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It’s Actually Conservatives vs. Liberals…and Liberals vs. the Amygdala

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So one conservative neurosurgeon says to the other, “Didja hear why liberals have to work so much harder to win at politics?”

“Why, no, I haven’t,” says the other conservative neurosurgeon.

“Ha! It’s because they have to compensate for having smaller amygdalae!” And they both laugh heartily as they stroll down the hospital corridor.


The above joke doesn’t make any sense to the reader right now, of course, but in the light of current research it makes perfect sense. First, let’s show the research:

1. Scientists at University College London found that “people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions. On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.”

Salon.com points out that the researchers were unable to determine if cerebral physiology drives politics or if political beliefs change the brain, but a joint study by Harvard and University of California San Diego indicated that people with [a so-called “liberal gene”] who have a greater-than-average number of friends would be exposed to a wider variety of social norms and lifestyles, which might make them more liberal than average. They reported that it is the crucial interaction of two factors—the genetic predisposition and the environmental condition of having many friends in adolescence—that is associated with being more liberal. This held true independent of ethnicity, culture, sex, or age. This might explain in a physiological sense the tendency for urban populations to be more liberal than their rural counterparts.

2. Amygdalae play a very important (though not crucial) role in the processing of emotions, particularly that of fear. In fact, a smaller amygdala volume tends to be associated with decreased fearfulness and enlarged amygdala volume with increased fearfulness. The study shows that there is a direct relationship between amygdala volume and fearfulness in healthy girls, which is particularly robust in girls who have direct family members who suffered from depression.

3. Researchers from Northeastern University and at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston have found that part of the brain called the amygdala, a word derived from the Greek for almond, is larger in more sociable people than in those who lead less gregarious lives. The finding, which held for men and women of all ages, is the first to show a link between the size of [the amygdala] and the number and complexity of a person’s relationships.

This was also found to hold true in different species of nonhuman primates. Studies have shown previously that amygdala volume is associated with the number of individuals in the group, suggesting that this region of the brain supports the skills needed for complex social life.


So where does all this lead? For years I’ve wondered exactly what it is that makes us either liberal or conservative. I’ve felt that there had to be a reasonable explanation, for it became increasingly obvious that conservatives tend to process factual information differently than do liberals such as myself. To sum it up, generally speaking, those with larger amygdalae tend to be conservative, experience more fear, and have more friends.

This would explain much about the current political and media climate. For instance, fear-mongering is prevalent to a far greater degree in conservative media (“death-panels,” “pals around with terrorists,” “deep-seated hatred of white people,” “global warming is a socialist plot”) than in mainstream or liberal media. Why? The above studies show that it’s because conservatives (who generally have larger amygdalae) are generally more susceptible to the emotion of fear (which is more easily felt by those with larger amygdalae). That, and the novelty of “change” which is more easily accepted by liberals, is more easily feared by conservatives. And since that which is different from the norm is more likely to be feared by conservatives, imagine what their reaction was likely to be with a black president with a funny (and partially-Muslim) name who spent part of his youth in a Muslim country. In light of the research above, it’s pretty obvious that it’s just like some on the Left said, that even if President Obama had cured cancer and personally paid off the national debt, those on the Right would still claim it was all part of a socialist plot. The reality of Obama was simply too…different, too great of a change for conservatives to accept.

The disparity between Democrats and Republicans in the scientific community is explained as well, for scientists thirst for discovery of the new, of the different, of that which will change the world…and those who fear difference and change rarely find themselves within the scientific community. This also shows why conservatives are much more likely to deride scientific research as suspect or false regardless of how obviously rock-solid the research may be, i.e. climate change. “It’s different from what we think it should be—therefore it must be wrong.”

But in political terms, the more troubling aspect is the tendency of those with larger amygdalae to have a greater number and complexity of social relationships. It might easily be extrapolated, then, that “loyalty” and “being one of the group” means more to a conservative than it does to a liberal…and most of us can remember the premium that past Republican administrations have placed on said loyalty, however misguided, and we all know how much easier it is for Republicans to vote in lockstep than it is for Democrats. It might also be said that conservatives would thus be expected to have a greater fear of being excluded from the group—and this would explain why the few Republican politicians who spoke out against certain powerful conservative pundits were quick to apologize…for they feared being expelled from the herd, so to speak.

Worst of all is that this shows that in a political climate that is so starkly polarized under a president who is so very different from the norm, the emotional need for conservatives to unify, to band together against whatever it is that is feared, is of far greater emotional import than nebulous terms such as “bipartisanship” and “compromise.” Again, in conservative eyes what should be feared and distrusted—and often hated—are not necessarily our so-called liberal policies, but us liberals ourselves. Even casual readers of Blogcritics Politics should be able to remember many times that conservatives have virulently opposed legislation supported by the Obama administration that not so long ago was even introduced by Republicans—the health insurance mandate itself was apparently proposed by Bob Dole himself, and I sincerely doubt that anyone could question his conservative cred! But perhaps since his proposal was made jointly with a Democrat (Tom Daschle), well, perhaps that makes Bob Dole a socialist.

