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Is "Left" Vs. "Right" Hard-coded Into Your Brain?

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the you-are-a-machine dept.

Politics 758

New submitter kyjellyfish writes "Research published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggests that your parents 'Left or 'Right' party affiliations are not the only factor at work shaping a person's political identity. Differences in opinion between 'Lefties' and 'Righties' may reflect specific physiological processes. In research performed over 10 years ago, brain scans showed that London cab drivers' gray matter grew larger to help them store a mental map of the city." From the article: "Other scans have shown that brain regions associated with risk and uncertainty, such as the fear-processing amygdala, differ in structure in liberals and conservatives. And different architecture means different behavior. Liberals tend to seek out novelty and uncertainty, while conservatives exhibit strong changes in attitude to threatening situations. The former are more willing to accept risk, while the latter tends to have more intense physical reactions to threatening stimuli."

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758 comments

So what the article is saying... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941685)

So what the article is saying is that conservatives are pussies. Gotchya.

Re:So what the article is saying... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941711)

They certainly cry a lot. Listen to Rush or Glenn.

Also, they're scared shitless of pretty much everything outside their comfy world--Turrorists, teh gays takin' over teh skools, teh Moo-slims, etc., etc.

Re:So what the article is saying... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941731)

Were that really the case, you'd think conservatives would be for gun control and liberals against it, rather than the other way around.

Or in simpler terms, bullshit.

Re:So what the article is saying... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941779)

Liberals don't need guns.

Regressives clutch their guns because they're afraid of trying to deal with the world without them.

Re:So what the article is saying... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941917)

That's true Liberals don't need guns, but why even need them when your head is planted in sand.

Re:So what the article is saying... (5, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#42941925)

yeah because they don't mind having their lives ever more micromanaged and sanitized by big daddy.. see I can stereotype and ad-hom too..

Re:So what the article is saying... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941991)

You know better then to even dip your toe in this cesspool. Slashdot is populated almost exclusively by the extreme left.

Re:So what the article is saying... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942033)

Slashdot is populated almost exclusively by the extreme left.

You clearly wouldn't know "extreme left" if it bit you in the butt. What passes for "left" in the USA is middle-of-the-road most everywhere else. And in any case, Slashdot has more than its share of libertarian types and go-it-aloners.

Re:So what the article is saying... (2, Insightful)

epyT-R (613989) | about a year ago | (#42941863)

..and liberals are afraid of:

1. name calling - they want to censor/ban it along with any other critical expression using newspeak/political 'correctness.' Hell, they even do it with science when it threatens that tenet..as dogmatically as the most ardent bible thumping baptist does about gay marriage. How puerile/hypocritical can it get?
2. physical defense of oneself from an attack by another. guns are their primary target of course, but this extends down through to whitewashing entertainment and brainwashing kids in public schools with, well.. see #3.
3. self-empowerment of any kind, despite their propaganda, the only self power they tolerate is the kind your kid sister has when she teases your older friends and then runs behind mommy's legs. today's 'bucket filling' programs (search for it). I swear these 'programs' help to trigger columbines.
4. preferring passive aggression to active assertion, the typical liberal will hide behind their feelings whenever their compartmentalized logic fails to jive with reality, then bait you into 'hurting' them where big-daddy government will (or they think should) come to their aid.

How often do you hear liberals 'cry' about the 'plight' of all the non white/non-straight/non males out there? Seriously? For every glenn beck, there are many more nancys and hilarys. Dogmatism is usually the result of fear, and both sides of the the ill-conceived right/left scale are full of both. Time to vote them both out, people..

Re:So what the article is saying... (4, Insightful)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#42941983)

Most of the liberals I know like guns, explosives and all kinds of interesting things. Although it does help that most of the liberals I know are also engineers so I don't know what we qualify as. Although I do know some strange liberals since they also like creating custom lifeforms to do interesting things like bacteria to clean up environmental damage, make medications etc.

Most see magazine limits as pretty stupid since you can print your own. Most I know are also completely okay with universal background checks since from what myself and others have read most of the weapons used in illegal crimes are coming from legal dealers that are selling without the checks or they come from gun shows where the checks are not required.

