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United States Government Politics Science

Red Brains vs. Blue Brains? 1665

Posted by Hemos
from the i'm-sure-this-discussion-will-be-worthwhile dept.
eLoco writes "From the NYTimes (reg. req.): The Political Brain -- "Why do Republicans and Democrats differ so emphatically? Perhaps it's all in the head." Researchers from UCLA have seem to have found that liberals have, on average, a more active amygdala than conservatives. According to the article, studies of stroke victims "have persuasively shown that the amygdala plays a key role in the creation of emotions like fear or empathy." So is this scientific "proof" that liberals tend to be more compassionate but also more cowardly? [DISCLAIMER: this is not a troll; I am a liberal]. Regardless, this seems to have implications for more than just politics. Favorite quote: "Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function.""
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Red Brains vs. Blue Brains?

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  • Jesus H Christ (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ellem (147712) * <ellem52 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:51AM (#10044609) Homepage Journal
    Is anything anyone's fault or decision anymore? Damn I remember when people were fat, drunk, gay, disruptive and Communist of their own volition. Now everything is a malady, issue and disease.
    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lukewarmfusion (726141) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:56AM (#10044710) Homepage Journal
      In America, we also like to sue others as a result of these things. It's always someone else's fault.

      I find it interesting that you put gay into that list... you're sure to get modded flamebait to some extent by claiming that people are gay by their own volition.

      Oh, Princess Amygdala...
      • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300) *
        Well that has been the issue for a long time with Gays and the primary reason why they have been so discriminated against is because the old belief that being gay was their choice. There are many Gays would rather keep that reasoning because they don't want to say that it is a biological difference.
        • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheGeneration (228855) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:29AM (#10045230) Journal
          They are gay. It doesn't matter if gays are gay because of biological influences, environmental influences, or if they made a choice to be. There are probably people who fall into each of those categories. Ultimately, what does it matter? No law has ever stopped gay men from living out life in gay relationships (in whatever form.) No amount of anti-gay violence has ever stopped gay men from being gay. No therapy has ever worked to make a man straight (desire for homosexual contact still continues, even if behavior is modified.)

          When the gay civil rights movements began in the 20th century the laws against gay sex were brutal. For example when American soldiers liberated the Nazi death camps they returned the gay survivors of the camps back to the German prison system because, "they were criminals." Until recent times (and still in some places today) the social stigma for being discovered to have been a homosexual would lose you your job, your family, your home, etc... Ultimately, what it comes down to is that no matter what you do, what you say, or what laws you attempt to inact: gays will always be there. They are adults consenting to relationships (whether short term, or long term) that are worthy of the same level of respect we would afford to all human beings who do not harm others.

      • by SavoWood (650474) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:19AM (#10045071) Homepage
        This is an interesting Catch 22 for moderation as it appears the GNAA posts might actually be *on topic* for once!

        I never thought I'd see this day.

    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Timesprout (579035)
      Interesting point. We seem to be living in a culture where it is becoming increasingly popular to explain away all personal responsibility for our actions. No one does anything anymore because they were drunk, stupid, angry, jealous, foolish, greedy or just not able to cope properly. Now its genetic predisposition and psychological forces at work. If these scientists/doctors/quacks are to believed its amazing we dont all just crumble completely into a blubbering mass under the pressure of all these external
      • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

        by GOD_ALMIGHTY (17678) <curt.johnson@NospAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:28AM (#10045204) Homepage
        I have a feeling that you and the parent are falling on the Red Brain side. First of all, there's no logical basis for the argument that a doctors diagnosis now alleviates personal responsibility. If you get drunk and kill someone, you may have been incapacitated by alcohol, but you chose to get drunk and therefore are culpable. This awareness that a particular way of thinking is part of your biological makeup doesn't give you a pass, it increases you're responsibility since it is now a defined problem which you have a responsibility to fix.

        There is an extreme difference between someone having a genetic predisposition to be an alcoholic and having one for homosexuality. Being gay doesn't cause you to violate someone else's rights, whereas alcoholism seems to ratchet that risk up through the roof. Until the 1930's there was no widespread, successful, way of dealing with alcoholism. Alcoholics were treated as seriously mentally ill. Instead of being rehabilitated into productive, self-reliant citizens, many times they were lobotomized and institutionalized.

        After the 30's people started to understand alcoholism and people who wound up alcoholic were expected to act responsibly and use one of the many avenues now available to them to become responsible citizens instead of criminals. Now we know that predisposition for addiction can be passed on genetically, but we don't allow anyone to just get away with lapsing into that behavior.

        Self-Knowledge increases responsibility, arguing otherwise is a slippery-slope based on a false dichotomy.
      • by delcielo (217760) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:33AM (#10045298) Journal
        Could decades of political thought in one direction or the other result in chemical changes in the brain?

        We do lots of other things that cause chemical changes in our body, lifestyles that cause certain substances to be more or less abundant in our bodies. Are our brains off limits to such things?

        This may be a stupid theory, I don't know; but it seems to me that it would be VERY difficult to establish any causality either way.

    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by XorNand (517466) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:02AM (#10044789)
      Well, some people (such as yourself) see this as sort of an over-the-top, politically-correct perspective. In actuality, it's a long standing philosophical debate: is freewill a myth? It's B.F. Skinner and Co. vs. the existenialists.

      While you respond in disgust, what happens if one day science does indeed discover that biology trumphs freewill? What if almost all of out behaviors are predetermined by chemistry?

      Not attempting to threadjack here, just adding an additional perspective to a post that was an immediate +5.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:21AM (#10045089)

        Maybe the way we think alters the physical structures of our brains. Just like if we exercise certain muscles they get bigger.

        How does that deny free will?

        • Mod parent up (Score:5, Interesting)

          by OG (15008) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:36AM (#10045333)
          I wish I had mod points to mod you up (don't know why you got modded down). Interesting research by Andrew Newberg (University of Pennsylvania) used imaging techniques to study the differences between the brains of laypeople and religious clergy-type people (Franciscan nuns and Buddhist monks). He found that certain brain regions were stronger in those who meditate often than in the laypeople. He also studies their brains when meditating (or, in the case of the nuns, chanting), and he found an increase in the brain areas during that time period. Coupled with the idea of neural plasticity, it could be that the actual practice does increase those areas (like your exercise analogy).

