Open Letter to Jay Dixit

Dear Jay Dixit:

Last week I was having lunch with Cinnamon Stillwell and she mentioned that she'd been the subject of a Psychology Today article on political conversions. Turns out that this was the same article for which your intern contacted me last August. At the time, I wrote a somewhat lengthy response indicating that I didn't feel my politics had changed abruptly and that I didn't consider myself a case of "political conversion".

I'm curious, though, to know what it is exactly that your article is trying to establish. Because it looks as if you're trying very hard to find psychological, i.e. non-rational, explanations for cases where people adopt "conservative" political beliefs. There's no acknowledgment that such a political shift could come about as the result of a rational assessment of the relevant facts and arguments; nor, conversely, is there any discussion of fear-related psychology on the political left (dire warnings about global warming and the ever-impending American police state spring to mind). And instead of encouraging people to inform themselves on political issues while listening with an open mind to different points of view, your article prescribes the simple expedient of "reminding ourselves to think rationally", as if the fear itself, rather than its objective cause, were the real problem.

In fact, in an entire article devoted to what you call the "9/11 effect", there is not a single direct reference to the terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 Americans.

In this light, it's difficult for me to escape the conclusion that your article is ideologically driven. The agenda seems to be to encourage readers to dismiss precisely those fears which, in your analysis, lead to conservative politics. In short, you want to "cure" people of being conservative.

Is this a fair assessment of the goal of your article? Or am I missing something?

If I receive a reply from Jay Dixit, I will post it here.