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Politics Science

Is "Left" Vs. "Right" Hard-coded Into Your Brain? 758

New submitter kyjellyfish writes "Research published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that your parents 'Left or 'Right' party affiliations are not the only factor at work shaping a person's political identity. Differences in opinion between 'Lefties' and 'Righties' may reflect specific physiological processes. In research performed over 10 years ago, brain scans showed that London cab drivers' gray matter grew larger to help them store a mental map of the city." From the article: "Other scans have shown that brain regions associated with risk and uncertainty, such as the fear-processing amygdala, differ in structure in liberals and conservatives. And different architecture means different behavior. Liberals tend to seek out novelty and uncertainty, while conservatives exhibit strong changes in attitude to threatening situations. The former are more willing to accept risk, while the latter tends to have more intense physical reactions to threatening stimuli."
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Is "Left" Vs. "Right" Hard-coded Into Your Brain?

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  • Reversed in America? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by readin ( 838620 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:23AM (#42941733)
    So how does this work in a traditionally free country like America, where conservatives favor freedom of the individual, with its inherent risk that an individual might fail, while the liberals want the government to guarantee the health safety and happiness of every human being and remove all risk from life?

    Perhaps it is explained that what the conservatives fear is not risk, but loss of control. American conservatives are afraid to place their fates into the hands of the elected experts on human happiness.
  • by readin ( 838620 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:34AM (#42941795)
    I have to admit that a big part of my connservatism comes from fear. I was bullied a lot as a kid. And it wasn't unsual for the bullying to be multiple people against me. Now that I'm an adult, I don't want to be bullied anymore, by anyone. And I especially don't want to be placed in a posiition where I have no recourse against the unreasonable demands of others that are backed up by violence.

    The biggest threat I see in this regard is the government. I mean, I need a minimal level of government to enforce the law that says no one else can use force against me. But if the government does just that, then I can just walk away from anyone else who wants to harass me. Microsoft can push a lousy OS, but I don't have to buy it. NBC, CBS, and ABC can produce hours and hours of lousy reality TV programming, but I don't have to watch.

    Only the government remains as being able to come to where I live or work, tell me what to do, and use force to back it up. If there is some question about whether what I did is ok, then at best I get a trial where the same poor social skills and poor persuasion skills that made me a victim in school are likely to make me a victim of a lawyer and a jury.

    Perhaps one might argue that because we live in a democracy, the laws will be just and good and I shouldn't mind following them. That's true if the laws are minimal. But if the laws are numerous and easily made, they are likely to be based on the whims of the public and whatever mood their in. Part of the reason I didn't fit in at school is that I like different things. Chances are that I won't have the same tastes and passions as the majority of voters. And did I mention my poor persuasive skills? I won't be the one who is able to get a majority of voters to see things my way.

    I want a government that will protect my rights and the rights of those around me, and do very little beyond that because whenever the government does more, my freedom to be different diminishes, and the freedom to be different is the very core of all freedoms.
  • by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:36AM (#42941811)

    So how does this work in a traditionally free country like America...

    Please stop. You're suggesting that the brains from one country are somehow different from that of another country. If we change 'country' out for 'race', it should be painfully obvious what the problem here is.

    American conservatives are afraid to place their fates into the hands of the elected experts on human happiness.

    You really shouldn't comment on the complex political landscape of another country whose citizens you apparently have little regular contact with. It makes you look like an idiot. No, "american" conservatives are just like "british" conservatives which are just like "african" conservatives, which are just like every conservative. Ever. The definition of conservativism doesn't change because of the country you're in. Perhaps its expression does, but the study here isn't about expression, but reaction. In that, conservatives broadly and as an aggregate group, are simply risk-averse. And because of how the human mind operates, an unknown risk is almost always subjectively larger in a person's mind than a known one. This is why we spent trillions of dollars combatting terrorism (an unknown risk) while both retrospectively and at the time, it could have easily been shown that a known risk (drunk driving) costs far more lives.

    To extrapolate from a specific behavior (risk aversion) a complete political ideology is... at best... dubious.

  • by Osgeld ( 1900440 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:48AM (#42941893)

    see thats a weird crossover, conservatives want you to take individual risk, but tell you exactly what you can and cant do, liberals on the other hand want you to live your live as free as possible, as long as the government oversees each aspect of it

    so, do you want a bunch of GOD fearin, Jesus lovin, gun totin, conservatives telling you how to live your life, or do you want big brother, oppressive, if your not a victim your the problem liberals telling you how to live your life?

    I want them to both fuck off

  • by readin ( 838620 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:49AM (#42941895)
    Well, at least the way I hear it used on the news, American conservatives are very different from Chinese and Russian conservatives. American, Chinese, and Russian conservatives do have something in common - they want to preserve the status quo or even revert in some ways to how things were before. But "how things were before" is very different depending on the country. For an American conservative, the desire is to return to a time of less government intrusion in people's lives. For Chinese and Russian conservatives the desire is to return to a time of much greater government intrusion into people's lives.

