RWA Thread Pt1

RWA Thread Pt1

WARNING. THIS THREAD HAS ZIP TO DO WITH TESLA. What it does do is to shed some light on this fight we're having over climate change. Most of us look at the accumulating mountain of data and go "We've got to do something" while some go "What problem?"
Okay, so what do we have with this little questionnaire? You might have thought the purpose is to measure political attitudes or something similar. It’s not. What it does is to score the answers to come up with an authoritarian rating. It’s a personality test developed by Bob Altemeyer, an associate professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. Professor Altemeyer studied authoritarianism his entire career before retiring about a decade ago. He’s an American who worked abroad and is considered a leading authority on the subject. Altemeyer’s questionnaire is considered the standard for assessing authoritarian tendencies in individuals and is widely used.

There are reams of scholarly works available on authoritarianism, including several authored by Dr. Altemeyer. Realizing that few in the general public are willing to wade through studies filled with tables and coefficients and scientific terms, late in his career, Dr. Atlemeyer became concerned with the rise of authoritarianism in North America (yes, Canada to) so he wrote a book on the subject for laymen titled “The Authoritarians.” It’s available for free online. There’s a link at the bottom of the questionnaire page that takes you to where you can download it. I found the book fascinating and enlightening; it changed the way I look at how politics and so forth in our country. If you do nothing else, I suggest you read the link to the first chapter that gives a more complete description of what an authoritarian personality is than in the cliff notes I’m providing below.

“How can answering 22 questions tell definitively that I’m an authoritarian or not? It’s not a big sample.”
One would think, but it actually does a really good job of it. Dr. Altemeyer has decades of experience conducting lab experiments, gathering data, and so forth the prove the veracity of the questionnaire. He has reams of proof that the test is pretty good as long as the person taking it doesn’t intentionally provide false answers. (If you did, you’re cheating yourself and no one else).

What is an authoritarian?
It’s complicated, but here is the basic definition. An authoritarian is NOT a would be dictator or something like that as one would expect. Authoritarians are by personality followers. Maniacs like Mussolini and Hitler would have remained nuts ranting on street corners if they hadn’t amassed followers. The death camps in Poland would have been impossible if otherwise moral, normal people hadn’t willingly carried out Hitler’s orders. Mussolini’s black shirts brawling in the streets took him to power in Italy in 1921.

Altemeyer’s definition of authoritarianism: Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want--which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal. In my day, authoritarian fascist and authoritarian communist dictatorships posed the biggest threats to democracies, and eventually lost to them in wars both hot and cold. But authoritarianism itself has not disappeared, and I’m going to present the case in this book that the greatest threat to American democracy today arises from a militant authoritarianism that has become a cancer upon the nation.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Professor Altemeyer’s primary characteristics of an authoritarian:

Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honored, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians. Psychologically these followers have personalities featuring:
1) a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;
2) high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3) a high level of conventionalism.

Am I an authoritarian?
First, don’t take the questionnaire too seriously. Second, we all have authoritarian characteristics in our personalities. As Altemeyer puts it, if we don’t obey traffic signals we have chaos on the streets. That said, here’s how to read your score.

The first two questions are throwaways. The remaining 20 questions are the true gauges. The scale is 20 to 180. If you score 20 you’re a charter member of anarchy is me. If you score 180, you can’t wait to get to street thug training camp for dear leader. Most people score 90-110 or so. Think of it as a bell curve. Your authoritarian score can change during your lifetime. Most see it drop during their college years, rise a bit afterwards (becoming a parent has a big effect), and then fall as one ages right around 15%.

The reason I think this stuff is important is because it helps explain some of the crazy stuff we see going down at the moment.

Most important, after you work through some of this, it becomes apparent that we must reduce the one thing that activates authoritarian tendencies in people: fear.

You guys want to keep going with this stuff or are you already nodding off?

SCCRENDO | July 17, 2019

Yeah keep going. I guess most of us understand the mentality of the Trump voter. But is there a cure? And can we use it soon??

NKYTA | July 17, 2019

Interesting. I guess since I never had kids mine didn’t see the parenthood increase. Though with the orangeatang in office, I imagine that probably dropped me a good twenty points to 43.

SCCRENDO | July 17, 2019

I am not sure if we are meant to discuss these things but my score was 24. I have 3 kids and 4 grandchildren. I was far more authoritarian with my kids. So my score is likely to have been far higher 30 years ago

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

There is no cure for high RWAs supporting Trump. They're all in. The good news is its 35% of the population, that's the norm. The bad news is stress/fear activate authoritarian proclivities in others who aren't high RWAs but still above average. To lower RWA scores it's necessary to reduce fear and stress by attacking the problems that are the root cause.

Trump has survived 10 times over scandals and such that would have sunk any other politician's career. He is an admitted misogynist, sexual assaulter, a proven con artist who bilked millions out of their life savings, adulterer, bigot, accused rapist, hell you name it he's probably done it. His RWA fans still hold tight to him and will continue to do so. There is no hope of convincing the still sane republicans in the Senate to do what half want to do in secret which is to be rid of him. As Rick Wilson put it in a tweet last night, 50% of those who support Trump live in terror of and hate him, another 25% are true blue Trumpistas and the remainder opportunists who use him to get what they want. (Mitch McConnell and Bill Barr are two members of that last group. McConnell is all about power for his party and Barr is a true believer in the unitary executive theory).

Dad used to tell me stories about the Germans he saw during the occupation who remained loyal to Hitler. Der Fuhrer was dead, their country was in ruins around their ears, they were a conquered people, millions dead and they still pledged loyalty to the little man with the funny mustache. It is never dear leader's fault, it's them who are fault. Who them is varies.