I don't see how universal background checks are at the expense of freedoms anymore than a driver's license, fishing license, hunting license etc is.

Often I wonder what engineers really qualify as. Most I know end up with the same end results as liberals on many issues but for radically different reasons. They also agree with conservatives on many issues but for radically different reasons. It seems to be more about practically and what works for the given situation. If the situation changes so does the solution but it doesn't matter if someone slaps a liberal or conservative sticker on an idea, So long as the idea is the best we have for the given problem under the given circumstances that is all that matters.

Re:So what the article is saying... (5, Informative)

nametaken (610866) | about a year ago | (#42942217)

It's funny, I'm surrounded by mostly conservatives, and some (maybe most) don't object to the "universal background checks" so much as they object to what it'll really be. Most of us already go through background checks in our states. This is the sort of thing we might admit when nobody is listening, though of course I do not speak for the whole forty-something percent of the nation. ;)

First, we know what happens when you have databases of people that possess firearms. You've probably seen the google maps plots of everyone's home addresses. If you're a gun owner in a state that has firearm licensing, you know that even when required by law, they can take months longer than allowed to process a one page form, and there's nothing you can do about it. During that time, all manner of nasty things can happen, not least of which is having your card expire and having your firearms suddenly become illegal. Now you're a felon. Imagine how that makes you feel if you live anywhere near this scumbag [washingtontimes.com]. We also know that people that shouldn't clear often do, while people that should clear often don't. They have to hire lawyers to help them through the process, and it's a nightmare. We'll skip past the really scary bits of national gun owner databases for the sake of brevity (too late, I know).

Straw purchases are a problem in some places. With handguns, specifically. And only around cities where handguns are already illegal (let's face it, the gun control laws don't actually work). But it's still a problem everyone wants solved. What we don't want is a running leap down the slippery slope, coupled with the issues listed above.

The magazine size thing is just bullshit. Almost no crime is committed with rifles, only a tiny subset of those are committed with "the black rifles", and you'd be hard-pressed to make the case that in any of those very, very rare cases, magazine size had anything to do with the commission of the crime. It's just another thing to ban, for no reason other than political points... and it's at the expense of lawful people.

Again, slippery slope with no benefit to society.

There's probably common ground to be had on some of this stuff, somewhere, but it's obscured by decades of awful politics perpetrated by liberals in office against normal, law-abiding citizens. Those of us who are old enough know better have noticed that the President has been using the phrase "common sense" over and over and over. There's a reason for that... nothing about it is "common sense." He's selling BS legislation.

And so we fight. Some of us even give money to groups we may not particularly love, like the NRA. When you know you have to do something to defend your constitutional rights, and there's a good chance you're about to lose the battle to the 24hr news cycle. Remember, we live among a population that would trade their own children if you promised it would make them safer.

Remember how easy it was to sell everyone on bogus wars over "tururrism"? Yeah, we remember too. Tell people you're going to "Stop the senseless bloodshed by banning these ultra-mega-high-capacity magazines for ruthless killers", and they'll sign on the dotted line, even if it doesn't make any sense.

We did exactly this, already, just a few years ago. If you don't remember, go hit the wiki. It did absolutely nothing, for anyone except the politicians that pushed it. But memories are short, and it's possible we'll end up doing this dance again. That's the feeling that makes people belt out some pretty silly stuff about the direction this country is headed.

Re:So what the article is saying... (4, Interesting)

onemorechip (816444) | about a year ago | (#42942027)

1. I've never called for censorship. I do like people to act civilly, but in any kind of public forum that can't be enforced, it's just a wish.
2. I'm not so much pro-gun control as I am opposed to letting one organization have such a powerful pull on what laws get made that we can't even expect our lawmakers to engage in a legitimate discourse on the topic.
3. I have no idea what you are talking about.
4. Seriously, I have no idea what you are talking about.

Maybe you need to talk to some real liberals instead of listening to stereotypes of them on TV.

Re:So what the article is saying... (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#42942211)

Unfortunately in the US, they've stopped having real 'debates', and is now primarily posturing and repeating the parties talking points. To do anything else has become promoted by 'the other side' as being weak [both sides push the idea of compromise as being weak, but also that the other side is unwilling to compromise for the good of everyone so progress can be made].

