Passion and compassion were sitting on a fence . . .

Passion (Photo source: firsttoknow via]

By Joe America

. . . . . . .

Passion and compassion were sitting on a fence . . .

Compassion fell off, and who was left?

(Pause for effect)

A Filipino!

(Drum crescendo)

. . . . . . .

Generalizations are inherently discriminatory, for they bind the generalized and the exceptions as one and make a lot of exceptional people mad. They are also a good diving board for discovery.

Passion is what elevates happy to joyful and irked to angry. It is the supercharger to emotions, the one that causes us to weep when a loved one suffers or kick a dog when our team loses. It is the stuff of poets and paupers, patriots and rebels.

Filipinos wear their passions on their sleeves, especially at sporting events or when dictators are overthrown. They are passionate about singers and actors and amulets that ward off sickness. They are passionate about their faith, which is odd for those of us dispassionately observing, because it seems like they don’t understand Jesus at all.

That quirk of faith illustrates best the disconnect between passion and compassion that drives the Philippines to being a bloodletting State, killing her own poor because someone said they are druggies. Guilt does not have to be proved in a court of law, too much trouble. And 80% of the population is satisfied with this as the body ticker tape taps 8,000.

The compassion is gone.

Jesus said “let me heal you”, and Filipinos of faith say, “shoot him because he might hurt someone.”

What erased the compassion? I’d reckon about 5 centuries of occupation and suppression and living as subordinate beings, whipping posts, servants, however you want to describe the emotional effect of lifetime after lifetime of having to be resourceful to survive, even if it means stealing land or money or honor from other people. That’s why there are millions and millions of squatters, corrupt officials, crabs, and vindictive presidents who shoot their neighbors or jail innocent senators who anger them.

When a people do enough thieving or cheating or desperate surviving, the remorse goes away. Or when stomping on others is so frequent, it becomes natural. That’s my guess.

That gives us a clear understanding of why Filipinos are both resourceful and remorseless. It’s a defense mechanism, learned, re-learned . . . drilled into the psyche by rote . . . and absorbed as a way of life. Or it’s thuggish dominance that becomes a way of life.

Yes, yes, there are the exceptions to the rules. Those who are traveled or well-read or schooled in Western schools have a more compassionate way, but even the best of the best, like Father Joel Tabora, SJ, are enablers of the killing president. Even those we once thought principled, like Senators Pimentel and Cayetano, seem to have hearts of cold steel . . . or maybe lead, as in bullets, is the metal of choice for these enablers, the scurrilous leaders who apparently don’t believe in honesty, compassion, or the Constitution.

What are we to say about people who gleefully tell malicious lies about good and decent people such as Vice President Robredo? Whose peculiar passions give them JOY at destroying a good and honorable woman?

That is a class of crass that stuns me, over and over again, that people can be so mean, and ENJOY it.

Too many Filipinos have been downtrodden for too long. Too many have been thuggish.

The irony, the grand irony, of course, is that it is the downtrodden and thugs who are punishing themselves by ripping hope from the nation and demanding death and darkness under the mistaken belief they are punishing people who deserve it. Filipinos, by and large, are not only missing compassion, they are missing a mirror.

The only way the nation will ever amount to anything is if hope . . . real, live, tangible hope . . . is injected into people’s lives to help people out of their disenfranchised, demeaning, suppressed lot in life. President Duterte, it seems to me, is not focused on that.

If the poor and compassionless cannot stop using vengeance as their calling card, they are sure to suffer for generations to come. At some point, they must help with the building and back leaders who can take them down a wholesome path with passion, compassion, and sense.

Until they decide to VOLUNTEER for a path of honesty and effort, these glorious islands are not much more than a slave ship, with the slaves taking turns strapping their neighbors to the oars . . . whilst being whipped themselves by the next stronger slave.


67 Responses to “Passion and compassion were sitting on a fence . . .”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    Couldn’t agree more, Joe. As further support to your main point:

    1. The TIME 100 Most Influential List, where many Dutertians eagerly clicked, thinking it was a popularity contest, without even understanding what that was all about. Naturally, the accompanying article was scathing.

