Thursday, January 26, 2006

Lies, Damned Lies, and Brain Activity

Here's some stunning news that I"m sure none of you were expecting.
Political bias affects brain activity, study finds
Democrats and Republicans both adept at ignoring facts, brain scans show

This isn't as funny as it should be, given the nearly paralyzed state of intelligence in this country when it comes to political discussion, but it's still funny. Here are some excerpts:
Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects' brains were monitored while they pondered.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University.

...The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

Well, that explains all kinds of things about this country--the brains of stupid people make them high when they're being morons.

The scientists called this "calcification" of partisan beliefs, which is a great phrase and very evocative of people that all of us talk to every day. They don't let the facts get in their way.

Here's one last excerpt:
Other relatively neutral candidates were introduced into the mix, such as the actor Tom Hanks. Importantly, both the Democrats and Republicans reacted to the contradictions of these characters in the same manner.

Very interesting article, and here's the link:

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