    Islamic conservatives provide another example of "conservative" that is very different from an American conservative (and actually pretty different from an American liberal too). Although I suppose if you really look at some of the societies the Islamic conservatives are actually very conservative because they are attempting to change (or have recently changed) their countries to be very different from what they were before. For example, women in Iran and Egypt used to walk around with their heads uncovered, now the so-called "conservatives" have forced them to start covering their hair or face harassment.

    An American conservatives my be similar to a British conservative - I don't follow British politics much so I can't say for sure, but an American conservatives is very different from many conservatives throughout the world.
  • by maz2331 ( 1104901 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @01:56AM (#42941949)

    That's why I am basically a libertarian in outlook. I don't want help from the public, and really kind of resent being made to support people who should be doing for themselves. I'm fine with some programs to help the old, sick, or infirm... but demmit get off your ass and do something if you can.

    And I say this after being unemployed, living hand-to-mouth, and refusing to take benefits.

    Life can suck, get a fucking helmet and get to work! And after the hard times comes good times!

  • by onemorechip ( 816444 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @02:07AM (#42942027)

    1. I've never called for censorship. I do like people to act civilly, but in any kind of public forum that can't be enforced, it's just a wish.
    2. I'm not so much pro-gun control as I am opposed to letting one organization have such a powerful pull on what laws get made that we can't even expect our lawmakers to engage in a legitimate discourse on the topic.
    3. I have no idea what you are talking about.
    4. Seriously, I have no idea what you are talking about.

    Maybe you need to talk to some real liberals instead of listening to stereotypes of them on TV.

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @02:26AM (#42942107)

    From the article Not by Twins Alone: Using the Extended Family Design to Investigate Genetic Influence on Political Beliefs [wiley.com]

    Variance components estimates of political and social attitudes suggest a substantial level of genetic influence, but the results have been challenged because they rely on data from twins only. In this analysis, we include responses from parents and nontwin full siblings of twins, account for measurement error by using a panel design, and estimate genetic and environmental variance by maximum-likelihood structural equation modeling. By doing so, we address the central concerns of critics, including that the twin-only design offers no verification of either the equal environments or random mating assumptions. Moving beyond the twin-only design leads to the conclusion that for most political and social attitudes, genetic influences account for an even greater proportion of individual differences than reported by studies using more limited data and more elementary estimation techniques. These findings make it increasingly difficult to deny that—however indirectly—genetics plays a role in the formation of political and social attitudes.

    The article can be found here [].

    This is complex indeed.

  • Fixed it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @03:20AM (#42942323) Journal

    You clearly wouldn't know "extreme left" if it bit you in the butt. What passes for "left" in the USA is the extreme right most everywhere else.

    For instance, the Dutch VVD is the closest we get to you democrats, they are a RIGHT wing party. Left wing is the SP and they are socialists. Real socialists. In France there still are communist parties AND they have quite recently been part of governments (Miterand, I think was the last).

    The Republicans are in EU terms, extreme right and with that I mean one step away from goose stepping.

    A thing to remember is that for instance the French LOVE big government, to them it means the system is working. Which it more or less is. The Germans KNOW what to much freedom can lead to, they know that some censorship is a price to pay for being the most evil country on the face of the earth, starting WW3 would not be appreciated by the world and so they ban certain books and parties. And it works so well that when they copied from the BBC the idea of Germany's greatest German they were so not worried about their citizens they excluded Hitler from the nominees... who could ONLY be included in the first place because they allowed Austrians in the list of greatest Germans... some people never learn.

    The US was founded by people who LEFT the rest of the world because they didn't agree with the local systems. The rest of the world is populated by those who didn't find the local system objectionable enough to leave. This is a major issue with migration, it is rarely an entire balanced population that moves but rather a subset of a "normal" balanced population.

    A clear example of this is/was Australia. They got more men then women because more men then women emigrated to find their fortune. Could it be that if a migration stream mostly consisted of say puritans fleeing from a country where they were not free to prosecute would influence they new home land and make it different from their old land because the "rest" is missing?

    Mind you, that could lead to some nasty thoughts... what happens to a group of people who were picked for their properties as slaves... what if the only people to migrate are the poor who couldn't make a success in their old country? A population build up of fortune seekers?

    Nasty... but if you are willing to entertain the thought that migration populations are subsets of a "normal" population, then some issues can be explained quite easily (why the US is so puritan and gun loving for instance.)