    2. That serious meme where Duterte is praised for his accomplishment of having a higher average inflation rate (3%+) than Pnoy. I really wished the guy was sarcastic, for his own good.

    Passion without intelligence? Passion without morals? I am not that kind of Filipino.

    P.S. I liked that tweet re the UP honorary doctorate issue: Honor BEFORE Excellence, not Honor AND Excellence.

    • The trolls are applied stupidity. Most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, how many people are committed to it, and how the cultural make-up of the masses, ever superstitious, ever untrusting, ever uninformed, allows it to work. Millions of people insisting on driving their nation into the ground.

    • popoy says:

      a doctorate as a noun (not adjective doctoral) is like truth, UNIQUE and INFALLIBBLE no such things as very UNIQUE or fallible truth as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. An academic concoction it can be defined (per se or honorary), it can be offered, denied, accepted or refused which tells the truth about who offers, who is denied, and who refused. It can be CORRUPTED. The whys of those who have been offered, those who had accepted and those who had refused it and who may have looked at a mirror could give rise to lots of conjectures.

  2. Joe, this article reminded me of these two quotes.

  3. cha says:

    “Filipinos, by and large, are not only missing compassion, they are missing a mirror.”

    That would be one of my two favourite lines I’ve seen today. The other one being former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria’s take on Duterte in the Time magazine profile :

    “His approach is as ill considered as his grasp of history.”

    So much truth in so few words. Thank you.

  4. karlgarcia says:

    LP won’t support impeachment.
    I already thought that there isn’t enough numbers, that confirms it then.
    The reason given was not to divide the nation further.
    Oh well, there goes nothing.

    I still hope there is something to be gained from the process.

  5. “That is a class of crass that stuns me, over and over again, that people can be so mean, and ENJOY it.

    Too many Filipinos have been downtrodden for too long. Too many have been thuggish.”

    Those who want to advance often leave. Because trying to better yourself in the Philippines can lead to people assuming you are being arrogant – when all you are being is confident. “Hey, what are you doing outside the mud, you are a carabao like us, not an American bison, asshole”.

    Now if you go under a banana tree and sleep, acting privileged, then the reaction is: “OK, at least he knows he is still a carabao, he has just risen in the ranks, that is his right to be there”.

    Or you butt the other carabaos, showing you are fighting. By no means ever smile, they hate that!

    • “By no means ever smile, they hate that!”

      Like cha above, I too have two favourite quotes of the day now!

      “we were also told to smile all the time even if it makes us look nuts(the customer can’t see your smile).”


      One of my favourite memories in the Philippines was the sight of a kid sleeping on top of a carabao, totally at peace quiet, deep sleep… to me it looked like the carabao was the babysitter.

      You can’t do that on a bison, maybe with the ones they’ve cross bred with cattle in the Southwest, but the ones they saved and still roaming wild in the Great Plains, no way.

      I’ve seen one time a carabao go nuts (which was due to maltreatment), but for the most part they are quiet, not tamed, not domesticated, just quiet like a sentinel almost.

    • The smiles of Aquino and Roxas were seen by many as condescending, indifferent smiles of landlords towards slaves – the propaganda of the other side used that prejudice.

      Leni came across as smiling towards equals, something great, also through no fault of her own just the somewhat simpler/provincial yet educated upbringing that she had.

      The propaganda of today tries to disqualify that smile as dishonest, “plastic”. You have to talk/act like someone from the fish market to qualify as a real person nowadays. Sad.

    • Might have to redefine ‘happy’ . . . to mean the satisfaction that comes from getting even . . .

  6. popoy says:

    Not out (but summative) of many topics, this is an attempt in a “wordshell” (shorter than nutshell) description of two world ubiquitous persons from media reports: WATCH Donald Trump pleasingly may be unknowingly act out as the free world millennial first war high tech wannabe EMPEROR. Likewise WATCH not amused how Rodrigo Duterte trying (very or not too) hard to become the first (left leaning) benevolent ideologue wannabe SULTAN of ASEAN. Good on you, good on these two? immediate merciless but objective history will judge them.

