Showing posts with label science. Show all posts
Showing posts with label science. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The Republican Brain Part Nine: Are Conservatives From the Amygdala?

The last time we looked inside Chris Mooney's insightful and amazing book, The Republican Brain (and I realized it's been far too long...*lowers head sheepishly*), we looked at some of the possible issues with his overriding theory. We poked holes in it and wondered if the science really held up. It did.

The next chapter is the fourth and final part of the "Nature" section of Mooney's book and is titled, "Are Conservatives From The Amygdala?" The short answer is yes, they are. The simple fact is that conservatives have a larger right amygdala and liberals have more gray matter located in their anterior cingulated cortex (ACC). What does this mean? It means that conservatives allow the amygdala, which plays a key role in our emotional responses to threats and stimuli that evokes fear, to drive their reasoning. Liberals' reasoning, however, is driven by ACC which has been shown to detect mistakes and errors, leading one to make a corrective response. This is also known as "conflict monitoring.

All of this was confirmed by multiple studies, beginning with an MRI study of 90 University College of London Students in 2011. A University of Nebraska-Lincoln study from the same year showed that conservatives had a more pronounced startle reflex. Another "political brain scan" study was conducted by Darren Schreiber of the University of California-San Diego in 2010. This study showed that political conservatives have much higher activity in the amygdala when perceived risks are thrown at them.

So, as Mooney notes on page 114, "All in all, that's a fair bit of evidence connecting conservatism to the amygdala." In so many ways, this explains Donald Trump. For as much of a dumb ass as he is, he knows how to appeal to fear. And there is plenty of it physiologically located in the brains of conservatives. It's why they follow him no matter what he does. They are completely driven by emotion, not logic. Of course, you can tell this is true because of their strategy of attacking liberals for the very thing they do all the time (see also: trolling).

But what about the other side? The ACC? In 2007, John Jost, David Amodio, and several other NYU neuroscientists showed that liberals have far more active ACC's and are able to weed out faulty information. This would be why liberals can't watch Fox News for more than a few minutes without cringing. They quickly recognize faulty information because of their increased gray matter in their ACC.

Since Mooney's book was published, there have been multiple studies along these same lines. Here's a study from 2016 that illustrates how conservatives are all about negative emotions. Here's another study (from 2014) that shows that single stimulus data can reliably classify liberals from conservatives. Dr. Hibbing has even created a political physiology lab at Nebraska.

Now that we know that political ideology is inherently explained by physiological differences, what next? Is there anything we can do to counter the negative effects of what conservatives are naturally experiencing? Yes. Towards the end of the chapter, Mooney notes that children's politics are set in motion at a very early age. This is where the nurture part comes in and that's where Mooney is going in his next section, Enter The "Environment": Turning Against Change.

*Please click on the tag "The Republican Brain" if you want to review my previous summaries. 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Monday, February 06, 2017

The Unchained Goddess

I love old science films. It's probably because when I was a kid in the 1970s they still showed these films in class. They actually showed them on 16mm projectors and it wasn't until the 1980s when they started showing stuff on 3/4 inch videotape.

This film, from Bell Labs, is stunning considering that it shows how long we have known about the devastating effects of climate change.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Climate Cognitive Dissonance

As Chris Mooney has pointed out many, many times, nothing will likely get through.

On the off chance that it might, here's that link again for those of you that have requested the handy list of denier arguments and how to bury them with the peer reviewed science.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Burning CO2

Audi is experimenting with "e-diesel" made from a combination of carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and water. Very cool! I've never had the desire to own an Audi but if this makes it to market, I may just have to pick one up.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Scientific Consensus On Guns

In addition to their being a scientific consensus on climate change, there is also one on guns.

So, for example, one survey asked whether having a gun in the home increased the risk of suicide. An overwhelming share of the 150 people who responded, 84%, said yes.