          Newberg has a book out entitled "Why God Won't Go Away." I haven't read it, but I did have the pleasure of seeing him give a seminar at my school last year. There's also a documentary that's being screened called "What the Bleep Do We Know." It's kind of a "Sophie's World" docu/fiction hybrid, but it has interviews with mystics and neuroscientists and philosophers detailing modern ideas about the mind. Again, I haven't seen it (hasn't shown in South Carolina...go figure) but it sounds really interesting.
      • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john DOT oyler AT comcast DOT net> on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:36AM (#10045351) Journal
        Nice logic there. If the guy who discovers his biology determines his behavior, and he's sophisticated enough to change the biology... what does it mean when he chooses to do that?

        When the technology becomes available, and it will, and even just a few people overcome it, and change their biology.... what will that mean that they choose to change it?

        The only people who want freewill to not exist, are those who lust after the technique to impose theirs over your own.
      • Possibly. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:42AM (#10045431)
        Skinner is my favorite psychologist. I recommend reading "Beyond Freedom and Dignity" and "Walden Two".

        But he wasn't talking about biology as being the determining factor on behaviour.

        He was all about conditioning. If you raise a child in a specific manner, the adult will behave in a specific manner. Unless their environment changes (environment meaning just about anything, not just the weather).

        He said that behaviour is physiological responses to external stimuli.

        And contrary to what people may read on the 'web, his daughter did not commit suicide.
      • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dR.fuZZo (187666) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:50AM (#10045556)
        While you respond in disgust, what happens if one day science does indeed discover that biology trumphs freewill? What if almost all of out behaviors are predetermined by chemistry?

        I don't get this biology trumping freewill thing. Look, my brain belongs to me. If it does some sorta electro-chemical mumbo-jumbo to figure out what kind of cereal I decide to eat in the morning, how does that destroy my free will? Oh no, I'm a slave to my physical brain! Oh, the angst! Like it would be so much better if I was a slave to an immaterial, invisible soul instead?
    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LionKimbro (200000) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:08AM (#10044892) Homepage
      Yeah, I was thinking the same thing.

      Marshall Brain [marshallbrain.com] wrote a blog post where he joked about the way we pick any explanation that feels scientific.

      Explaining why smokers have more sex: [blogspot.com] "Here's a theory. Perhaps, way way back in the evolutionary chain, humans have a long-extinct ancestor that had long, thin, tusk-like incisors jutting out of its mouth. And perhaps, residually, our brains are programmed to recognize that "long incisors" means "good mate". So when a person puts a cigarette up to his or her mouth, it triggers the "long incisors" circuit in our brains, and cigarettes get associated with sex in that way. It sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? That's because it is ridiculous -- there must be a better theory."

      Right now, people seem to buy up anything that sounds like Evolutionary Psychology. [wikipedia.org] The attitude is: "It is scientific. Therefore, it must be true. Anything else would be religion or emotion. [wikipedia.org]"
      • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

        by venicebeach (702856) on Monday August 23, 2004 @12:26PM (#10046777) Homepage Journal
        I am one of the researchers involved in this fMRI project. I think one thing you've got to do is distinguish between science and science journalism. The news coverage of this project has been quite extensive and it's been really interesting to see what makes the news, how science is interpreted by the public, etc. The goal of this project is not to explain why some people are democrats or republicans, conservative or liberal, etc. It is to understand a little bit about the neural processes that underlie certain kinds of emotional and cognitive processes that happen when people think about politics. If the NYT article gives the impression that we are providing one of these circular explanations for why people think the way they do, it is the failure of the journalist, not of the science.
    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Rhesus Piece (764852) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:13AM (#10044975)
      Don't be so surprised.
      Effects have a cause.

      We are our genetics, and our environmental influences. I've not been able to find anything else that determines the state of a person.
      That being the case, pretty well everything can be attributed to prior events or circumstance.

      However, the difference is how this is dealt with.
      If somebody murders because they have inbalanced brain chemistry and an absurdly skewed worldview due to childhood abuse, it doesn't make it okay.
      However, it would be silly to say, "He chose to, it's his fault." With a knowledge of the causes
      of fatness, drunkeness, homosexuality, etc, we can
      take steps toward undoing what should be undone and preventing what may be.

      (disclaimer: as a believer in some sort of pseudo-determinism, I don't really believe in free will in the "any of a person's choices are possible" sense.)
    • Re:Jesus H Christ (Score:5, Insightful)

      by schvenk (466484) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:14AM (#10045001) Homepage

      This sort of argument is a dangerous one that's plagued science for a number of years now: "If there are biological underpinnings for our actions, preferences, and personalities, how can we be responsible for anything?"

      But the question itself assumes a connection where none has to exist: Science and ethics aren't connected like that. Maybe I'm a liberal because of my genetic makeup; maybe it's my environment; probably it's both. In any of these cases, I have made choices, and it's appropriate for me to accept responsibility for them, regardless of the various biological and environmental factors that went into them.

      The notion that explaining our behavior eliminates free will or responsibility is an unfortunate one, and has held back a number of scientific fields. Learning what lies behind our choices doesn't invalidate them, but merely helps us understand ourselves better and perhaps make more informed decisions.

      (A much more complete, better-written, and better-supported version of what I'm saying can be found in Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate.)

    • by MarkPNeyer (729607) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:28AM (#10045208)

      In my mind, the main difference between liberals and conservatives is a preference for nature or nurture. This ties in to your idea abou the loss of free will. Disclaimer: I consider myself a conservative, athough I think I have a good understanding of how liberals think because a lot of my friends are liberals and I like to talk about politics. I'd love to hear feedback on this idea to see how valid it is.

      Conservatives tend to believe that people behave in the way they do as a result of something about them in particular - their nature. Some people are just good and some people are just bad. Nothing can be done to change or fix the situation- it's just how they are. Good people tend to obey the law, pay taxes, go to church and be good citizens. Bad people don't. When a bad person does something bad, it's because he's a bad person and therefore likely to do bad things.

      Liberals, on the other hand, see everyone as more or less products of our environment - the way we are nurtured. We're affected by what goes on around us and the things we see and experience. Bad people are bad not because of some intrinsic difference between them and good people; they're bad because of their childhood or the atmosphere they live in. A bad person does something bad because there was some sort of external influence upon him, causing him to be bad.

      To illustrate my point, consider gun control. Conservatives are generally against it - and this makes perfect sense considering their ideas on how people behave. Good people should be allowed to own guns becuase they're good. They'll only use them for self defense and as a result society will be safer. Bad people on the other had, don't have any respect for the law. They'll get their hands on guns regardless of the law, and use the guns to do bad things because they're bad. To a conservative, gun control simply punishes good people and prevents them from defending themselves from the bad people.

