Monday, January 30, 2006

Left Brain Right Brain

This may be the best description of feedback-loop politics I've read in a long time, and it comes not from a political writer, but from a psychologist:

When presented with negative information about the candidates they liked, partisans of all stripes found ways to discount it, (Emory University psychologist Drew) Westen said. When the unpalatable information was rejected, furthermore, the brain scans showed that volunteers gave themselves feel-good pats -- the scans showed that "reward centers" in volunteers' brains were activated. The psychologist observed that the way these subjects dealt with unwelcome information had curious parallels with drug addiction as addicts also reward themselves for wrong-headed behavior.

Anyone who has gotten into an argument with a true believer will recognize that smug smile of satisfaction' when they find some trick to dispose of an inconvenient fact you've presented them with. Call it the "justification buzz" if you will. God knows that I've felt it myself.

Then there is this no-brainer line:

"If anyone in Washington is skeptical about these findings, they are in denial," he said. "We have 50 years of evidence that racial prejudice predicts voting. Republicans are supported by whites with prejudice against blacks. If people say, 'This takes me aback,' they are ignoring a huge volume of research."

Heh. I was a Republican congressional intern. I could have told you that!


Post a Comment

<< Home