I also found widespread confidence that a gun in the home increases the risk that a woman living in the home will be a victim of homicide (72% agree, 11% disagree) and that a gun in the home makes it a more dangerous place to be (64%) rather than a safer place (5%). There is consensus that guns are not used in self-defense far more often than they are used in crime (73% vs. 8%) and that the change to more permissive gun carrying laws has not reduced crime rates (62% vs. 9%). Finally, there is consensus that strong gun laws reduce homicide (71% vs. 12%).


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Mentality of the Climate Denier

Does this guy even understand fundamental concepts of science?

I thought we were done with this shit 500 years ago with Copernicus. Ah well....

Thursday, December 11, 2014

You Are Not A Scientist

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Good News Round Up

Most of the news that is heavily reported these days is bad news. There are number of reasons for this but the main one is that bad news sells better. I think this is complete bullshit and, quite frankly,  a cop out by the media. They could decided tomorrow to focus on all of the progress in the world (like the Christian Science Monitor did) and people just might feel better about the future. In fact, they could evolve away from anger, hate, and fear into much more reasonable beings. I haven't talked about good news on here in a while but starting today, it's going to become a more regular feature here at Markadelphia.

First up, we have this story about the Earth's ozone layer.

The ozone layer that shields the earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays is showing early signs of thickening after years of depletion, a UN study says. The ozone hole that appears annually over Antarctica has also stopped growing bigger every year. The report says it will take a decade before the hole starts to shrink. Scientists say the recovery is entirely due to political determination to phase out the man-made CFC gases destroying ozone. The study was published by researchers from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). "International action on the ozone layer is a major environmental success story... This should encourage us to display the same level of urgency and unity to tackle the even greater challenge of tackling climate change," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Very good news on a problem that has been around all of my life.

Next we have this report on US child wellness and education which concluded there have been gradual and incremental improvements in the lives of American children. Child-wellness indicators in four main areas – economic well-being, education, health, and family and community – reflected an overall increase in the well-being of America’s youths.

Areas of improvement included the drop in teen births per 1,000 (from 40 to 29) and a decrease in the number of children without health insurance (from 10 percent to 7 percent). All four education trouble spots addressed in the study – children not attending preschool, fourth-graders not proficient in reading, fourth-graders not proficient in math, and high school students not graduating on time – dipped at least slightly, between 2 and 8 percent. All health issues improved as well, with fewer low-birth-weight babies, fewer child and teen deaths, and fewer teenagers abusing drugs and alcohol. The CDC also confirms some of these improvements.

Very cool!

Finally, we have news from the United Nations that Rwanda and Ethiopia have the fastest growing economies in Africa. This is especially amazing when you consider that, historically, the names of each of these countries meant violence, death, famine, and literally, a boiling pit of sewage! Each country has provided better access to health care, diversified their economies, and reduced child mortality by nearly 30%.

Look for good news like this every week at Markadelphia!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Navy Comes Through

Our government does more good things than people want to give them credit for which gets pretty frustrating for me. Here's a great example:

US Navy Cracks New Renewable Energy Technology To Turn Seawater Into Fuel, Allowing Ships To Stay At Sea Longer.

The development of a liquid hydrocarbon fuel could one day relieve the military’s dependence on oil-based fuels and is being heralded as a “game changer” because it could allow military ships to develop their own fuel and stay operational 100 percent of the time, rather than having to refuel at sea. The new fuel is initially expected to cost around $3 to $6 per gallon, according to the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, which has already flown a model aircraft on it.


Consider that this same technology will be put out to the private sector at some point as well. That would completely change the face of energy on the planet. Countries like our own have access to abundant seawater which means we would be a powerhouse. Juxtapose that with out ability to innovate and that second American century is looking crystal clear.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Smoking Gun From The Big Bang

I'm feeling extra science-y today so I simply must point out the recent news about the Big Bang Theory. 

