with terrorists.”

The Liberal reply is usually complex:

“Obama was on a board with a group of community leaders, Republican and Democratic. One of them was someone who was a 60s radical, which isn’t exactly the same thing as a terrorist, since they were more interested in attacking buildings and not killing people and spreading terror. In addition, the connection was only within the board and the other man’s community work, where it was unlikely that the details of his 60s politics was ever an issue. Obama does not condone the issues, nor does the man have any place in Obama’s campaign.”

Which is easier to grasp? Which can you repeat endlessly to drive home the point?

Liberals never really had that knack. “McCain is erratic” is hardly likely to get the same gut rection. The best they’ve done this year is “McCain will follow the same failed policies of George W. Bush,” which would have worked much better as “McCain IS Bush.”

Maybe you’re asking the wrong question. Maybe you should be asking why credulous people are so often Conservative.

Here’s a question that will almost never fail to reveal a reactionary masking themselves as a conservative:

What, exactly, are you trying to conserve?

People, in general, believe facts that support their prejudices.

Conservatism is simple because it’s based on fear. Liberalism is more complex because it requires one to believe that people who are not exactly like you deserve the same rights and protections you deserve.

See? Even explaining liberalism is a lot more complex than explaining conservatism. But I’m not being ironic here.

Conservatives want to conserve a world as they believe it once existed, even though it never did. Because the world seems to be not as good a place as they believe it once was (though it never was that good) they fear that the world is constantly becoming a worse place, and they blame the faceless “they”. Any time they can put a face (a different-colored face, almost always) on “they”, conservatives have a real thing they can be afraid of and hate. The world is not as conservatives think it should be and. because they do not know why (ignorance is rarely stupidity, usually it’s just not wanting to know), they are afraid of anything and anyone that isn’t just like them. It’s tribalism, pure and simple.

Bottom line: Conservatism appeals to the basest and least intellectual parts of the human mind. People not willing to make the effort to think for themselves nestle comfortably into this area of their minds and stay there, blissfully but hatefully ignorant, forever.

That’s a bit unfair. There are plenty of people who self-identify as conservative who believe everyone deserves the same rights just as strongly as you do. Many on these Boards, even.

IME liberals and conservatives (people in general, in fact) are about equally silly, credulous and dumb, or clever and open-minded, or any mix of those. Announcing that one side is dumber than the other reveals your biases and not a lot else.

Bingo. Well said.

This board is a riot some times. “Why are conservatives so dumb? Seriously, I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just trying to understand why they’re not as smart as we are.” God almighty.

In my observations (I may have mentioned that in the OP) Conservatives seem to believe hoaxes more often than Liberals. YMMV.

Agreed. I don’t think it’s that being conservative makes you credulous, but the other way around.

Except, you are wrong. Conservatives tend to be wrong more often, and are harder to convince of the truth. Attempts to do so tend to actually make them wronger; that’s not true of liberals

The idea that conservatives and liberals are just as bad, morally or intellectually is a myth.

I couldn’t put it better.

I like to think of myself as pretty hard-nosed and cynical (as far as credulity goes), yet also human and wanting the best for as many human beings as possible. I’m still a conservative though, in my heart. It might come as a shock to some that this stuff isn’t actually the exclusive property of the Left. This doesn’t make me toe the line of any given conservative party, though. It also doesn’t make me particularly like shock jocks. In fact, I can’t stand 'em. I don’t like any populist politics. But I’m still a conservative.

But if you guys can simply dismiss us as credulous and stupid, then more power to ya. That certainty must be a nice thing to be able to fall back on. Not getting the irony of it must be even sweeter.

But isn’t some of this due to the fact that “liberals” in the US are pretty moderate relative to those in other countries. Lots of truly liberal people tend to buy some pretty ridiculous things too.

This is called a confirmation bias. You pay more attention to the examples of the opposition acting credulous or stupid than you do when your own side does, because it’s consistent with your preconceived opinion that the other side is stupid.
Another barrier to not recognizing the false/stupid beliefs of people on your own side is that you probably hold some of those false beliefs yourself.

I’d say that there are just as many false rumors about Sarah Palin floating around as there are about Barack. Note that most of the rumors/ULs listed on Snopes’s Sarah Palin page are marked false, and that’s not an all-inclusive list. When the news about Sarah Palin being the VP pick first broke, I remember seeing plenty of deranged liberals on the Kos talking about their conspiracy theory that Sarah Palin’s youngest son was really Bristol’s baby and that the family was pretending Trig is Sarah’s kid as a coverup. :rolleyes:

One could also say that Der Trihs is being credulous by automatically accepting the findings of an experiment that evidently hasn’t even been subjected to the peer review process and published yet. But of course, when the findings are consistent with what you want to believe, it is easy to assume they must be true.

Ding! And conservatives tend to be a bit more vocal in their beliefs. For some reason, conservatism seems to attract highly vocal people. I’m not sure if it has something to do with vocal people go with conservative views in larger numbers, or if there’s something about popular culture which inspires conservatives to be more vocal.

In this area (Tennessee), the radio stations which have the most conservative talk radio hosts are also the ones that tend to run the late night programs aimed at people who believe in alien abductions, government conspiracies and the like. I presume that this is a fairly common situation and that the “abductee” hosts tailor their programs to match conservative views.

However, I will submit that conservativism in the post-Reagan era tends to hold the belief that “government is the problem” (as opposed to those conservatives who feel that the Constitution limits the power of the government to certain areas, and government as an entity is not inherently incompetent) and that if you’re going to believe that government is “evil,” then finding out that the government has sold you out to lizardmen from Alpha Draconis isn’t that much of a stretch.

That’s the exasperating part. My aunt truly believes that both candidates have participated in the exact same amount of mud-slinging, and doesn’t comprehend that attacking your opponent’s policies (Obama campaign) and stopping just short of calling your opponent a terrorist (McCain campaign) are not equivalent.

OK, but does Australia’s Right have as much of a history of being based on fear and loathing as ours? I think the question in the OP is culturally sensitive to a large degree. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if your Right turned out to be quite a bit like our Left.

Speaking of which:

That’s a great point. I hadn’t thought of that: US conservatives are so far to the right of most of the developed world that they’re naturally going to have more nutballs in their midst than the more moderate American Left.

Not to say that we don’t have our fair share, it’s just that the GOP is particularly adept at legitimizing the absurd and getting a scarily large number of the population to march behind it.

OK, one of the many things that are really great about Snopes is that it doesn’t have a “Totally false, but…” marker. For example, the rumor that Palin banned a specific list of books is totally false, but it is true that she asked a local librarian how she would react to a request to ban objectionable books and then fired her the next day because she felt she didn’t have the librarian’s full support. That’s a pretty massive grain of truth, with all the cultural and political ramifications of the rumor–it’s just not as catchy in a mass email. Problem? Yes. Credulity? Maybe. Is it even remotely like the ability of the GOP to produce Obama libel from thin air and sell it to almost half of the American people instantly? No. Not even close.

Anyway, some of those rumors are favorable to Palin (for example, the list of similarities between her and Teddy Roosevelt.)

To support this and stratocaster and dangermom I think what is being observed is a studied documented psychological critical thinking error known as Confirmation Bias I have never seen that Conservative’s have this error more than liberals and would be fascinated (and delighted) to see it documented

Snopes list ten Palin rumors and **forty-five **Obama rumors.

The Palin myth I’d like to see debunked is the notion that she can field dress a moose.