But I digress. The reader should bear in mind that these tendencies all apply in the general sense, and probably only represent a few minor ticks in one direction or another on psychological bell curves. These ticks might mean little on an individual basis—there are certainly many fearless conservatives and many cowardly liberals—but in the macro-psychological big picture these few ticks are making a world of difference…and we’re seeing that world of difference play out every day in the media and our hyper-polarized political scene: one side that embraces change against the other side that fears change. But it’s not until now that we could begin to realize that emotion driven by biology itself might be playing a bigger part than any political dogma or mindset.

For us liberals, one of the greatest of all said it best: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” He could not have known how right he was.

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About Glenn Contrarian

White. Male. Raised in the deepest of the Deep South. Retired Navy. Strong Christian. Proud Liberal. Thus, Contrarian!
  • Doug Hunter

    Interesting. I’ve always had an irrational fear of public speaking, perhaps this could partly explain it. It’s been one of those thorn in the side personal issues that has hurt me in trying to reach my full potential.

    “This might explain in a physiological sense the tendency for urban populations to be more liberal than their rural counterparts.”

    Simply living in proximity to other people doesn’t increase the scope and number of relationships. There’s alot more anonymity in the city and less social pressure in many ways.

    I’ll tell you my theory on the differences… different realities. Urban people vote there reality, rural people vote their reality. It’s not the same thing yet we only get one broad brush federal government to work with. City problems are largely not country problems and vice versa. For example we hear class warfare stuff and don’t understand. Maybe in the city where the rich live in the towers and go to exclusive private schools while the poor live in ghettos locked in by the thin blue line and and encirclement of middle class gated communities it makes more sense. In the country there’s one school (without metal detectors no doubt) and one set of teachers and everybody, rich or middle or poor, goes to it. Rich old farmers live right next door to their worker’s trailers and the kids play together. Cost of living is lower so government welfare benefits go alot farther and so on.

  • Speaking of brains, some very prestigious scientists recently examined a “liberal” brain. When they examined the right side, they found nothing right. When they examined the left side, they found nothing left.


  • The Craven Mevyn

    …as the left innervates the right and vice versa (braineologically speaking, that is) shouldn’t that read

    Speaking of brains, some very prestigious scientists recently examined a “liberal” brain. When they examined the right side, they found nothing left. When they examined the left side, they found nothing right.


  • Baronius

    No mention of the higher rates of depression and suicide among liberals? No mention of psychological studies showing liberals’ difficulty in committing to a relationship? No mention of eye-movement studies showing that liberals are more easily manipulated by others?

  • I wonder what’s the payoff, Glenn, that liberals are superior human beings? It beats me why anyone should want to claim such a thing.

    It’s too much of “my daddy can beat your daddy” kind of boat, real juvenile.

  • … boast …

  • The Craven Mevyn


    acme amygdala enhancers for the lonely and retarders…’for that liberated feeling’

    we simply need a bit of investment capital

  • You’re on a roll today, Mavyn Raven.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    To all –

    It might surprise you all to learn that I didn’t really write the article to change any conservatives’ minds; indeed, the article itself explains a physiological basis for the conservative prejudice against any science that challenges their worldview.

    I wrote it more for the few remaining BC liberals to let them know what they’re up against against.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    Thank you for your serious reply – I do appreciate that.

    When it comes to rich-poor class separation, there’s at least as much in the country as in the city – and I should know! I grew up in the MS Delta where to this day you will find largely segregated schools because any white family that can afford to do so sends their kids to one of the local private schools…and these private schools almost always completely white even though the area has the largest proportion of blacks in America. (note: in the eighth grade I attended an all-white private school, and the next year (since we couldn’t afford the private school) I attended a public school with 480 students…about 20 of whom were white. That was the year ‘Roots’ came out.)

    Furthermore, look back at the article, about carrying that ‘liberal gene’ and being exposed to more ‘social norms and lifestyles’. Living in the city exposes one to FAR more social norms and lifestyles than one can possibly encounter in the country.

    On your point about living anonymously in the city, yes, living in the city can be a very lonely place – but even living so anonymously one is still exposed to a far greater number of social norms and lifestyles…

    …and the countryside can be a very lonely place, too. I’ve been there, done that, and got the t-shirt.

    Again, though, thank you for the serious reply.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    No mention of the higher rates of depression and suicide among liberals? No mention of psychological studies showing liberals’ difficulty in committing to a relationship? No mention of eye-movement studies showing that liberals are more easily manipulated by others?

    That’s interesting, and I haven’t heard of them. I’d appreciate it if you would post your references.

