I disagree with the conclusion (more on that in a moment), but (a) this is a great thing to investigate with the data; (b) as soon as I saw the time-series data, I immediately wanted to plot it on the 2-axis / 4-quadrant Nolan chart ... and that's exactly what the author did next!
Now, why I'm not convinced that the data actually shows what the author thinks it shows: there are two possible explanations of the data:
1) that people change their views over time
2) that views are a function of when you were born
The author accepts point 1 without even thinking about point 2.
1) data shows that the older you are, the more your joints hurt.
2) data shows that the older you are, the more you disapprove of homosexuality.
I assert that fact #1 is explained by "old age leads to creaky joints", and fact #2 is explained by "social norms changed between 1930 and 2000, and people, to a good degree, retain the social norms of their youth".
Instead of concluding that "youth makes you a libertarian and old age makes you an authoritarian", I suggest that the truth might be that "being born after the Berlin Wall fell and globalization occurred makes you a libertarian; coming of age in the hippy era makes you a leftist, and living through the Great Depression and WWII makes you an authoritarian".
I don't endorse everything in it, but the book _Generations_
( http://www.amazon.com/Generations-History-Americas-Future-15... )
argues something pretty much in this direction.
Given that OKC's data is all from a very short period of time, there's no way to prove one hypothesis over another. Given a longer time series, though, we can disambiguate.
"Far more than other generations, 13ers feel that the real world is gearing up to punish them down the road… Elders find it hard to suppress feelings of disappointment over how they are turning out—dismissing them as a 'lost', 'ruined', even 'wasted' generation…"
"Thirteeners find these criticisms overblown. They look upon themselves as pragmatic, quick, sharp-eyed, able to step outside themselves to understand the game of life as it really get played. And whatever they are, 13ers insist, they have to be.…"
"Thirteeners, not Boomers, were America's true 'children of the 1960s,' and especially, the 1970s. An awakening era that seemed euphoric to young adults was, to them, a nightmare of self-immersed parents, disintegrating homes, schools with conflicting missions, confused leaders, a culture shifting from G to R ratings, new public-health dangers, and a 'Me Decade' economy that tipped toward the organized old and away from the voiceless young."
What a fun book!
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