Tuesday, September 11, 2007


...is my response to the the latest report on the so-called differences between "liberal" (i.e., leftist) brains, versus "conservative" brains....of college students--and therein lies the fundamental flaw of the study.
Exploring the neurobiology of politics, scientists have found that liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives because of how their brains work....

Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative." They were instructed to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.
M appeared four times more frequently than W, conditioning participants to press a key in knee-jerk fashion whenever they saw a letter.

Jules Crittendon in his usual astute fashion hones in on this rather enormous hole in the liberal euphoria about what differences in information processing as measured by EEG actually mean:
The study was done among college students. I’d throw out all results on that basis alone. We’re talking about immature people for whom being open to everything is a rigid position, and for whom rigidity represents a form of nonconformity. Study also does not address actual reaction to life experience, which can turn lefties into righties and righties into lefties.

But at the risk of being considered open-minded, I’ll say these are interesting results. But a little too rigid. Let’s make it more interesting. Open it up a little. I’d like to see how it breaks down among, say, union autoworkers and Wall Street executives. Cuban government officials and GOP campaign volunteers. Heck, let’s go all the way. What’s the mostprogressive country in the world? North Korea! What country is the right-wing den of capitalist evil? Us! Let’s do North Korean party members vs. Imperialist American Running Dogs.

I’d also like to know if having an open mind is more likely to make you trend conservative with age and experience, and if having a rigid one is likely to make you turn left. Let’s see some questionnaires and brainscans on the same people 20 or 30 years from now.

Indeed. One might say that liberals have a quintessentially adolescent mindset (keep doing those studies on college students, guys!) while conservatives possess more of an adult (or at least, grown-up) mindset.

How well has the left been able to tolerate the ambiguity that is Iraq? (Can you hear their screeches and hysteria over the Petraeus testimony to congress? Or their childish attacks on the man? Or the scientific ambiguity that exists about global warming and its etiology? For that matter, how well has the left been able to tolerate differences of opinion within their own ranks (ask Joe Lieberman, for instance).

If you answered, "Not at all" to all the above questions, then you can be considered a true reality-based person...as opposed to the wishful-thinking-rigidly- adhering-to-the-party -ine type of person subsumed in the Borg mindset of the left. Do you call such hysterical behavior "tolerance for ambiguity and conflict"? Or, do you call it infantile with a desperate touch of rather mindless obedience to an ideology that is threatened when someone says or thinks differently from you?

Why don't you read Petraeus' testimony in full ; and then watch the video of the pink lefty who tried to disrupt it and decide for yourself which one of the two individuals is able to tolerate ambiguity in the real world; and which is the postergirl for intolerance, deliberate stupidity, and exaggerated emotionalism?

But perhaps that is the trilogy of personality characteristics that characterizes an alternate interpretation of the data from the numerous studies trotted out by the left on a regular basis to prove what great guys and gals they are. My home town newspaper, The Ann Arbor News even had the results as the headline on its front page! Clearly they know and understand their readership.

I am full willing to believe that there are biological differences in information processing between liberals and conservatives, but I suspect that it has more to do with choosing to give precedence to emotions and wishes far more than those emotions and wishes deserve. The left, to put it bluntly, don't merely tolerate ambiguity, they worship it-- and even deliberately seek it out even in situations where it doesn't exist! Just listen to those 9/11 Troofers who will not be dissuaded from their conspiracy theories by any rational argument. In a way, ambiguity means never having to face reality.

Narcissists, psychopaths, and paranoids are "tolerant of ambiguity" in pretty much the same way.

What is even more troubling to me as a psychiatrist is how my profession is in the vanguard of all this postmodern psychological hype and nonsense; and that many mental health professionals have become the gurus and pimps for the new leftist religion.

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner reprints a reader's letter, that should make you shake your head at the pop "feel good" psychology and "the absolute stupidity" that passes for mental health treatment these days":
Hi Jonah,

God bless Bart Simpson for that brilliant turn of phrase (well, the first time *I* ever heard "craptacular" was on the Simpsons).

Anyway, a few years back I decided to go see a psychiatrist. This was after 9/11, though my depression was more about finding work during the deflation of the technology boom. I'd just had two startups die under me, and was having a lot of self-doubt.

I showed up to see the doctor, and the first thing he did was ask after my political views. Deciding I was conservative, he gave me a long talk about how he was going to free my mind from the shackles of the conservative mindset. According to him I'd be better able to see the possibilities and happiness of life when I acquired a more liberal mindset.

I paid my fee and never returned. For me, that one interview really holed psychiatry below the plimsoll line. "Craptacular nonsense" sums it up perfectly.

Oh, and a couple of years later I'm back at a technology startup, where it looks like we'll do well.

The craptacular political spin on the brain study and the comments from one of many clueless psychiatrists are breathtaking in that they go a long way to explaining the ongoing integration of [junk] science as a means of justifying political insanity.

I would suggest readers check out the entire LA Times article linked to above discussing the brain study; and then to insert the word "black" for "conservative" and "white" for liberal in the analysis. Now, imagine the uproar that would occur if this had been a study that impugned the intellect, or "information processing" of black people.

This is just another clever way of manipulating science and the scientific method to shore up the self-esteem of the left and denigrate anyone who doesn't subscribe to their beliefs.

Today's pervasive craptacular nonsense promulgated by lefty politicians, educators and scientists is designed to "Free your mind of shackles", all right.

The despicable shackles imposed by objective reality.

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