    Baronius, remember that I’m a pretty objective person. Show me research, good stats, provable facts, and I’m happy to read it even if I don’t like what it says…

    …and again, that’s backed up by the research in the article – liberals don’t mind accepting science which challenges their worldview, whereas conservatives have a real problem with it (witness the ‘religious right’ that insists that the world is 6000 years old and everyone is descended from Noah who lived about 4000 years ago).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I wonder what’s the payoff, Glenn, that liberals are superior human beings? It beats me why anyone should want to claim such a thing.

    Why does there have to be a ‘payoff’, Roger? Some of us want to know WHY we are the way we are…and that’s what the article is about.

    And FYI, I wouldn’t want a world without conservatives – you of all people should know that I’m not going off on some kind of eugenics rant! Have you not seen me post on many occasions, “moderation in all things”?

    Roger, you’d find many, many conservatives who would wish all liberals would go away – or maybe keep a few around to laugh at. Right? Right.

    But as for myself, conservatives preserve tradition and culture, and to a lesser extent family values, societal cohesion, and the manners that provide the lubrication of the engine of society. A world without conservatives would be a world that didn’t understand where it came from or what its purpose was…just as a world without liberals would be a world that couldn’t see where it was going, much less how to get there.

    Frankly, I’m surprised at you, Roger – I thought you understood me better than that!

  • A highly fascinating, entertaining and well put together article, Glenn. I was looking forward to the comments even before I finished reading. I’m fairly sure we’ll get some fireworks, although the fuse hasn’t quite been lit yet.

    I’m not sure about there being much of a genetic basis for one’s political views. They’re more a product of upbringing and environment. We tend to at least start out with similar opinions to our parents. What happens then depends on where our lives take us.

    There’s also the well-known phenomenon that people tend to become more conservative as they get older. That’s simply biological: older organisms are less active and adaptable than younger ones, and therefore less comfortable with change. You and I are exceptions in that our views have travelled in the opposite direction. (Mine have now settled more or less in the centre, which I find to be an eminently sensible position.)

    As you point out, the brain also changes in response to environmental stimuli. This ability decreases with age, which goes some way to explaining why once the average person has settled into a particular political outlook in middle age, they rarely change it again.

    You’re a particularly unusual case, Glenn, in that not only did you grow up in a conservative environment (the deep South), you also spent most of your career in one (the military). So where your current liberal stance comes from I’m not sure. You seem to be one of those rare birds who has intellectualized your way to your political views.

  • And @ #2:

    Dan is on top form today, I see. 🙂

  • Cannonshop

    Dunno, I doubt that wanting to make other people pay the price for your moral stance is a function of intelligence.


    Maybe I’m wrong-maybe the sociopaths ARE smarter. Maybe it IS smarter to demand others sacrifice for your gain, whether material, moral, or emotional. Maybe, Violating your OATHS to preserve your retirement, dereliction of duty to preserve your career, and being a slick operator is a sign of a bigger brain-or maybe it’s just a sign that there’s something wrong. Hey, Glenn, how MANY rape cases did you cover up while you were assigned as first-responder in the Navy?

    *(Maybe there’s a reason that, while others were on-call in the three days after 9/11, the bright southern guy didn’t have to worry about the phone ringing?)

  • @13, last paragraph:

    Shall we say the same of Truman Capote, Thomas Wolfe, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor . . .

  • Baronius

    “Baronius, remember that I’m a pretty objective person. Show me research, good stats, provable facts, and I’m happy to read it even if I don’t like what it says…”

    I’ve found you to be quite the opposite, almost a caricature of the opposite, and every time I call you on it you ignore me. But this article is a good place to start. There’s been similar work done on the General Social Survey by others. It’s actually based on survey data, not the kind of “red states have higher divorce rates” stuff that doesn’t prove anything.

  • @ #15:

    There’s that American has-to-be-either-one-thing-or-the-other mindset again…

  • @17 is it just my computer, or did that link not work because a ?PageNr=1 got pasted to the end of the html?

  • Baronius

    Jonathan Haidt is doing some interesting writing on the subject of left/right morality. Like a lot of researchers, he can’t quite bring himself to say that liberals have commitment issues, but he’s willing to say that conservatives are strong on loyalty and commitment.

    This article talks about eye movement and liberal thinking. Like most of this stuff, it casts it in “why are conservatives different” terminology. Haidt wrote an article for The Edge that complains about such bias (even though it’s filled with it).

    Personally, I think that evolutionary biologists are overstating their case for the physiological origin of political thought. If you take this stuff too seriously you’d have to believe that Glenn suffered a reverse-Grinch conversion, with his amygdalas shrinking three sizes in a moment.

  • Baronius

    It’s not just your computer. Sorry.

  • Baronius

    Not only did I mess up the link, this is the article I meant to link to.

  • Doug Hunter


    I think humans are just hardwired that way… or perhaps nature is. Binary systema are about the simplest way we can understand to transmit information. Yin and yang, day and night, male and female, up and down, good and evil, democrat and republican, liberal and conservative.


