In 2014, the anti-vaccine beliefs of progressive elites reached an apex, both in raw numbers and in hypocrisy - and it was because of an Ebola epidemic thousands of miles away. While only one person was impacted in America, there were calls from across the ideological spectrum, including among rich elites of the American west coast, to develop a vaccine, yet they were simultaneously insisting vaccines cause autism.
When it came to ordinary diseases, herd immunity would protect the children of elites so the thought process was to let poor kids get vaccines, but there is no herd immunity for Ebola. In states that are more pro-science, like Alabama and Mississippi, it was joked that those same rich elites in California and Oregon would make sure their children were first in line for an Ebola vaccine. from there, the movement spiraled downward to where now only people selling homeopathy and supplements on the Internet, like Dr. Joe Mercola, and the fringe naturalistic fallacy crowd stick to anti-vaccine sentiment.
When threats are far away, it's easy to intellectualize and philosophize, when threats become real, people get serious. They think about reality more. They become more conservative.
After the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, liberals in the U.K. saw a dramatic decline in acceptance of the notion that liberal policies prevent terrorism. People wanted immigrants to become more British, they had more national loyalty. They became more conservative, according to data from two nationally representative surveys published in Psychological Science.
And the decrease in tolerance for immigrants was more profound among self-identified left-wing people.
"Our findings show that terrorism shifts public attitudes towards greater loyalty to the in-group, less concern with fairness, and greater prejudice against Muslims and immigrants, but it seems that this effect is stronger on those who are politically left-leaning than those who are right-leaning," write psychologists from the University of Kent.
Threat is the great equalizer of course. Put a PETA fundraiser in the forest with a gun and a bear coming toward them and they are going to shoot it and so it goes when terrorists perceive liberal beliefs as weakness, such as the French willingness to ignore the cultural cancer in their midst. The backlash is instead far harsher because liberal-leaning people tend to change the most once their beliefs break.
Like a lot of psychological surveys, the results involve some data dredging - the authors believed that the bombings would cause liberals to shift moral perspectives and become more cautious about security as typically reported by political conservatives. They speculated that this shift would ultimately lead to an increase in prejudice toward the out-group among liberals and set out to show it.
The scholars analyzed newly available data from two nationally representative surveys, administered about 6 weeks before and 1 month after the July 7, 2005 bombings in London. The bombings, which occurred on public transport, led to the deaths of 52 people and injury of 770 people. The bombings were part of an Al Qaeda attack carried out by three British-born Muslims of immigrant families and one Islamic immigrant from Jamaica.
In the two surveys, participants rated their agreement with statements that represented four moral foundations: in-group loyalty (i.e., "I feel loyal to Britain despite any faults it may have"), authority-respect (i.e., "I think people should follow rules at all times, even when no one is watching"), harm-care (i.e., "I want everyone to be treated justly, even people I do not know. It is important to me to protect the weak in society), and fairness-reciprocity (i.e., "There should be equality for all groups in Britain").
Participants also rated their agreement with statements about attitudes toward Muslims (e.g., "Britain would lose its identity if more Muslims came to live in Britain") and immigrants (e.g., "Government spends too much money assisting immigrants").
As expected, attitudes towards Muslims and toward immigrants were more negative following the attacks than before, but only among liberals; conservatives' views stayed relatively constant. Thus, liberals' attitudes seemed to shift toward those of conservatives following the bombings.
Liberals suddenly decided being around Christians was less risky than being around Muslims and those shifts accounted for their negative attitudes toward Muslims. In other words, liberal moral perspectives, like economic ones, aren't constant - they will change when reality makes differences impossible to ignore.
The authors speculate that the November terrorist attacks in Paris are why such a huge group in the UK suddenly supported bombing missions in Syria, a reversal of 2013. The greatest change in voting occurred among Labour Members of Parliament, who are left-wing; they showed a 20% increase in support for the bombing missions from 2013 to 2015.