This is Your Brain on Fox

Those of us lefties (Left handed people that is) know that the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, so only left handed people are in their right minds.

But did you know that if you have an increased volume of the right amygdala of your brain you will more likely watch FOX News?

Ok I may be strectching it a bit, but bear with me on this one.

A study done at University College London was released in Current Biology on Thursday showing that there are brain differences between Liberals and Conservatives based on two distinct areas of the brain. (Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults)

90 individuals participated in the study and were queried on their liberal or conservative bent and then underwent MRI brain scans.

Those tagged as liberals were shown to have increased grey matter in the anterior cingulate cortex. (The part of the brain where cognitive functions such as empathy and emotions play a role.) In other words liberals by their very nature are more empathetic to others. (Conservatives refer to that as “bleeding heart”)

The conservatives in the study on the other hand had a larger right amygdala which is considered part of the limbic system and is where fear conditioning takes place.

Fear Conditioning.

Just dwell on that for a moment.

Fear Conditioning.

Our findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty,” the study said.

It could explain why certain people tune into Fox. Maybe they simply need to be afraid and xenophobic. People with a larger amygdala also tend toward more complex social networks. (Could also explain the need to join megachurches.) Just speculation on my part of course.

The study does not show cause and affect, only a correlation. But it could explain a few things and maybe liberals and conservatives may someday get along when they realize that we are all just wired a little differently. At the very least simply agree to disagree and get rid of lobbyist owned politicians together.

In the meantime, if we could only condition conservatives to fear poverty and theocratic control…


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About NoSacredCow

Irreverent atheist, skeptic, independent voter, social liberal, fiscal conservative, music lover, avid reader, engager in ruthless repartee, just an extra in somebody else's movie...
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16 Responses to This is Your Brain on Fox

  1. Pingback: Conservatives, What the Heck is Wrong With You? |

  2. Paradigm says:

    I think most politicians know this already. Conservative politicians play on fear and liberals will play on lack of fear – which translates to the optimism of Hope and Change.

    But is one wiring better than the other? Fear is good. It has probably saved your life more than once. The Darwin Awards always go to fearless optimists. And empathy is not always good. Releasing incurable psychopaths from prison because everyone deserves a second chance shows empathy, but when that guy rapes or kills again who is to blame? It’s all about the situation.

    • NoSacredCow says:

      Releasing incurable psychopaths from prison because everyone deserves a second chance shows empathy

      Fallacious argument #??

      It shows naivete and incredibly poor judgment, not empathy.

  3. Paradigm says:

    No, it shows empathy with the psychopath as well as poor judgement. I live in Sweden, one of the most liberal/empathic countries in the world. Until recently we had no high security prisons because it was considered too harsh. And there was no penalty whatsoever on breaking out of jail. And if you want an example from America you can read about a man called Jack Abbott.

    My point is that there is no way of thinking that can’t go wrong if you don’t consider the situation in question.

    • NoSacredCow says:

      Empathy belongs with the victim. As I said it is naivete otherwise. Not having security for violent offenders is just nuts. Personally I don’t see violent offenders as being “fixable”. The recidivism rate is high, even with intense parole supervision the rate is 41%, those with less structured supervision is about 51% and those that max-out their sentences and are released as time served is about 71%. I just consider them defective humans.

      Jack Abbott is a poor example. He originally went to prison for forgery prior to that he had a crimional history going back to his youth. He became violent in prison. He was only released because of his contacts with author Norman Mailer. This is more of an exception than anything and not really a valid example.

      Usually the liberals or “bleeding hearts” as referred to by conservatives usually work to get death row inmate sentences changed to life rather than the death penalty. (Personally I think the death penalty is kinder for violent criminals.) You don’t see a lot of people (even liberals) working to get violent offenders released back to society. You will however see liberals working for prison reform so that prisoners are not treated as animals.

      This country (US) locks up more of its citizens than even less “enlightened” human rights offenders like China. But a large part of that is due to the bogus drug war. It the conservatives that actually allow violent offenders to be released due to budgetary constraints. For example under Ronald Reagan (the demigod of the conservative set) large numbers of the mentally ill, including violent offenders, were released back into the streets as part of cost saving measures. However we’ll see that changing with privatization because there is no money to be made releasing prisoners.

      • Paradigm says:

        Empathy can belong to anyone but liberals tend to show more empathy with the criminal than conservatives do. That’s hardly controversial.

        Jack Abbott is a good example because he was celebrated by many elite liberals of that time. Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins even named their son after him. And that was after he had killed again. His ramblings were published by Random House and received good reviews in New York Times Book Review. Mailer started it, but many others we’re thinking just like him. Have you seen the movie “Monster” about Aileen Wournos? That’s another example.

        “You don’t see a lot of people (even liberals) working to get violent offenders released back to society. You will however see liberals working for prison reform so that prisoners are not treated as animals.”

        And I salute that – a proper situation to express empathy.

