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Liberals & Conservatives Have Different Brains

by Merl Moore (MerlMoore@mail.com)

Thanks to some very interesting research we are getting closer and closer to understanding what “makes us tick.” I’m talking specifically about why someone is either a conservative or a liberal. As it turns out, conservatives’s and liberals’s brains are actually different. Who knew? 


The part of the brain that registers fear is more active in conservatives (i.e.: the right amygdala: “The right...is associated with negative emotion. It plays a role in the expression of fear and in the processing of fear-inducing stimuli.”) and the part responsible for taking in new information and making choices based on that new information (the anterior cingulate gyrus) is more active in liberals (https://youtu.be/kI-un8rHP14 Liberal vs. Conservative: A Neuroscientific Analysis with Gail Saltz).


You could put it this way: according to science, Conservatives are afraid of new things and progress and Liberals are always looking forward to new things and progress. Whether these physical differences in the brain are products of our genes or our up-bringing (i.e.: nature vs. nurture) is currently unknown, perhaps it’s a little of both, but the actual physical conditions themselves are entirely observable and measurable (https://youtu.be/UeBkX7zJKBM ).


Which brings us to FOX News. While it goes without saying that a huge percentage of the FOX News audience is clearly stupid as a bag of rocks that doesn't explain why some who believe the lies FOX News constantly spews (http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/tv/fox/ ) clearly are not. The answer, put most simply: If you play to people's pre-existing hates, fears, prejudices and religious beliefs they will believe just about whatever you say no matter how demonstrably untrue the claim. This is why and how the Republican Party is successful.


(NOTE: It's important to acknowledge that the average FOX News viewer skews 10-years older than the average CNN viewer; i.e.: it’s hard not to be at least a little afraid when you know your body can no longer do what it once could. As you get older you can't help but fear at least a little about sustaining a debilitating injury. Hell! I’m only 58 and I’m already feeling it.)


To be Conservative literally means to “conserve” the status quo and fight progress in all it's forms because if you're a rich, white male things are pretty darn nice just as they are (no s--t, right?). But that begs a question: Why would a poor white woman (and poor white people in general) vote to keep things as they are? They’re not benefitting a great deal from the system as it is. When you’re living in a rundown mobile-home in Appalachia “white privilege” ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.


Well, how about this for an answer: Because FOX News constantly tells that poor white woman in that rundown mobile-home (and a similar verison to poor white people in general) that if she votes for that other party and there's any change in America (i.e.: progress) a black man is going to rape her (fear), marry her daughter (prejudice), kill her son (hate) and outlaw Christmas (religious beliefs) and I see right-wing memes (especially on Facebook) all the time trying to peddle this nonsense.


And this is the real crime committed by FOX News. They endlessly play to the worst aspects of human nature (i.e.: fear, prejudice, hate, etc.), and it's damn effective (always has been) but it’s like they’re pushing heroine. Sure, everybody feels really good at first, but when you find yourself blowing some guy in the alley behind the bar just to get enough money for your next fix, you might wish you hadn’t gone the heroine route in the first place (by the way: that’s not a story from personal experience so quit with the giggling). The point is, FOX News are fear/prejudice/hate-pushers and like most pushers, they’re not good for the country or anybody other than themselves. 


The good news is that research suggests that people can be cured of their addition to fear/prejudice/hate! According to a recent study from Yale, if people are made to feel secure their “Better Angels” come to hold sway over their thinking processes; in fact, they become as Liberal as any Liberal is Liberal (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2017/11/22/at-yale-we-conducted-an-experiment-to-turn-conservatives-into-liberals-the-results-say-a-lot-about-our-political-divisions/?utm_term=.e357d230da2b). When you’re not afraid you stop fear/prejudice/hate from running your life and become a better person. 


So, while fear is driving the conservative rank-and-file, what's truly most important to rich Conservative oligarches is keeping the financial-structure the way it is or even, if at all possible, making it ever more lop-sided in favor of the rich. "Income disparity/inequality" - the amount of money/capital/property the poor, working-class and middle-class have (90% of the population) vs. the amount the rich have (1%) - is greater in the U.S.A. today than it's been since just before The Great Depression struck (and we all know how that worked out for everybody). Seriously. Even Republican's are starting to address it (don't worry, rich-white-guys, they're not addressing it effectively in any way and certainly won't any time soon; see: “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”; https://waysandmeans.house.gov/taxreform/).


Follow the money. The ultra-conservative Koch Brothers didn't put almost a billion of their dollars into the 2016 elections to force Macy's clerks to all say, “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays,” and if that's what you believe they did it for and believe in what FOX News is telling you than you have to ask yourself if you're more the first (i.e.: stupid as a bag of rocks) or the second (i.e.: a chicken-sh-t effectively being played for a sucker) and neither are anything to be proud of.