    Per his own description, Glenn is the product of an upbringing in an area of racist garbage in the armpit of the United States. He rightly saw the evils of that and got away as fast and as far as he could. Congratulations to him as that’s a hard thing to do. Unfortunately, part of the baggage is that he sees all of us non-liberals as those same people from his youth in the delta. I’ve seen it happen the other way as well, my wife and her family are from Camden, NJ a longtime posterchild for violence and blight. They escaped to more rural (and likely more conservative/republican areas) outside the city, found out that not all white conservatives hate minorities, and experienced the opposite of the Glenn effect.

  • Excellent description, Doug; Glenn’s adoption of liberalism was a reaction rather than resulting from an embrace. Which is why Dreadful make a good point about his intellectualizing his way into it.

  • But THREE is hardwired into the US governmental system: Executive-legislative-judicial branches.
    So why do so many here feel so committed to the One-Two, Left-Right, Conservative-Liberal model?

    TWO is useful for transmitting info about decisions that have to be made in a hurry: Friend-or-foe? Flight-or-Fight? Claw-or-Fang?

    But when a group of people becomes a community, committed to one another (loving, even?), they have the luxury of throwing fear aside and working with the balance that is naturally inherent in THREENESS. The stability of a stool, and the stability of a society, is lost when the third leg is kicked out and there are only two legs to stand on.

    When we move from two to three, we move from “just surviving” to building a culture and a hope that there will be an intact world for new generations to enjoy it: Left-CommonGround-Right, PolarSingularity-EverythingElse-PolarSingularity, mother-father-child, beginning-middle-end, Past-Present-Future….

  • The last paragraph of Baronius’ #20 link (UNL research on eye movement and political leanings) COULD be depressing.

    “Getting things done in politics typically depends on competing viewpoints finding common ground,” Smith said. “Our research is suggesting that’s a lot tougher than it sounds, because the same piece of ground can look very different depending on which ideological hill you view it from.”

    But it doesn’t HAVE to be depressing if we see the situation it describes as a STARTING POINT and not a FATE.

    The way people see things is hard-wired, or enculturated, or “intellectualized into”…whatever…IT’S THERE. But in order for our society to survive, we’re going to have to start building bridges and meeting there. Or we’re finished. We’ll self-destruct.

  • Well, Cannonshop seems to really have it in for Glenn because he may have drawn his shots with regard to a few military sexual assault cases because not to do so might have jeopardized his and his family’s future.

    For Cannon, there is no middle ground here: the victims deserved justice and Glenn is a criminal.

    Yes, it would have been great if Glenn had been able to get justice for those women. However, it is a fact that not everyone gets justice. It’s also a fact that the instinct of most higher life forms, including humans, is to put the interests of their own families first. Think of the male lion who will, given half a chance and without hesitation, kill a cub that isn’t his.

    Society takes a pretty dim view of people who abandon their own flesh and blood, and rightly so. On balance, Glenn did the right thing; not the perfect thing, but the right thing. It takes a particularly malfunctioning mind to expect him to have taken a different course of action than he did just so that Cannon could feel better about it.

  • Baronius

    Irene, that last paragraph seemed kind of silly to me. It isn’t like human nature changed the moment they compiled the data from the study. People are just as ornery or cooperative as we’ve ever been. This reminds me of CindyRoger’s perennial complaint that we’re too influenced by our prejudices to understand other thoughts. Nonsense. People do it every day. We learn to compensate for our biases. It’s only when we give up – when we act like we can’t overcome our physiology or upbringing – that we become the kind of close-minded jerks that they’re afraid of.

  • Doug Hunter


    Nah, we don’t need 3’s (or 2’s really). It’s all just 0’s and 1’s. Our grand accomplishment is describing the natural world in mathematical terms (science) which in turn lend themselves handily into digital (binary) processing. Computers are the pinnacle of our current efforts, I wouldn’t be surprised if a unified theory of quantum Physics will uncover that when drilled to it’s core the universe is nothing but a series of 0’s and 1’s, tiny bits of either something or nothing… perfect for computer simulation… perhaps we’re living in one right now.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    Thanks for the backup – I appreciate that. It’s hard learning that the simplicity of black and white is an illusion, and that so many (but not all!) of life’s choices are between perversely subtle shades of gray….

  • Doug, you’re describing a universe governed by the electromagnetic force, in which everything has either a positive or a negative charge. Evolution has harnessed electromagnetism to work our brains and we in turn have harnessed it to work our computers.

    However, you forget that there are three other known forces in the universe, and none of them work that way.

  • Baronius, it’s nonsense to you because you either blind as a bat or choose to be. Take your pick and get comfy while you cloth yourself in the aura of objectivity.

  • LOL @29 scoffing @my 25.
    See, right there in your comment, how piteously rendered is the roundness of “0” by digital processing. It…it looks like four 1’s arranged into a rectangle.

