Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Oppose Obama's Policies? You Are Prejudiced

Cross-posted by Gary Fouse

Today's Orange County Register features a story about a study conducted by a professor at the University of California at Irvine that shows that most people who oppose President Obama's policies are driven by racial prejudice against blacks.


According to Professor Eric Knowles of UC-Irvine, who worked with two Stanford University social psychologists (whatever that is) came to this conclusion from interviewing 285 whites, Hispanics and Asians to determine their bias against blacks.

Two hundred and eighty-five people out of a nation of 300 million. Pretty conclusive, don't you think?

"Yeah. Us and 283 other guys!"

Conclusion? Obama won the election in spite of racial prejudice against blacks. The subsequent resistance to his policies is driven by racial prejudice against blacks.

Noteworthy in the article is that the professors apparently didn't bother to interview African-Americans as to why they voted or didn't vote for Obama or why they support or oppose his policies.

In the interest of full disclosure, I teach part time at UC-Irvine, but I don't know Professor Knowles.

So what is the message here? Is it that we Obama critics should shut our mouths lest we not be accused of being racists? Well, I abandoned that idea quite a while back. Besides, I have no desire to abandon black conservatives who have exhibited courage in going against Obama, his gang, and his philosophy.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Gary,

    Thank you for your interest in our article. If I might, I'd like to clear up a misconception about the research. In the paper, we state the following:

    "In sum, while our findings do not corroborate the view that opposition to the President is motivated primarily by racial prejudice, they clearly rebut those who argue that opposition to Obama and his policies has nothing to do with race—or that we should 'get over' the idea that it might (Greenberg et al., 2009)."

    As is clear from this quotation, we do not agree with Jimmy Carter that the "overwhelming portion" of opposition to Obama is prejudice-driven. Based on our data, however, we also disagree with Michael Steele, John Boehner, Stan Greenberg, and James Carville, all of whom have claimed that racial prejudice has no role in making opposition to Obama more likely.

    Our point here is that prejudice is one factor -- of many -- that contributes to views about Obama. Our data clearly support this notion. Nowhere in the paper do we claim that opposition to Obama entails prejudice. Nothing in our work disputes that idea that many, even most, people oppose Obama simply because they don't like his policies.

    Taking the claim "if x, then y" (if prejudiced, then against Obama) and inferring from it that "if y then x" (if against Obama, then prejudiced) is a logical mistake called the converse error, or "affirming the consequent" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent). I worry that the title of your entry encourages just this misreading of our findings. The same error is apparent when you attribute to us the claim that "most people who are opposed to Obama are prejudiced." We don't make this claim, nor do we agree with it.

    You correctly point out that our sample was not nationally representative. That is precisely why never speculate as to prevalence of race-based opposition to Obama in the larger population -- but rather just that it exists. However, I would direct your attention to an excellent article that reports results similar to our in a nationally representative data set:

    Payne, B. K., Krosnick, J. A., Pasek, J., Lelkes, Y., Akhtar, O., Tompson, T. (2009). Implicit and explicit prejudice in the 2008 American presidential election. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

    Best regards,

    Eric Knowles