      Now look at Gun control from the liberal perspective - people are influenced by the environment and the situation they're. Since no one is inherently good or bad, gun control simply decreases the probablity that a given individual will be in possesion of a firearm. This is good because if you have a firearm, you're probably more likely to shoot someone with it. Perhaps if you're angry you wouldn't normally hurt someone, but having a gun in your hand changes your mindset and makes you more likely to do something bad. Gun control legislation is an attempt to remove the external stimulus that can cause people to be bad - so most liberals support it.

      Poverty is another example of the difference. There is obviously some sort of connection between poverty and crime. Most of the nations involved in terrorism are not particularly wealthy, and crime is ramapant in poorer urban areas. Why?

      Ask a conservative, and most likely she'll tell you that crime causes poverty. No one wants to start a buisness in a crime-ridden city. Because crime prevents economic activity, it causes poverty. To fix the poverty situation, just crack down on the crime. Once you've made the neighborhood safer, jobs will show up and poverty will go away. Note that no attempt is made to explain crime. The Conservative uses crime to explain poverty.

      Ask a liberal, and most likely he'll tell you that the poverty causes the crime. If you grow up in a situation devoid of any opportunity for a job and a good life for yourself, you've got a good chance of turning to crime because of the hopelessness and despair of your situation. To fix the situation, you need to get rid of poverty. Try to lure companies in to provide jobs, and the crime will go away once the people have an opportunity for economic advancement. Unlike the conservative, the liberal uses poverty to explain why there's crime.

      How does this tie into free will? Conservatives make no effort or attempt to explain why bad people are bad. They just are.

      • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:31AM (#10046131)
        I would be considered a "Liberal" on most people's scale.

        But I'm pro-gun. And I favour a strong military (but I oppose "Star Wars" because I don't think it is necessary now nor do I believe that it would work even if it was necessary). I also believe in more State's rights and a reduced federal government.

        "Conservatives tend to believe that people behave in the way they do as a result of something about them in particular - their nature."

        I also believe that. But I also believe that the way they were raised affects their choices. Someone who craves power can go into politics or religion or financials or just be an abusive husband.

        "Some people are just good and some people are just bad."

        Good and bad are personal evaluations. Saddam is "bad" but the US government thought Saddam was "good" when he was fighting Iran.

        Personally, I thought one tin-pot dictator was fighting a authoratarian theocracy and I didn't see any "good" in either side.

        "Liberals, on the other hand, see everyone as more or less products of our environment - the way we are nurtured."

        But our environments do shape the choices we have. It takes someone with a LOT of self-focus to overcome the obstacles of his environment.

        So, someone with a lot of character (an internal trait) can overcome his environment, but most people do not have that and become products of their environment.

        "To illustrate my point, consider gun control."

        I'm completely in favour of the 2nd Amendment.
        -but-
        I'm also in favour of a waiting period. I don't want someone buying a gun because he just found out his wife is cheating on him. I'm also in favour of registering guns which includes ballistics. A bullet pulled from a murder victim should be traced back to the gun that fired it and the person who purchased it.

        I believe that 99%+ of the people who own guns are responsible gun owners and no threat to themselves or society.

        But I also believe that a responsible gun owner would register his weapons, properly secure them and immediately report any that were stolen. This is his responsibility to society. When you exercise certain rights, you take on certain responsibilities.

        So, is that "Conservative" or "Liberal"?

        "Poverty is another example of the difference."

        Easily answered by my previous statement about character and environment. Those with weak to average character will end up as products of their environment. Those with strong character will overcome those obstacles.

        Now, take Enron and such. Crime does not depend upon poverty.

        "How does this tie into free will? Conservatives make no effort or attempt to explain why bad people are bad. They just are."

        Which is why I am not a Conservative.

        "Liberals, on the other hand, attempt to explain bad behavior. They say it's a result of our upbringing or our environment. By attempting to explain it, they don't leave a lot of room for free will to say that the people made the choice to be bad."

        I believe that people do make their own choice.

        Here's an example: Exercise.

        Everyone (Conservatives and Liberals) knows that you should exercise. Yet not many people do. Is that because they are "bad" people who have chosen not to exercise? Or is it because the parents didn't love them enough?

        I believe that it is because most people do not have the character to force themselves to do what they know is good for them and would rather take the easy way.

        As in the exercise example, so as in Life.
      • by leereyno (32197) on Monday August 23, 2004 @02:11PM (#10048111) Homepage Journal
        In other words liberals are pretty much full of shit. They are an example of the perverse trimph of intelligence over wisdom and common sense, which is inevitable when one's ideology is disconnected from reality.

        By your description I qualify as a conservative. I understand that there are good and bad people in the world. But unlike your hypothetical conservative I also understand that good and evil are choices. Bad people are bad because they choose to be. What causes them to make the choice to be bad depends upon the individual. There is no single root cause for that choice. Likewise good people are good because they choose to be and what causes them to make that choice is something that is specific to them as an individual.

        I personally think that the relationship between poverty and crime is not one of cause and effect in either direction. Rather poverty and crime are both effects of the same cause, or at least they are in the setting you seem to imply, which is contemporary America in areas where both are high.

        Just as there are people who are good and people who are bad, there are also what you could call winners and losers. The USA is the most prosperous nation the world has ever seen. Short of mental and physical disability, there is no reason why someone should be poor here. Great wealth may not be obtainable by absolutely everyone, but a comfortable middle-class existence certainly is. If someone isn't able to achieve that standard of living, and they are not disabled in some way, then it is usually because they have made bad choices in life There is always some sob story about how someone got done in by circumstances beyond their control, but that is the exception, not the rule, and even then the person in question still has the power to change their circumstances over tiem. There are so many opportunities available in this country that it's staggering. Even someone who is in prison has the opportunity to change their life and make something of themself. Our lives are the products of the choices we make, not what happens to us or the circumstances into which we are born.

        The reason why poverty and crime tend to co-exist is because both phenomena are the product of people making bad choices. The socio-economic meritocracy that we have in this country works to segregate those who make good choices from those who make bad ones. Slums exist because that is where society puts those who make bad choices. Therefore both poverty and crime are going to rampant in these places.

