Research in ‘Disgustology’ May Help Explain Left’s Lax Ethical Attitudes

‘The left is composed of clueless naïfs whose rosy-eyed optimism about human nature—and obliviousness to various dangers—will only lead to trouble…’

(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) As primary challenges against President Donald Trump begin to emerge, it may be difficult sometimes telling a true conservative from a RINO.

However, science has a solution: pump noxious odors into the air and see who flees for the nearest exit.

For more than a decade, social psychologists have sought to link the concept of “disgust sensitivity” with political values.

New York University psychologist Jonathan Haidt, one of the leading experts in the field, termed by some as “disgustology,” explained the phenomenon in a 2012 TED Talk.

After countless studies, some large scale and some more longitudinal involving smaller focus groups, researchers now say that they can predict a person’s politics with 95 percent certainty based off reactions to things like bitter tastes, foul smells or revolting visual stimuli.

In the past several presidential election cycles, since the research first emerged, left-leaning publications have used the theories of disgustology to attack the Right and to justify specious accusations of intolerance and xenophobia against conservatives.

“At a deep, symbolic level, some speculate, disgust may be bound up with ideas about ‘them’ versus ‘us,’ about whom we instinctively trust and don’t trust,” said an article in the upcoming March edition of the The Atlantic.

The Atlantic article relayed the findings of a recent neuroimaging study, which showed that the brain’s responses to “emotionally evocative pictures” had a correlation with political alignment.

Researchers claimed conservatives tended to have more pronounced reactions “to a broad array of threats,” like being more startled by loud noises and staring longer at people with angry expressions.

But they found that disgust elicited stronger reactions than things like violent imagery. “[C]onservatives tend to have more pronounced bodily responses than liberals when shown stomach-churning imagery,” the article said.

Noting some of President Donald Trump’s visceral responses to things like Hillary Clinton‘s alleged mid-debate bathroom break, comments about Sen. Marco Rubio‘s sweat, and others remarks on bodily functions like lactation and menstruation, The New Republic wrote in 2015 that Trump seemed to gain ground with each inflammatory comment.

“The Trump campaign has stunned bemused pundits by growing in strength with every controversy and outrageous policy proposal, like banning foreign Muslims from entering the United States,” wrote the magazine. “It has finally forced them to admit that his success comes not despite these things, but because of them. … What if disgust is a distinct part of that?”

Exposure to unpleasant environments may not only predict, but also help to shape political judgments. In a separate study conducted by Haidt and others, researchers had test subjects fill out political-belief inventories while pumping the foul aroma of things like vomit into the room or asking subjects to sit at a sticky desk. They found that exposure to the unpleasant situations made people move farther to the right.

“Variations on these studies using fart spray, foul tastes, and other creative disgust elicitors reveal a consistent pattern: When we experience disgust, we tend to make harsher moral judgments,” said the Atlantic article.

Other research in the field found that conservatives were more sensitive to bitter tastes and that—in a study spanning 121 countries, including during the 2008 U.S. race between Barack Obama and John McCain—those who were more germophobic preferred the more “conservative” candidate (or, in this case, McCain).

Naturally, those on the Right may be inclined to eye the findings with suspicion and perhaps speculate on the scientists’ hidden agenda. As the Atlantic article pointed out, however, conservatives can draw their own conclusions from it.

“If you’re liberal, you may be thinking, So this explains some of the other side’s nativism and hostility to immigration,” said the article. “But it’s just as easy to flip the science on its head and conclude, as conservatives might, that the left is composed of clueless naïfs whose rosy-eyed optimism about human nature—and obliviousness to various dangers—will only lead to trouble.”

That may be putting it generously.

In light of the studies by Haidt and others showing a looser moral compass when feelings of disgust are not present, the research could also go a ways in explaining the seemingly abject refusal of those on the Left to hold their own public figures accountable.

“I think there is some truth to the claim that people who are more threat sensitive gravitate to the right, if all else is equal,” Haidt told Liberty Headlines in an email. “Being insufficiently threat sensitive is careless, taking needless risks, reckless.”

The concern has been one of national prominence in recent years. Many, in fact, speculate that the winning issue for Trump was the impunity with which Hillary Clinton, conducted herself while secretary of State, using deception and cover-ups to dodge culpability over her transmission of sensitive national-security data via an unsecured, private server.

More recently, high profile cases of injustice—such as casual attitudes about voter fraud, the tepid responses to racism and rape allegations in Virginia, and a growing wave of anti-conservative hoaxes propelled by a complicit media—have led to criticism of leftist attempts to “gaslight” the American public.

Liberals have taken a gambit on the old maxim that “if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

They bank on the fact that Americans’ short attention spans in the Twitter age mean denying and ignoring morally repugnant behavior will help it go away.

However, it may well be that ongoing exposure to this toxic environment affords Donald Trump just the push he needs in the 2020 race.

Those interested in seeing the inventories used to determine disgust sensitivity and moral/political values may register and take the surveys at www.yourmorals.org.