Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's In the Genes, Stupid!

I've been saying this for a long time, but it's sufficiently official now to talk about this again. Let me quote from this article:

"...our political attitudes have deep roots in our biology. Our place on the political spectrum - liberal, conservative, or in between - is powerfully influenced by genetics, new studies show. In the past year, researchers have demonstrated that the brains of liberals and conservatives are physically and functionally distinctive, suggesting that people on either side of the ideological divide are actually wired differently. And new research, published this fall in the prestigious journal Science, found that our immediate, unconscious reaction to threat - how much we startle at frightening images and noises - determines our political views on specific issues like gun control, national defense, the Iraq war, domestic surveillance, the torture of political prisoners, and even immigration."

Since the US is voting as I write this, consider the immediate corollary to all this:

The outcome of the US Presidential campaign is determined mainly by how many voters of either persuasion—pro-Obama or pro-McCain and what they stands for and are associated with—the candidates manage to get to turn out to vote.

None of this 'issue' stuff. The only effect of 'issues' was, again, mainly in how many voters the candidates were able to get to turn up to vote for them by using those issues to emotionally galvanize them. That doesn't just include those strongly influenced by their genetic makeup, though I doubt that a quoted estimate of only 50% of people being thus predisposed and influenced is reliable.

Anyway, whatever the merits and effects of 'issues', it appears that this one has run its course, thanks by and large to some truly bad political judgment by the current administration:

Right now it's all about the EEcOnomy and Wall Street and all that; with a goodly mix of "WE WANT CHANGE" thrown in. Until, that is, the next major terrorist attack on US soil, which will come about, and which will make 9/11 appear like a picnic.

"When we debate issues, in other words, we do not so much argue a political position as assert who we are," it says further down in the article, and this probably wraps it up nicely. However, I suggest that you read it in its entirety before you leap to the obvious conclusions, most of which will probably be based on long-held beliefs that may not pass a serious reality-check. Maybe the most interesting counter-intuitive revelations are that Conservatives are inclined to be more...well, let's call it 'sentimental'...than Liberals; because that's what it amounts to. Meaning probably that they're more in touch with their feelings.

Ahh, the irony—with the laugh being on the... well, you work that one out!

It's important to note that we're talking about 'predispositions'. But, let's face it, most people do tend to and think and feel what they're predisposed to; even, or maybe especially, those who consider themselves 'rational' and whose self-delusions tend to make them even more vulnerable to the consequences of their denial of their emotional nature.

Head in the sand and ass in the air...

P.S.

The quoted article itself appeared in a magazine with a definite Liberal bias, and needs to be considered with that in mind. The trashing of Conservatives is subtle but definite, as is evident in the terminology used. There's also a tendency to emphasize the large pool of those who resist their predispositions; thus making it appear as if the phenomenon were restricted to a, fairly thick, fringe of dumb-nuts. This is, of course, an expression of classic Liberal elitism.

So, take it with a goodly pinch of critical salt. Still, the essential content appears sound, as is evident when following the topic in further depth.

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