        As far as what do to about it, all I can say is that you can't fix broken people. The most we can do is work to maintain the opportunities available to those who were unfortunate enough to be born into such an environment, and work to incarcerate those who choose to be criminals. The schools in our slums are really bad, in part because they are filled with people whose parents made bad choices. Whatever genetic component predisposed their parents to making their bad choices tends to get passed down to the children, which means that you've got a school full fututre thugs and losers. Then there is the fact that some people are poor just because they're dumb as bricks. They don't make evil choices or even foolish ones as judged by their mental capacity, but they're still at a disadvantage. This creates a synergy of problems that even Socrates couldn't handle.

        Imagine you're in a class of 30 student. Now imagine that eight of the people in your class are violent thugs who work to intimidate and attack other students as well as the teacher. They interrupt the class at every opportunity. They eventually wind up in "juvie," and prison soon after that, but not soon enough. 12 of your classmates are not violent and their not stupid, they just don't want to learn. They blame the consequences of their bad choices on external villans collectively known as "The Man." As a result they haven't learned and have suceeded in dragging the average standard of education in your school down
    • by Hussman32 (751772) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:01AM (#10045703)
      Is anything anyone's fault or decision anymore? Damn I remember when people were fat, drunk, gay, disruptive and Communist of their own volition. Now everything is a malady, issue and disease.

      Clearly your amygdala isn't as active as mine, or you would have said, "spherically challenged, libationally oriented, sexually curious, placidly impaired, or democratically impeded"
  • Not true (Score:4, Insightful)

    by leonmergen (807379) <lmergen@FREEBSDgmail.com minus bsd> on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:52AM (#10044625) Homepage
    I don't think this is true... I think political views can develop, and change. It's not something that you have when you're born...
    • Re:Not true (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gfxguy (98788) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:14AM (#10044988)
      Certainly...

      Any man who is under 30, and is not a liberal, has not heart; and any man who is over thirty, and is not a conservative, has no brains.
      -Winston Churchill

      My views have definately changed in the past ten years or so. It's one of the reason we need to, in this election, which should concern matters of national security, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, etc., stop all this nonsense about what may or may not have happened in Vietnam 35 years ago. We should be discussing education, social security, national security; we should be looking at voting records and bills that have been signed and/or sponsored by the candidates in the past 10 or 15 years. The worst part of this election is that it's hinging on what may be some exagerations from a boasting veteran of what happened 35 years ago.

      Thomas Sowell had an amazing quotable first paragraph in his article today, liberal or conservative, democrat or republican, I think we can all agree on this:

      It is a painful reflection on the political atmosphere today that, in an era when nuclear devestation may strike American soil in our lifetime, courtesy of terrorists supplied with nuclear weapons by North Korea or Iran, that we are arguing about what did or didn't happen in Vietnam more than 30 years ago.


      Also, I think it's been proven, at least to my satisfaction, that people develop fear over time. I don't know what causes compasion, but I also think it's a myth that conservatives are not, or cannot be, compassionate. Many people agree that democrats and republicans are not that far apart on the issues - nobody wants people to go without food, healthcare, shelter, education... what we differ on is how best to accomplish those goals.
  • Funny... (Score:4, Funny)

    by opeuga (208321) <opedog@opedog . c om> on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:53AM (#10044652) Homepage

    [DISCLAIMER: this is not a troll; I am a liberal]

    That's funny... I rarely make that distinction. :)
  • by Sgt_Jake (659140) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:54AM (#10044660) Journal
    So are we going to start using a Party sorting CAT scanner? [please not slitherin... please not slitherin...]
  • What a shocker (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moridineas (213502) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#10044678) Journal

    "Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function."

    This just in! People relate with people who are similar to themselves! What shocking news, I never would have guessed that similar ideas and ways of thought would pull people together...

    I'll pull another shocker out of the air too, while we're going for blatantly obvious descriptions of human behavior--people tend to congregate with other people of similar intelligence levels.

    • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:41AM (#10045416) Homepage Journal
      Terrorism works. Terrorism causes fear, and the people whom terrorism works best on are those who fear the most and are most able to emphatize with victims. This has been aided by modern media, which is able to deliver maximum shock images instantly via a worldwide television network.

      I will be moderated down for saying this, but it's on-topic, it's factual, and it's my well reasoned opinion. Not good material for Slashdot, but my conscience dictates my actions.

      If we lived in a world of people who were reasonable, no actions would have been taken as a result of the Columbuine killings. Eleven dead teenagers in a nation of hundred of millions equals an inconsequential cause of death. Thirty teenagers had died the previous day in car crashes, but no one stopped driving. The reason Columbine made an impact is because of people who are capable of becoming afraid, and empathizing with victims. They are able to irrationally magnify their fear outside the actual scope of the threat - again with the help of mass media. Hence we got a million people marching on Washington to ban guns, when lightning strikes and airbags both killed more children that year than school shootings.

      Irrational fear leads to irrational behaviour. Terrorism works.

      So now we have these same people, genetically gifted with empathy and able to feel irrational, choking amounts of fear, banding together to form a political movement. You can call them "liberals" if you want but I'm not really into name-calling. This isn't surprising. The article is full of hokum when it speculates that "people who think alike form political movements". DUH.

      The question we need to ask ourselves is: should people who are irrationally ruled by fear decide the fate of our nation? Is this wise?

      Perhaps gene therapy will provide a cure for this in the future; for now we have a choice to make on Nov. 2.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#10044690) Journal
    Liberals come from cities, Conservatives come from rural areas.

    I think it is the lifestyle of where you live that governs the formation of the brain.

    Look at this county map. [mob-rule.com] Here is a equally hi correlation to rurality=convervativeness.

    Maybe conservatives are inbred, not born? (Laugh, it's a joke, not a troll.)

    • by ConceptJunkie (24823) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:58AM (#10044722) Homepage Journal
      And maybe liberals are caused by inhaling too much pollution. :-)

    • by realmolo (574068) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:15AM (#10045894)
      I live in Iowa, my grandfather and uncle are farmers, and they're both liberals in every sense of the word, but they vote Republican.

      Why? Farm subsidies. The Republicans are VERY big on keeping farmers and their farms in business(to get their votes, of course), and keeping the ridiculous pork-barrel subsidies going for as long as possible. Farmers are a HUGE constituency for the Republicans. Many, MANY farmers rely on those subsidies.

    • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:12PM (#10047380) Homepage
      Liberals come from cities, Conservatives come from rural areas.