    Mind you, a co-worker from Chili was forced to go through a course teaching him about Holland... in the book it told him that in Holland family is not as important as in other countries... right... I know several people who live in the same street as their parents and their grandparents are only a few minutes away. My co-workers LEFT his family on another CONTINENT and in 4 years had visited them ONCE!

    To who does family then matter more? THINK before you answer. In CHILI family might matter more BUT not to THIS particular Chilian person who didn't MIND not seeing his family for years!

    An emigrant/immigrants is a SPECIAL person DIFFERENT from all others in his home land because he LEFT IT BEHIND!

    The US is made out of emigrants and slaves and tiny amount of natives. The EU is made of natives and a tiny amount of immigrants (really right wingers, it is less then 5% and that is counting everyone whose grandfather wasn't born in the same EU country).

    It explains a lot, if you are willing to think.

  • by madprof ( 4723 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @03:22AM (#42942329)

    What is so extreme about San Francisco then? I ask out of ignorance, not challenging you.

  • Re:Fixed it (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IgnitusBoyone ( 840214 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @03:30AM (#42942345)

    It is foolish to assume that he left because family wasn't important. It is equally likely in this Senior that he left home to make better opportunities for the family that was so important. Proximity != importance.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @04:20AM (#42942495)

    With regards to 3. Where are the charities buying guns for the poor in gang infested areas? I mean someone honestly believes that the solution to rampant crime is more guns then why the hell aren't they doing anything to implement the solution?

  • by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @05:20AM (#42942707) Homepage

    It's not that SF is really all that extreme, it's that its politics are so far left that the place is run like a circus.

    Special interest groups run the city.
    They make ill-informed 'green' decisions which have drastic negative reprecussions for the city, resulting in 3rd world like conditions (see: their sanitary system - google 'why does san francisco always smell like shit')
    They do asinine things to the flow of traffic and eliminate parking spots to 'penalize' people for driving, such as removing lanes and parking spaces. Net result: everyone suffers, and driving in the city just becomes more difficult.
    Public transit, the liberal dream, is only given lip service, in so far as it serves the city to milk it for funding and claim they've got a good public transit system. (NYC MTA puts these chumps to shame.)
    They 'patch' roadways with steel, not even diamond pattern steel. They do this in San Francisco, one of the dirtiest, grimiest cities in the US. Want to guess what happens to that steel when it rains?
    I got modded down, significantly, for the GP post. Why? Because they didn't like what I had to say, not that there was anything actually factual with what I said.
    Where a city like NYC would have built a dozen bridges and/or tunnels to deal with traffic demand, San Francisco does.... nothing. Or rather, they shut down an existing bridge so they can widen it.
    San Francisco is a "one party" city. (Hopefully I don't have to explain why a single party environment is bad for accountability; the expected corruption from such an environment is quite evident.)
    The city doesn't really need a reason to raise taxes. They just do, and you better hope you aren't an actual property owner or you'll likely be hurt by it.
    SF area people are more in favor of illegal immigrants than they are people from "flyover country". Racial and cultural ad hominem will abound for the people who they disagree with - their fellow countrymen.
    They elected Nancy Pelosi. Multiple times. This is the woman who has abused federal coffers excessively (eg. demanding Air Force planes to fly her around and frequently back/forth to SF from DC). Her voting record aside, she's one of the 'entitled' members of Congress who think they're better than the rest, and act accordingly.
    The populace takes pride in hedonistic displays as a whole, with multiple city-wide festivals per year.
    I've never visited or worked anywhere in the US where people seem so incredibly lazy.
    Pick a view, any view, and hold it: it's valid, accepted, and celebrated, as long as it's not traditional Christianity or a conservative American lifestyle.
    Whereas in somewhere like NYC, you can have some guy tell you to go fuck yourself and then pick up a conversation with the person 5 minutes later in a line about the weather, in San Francisco someone's liable to throw paint on you for wearing the wrong style or generally be confrontational and hostile for no apparent reason. Even the homeless/beggars are obnoxious and in your face.

  • by daem0n1x ( 748565 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @06:03AM (#42942863)

    All this debate about left and right, conservatives and liberals is so fucking stupid. For example in Europe, Communist parties have a base of blue-collar workers. Those are very family-oriented and conservative, yet they are left-wing! Parties which call themselves Liberal are all for individual choices in lifestyle issues, but they are also all for the concentration of wealth, hence proudly right-wing. There's a liberal left and a conservative left, there's also a liberal right and a conservative right.

    Also, the notions of left and right, conservative and liberal vary wildly from one society to the other. From our point of view, both major parties in the US are right-wing. The Democratic Party compares to right-wing parties in my country. For the Republicans, we don't even have an equivalence, most of what they say sounds nuts to us.

    Oh and we have many parties with different tendencies. Here in Portugal, there are six parties in the Parliament.

