Friday, February 10, 2012

Political orientation of doctors and lawyers

Listening to Michael Savage is a guilty pleasure of mine. His presentation is not known for being measured in its delivery or factually precise in its content. Thankfully, there's a whole list of places listed on the right side of this page that one may visit to get one's fill of that. Savage is appealing because he is a politically incorrect bull in a cultural Marxist's china shop. As a middle level cog in a corporate machine who isn't industrious enough to make it as an entrepreneur, if I let fly like he did, I'd have a pink slip shoved in my face faster than all my casual acquaintances could unfriend me on facebook.

Sometimes his intuitive assertions also provide a good pretense to take an empirical look at just how accurate those assertions are. He regularly recalls from his youth that among the sharpest kids, those who turned out to be productive members of society (ie, conservatives) wanted to be doctors, while the nastiest ones (ie, liberals) all wanted to be lawyers.

The GSS allows us to look at the political orientations of doctors and lawyers in the US. The following table shows the political distributions of practitioners of law (n = 222) and of medicine (n = 108):

Occupation
Liberal
Moderate
Conservative
Lawyer
39.3%
32.2%
28.5%
Physician
32.5%
21.4%
46.0%

Stripping away Savage's value judgments, his characterization isn't too far off the mark. Parenthetically, it's not surprising that legal and medical professionals are more ideologically committed than the population at large is. Moderates tend to be of modest intelligence.

GSS variables used: ISCO88(2221)(2421), POLVIEWS(1-3)(4)(5-7)

16 comments:

Jokah Macpherson said...

One complaint I have about physicians is that they tend to be conservative in their personality and work habits as well. The type of people who become doctors tend to be smart and competent but there's not much overlap with the entrepreneurial or research set. This is probably good in the sense that it protects against quackery, but if you have an illness that's not out of the textbook you are going to have a hard time finding a doctor eager to get to the bottom of it. In these instances a "non-traditional" mindset can be an asset.

Jokah Macpherson said...

Just to be clear, I'm not advocating pseudo-scientific "alternative medicine", just pointing out that the average doctor is not Gregory House and is not going to be professionally intrigued by your mysterious pain.

Olave d'Estienne said...

I saw a big chart somewhere that pointed out that psychiatrists are way to the left of physicians in general. I'll see if I can dig it up.

In any case, I wonder what Savage's take on that would be? Mean people become leftist lawyers, nice people become rightist physicians, and crazy people who think they are nice become psychiatrists?

Heh heh. My take is that rightists don't mind getting their hands bloody as long as they are helping someone who is sick. Leftists don't mind getting into shouting matches as long as they can say they are helping someone who says he or she is a victim.

Anonymous said...

"but if you have an illness that's not out of the textbook you are going to have a hard time finding a doctor eager to get to the bottom of it."

Worse then that. If they deviate from "the book" and something goes wrong, they can get sued or lose their professional reputation.

-B

Jokah Macpherson said...

Good point -b, I hadn't thought of that. Maybe it is the fault of all those lawyers after all.

Noah172 said...

Since this is Michael Savage ruminating here, allow me to speculate on the subtext behind the ruminations:

Jews are overrepresented in both of these professions to a large degree (a fact of which Savage is certainly aware), but perhaps more so in law than medicine. I figure that the hardcore Culture-of-Critique set sees law (or media!) as the avenue to act out their fixations, while the more moderate Jews who just want to make a good living and give Mother naches become doctors.

Moving on, most politicians are lawyers. They pass lots of complex laws and regulations, which lead to more lawsuits and more need for the public to get expert interpretation of the incomprehensible acts of officialdom, thus providing more employment for the legal profession. It makes for a financially-interested bias among lawyers (and lawyer-politicians) towards liberalism (or Bushie big-government neoconservatism).

In most of America, I think, doctors (along with Main Street businessmen) are among the bedrock country-club Republican loyalists. They earn enough to be in the top tax brackets, but usually not enough to hire the sharpest accountants or take advantage of the most complex tax shelters, and thus get hurt the worst with liberal soak-the-rich schemes.

Ed Tom Kowalsky said...