Re:So what the article is saying... (5, Insightful)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about a year ago | (#42942237)

I don't come from a country that uses the term 'liberal'. However, I *think* I'm a liberal, and OP is easy to rebuff.

1. Freedom of speech must be balanced against those that seek to cause harm, i.e. by inciting violence. The state should press charges if you for yelling 'fire' in a crowded movie theatre. This means, don't be surprised if I object to your poorly worded 'critical expression' if I feel as if it will incite violence.

2. I'm not *for* guns, or else I'd be *for* guns for everyone, especially those that cannot afford them. I don't see anyone argue *for* subsidised guns for everyone.

3. I'm not afraid of self-empowerment. It just shouldn't come at the cost of not restricting the freedoms of others. The bucket filling program that you write about is probably less a liberal position, but more a tool to manage a classroom. Anything to help kids think about their actions is a good thing.

4. I don't prefer either. The end of the scale, aggression, is generally a form of coercion. If you need to be aggressive towards someone, you're probably removing their ability to make their own decisions.

I finish off my post with some sweeping generalisations, and then a emotive, rousing call to arms. Just kidding.

Note that being 'out-numbered' isn't an excuse to be an asshole.

Re:So what the article is saying... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941743)

No, what the article is saying is that Liberals are less likely to think through the consequences of their risk taking - which could be part of the reason they feel the need to build a "social safety net" to make sure that they don't spend the remainder of their days pissing into a diaper as a result of their "novelty and uncertainty seeking" behavior. In short, liberals are immature children who don't consider the consequences of their actions before acting.

Conservatives, on the other hand, understand the severity of the risks they're taking and so tend to steer clear of extremely risky behavior. They are essentially overly-protective parents who like to minimize risk by thinking through the likely consequences before they engage in risky behavior, and avoid behaviors they feel are too risky.

This isn't an article that proves "liberals good, conservatives bad," dumbfuck.

Re:So what the article is saying... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941783)

Sounds like you're lashing out because you're afraid you might be a pussy, pussy.

Re:So what the article is saying... (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#42941841)

No, the article says that conservatives are corrupt, authoritarian fascists, and that liberals are drug taking, fuck-anything-that-moves, dirty hippies

Re:So what the article is saying... (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about a year ago | (#42942055)

What if I'm a corrupt drug-taker who likes to fuck but who also bathes regularly?

Re:So what the article is saying... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942197)

We like to call ourselves Libertarian.

Re:So what the article is saying... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941789)

More willing to accept risk? And yet many liberals wish for gun control at the expense of freedom?

Re:So what the article is saying... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | about a year ago | (#42941937)

The inherent contradictions in the summary and article will be ignored by anybody who will feel better by ignoring them.

Is betteridge's law hard-coded into your brain yet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941687)

No?

But I've been told the opposite. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941689)

That the pussified liberals are afraid of stubbing their toes so they live in a perpetual state of fear that drives their desire to control others, while big brave conservative tough-guys are out protecting the world with hard-nosed risk taking and freedom-spreading.

Re:But I've been told the opposite. (4, Interesting)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42941795)

I have to admit that a big part of my connservatism comes from fear. I was bullied a lot as a kid. And it wasn't unsual for the bullying to be multiple people against me. Now that I'm an adult, I don't want to be bullied anymore, by anyone. And I especially don't want to be placed in a posiition where I have no recourse against the unreasonable demands of others that are backed up by violence.

The biggest threat I see in this regard is the government. I mean, I need a minimal level of government to enforce the law that says no one else can use force against me. But if the government does just that, then I can just walk away from anyone else who wants to harass me. Microsoft can push a lousy OS, but I don't have to buy it. NBC, CBS, and ABC can produce hours and hours of lousy reality TV programming, but I don't have to watch.

Only the government remains as being able to come to where I live or work, tell me what to do, and use force to back it up. If there is some question about whether what I did is ok, then at best I get a trial where the same poor social skills and poor persuasion skills that made me a victim in school are likely to make me a victim of a lawyer and a jury.