If we impeach Trump, he will not be removed from office. If we put him on trial, his followers will be inflamed and will turn out in droves November 2020. The evidence presented during an impeachment trials will never be enough no cause them to turn away no matter how damning. It's a judgment call, my personal opinion is impeachment will not change much at all in terms of his reelection chances other than to convince more of his sympathizers to go to the polls. That's why he wants it, is taunting Congress so much.

It's going to have to be done at the ballot box. Even more important, Democrats have to win the House and Senate as well as at the state level (due to redistricting if for no other reason).

The $64k question: How?

Promising and demonstrating how to do three things:
1. Reduce economic anxiety.
2. Break the power of Wall Street and corporations over our politics.
3. Calm people down about America's changing demographics.

Tomorrow, the House votes on a bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It will pass and McConnell will refuse to bring it to the floor in the Senate. Even if public pressure causes McConnell to ave and it is brought up and by some miracle passes, Trump will veto it. Won't matter to his hard core supporters, but it will matter to those at the lower end of the income ladder. 1.3 million will be lifted out of poverty. There will be a ripple effect that raises incomes a little farther up the ladder, but that alone is not enough. Those more loosely tied to Trump voted for him because their economics are a mess. 40% of American families don't have $400 to take care of an emergency auto repair. Four decades of flat wages have resulted in a two earner family becoming a necessity, they can't afford to send their kids to college, they can't take decent vacations and they watch as more and more of their friends at work are shown the door with their personal effects in a box. These are people who voted for Herr Donald to "shake things up." I've had more than one friend give me that as the reason and I'm sure you've heard it too.

Which brings us to #2. The reason so many are suffering — automation is now reaching into the middle class and that is a huge problem too — is because corporate officers are taking almost all the fruits of everyone's labor; what they're not taking they're passing on to shareholders. Benefits like pensions are going away, more and more "employees" are now classified as contractors. In 1970, the average CEO earned 30 times the average pay for an employee; today's it's over a 300 multiple. They're not going to do it by themselves, the multinationals must be forced to share the fruits with employees more equitably. That means politicians must be separated from corporate money. We must break their hold on legislation coming out of Washington. There is no other way but to break them.

#3 calming people down? Xenophobia is nothing new. Ethnocentricity is a standard characteristic of RWAs. The know nothings in the 1840s were determined to keep Catholics, the Irish, Poles and Germans out. Education and creating empathy is the cure here.

Oh, a word about RWAs. It's an acronym for Right-Wing Authoritarians. Aren't there Left-Wing Authoritarians? Yes, they used to be more numerous (see Chairman Mao's army), but less so today, but they can and do exist. Right-Wing Authoritarians have seized the levers of power for much of our government. It concerns Prof. Altemeyer and me, too.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

I scored a 24 too, but you didn't need to share. Call us rebels with or without a cause, I guess.

Tesla-David | July 17, 2019

Wow, SCC beat me. I came in at 34. Thanks for doing this @dmm, worthy discussion.

SCCRENDO | July 17, 2019

The Dems need to keep their message simple. I am not completely sure whether we are better off going with like minded liberals like ourselves and potentially scaring more moderate individuals to vote for Trump vs going with Biden. I chose Hillary for her moderation but it obviously backfired. Although Hillary was a flawed candidate. Indeed far less flawed than Trump. Is the country still too bigoted to elect a female or a gay president. My feeling is to chose the candidate who you can relate to in the primary and vote for the chosen Democrat in the general. Should we impeach. Yes we should even if the Senate does not step up to plate. Congress would be negligent in their duty to not impeach a criminal incompetent president. This is above politics. but they need to complete their investigation first. We need to hear from Mueller and bring out as much evidence as is possible and then Impeach the MotherF***er already (ITMFA)

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.
- John Adams

Oft said, seldom understood. We're promoting addressing climate change in the wrong way. Do we not have experience right here that bombarding a (likely) high RWA with facts and data has zero effect?

Americans need larger paychecks. Wagging fingers in their faces with dire warnings about (the real) effect of climate change does not move the needle. What we should be doing is selling benefits (step 2 of the classic sales call agenda).

If we rebuild the energy grid with renewables supplying the power that will be transported through more efficient, smart power lines, what has to happen?
1. We'll need a whole lot of raw materials such as thousands and thousands of miles of brand spanking new power cable, solar panels, windmill machines, batteries, EVs and so forth.
2. And we'll need factories to make these products.
3. That means a whole lot of jobs, good paying jobs. Work for engineers, software designers, factory line workers, guys stringing up all those power lines, electricians, construction people to retrofit buildings and install all this stuff. On and on.

So, what do we do?
1. We retrain displaced workers — and that doesn't mean we give 'em a class on how to write a spiffy resume — to work in a new field. Then we find them a job. I can see greatly expanding tech schools partnered with local businesses involved in all this who hire these people as soon as they're certified as an electrician or whatever.
2. We adopt an industrial policy that's too good to resist to encourage companies to locate plants and other facilities in areas like West Virginia, currently being decimated as coal company after coal company goes belly up.
3. We already have the schools to train engineers and so forth, we just need to make 'em bigger and to encourage bright young students to pursue majors where a job is likely to be waiting for them on graduation day.
4. We work to get wages up for everyone, basically using legislation.
5. We kicks the unions in the pants to get them to join the 21st century and then make it easier for them to organize where workers want it. (Repeal right to work laws).
6. And then we do crazy stuff like build my nationwide pipeline to transport water from where there's too much to places where there is too little. Oil pipelines are currently frowned on; don't think pipelines bringing much needed water would face a ton of opposition.