I'm a tad leery of how people identify themselves politically. Seems I saw a stat a while back showing 60-some odd percent of professors identifying as moderates and only 25 percent as liberals. Anecdotally, a friend who is an art history professor identifies herself as a moderate and she's only slightly right of Karl Marx.

Many people, particularly liberals who are cocooned in their own little ideological bathyscaphe, are clueless as to what the broader political spectrum really is. I.e. they calibrate that spectrum far of the left of what it really is.

Olave d'Estienne said...

They earn enough to be in the top tax brackets, but usually not enough to hire the sharpest accountants or take advantage of the most complex tax shelters, and thus get hurt the worst with liberal soak-the-rich schemes. - Noah 172

Good point. I think physicians may also be somewhat bitter about the two-pronged attack of (a) malpractice suits and (b) regulation. That may not hurt a physician, or reduce their pay, but it surely forces them to do more paperwork and less cutting people open.

Anonymous said...

Jews are overrepresented in both of these professions to a large degree (a fact of which Savage is certainly aware), but perhaps more so in law than medicine.


Much more so in law than in medicine, I suspect. Jews seem to be drawn to political occupations like a flower to sunlight. (or a moth to a flame?)

Anonymous said...

I bet Liberals would turn around and say "We're the doctors in the free clinics, you're the doctors who pimp out for big pharma!".

Maybe the appeal of becoming doctors, for Conservatives, is being a pillar of the community, like docs are in theory, whereas Liberals care less about this? Or conversely, being a pillar of the community makes you have Conservative values to do with protecting and maintaining that community (whereas of course being unconnected to that gives you values about trying to avoid subordinating individuals to community).

Dr. Anonymous said...

Is there any possibility to further deduce the data into specific types of lawyers? For example I'm sure the majority of corporate lawyers will lean Republican, compared to those that work for doctors/lawyers without borders.

This way we can infer that specific fields in lawyering attracts certain types of liberals or conservatives.

Audacious Epigone said...

Dr. Anonymous,

Not from the GSS data, which uses ISCO 88. Unfortunately that's as far down as it allows us to drill.

Anonymous said...

Doctors are conservative because they sacrifice the entire decade of their twenties to slog in the bowels of hospitals/libraries dealing with reality, not theory. Couple this with seeing the wreckage of Government Assistance from the Medicaid patients.

They (we) are income-taxed at the 35% level and see it transferred to our Medicaid patients who demand, and are too crude to ever state, "Thank you." The nurses bear the brunt of Medicaid rudeness and demands , and are equally conservative. A recent RN comment was, "I'll vote for whoever stops giving away free shit."

In the medical mileau, we can speak freely about these frustrations. I've stated, "on a population basis , Blacks are less intelligent than Whites" and discussed the wreckage of Single Moms with about 10-12 co-workers, with no resulting pushback. Failing to use the wisdoms of sterotyping would leave a clinician inept. Identifying the intangible clues of sluttitude, laziness, risky behavior, lying, substance dependence, etc. are critical to good medicine.

The rare lefty doctors are those that identify with a political bent early, and stick to their creeds.

not a hacker said...

Savage's most perspicacious social observation had nothing to do with doctors or lawyers. Instead, it was about the new brand of woman. He made it back in '94 when he had a mere local show in San Francisco. For weeks he would go on about the "mean-faced," or "hatchet-faced" professional woman, who would "run over you to get to that next meeting." He predicted that boy-girl sex was essentially over, and I believe he was right. The whole concept of "dating" has been a fraud for a long time. People probably lie about this more than they do about black crime.

Anonymous said...

Even from religion, the purpose of the law is to condemn and punish, so no surprise nasty folks disproportionally wanted to be lawyers, while folks who wanted to help others wanted to become doctors.

I do think there will be a niche for excellent doctors even under the new health care law. There is always a market for the best and the rich won't want to wait in line. I am thinking cash only top docs. I may encourage my second son on that route.

Sideways said...

" For example I'm sure the majority of corporate lawyers will lean Republican"

There are too many corporate lawyers and too few republican lawyers for this to be possible

" He predicted that boy-girl sex was essentially over, and I believe he was right"

This might be the stupidest thing I've ever read on a HBD site, and I've been reading Whiskey for 6 years or so.