Bob Altemeyer quotes
See: Authoritarian followers Double Highs Authoritarian leaders
"Nothing shows lack of conscience better than bold-faced lying."---Bob Altemeyer
Probably about 20 to 25 percent of the adult American population is so right-wing authoritarian, so scared, so self-righteous, so ill-informed, and so dogmatic that nothing you can say or do will change their minds. They would march America into a dictatorship and probably feel that things had improved as a result. … And they are so submissive to their leaders that they will believe and do virtually anything they are told. They are not going to let up and they are not going away.
There even seems to be a whiff of the sociopath about the social dominator. Somebody do the studies and see if any of these hunches is right. [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer
Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. It's also a dead give-away that the person doesn't know why he believes what he believes. [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer
They (religious fundamentalists) are highly likely to be authoritarian
followers. They are highly submissive to established authority aggressive in the
name of that authority and conventional to the point of insisting everyone
should behave as their authorities decide. They are fearful and self-righteous
and have a lot of hostility in them that they readily direct toward various
out-groups They are easily incited, easily led, rather un-inclined to think for
themselves, largely impervious to facts and reason, and rely instead on social
support to maintain their beliefs. They bring strong loyalty to their in-groups.
have thick-walled, highly compartmentalized minds, use a lot of double standards
in their judgments, are surprisingly unprincipled at times, and are often
But they are also Teflon-coated when it comes to guilt. They are blind to themselves, ethnocentric and prejudiced, and as closed-minded as they are narrow-minded. They can be woefully uninformed about things they oppose, but they prefer ignorance and want to make others become as ignorant as they. They are also surprisingly uninformed about the things they say they believe in, and deep, deep, deep down inside many of them have secret doubts about their core belief. But they are very happy, highly giving, and quite zealous. In fact, they are about the only zealous people around nowadays in North America which explains a lot of their success in their endless (and necessary) pursuit of converts.
I want to emphasize also that all of the above is based on studies in which, if the opposite were true instead, that would have been shown. This is not just "somebody's opinion." It's what the fundamentalists themselves said and did. And it adds up to a truly depressing bottom line. Read the two paragraphs above again and consider how much of it would also apply to the people who filled the stadium at the Nuremberg Rallies. I know this comparison will strike some as outrageous, and I'm NOT saying religion turns people into Nazis. But does anybody believe the ardent Nazi followers in Germany or Mussolini's faithful in Italy or Franco's legions in Spain were a bunch of atheists? Being' religious" does not automatically build a firewall against accepting totalitarianism, and when fundamentalist religions teach authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism, they help create the problem. Can we not see how easily religious fundamentalists would lift a would-be dictator aloft as part of a "great movement," and give it their all? [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer
When bad news spills out about things that high RWAs support, they want to be
told it isn't true. So some governments have gotten used to issuing "non-denial
denials" and flimsy counter-arguments, because that's all it takes and it's so
effortless. If a well-researched paper by a prestigious scientific body
concludes that human activity is seriously increasing the amount of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere, culprit governments will say "the evidence is
incomplete" and they will find someone, somewhere, with some sort of
credentials, who will dismiss a great number of studies with a wave of the hand
and give them the sound-bite they want.
When someone responds to evidence with "a wave of the hand" or a bland dismissal like "It's just nonsense," they're usually revealing they can't say anything more specific because they're whupped. But the government's supporters will be reassured. For them, one sound bite cancels the other, and there really is no difference between a widely-confirmed fact and a speculation, between fifty studies and one.
To take a non-political example of walking extra miles for authorities, when people first began to reveal they had been sexually assaulted as children by priests and ministers, bishops often issued statements saying they had thoroughly investigated the charge and found it had no merit. That was good enough for the authoritarian followers. .....If it eventually became known that the bishops' own inquiries had discovered that Father X was indeed a pedophile, but the bishops still denied he was and sometimes even quietly transferred Father X to another parish, where he sexually assaulted still more children, do you think the high RWAs learned anything from this? How many "disconnects" do you think they have at hand to avoid realizing they allowed themselves to be deceived? [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer
Once someone becomes a leader of the high RWAs' in-group, he can lie with impunity about the out-groups, himself, whatever, because he knows the followers will seldom check on what he says, nor will they expose themselves to people who set the record straight. Furthermore they will not believe the truth if they somehow get exposed to it, and if the distortions become absolutely undeniable, they will rationalize it away and put it in a box. If the scoundrel's duplicity and hypocrisy lands him on the front page of every daily in the country, the followers will still forgive him if he just says the right things. [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer p.100
And while most Americans came to realize what a mistake the war in Iraq has
turned out to be, high RWAs lagged far behind. They listen to the news they want
to hear. They surround themselves with people who think like they do. They
believe the leaders who tell them what they want to be told. They make about as
much effort to get both sides of an issue as the Bush administration does to
foster different points of view within the White House. And if six high RWAs are
sitting in a room talking about the war, and all six now have misgivings, it
will still be hard for any of them to say so because the ethic of group
solidarity is so strong in the authoritarian mind.
Is there any conceivable evidence or revelation that will lead them to admit the war was a mistake? I suspect some of them will eventually, begrudgingly reach that point, and others will rewrite their personal histories and say they had their doubts from the start. But others, petrified by their dogmatism, will never admit the undeniable. [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer p.99
It's easy to see why authoritarian followers would be dogmatic, isn't it?
When you haven't figured out your beliefs, but instead absorbed them from other
people, you're really in no position to defend them from attack. Simply put. you
don 't know why the things you believe are true. Somebody else decided they
were, and you're taking their word for it. So what do you do when challenged?
Well first of all you avoid challenges by sticking with your own kind as much as possible, because they're hardly likely to ask pointed questions about your beliefs. But if you meet someone who does, you'll probably defend your ideas as best you can, parrying thrusts with whatever answers your authorities have pre-loaded into your head. If these defenses crumble, you may go back to the trusted sources. They probably don't have to give you a convincing refutation of the anxiety-producing argument that breached your defenses, just the assurance that you nonetheless are right. But if the arguments against you become overwhelming and persistent, you either concede the point—which may put the whole lot at risk—or you simply insist you are right and walk away, clutching your beliefs more tightly than ever.
That's what authoritarian followers tend to do. And let's face it, it's an awfully easy stand to take. You have to know a lot nowadays to stake out an intelligent, defendable position on many issues. But you don't have to know anything to insist you're right, no matter what. Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. It's also a dead give-away that the person doesn't know why he believes what he believes. [Book 2006] The Authoritarians” by Bob Altemeyer p.93
Let's play a game. I'll describe a well-known American politician, the
description being unceremoniously lifted from John Dean's book,
Conservatives Without Conscience. See if you can
figure out who it is, and whether you can make a diagnosis of his personality,