Study On Immigration Views Betrays Anti-Gun Bias In Research

Immigration and guns don’t really have a lot in common. Not particularly, anyway. Sure, we can find links. We can point out how if people are able to be smuggled into the country, something smaller like guns wouldn’t be difficult to get in regardless of gun control laws, but that’s not really a link.


Yet, to be fair, people who share the same views on guns tend to share the same views on immigration.

A recent study funded in part by the National Science Foundation argues that those who are pro-gun and pro-death penalty actually dehumanize immigrants, thus making it easier to mistreat them.

An online study that pulled equally from people who identify as Democrats or Republicans has found subtle new clues that underlie views about immigrants.

The words people use and their beliefs about social harms, such as the death penalty and gun rights, can predict attitudes favoring harsh treatment and the  of illegal immigrants, report University of Oregon researchers in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, conducted by UO communication professor David M. Markowitz and UO psychologist Paul Slovic, appeared online April 16 ahead of print. In the study, the pair dug deeper into the characteristics of those who dehumanize immigrants—beyond often-discussed factors such as hatred toward outside groups and extreme racism.

That’s pretty troubling, right?

I wouldn’t make such a big deal out of it. After all, the study was designed with explicit bias in it from the beginning.


You see, like so many other sociological studies, the researchers’ implicit bias colors the entire proceedings from the design phase onward. What am I talking about?


Markowitz and Slovic concluded, however, that “a substantial number of Americans can be classified as dehumanizers.”

“The support for social harms, particularly about guns and the , are seemingly unrelated to how one should treat an immigrant, but they matter in a large way,” Markowitz said. “We can move forward by acknowledging our blind spots as individuals.”

So from the beginning, the researchers decided that gun rights and the death penalty were “social harms.” From the start, they placed entire groups of people into a negative classification, then built their entire study around that. And worse, it seems that during the peer review process, no one called them on that.

Nevermind that those who support gun rights and the death penalty tend to believe that not supporting those are social harms. Gun rights supporters routinely argue that gun control only benefits criminals. Death penalty supporters argue that executing killers serves as a deterrent to further murders and even if it doesn’t, it removes those killers from ever being in a position to murder again.


In all cases, these folks are motivated by a sincere belief that the policies they support are for society’s benefit.

Yet Markowitz and Slovic have decided they don’t, then structured their research about that.

Is it any wonder so many of us are concerned about the increased funding for CDC gun research? They’ve never been barred from researching guns at the CDC, only from advocating for gun control. The fact that the interpreted gun research as pro-gun control research is on them. Markowitz and Slovic have just illustrated why they might believe that and why we are completely justified in our concerns.

It also illustrates why so few of us take any of this research seriously. This wasn’t a bit of unbiased research. This was propaganda from the start.

The only thing worse than the bias is that our tax dollars that paid for this.

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