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Diagnosing the Republican Brain


US Politics & Gov't  (tags: news, politics, media, republicans, government, elections, candidates, americans, usa )

Cal
- 911 days ago - motherjones.com
Fact: Conservatives deny science and facts. But there's a reality check that liberals need too.



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Comments

Deb L. (3)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 5:41 am
A brainiac, like his mother. What a waste .
 

John S. (304)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 8:58 am
Funny article but the truth of the matter is that we are all pretty dumb for letting them keep us divided along political lines when the problem is the system itself. Maybe both extremes indicate a psychological imbalance or flaw in the brain's reasoning centers.
 

David C. (29)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:49 am
You need to find one !st!
 

Daniel Partlow (189)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 11:00 am
Hmmmmmm?
 

pam w. (191)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 8:58 pm
"It's impossible for an encyclopedia to be neutral."

WHATTTTT?

I'll go punch a wall now.
 

Betsy Bee (1048)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:16 pm
The Republican what?
 

Penny C. (17)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:32 pm
everyone knows democrats and republicans are sheep who have fallen victim to the false left right paradigm and just continue to spout rhetoric drivel like zombies.
 

Jennifer C. (172)
Sunday April 1, 2012, 9:42 pm
Noted. Thanks.
 

Norm C. (74)
Monday April 2, 2012, 1:09 am
It is on full display in the comments here on a story claiming the Justice Elena Kagan supports sharia law, especially as half of the posters are possibly right-wing imposters (remember the expose that right-wingers were/are creating phony identities and among other things one person is claiming to be several).

Trying to debate a mind as tightly wrapped and closed down as a brick wall is an exercise in futility.
 

Stephen Brian (23)
Monday April 2, 2012, 1:34 am
I took a look at Conservapedia's stuff about relativity and I came pretty close to cracking up. Nobody here will mistake me for politically opposed to conservatives in general (though feedback from a recent study I took told me I was classified as culturally moderately liberal), but Conservapedia was just ridiculous. Oddly, the silliness was not consistent: Its article on quantum mechanics is not so bad.

I should probably point out, however, that one of the primary mistakes made in Conservapedia's article about relativity is not limited to conservatives. Conservapedia claims that relativity is a weak theory because it depends upon assumptions which can never be demonstrated by experiment. What it, and and a lot of other texts supported across the political spectrum, ignore is that evidence is gathered for a theory by the failure of experiments which, if it is wrong, would be expected to demonstrate that to do so. Another error is actually made in the article which criticizes it: They both draw conclusions well beyond what is supported by the data upon which they base them by ignoring alternative explanations of the data. The "counterexamples to Relativity" do this repeatedly, and so does one of sources used by the article in its analysis of conservatives' responses to the ASR's questionnaire. Here is the questionnaire:
http://www.asanet.org/images/journals/docs/pdf/asr/Apr12ASRFeature.pdf
It asked about respondents' trust in a list of organizations which conduct scientific study. There has been extensive discussion on the political stage of a loss of trust in groups related to climate-science on the grounds of flawed analyses, failure to account for uncertainties, misconduct in peer-review and handling of publication, and ignoring alternatives to support pet theories. For example, there is a common claim that coral reef-damage is evidence of global warming which comes from a refusal to explore other plausible causes like an epidemic: http://www.cosmosmagazine.com/news/5473/coral-reefs-have-herpes
Essentially, there is reason to believe that the loss of trust comes from a breakdown of the study's assumed connection between trust in empirical methods of science and trust in the scientific community and not from a loss of trust in science. Ironically, this is yet another example of the same failure of scientists which broke conservatives' faith in the scientific community in the first place. The article parrots these flawed conclusions and bases substantial arguments upon them.

On the social science-end, the problems are a little more obvious: We don't have a single working model in the social sciences. Not one has a reliable model which retains its predictive power over a known range of parameters which includes the range in which societies currently function. Without that, we cannot eliminate alternative explanations of data. For example, I had a long discussion here once, with David C., about an anti-correlation between government-spending and economic growth: I claimed that the government, through borrowing and taxes, removed wealth from the economically productive private economy and put it into the less economically productive public sector and David claimed that the increased spending was in social programs for which more people qualified due to worsening conditions. Searching for time-delays one way or the other did not strengthen the anti-correlation very much so neither of us could prove the other wrong using the White House's public data. In psychology, I just looked at the three full research-articles in the latest issue of Psychological Science: In the first, they could not possibly have supported one of their conclusions using their methodology (as it fails to account for field-specific idiosyncrasies in problem-solving for which the psychologists, not being experts in every field, could not have accounted), The second finds that group-work leads to group-think through overconfidence, using only a university research-pool as test-subjects (may have culture-specific results), The third also fails to account for possible cultural differences in its finding that suppression of compassionate makes people feel bad. I could go on, but you get the picture.

At the bottom of the first page, we reach the funny part: The "decrease" in health-costs due to Obamacare was due to counting only 6 years of implementation and 10 years of funding devoted to it. Counting both over the same time-period, it actually costs roughly what it was reported to save. Here we have the author of the article doing exactly what he claims conservatives do when presented with facts. Then he hits another error in his claim that same-sex parenting is not bad for kids: I suspect he's right, that there is no problem at all, but there is so little data on the matter that he should not just dismiss concerns about it as rejection of science.

By the time he goes on to the Iraq War, after all previous errors, I just don't trust his numbers anymore. I want to see the studies and the questions asked myself. Did they ask whether respondents believed Saddam was involved in the 9-11 attacks, or in terrorism in general (which he was, providing "life-insurance" for families of suicide-bombers)? Economics: Cutting taxes encourages investment, driving job-growth and cutting entitlement-program expenses, leaving more government-revenue available while increasing the tax-base and producing revenue like that. I have run the numbers and assuming a linear correlation, no, it does not lead to more total revenue immediately, but over time encouraging growth of the tax-base really does help increase available government-funds. (Of course, that also requires spending-cuts as borrowing also removes money from the economy.) The incandescent light-bulbs: Yes, in 2007 Congress passed a bill phasing in changes in efficiency-standards which will effectively ban the production of incandescent bulbs as that branch of technology mostly cannot meet the new requirements.

Then he goes on with "But why? ..." Today's liberals, lie the author of the article, usually believe themselves to be right because they don't listen to anything, like the very common arguments above about long-term effects of tax-cuts, which contradicts their beliefs. Conservatives are mostly guilty of the same.
 

Elle B. (82)
Monday April 2, 2012, 2:06 am
Thank-you for the post Cal. Deeply sad.

"Conservatism requires liberalism for its meaning [for] without the enemy [of liberalism] to serve as nemesis and model, conservative politics would lack its organizing principle." ― Sidney Blumenthal, Washington Post

John Wesley Dean, III, White House Counsel to U.S. Pres. Richard Nixon 7/1970 -4/1973:

1. "Authoritarianism is not well understood and seldom discussed in the context of American government and politics, yet it now constitutes the prevailing thinking and behavior among conservatives."

2. "Empirical studies reveal that authoritarians are frequently enemies of freedom, antidemocratic, anti-equality, highly prejudiced, mean-spirited, power hungry, Machiavellian, and amoral. They are also often conservatives without conscience."

3. "Today's conservatives - especially social conservatives, as opposed to intellectuals and the more thoughtful politicians - define themselves by what they oppose, which is anything and everything they perceive to be liberal. That category includes everyone from Democrats to anyone with whom they disagree, and can, therefore, automatically be labeled a liberal."

4. "Antipathy to liberalism has been present from the outset of the conservative movement but it only became a powerful unifying influence in the early 1980s."

“Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Our 'neoconservatives' are neither new nor conservative, but old as Babylon and evil as Hell.” ― Edward Abbey

“Republicans approve of the American farmer, but they are willing to help him go broke. They stand four-square for the American home--but not for housing. They are strong for labor--but they are stronger for restricting labor's rights. They favor minimum wage--the smaller the minimum wage the better. They endorse educational opportunity for all--but they won't spend money for teachers or for schools. They think modern medical care and hospitals are fine--for people who can afford them. They consider electrical power a great blessing--but only when the private power companies get their rake-off. They think American standard of living is a fine thing--so long as it doesn't spread to all the people. And they admire of Government of the United States so much that they would like to buy it.” ―U.S. Pres. Harry S. Truman


 

Elle B. (82)
Monday April 2, 2012, 2:19 am
"The superior person understands rightness; the inferior person understands profit." — Confucius

"Today in America, unions have a secure place in our industrial life. Only a handful of reactionaries harbor the ugly thought of breaking unions and depriving working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice. I have no use for those -- regardless of their political party -- who hold some vain and foolish dream of spinning the clock back to days when organized labor was huddled, almost as a hapless mass. Only a fool would try to deprive working men and women of the right to join the union of their choice." ― Dwight D. Eisenhower, U. S President, Republican

 

paul m. (93)
Monday April 2, 2012, 2:37 am

I afraid of a person/persons who has a brain and dosen't know how to use it ....!!
 

Sales J. (0)
Monday April 2, 2012, 5:08 am
interesting article
salesjobs
 

Carol H. (229)
Monday April 2, 2012, 10:19 am
noted, thank you Cal
 

Arielle S. (317)
Monday April 2, 2012, 11:06 am
They have brains??? Who knew?!!
 

Past Member (0)
Monday April 2, 2012, 12:43 pm
Norm is right. Care2 is probably a major target...

If you believe that aliens are of 3 different species, lets look at the lizard species. No vision, mean, acts on impulse only, eats anything, warmongers! , very low IQ....Proven to not possess the compassion gene. Fox heads only.....

Any questions? No. I hold no regard for any of them, Clinton included. They are selfish. Useless eaters.
 

Mike m. (9)
Monday April 2, 2012, 12:51 pm
My god, first former President Cheney has a heart (he does, he just never uses it)...now this? Seriously, though, I ran into this quote in a book I'm reading "The Korean War" by Max Hastings, which seems relevant in this political atmosphere. Writing (in regard to McCarthyism) "The political atmosphere in the Spring of 1950 was such that evidence and logic were often avoided." What was old has become new again, it seems.
 

DORIS L. (61)
Monday April 2, 2012, 12:58 pm
Republican is a disease, isn't it?
 

Mike and Janis B. (7)
Monday April 2, 2012, 2:17 pm
You mean they have one? Wow!
 

Marianne C. (160)
Monday April 2, 2012, 2:25 pm
It's funny when you read it, but the truth is that this scourge of fundamentalism and it's requisite ignorance, rejection of science, and rejection of medical reality has been creeping up on us for years. These people are determined not only to dumb themselves down, but to disseminate their dumbness so others can suffer under its delusions.

A flat Earth that is only 6,000 years old. The "well known fact" that women have one more rib than men do. The notion that since it has the potential to eventually develop into a baby, a fertilized egg is by default a baby already. God didn't intend for women to like sex, so he punished them with unwanted pregnancy. The benighted-ness seems so blatant it's almost comedic. But you have to remember that for every crazy hypothesis that nobody could possibly believe, there's somebody on the right who actually does.
 

Nelson Baker (0)
Monday April 2, 2012, 3:14 pm
Assuming the Republicans have a brain.
 

KS Goh (0)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 5:43 am
Thanks for the article.
 

Tom Rose (12)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 11:17 am
Wow! Almost unbelievable, but unfortunately not.
 

Dave C. (214)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 1:39 pm
I didn't know Repuglicons had brains....now its verified.
 

Dave C. (214)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 1:41 pm
since they are so anti-science, maybe they should stop accepting any medications from their doctors or even seeing doctors...since obviously all the science used to evaluate their efficacy and safety should be suspect.....
 

Lynn Squance (232)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 2:14 pm
A very long but interesting article Cal. I think that the crux for me came at the end when Mooney says: ". . .He's not arguing out of an openness to changing his mind. He's arguing to reaffirm what he already thinks (his "faith"), to defend the authorities he trusts, and to bolster the beliefs of his compatriots, his tribe, his team."
Conservatives and liberals have very different stated (or not) goals, and I am not talking about political agendas etc, the surface goals, but the fundamental, underlying goals. I remember on an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation, Mr Data was playing chess or another like game against an opponent who was considered unbeatable. Mr Data, being an android should have won against this human but he didn't. Perplexed by this, he analysed the situation and changed his goal. Where his goal had been to win, he changed it to play to the draw. His oppopnent lost all the marbles in the end because he was playing for a different reason --- to win.

I think understanding the underlying goals may be key to understanding the conservative mind and cast surface goals in a different light. It may give answers as to how best to "fight" the conservatives and win more often. The trouble is, the fixes needed are more immediate for the social good.

As a flaming liberal, like you I find it difficult to comprehend a mind that distorts truth and is willing to change outcomes to suit its own agenda. For example, those in the South predominately, who would rewrite history to say that slavery never happened in the US. Or more globally, holocaust deniers. We know for a fact from written accounts etc, and in the case of the holocaust, from video and victims, that these events did happen. But some are trying to rewrite history without them.



 

Shelly Peterson (213)
Tuesday April 3, 2012, 9:31 pm
#1=The 2012 repub/GOP mind set , is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers, whether they know it or not..same way Hitler came into power
#2=..I may need an extra-strength tylanol ...NOW...except I don't use drugs!!!.....($#!@$^^%$#@!!!)
 
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