sabato 22 ottobre 2011

The Age of Aquarius

The Age of Aquarius
Among the prophets of the 60's generational cohort was Charles Reich, who in his book The Greening of America described an emerging new consciousness called Consciousness III. What was this new type of consciousness? Reich’s book contained three key chapters describing Consciousness I, Consciousness II, and Consciousness III. Consciousness I and II characterized the receding values of the previous generations and Consciousness III the emerging values of the young generation.

Initial structure of the Consciousness Scales. Click this
graph to see this structure in the virtual reality space.
Next, click the Fit navigational control.
Consciousness Scales  We started our inquiry by content analyzing the pertinent chapters of Reich’s book, looking for sentences that could be conceptualized as ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ test items and, aided by item analysis, converted these sentences into items of the Consciousness Scales. After collecting responses of a group of subjects to this test battery, we factor analyzed its component scales to identify the structure of the Consciousness Scales, shown in the figure at the left


The age-related structure of the Consciousness Scales.
Click the graph to see this structure in the virtual reality
space. Next, click the Fit navigational control.
Expendability of Young Males As recently discussed within the context of sociobiology, most talk about heroism, self-sacrifice, love of country and bravery in combat are just euphemisms for the expendability of young males. Most societies show a distinct preference for sacrificing young males in combat first, only later extending the draft to older males and only seldom to females. This socio-biological postulate about expendability of young males was reflected in our next structure of Consciousness Scales, with age of subjects included into the analysis. As the age of subjects increased, their likelihood of endorsing Consciousness III philosophy decreased. Not facing the draft lottery, the older subjects were less likely to endorse the Consciousness III world-view.
The draft lottery, not being random with respect to gender and age was not random with respect to affluence either. Young people attending college were initially exempt, and more people attending college came from rich families than from poor. The old and rich were sending the young and poor to Vietnam. The Consciousness III scale thus should have been located toward the left on the left-right continuum. We decided to use Tomkin’s Polarity Scales to index this continuum, as the left wing of his Polarity Scales describe the Humanistic and the right wing the Normative clusters of opinions and beliefs.


Consciousness and Polarity Scales. Click the graph
to see this structure in the virtual reality space.
Next, click the Fit navigational control.
Polarity Scales Was Consciousness III just the New Left and Consciousness I and Consciousness II just the Old Right? To answer this question, let us look at canonical analysis, which can tell us how much variance Consciousness scales share with the scales indexing the left-right political opinions. To measure the left-right dimension more accurately we included two more scales related to this dimension. The Absorption scale, which is related to its left pole, and the Authoritarian scale, which is related to the right pole of the left-right dimension. The canonical analysis reconfirmed the dimensionality of the structure of the Consciousness scales and indicated that Consciousness I + II scales shared about 58% of the variance with the traditional political right and the Consciousness III scale shared about 44% of the variance with the traditional political left. But what about the variance that was not accounted for by the right-wing vs. left-wing Polarity Scales?

During the early years of World War II, Ho Chi Minh negotiated an agreement with President Franklin D. Roosevelt that after the war the United States would recognize Vietnam's independence if Vietnam's Viet Minh would fight against Japanese. In 1954 the Viet Minh had finally defeated the French colonial government, but the United States, instead of recognizing the legitimacy of the Viet Minh's government, brought into power Ngo Dinh Diem, a zealot Christian who was made president of South Vietnam. Under the guise of the 'fight against communism', thousands of Buddhists were imprisoned in detention camps. Out of protest dozens of Buddhists, including three Americans, poured gasoline over themselves and set themselves on fire. It is estimated that in South Vietnam during the years 1955-1960 about 80,000 people were executed and about 500,000 were sent to detention camps. To support this kind of government, during the next decade about 50,000 of American soldiers lost their life. During the Vietnam war, Vietnamese built over 100-miles-long network of tunnels where the Vietcong was hiding during the day, formed study and discussion groups not only on Marxist philosophy, but also on Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, and from where the Vietnamese soldiers emerged at night to fight the enemy.

Factorial structure of the Consciousness Scales after
inclusion of the Zen Scale. Click this graph to see
this structure in the virtual reality space.
Next, click the Fit navigational control.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Were our Consciousness scales reflecting the spirit of the time? In 1948, McGranahan and Wayne observed that one of the ways social values manifest themselves is by the popularity of artistic products. They asserted that ‘popular drama can be regarded as a case of 'social fantasy' - that the psychological constellation in the dramatic work indicates sensitive areas in the personalities of those for whom the work has affect; their needs, assumptions, and values.’ In addition to reflecting human values, books, television and other media also influence these values and, in turn, value systems shape the society and its future and thus we decided that we will construct new scales from books on the top of the list of bestsellers. In 1974, Pirsig's book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dominated the bestseller list. The book seemed to capture the spirit of the times. We content-analyzed the Pirsig’s book and called the resulting scale the Zen scale. Inclusion of a new scale based on Pirsig’s book did not alter the factorial structure of the Consciousness scales. This increased our confidence in its stability. Our first factor analysis of the Consciousness scales took place in 1973 and the data collection for the scale derived from the Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was completed in the second half of 1977. At this point in time we had been pursuing this topic already five years, and were able to capture time-related changes in the frequencies of endorsements of items comprising our scales. The precise measurements of the magnitudes of the component scales of our Consciousness structure confirmed what we already knew. The end of the Vietnam War (1956-1975) had removed the unifying cause behind the Consciousness III movement. The pendulum was moving away from Consciousness III toward the ‘Material Girl’ of the 1980s. The revolution was averted, its aims attenuated. In the years to follow, Jerry Rubin committed suicide and Timothy Leary left us for the land of eternal dreams.


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