Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Some Observations on the Two Models

December 5, 2018

This is the fifth post in the series “Linguistics and Cognitive Science in the Pursuit of Civil Discourse.”

Lakoff estimates that probably 35% to 40% of people have a strict father model governing their politics. And about 35% to 40% of people have a nurturant parent view governing their politics. Biconceptuals are people who are conservative on some issues and progressive on others.

Here HM disagrees with Lakoff on this breakdown. He thinks that perhaps a majority of people are biconceptuals. This provides for a somewhat more optimistic view.

Having read the Bible, he thinks that whereas the Old Testament corresponds more with the strict father model, the New Testament corresponds more with the nurturant parent view.

Lakoff writes nothing about gender differences. HM thinks that men tend to lean to the strict father model, and women tend to lean to the nurturant parent view. So individual families likely contain both views.

Lakoff never discusses age. But HM thinks that the strict father model is most heavily represented in aging males. HM predicts that over time the nurturant parent view will grow and eventually prevail. Of course, this assumes that the current president and Republican Party will not abandon democratic values and move into an authoritarian mode of governing.

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The Matthew Effect

July 27, 2014

The Matthew Effect was named by sociologist Robert Merton who named if after a sentence from the Book of Matthew in the Bible, viz., “For those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance, but for those who have nothing, even that will be taken away.” Matthew was specifically referring to wealth (the rich get richer and the poor get poorer). And of course this is true. Being born into wealth carries substantial advantages, but Merton was arguing that the rule applied to success in general. Success leads to prominence and recognition. This, in turn, leads to more opportunities to succeed and more resources with which to achieve success. There is a greater likelihood of your subsequent success being noticed and attributed to you, even though others might have played a key role.

Researchers have attempted to study this effect and to differentiate it from individual potential by trying to select pools of people with similar potential and seeing how they develop. However, no matter how carefully researchers attempt to do so, their futures tend to diverge wildly over time, which is consistent with Merton’s theory. It is known that college students who graduate during a weak economy earn less, on average, than students who graduate during a strong economy. This difference tends to persist throughout the students’ subsequent career. And surely the economy in which they graduate is a random effect.

So the common sense notion that an individual’s success is solely due to the individual’s unique attributes is false. Although the individual’s unique attributes do play a role, there are also chance or random factors.