May 2008

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Jheurf Dodson

So what...when you hear "Scientists identify gene that regulates eye colour" do you say "No shit Sherlock! Of course genes decide our eye colour!"

Whenever I hear these kinds of discoveries on the brain, I always thought they were about scientists telling us they know more about how the brain works, which parts do what...You know helping us understand it. When they tell us which parts of the brain differs in Pedophiles, it's so that. when we see one on the street, we know to destroy it lest it rapes the child in all of us.

Of course our brains are wet machines. I've accepted it. But it's fun to learn new things to plug into it. When my machine learns new things, it’s happy. :)

Canadian lurker

I think you're downplaying the real conclusion, Scott: it's not that "brains are involved in thinking", it's "conservatism is a result of not being able to think".


Scott, what you missed (in the study) is not that simple (and obvious) fact that liberals and conservatives have different brains but *how* their brains differ. That's the important finding in the study.

Posted by: eikonos




I think TG nailed it with his post.
Gender has a great deal to do with brain function, and the article did not mention the ratio of men to women subjects.
There was also nothing said about the ages of the participants, and yet this too has an impact on brain function. None of this has to do with one's politics. Nor does the use of fine motor skills, which this test certainly involved.
Apart from those items, what about the issue of habitual computer use and training? This would make a person more likely to choose a correct character over an incorrect one,and also has absolutely nothing to do with political views.
Then there is the question of equipment. Were they all suing nice shiny new Macs, or old cruddy IBM clones that had been stored in a garage somewhere -- with grungy jammed keyboards and extraordinarily slow processors? Once again, not a political matter.
Frankly, I saw better science in a friend's undergraduate ornithology experiment twenty years ago, in which she dyed scores of sunflower seeds, and emptied some of them, in order to determine if chickadees were colorblind. A simple and elegant method which excluded the other variables. Perhaps the authors of this study need to take an intro ornithology class.


Scott wrote "and feed it to the media (usually liberals)."


The media are NOT usually liberals. Rupert Murdoch, Time-Warner-AOL-Disney, Viacom, and around a half-dozen others -- all huge corporations, all devout Bush-supporting donors -- fail even remotely to pass for liberal. These ultra-right-wing institutions constitute the major sources of virtually all of the information you and every other American reads, listens to, or watches every day.

Why else do you think that over 30% of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein personally had a hand in 9/11?


G - "duh-buh-yuw!"

Well, I sure hope they didn't take the 'W' sign off of the keyboard for this experiment.


Thinking of another "DUH!", and I swear this is true, for my PHB and three other cow-orkers were listening, also, when the following came on the radio...

It went like this
"A three-year long, government paid for study, by an ivy-league university, states that three glasses of beer or wine can make you feel good, alter your perception, get you a little tipsy, or whatever else that may be associated with a person drinking three glasses of beer or wine. Duh!"

Chris @ Martial Development

I haven't done this in a while, but I had to promote the following comment from DuggleBogey to the end of this post:
"Is this not just saying that "all conservatives are not idiots, but all idiots are conservatives?"

Good quote--and the credit belongs to philosopher David Hume.

Rex May

The people being called 'conservative' in this thread are neocons. Neocons are the offspring of Trotsky, just as the liberals are Stalin's spawn. There are a few actual conservatives here and there, but the only one currently running for President is Ron Paul.


My favourite 'Duh!' headline of all time:
"Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Finds"

michael j hassett

Conservatives can get the job done with guidance. Consider:

"Decider Picks None of the Above" - It's time to pick a new AG W, let's not blow it again, Here are a few simple rules to follow, some of which you may actually like.

- Under no circumstances discuss this choice with Karl Rove, he's earned his retirement and he will only get you into trouble. What do you mean you already talked to Karl. No W No, you cannot name someone AG just because they want to prosecute Obama for loitering. Remind Karl that there's no need for dirty tricks this year, you're not running for reelection. What? No, W, I know about FDR but it's in the Constitution now, didn't Alberto tell you that there are amendments too. I'm sorry W, you just can't run again. For the rest of the conversation and the surprise choice see post of Septermber 11 at As Good As News,


I live in Massachusetts, where we elected Deval Patrick, who spoke in vague generalities about helping people, then proceeded to run off to the arrogant far-left so much that even the Boston Globe, a subsidiary of the NY Times, the most liberal force IN the "mainstream" media, has called him out on it on occasion.

