For some reason, liberals feel a deep-seated need to state the obvious (to them): They are smarter (second item), and can handle subtlety, nuance and contradictory thoughts better than conservatives.To make their case, they have written numerous books and research papers on the topic, apparently not giving a thought to the millions of trees that were felled, and the resulting effect on global warming. But then, these are the same folks who were smart enough to invent “carbon offsets” (third item).
In the latest example, the Los Angeles Times reports the results of “a simple experiment” [good thing – maybe The Stiletto will be able to understand it] published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Neuroscience, in which scientists “exploring the neurobiology of politics” found that “liberals tolerate ambiguity and conflict better than conservatives” and that “political orientation is related to differences in how the brain processes information.”
In the experiment, college students whose self-described political views ranged from “very liberal” to “very conservative” were asked “to tap a keyboard when an M appeared on a computer monitor and to refrain from tapping when they saw a W.” The test was conducted twice – once with the M appearing four times more frequently than the W, and again with the reverse pattern:
Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M. …
Lead author David Amodio, an assistant professor of psychology at New York University, cautioned that the study looked at a narrow range of human behavior and that it would be a mistake to conclude that one political orientation was better. The tendency of conservatives to block distracting information could be a good thing depending on the situation, he said.
Political orientation, he noted, occurs along a spectrum, and positions on specific issues, such as taxes, are influenced by many factors, including education and wealth. Some liberals oppose higher taxes and some conservatives favor abortion rights.
The study author’s cautions notwithstanding, the Times managed to find no shortage of kibitzers who were all too happy to interpret the results as evidence of superior liberal brainpower:
The results show “there are two cognitive styles - a liberal style and a conservative style,” said UCLA neurologist Dr. Marco Iacoboni, who was not connected to the latest research. …
Frank J. Sulloway, a researcher at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Personality and Social Research who was not connected to the study, said the results “provided an elegant demonstration that individual differences on a conservative-liberal dimension are strongly related to brain activity.” …
Sulloway said the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry, the liberal Massachusetts Democrat who opposed Bush in the 2004 presidential race, as a “flip-flopper” for changing his mind about the conflict.
If Sulloway is so smart, how does he explain Mitt Romney’s flip-flopping? Or the “single-minded” opposition to the Iraq War demonstrated by Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama (second item)?