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Why Dick Cheney needs a hug (and a straitjacket)

SCIENCE, wingnuts

I have a theory about the cause of conservatism. This comes after growing up with my mother and father, living some small distance from Orange County, California, and eventually having to blog every day on politics. So the theory is surely worthless.

Still, the impetus to develop an explanation for the existence of right-wingers is understandable. They’re crazy. There must be a reason for this.

So I have a theory about it. And the heart of it is this idea: Conservatives are more born than made. They are strange by their nature. The organization of their brains determines their fundamental perspective on the world.

At first, this seems a crazy idea, even one crazy enough to be conservative itself. The brain is so complex, how can there be a single thing that determines so much of an individual’s personality? For anyone who’s familiar with extremist conservatives who demand political purity, right down to what the believers must eat, this is a fair question.

Well, here’s my answer: The right-wing brain’s fundamental perspective on the world is fear. It’s what informs all their attitudes and generates all their politics. It’s why otherwise sane people attack minority groups, obsess on weapons and the military, start wars both foreign and domestic and generally tear the country apart. It’s also why they are far more likely to commit high crimes and misdemeanors (cf: Nixon, Richard). Fear is a maddening disease.

So this is not surprising:

Using a large sample of related individuals, including twins, siblings, and parents and children, the researchers first assessed individuals for their propensity for fear using standardized clinically administered interviews. Looking at subjects who were related to one another, the researchers were able to identify influences such as environment and personal experience and found that some individuals also possessed a genetic propensity for a higher level of baseline fear. Such individuals are more prepared to experience fear in general at lower levels of threat or provocation . .

The research indicates a strong correlation between social fear and anti-immigration, pro-segregation attitudes. While those individuals with higher levels of social fear exhibited the strongest negative out-group attitudes, even the lowest amount of social phobia was related to substantially less positive out-group attitudes.

By using siblings and twins, Rose McDermott et. al. found a genetic component for social fear. And found a correlation between fear and antipathy toward outlier groups. Immigrants and foreigners.

“It’s not that conservative people are more fearful, it’s that fearful people are more conservative. People who are scared of novelty, uncertainty, people they don’t know, and things they don’t understand, are more supportive of policies that provide them with a sense of surety and security,” McDermott said.

You can see how this obsession with “surety and security” devolves into panic when confronted with gays, or atheists, or Teamsters. Or electric cars, or fluorescent light, or free-range poultry . .

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3 COMMENTS

3 Comments

  1. Rev. Howard Furst  •  Feb 15, 2013 @9:48 am
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    There is an emerging body of evidence concerning neuroanatomical correlates of conservative versus liberal tendencies, indicating that, like sexual orientation, a conservative outlook is not a matter of rational choice. Young adults with conservative outlooks have hypertrophied and hyperactive amygdalas/amygdalae, which fits well with the observation that fear has them by the short and curlies. The poor dears can’t help themselves.

    http://2012election.procon.org/sourcefiles/Kanai_Political_Orientations.pdf

    We will leave for another time the larger issue of embodiment of the immortal soul in the meat-brain, always good for a fun discussion among those trying to bridge the gulf between Science and Religion. Actually, a fine foundational contribution to that subject is “Mind and Matter” by Quantum Physics superstar Erwin Schrodinger, who was well-versed in Vedantic teachings from ancient India about the nature of universal consciousness and whatnot before he made his seminal contributions (along with semenal contributions; he came up with his famous eponymous equation, which basically explains all of chemistry and then some, while off in the mountains banging his mistress…). He pre-emptively puts to shame later attempts by new-agers to try to use quantum physics as a way to bridge the alleged gap between matter and consciousness, but he was unexpectedly on the side of the primacy of subjective consciousness (more fundamental than the content of conscious experience, mind you – the projector light versus the movie) over matter.

  2. Grung_e_Gene  •  Feb 15, 2013 @1:37 pm
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    Nope. Leg Shackles.

  3. toma  •  Feb 16, 2013 @1:09 pm
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    Schrodinger was the man. Anyone who wins the Nobel Prize and shacks up with two women is uhh a terrible role model, obviously.

    There’s no doubt any more about the nature of the conservative beast. Wingnuts are stupid by design. Anyone who spends any time with them knows as much, they’re reactionary and crude. My latest figuring around this is why they’re so fearful. I believe they’re all semi-Augsberger’s in that they cannot clue in to their environment, they have no idea about their fellow beings. Instead of being boring and predictable, everybody is dangerous and mysterious. That’s why they think Barack is J.J. Trotsky and Chuck Hagel is an Cornhusk Farouk. In a modern Henryfordistan, we’d kill everybody who’s a paranoid. Unproductive gits.