      What's kinda funny is that city-liberals often don't really understand this. People in rural and conservative areas watch movies and TV, and they see city-life. They get their daily dose of liberal slant, and they can compare it to their conservative slant and that of their neighbors. People in the big city, however, watch their own liberally-slanted media, generated by there generally liberal neighbors, and think that, since they aren't seeing other points of view, there are none. However, the key is that they aren't watching movies and TV made in bum-f*ck nowhere. They aren't getting the other side, and so they are sincerely astonished when the whole country doesn't agree with what they thought was the only way of looking at things.

      I suspect some of the difference between urban/rural areas and their liberal/conservative slant comes from the fact that city living is, by nature, more socialistic. You rely much more on public transporation and city services and street-sweepers and whatever else. Living in New York, for example, things like the subway and rent-control are just necessary facts of life, like the sun and the moon (and the ever-present pink glow in the sky at midnight). The municipal influence is tangible, lubricating your interaction with all the other people you're packed in with, and staving off chaos. With the comforting goverment, omnipresent already, you think, "Couldn't the government just take care of this other thing, too?"

      In the country, you don't generally feel a government unless you go looking for it. It feels much more like you're on-your-own, except maybe for neighbors and such (which feel like neighbors and not cityscape). Whenever the government does play a role in your life, it's usually annoying and intrusive. It's paying taxes and needing to get permits and such. You don't necessarily feel like there are police roaming the streets, and the boundaries of life are more well-defined, so shot-gunning anyone who dares to come up on your property unannounced makes a certain amount of sense. You know you're going to have to do for yourself, because no government is going to patrol the wide-open empty spaces "just in case", and so you'll often find yourself wondering, "why do we need so much government, anyway?"

      Anyway, it's a theory.

  • by TopShelf (92521) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:55AM (#10044691) Homepage Journal
    "Perhaps we form political affiliations by semiconsciously detecting commonalities with other people, commonalities that ultimately reflect a shared pattern of brain function."

    So people align themselves politically with others who think in a similar way.

    Wow, that's groundbreaking stuff. Guess that locks up the Nobel prize for this year!
  • by scotay (195240) on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:56AM (#10044708)
    What about libertarians? I call bullshit on this simplistic non-scientific pap. Slashdot might do better posting articles on the scientific basis for spiritualism.
  • by revscat (35618) * on Monday August 23, 2004 @09:58AM (#10044735) Journal

    So is this scientific "proof" that liberals tend to be more compassionate but also more cowardly?

    No. It is, however, flamebait and fodder for the conservatives to jump over.

    I'm a liberal. I also am a firm supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and in fact own multiple firearms. Why? Because I believe there may come a time where I need to defend my ideals with violence. I look at my intellectual forbears like Samuel Adams, George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi (not as peace as you believe!), Malcolm X, and other political agitators. Frequently changes can come about through peaceful means, but when peaceful means fail and tyranny rears its ugly head, then blood must be spilled.

    In no religious or political tradition is the forceful opposition of tyranny considered a sin or a crime. This is very much a liberal train of thought, in the "power to the people" sense, the fundamental democratic sense. The liberals who founded America did so by violently opposing British tyranny, and they were wholly justified in doing so.

    ..have persuasively shown that the amygdala plays a key role in the creation of emotions like fear or empathy.

    The question is: empathy towards who? I am empathetic towards the oppressed, the poor, and those who do not get treated justly by their governments. I, like Christ Jesus, will agitate for a change in this situation until my dying day. If violence is required to make it happen, then so be it. I hope it does not come to that, but if it will, I will not run from it.

    • by thatguywhoiam (524290) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:10AM (#10044920)
      I'm a liberal. I also am a firm supporter of the 2nd Amendment, and in fact own multiple firearms. Why? Because I believe there may come a time where I need to defend my ideals with violence. I look at my intellectual forbears like Samuel Adams, George Washington, Mahatma Gandhi (not as peace as you believe!), Malcolm X, and other political agitators. Frequently changes can come about through peaceful means, but when peaceful means fail and tyranny rears its ugly head, then blood must be spilled.

      How sad it is, that I can read these statements by you and see no contradiction whatsoever, while simultaneously knowing that a vast number of your fellow citizens would see a great disconnect.

      I have to ask though... that last sentence...

      when peaceful means fail and tyranny rears its ugly head, then blood must be spilled

      My question is two-fold:

      1. At what point would you say this criteria is met?
      2. Do you draw a distinction between what happened at the dawn of the United States, and what is happening in Iraq right now?

      • by kfg (145172) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:35AM (#10045318)
        How sad it is, that I can read these statements by you and see no contradiction whatsoever, while simultaneously knowing that a vast number of your fellow citizens would see a great disconnect.

        Somehow, somewhere along the line, people have forgotten that the private ownership of arms is a liberal philosophy.

        The Battle of Lexington and Concord which sparked the revolution itself was fought to protect arms from confiscation.

        KFG

    • by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:57AM (#10045666)
      "but when peaceful means fail and tyranny rears its ugly head, then blood must be spilled."

      That sort of depends on who decides on the true meaning of the word 'tyranny', and to what extent you're willing to try 'peaceful means'.

      Personally I've always believed that there is no point where you can justify the murder of another human being on such wishy-washy subjective justifications, which is one of the reasons why governments tend not to place overall control in the hands of one individual.

      "Because I believe there may come a time where I need to defend my ideals with violence."

      And this is different to white supremicists, how? Because you're in the majority?

      "In no religious or political tradition is the forceful opposition of tyranny considered a sin or a crime."

      Yeah, governments don't like to bite the sociological hand that feeds considering that most have come from armed uprising in the first place, but you're wrong in terms of the Roman Catholic church mandating excommunication in the case of resistence to papal bulls. Nice rhetoric, though.

      "The liberals who founded America did so by violently opposing British tyranny"

      *cough* Native Americans *cough*

      I also have a problem with this depiction of 'British Tyranny' which does appear to be the revisionist line of history, particularly as it would have never become what it did without the help of our ancestral enemies, the French.

      "empathy towards who?"

      Empathy is not conditional and represents the ability to empathise or put yourself in the place of other people.

      "I, like Christ Jesus, will agitate for a change in this situation until my dying day."

      You should read the bible without the bits by Paul. Paul was the agitator (and a Roman citizen), whereas Jesus was more interested in people themselves. Incidentally, it's why Jesus' brother, James, was written out of the new testament. He was more a follower of the path of poverty while Paul was working on his Roman franchise. The parables were basically stories intended to make the world a better place by taking on the stories, so don't agitate, just help.

