Science: Obama and GOP can never agree

Is it even possible for the liberals and the conservatives to agree on anything, much less the budget?  If you believe the science snow will fall in South Africa before it happens.  Several studies, conducted in the last decade, with a London study most recently point to a physiological difference that makes agreement between the two groups less than likely.

The following article is reproduced from The Ticket and sent to us by citizen journalist Angelo Alvado:

President Obama and House Republicans may have narrowly averted a government shutdown last weekend, but as the two sides prepare to engage in another round of intra-party feuding over budget proposals, a new study suggests that basic brain science might stand in the way of bipartisanship.

Using data from MRI scans, researchers at the University College London found that self-described liberals have a larger anterior cingulate cortex–a gray matter of the brain associated with understanding complexity. Meanwhile, self-described conservatives are more likely to have a larger amygdala, an almond-shaped area that is associated with fear and anxiety.

“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” lead researcher Ryota Kanai writes of the study in the latest issue of Current Biology. “Our study now links personality traits with specific brain structure.”

Observers will notice a familiar name on the report: Oscar-winning actor Colin Firth, who commissioned the report while serving as a guest host of the BBC Radio 4’s Today program in London last year. (Neurological sources of stammering don’t come into play.)

The study, which was conducted with the help of 90 young adult volunteers, comes on the heels of other research that linked political beliefs to genetic differences between liberals and conservatives. Last year, a joint study by the Harvard and the University of California, San Diego, found there might actually be a so-called “liberal gene” that influences political leanings.

While the London study does find distinct differences between Democrats and Republicans, its authors caution that more research needs to be done on the subject. One unknown is whether people are simply born with their political beliefs or if our brains adjust to life experiences–which is a possibility, Kanai writes.

“It’s very unlikely that actual political orientation is directly encoded in these brain regions,” he said in a statement accompanying the study. “More work is needed to determine how these brain structures mediate the formation of political attitude.”

So what do you think?  Do you think this study makes sense based on those conservatives or liberals you know, or on what you have read or heard about them?  Let us know in the comments.

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Posted by on April 12, 2011. Filed under Commentary,Political,Science. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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4 Responses to Science: Obama and GOP can never agree

  1. Risa

    April 12, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I think, if anything, the differences reported in the article point to liberals having a better chance at thinking for themselves. I’ll use myself as an example…

    Growing up, I was a Democrat because my mother was a Democrat. As I grew older and started paying attention to politics, my views shifted a bit. Today, I describe myself as pretty much central to most political issues. I believe in the right to defend myself against intruders, but I also believe in a woman’s right to choose. I believe we spend too much on “entitlement” programs (I hate that word!) but I also believe that we let the rich get away with financial murder.

    My point is, I have a brain and I use critical thinking to make decisions about where I stand on the issues. I don’t think many conservatives can say the same.

  2. John Myste

    April 12, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I remember a while back a conservative friend sent me a link to an article written by a conservative (I think) talking about the liberal gene. In this article, the conservative was the bright one and the liberal was stupid.

    The title of the email he sent was something like this:

    You’re not stupid, after all. It’s Genetic.

    I think the major problem keeping conservatives and liberals so far apart is confirmation bias. The phenomenon is more rampant than we realize, by far, and we are incapable of defending ourselves against it because see everyone else as its primary victims, not ourselves.

    I just expressed this in a comment on another site:

    I think evidence is completely useless in determining the truth in political matters. Apologists on both sides determine their opinion well in advance of any data to support it.

    If I find three conservatives who have an opinion on the same issue, I can tell you why all three of them think as they do by simply looking up Bill O’Reilly’s opinion on the matter. “If I know their sect, I anticipate their argument.”

    The absolute shame of it all is that the exact same thing is true of liberals.

    Everyone is manipulated by their philosophical faiths. Once a side is chosen, it would seem objectivity is impossible. The power of confirmation bias is extreme. People hear the term and know of it, but they do not realize that any reasoning ability they have is used to prove something they believe, and is not used in search of truth.

    Humans are about as intellectually free as a cucumber.

    • Holte Ender

      April 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

      It’s pretty hard to think critically about everything that crosses our path, generally we are guided by our experiences and previous thoughts. You almost have to “not think” to get a new spark in your head. The most entrenched and predictable people are the hard left/right. They are almost bosom buddies in many ways, they say we are being screwed by Obama and the Federal government, they both want change (different change though), they both shout from the rooftops their disgust, they both think they are 100% right, neither likes to be disagreed with, if you do you are a “communist” or a “fascist”. Uncanny similarities, different brains.

  3. Four Dinners

    April 12, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Politicians are invariably corrupt.

    In fact, the moment anybody expresses an interest in entering politics they should be immediately banned from doing so.