Politics and the Brain

Couverture de la seule traduction de: Neurolog...
Couverture de la seule traduction de: Neurologique, de Timothy Leary (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A fellow blogger I follow, conservative judging from her posts, recently posted this reference:

Red brain, blue brain: Republicans & Democrats Process Risk Differently

“A team of political scientists and neuroscientists has shown that liberals and conservatives use different parts of the brain when they make risky decisions, and these regions can be used to predict which political party a person prefers.”

I gave my usual wise-crack response: “I didn’t think a Democrat’s brain would show any activity at all.”

Another commenter noted the researchers’ attempt to imply party affiliation may alter brain activity when actually it may be the reverse. He says: “Can’t you just hear the liberal elitists using this to claim that conservatism is a sickness?”

I pursued inquiry a bit further.

The referenced article is http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130213173131.htm

“…a researcher in neuropolitics…” You must be kidding. There is actually something called neuropolitics? It sounds like pseudo-science. A Google search does find quite a list (not all these links work well, mind the Back button), the first page yielding such momentous items as:



The Theory of Upper Class Psychology The Money-Empathy Continuum by Charles Brack Does money make people mean, or do mean people make more

Neuropolitics — University of Minnesota Press

A surprising exploration of connections between culture, neuroscience, and our experience of time.



This site is dedicated to the fusion of Marxist Politics with recent developments in Neuroscience.

Even LSD provocateur par excellence Dr. Timothy Leary is present:


NEUROPOLITICS by Dr. Timothy Leary The Sociobiology of Human

File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat
file:///C|/Documents%20and%20Settings/All%20Users/Documents/Books%… 20Culture/Timothy%20Leary/Leary,%20Timothy%20-%20Neuropolitics.txt

(…though literate minds such as Lewis Lapham also admit to taking LSD in controlled laboratory conditions before it became the darling of late-1960s youth and non-intelligensia. Alms for Oblivion: by Lewis H. Lapham)

If the term neuropolitics doesn’t put you off what about “this new analysis of 82 people”.

EIGHTY-TWO. Why so MANY? Surely this will extrapolate accurately to the American voting population of more than 100 million. (NOT.)

One might think that these were the same scientific pollsters that learned election scholars and conservatives Dick Morris and Karl Rove used to wholeheartedly assure us that Romney would win last November, but no, look at what the original research publication tells us (http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0052970):

“Participant groups were composed of 60 Democrats and 22 Republicans who differed with regard to age (F(1,81) = 8.591, p = .004; Democratic mean age = 22.12 (SD 6.84); Republican mean age = 28.09 (SD 11.35) (age was therefore entered as a covariate in subsequent analyses to control for any confounding effects), but did not differ in regard to gender (Democrats: 36 females and 24 males; Republicans: 11 females and 11 males; χ2 = 2.036, p = 0.154.).”

If my math is at least half as good as there’s then not only was the sampling microscopic (82 people) but 73.17% of the sample (60/82) were Democrat.

I rest my case and shall explore no further. I’m continually amazed that people are paid, I presume, to perform and publish studies such as this. I did manage to exer-cycle at a modest pace for more than 60 minutes while I researched, wrote, and published this post. I trust my time was no more wasted than that of the study’s researchers but I suspect I fared the worse.

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