When we talk to voters we stress the economics of it. That's how Elon has done it. He made EVs fun. We make mitigating climate change profitable. That will work. Finger wagging? Not so much.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

A little more on definitions courtesy of the good prof:

Because the submission occurs to traditional authority, I call these followers right- wing authoritarians. I’m using the word “right” in one of its earliest meanings, for in Old English “riht”(pronounced “writ”) as an adjective meant lawful, proper, correct, doing what the authorities said. (And when someone did the lawful thing back then, maybe the authorities said, with a John Wayne drawl, “You got that riht, pilgrim!”) 1 (Click on a note’s number to have it appear.)
In North America people who submit to the established authorities to extraordinary degrees often turn out to be political conservatives, 2 so you can call them “right-wingers” both in my new-fangled psychological sense and in the usual political sense as well. But someone who lived in a country long ruled by Communists and who ardently supported the Communist Party would also be one of my psychological right-wing authoritarians even though we would also say he was a political left-winger. So a right-wing authoritarian follower doesn’t necessarily have conservative political views. Instead he’s someone who readily submits to the established authorities in society, attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional. It’s an aspect of his personality, not a description of his politics. Right- wing authoritarianism is a personality trait, like being characteristically bashful or happy or grumpy or dopey.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

A little more:

You could have left-wing authoritarian followers as well, who support a revolutionary leader who wants to overthrow the establishment. I knew a few in the 1970s, Marxist university students who constantly spouted their chosen authorities, Lenin or Trotsky or Chairman Mao. Happily they spent most of their time fighting with each other, as lampooned in Monty Python’s Life of Brian where the People’s Front of Judea devotes most of its energy to battling, not the Romans, but the Judean People’s Front. But the left-wing authoritarians on my campus disappeared long ago. Similarly in America “the Weathermen” blew away in the wind. I’m sure one can find left-wing authoritarians here and there, but they hardly exist in sufficient numbers now to threaten democracy in North America. However I have found bucketfuls of right-wing authoritarians in nearly every sample I have drawn in Canada and the United States for the past three decades. So when I speak of “authoritarian followers” in this book I mean right-wing authoritarian followers, as identified by the RWA scale.

BuffaloBillsFan | July 17, 2019

I can’t see a link to any quiz . . . I assume you are a Tesla owner since you are posting here, and I agree with your premise, but I don’t think you have posted here before very often (if you have, I haven’t seen/noticed your posts.

That makes me just a little suspicious. Plus, you seem to know a LOT about this “questionnaire.” Why is that?

I am probably being overly cautious and suspicious, but this does not smell right to me, even if I agree with you 100%.


dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Here's what happened when high/low RWAs were in charge during a war gaming summit:

By now you must be developing a feel for what high RWAs think and do, and alsoanimpressionoflowRWAs.23 Doyouthinkyouknoweachgroupwellenough to predict what they’d do if they ran the world? One night in October, 1994 I let a group of low RWA university students determine the future of the planet (you didn’t know humble researchers could do this, did you!). Then the next night I gave high RWAs their kick at the can.

The setting involved a rather sophisticated simulation of the earth’s future called the Global Change Game, which is played on a big map of the world by 50-70 participants who have been split into various regions such as North America, Africa, India and China. The players are divided up according to current populations, so a lot more students hunker down in India than in North America. The game was designed to raise environmental awareness, 24 and before the exercise begins players study up on their region’s resources, prospects, and environmental issues.

Then the facilitators who service the simulation call for some member, any member of each region, to assume the role of team leader by simply standing up. Once the “Elites”in the world have risen to the task they are taken aside and given control of their region’s bank account. They can use this to buy factories, hospitals, armies, and so on from the game bank, and they can travel the world making deals with other Elites. They also discover they can discretely put some of their region’s wealth into their own pockets, to vie for a prize to be given out at the end of the simulation to the World’s Richest Person. Then the game begins, and the world goes wherever the players take it for the next forty years which, because time flies in a simulation, takes about two and a half hours.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

The Low RWA Game

By carefully organizing sign-up booklets, I was able to get 67 low RWA students to play the game together on October 18th . (They had no idea they had been funneled into this run of the experiment according to their RWA scale scores; indeed they had probably never heard of right-wing authoritarianism.) Seven men and three women made themselves Elites. As soon as the simulation began, the Pacific Rim Elite called for a summit on the “Island Paradise of Tasmania.” All the Elites attended and agreed to meet there again whenever big issues arose. A world-wide organization was thus immediately created by mutual consent.

Regions set to work on their individual problems. Swords were converted to ploughshares as the number of armies in the world dropped. No wars or threats of wars occurred during the simulation. [At one point the North American Elite suggested starting a war to his fellow region-aires (two women and one guy), but they told him to go fly a kite--or words to that effect.]

An hour into the game the facilitators announced a (scheduled) crisis in the earth’s ozone layer. All the Elites met in Tasmania and contributed enough money to buy new technology to replenish the ozone layer.
Other examples of international cooperation occurred, but the problems of the Third World mounted in Africa and India. Europe gave some aid but North America refused to help. Africa eventually lost 300 million people to starvation and disease, and India 100 million.

Populations had grown and by the time forty years had passed the earth held 8.7 billion people, but the players were able to provide food, health facilities, and jobs for almost all of them. They did so by demilitarizing, by making a lot of trades that benefited both parties, by developing sustainable economic programs, and because the Elites diverted only small amounts of the treasury into their own pockets. (The North American Elite hoarded the most.)