His latest was calling 9/11 "a failure of human understanding, a failure for us to love one another" or something else like that. Basically an idiotic premise - what, if we hugged Osama and gave him a Winnie the Pooh doll, he wouldn't have wanted to kill us? It takes a special kind of mental gymnastics to believe in the idiocy that Gov. Patrick was spouting -- which brings me back to the M/W study.

Being able to switch between M's and W's quickly is nothing more than a demonstration that someone can contort their brain back and forth 180° -- a valuable skill for liberals, because you have to do some SERIOUS mental twisting to believe in any of their nonsense.

And, no, I am not (remotely) a fan of George W. Bush, nor did I vote for him in either Presidential election. I'm extremely disappointed in and angry at the GOP, but the other guys are still nanny-state traitors who want to sell out the country to our enemies and force us to live our lives exactly the way they want from cradle to grave (as opposed to the conservatives, who want to tell us how NOT to live our lives - also a big problem!) ... it's not like there's much of a choice there.


One of the notable advances in psychology in the last 30-40 years has been the distinction and classification of predominant modes of neurology. The three that are predominantly used by the majority of people are kinesthetic, auditory and visual. Though everyone uses all three, people tend to use one of the three more than others.

Kinesthetic (K) relates to feeling/emotion. Predominantly kinesthetic people tend to be split between internal and external. People who use predominantly internal kinesthetic (Ki) representation tend to be very touchy-feely. External (Ke) - good at sports and games.

Auditory (A) relates to sound. Think musicians (Ai) and sound engineers (Ae).

Visual (V) - think artists (Ve) and logic (Vi).

Taking it further, in general cognition, people tend to think in one of the modes above and check their answers using a different mode. So someone who is primarily visual might have internal kinesthetic checking (VK) which has a tendency to lead to interest in visual art; seeing pictures can give them strong internal feelings.

As a quick crib sheet, the combinations tend to work out career wise:
KA - sports, acting, "agony aunt", manual work, etc.
KV - I've never come across one though they might exist.
AK - musician, anything involving talking/sound
VK - artist, art critic, film, photography
VA - science, business, etc.

In politics, one of the things that I have noticed is that "conservatives" tend to be far more likely to have a predominantly visual-auditory (VA) mode of thinking where "liberals" tend to be more likely to use kinesthetic modes of thinking (KA/AK/VK).

This explains why "liberals" would be better in the experiment as kinesthetically biased people tend to be better at reaction games. On the flip side, "conservatives" would probably be much better in an experiment involving puzzles or logic.

It also explains why "liberals" often accuse "conservatives" of being heartless. Predominantly VA people are more logical and less emotional as they literally use their emotions (K) less. And it explains why "conservatives" often accuse "liberals" of being illogical as many of them (KA/AK) literally use their logical abilities (V) less.

All of this is a huge simplification and generalisation so you shouldn't read too much into it.


Am I the only person who noticed that they chose "M" and "W" for the test?

W. Dubya. George W. Bush.

"W" was used as a symbol for Bush's presedential campaign. The letter "W" presented on its own, would almost certainly be a polarizing element. Especially when put into context that the experiment participants were polled for their political leanings.

The psychologists practically stacked the deck in guaranteeing that "liberal-minded" participants would experience high-conflict brain activity.

Dilbert's Rabbi

"...all conservatives are not idiots, but all idiots are conservatives..."

As a "modern" conservative (a "modern" conservative was a "classic" liberal in the 1960's), I agree with the statement. But here's thought for everyone:

I have two very special people in my life. One is a "progressive" graduate student at a small university. The other is my cousin who has Downs' Syndrome. If I ever lost my wallet, I would prefer that my cousin find it because I would be more likely to get my cash back.

I enjoy the company of my friend, but I TRUST my "idiot" "conservative" cousin...


