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Republicans Have Bad Brains?
Pseudo-scientific studies “find” that conservatives are close-minded by nature.

Chris Mooney, author of The Republican Brain

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Jonah Goldberg

‘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.

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Author Chris Mooney compiles much of this research for his new book The Republican Brain, which purports to show that conservatives are, literally by nature, more closed-minded and resistant to change and facts. His evidence includes the fact that conservatives are less likely to buy into global warming, allegedly proving they are not only “anti-science” but innately anti-fact, as well. “Politicized wrongness today,” he writes, “is clustered among Republicans, conservatives, and especially Tea Partiers.”

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 University of California, Los Angeles and New York University and published in Nature Neuroscience. Subjects were asked to spot the letters M or W on a screen for a fraction of a second. It turns out that self-described liberals did somewhat better on the test than the conservatives.

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,” NYU says.



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