One cannot blow off four hundred million deaths, but this was actually a highly successful run of the game, compared to most. No doubt the homogeneity of the players, in terms of their RWA scores and related attitudes, played a role. Low RWAs do not typically see the world as “Us versus Them.” They are more interested in cooperation than most people are, and they are often genuinely concerned about the environment. Within their regional groups, and in the interactions of the Elites, these first-year students would have usually found themselves “on the same page”--and writ large on that page was, “Let’s Work Together and Clean Up This Mess.” The game’s facilitators said they had never seen as much international cooperation in previous runs of the simulation. With the exception of the richest region, North America, the lows saw themselves as interdependent and all riding on the same merry-go-round.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

The High RWA Game
The next night 68 high RWAs showed up for their ride, just as ignorant of how they had been funneled into this run of the experiment as the low RWA students had been the night before. The game proceeded as usual. Background material was read, Elites (all males) nominated themselves, and the Elites were briefed. Then the “wedgies” started. As soon as the game began, the Elite from the Middle East announced the price of oil had just doubled. A little later the former Soviet Union (known as the Confederation of Independent States in 1994) bought a lot of armies and invaded North America. The latter had insufficient conventional forces to defend itself, and so retaliated with nuclear weapons. A nuclear holocaust ensued which killed everyone on earth--7.4 billion people--and almost all other forms of life which had the misfortune of co-habitating the same planet as a species with nukes.

When this happens in the Global Change Game, the facilitators turn out all the lights and explain what a nuclear war would produce. Then the players are given a second chance to determine the future, turning back the clock to two years before the hounds of war were loosed. The former Soviet Union however rebuilt its armies and invaded China this time, killing 400 million people. The Middle East Elite then called for a “United Nations” meeting to discuss handling future crises, but no agreements were reached.

At this point the ozone-layer crisis occurred but--perhaps because of the recent failure of the United Nations meeting--no one called for a summit. Only Europe took steps to reduce its harmful gas emissions, so the crisis got worse. Poverty was spreading unchecked in the underdeveloped regions, which could not control their population growth. Instead of dealing with the social and economic problems “back home,” Elites began jockeying among themselves for power and protection, forming military alliances to confront other budding alliances. Threats raced around the room and the Confederation of Independent States warned it was ready to start another nuclear war. Partly because their Elites had used their meager resources to buy into alliances, Africa and Asia were on the point of collapse. An Elite called for a United Nations meeting to deal with the crises--take your pick--and nobody came.

By the time forty years had passed the world was divided into armed camps threatening each other with another nuclear destruction. One billion, seven hundred thousand people had died of starvation and disease. Throw in the 400 million who died in the Soviet-China war and casualties reached 2.1 billion. Throw in the 7.4 billion who died in the nuclear holocaust, and the high RWAs managed to kill 9.5 billion people in their world--although we, like some battlefield news releases, are counting some of the corpses twice.

The authoritarian world ended in disaster for many reasons. One was likely the character of their Elites, who put more than twice as much money in their own pockets as the low RWA Elites had. (The Middle East Elite ended up the World’s Richest Man; part of his wealth came from money he had conned from Third World Elites as payment for joining his alliance.) But more importantly, the high RWAs proved incredibly ethnocentric. There they were, in a big room full of people just like themselves, and they all turned their backs on each other and paid attention only to their own group. They too were all reading from the same page, but writ large on their page was, “Care About Your Own; We Are NOT All In This Together.”

The high RWAs also suffered because, while they say on surveys that they care about the environment, when push comes to shove they usually push and shove for the bucks. That is, they didn’t care much about the long-term environmental consequences of their economic acts. For example a facilitator told Latin America that converting much of the region’s forests to a single species of tree would make the ecosystem vulnerable. But the players decided to do it anyway because the tree’s lumber was very profitable just then. And the highs proved quite inflexible when it came to birth control. Advised that “just letting things go” would cause the populations in underdeveloped areas to explode, the authoritarians just let things go.

Now the Global Change Game is not the world stage, university students are not world leaders, and starting a nuclear holocaust in a gymnasium is not the same thing as launching real missiles from Siberia and North Dakota. So the students’ behavior on those two successive nights in 1994 provides little basis for drawing conclusions about the future of the planet. But some of what happened in this experiment rang true to me. I especially thought, “I’ve seen this show before” as I sat on the sidelines and watched the high RWAs create their very own October crisis.

You have trudged your way through (I suspect) the most boring chapter in this book, and are entitled to some sort of reward. I hope you consider this worthy payment: You now know that the RWA scale is a reliable, a valid, and (as these things go) a rather powerful instrument for identifying the authoritarian follower personality. That’s worth knowing because most of what follows in the later chapters depends on it. The social sciences are awash with attitude scales, opinion surveys, and personality tests, and frankly most of them are not very good imho. But this one appears to be the real deal. A goodly amount of evidence has piled up showing that scores on the RWA scale really do measure tendencies toward authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. We can therefore use it to try to understand the people who seem, so unwittingly, ready to cash in democracy, and perhaps the world.

NKYTA | July 17, 2019


@dmm has been around for some time and seems to have a solid mind, unlike some sheep that are wearing blinders.

Being a Dolphins fan, I have my doubts about you!
_said completely in jest_ as neither of our teams spend the requisite $$$$ for talent
;-) ;-)

Oh, and I’m a Dolphins fan do to circumstance, not geography. Grew up in the Midwest, but made my way West to the Bay Area.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

@ Buffalo Bills fan.

The reason I know something about the RWA test is I read Professor Altemeyer’s book. You can find a link to the online version of the questionnaire in the first post in the other thread titled RWA test. There is also a link to the prof’s book on the Questionnaire page. It’s free. I highly recommend it. Unlike most academic texts on the topic of authoritarianism, this book is a breezy fun read for laymen.

