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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2007
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Conservative? Liberal? Thank your father, study reveals

Economic philosophies are not all that separate liberals and conservatives.

Before declaring yourself to be either, you might be wise to check whether your audience is familiar with the research of Randy Thornhill.

Thornhill, a Decatur native and distinguished professor of biology at the University of New Mexico, dissected the personal origins of the labels in ways that might leave you uncomfortable.

In a paper published earlier this year in the journal Evolution and Human Behavior, Thornhill and a colleague reported on their survey of 123 college students.

Thornhill’s conclusion was that people with low-stress childhoods tend to place a high value on relationships and tend to become conservatives. Those with high-stress childhoods restrict intimacy in relationships and tend to become liberals.

The survey results suggested liberals “are more open and neurotic” than conservatives, but less “conscientious, extroverted and agreeable” than conservatives. Liberals tend to have had less involved fathers.

Liberals, according to research cited by Thornhill, have “broader sexual experiences.” They are risk-takers and sensation-seekers.

Conservatives, as measured by one traditional test he referenced, tend to want to be dominated by authorities. Those labeled conservatives under another test “want to become the dominating authorities themselves.”

Speculative investments

Word is that developers are eyeing land on the northwest corner of Interstate 65 and Alabama 20 — in Decatur — for a major residential and retail development. No confirmation, but the buzz is that the development would include more than 2,000 residential units.

That would be huge for Decatur, which has experienced little population growth over the last decade. It would also be a major residential draw for personnel transferring to Redstone Arsenal in connection with the Base Realignment and Closure process.

Maybe no coincidence, Mayor Don Kyle called for construction of side roads along Alabama 20 in a speech to the Decatur Rotary Club earlier this month.

  • The talk among bankers is that yet another acquisition is looming. A Mississippi-based bank, the rumor goes, is looking to acquire a presence (or an increased presence) in the Decatur area.

  • Another unconfirmed item: The rumor is that GBT Realty — developer of soon-to-open The Crossings of Decatur — has approached Decatur Country Club about purchasing its property. The country club is across Alabama 67 from the Target-anchored shopping mall. GBT has been trying for months to buy property from Morgan County Board of Education, at $200,000 an acre, without success. George Tomlin of GBT has not returned phone calls about the rumor. Decatur Country Club officials aren’t talking, either.

  • A Huntsville International Airport official said a major “communications project” is considering purchase of 92 acres south of the airport, at Jetplex Industrial Park.

    Its proximity to Decatur could provide additional jobs and residents. The official said the airport location has made the “short list,” but the company is also considering sites in Texas and Tennessee.

    Contact Eric Fleischauer at eric@decaturdaily.com.

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    Eric Fleischauer
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