    Passion and compassion is also poetry; emotion and intelligence is a seamless web not a hen or the egg eche butcheche. Both emotion and intelligence keep the divine fires burning in the hearts of saints and the peacemakers.

  7. josephivo says:

    “Les extrêmes se touchent” as the French say, meaning that “complete opposites are close”.

    Extreme passion and complete indifference have things in common and it is easy to flip flop between them. (E.g.: Passion and indifference makes it impossible for us to listen to reason. Being passionate for A can make you indifferent for B, but if something serious happens people can switch.)

    There are things I like so much in the Philippines, making me reluctant to suggest change. But sometimes I think that these are driven by the same things that I don’t like. Compassion: they genuinely care when you need help and act spontaneously, but they accept extreme poverty and injustice at the same time. Passion, yes it is nice to meet people with energy, strong beliefs, no it is not nice to meet people who switched of their minds.

    Are politics just amplifying a common culture or are they a standalone phenomenon?

    I liked your description very much, but at the same time I’m wondering what is missing.

  8. “A nation rent internally, as ours has been in recent years, is always ripe for a ‘man on a white horse’ …” RONALD REAGAN

    He wasn’t referring to the Philippines, was he?

  9. edgar lores says:

    1. I do not know that there is a word for “compassion” in Tagalog. The term translates to “awa” and “habag.”

    2. Most commonly used is “awa.” I have never heard “habag” used in conversation, and it seems these two are interchangeable.

    3. But “awa” translated into English can be primarily said to be pity, compassion, or mercy. Secondarily, it may connote charity, clemency, and even condolence.

    4. If we just take the three primary translations – pity, compassion, and mercy – each of these have different meanings, nuances, in English.

    4.1. Pity and compassion are similarly defined. Pity is the feeling of sorrow for the suffering and misfortune of others.

    4.2. Compassion is also the feeling of sorrow for the suffering and misfortune of others. It is said that these two differ in three respects:

    4.2.1. The scope or subject of compassion is “universal” while the subject of pity is particular. Thus we have compassion for the poor but have pity for a particular typhoon victim or a beggar.

    4.2.2. The sense of identification with the subject is strong in compassion but weak or absent in pity. With compassion, we see the Other as our Self. With pity, we recognize a separation between Self and the Other, and we see our Self as superior to the Other.

    4.2.3. The sense of concern for the subject is strong in compassion but weak or absent in pity. With compassion, we are moved to help the Other in a sustained manner. With pity, we may also be moved to help the Other, but the extent of the help is likely to be small and short-lived. In both, helping may be expressed in tangible form (money, food or clothing) or in intangible form (kindness and prayers).

    4.2.4. Mercy is more similar to pity than compassion in terms of scope and identification. Mercy is extended to a particular subject, the sense of Otherness and Superiority is strong, and the concern may be weak or strong but is expressed in forgiveness for the Other’s trespass(es).

    4.2.5. To my mind, Filipinos possess pity and mercy but not compassion. The Church may have charity for the poor but not compassion? If she had, she would not so thoughtlessly seek to increase the ragged tribe. As Duterte has demonstrated, there are many of us who are pitiless, merciless and without compassion:

    o We have no compassion for drug addicts who are a particular subclass.
    o We are superior to addicts who are subhuman.
    o We will not help addicts except to bring them to an early grave.

    • Strangely enough, Duterte’s campaign motto was Tapang at Malasakit – Bravery and Compassion/Caring. Close to the Filipino action movie star typified by the likes of Erap and Da King (Fernando Poe) – the kind that shoots the evil people to protect the good.

      “Filipino cowboy movies” was one term I heard for these kinds of Dirty Harry cum Western movies, another was “bakbakan” or fighting movies – Erap killed pushers back in 1972.. possibly a lot of Filipinos are shocked that it isn’t as clean as in the movies – I wonder.

      • The visual says it all:

        • edgar lores says:

          I’m trying to work out the nuances in meanings.

          1. From the dictionary, malasakit translates as care. There is a column by Cielito F. Habito on the term. I quote in part:

          ”Like so many words in our colorful language, the word appears to have no direct English translation. “Care,” “concern,” “stewardship,” “compassion” and “empathy” have been suggested to be similar in meaning, but do not quite capture the full essence of the word. An approximate definition might be “care for something (someone) like it were one’s own.”