Why did I start this? First, I asked if people would be interested, they said they were and answered the questionnaire. So there’s that. Most are concerned to one degree or another about the state of our national politics. Most are upset about the actions of the Trump administration. IMO, if one understands authoritarianism first you’re on the path to make sense of it and the rise of Trump.

Oh, and I’ve been a regular here since I bought a MX a couple of years back. Look at the climate change threads, I’m all over them.

Mike83 | July 17, 2019

dmm1240 I applaud your synopsis and explanations on RWA. It puts a new light on our political situation.

BuffaloBillsFan | July 17, 2019

So I am completely wrong. I am very happy about that. I will look into this some more . . .

When I access the link, I will profusely apologize (coming soon)

@NKYTA, I am sorry about your NFL affiliation. As a Buffalo Bills fan, you guys are not looking that great this year. My sad-assed team might even have a better record than you! But thanks for your input! And no offense taken. . . Any fan of any other NFL team should make fun of Bills fans.

NKYTA | July 17, 2019

@Buff, we always have the Jets. ;-)

BuffaloBillsFan | July 17, 2019


I took the test and I scored a 26. But the questions were EXTREMELY biased and lacked any nuance whatsoever. This was a questionnaire designed to have a liberal bent. There are many people (perhaps most?) in the USA who fall in the middle of the political divide and would have no idea how to answer this questionnaire.

This can not in any way-shape-or-form be considered scientific or unbiased. This is as biased as it comes. The questions are loaded with inflammatory rhetoric. I happen to be of a liberal persuasion, so I guess I scored pretty well on the questionaire. That does not excuse the fact that this “test” will just serve to inflame the already rabid “them-versus-us” talk that divides us today. That happens on both sides, with the POTUS (such a fucking disgrace to our country, btw . . .) being the ringleader.

So, upon further reflection, i admire your convictions and opinion, dmm1240. But I abhor the questionaire I just answered. I am completely in tune with you politically, but I hate the fact that these types of quizzes will probably drive the vast majority of people in the middle to either the left or the right. The middle should rule, but they are being marginalized by the extremes.

In my opinion, this is just a liberal version of the conservative agenda that is dividing our society. I completely agree with your agenda, but I disagree with your thoughts about this questionaire.

Lots of thoughts in a TL:DR post, but I felt I had to add my 2 cents . . .

BTW, @dmm1240, I am sorry I flagged this post. I shouldn’t have done that before I saw a link. Politically, you and I are probably twins . . .

BuffaloBillsFan | July 17, 2019


Yes, but the Jests might actually be a good team for a change. You and I might be fighting for the bottom of the AFCE this year . . .

SCCRENDO | July 17, 2019

@Buffalo. No it is not biased. All of posting our scores are liberal and that’s why we get the low numbers. If we could get the deniers and Trumpists who troll these threads to do it they will all score in the 70s. Moderates will not use -4 and +4. They will likely use -2 to +2 and score between 40 and 60.

MitchP85D | July 17, 2019

I scored 96. Real authoritarians erase speech they don't like!

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

@SCCRENDO, actually the high end of the scale is 180. Most people score 90-110 or so.

@BuffaloBillsFan. You're looking at the test through OUR lens. Actually, the first authoritarian test was developed by German sociologist Tehodor W. Adorno @ Cal Berkeley in 1947. Adorno took an initial question list he developed to Nuremberg and administered it to several former Nazis. Despite the original theory have nine dimensions of the authoritarian personality, the Nazis who took the test only scored high on three of them. Continued research into the idea has supported the basic hypothesis, but heavily alter the test and proposed reasons for correlations between the traits.

Quote from a news article: While Adorno treated the tendency to Fascism as a mental disorder, his reliance on Freudian thought and the Western Marxism of the Frankfurt school to which he belonged made his scale seem biased, and later erroneous. The works has been critiqued from all angles, but the core concept has been found to be correct. There are certain personality traits which correlate and are related to potential support for authoritarianism. The concept remains influential. The F-scale and its slew of personality traits have been reduced to three by Canadian Psychologist Bob Altemeyer, who has created a shorter, MORE ACCURATE, version of the test.

Where you and I look at the test, we see it as black and white. So would Mike Pence, whom I suspect is a high RWA, but from the opposite viewpoint. The questions we see as obvious and the ones we find abhorrent, Pence would see it completely flipped.

Take Q4 as an example: Gays and lesbians are just as healthy and moral as anybody else.
You and I, being low RWAs, would answer "of course they are and give it a+3 or +4. Pence, who has been a lifelong supporter of gay cure therapy, would most probably answer -3 or -4.

Other questions are more nuanced, such as this one: What our country really needs is a strong, determined leader who will crush evil, and take us back to our true path.

At first glance, you and I are going to answer uh uh. People who voted for Trump, I suspect, did so in large measure because he promised to get tough to get them what they want. He promised to drain the swamp, didn't he? He promised to wipe out the Washington establishment? He didn't drain the swamp, in fact added several overlarge alligators, but he has gotten tough on the bureaucracy and is actively working to destroy it.

Even for us, there is nuance. What are we saying? We're saying we want to nominate a candidate who can take Trump on and reverse the orange one's policies which we abhor. Those of us watching what's going on at the border in horror want someone to come in and clean up ICE. We want the new POTUS to throw the bums out, install leadership at the SEC that will get tough on enforcing antitrust laws, take on McConnell and his do nothings, kick Wall Street in the pants. With that in mind, someone who who otherwise scores low on the RWA test might pick neutral or the -1 answer -- sometimes you need a strong leader who will crush the opposition, sometimes not. This, of course, pushes up their RWA score.