      "I hope it does not come to that, but if it will, I will not run from it."

      That's a fairly grandiose statement that doesn't have any basis in fact. For a start, you have a militant bearing which indicates that you have a viewpoint of the world 'as it should be', an idealism I share, but I'd never try to achieve it through the spilling of blood, because at the point where you start killing, you've lost any shred of humanity that gives you the ability to empathise.

      Incidentally, it's a damn site more brave to stand up for ideals unarmed. Most people forget this.

  • Pinko Commies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by turgid (580780) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:00AM (#10044768) Journal
    So how long before the Conservatives discover that lefties have "defective brains" and start genetically-engineering them out of the population? :-)
  • by Moridineas (213502) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:01AM (#10044771) Journal

    Reminds me of an episode I heard several months ago... Garrison Keillor was discussing his recent on-show conversion to become a Republican. (roughly paraphrased he said) "Back when I was a democrat and would say something political, I would get letters from Republicans telling me exactly how I was wrong and exactly what they thought of me. Now that I've switched parties, I now get 'hurt' letters from Democrats who are 'hurt' and 'saddened' by my new points of view. I can deal with 'hurt' letters!"

    (apologies for without a doubt mangling his hilarious speech)

  • by Louis Savain (65843) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:02AM (#10044787) Homepage
    So is this scientific "proof" that liberals tend to be more compassionate but also more cowardly?

    The amygdala than this. It is responsible for love, hate, fear (all sorts of phobias), tastes, etc... We must understand that we do not control our emotions, as much as we would like to think that we do. Intelligence and reason are always at the service of emotion. In other words, the amydala is the real boss of our brains.

    A "more active amygdala" can be good or bad or noth. It may mean that one is more compassionate or more hateful. It may mean that one is very creative or a complete nut. Artists, in general, have amore active amygdala. This probably is the reason that hollywood is liberal and artistically talented at the same time.
    • by Moridineas (213502) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:06AM (#10044861) Journal
      One thing I've never understood about neuro-sciences (and it is truthfully because of my ignorance) is how exactly do we determine causality in the brain?

      How do we know that emotional people don't have a more active amygdala because they don't control their emotions as much? How do we know that people who have a less active amygdala aren't simply controlling their emotions better?

      are chemical imbalances a sympton of depression, or a cause?

      it seems like a lot of brain stuff is chicken and egg like that, but this is probably a very stupid post :-p
  • by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:04AM (#10044819) Homepage Journal
    The red pill, or the blue pill?
  • Bullshit! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PatHMV (701344) <post@patrickmartin.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:06AM (#10044855) Homepage
    The article did NOT say anything close to what the poster says. Yes, it finds that emotional responses stem from the amygdala. Wow, nobody knew that before... Wikipedia on the amygdala [wikipedia.org]

    In fact, the article said:
    Consider this possibility: the scientists do an exhaustive survey and it turns out that liberal brains have, on average, more active amygdalas than conservative ones.
    In other words, the writers at the NYTimes have guessed that some study that might be conducted in the future might find a difference between the amygdala of Republicans and Democrats.

    Yes, the article says that the UCLA study found that the best predictor, in brain scans of volunteers, of the volunteer's political party was amygdala activity levels. But the NYTimes article says nothing about how strong a correlation there was, how many subjects were tested, whether a host of variables (such as socio-economic class, age, etc.) were accounted for. It could have a correlation of .51 and be the best predictor, but that wouldn't be a very strong correlation at all.

    This is how pseudo-science and junk statistics start. A year from now, liberals will be referring to this past study as having "proved" that conservatives are heartless, and conservatives will cite it for proving that liberals are cowards. Why is this worthy of discussion?
  • by Featureless (599963) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:08AM (#10044885) Journal
    ...is like internal medicine several hundred years ago. We have some things figured out, we know how to check the pulse and we've learned how to amputate, but we're also on the level of leeches, cauterization, and bloodletting. There are smart men advancing the field, and they are outnumbered by phrenologists, patent medicine salesmen and outright quacks.

    To pass this study off as if it can suggest conclusions, of any kind, about the way one kind of party member thinks versus another is exactly the kind of grandstanding, irresponsible and basically incoherent brain science I am sadly used to hearing about.

    We don't really understand the role of the amygdala in our consciousness - in fact, we don't understand consciousness even slightly. Even if we don't hear an apologetic revolution in a year or two stemming from one of the many competing theories about other parts of our brain anatomy that may be equally important to our "limbic system," the methodology of the study itself may easily be flawed, if for instance those operating the survey (interviewing and handlnig subjects) or the survey materials (questionaries, etc) caused subjects from one party to feel differently than the other during examinations...

    Were it not for the matte gloss of UCLA science, this article would be a much more obvious fit in the New York Post or the National Enquirer than the New York Times.
  • by jdavidb (449077) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:08AM (#10044887) Homepage Journal

    Look, being compassionate doesn't have to mean helping people through government programs. I think the defining difference is whether you believe you should run towards government as the first solution to a problem. Conservatives don't generally argue that the poor shouldn't be helped (okay, some wacko conservative commentators aside); they argue that government programs are hurting instead of helping and that private efforts might be more effective. That only makes them uncompassionate if you believe that government is the only way to help them.

  • Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blinder (153117) <blinder.dave@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:10AM (#10044926) Homepage Journal
    from my perspective, I'm going to have to call bullshit on this.

    i, started out a radical liberal. But then, as I got older, smarter and grew up, I discovered the simple undeniable fact... that liberalism (in the form of its formalized political ideology of Socialism) does not work, and removes freedom... and those other nasty things like being completely opposed to human nature (the nature to progress, to have incentives to do better)... Socialism removes these incentives.

    So, this concept is total bullshit.

    Oh yeah, I'm conservative, but I am more compassionate than most liberals. The DIFFERENCE IS I DON'T NEED FUCKING GOVERNMENT TO TELL ME TO BE COMPASSIONATE!

    That's the difference -- liberals want to be absolved of their own responsibility to be compassionate and put that responsibility in the hands of a large powerful central government so they don't have to worry about it.

    • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by demachina (71715) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:30AM (#10046115)
      I hate to break it to you but you are falling in to the black and white trap everyone falls in to when they try to divide politics in to liberal and conservative. You seem to have lumped liberalism in with socialism and they are two different things. Most of the big governmentism that sprung out of the depression and FDR, which you rightly have problems with is much more socialism than liberalism. If you weren't politically naive you would realize politics is like the spokes in a wheel and not a turn signal.

