A.J. DiCintio
Are liberals more scientific than conservatives?
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By A.J. DiCintio
October 22, 2011

Ever since the madly arrogant Karl Marx and the psychopaths who implemented the ideas of his Manifesto dinned humanity's ears with harangues about the scientific nature of their theories, leftists of all stripes have adopted the same false, dangerous claim.

In America, for example, liberals have long been harming the public good as well as sickening the public mind and stomach with protestations of their scientific approach to virtually every political and social issue under the sun.

Of course, those assertions constitute another instance of the Big Lie, every iteration of which is frighteningly insidious because far too many people are likely to react to its astounding stupidity by deeming it harmless and therefore not deserving of being condemned relentlessly, a failure which throughout history has resulted in unspeakably horrid consequences.

Now, given the prideful obsessiveness that is a hallmark of liberal behavior, America's non-liberals are forced to reflect daily (a thousand times a day during every presidential election season) on the reality that the nation's self-anointed intellectual giants regard them as more contemptible than Swift's Yahoos.

But today that reflection arises as a result of "Your Brain on Politics: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Liberals and Conservatives," a guest post at Discover Magazine by Andrea Kuszewski, identified as a therapist and researcher who studies the use of "integrative science" to improve societies.

So, to get right to the point, Ms. Kuszewski begins her post quite innocently, explaining that studies published in the respected journals of Nature Neuroscience and Current Biology, along with other research, find "that liberalism correlate[s] with greater activity in the brain's anterior cingulate cortex" (ACC) and "conservatism. . .with increased volume of the right amygdala."

Then, acknowledging that more studies are needed to establish the validity of the findings and admitting to the incredible complexity of the human brain, Kuszewski explains the functions of the two areas:

The ACC, she notes, allows humans to keep emotions under control as they employ reason to solve problems, especially complex problems.

The amygdala, she points out, is the part of the brain "associated with emotions" and is important for the "formation of emotional memories and learning. . . [as well as] memory consolidation."

"People with a larger or more active amygdala," she reports, "tend to have stronger emotional reactions to objects and events," process information "initially through [the amygdala]," and "experience and express more empathy."

Unfortunately, at this point the scientific integrity of the piece begins to implode with increasing velocity as Kuszewski ironically falls into much more than a momentary lapse of reason, failing to keep in mind not just everything she said about the complexity of the brain but everything she surely knows about the scientific method.

Consider, for example, that she leaps from the rudimentary information presented in the scientific journals to the utter ridiculousness of this sweeping generalization:

". . . for liberals to make a case for an idea or cause, they come armed with data, research studies, and experts. . . They assign meaning and value to ideas that fit within the scientific method, because that's their primary thinking style."

And this one:

"Conservatives [are] less likely to assign value primarily using the scientific method. . . For them to find an idea valuable, it has to be meaningful for them personally. It needs to trigger empathy. Meaning, they need some kind of emotional attachment to it, such as family, or a group of individuals they are close to in some way."

Explaining the source of political attitudes is as simple as that, according to Kuszewski, who doesn't present or direct readers to one bit of scientific data supporting the astonishing (better yet, mind-blowing) conclusion that the political, social, and economic concepts accepted by liberals are derived through use of the scientific method.

Embarrassing herself all the more, she provides what she deems as examples of these scientifically based ideas.

For instance, with respect to the issue of war, she writes that "liberals are willing to adapt to shifting world views, while conservatives see war as a means of 'preserving the stability of the homeland.'"

By Kuszewski's own reasoning, then, the ideas about war to which liberals "adapt" must "fit within the scientific method."

Curious that despite all her invocation of science, Kuszewski fails to define even one of the scientifically compelling "shifting world views."

Curious, too, that she doesn't say a word about the methods used to uncover data that made liberals a scientific offer they couldn't refuse.

That's because there are no scientific methods nor data, explaining why Kuszewski's "science" imitates the kind of propaganda beloved by politicians since antiquity, a tactic illustrated by her writing that conservatives simply wish to preserve the nation's "stability" instead of saying conservatives wish to save the lives of the nation's people and its culture.

The truth is, of course, that moral and ethical issues as well as many predictive questions regarding warfare lie outside the realm of the natural sciences.

For instance, science cannot prove humans would have survived as they have without conducting warfare.

Science cannot prove that if chimpanzees and ants would eschew warfare beginning today, each species would either better guarantee its survival or improve its evolutionary prospects.

In the same manner, science cannot prove Orwell wrong either for terming pacifism a "moral phenomenon" or for asserting he was "not interested" in the metaphysical concept.

Think of it. If Kuszewski were correct, every natural sciences textbook from grade to graduate school would include chapters explaining the science that lies behind not just liberal attitudes regarding war and peace but good and evil, right and wrong, beautiful and ugly, how to write a stimulus bill, how to structure a healthcare reform proposal, etc.

But those textbooks don't because the notion that such concepts can be derived from the matter and energy that blew out of the big bang is absurd on its face.

Finally, the mention of absurdity causes us to return once again to the mindless, insidious simplicity Ms. Kuszewski brings to her analysis.

The ultimate irony is that she could have avoided leaping to a stunningly stupid conclusion if she had thoughtfully analyzed any one of hundreds of liberal beliefs and behaviors.

She might, for instance, have focused on the following question regarding the fundamental tenet of liberalism, one sure to cause most people to realize the daunting, incredibly complex nature of any scientific inquiry that seeks to understand how brain function affects social/political attitudes:

What is it about the liberal brain that impels liberals to ignore what physicists and mathematicians say about complex systems, to disregard horrendous failures of past experiments, and to snub the profound meaning of every contraption Rube Goldberg ever put to paper in favor of preaching a gospel that merely imagines the best of all possible social and political worlds through the creation of a hugely powerful, dangerously unstable, poisonously elitist, enormously wasteful central government, even one gigantic enough to rule the world?

Having asked that question alone, she would have rushed to throw her idea about the supremacy of the scientific method in the liberal mind exactly where it belongs. . . in the garbage.

That is, unless she herself is a card-carrying, true-believing liberal whose metaphysical ideology perversely makes a religion of politics and gods of politicians.

© A.J. DiCintio

 

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.

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