Atlemeyer's questionnaire isn't really about whether or not we need a strong leader or whether gay people are moral, it's designed to smoke out the personality traits of the person the test is administered to.

That said, don't take it too seriously. The questionnaire is an initial identifier. He has reams of tests he gives that go deeper. There's another one Atlemeyer asks about religious cults. The proposition is whether individuals should report religious cults to authorities. On the surface, we low scoring RWAs go, "uh, uh. Not our business."

But what about a situation where there is someone like Jim Jones who took all his church membership's money, slept with their wives, and wound up talking the entire bunch into drinking cyanide laced Kool-aid in a South American jungle after murdering a U.S. congressman and his entourage? If you knew about this from seeing a friend or relative caught up in that cult sensing tragedy ahead, would you report it to authorities? Goes against us low RWA principles in general, but hey... that's where the phrase "you drank the Kool-aid" came from to describe people who blindly buy into what appears to everyone else as BS nonsense.

Altemeyer's test is more subtle than it appears and it is widely used by psychologists and sociologists in studying authoritarianism.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Mitch, ole buddy, I must admit surprise at two things: 1) That you took the test in the first place; and 2) that you scored about average. Maybe owning that Model S has been good for you.

MitchP85D | July 17, 2019

The test is a gauge. Libertarians have a little test for social and economic issues of their own. A score of a 100 is an absolute Libertarian, and 0 is n absolute commutarian. I scored a 90 on that one.

MitchP85D | July 17, 2019

My wife and I plan to own a Tesla for the rest of our lives. Tesla is going through some struggles now, but they will work their way through it.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

How the RWA test is scored straight from the prof's book:

Done them all, as best you could? Then let’s score your answers, and get an idea of whether you’re cut out to be an authoritarian follower. First, you can skip your answers to the first two statements. They don’t count. I put those items on the test to give people some experience with the -4 to +4 response system. They’re just “warm- ups.” Start therefore with No. 3.
If you wrote down a “-4” that’s scored as a 1.
If you wrote down a “-3" that’s scored as a 2.
If you wrote down a “-2" that’s scored as a 3.
If you wrote down a “-1" that’s scored as a 4.
If you wrote down a “0" or left the item unanswered, that’s scored as a 5. If you wrote down a “+1" that’s scored as a 6.
If you wrote down a “+2" that’s scored as a 7. If you wrote down a “+3" that’s scored as an 8. If you wrote down a “+4" that’s scored as a 9.
Your answers to Items 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19 and 22 are scored the same way.
Now we’ll do the rest of your answers, starting with No. 4. If you wrote down a “-4" that’s scored as a 9.
If you wrote down a “-3" that’s scored as an 8.
If you wrote down a “-2" that’s scored as a 7.
If you wrote down a “-1" that’s scored as a 6.
If you wrote down a “0" or left the item unanswered, that’s scored as a 5. If you wrote down a “+1" that’s scored as a 4.
If you wrote down a “+2" that’s scored as a 3.
If you wrote down a “+3" that’s scored as a 2.
If you wrote down a “+4" that’s scored as a 1.
Now simply add up your twenty scores. The lowest total possible would be 20, and the highest, 180, but real scores are almost never that extreme. Introductory psychology students at my Canadian university average about 75. Their parents average about 90. Both scores are below the mid-point of the scale, which is 100, so most people in these groups are not authoritarian followers in absolute terms. Neither are most Americans, it seems. Mick McWilliams and Jeremy Keil administered the RWA scale to a reasonably representative sample of 1000 Americans in 2005 for the Libertarian Party and discovered an average score of 90.3, 4 Thus the Manitoba parent samples seem similar in overall authoritarianism to a representative American adult sample.5 My Manitoba students score about the same on the RWA scale as most American university students do too.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Plus the next few paragraphs of explanation:

Let me give you three compelling reasons why you should treat your personal score with a grain of salt. First, psychological tests make mistakes about individuals, which is what you happen to be, I’ll bet. Even the best instruments, such as the best IQ tests, get it wrong sometimes--as I think most people know. Thus the RWA scale can’t give sure-thing diagnoses of individuals. (But it can reliably identify levels of authoritarianism in groups, because too-high errors and too-low errors tend to even out in big samples. So we’ll do the group grope in this book, and not go on the individual counseling trip. )
Second, how you responded to the items depended a lot on how you interpreted them. You may have writhed in agony wondering, “What does he mean by _______?” as you answered. If I failed often to get the gist of what I was saying over to you, your score will certainly be misleading.

Third, you knew what the items were trying to measure, didn’t you, you rascal! The RWA scale is a personality test disguised as an attitude survey, but I’ll bet you saw right through it.8 In fact, you could probably take each statement apart and see how I was trying to slyly tap the various components of the RWA personality trait.

Take that first-scored item, No. 3: “Our country desperately needs a mighty leader (authoritarian submission) who will do what has to be done to destroy (authoritarian aggression) the radical new ways and sinfulness that are ruining us” (conventionalism). Well if you’re smart enough to do that, you’re smart enough to realize how easily you might have slanted your answers to look good.