  • by BasilBrush ( 643681 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:06AM (#42943087)

    As a small-"L" libertarian, I don't stick my hand into a fire because I "fear" it, but because there's a damned good reason not to. Likewise, being that government is like fire*, wanting to keep it small as possible while still accomplishing the minimum it must, and under strict limits, is equally not "fear".

    That's just you justifying your fear. That you compared it to fire - one of the most primeval of all fears - is very telling. Of course people that are fearful tend to think their own fears are justified, even when they're not.

    That it's a fear can be seen by examining what happens when libertarian feelings go to the extreme. They tend to hide out in the wilderness, surrounded by enough guns and ammunition to start a war. That's the extremity of fear, not rationality.

  • Re:Not likely... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by girlintraining ( 1395911 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @07:37AM (#42943169)

    The average american, and average slashdot poster is CLUELESS about politics.

    As opposed to the average citizen of any other country? Why is it necessary to hold the average american up to some special standard?

    Reality is the average american is too ignorant/stupid to have any kind of informed political view of america given the huge amount of propaganda that pervades their media and education system.

    Reality is... every first world country has a government with a bureaucratic process so dense as to blunt, if not entirely dissipate, any creative process for change. You say they're ignorant and stupid, but that's an ignorant and stupid attitude. The truth is, most people aren't interested in politics because its emotionally painful if one becomes overly-involved. That's not an unintelligent response to a hopelessly and needlessly complex system designed specifically to be resistant to intelligent and thoughtful discourse.

    You simply picked the one with the largest military and economy in the world to shit on, for no other reason than because you want to pull it down for your own emotional gratification. How you managed to get this to be labelled "+5 insightful" is simply saying that a great many people also have such emotional needs... but having offered no proof or objective analysis, "insightful" is not the word I would use to describe your reaction. But then, there is no "+5, I Agree Because I Have Emotional Needs That Depend On Crapping On Others" option.

  • by foniksonik ( 573572 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @09:57AM (#42943899) Homepage Journal

    So. I grew up shooting guns for sport. Arrows too actually. Small gauge as I was a child. It was fun. We'd shot targets and cans off fences and shoot squirrels out of our Pecan trees and rabbits and gophers and birds. Later I went deer and boar hunting with larger gauge and duck hunting. Never once needed a sem-automatic weapon and my grandfather and father (both ex military) never felt the need to own high powered rifles of this sort.

    I can recall watching documentaries about people hunting and shooting in the 90s and before and never saw high powered rifles with clips. Those were military weapons for killing people since the only reason you might need to shoot more than a few rounds was if your target was shooting back. They only showed up in action flicks and usually in the hands of the bad guys who bought them from some South African arms dealer or the like.

    When did that change? When did America become a place where people needed to have an semi-automatic rifle to 'defend' themselves against other Americans? Could it be that the availability of such weapons for sale to civilians created an arms race? Criminals got them easily so regular people needed them too? Maybe their very existence on the market made it so you just couldn't know who had one and might turn on you.

    It's a sorry place to be when you feel so unsafe in your home that a simple handgun isn't enough protection. It's embarrassing that the idea of sport shooting is to guarantee a kill by taking as many shots as you like from your rifle. That's like the kid who wants 10 do overs to make a free throw or needs an extra down to get to the end zone (its pathetic and reserved for 'special kids' so they can feel good about themselves).

    At the end of the day it has to be a complete lack of confidence in yourself and your country that makes you want to own these kinds of guns. Either you need a clip full of "do over" bullets because you need to feel good about your lack of shooting skill or you need to stock up on weapons to protect yourself from the boogeyman because you don't believe in the local, state and federal law enforcement to keep your property and life safe. I get the last one. However by making high powered auto rifles legal and available at all you make it nearly impossible for them to do their job. You shouldn't need more than a handgun at most to protect against a similarly armed bad guy.

    Regardless of whether they are responsible for a majority of killing or not there just isn't a defensible reason for civilian owned auto style rifles. Get them off the streets and out of homes. Rent them at a shooting range or hunting preserve, fine. As long as they are counted and stiff penalties are in place for missing and unreported losses. Their absence will reduce the need for SWAT teams in every inner city, reduce the need for snipers in our civilian police force, reduce the cost to keep streets safe (by not requiring police to be ready for these weapons on every shots fired call). Having possession of one should be a crime unless you are turning it in or have a shooting range license (maybe that's how rural land owners can get a blanket license).

  • Re:Idiot (Score:3, Interesting)

    by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday February 19, 2013 @12:13PM (#42945365) Homepage Journal

    Too much freedom for hate speech in Germany led to the Nazi party coming into power (and then abolishing nearly all freedom).

    Anyone who says "too much freedom" causes evil is part of the problem. Try cracking a history book. The Nazi party came to power because Germany had social and economic problems and the people decided to let the government "fix" it.

Truth is free, but information costs.