    See? We need three, we need pi, and other mysterious transcendental numbers, we need the INFINITE and inexplicable (including love) to live and work in harmony with each other and with nature. So much more than the Binary Pair is ALREADY hardwired into us and into the world around us. Bring thy zero’s resplendent in their natural roundness, and thy ones with thee, but come into the Light, Doug. 🙂

  • Roger, did you just tell Baronius to go cloth himself? There are ladies present. I’m out of here.

  • But not until I agree with Baronius, about his need for trying. The last time I heard you and Cindy talking about economics, you came close. YOu and Roger just need to try a little harder. I’m convinced you have BOTH have much to gain in the attempt.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    Glenn is the product of an upbringing in an area of racist garbage in the armpit of the United States. He rightly saw the evils of that and got away as fast and as far as he could.

    Actually, no. I couldn’t find a job and couldn’t afford college, so I joined the Navy in 1980. When I left I had not the least clue how very wrong were so many of the lessons I’d been taught by my family, my community, my then-religion, mu Southern culture. It wasn’t until after some time within my first enlistment that I even began to realize how wrong racism was. I supported the Republican party (and generally despised the Democrats) until Clinton was president. Even ten years ago I would’ve argued that the Civil War was not about slavery.

    The only part I played in comprehending the extent of the errors in my conservative upbringing was having eyes that gradually understood what the world was showing me as I traveled from port to port.

  • about OUR need for trying, Baronius. I mistyped. It’s a universal. OK must go.

  • Yes, I sure have, Irene. He’s butt-naked and doesn’t even know it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius –

    This reminds me of CindyRoger’s perennial complaint that we’re too influenced by our prejudices to understand other thoughts. Nonsense. People do it every day. We learn to compensate for our biases.

    I agree with this part of your comment. I was certainly too influenced by my prejudices to understand other thoughts for many years, and political correctness was my faux compensation to stay out of trouble.

    It’s only when we give up – when we act like we can’t overcome our physiology or upbringing – that we become the kind of close-minded jerks that they’re afraid of.

    But therein lies your error – if I hadn’t joined the Navy and seen the world, I would never have understood how strong a hold my prejudices had over my thoughts and actions.

    Baronius, those who are raised in a prejudicial environment and who never leave that prejudicial environment are far more likely to be prejudiced. It all too often becomes a lifelong echo chamber from which they never escape. My own escape was unintentional…but every time I visit my family in the Delta, I see so many examples of the “they’re not one of us” echo chamber, the prejudicial cocoon from which they’ll never emerge.

  • You’re right about one thing, Glenn, exposure is the key, not to mention the fact that the world is ever-changing. The ideas and concepts we would have thought unthinkable yesterday become an old hat – in time. I’m certain you can appreciate that, especially the strong Christian you are.

    Of course, Baronius, for all his erudition and articulation, is still stuck in the Middle Ages, not for lack of exposure though, mind you. It’s rather that he had built for himself a cocoon, “the world according to Baronius,” for short; and lives there comfortably ever after.

  • Doug Hunter


    That’s why I said “wouldn’t be surprised if” instead of saying it was always the case. Seems they always break things down to simpler and simpler constructs and perhaps the reason there are almost score of elementary particles now is because we simply don’t yet have the understanding/technology to break them down further.


    A couple years in the military seeing different countries/states/cultures could benefit most of us. Problems often seem so much easier to see/solve from outside with the bigger picture.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doug –

    A couple years in the military seeing different countries/states/cultures could benefit most of us. Problems often seem so much easier to see/solve from outside with the bigger picture.

    AMEN!!!! Quoted for truth! Not to mention the fact that I’d LOVE to see how hawkish our politicians and oil barons when get when it’s THEIR kids who are on active duty!

  • The quote from Baronius appears to use prejudice and bias interchangeably but to my mind they are quite different, the former being unacceptable, the latter not.

    You can compensate for a bias but not a prejudice…

  • Doug Hunter


    Pragmatism and prejudice are often wound together making the latter even more difficult to root out.

  • Not to mention, some biases are justifiable when you’re aware of what they are.

  • @38 Prejudices take a long time to overcome, even after you’ve convinced yourself you’ve left them behind when you were in seminary in the Seventh Day Adventist tradition, you were steeped in a virulently anti-Catholic atmospheres. Now, I don’t go in for the “One True Church” idea myself (one true Jesus, yes, because He’s personal and immediately knowable), but I think I’ve been able to interact with both Glenn and Baronius, each believing his is the One True Church, without any of us resorting to ad hominem attacks.

    It may be time for some soul-searching, Dr. Faustus.

  • Please pardon the 1)missing full-stop at end of line 1 and the lack of parallelism in lines two and three. I was focused on “gentling down” a message that I know would be very hard to hear if it were directed at me. A while after I’d heard it, though, I’d be very glad I had. Peace.