          “In the workplace, malasakit is manifested by a worker who goes about his/her job as if the company were his/her own, or by an employer who relates with the staff as if they were family. “Malasakit sa kapwa” is altruism extended to someone as if that person were one’s self or own kin. It extends to inanimate objects or property, and in that context means handling or using something with care because it is not ours, and we understand and empathize with how the owner would feel if the object is damaged or misused. But “care” is only part of it. The word further connotes thinking of “us” rather than “them.” The sense of assimilation of what is otherwise considered alien or “sila” (they) is what makes the word even more significant.

          “Malasakit also implies action. It may be linked to another Filipino word, “pakikialam” or getting involved. To have true malasakit moves beyond mere thought, and involves minding another person’s business and actually doing something to help improve that person’s wellbeing. One might say malasakit is the antithesis of the attitude termed as “Nimby” (not in my backyard), wherein a person does not care unless already personally affected. The power of its meaning has been part of effective propaganda. The President himself used “Tapang at Malasakit” as his campaign slogan. While the Vice President’s own campaign slogan did not use the word, it implied a similar rhetoric—i.e., that she will act to uplift the lives of individuals especially those at the margins. They both have track records of getting involved: the “Punisher” who faced down criminals in Davao City, and the champion of the oppressed, notably the Sumilao farmers. They both won on populist platforms…”

          “…The beauty of malasakit is that its action does not expect an equivalent return. The word resonates with Filipinos. Malasakit is a trait that has seen Filipinos through crises. It seems to come naturally to a people living in a calamity-prone country, in particular. Malasakit gets people through the toughest of times.


          2. Going by the above, malasakit does seem to have the three elements I listed: some sort of universality, identification with the Other, and active concern.

          2.1. If we break down the term, the prefix “mala” translates as “somewhat” (or like/semi-/half); and “sakit” translates as “sickness” (or concern/sorrow/suffering).

          o Mala-anghel translates as “like an angel.”
          o Thus, malasakit is “somewhat concerned” or “half caring.”

          2.2. Apart from “care,” another accurate translation would be “solicitude” defined as “care or concern for someone or something.” This definition aligns with Habito’s and his observation that it “extends to inanimate objects or property.”

          2.4. I think compassion is different from care (or solicitude) in four ways that I can mention:

          o It is rich in its religious connotations
          o It is all-encompassing not only of humans but of all sentient creatures, plants, and inanimate objects (malasakit extends to inanimate objects but only because they are the property of someone)
          o It is more impersonal than personal
          o It is totally filled, not just half-filled, with passion

          As such, compassion transcends care.

      • sonny says:

        IMO, malasakit covers most if not all in compassion. Panganiban missed this too, I feel.

    • 4.2.5 makes a lot of sense. Needy = pitiable, I think, wheras compassion requires understanding another person’s means and motives. It is unrelated explicitly to neediness. I also note that the most common word used to describe the shenanigans going on is “sad”. I can’t really relate to the term.

      • popoy says:

        It used to be, IT USED TO BE during my youth there is pride in being poor which was not being needy because being poor stands for honesty and integrity when life was good, when neighbors fruits of plants and trees were shared . when politics was not the way to riches.When movies are about poor boy winning rich girl against rich boy.

        hah, hah, hah, haahhh, just think of the impact if Erap’s movie was titled KILL THE ADDICTS. Ferdie Marcos Sr. got a pusher/drug lord killed by musketry and the Pinoys got Martial Law.

        • The poor boy, rich boy plot is still popular.

          I think the poor are so plugged into things today, and so much of that is material, that they can see themselves being left behind. When friends have nicer cell phones, it’s a reality they have to deal with.

        • popoy says:

          Ahh, those happy good old days when in Iloilo city for 10 centavos the jeepney will take you anywhere to your gate in Jaro, La Paz, Oton, Arevalo, etc. Pay the Southern Star bus only 5 centavos and get down anywhere in its given route. When even in far Tablas island two cokes costs only 15 centavos (dalawa kinse) In Avenida or Escolta, pay pesos 1.20 and see a movie at the balcony of first class movie house. When a liter of gasoline was only 15 centavos and diesel cost almost nothing. When one peso equals one US dollar. When a UP degree holder (me) started with a salary of 120 pesos per month. Ahh to be old and obsolete in passion and compassion.

