Thursday, September 13, 2007

No wonder; ignoring the readily apparent is hard

Liberal brains more sensitive than conservatives

Recent research appears to show that progressives' brains are, well, just more spiffy than those of troglodyte conservatives.

In a study likely to raise the hackles of some conservatives, psychologist David Amodio and others found that a specific region of the brain's cortex is more sensitive in people who consider themselves liberals than in self-declared conservatives.

According to the article, this finding substantiates the conclusion of a 2003 study "that conservatives tend to be more rigid and closed minded, less tolerant of ambiguity, and less open to new experiences."

This study correlated the ability to correctly and quickly identify the letters M and W, with M appearing 80% of the time. Not only did self identified liberals perform more accurately, they also showed more activity on an EEG when the Ws appeared.

Regarding the EEG finding, I'm surprised the researchers did not re-attempt the test with, say, C and G, in order to eliminate the possibility the EEG was merely diagnosing BDS, as the liberals may well have been pfaffing over the W, whereas the conservatives viewed it as just another letter.

That aside, let's take the studies' conclusions as stipulated.

Progressives have some explaining to do. If liberals are so darn smart and flexible, and, oh, so spiffy, how come:
They got the Duke "rape" case so comprehensively wrong -- the kind of wrong that puts kick-stands on tricycles -- then failed to demonstrate their vaunted flexibility by, say, APOLOGIZING.

Their collective failure to grasp the obvious led them to stoutly resist welfare reform.

Liberals still can't master the law of supply and demand, as shown by their insistence upon a "livable" minimum wage; similarly, liberals openness to new experiences has seemingly created insurmountable antibodies to the conclusion that unions are nothing more than rent seeking cartels.
I have a theory -- laced with no small amount of irony -- about why liberals are more flexible, tolerant of ambiguity, and, well, just more spiffy than conservatives.

First, liberals are often, maybe always, right brained. The evidence is that most actors and other arty, creative, types are clearly right brained, and nearly always liberal.

Consequently, liberals, are analytically challenged, as evidenced by their proclivity to rely on feelings based reasoning, and to wholly ignore discordant evidence, no matter how bright, loud, and repeated it may be.

Conservatives, on the other hand, have much less need for flexibility, since interpreting the evidence in the light of unavoidable entering arguments (particularly 1 & 4) places much more emphasis on actual results -- which have, after all, a pesky tendency to not be particularly flexible -- rather than those, well, spiffy feelings.

The reality based community, with their extra special, ever so spiffy, brains, rely primarily on emotion.

The faith based community, with their appeals to Cosmic Muffins and Hairy Thunderers, rely primarily upon reason.

How messed up is that?


Blogger Bret said...

In other top "news", artists think differently than mathematicians, actors think differently than physicists, and poets think differently than construction workers.

I think you're joking about BDS and M vs. W, but that may actually explain it.

Were the researchers liberal by any chance?

Spiffy isn't quite the right word, since other studies have shown nearly identical IQs and educational achievement levels for both conservative and liberals. I was thinking that "inane" would be the better word in this case (as in, like, who cares if it's an M or a W?).

September 14, 2007 8:15 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Re: W, the letter.

Remember the vandalism of the outgoing Clinton crowd when they destroyed WH keyboards by gouging out the W's.

September 14, 2007 9:28 AM  
Blogger Hey Skipper said...

Something else occurred to me last night.

EJ Dionne wrote an op ed recently about the upcoming liberal resurgence; a subsequent op ed appears to demonstrate clearly the most significant difference between conservatives and liberals.

Liberals are all about laundry listing where they want to go, but either have no idea, or don't care to mention, from where they are starting.

In contrast, as David's item makes very clear, conservatives are all about the starting point, and much less about creating specific outcomes.

The liberal approach is seductive, in the way of comfort food.

In the aviation world, we have a term for this kind of thinking: time, speed, and heading from an unknown point.

It never works.

September 14, 2007 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This kind of thing is fast becoming a kind of postmodern just-so story for neuroscientists. Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more of these "experiments" consisting of mindless, simplistic tasks or choices that purportedly reveal all? No more tedious hours spent answering lengthy questionnaires. Everybody just wiggle their toes and the good doctor will watch the neurons firing and tell you your IQ and whether you are any good in bed.

The parallels with astrology are striking.

September 15, 2007 3:46 AM  
Blogger David said...

I'm perfectly prepared to believe that liberalism and conservatism are correlated with some systemic brain differences, particularly if you're looking at a snapshot. What's hilarious about this study is the framing: liberal equals sugar and spice and everything nice; conservative equals snips and snails, and puppy dogs tails. But, for conservatives, this study just confirms what we think about liberals: They're unreliable, inconsistent gadflies who will move on to the next shiny thing before the work is half finished, or just turn on us if the going gets at all tough.

September 15, 2007 8:46 AM  
Blogger erp said...

Skipper, have you seen this.

September 15, 2007 2:07 PM  
Blogger Bret said...

"The parallels with astrology are striking."

What a nasty insult to astrology!!!

September 15, 2007 6:49 PM  
Blogger erp said...

Have I missed the memo? Why the sudden interest in astrology? As most of the PJA are hard headed left brainers probably born under the sign of Aquarius, it would be difficult to embrace astrology as science but why mock it?

September 16, 2007 6:47 AM  
Blogger Oroborous said...

Because astrology pretends to the precision and rigorousness of science.

Whereas one might make fun of someone who goes in seriousness to a fortune-teller that reads palms, tea leaves, or the Tarot, there's not much point in making fun of the fortune-teller, since they present their predictions as art or "a gift".

September 16, 2007 7:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't mock it. Just as David can believe political views can correlate with brain differences (although, David, please slow down. Shouldn't we be making these guys sweat for a few more decades?), I can easily believe that character or nature is influenced by the time of year we were born. But Oro is right. It's the pseudo-systematic, alignment-of-the-stars side of it that is bollocks.

Actually, if you want hard evidence, astrology has some that neither religion nor atheistic Darwinism have. Both those often seem bizarre or counterintuitve to the uninitiated and they need a lot of work to grasp. But millions of intelligent folks who have no background or interest in astology can suddenly stumble on the character profiles of the various signs and feel amazed at how they accurately describe themselves or their loved ones.

September 16, 2007 8:04 AM  

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