So I didn’t ask you to answer the RWA scale to see if you’d find true happiness and fulfillment as a stormtrooper in some dictator’s army. It’s not a vocational test. Instead, I wanted you to experience for yourself the instrument used to identify and study authoritarian followers. Most of what I have uncovered about authoritarianism, I have dug up with this tool, and now you know what it is and how it works.

dmm1240 | July 17, 2019

Let's see how many agree with this: The Epstein affair. Dozens of people have come forward to support the initial charges against this lifetime pedophile. Prosecutors said Wednesday their case against him gets stronger by the day as more people come forward. There are allegations, including a lawsuit filed in both California/New York, later withdrawn, the complainant alleging her life had been threatened as the reason, that Donald Trump raped her in Epstein's NY palace of sin in 1994 when she was 13. There is ample video footage of Epstein and Trump palling around together in the 1990s. There are also reports that dozens of other prominent people are implicated in this pedophilia ring, according to Atlantic Magazine, the list includes a former prime minister, various heads of state and many US politicians. The list supposedly also includes a former POTUS. Given that Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama are devoted to their wives, that leaves one candidate — Bill Clinton. Flight logs indicate Clinton took at least 26 trips on Epstein's private jet and on one, in particular, they picked up two young girls straight from school with the only other passengers being Clinton and Epstein and jetted to the latter's private island aka Lolita Island.

I voted for Bill Clinton when he ran for POTUS. My wife liked him even better than I did. Bill was and is a beloved figure in Democratic Party circles. We are both sexual libertines insofar as relations between consenting adults. We have no truck with rape or pedophilia. They're illegal and should be.

If it turns out that Bill Clinton was a participant, despite our current admiration for the guy, we're fine with throwing him under the bus.

If it turns out that Trump did indeed rape that girl and statute of limitations haven't run out or something, we're fine with prosecuting his sorry ass too. We certainly think it's a high crime and misdemeanor worthy of a count in a bill of impeachment. (There are no statutes of limitations on that).

Will it matter to his mostly authoritarian core supporters? I bet it won't. They'll shrug it off as just another baseless charge brought by hysterical women against the great leader. They'll stick right by him just as they did after pussy-gate.

That's the difference between low and high RWAs. Dear leader is subject to the same laws as the rest of us, infallibility my keister. What do you guys think?

jimglas | July 18, 2019


SCCRENDO | July 18, 2019

I strongly feel that the difference between the 2 groups is that the high scoring authoritarian group are concerned about themselves over anyone else and prepared to throw anyone under the bus and protect others solely to achieve their perceived goal. The low scoring group which includes most of us who responded care about the future of the planet, it flora, fauna and mankind. In fact I would even throw the universe in there. And we are prepared to make sacrifices to achieve the common good. Personally I feel that unity equals strength and ideally having as much of the planet working together would result in mutual benefit including those who may be perceived as having to sacrifice more for the common good. To use the economic example. We believe in trickle up economics rather than trickle down economics.

jimglas | July 18, 2019

Also, High scoring individuals believe their religion is the sole truth and others should abide by their religious rules

NKYTA | July 18, 2019

If Clinton committed a crime, prosecute.
Ditto for Trump...oh, wait, we can’t seem to get through the shield of Barr...

MitchP85D | July 18, 2019

BuffaloBills is right. The test is extremely biased. But I took the test anyway just to see how I would score, and compare results with those of you whom I consider to be the Real Authoritarians.

So, mine is the highest score so far. And according to dmm1240, that puts me in the average camp. If I am the "average" one here, then what in the heck are you who scored in the 20s and 30s? You sure as heck aren't Libertarians!

I think the reason why I scored higher than the rest of you is because I do have some respect for the so-called "establishment" or "authorities." I include law enforcement into the idea of "establishment." And for any civilization to survive, that will require a "rule of law" and appropriate enforcement of the law.

The founding principle of what I call America is the RESTRICTION OF GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORITY OVER THE INDIVIDUAL. And this is the main reason why the USA has grown into the most powerful nation on earth. The straitjacket has been removed from the individual, and he/she can pursue his/her course of life without the obstacles placed in front of them by government. But a RULE OF LAW is required to protect this founding principle. The individual needs to be protected from others who would violate that individual's right to pursue his/her own course of life.

So, according to this RWA test, I scored higher than most of you here because I believe in the concept of protecting the individual from "group think." Example - Let's say some authoritarian type (from my perspective of course) makes a proposal to break into Warren Buffet's and Bill Gates' bank accounts and split the money up among "the people." And the authoritarian puts this proposal up to a vote for the people to benefit from. How do you think the vote will turn out? I'd hate to contemplate what the outcome of that vote would be in America. But this example should give one some understanding why a RULE OF LAW is needed to protect the individual from this sort of MOB RULE. In America, this act is illegal. The Courts would block such a legislative attempt because of the gross violation against the individual.

And now, this brings us to so-called "climate change." There is a debate going on about this subject. Some scientists believe that the human component of CO2 is the main driver of climate change. Some don't. So, here in America, a case is made to the public about it. And the reason why the public is involved because there are those in the scientific community who have become policy advocates. And these policies will most certainly affect the lives of hundreds of millions of INDIVIDUALS. Note that I purposely all-capped individuals. This brings us right back to the concept of protecting the rights of the individual. If government is going to make a policy that will affect the lives of individuals, then the individual most certainly has a right to weigh in on the proposed policy derived from advocacy.

If you think your case is so strong to produce a "Green New Deal" type of policy, then why do you think it is necessary to erase the evidence of the past? This is what I think authoritarians do. They will do all they can to eradicate evidence that counters what they want to achieve. The fact that you erase my posts is just a mere microcosm of what you authoritarian types do. Libertarians like me don't erase the past. I compare and contrast data of today to the past. I will never erase evidence. THAT IS WHAT YOU AUTHORITARIANS DO!

Mike83 | July 18, 2019

LOL. It's not about you being the authoritarian(self centered much?) its about being willing to follow an authoritarian and has nothing to do with political beliefs. Might have gone over some peoples heads.