          Not to worry today April 2017 will be BECOME good old days TOO in APRIL 2040 when our 100 pesos will buy one US dollar. EH!

          • popoy says:

            Sorry my bad, it’s 140 pesos per month kasi 120 pesos was the
            minimum wage monthly. kasi noon kung meron kang 20 pesos
            sa bulsa meron pang date sa girl friend.

  10. Juana Pilipinas says:

    What I find missing in a lot of Filipinos is the “can do spirit.” “Deer in the headlights” seems to be the lasting reaction to traumatic events.

    • popoy says:

      sori, beg to differ miss jean p.i. yung dami na iniuwi jabless ni presdu30 galing Saudi baka puro mga “can do spirit” yan mga yan. baka puro Obama yan mga audacity of hope sila.

    • sonny says:

      JP, “… like deer in the headlights” it is. I caught one in mine in the Michigan woods some 20 years ago, a magnificent 4-point buck. I cannot forget.

      • Juana Pilipinas says:

        The sad thing is, the deer in the headlights often end up being a roadkill.

        I just want to weep when I think of our countrymen.

  11. manilapagpag says:

    The curse of fatalism and obsequious subjection to cartoonish messianic personality is a curse indeed.
    Meanwhile, the nation is gravely dishonored:

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Passion and compassion were sitting on a fence K-I-S-S-I-N-G.

    Irineo reminded me of the tapang and malasakit.
    Tapang which is courage or bravey is sometimes an attribute of passionate people.
    Malasakit or care or empathy- just a few days ago or was it just yesterday that LCX and I discussed emparhy in customer care or customer service. If you put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel their pain or joy I guess that is empathy and that is compassion.

    Unlike pity and sympathy, you just feel sad.

    • “just yesterday that LCX and I discussed emparhy in customer care or customer service.”

      Empathy, from a philosophic perspective is kinda difficult, ie. can you truly “feel” another’s pain or joy… hence why I said faking it seems enough (faking well I mean). But we also talked abut smiling, and for me this is related. Growing up I was taught to smile and look people in the eyes (and in high school, shake hands firmly, never limp).

      I think thats where that whole smiling over the phone training you guys had for BPO work, came from, karl. I don’t think its necessarily European (what say you , Ireneo?), though maybe English. Or maybe its a tradition in the West (in the East people don’t smile as much neither)… but to my surprise, people around the world don’t smile (when greeting someone), nor looked people in their eyes, nor shook hands firmly.

      Don’t get me wrong everyone laughed the same, smiled with familiar friends and family, etc. the same.

      But when exposed to strangers, smiling was not a universal norm. Its one of those social grease , kinda like when you’re stopped by a cop, where you say ‘sorry, officer’ even when you know you were within the speed limit, or saying ‘yes, sir’ ‘no, sir’, exaggerate respect to ensure there’s no misunderstandings,

      smilings kinda like that… a big I mean you no harm sign on your face,

      but also (and some folks have this, some don’t) it’s a big sign for empathy also, ie. I too eat and drink like you; pee and poop just the same; feel pain and pleasure too, this is the simplest level of empathy, all encapsulated in one smile… then there’s comedy and satire, but this ability is less universal, some won’t translate across culture.

      Compassion to me, is just one step farther than empathy— not the same. Empathy is seeing a dead girl on the street, and yelling at his friends to lay off the jokes, don’t take pictures, man— respect her, respect the moment; and compassion is actually picking the dead body up , cover her up on the safe side of the road, a sad smile to those nearby whether family or just on-lookers, and resume with the convoy.

      So compassion requires some sort of action.

      • karlgarcia says:

        re: smiling.
        I fund it strange for news reporters to smile after reporting something violent or gruesome.
        The Health department here once said that to understand nurses or dictors if they can’t smile. Understandable, but they should also understand the stress of the patients and companions.

