11 September 2007

Progressives think differently

Not better, understand, just differently.

How could scientists possibly come up with that?

They sat people in front of computer screens that flashed Ms and Ws at test subjects — about four times as many Ms as Ws. Those being tested were supposed to tap a key when they saw Ms — but not when they saw a W.

(Obviously the test was somewhat biased against conservatives from the get go. Why did the testers choose 'W' to be the letter they shouldn't react to? What did the testers have against W? We all know the answer.)

The psychologists also put those Frankenstein wires to the testee's noggins — an electroencephalograph — to figure out which parts of the brain a testee was using in determining whether to choose to react and tap their key or not. Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives. These were, by the way, college kids who self described themselves as liberal or conservative. The testers didn't just put the call out and end up with a bunch of slower, older conservatives who made more mistakes.

It looks as though conservatives can't help it. They get stuck on one idea and throw out all factual evidence to the contrary. So: SUVs = good. Therefore no such thing as global warming... or: America = good. Therefore no such thing as torture, a bad invasion, etc.... or: Free market = good. Therefore no such thing as a sector it might not work in — like healthcare, just for instance.
Analyzing the data, Sulloway said liberals were 4.9 times as likely as conservatives to show activity in the brain circuits that deal with conflicts, and 2.2 times as likely to score in the top half of the distribution for accuracy.

Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a "flip-flopper" for changing his mind about the conflict.

Based on the results, he said, liberals could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.

"There is ample data from the history of science showing that social and political liberals indeed do tend to support major revolutions in science," said Sulloway, who has written about the history of science and has studied behavioral differences between conservatives and liberals.

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