      I'm kind of curious, when you claim the moniker "compassionate conservative" does that mean you are a fervent supporter of the other self proclaimed "compassionate conservative" George W. Bush? If so I have news for you, you should probably start calling yourself a libertarian than the travesty "conservate" is in the U.S. today.

      The "compassionate conservatives" who have a stranglehold on power at the moment are instituting "large powerful central government" faster than the "liberals" you hate ever did, though the Dem's are helping. They are doing the same injustice to "conservatism" that the Dems have done to "liberalism" over the years.

      Here is the short list of the most obvious examples of Republican backed "large powerful central government":

      - Patriot Act
      - Medicare "Reform" bill
      - Department of Homeland Security
      - Skyrocketing Federal budget and deficit
      - Skyrocketing defense spending
      - Preemptive warfare and nation building
      - Free speech zones which in fact prevent free speech
      - The rush to a National Intelligence Director is going to result in spying and law enforcement whose power to intrude in to your life is going to be unchecked and unstoppable. It is going result in an out of control spying agency like the CIA was in the 50's and 60's but with unfettered domestic spying powers. The Republican's are feigning reluctance but they are drooling at the prospect of creating it and of suckering the Dems in to being eager to do it too.
      - Detention of people without due process at the whim of the executive branch

      I hate to break it to you but what the Dems and Republicans are both practicing are different flavors of "socialism". The Republicans talk big talk about free markets but they are in fact intervening in the economy and civil liberties in truly massive ways.

      The medicare "reform" bill being the most obvious example of massive economic intervention. It has all the earmarks of classic Democratic socialism except they are instead using it as a thinly veiled disguise to pump large quantities of tax payer dollars in to the pockets of their friends in the pharmaceutical, healthcare and insurance industry. The Dems woudl have just pumped it in to a huge bureaucracy and the pockets of the poor and elderly.

      The defence industrial complex is in fact one of the largest planned economies on the face of the earth, the Republicans love every bit of it and can't pump money in to it fast enough.

      I hate to burst the bubble but the two offerings available in the U.S. today aren't true conservatism or liberalism. They are both Socialism, the democrats leaning towards classic socialism and the Republican's leaning more towards Fascism(substituting Muslims for Jews) every day.

  • Basically, my entire adult life, up into my 40s, I was conservative. I came from a quite conservative west texas ranching family. However, even though I have always been a very avid reader, I had not really been directly exposed to deliberately and overtly leftist writings until I got on the Internet in the mid 90s. And I really got into the Internet and computers once I was exposed to them (even picked up a second degree, a BS in Comp Sci).

    So for the last 8 years or so, I gradually became more and more exposed to direct contact with leftist thought--but only through the Net. I basically rejected leftism, however, but really out of habit. By 2001 or so, I still had not really taken the time to really delve into the deep background and rationale of leftism.

    However, my acceptance of radical life extensionism (cryonics, etc), and my acceptance of atheism made me ready to accept a radical change in worldview, I suspect.

    Also, the events of 9-11 and its aftermath, and the Iraq war and the media propaganda drive associated with it made me much more aware of just what was going on, with respect to media manipulation. I had come across the ideas of Noam Chomsky in about 1989, but had rejected them--although I had been exposed to them only second hand, through an establishment filter.

    These prior events set me up for a move to leftism. THat, and my research into a possible move to another country. I quit my W-2 job last year and went contract. And when contract work died down, I had time to do even more research.

    By late last year, I was a confirmed leftist. And I will never look back.

    THere is an old saying that a husband will not leave a wife unless he has someone else already waiting for him to make him a comfortable home. In other words, even if his current wife has some real problems, he will not take action unless he can walk right into a better situation.

    THe Net offers a leftist community, one that was not possible in meatspace USA, outside of certain locations. With a community of leftists ready to accept strayers from the establishment pack, I think more and more will go Left. Join us!

  • by ebcdic (39948) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:18AM (#10045044)
    To a Socialist in Europe, the main US parties are both conservative. (US right wingers will deny this, since they like to denounce the Democrats as socialist, but it's clear that the Democrats would never consider many policies supported by socialist parties in other countries.)

    So what happens when you do the same tests in countries with a real left? Are the results more extreme, or do they just map to a different range of political views?
    • by dajak (662256) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:54AM (#10045618)
      The really shocking news is we now have scientific proof that the US/UK two-party democracy is the only right system for mankind.

      More refined distinctions between schools of thought in the multi-party systems in continental Europe are unnecessary and confusing to our brains.

      We don't need environmentalists, socialists, communists, social democrats, social liberals, social christians, conservative liberals, christian conservatives, constitutional christians, conservative nationalists, national socialists etc. Just "blue" and "red" will do fine. There is no such thing as a "green" brain, and nazis do not exist. They are just "blue" and "red". Or vice versa.
  • by danro (544913) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:20AM (#10045080) Homepage
    So is this scientific "proof" that liberals tend to be more compassionate but also more cowardly?
    Disclaimer: Ok, this is going to be a rant, so if you're not in the mood for one, please skip to the next comment.

    Still with me?
    Ok, here goes...

    Why is it seen as courageous to support war (any war, as US republicans often do) when all you risk is, at most, a slight tax increase. You don't even have to get your fat ass out of your comfy chair! Just order some flags and stickers over the internet (got to "Support The Troops") and watch the fireworks on FOX!
    Pay someone to fight and die somewhere far away, destroying someone elses country in the process.

    This is not bravery, it's lack of moral and responsibility.

    The US should reinstituted the draft ASAP.
    If the common voter had a real possibility of having to directly bear the burden of the decisions of the leaders (like the entire population of $INVADED_COUNTRY will) in the event of war, maybe we wouldn't see any cases of going to war on faulty intelligence?

    Ask yourselves: How many "brave" conservatives would support a war if it was going to be fought in their hometown?
  • Fear != Courage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nick Arnett (39349) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:22AM (#10045108) Homepage
    Feeling more fear doesn't mean that you're cowardly. In fact, if you feel no fear, it's impossible to be courageous, since courage is the overcoming of fear.

    The person who is afraid and acts anyway is the courageous one. What's the old saying?

    Nick
  • by Linus Sixpack (709619) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:23AM (#10045116) Journal
    Every time I hear Americans choose between the far right wing and the even further right wing I shudder.

