The dodo, as you may recall, is extinct. I wonder, though, how many people remember why the dodo became extinct. It was because, lacking any serious natural predators in their homeland of Mauritius, the dodos were a bit too friendly to incoming colonists (and their animals), and simply allowed themselves to be eaten into oblivion:
As with many animals that have evolved in isolation from significant predators, the dodo was entirely fearless of people, and this, in combination with its flightlessness, made it easy prey for humans. However, journals are full of reports regarding the bad taste and tough meat of the dodo, while other local species such as the Red Rail were praised for their taste. However, when humans first arrived on Mauritius, they also brought with them other animals that had not existed on the island before, including dogs, pigs, cats, rats, and Crab-eating Macaques, which plundered the dodo nests, while humans destroyed the forests where the birds made their homes; currently, the impact these animals—especially the pigs and macaques—had on the dodo population is considered to have been more severe than that of hunting. The 2005 expedition’s finds are apparently of animals killed by a flash flood; such mass mortalities would have further jeopardized a species already in danger of becoming extinct.
Dodo skeleton, Natural History Museum (England)
Although there are scattered reports of mass killings of dodos for provisioning of ships, archaeological investigations have hitherto found scant evidence of human predation on these birds. Some bones of at least two dodos were found in caves at Baie du Cap which were used as shelters by fugitive slaves and convicts in the 17th century, but due to their isolation in high, broken terrain, were not easily accessible to dodos naturally.
It turns out that there is very little difference between your modern liberal and the vanished dodo. Liberals are trying to spin this difference this as an attack on conservatives (“conservatives are paranoid loonies”), but we know who’s going to survive at the end of the day:
Researchers have found, for example, that some humans are particularly alert to threats, particularly primed to feel vulnerable and perceive danger. Those people are more likely to be conservatives.
One experiment used electrodes to measure the startle blink reflex, the way we flinch and blink when startled by a possible danger. A flash of noise was unexpectedly broadcast into the research subjects’ earphones, and the response was measured.
The researchers, led by Kevin B. Smith of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, found that those who had a stronger blink reflex at the noise were more likely to take such conservative positions as favoring gun rights, supporting warrantless searches, and opposing foreign aid.
That makes intuitive sense: If you are more acutely sensitive to risks and more fearful of attack, you also may be more aggressive in arming yourself and more wary of foreigners.
In other words, despite the nastiness that crept into that Nicholas Kristoff report (as, for example, the swipe that conservatives favor the ultimate evil of warrantless searches), the fact remains that we are the un-dodos, ready to defend ourselves from predators as necessary.
Kristoff also assures his liberal readers that science shows that conservatives are generally meaner, more abusive people, especially when it comes to their poor children:
This research is tentative and needs to be confirmed, but it fits into a fascinating framework of the role of personality types in politics, explored in a recent book, “Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics,” by two political scientists, Marc J. Hetherington of Vanderbilt University and Jonathan D. Weiler of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They start by exploring data showing a remarkably strong correlation between state attitudes toward spanking children and voting patterns. Essentially, spanking states go Republican, while those with more timeouts go Democratic.
Professors Hetherington and Weiler contend that the differences stem from profound differences in cognitive styles. Spankers tend to see the world in stark, black-and-white terms, perceive the social order as vulnerable or under attack, tend to make strong distinctions between “us” and “them,” and emphasize order and muscular responses to threats. Parents favoring timeouts feel more comfortable with ambiguities, sense less threat, embrace minority groups — and are less prone to disgust when they see a man eating worms.
We’re brutes, you understand, brutes. Except that research that Kristoff didn’t mention shows that the more authoritarian parent (who is someone distinct from the abusive parent) is good for children. Thus, people who impose quick and decisive boundaries on their kids are doing them a favor:
Children who are smacked by parents often turn out more successful than those who have not, research has found.
The study concluded that children who had been physically disciplined when they were young, between the ages of 2 and 6, were performing better as teenagers on almost every measure that was taken into consideration than those who had never been smacked.
It was only in cases where it continued beyond the age of 12 that the children were found to be affected negatively, resulting in a dip on performance indicators.
The results of the US-based study undermines the efforts of various campaigners who have been trying to have physical punishment outlawed in the UK, who have claimed that it causes long-term damage to the children.
Read the rest here.
So, even as Kristoff tries to show that, genetically, conservatives are paranoid and cruel, the facts show that people who have these conservative instincts survive well and raise children who thrive.
UPDATE: Right Wing News interviewed Thomas Sowell. You should read the whole thing, but this bit jumped out at me, as part of the dodo syndrome about which liberals are so peculiarly proud:
If terrorists with nuclear weapons don’t focus your mind, nothing will. Yet, not only are we doing nothing, we’re doing elaborate, clever nothing. We’re going to the United Nations, we’re holding conferences. There are resolutions being passed. You know — a lot of busy work — none of which has the slightest chance of deterring Iran from getting nuclear weapons.