MitchP85D | July 18, 2019

I don't follow authoritarians Mike. I just go about my life and do the best I can under the RULE OF LAW to get by in this world. I don't go about telling others what kind of car they must drive or what kind of energy they must use. That is what you do Mike!

Tesla-David | July 18, 2019

Having voted for Clinton twice, I am personally appalled by his close association with Epstein, and that he may have participated in sexually violating minors. If he is guilty throw him under the bus and prosecute him. The same goes for our disgusting POTUS. Drumpf behavior evidenced by Hollywood Access tape openly displays his thinking and behavior toward women. Too many women have come forward for their not to be prosecutable evidence.Prosecute him to the limit. He is beyond disgusting on so many levels for the way he openly divides the country.

Mike83 | July 18, 2019

@Tesla-David Agree

Also I won't argue with lies and strawman BS from cavedwellers

MitchP85D | July 18, 2019

OK dim1240, I took your test. You are trying to show me as the authoritarian in this circle of Tesla owners. But according to your scale, I am in the "average" camp.

Now I have an authoritarian test for all of you. I posted an NSIDC graph projecting the Arctic sea ice extent this year. The post is titled "OK Flaggie Boys, Does This Upset You?" Test - Will you erase it?

rxlawdude | July 18, 2019

42. Figures. It's the meaning of life.

mbirnie51 | July 18, 2019

scored 33 (aged 68 years): I've read most of these posts and can agree with most of dmm. Others have good points to support their views too.

My most important concept is THE RULE OF LAW, if and only if EVERYONE is held to the same standard. I have found that there are laws/rules for us common folks and the "establishment" folks get to have an entirely different standard, which makes "JUSTICE" only for those who can afford the lawyers who can twist the law to his clients benefit. I've lost faith in "the law".

What I base my life on is a moral code that you can find in most religions whether it be Christian, Judaism, Muslim, Buddhist et al. treat others as you'd like to be treated and be tolerant of others beliefs.

dmm; I'd add in your list of remedies rescinding Citizens United, because only those that have lots of $$$ can get the ear of the politician. Corporations are not like you and I, they live on beyond a normal life expectancy, have to petition government to exist, and are driven by only one concept...the bottom line. Their dollar screams louder than mine and drowns out "we the people". Also, if they falter, a corporation has bankruptcy laws to help them swindle debt owed to others, they just aren't like a human beings.

dmm1240 | July 18, 2019

"You are trying to show me as the authoritarian in this circle of Tesla owners."

Not at all. Frankly, I was hoping you'd stay away from this thread. It's not about YOU. It's about TRUMP and his FOLLOWERS. Not you.

Nobody forced you to hand out your score, in fact I advised people to keep it to themselves for exactly the purpose you've used yours. You're no more than a couple of posts in and already demonstrate zero understanding of what we're discussing. You want to talk about authoritarianism? Read Altemeyer's book first, maybe you'll learn something. Hell, read any sociologist's book on authoritarianism, they all say pretty much the same thing. Altemeyer happened to boil a scholarly topic down to express it in layman's terms and also developed the questionnaire that is now pretty much standard to identify authoritarian tendencies in individual personalities.

SCCRENDO | July 18, 2019

@Mitch. I guess it is hard to debate the issue without knowing where you scored higher than us. I think perhaps you are trying to debate the word authoritarian. As per my post above I see this differently. It is a scale of concern from those who put other's concerns over those of their own at the lower numbers and those who consider their own concerns first over that of others being at the higher end. I guess I would have predicted you to score in the 150-180 range. But your score does dictate that you are probably a lot more compassionate than your rhetoric dictates and most of you selfishness relates to economic issues headed by climate change denial. And in all honesty I cannot believe that your denial is that honest because you seem smart enough to understand the science.Of course you may not be. I believe your climate change denial stems out of concerns for the financial cost of remediation

dmm1240 | July 18, 2019


Most of my posts are copy and pastes from Altemeyer's book "The Authoritarians." He explains authoritarianism much better than I can.

BuffaloBillsFan | July 18, 2019

Ok, @dmm1240, I have a LOT of serious thinking to do. My psychology education ended at psych 101 at Davidson (FTR, I hated the class and the professor).

I have apparently completely misunderstood the meaning/purpose of this questionnaire. Your response after my rant makes some sense to me. I saw this as a political litmus test, and that is apparently not at all what this is meant to be. Your follow up posts have been enlightening. Thank you for your very measured and quite frankly gracious responses. I have a lot of reading to do, even though I still hate psychology!

This is a very, very interesting thread. And basically respectful of other’s opinions.

BTW NKYTA, the Bills will not be sucking hind-teat behind the fish or jests this year!


milesbb | July 18, 2019

Am I they only one that does not know what RWA is? Google comes up with "Romance Writers of America"

MitchP85D | July 18, 2019

Authoritarian -

favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom.

I think that is a pretty straight-forward definition of what an authoritarian is. It does not require a whole heck of a lot of explanation. Plus, my application of the word most certainly fits with most of you here in the Tesla Forum.

I am not the one here who is trying to alter the lives of others by telling them what kind of car to drive, or what kind of utility plan to buy. You are the ones who are favoring "strict obedience to authority" by denying "personal choice" for the individual. You have no regard for those who live in a part of the world where they don't get a lot of sunshine or a lot of wind. You authoritarians want to cram wind and solar down the throats of those people where wind and solar are not feasible. It is kind of like somebody in California who benefits from hydro-electricity demanding the same from Kansas. And if the folks in Kansas cannot produce the same amount of hydro-electricity California does, then punish them with environmental fines!

That is authoritarianism in a nutshell!

MitchP85D | July 18, 2019

milesbb, RWA is Right-Wing Authoritarianism. And many here in this thread label me as such.