09 April 2011

Viewing the Brain the Right Way

Cross-posted from The Landmark Report (see link in previous post).

On Thursday, the online specialist journal Current Biology published a study that indicates the brains of Big Government proponents ("lefties") and the brains of Limited Government proponents ("righties") are actually physiologically different. Most of the other pieces I've found about this study are either re-postings of the pretty neutral Agence France Presse article, or lefties' trumpeting it as proof that righties are irrationally fearful and agressive. This article will attempt to present the right perspective.

The study's authors cautioned that it did not show a causal relationship. They don't know whether the affected areas were larger, and therefore cause lefty or righty behavior, or whether environment encouraged certain behavior, causing growth in those areas. Keep that in mind.

The stories state that lefties tend to show more mass in an area of the brain that "monitors uncertainty and conflict." The study says this means it is "conceivable" that lefties "have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts…." Well, duh. The lefty universe is a mass of conflict. I often hear and read fellow righties wonder how lefties can possibly reconcile all the conflicting, seemingly hypocritical positions they claim to support. I've done it myself. This study seems to indicate how that is possible. Lefties may recognize that there is conflict, but they don't mind.

Tolerating uncertainty can be seen in the recent "budget battle", and the fact that the Democrat-controlled Congress refused to draft, let alone pass, a budget for FY 2011. What can be more uncertain than a whole nation not knowing whether its federal bureaucracies will be funded to continue intruding on our lives?

The righties in the study show more mass in an area of the brain that "processes emotions related to fear." This leads to righties' being "more sensitive to disgust" and "more sensitive to threatening facial expressions." Those who lean right also tend to "respond to threatening situations with more aggression". This explains a whole laundry list of things.

The lefties are interpreting the first statement to mean that righties are driven by fear. Just the opposite is true. Righties have greater capacity to process fear and related emotions, and come up with a rational solution to counter the perceived threat. Also, righties will be less hesitant to implement such a solution or respond with aggression. I submit that since lefties have lesser capacity in this area, they are the ones who are more subject to acting irrationally out of fear.

It also offers insight into why certain wealthy families produce left-leaning progeny. After all, if a family is wealthy enough, they can hire bodyguards, accountants, and attorneys to handle their responses to threats for them. It helps explain the arguments surrounding ownership and use of firearms. It sheds light on the current administration's promotion of outreach and apology to those who would see us dead. The sensitivity to disgust manifests itself in righties' vs. lefties' reactions to political corruption and sex scandals.

One last point is that if, in fact, it is a habit of behavior that causes growth in the relevant brain region, it explains why Marxism was not developed until the Industrial Age. Up until that time, people were too busy doing the things it took to live. With industrialization came more and greater labor-saving devices, and more time devoted to leisure, as well as greater political stability and fewer attacks to fend off, at least in Europe and North America. This gave people the time to embrace less focused, more conflicting ideas. It opened our minds to the manipulation of those who would wield power over us.