  • Cannonshop

    #27 Doc, maybe it’s my lower intelligence, but I seem to recall six month and longer stretches of no contact with family when I was in the service-and I wasn’t in that long-I sure as hell didn’t make it a Career.

    It’s not JUST a question of Honour, it’s a question of not-committing-a-crime, and Glenn’s entire justification came down to “well, nobody caught me”. When your only guide to Ethics is what is legal, and when your attitude is “It ain’t illegal if I don’t get caught”, well…

    So sorry, maybe I’m just not clever enough to make a distinction, maybe I’m just too dumb to find that kind of person admirable in the slightest.

    Doing your Duty doesn’t cost you a retirement or a career-dodging (and getting caught) does.

    It’s not just deserving Justice, Doc, he’s boasted of deliberately violating regulations, abandoning his oaths, and preserving..what? the career of someone whose behaviour is going ot get them caught eventually? that does MORE damage to the safety of that alluded-to-family by being allowed to keep walking around?

    No. Sorry, I’m not bright enough… Then again, you know, us conservatives, we’re so dim, we don’t feel pain like you Liberals do, we don’t see the whatchacall’em… “Nuances” that justify that sort of action, just don’t have the Neurons, y’know? It’s scientifically Proven!

  • Baronius

    I’ve never denied that biases exist. I deny that they’re insurmountable. Most everyone here has a “conversion” story – Dave the moderate, secular Ruvy, pre-anarchist Cindy, Glenn gloating about his superiority over different people than he gloats over now (I’m still not sure why that last one is so honorable). I think some commenters here fixate on the difficulty in changing, which is weird because they themselves changed. It’s like being on the third floor of the Empire State Building and making fun of the people on floor 2 because they’ll never be as high as you are, and no one in the world is as high as you are.

    I have definitely changed in my beliefs over the years. I’ll change more, I’m sure. The fact that I haven’t changed the same way as Roger did doesn’t mean that I’m too limited in my thinking (that I haven’t really changed at all).

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Baronius #49 –

    I’m ‘gloating’ about my superiority over other people? That’s news to me!

    Read on and see if what I say fits your idea of someone who thinks himself so…’superior’:

    Baronius, I have learned a few things over the years – but it’s rightly said that the more one knows, the more one knows just how much there is that one DOESN’T know. There’s not a single subject of which I can claim expert knowledge. Maybe you are an expert in some fields – and if so, then that’s more than I can say about ANY field. Clavos and Dave both know more about running a small business than I do. Cannonshop (IIRC) knows more about ordnance than I do. My best subject is history, and Dave has a Master’s degree in it while I don’t – he has a greater knowledge than I do of my very best subject.

    There! Does that make you feel better? Would someone who feels himself so superior (as you claim I do) publicly acknowledge that someone he opposes has a greater level knowledge even in his best subject?

    All I do – ALL I do – is take the facts and research that I read nearly every day, fit them together, and present them along with my opinion. You don’t have to like what I say, and I heartily enjoin you to prove me wrong – and if you do, I’ll sincerely and publicly thank you for it…as I have already done on BC several times before!

    Again, does the above sound like it came from someone who feels himself superior to others? I got a sea story for you about working with someone with a narcissistic personality disorder who was really smart, really skilled, and really DID feel himself superior to others. If you really want, I’ll tell you about him…but I hope – for your sake – that you never have to work with such a person!

  • You’re mistaken, Irene. I wasn’t steeped in the Seventh-Day Adventist thought; the seminary, besides, was of the most radical kind, and all theological questions were handled critically. I just have open distaste for dogma, be it Adventist or Catholic, and I have no use for the concept of the original sin – Baronius’s stumbling block, it seems.

    You might say I’m “prejudiced” in favor of Pauline theology, but that’s not an anti-Catholic bias; it’s just that salvation by faith, without any of the accoutrements of organized religion, makes more sense to me than any other theological system, that’s all.

    And Baronius, the only reason I lashed out at you was that you tend to lump Cindy and me together. Each of us are different thinkers and have a great many disagreements not only on the mentioned but many other matters. So if I deal with what I say or post, we won’t have any problems.

  • @49 Cool post, Baronius. In fact, you’ve put your finger on the major point of disagreement here between me and Cindy. In spite of all the cultural indoctrination, in any open society – such as ours – there are also counter-cultural currents aplenty, so there’s no excuse why “victims” are destined to remain “victims.” Ultimately, the matter of personal change and development is an individual matter. We can’t take that responsibility from the individual.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    C-shop #48 –

    Guy, I think you’ve got unresolved issues, and your attacks on me are but a symptom of those issues.

    Let me ask you a freshman law-enforcement question – what does a judge do to a criminal (regardless of how heinous the crime) when you have INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE to prove that crime? Absolutely squat – except maybe laugh at you for being so stupid as to bring it up in the first place.

