Jewish World Review May 3, 2012/ 11 Iyar, 5772
Republicans have bad brains?
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "They do that because they were born that way."
If you say that about homosexuals, you are tolerant and realistic. If you say it about blacks, you are racist (unless you're black yourself). If you say it about women, you may or may not be sexist, depending on who is manning (er, womanning) the feminist battle stations. If you say it about men, you just might be a writer for Esquire. But if you say it about conservatives, you're a scientist.
Over the past decade, a new fad has taken hold among academics and liberal journalists: call it the new science of conservative phrenology. No, it doesn't actually involve using calipers to determine intelligence based on the size and shape of people's heads. The measuring devices are better -- MRIs and gene sequencers -- but the conclusions are worse. The gist is this: Conservatives and liberals don't just have different world views or ideas, they have different brains; the right and left are just hard-wired to think differently.
That's an entirely understandable view for Mooney to hold. He's a soaked-to-the-bone liberal partisan. But he crosses the line into pseudoscientific hogwash by trying to explain every political disagreement as a symptom of bad brains. For instance, Mooney claims Republicans have trouble processing reality because Republicans think "ObamaCare" will raise the deficit. No really, stop laughing.
Of course, Mooney believes he's simply going where the science leads. Consider that one of the more famous studies was conducted by liberal researchers at
What does that mean? Well, according to the researchers, it means: "Liberals are more responsive to informational complexity, ambiguity and novelty." Liberals are also "more likely than are conservatives to respond to cues signaling the need to change habitual responses,"
Translation: Conservatives literally aren't smart enough to be spell-checkers at an M&M factory because they won't be able to understand quickly enough that the occasional W is just an upside down M.
The data might be correct, but as with Mooney, the conclusions are beyond absurd.
Huh? The test didn't measure "informational complexity." It measured informational simplicity. As Slate's science columnist
Now it's probably true that, on average, there are subtle differences between conservatives and liberals when it comes to cognition. But you don't have to be "anti-science" to see how the scientists are wildly overreaching from the data. Indeed, there's a huge definitional problem. Conservatives resist growth of the state, but that's not the same thing as resisting change. After all, capitalism is among the most powerful agents of change in human history, and conservatives are the ones defending it. Meanwhile, liberals are downright reactionary about preserving the Great Society and New Deal.
A famous study asserts that communist revolutionaries Joseph Stalin and
Mooney, who recently explained in a speech that he has given up on the Enlightenment view that we're all open to reason, doesn't seem to realize where he's heading with this nonsense. Never mind that this approach is inherently undemocratic and opens the door to "genetic" explanations for everybody's political views -- blacks, women, gays, etc. -- it is also self-serving bigotry that allows liberals to justify their own closed-mindedness on the grounds that Republicans aren't even worth listening to. After all, they're just born that way.
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