        • “Or maybe its a tradition in the West (in the East people don’t smile as much neither)”

          Oooops, sorry, for the above I meant West Coast vs. East Coast here in America— but I guess that sentence would apply still, but I’m trying to say, that even over here it’s not a blanket thing to do, most East coast folks (maybe sonny can elaborate) aren’t very smily.


          As for news casters, I find that most working local channels have this problem, but those working national news , they’ve perfected the art of empathy (or maybe it’s because they’re not fluffing the time slot with silly stuff like human interest stories along with hard news). The news I saw there, is exactly as you’ve described… a bit awkward in delivering the news—- especially that annoying gay voice over they tend to do, hurts the ear.

          Also same with doctors here in California, more and more Indian and Iranian doctors here now, and I’ve noticed it’s a weird interaction with them, because we’re kinda used to asking lots of questions, medicine is more collaborative in the West, and these doctors having been trained in India or Iran, I’m sure coming from a family of doctors,

          they don’t like being questioned and quized—- over here doctors (and I think this is a good thing for all involved) are kinda treated like mechanics, or plumbers. So bed side manners and just normal interaction’s kinda difficult, not only pass the smiling,

          but I think getting over this whole I’m a doctor, what i say and do shall not be questioned mode. But then again I’ve met ER nurses and doctors, Americans or born here, who act similarly, but once the emergency is over, they switch off and come down from their position of authority again, for more collaborative interaction—- Indian and Iranian doctors, can’t seem to turn it off,

          I gotta feeling Filipino doctors over there would be the same, hence as you say adds only to the stress experienced by patients.

    • sonny says:

      More on compassion and malasakit. These two words are almost co-extensive, I feel.

      compassion (M-W Third New Int’l Dict., unabridged) – deep feeling for and understanding for misery or suffering and the concomitant desire to promote its alleviation : spiritual consciousness of the personal tragedy of another or others and selfless tenderness toward it

      malasakit (Panganiban, Tagalog Dict.) – self-sacrificing solicitude; protective concern

  13. Micha says:

    Substitute America with Dear Pinas in this article and the parallel is unmissable.

    “You’ve probably heard the news that the celebrated post-WW II beating heart of America known as the middle class has gone from “burdened,” to “squeezed” to “dying.” But you might have heard less about what exactly is emerging in its place.

    In a new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, draws a portrait of the new reality in a way that is frighteningly, indelibly clear: America is not one country anymore. It is becoming two, each with vastly different resources, expectations, and fates.

    In one of these countries live members of what Temin calls the “FTE sector” (named for finance, technology, and electronics, the industries which largely support its growth). These are the 20 percent of Americans who enjoy college educations, have good jobs, and sleep soundly knowing that they have not only enough money to meet life’s challenges, but also social networks to bolster their success. They grow up with parents who read books to them, tutors to help with homework, and plenty of stimulating things to do and places to go. They travel in planes and drive new cars. The citizens of this country see economic growth all around them and exciting possibilities for the future. They make plans, influence policies, and count themselves as lucky to be Americans.

    The FTE citizens rarely visit the country where the other 80 percent of Americans live: the low-wage sector. Here, the world of possibility is shrinking, often dramatically. People are burdened with debt and anxious about their insecure jobs if they have a job at all. Many of them are getting sicker and dying younger than they used to. They get around by crumbling public transport and cars they have trouble paying for. Family life is uncertain here; people often don’t partner for the long-term even when they have children. If they go to college, they finance it by going heavily into debt. They are not thinking about the future; they are focused on surviving the present. The world in which they reside is very different from the one they were taught to believe in. While members of the first country act, these people are acted upon.

    Plutocracy has gone global.

    • Bert says:

      “Substitute America with Dear Pinas in this article and the parallel is unmissable.”—Micha


      Hi, Micha. Ganito ba ang ibig mong sabihin? Maybe you’re right, who knows. 🙂

      . . . . . . .
      “Passion and compassion were sitting on a fence .
      . .
      Compassion fell off, and who was left?

      (Pause for effect)

      An American!