"Conservatives run the armed forces, the police, the banking industry, the insurance industry, the oil and gas industry, the old style manufacturing industry, etc.
Liberals (and Libertarians) run the entertainment industry, the technology manufacturing industry, the science and education industry, etc.
Which ones require the ability to quickly adapt to new technologies and techniques?
Which ones are the best in the world, dollar for dollar?

Posted by: wkwillis"

Which one creates and which one consumes?

I guess neither is better because you need BOTH.

Andy Watt

Who says the public gasped in awe? I think more of them see through this crap than we give them credit for, actually... the atmosphere up there in media-land is not only liberal, it's pretty thin - just like advertising. Occasionally they strap on some wings and a gas-mask and mix with mere mortals to perform focus groups, but otherwise they prefer to engage their moist machines in thinking about how people work, rather than studying how people work.

I submit that more people are getting more cynical about this stuff. We're heading for an en-masse enlightenment which I for one will chuckle at from the sidelines, as the media-savvy discover just how savvy they are not...


Agreed that there was very little to stop the ball rolling. I would note, however, that the story eventually had to get past a newspaper editor who had final say on whether to run the story. As long as we're talking in broad generalizations, that editor was usually a conservative.


Scott, what you missed (in the study) is not that simple (and obvious) fact that liberals and conservatives have different brains but *how* their brains differ. That's the important finding in the study.

Posted by: eikonos

Seconded. Also, I think you take one thing for granted. While it may be obvious to some that all brains are wired differently, I think one prevalent view is that all brains are created the same and people make their decisions based on the soul, or what you might call free will. Here, sociopaths are just evil, and Trekkie fans are just weird. Therefore, to some, this study may be groundbreaking.

I do agree with one of the comments about correlation and causality. For all that is known, the liberal kids may have spent most of their time playing video games and therefore had better reflexes, while the conservative ones spent more time studying. Who's to say?

-Live long and prosper.

car free since '93

I love it when they get all huffy in their political beliefs. As if they (politicians)aren't ALL asses.

CFS '93


Your pardon, sir, if you have addressed this objection in the past, but...

If free will is an illusion, then wouldn't intelligence also be an illusion?

Kevin Kunreuther

Sometimes I do not feel like shooting fish in a barrel - sometimes I prefer to shoot fish in a public swimming pool full of women, dogs and children - and the fish are piranha, barracuda and moray eels - and I'm wearing a blindfold and I'm on morphine and Ambien.
Does that make me Al Franken, John Stewart or Rush Limbaugh?


I think with my foot.


I'm neither but to me the conservatives seem a lot more liberal, both with the keyboard and with their attitude to dissent. That's because liberalism in the USA is becoming an extreme ideology disconnected almost entirely from the attribute of liberalism. I'm a Brit who presently has more faith in the Conservatives, because they seem like a wise elder rather than a snappy metrosexual, they're not in power, and I'm sort of bohemian and wouldn't show up on time. Having said that they got voted out all those years ago for looking a bit yuppie and much as I like David Cameron his posh accent and snappy attire are what's holding them back. He no more represents middle England than Gordon Brown represents the trade unionists and pillheads. Cameron should wear tank tops and smoke a pipe and Brown should frolic naked. Gratis. Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

D. Mented

I must be behind the times.
I'm still cringing at this use of the word "conservative"
It used to mean the opposite of "radical", and one could be a conservative Democrat, or a conservative Republican, or Independant, although there were fewer of those back when the two parties balanced eachother instead of gridlocking until they can slide in another plumb for the top 1% of the economic ladder.
"Conservative" referred to people who liked the constitution the way it was, and opposed unresearched changes in law, policy, and government practices.

Middle Of The Road.

Most Americans are still "conservative" by that meaning.

Calling the radical right wingtip "conservative", and using the phrase "he's probably the most conservative" to mean the most radical extremist makes me flinch.
As for the brains of people who respond to the emotional side of a subject being different from those who respond to the factual, practical side, well, duh.
And I agree, the thinking pattern - therefore likely the brain - leads to the outlook.
BUT...knowing as we now do how much early learning affects brain development; are these types of brains produced by genetics, expirience, or a combination of the two?
D. Mented

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