        Reagan was a politician and like most politicians he has no ideology. So he is not a good example of a conservative.

        As for the drug war, the best thing would be to legalize heavy drugs. It’s been done in Portugal with a good outcome. Teens there use less drugs than when it was illegal. It’s happening all over Europe – unfortunately not here in Sweden though.

      • NoSacredCow says:

        Sorry but you list two examples as if they are exemplary of a widespread trend. They weren’t. They are two very distinct examples of poor judgment. But not a widespread trend.
        Why would you throw Aileen Wournos out there? She was a wackadoodle serial killer who admitted her crimes and said she would do it again. There was no movement to free her just like there was no movement to free Jeffrey Dahmer or any of the others on this list http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_serial_killers_by_country

        We agree on the drug war. In America Reagan is the poster child for American conservatism.

  4. Paradigm says:

    Jack Abbott is not a disctinct example. There were many elite liberals behind him. Like I said he got a major publisher and good reviews in NYT. That doesn’t happen unless a lot of people sympathized with him. Why Wournos? Just watch the film and see for your self. There was no movement to free her or Dahmer because they never argued their case in that manner. And even then the film makes it look like Wournos wasn’t just a cold-blooded killer. Compare it to documentaries about her and you see the real psychopath as opposed to the Hollywood poor victim of circumstances.

    • NoSacredCow says:

      Abbott: One example does not a movement make. (Fallacious argument: Argument By Generalization)

      Wournos: It was a movie. Not a documentary. Seriously, there is a difference.

      • Paradigm says:

        It was an example of an attitude. Do you think Abbott could have duped conservatives in the same way?

        Yes, it was a movie – my point exactly. Liberal Hollywood portrait of Wournos is similar to how liberals in NY viewed Abbott. In the documentaries you can see her true face.

      • NoSacredCow says:

        Abbott: Actually yes conservatives are duped daily by the religious “right” as well as the phony hysteria often souped up by Fox news. Which brings us full circle to the blog post.

        Liberal hollywood portrait? That was really reaching to make a point. It was tweaked to make the character somewhat sympathetic. Otherwise no one would watch it. It happens quite often.

  5. Paradigm says:

    About Reagan, poster child yes, but that doesn’t make him a genuine conservative. Unless you believe politicians are what they say they are.

  6. Paradigm says:

    Sure conservatives are duped in other ways. That’s why I said : “My point is that there is no way of thinking that can’t go wrong if you don’t consider the situation in question.”

    But you seem to think Abbott was an isolated incident and that the Wournos movie was just a matter of satisfying the audience (which wasn’t necessary in the documentaries for some reason). So what is your point? That you can never go wrong with empathy, that liberals simply have better brains?

    I remember the crowds during Obama’s campaign – they were crying of joy and cheering him like a new Messias. That is gullible, overly optimistic liberal idiocy.

    All preferences are weaknesses because you don’t act like the situation requires but according to you preference. That’s not a matter of liberal or conservative it’s just human nature.

    • NoSacredCow says:

      “But you seem to think Abbott was an isolated incident”
      yes it is to an extent. Otherwise it woyuld be more widespread and would happen with every convicted prisoner. Abbott going back to your original mention was not a known psychopath. He was convicted of forgery. His violence appeared to have been the result of his incarceration which is what got the attention of Mailer as well as his book and Mailer’s need for causes.

      “that the Wournos movie was just a matter of satisfying the audience”
      You do know the difference between movies and documentaries don’t you?

      “I remember the crowds during Obama’s campaign – they were crying of joy and cheering him like a new Messias. That is gullible, overly optimistic liberal idiocy. ”
      Huh, you mean like the crowds at the tea party rallies? or the carefully orchestrated McCain and Palin rallies where people felt the need to openly carry or wear firearms? I’ve also seen the same behaviour at pentecostal church revivals and at evangelical megachurches (not a liberal crowd at at all.)

      “So what is your point? ” The point is you chose pretty weak examples.

      • Paradigm says:

        No it couldn’t happen with many prisoners because very few liberals have the clout the Mailer had. And Abbott had committed a bank robbery, murder as well as forgery. One of the tell tale signs of psychopathy is criminal versatilitiy. Another one is that they talk a lot and dramatize. This guy had psychopath written all over him. And then he killed again when he was released – because a waiter denied him access to the restroom so it was hardly the incarceration.

        “You do know the difference between movies and documentaries don’t you?”

        Yes that was why I wrote this earlier:

        “Yes, it was a movie – my point exactly. Liberal Hollywood portrait of Wournos is similar to how liberals in NY viewed Abbott. In the documentaries you can see her true face.”

        “Huh, you mean like the crowds at the tea party rallies? or the carefully orchestrated McCain and Palin rallies where people felt the need to openly carry or wear firearms? ”

        Yes, that’s why I wrote:

        “All preferences are weaknesses because you don’t act like the situation requires but according to you preference. That’s not a matter of liberal or conservative it’s just human nature.”

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