Der kører for tiden en nogle gange ophedet diskussion i samfundsvidenskaberne om, i hvilken grad man kan ændre folks værdier og forestillinger. Er tillid for eksempel et stabilt kulturelt fænomen, eller kan man ændre den via politik? Min holdning er, at forbløffende mange af disse forhold er kulturelt stabile, selvom nogen bestemt ikke synes om det, eller er enige (f.eks. min kollega Peter Thisted Dinesen).

Et nyt eksempel demonstrerer hvor dybe, de kulturelle rødder kan være. Nico Voigtländer og Hans-Joachim Voth viser i et fremragende papir, hvordan antisemitiske holdninger i 1300-tallet blev gentaget i 1920ernes og 30ernes Tyskland. Hele papiret er stærkt anbefalet og kan læses her; Abstractet er her:

How persistent are cultural traits? This paper uses data on anti-Semitism in Germany and finds continuity at the  local level  over more than half a millennium. When the Black Death hit Europe in 1348-50, killing between one third and one half of the population, its cause was unknown. Many contemporaries blamed the Jews. Cities all over Germany witnessed mass killings of their Jewish population. At the same time, numerous Jewish communities were spared these horrors. We use plague pogroms as an indicator for medieval anti-Semitism. Pogroms during the Black Death are a strong and robust predictor of violence against Jews in the 1920s, and of votes for the Nazi Party.  In addition, cities that saw medieval anti-Semitic violence also had higher deportation rates for Jews after 1933, were more likely to see synagogues damaged or destroyed in the Night of Broken Glass in 1938,  and their inhabitants wrote more  anti-Jewish letters to the editor of the Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer.