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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Study says: Democrats and Republicans are equally ignorant

Here's scientific proof of something that I've known for a few years now: Republicans and Democrats both are largely incapable of thinking for themselves. Here's the story from LiveScience:
Democrats and Republicans Both Adept at Ignoring Facts, Study Finds
By LiveScience Staff

posted: 24 January 2006
10:03 am ET

Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.

And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that's contrary to their point of view.

Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects' brains were monitored while they pondered.

The results were announced today.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."

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

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

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones..."

More at the link above.


Anonymous said...

It would be interesting to know just exactly what constituted "statements of fact" on the part of Kerry that the GOP partisans purportedly ignored.
It's difficult to judge the veracity of this technique without knowing the content of the test.

The absurdity of this study is that those who select the "facts" to be presented to the subject, are likely just as biased as the subjects themselves. Therefore, the subjects reaction could just as well be an emotional reaction to the lies and half truths being presented as "facts". I'll remain unimpressed, until I see the material they were given to read.

I'd like to see information on the population studied. And I'd like to know more about the questions that were asked.

The "facts" in this article are very vague -- but the conclusion (that both Republicans and Democrats base their political decisions on knee-jerk emotional reactions rather than logical thought) seems to go against the general trends which I have observed in my life.

The attempt to make some "moral equivalence" out of the belief in liberal brainwashing as "fact" opposed to what a conservative knows to be true from life experience and thoughtful pondering is very disturbing.
All this study does (again) is attempt to water down truth by "proving" belief in a lie is just as strong.

The difference is, most conservatives recognize, admit, and deal with their biases, whereas most liberals can't see their own bias, the simply see it as the stone cold truth. Just look at how biased most MSM are, and they actually believe they are not.

These "researchers" were just trying to bolster their belief that "extremes on either side are wrong" -- missing the point entirely that there may be some objective truth and factual absolutes in play.

Just because Einstein proved the visual world was relative, doesn't mean that the world of concepts or ideas is.

Chris Knight said...

Hate to say this dude, but you are skirting perilously close toward affirming EVERYTHING that this study points to.

In fact, I would dare say that your words here are reflecting EXACTLY what the researchers who did this study are reporting.