Well That Makes Sense

Wasn't long ago that Chris Mooney was getting all sorts of plaudits and accolades for his book The Republican War on Science. But nobody ever talks about science's war on politics -- till now. Researchers hooked political partisans up to M.R.I machines in order to measure brain activity when engaging heavily slanted quotes. The surprise? Politics makes you into a blithering, primordial, idiot.

"Everything we know about cognition suggests that, when faced with a contradiction, we use the rational regions of our brain to think about it, but that was not the case here," said Dr. Drew Westen, a psychologist at Emory and lead author of the study

The study took 30 dudes, half of them Kerry supporters and half Bush backers, and fed them quotes of the president pledging undying fealty to Enron's Ken Lay and Kerry arguing Social Security should be totally overhauled. Then, the subjects got quotes of both men reversing their positions. The clips were doctored to make them maximally irritating to all listeners, and as they straddled both sides of single issues, Republicans and Democrats should've felt at least occasionally offended.

But a funny thing happened on the way to higher cognition: the subjects let their favored candidates off the hook while castigating the figure they already disliked. Action was recorded in the cingulate, the brain region regulating forgiveness, as well as the area registering negative emotions. The territory supposedly inhabited by the guardians of "cold reasoning" was, apparently, closed for business. In addition to making up a grand unified theory of politics this also explains how blogs work. As Tim F. wrote, "we're all just rats pushing the morphine lever." Ready for another hit?

Finally, a Grand unified Theory of Politics [Balloon Juice]

A Shocker: partisan Thought is Unconscious [New York Times]

Administration's New FISA Defense Factually False [Glenn Greenwald]


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