Reaching back across 13.8 billion years to the first sliver of cosmic time with telescopes at the South Pole, a team of astronomers led by John M. Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics detected ripples in the fabric of space-time — so-called gravitational waves — the signature of a universe being wrenched violently apart when it was roughly a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second old. They are the long-sought smoking-gun evidence of inflation, proof, Dr. Kovac and his colleagues say, that Dr. Guth was correct.

Congratulations to Dr. Guth for achieving his life's work!

Eat As Many Cheeseburgers As You Want?

The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe it or not and now that this study is out, I'm waiting for the health nuts of the world to blow a massive bowel.

The new research, published on Monday in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, did not find that people who ate higher levels of saturated fat had more heart disease than those who ate less. Nor did it find less disease in those eating higher amounts of unsaturated fat, including monounsaturated fat like olive oil or polyunsaturated fat like corn oil. “My take on this would be that it’s not saturated fat that we should worry about” in our diets, said Dr. Rajiv Chowdhury, the lead author of the new study and a cardiovascular epidemiologist in the department of public health and primary care at Cambridge University.

It's never been one particular ingredient but several of them combined with each person's unique genetic code. Honestly, it's this code that really dictates what sort of illnesses and longevity we will have.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spokesman For Science

Great piece in the Times about how Alan Alda is working to improve the way scientists communicate with us ordinary folk. Why?

That scientists often don’t speak to the rest of us the way they would if we were standing there full of curiosity. They sometimes spray information at us without making that contact that I think is crucial. If a scientist doesn’t have someone next to them, drawing them out, they can easily go into lecture mode. There can be a lot of insider’s jargon. If they can’t make clear what their work involves, the public will resist advances. They won’t fund science. How are scientists going to get money from policy makers, if our leaders and legislators can’t understand what they do? I heard from one member of Congress that at a meeting with scientists, the members were passing notes to one another: “Do you know what this guy is saying?” “No, do you?” 

Agreed and exactly why we have the problem we do with climate change.

Of course, that's why I think more scientists should run for Congress! 

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Robots Saved Steeltown

Politico has an absolutely fascinating piece in their magazine about how robotics literally saved the economy of Pittsburgh. In many ways, it's rebirth should be the model for how our economy should be transformed to fit the age of globalization.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Humans Are Dangerous!

Great short film on what our planet might look like from an alien species point of view. Perhaps this is why they have not made contact:)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Happens When We Die?

An answer to to this question would change the course of human history. For the believers of many religions, the soul moves on to the next life. For non-believers, death is the end and there is nothing else. Issue #307 of Fortean Times (one of my two favorite magazines, the other being the Christian Science Monitor) has a piece on page 16 that discusses exactly what happens after we die. The part that jumped out at me was this.

If all brain activity has ceased, where and how are the memories recalled by surviving cardiac patients being laid down? This was the point aptly raised by Dr Shushant Meshram, a neurophysiologist and sleep researcher from India who was speaking at the conference on precognition in dreams. His own suggested hypothesis is that our brains contain a non-physical component, which is involved with both NDE and other psi experiences. Certainly, there is much scope for further research here. 

A non-physical component found through research? Think of it...scientific evidence of the soul. Consider for a moment the rapid and exponential rate at which technology is exploding into the world. Given that new understandings are coming more quickly these days, I think we are indeed going to get a more scientific explanation for the human soul.

And our lives are going to change forever.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Kingdom of God

With Nobel prize given to Francois Englert and Peter Higgs for their work in subatomic particles, it seems we are moving closer to the goal that Christ made for us. We are indeed doing his works and greater than these. God's children understand more fully what mechanism gives subatomic particles their mass....amazing...

On many levels, this is a completely stunning thing to consider. Obviously, they have research and mysteries about the particle to unravel (how gravity fits in, for example) but the basic understanding is now there. We know what holds together the atoms that are a part of all matter in the universe. This includes everything from the stars all the way down to us. 

This discovery brings new meaning to Luke 17: 21 in which Christ says that the kingdom of God is in each one of us. Perhaps he was speaking more literally than we thought...