    Illegal detainments in Iraq and Cuba.

    Vast expansion of secret police powers via "Patriot Act".

    World's biggest Military budget (thats a guess) and a military commander chosen in hail of controversy.

    If any of the above scares you, and you are American, break the two party system that makes it too easy to buy your government.

    Think twice when you are sold something by a fear mongering right winger (of either party).

    LS
    • by TilJ (7607) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:16AM (#10045912) Homepage
      The US definitely has the largest military budget, by a massive stretch. See the first link from google I found [truthandpolitics.org] as an example.

      What other military, or coalition of militaries, represents a threat to a military that size? Who are the Americans thinking they need to defend themselves from?

      When folks from other countries say that both parties in the US are right-wing, this is what they mean. A portion of those dollars are what could have been their education and health systems, still leaving them with a military equal to any possible coalition of forces.
  • by wayward_son (146338) on Monday August 23, 2004 @10:39AM (#10045396)
    I would say that temperment determines political affilitation more than anything.

    In the old Kiersey temperment sorter, there are four traits that determine temperment, (Extrovert/Introvert, Sense/Intuition, Thinker/Feeler, Percieving/Judging). Our political parties divide mostly along the Thinker/Feeler line. conservatives are the "thinkers", liberals are the "feelers".

    Don't believe me? The best evidence of this is the types of insults one side hurls at the other. Traditionally, conservatives have called liberals foolish, softies, bleeding-hearts, etc. while liberals have called conservatives mean, insensitive, cruel, etc.

    Also look at the ways each side tries to win over people. Conservatives tend to use logical arguments. (Note: An argument can be logical and still be utter nonsense. I am making no statement as to the validity of their arguments.) Liberals tend to use emotional appeals.

    • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:02AM (#10045714)
      I completely agree. President bush for example is quite the thinker. And if you have been lucky to hear his speaches -- well they are nothing but irrefutable logic.

      And you are right that conservatives use more logical arguments. To prove this I will sum up every single argument conservatives have used in the past four years:

      "how dare you question the president, you must hate America"

      You see there is nothing emotional about this. It is all pure logic.

  • by Jason_says (677478) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:01AM (#10045709)
    I think being a christian is the most important factor in whether or not your are a conservative or liberal. As an atheist I find it nearly imposible to accept the ideology of the conservative movement. Take abortion, gay marriage, sex education, social programs for the poor, women's rights(although pretty much resolved), even some wars(damn satanist Muslims are trying to destroy our christian values), "family" values, and the evironment. A lot of these issues comes down to whether you belive in god or not to which ideology you choose(conservative or libral).

    Oh well thats just what I think


    P.S. when did "family" values start to mean "christian" values?

    • by hambonewilkins (739531) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:23AM (#10046020)
      Many true "Christians" are Liberals/Democrats. They follow the good image of Jesus(love thy neighbor) not the freaky old testament stuff.

      This isn't as simple as believing in God or not, as many democrats are religious (opposed to what you might hear on TV).

    • by danheskett (178529) <danheskett@NoSPAm.gmail.com> on Monday August 23, 2004 @01:07PM (#10047320)
      There are many, many, many conservatives for whom religion plays no part.

      One problem is that the american conservative party has been ransacked by a fairly strong but very minority stake of fundamentalist evangelical Christians. That's okay, they can join whatever party they like. And it's okay for their voice to be heard.

      But there are many, many, many conservatives who agree with the large part of the platform without subscribing to the religious reasons fellow party-members tout.

      For example. There is a large libertarian contingent who believes that abortion (especially late term/near term) is a violation of the unborn persons right to life. The reasoning is that the government has a duty to protect the innocent and weak: if you call the cops because two big armed intruders are bearing down on you it is the responsibility of the government to rescue you (or try). Likewise for the unborn.

      Another example. There is a large libertarian contingent who belives that marriage is a civil institution that does not deserve legal recognition, let alone expansion to include non-traditional relationships.

      Another example. There exisits a large libertarian contingent that believes that for the most part the government is incompetent. The same red-tape strangled pencil pushers who have caused my paperwork to be lost a dozen times has no business moralizing to my children regarding sexual practices and mores. Yes, they have a responsibility to explain the biology (the plubming, so to speak), but not the associated social values.

      P.S. when did "family" values start to mean "christian" values?
      Family values has almost always meant "judeo-christian" values. The notions that you should respect your wedding vows, not lie, not covet your neighbors possesions, not curse people, not treat others poorly, that children should respect their parents, and so on go back to the founding of this country. The ideas behind the "ten commandments" are really a big part of the social foundation of the country. The "family values" kick is a recognition that if everyone were to follow the non-religious ten-commandments things would be a lot more civil in this country.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:04AM (#10045736)
    I think of Republicans as blue-bloods and Democrats as leftist reds.

    A couple elections ago TV networks started using the opposite convention in their maps and the colors stuck. Now people use these map colors as a metaphore for national sentiment.
  • by drgonzo59 (747139) on Monday August 23, 2004 @11:29AM (#10046112)
    I think that most people [except the ones on /. of course ;-] don't decide on their political affiliation using their reason, analyzing the agenda of each political party with thier pros and cons, they make a moral or emotial judgement anyway. In other words it is more moral issues like abortion, stem cell research that poeple will pay attention too rather than budget planning or tax cuts.
  • by hung_himself (774451) on Monday August 23, 2004 @02:57PM (#10048823)
    The sheer subjectiveness of both the classification and evaluation methods in a non-double blind study put this on the level of a pub debate rather than science. Note that the "research" has not been completed and has not been reviewed and published by a journal. Not that the pseudo-science matters, it is obvious that the reason the story was picked up was to stir up the old right versus left debate (as evidenced in the posts here)

    However, I fear that the fact that so many people just assumed the science is true because it was convenient to believe, reflects the recent and scary trend of promoting or supressing "scientific facts" depending on how they fit into one's belief system. The classic example was Lysenko in the Soviet Union who demolished Soviet genetics due to the promotion of "nurture" type Lamarckian inheritance in concordance with communist beliefs. Harmless enough, until millions die from crop failures - at least in some small part due to choosing the wrong strains of wheat. Simularly, while red vs blue brains may be fun to believe - remember that electroshock, lobotomies, split-brain "therapies" still exist largely because of an uncritical public. Or to paraphrase Douglas Adams - it's OK to think that white is black - until a car hits you at a zebra crossing..

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