    And THEN what do you do when that same criminal is someone who has a direct say in what happens to YOUR career? Kiss your career goodbye – THAT’s what you do!

    Cannonshop, ANYONE who’s spent much time in law enforcement will tell you that it’s not what you know – it’s what you can PROVE. If you can’t prove it, then it didn’t happen.

    Are you truly so naive that you don’t understand that?

    And even worse – and as any military careerist can tell you – is that a military command is a legal jurisdiction all its own…and the Commanding Officer is judge, jury, and executioner (of careers). In administrative proceedings wherein the accused is not sent to court-martial, the Commanding Officer can look at evidence and ignore it. Why? Because in such proceedings (which are FAR more common than court-martial proceedings) the rules of evidence don’t apply!

    Did you get that last? The Commanding Officer has the option to look you in the face, tell you you’re lying, send you to the Brig for three days bread and water, and kick you out on an other-than-honorable discharge based on his opinion alone! At Non-Judicial Punishment proceedings, the rules of evidence do not apply!

    To be sure, 99% of the time it works the right way, the way it’s supposed to…but I’ve seen careers wrongly torn apart and there was absolutely NOTHING I could do about it but watch. And it sucks. Real bad.

    BUT YOU DON’T HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT. Get Dan(Miller)’s opinion on it. He’s conservative like you and knows the military legal system far better than I do…and see what he says about it.

    Yeah, Cannonshop, I’ve seen crappy things happen and wasn’t able to do anything about it. That’s life in the big city, guy. If YOU see a great injustice, maybe you’ll be in a position that you can do something about it. I hope you can…but sometimes crap happens where you’d be throwing your career (or your life) away and the bad guy STILL doesn’t get taken down!

    So tell me, Cannonshop – would you be willing to throw your career away to expose what someone powerful did if there was precisely zero chance that anything at all would happen to him? Would you?

    Kenny Rogers sang it best – know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run. I had to walk away…and yes, it sucked. Call it a chapter test in the School of Hard Knocks. I passed.

  • “All I do – ALL I do – is take the facts and research that I read nearly every day, fit them together, and present them along with my opinion.”

    But has it ever occurred to you, Glenn, that this might be faulty methodology if your use of “fact” has the express purpose of justifying your opinion. And if so, there’s another term for that, rationalizing – and many (Clavos comes to mind) have tried to point this very thing to you.

    Here’s a suggestion: why don’t you try think through your opinions in terms of their own merit, the ideas involved, their point of origin, their source without any appeal to facts.

  • Glenn, some people throw their careers away, some people don’t. I don’t know the facts, of course, but you could have resigned from an organization that is as corrupt as you say it is rather than being tainted by it by virtue of association. Many people do.

    It’s not like you didn’t have any other options.

  • #52 so if you deal with …

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I understand what you mean about ‘salvation by faith’, and ‘faith-alone’ is a common protestant belief. But IIRC in Timothy, it states that “faith without works is dead”.

    May I recommend that what should be followed are the commands and admonitions of Jesus and the apostles – and that said commands and admonitions have to all be obeyed, that they have to be taken as a whole and not obeyed piecemeal. I believe that one cannot pick-and-choose what commands must be obeyed and which ones can be ignored…within reason.

    Ah, but there’s that vicious little caveat – ‘within reason’! But I’ve got to include it because there are verses which don’t make sense because we cannot know the context in which they were said e.g. Jesus’ statement that “he who does not hate his mother or father cannot follow Me”.

    But other than a few such verses where the context cannot be known or simply cannot apply in the modern world, why not follow the commands and admonitions of Jesus and the apostles as a whole? It seems to me that’s the only way to truly follow Jesus….

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Rog –

    You can’t just ‘resign’ an enlistment. If you just ‘quit’ and leave, well, that’s called ‘desertion’ and it’s a felony that follows you throughout your life.

    Every cop in the civilian world sees injustices that he can’t do anything about – including within his own organization. Does that mean he should quit? Or should he stick around anyway and do the good things he can still do while still providing a good life for his family?

    Roger, can you name a single human organization where there is not some level of corruption? No. There’s no perfect organization…and when you see the corruption, if you can do something about it, then do it…but if you can’t do anything about it, then don’t.

    The Serenity Prayer applies.

  • Glenn, my comment was a direct response to Irene. Forgive me if I won’t engage in any theological discussion at this time.

  • Baronius

    “there are verses which don’t make sense because we cannot know the context in which they were said”

    Yeah, I guess God was stupid to give us an authoritative scripture without giving us an authoritative church to help interpret it. Like the way the apostles had preaching authority before they died and that gift from God disappeared. Oh, wait, didn’t Peter elevate Matthias to replace Judas? So if that’s the case, maybe the teaching authority didn’t die off. Huh.

  • zingzing

    didn’t quite know where to put this, and i’m sure this isn’t the best spot, but this is the most active politics thread at the moment, so… ugh… although there has been an update that she’s still alive and currently in surgery.

