Skip to comments.Republicans Have Bad Brains?
Posted on 05/03/2012 3:25:57 AM PDT by Kaslin
"They do that because they were born that way."
If you say that about homosexuals, you are tolerant and realistic. If you say it about blacks, you are racist (unless you're black yourself). If you say it about women, you may or may not be sexist, depending on who is manning (er, womanning) the feminist battle stations. If you say it about men, you just might be a writer for Esquire. But if you say it about conservatives, you're a scientist.
Over the past decade, a new fad has taken hold among academics and liberal journalists: call it the new science of conservative phrenology. No, it doesn't actually involve using calipers to determine intelligence based on the size and shape of people's heads. The measuring devices are better -- MRIs and gene sequencers -- but the conclusions are worse. The gist is this: Conservatives and liberals don't just have different world views or ideas, they have different brains; the right and left are just hard-wired to think differently.
Author Chris Mooney compiles much of this research for his new book The Republican Brain, which purports to show that conservatives are, literally by nature, more closed-minded and resistant to change and facts. His evidence includes the fact that conservatives are less likely to buy into global warming, allegedly proving they are not only "anti-science" but innately anti-fact, as well. "Politicized wrongness today," he writes "is clustered among Republicans, conservatives and especially Tea Partiers."
That's an entirely understandable view for Mooney to hold. He's a soaked-to-the-bone liberal partisan. But he crosses the line into pseudoscientific hogwash by trying to explain every political disagreement as a symptom of bad brains. For instance, Mooney claims Republicans have trouble processing reality because Republicans think "ObamaCare" will raise the deficit. No really, stop laughing.
Of course, Mooney believes he's simply going where the science leads. Consider that one of the more famous studies was conducted by liberal researchers at University of California-Los Angeles and New York University and published in Nature Neuroscience. Subjects were asked to spot the letters M or W on a screen for a fraction of a second. It turns out that self-described liberals did somewhat better on the test than the conservatives.
What does that mean? Well, according to the researchers, it means: "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty." Liberals are also "more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses," NYU says.
Translation: Conservatives literally aren't smart enough to be spell-checkers at an M&M factory because they won't be able to understand quickly enough that the occasional W is just an upside down M.
The data might be correct, but as with Mooney, the conclusions are beyond absurd. London's Guardian newspaper responded to the study by declaring, "Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information." The Los Angeles Times announced in an editorial that the study "suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives" and "might be better judges of the facts."
Huh? The test didn't measure "informational complexity." It measured informational simplicity. As Slate's science columnist William Saletan notes, the study actually excludes complexity and ambiguity. It measured response times to a rudimentary visual acuity test. Almost by definition, conscious thought isn't part of the equation. My hunch is that Socrates would do very poorly hunting and pecking for Ms and Ws on a screen, too.
Now it's probably true that, on average, there are subtle differences between conservatives and liberals when it comes to cognition. But you don't have to be "anti-science" to see how the scientists are wildly overreaching from the data. Indeed, there's a huge definitional problem. Conservatives resist growth of the state, but that's not the same thing as resisting change. After all, capitalism is among the most powerful agents of change in human history, and conservatives are the ones defending it. Meanwhile, liberals are downright reactionary about preserving the Great Society and New Deal.
A famous study asserts that communist revolutionaries Joseph Stalin and Fidel Castro were political conservatives because they resisted change once in power. If your algorithmic whirligig spits out the finding that Stalin, the global leader of communism for two decades, and Castro, the global dashboard saint of recrudescent left-wing asininity, are "politically conservative" it's time to take the gadget out to a field and smash it with baseball bats like the printer in the movie "Office Space."
Mooney, who recently explained in a speech that he has given up on the Enlightenment view that we're all open to reason, doesn't seem to realize where he's heading with this nonsense. Never mind that this approach is inherently undemocratic and opens the door to "genetic" explanations for everybody's political views -- blacks, women, gays, etc. -- it is also self-serving bigotry that allows liberals to justify their own closed-mindedness on the grounds that Republicans aren't even worth listening to. After all, they're just born that way.
Even when I cross my eyes, she’s still turning clock-wise. How long will we continue saying “clock-wise,” I wonder, in the digital age?
Good point ... and they're Democrats, as a rule, too!
Does that mean we can genetically aim a plague at the liberals? Hmmm...
This pseudo-science is nothing new. I remember books like this going back to (at least) the Nixon era.
She keeps switching directions for me. Does that mean that I use both sides of my brain, or neither.
I suppose that means I use both parts of my brain, but my first though was that she had a great body, so I obviously favor whatever lobe contains the dirty thoughts. ;-)
Yes, they are charlatans, and their goal is not “science” but federal and foundation dollars for their “research.” The American people remain clueless on almost everything it seems.
“Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information.” The Los Angeles Times announced in an editorial that the study “suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives” and “might be better judges of the facts.”
I intepret that to mean that Liberals are quick to judge books by their covers and accepting their initial impressions as “fact or truth”, relying only on preset personal biases without taking time to analyze the”unexpected” info more objectively and without bias.
"He's got a rotten brain! It's rotten, I tell you - rotten!!"
Duuh....... (drool falls from slightly opened lower lip while staring at the nekkid gurl in post 8 spinning in both directions sim ...simutay .....-don’t tell me-..sy mule-tay-knee ous- lee.)
She “goes both ways”, obviously.
[that damn ‘test’ gives me vertigo...she flips directions so many times I feel sick]
This is due, of course, to my infinitely larger and more efficient female corpus callosum.
[poor little unibrainers..they only see half the picture]
I’ve emailed you a box of crayons [8 pack...you probably can’t deal with any more than that] so you can express yourself more fully.
It’s means you’re dangerously schizoid.
Don’t worry about it.
Ha, ha. The whole W vs M thing is probably just a result of liberals sitting in mommy’s basement playing video games. Say what you want it does enhance reaction times.
[ I intepret that to mean that Liberals are quick to judge books by their covers and accepting their initial impressions as fact or truth, relying only on preset personal biases without taking time to analyze theunexpected info more objectively and without bias. ]
Lieberals are more likely to colour thier thinking by emotional cues on if soemthing “seems good” or “seems bad” and a very scatter shot thinkers and this hurts them when when it comes to moving from Point A to Point B to Point C etc...
Conservatives are very practical process and linear thinkers in that in every step of the chain there is a cause/effect relationship or else it doesn’t make sense. They think in very practical terms that are based on real world examples and models, where the liberals will come up with a theory and try to “massage the data” to fix their intial scattershot assumptions.
[ “Scientists have found that the brains of people calling themselves liberals are more able to handle conflicting and unexpected information. The Los Angeles Times announced in an editorial that the study suggests that liberals are more adaptable than conservatives and might be better judges of the facts. ]
Adaptable in terms of judging things is a code word for “relative morality”. It is like saying that because someone had a bad childhood and then killed an innocent in cold blood should get a less prison time than someone who had a great childhood and did the same crime.
This adaptability can lead to greater incidence of self-deception in the face of conflicting facts that don’t match your agenda. A judge who can “adapt” in this manner is an enemy of the rule of law as we have seen for the last 100+ years.
Can I focus and change her into a man?