      (Drum crescendo)”

  14. NHerrera says:


    I do not know the procedure for checking if Bob Altemeyer’s ideas on the headline item has been posted in one of Joe’s blogs. In any case Readers of TSH may be interested to read the 261-page book of Altemeryer, “The Authoritarians” which discusses the item based on scientific surveys. His book which was written in 2006 seems very relevant to the US and PH at this time. What is nice is that the book on pdf form is available for download for free.

    Click to access TheAuthoritarians.pdf


    One of interesting studies Altemeyer conducted was based on his RWA scale based on 20 questions, if honestly answered, gives an overall RWA score which ranges between 20 and 180. (There are actually 22 questions, but Altemeyer calls the first 2 as warmup questions not included in the scoring.) Individually, the score may not be as meaningful as a group average score. High RWA groups tend to correlate well with Authoritarian or Dominator Leaders. Chapter 1 of the book gives the RWA questions and scoring system.

    Note that midway between the extremes of the range 20 to 180 in the RWA scale is 100. If a group scores higher than 100, especially much higher than 100, may be termed High RWA and those scoring less than 100, Low RWA. As noted already, Altemeyer finds High RWA groups tend be good or blind followers of Authoritarian or Dominator Leaders. Towards the latter part of the book, Altemeyer also describes questions which provides the scale for Social Dominance associate with Dominator Leaders.

    TSH readers may — for fun, at the very least, given time — take the RWA test described in the book. I suggest the reader takes along the pdf book while on vacation when he can find time for this 261-page book. I guarantee that the general reader of TSH will find it interesting and useful.

    Last note — I would think that the TSH contributors and readers as a group are not High RWAs.

    • NHerrera says:

      Joe, I emailed to you an Excel file which makes it convenient for one to calculate his RWA score in accordance with Altemeyer’s questions. If requested by the TSH contributors you may, at your discretion, provide them with that 16kb file.

      It is interesting how the TSH contributors score in the RWA test.

      I suggest, if it is not too much of a hassle, that the contributors do their individual RWA scoring and these results emailed to Joe who at a certain time post the numbers here without identifying which person belongs to which RWA score. I will be most interested in our (TSH) average score and the variance of the numbers.

      For the kind consideration of our host and the contributors to TSH.

      • I’d be happy to do that. I have received the file.

      • edgar lores says:


        This also happens to be the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe, and Everything.

        • edgar lores says:

          NHerrera, sorry. The fact that I did not fully follow your instructions shows how deeply I am the opposite of an authoritarian.

          On the other hand, the fact that I said sorry shows how deeply I respect authority.

          • NHerrera says:


            If you change your mind, I guess you will get a Low RWA score in the neighborhood of 60.

            • NHerrera says:

              I must be sleepy. You posted 42. Lower than my 60 guess and about your note on not following all my instructions. Your indulgence edgar. Super low RWA — non authoritarian follower!!!

              • edgar lores says:

                I haven’t read the book (261 pages), only the abstracted digest by David Satterlee (27 pages), and it is indeed full of pithy insights.

                This, for instance, would be a perfect description of the Duterte trolls: “In this chapter, we will examine how research reveals that authoritarian followers drive through life under the influence of impaired thinking a lot more than most people do, exhibiting (1) sloppy reasoning, (2) highly compartmentalized beliefs, (3) double standards, (4) hypocrisy, (5) self-blindness, (6) a profound ethnocentrism, and–to top it all off – a (7) ferocious dogmatism that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds with evidence or logic.”

              • Gadzooks. This looks a lot like knowledge, and yet so few hereabouts grasp it, and even if they did, they would not accept it or do anything about it, because 82.6% of all Filipinos are authoritarian, the percentage being only my personal observation, which is not really knowledge, but could be pretty close to truth.

              • NHerrera says:


                You will not have missed much by not reading the full pdf book of Altemeyer and just read the 27-page pdf abstract of David Satterlee,

                Click to access Bob-Altemeyer-The-Authoritarians-Abstracted.pdf

                Altemeyer of course went to details about the research and surveys made, including the questions asked, but David Satterlee did a good job of summarizing the basic ideas in Altemeyer’s book.

              • edgar lores says:

                NHerrera, good to know, thanks.

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