  • @58

    A Few Good Men, Glenn, a few good men.

  • Cannon: I seem to recall six month and longer stretches of no contact with family when I was in the service-and I wasn’t in that long-I sure as hell didn’t make it a Career.

    Exactly. What if a condition of your signing up had been that you never saw your family again?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I understand your reference – and do you understand my reference to the serenity prayer? I’m sure you do.

    And again, you can’t just ‘resign’ from an enlistment…unless you want to have a desertion felony on your record for the rest of your life.

  • jobewan

    Hmmm . . I am what would be considered by many, painfully conservative politically speaking. By the same token (the obverse?), i am quite nearly fearless (to a fault I am sometimes told), an inveterate practical joker and juvenile delinquent (early 50s), and find first the stupidity in almost everything around me, and then the comedy in it all.

    Perhaps the research is a bald-faced lie, in the vein of so much “scientific” research that is really just secular religious apologetics. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time, or the second, or the hundredth.

    Or not.

  • Difference Maker
  • Danniel

    Some other articles that contradict this pathological view of conservatism, in fact, perhaps suggesting that they may be more socially functional than liberals, by the same standards of hurried hypotheses:

    Amygdala volume and social network size in humans

    We found that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans. An exploratory analysis of subcortical structures did not find strong evidence for similar relationships with any other structure, but there were associations between social network variables and cortical thickness in three cortical areas, two of them with amygdala connectivity. These findings indicate that the amygdala is important in social behavior.

    Amygdala size (in contrast to activity) does have some correlation with fearfulness, but it’s only sigificant in girls (perhaps also on adult women).

    Amygdala volume correlates positively with fearfulness in normal healthy girls

    Research into the neural underpinnings of fear and fear-related pathology has highlighted the role of the amygdala. For instance, bilateral damage to the amygdaloid complex is associated with decreased appreciation of danger and recognition of fear in humans, whereas enlarged amygdala volume is associated with internalizing syndromes. It is unknown whether amygdala volume and fearfulness are related in the absence of pathology. We examined the correlation between normal fearfulness and amygdala morphology in 116 healthy children and adolescents (60 boys, 56 girls, age 7?”17 years). Fearfulness was measured using the parent ratings on the Pediatric Behavior Scale and amygdala volumes were determined by manual tracing. We found a positive correlation between right amygdala volume in girls (r = 0.29). This relationship was more robust and present bilaterally when analyses were limited to girls with a positive nuclear family history of depression (for left r = 0.63; for right r = 0.58). In boys there was no significant relationship which may suggest that biological mechanisms differ between sexes. Given the role of enlarged amygdala volume in pathology, these findings may indicate that variation in amygdala morphology marks susceptibility to internalizing disorders.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Danniel –

    Pay attention to that last sentence – it’s telling.

  • Have you seen this, Glenn?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Doc –

    I used to not like Colin Firth – but that’s pretty doggone cool! He’s earned my respect!


  • Leon

    It has been noted by many and is evident in videos that areas visited by Conservative crowds are relatively clean when they leave and for Liberals there is much trash and even destruction. It has been noted, even by ex Liberals such as Tammy Bruce that Liberal gatherings tend to smell bad. Personal hygiene and self discipline go together. The connection might be in the function of the amygdalae to “moderate emotions, so as to facilitate learning.” To me this spells self discipline. It might explain the Liberal antipathy to the military since it requires a very high level of self discipline. I noticed an article stating that one of the amygdalae are found to be larger in very creative people. Maybe it has to do with an ability to cycle through emotions in the creative work? All very interesting.

  • Jason

    your analysis is obviously biased. the amygdala has nothing to do with creation of irrational, or unwarrented fears, it simply helps process fear and helps you respond instinctually to dangerous situations based on passed experiences.

    essentially, it helps you understand that actions have (often unintended) consequences. something i would argue “liberals” don’t quite grasp.

    although i would argue that the terms “liberal” and “conservative” are far too prejudicial and arbitrary; in reality there are only statist and voluntaryists, and both liberals and conservatives fall into the statist camp, albeit liberals much moreso.

    my bet is that if you compared statists’ brains to voluntaryists’ brains, you would find a much greater variation in brain chemistry and biology, than simply comparing one form of statism to another.

  • Lance Combs

    And you have thus demonstrated an absolute lack of understanding of the relationship between amygdala and fear. Those with a smaller amygdala are much more likely to overreact to stimuli and react in “incorrect” fashion when compared to the reaction that would be conducive to human reactions in a survival situation.

    Larger amygdala: More likely to act with fear toward having a gun pointed at them and respond accordingly. More likely to analyze the situation at hand in order to find the situation that would lead to greater survival.

    Smaller amygdala: More likely to react with stress toward unpleasant information. More likely to avoid a problem, in the hopes that it will solve itself (“ignore it and it’ll go away”).