Perhaps one might argue that because we live in a democracy, the laws will be just and good and I shouldn't mind following them. That's true if the laws are minimal. But if the laws are numerous and easily made, they are likely to be based on the whims of the public and whatever mood their in. Part of the reason I didn't fit in at school is that I like different things. Chances are that I won't have the same tastes and passions as the majority of voters. And did I mention my poor persuasive skills? I won't be the one who is able to get a majority of voters to see things my way.

I want a government that will protect my rights and the rights of those around me, and do very little beyond that because whenever the government does more, my freedom to be different diminishes, and the freedom to be different is the very core of all freedoms.

Re:But I've been told the opposite. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941867)

Good luck finding anyone to help you with that. The Republicans would probably tell you they will, but then how will they force gays not to marry and spend billions of dollars putting stoners in jail?

Re:But I've been told the opposite. (3, Insightful)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42941947)

One of the top conservative magazines in the country, the National Review, has an editorial policy of supporting drug legalization.

You have a point on gays. That is one of the few areas where conservative rhetoric has been very out of line with the general conservative philosophy. The marriage thing isn't really an issue of freedom - nothing stops gays from having religious ceremonies and making lifetime commitments - it's more an issue of forcing others to agree that gay marriage is good, or at least to pretend to - for example note the recent lawsuits against a photographer and a cakemaker who refused to participate in a gay wedding. However the laws against sodomy were a violation of freedom and too many conservatives supported those laws. (though as a constitutional issue the laws were valid - the Supreme Court unsuprisingly screwed up again - but just because the Constution allows a state to make a law doesn't mean the statue should make that law.)

Re:But I've been told the opposite. (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about a year ago | (#42941879)

This is the definition of classically conservative behavior. It's too bad neither of the major parties care for it in general, instead backing it up only when it supports the same things they already do.

Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are motivated by the fear of what they do not understand. The only difference is in the things they do not understand.

Re:But I've been told the opposite. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942157)

kinda sucks the government grows out of proportion with population under republican rule and actually contracts in relation to population growth under democratic rule. Kinda blows for your mindset huh?

How does this account for those who change parties (2)

dugancent (2616577) | about a year ago | (#42941693)

I was a hard-core conservative a few years ago, now I'm a hard-core liberal.

Did my brain rewire itself?

Re:How does this account for those who change part (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941701)

I was a hard-core conservative a few years ago, now I'm a hard-core liberal.

Did my brain rewire itself?

Nope, your brain is just fucked up; "hard-core" leanings toward any political party these days is insane.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941713)

Nope, your brain is just fucked up

I came here to say this, since I'm socially liberal and fiscally conservative - neither party offers either of those...

"hard-core" leanings toward any political party these days is insane.

Then I lol'd.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (4, Insightful)

mianne (965568) | about a year ago | (#42941975)

Neither "hard-core conservative" nor "hard-core liberal" refer to any political party. Ideologies perhaps. You could equate Tea-Partiers to the former and Occupiers to the latter, but neither group appears to have much faith in their "designated party" from the 2-party system we've got. Liberals complain that Obama is perpetuating and strengthening heavily criticized policies from GWB. Meanwhile, the conservatives have been throwing their stalwarts (Arlen Spector, John McCain, and now Chuck Hagel, et al) under the bus for not being suitably uncompromising about their core ideologies. And the GOP is torn apart as their try to pander to this group while distancing themselves from nutjobs such as Todd Akin.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (2)

onemorechip (816444) | about a year ago | (#42942047)

Mod parent up. I wish we could count on our respective parties to uphold some core values. I don't vote for Democrats because I expect some return in the form of liberalization of government or society. Disappointment after disappointment has taught me not to do that. I vote for Democrats because I don't want more Scalias and Thomases deciding what the Constitution really means, and because I don't want the Bushes and Palins and Ryans and Romneys of the world pushing their crazy world views on us all.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941703)

Kind of. Through the wonder of plasticity your brain can manage to reform a (partially) functioning consciousness, even in the face of catastrophic damage. Did you receive a blow to the head or experience a stroke?

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about a year ago | (#42941745)

I think it means that you really have no opinions of your own and just follow the crowd blindly.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941753)

The article actually specifically points out that the brain can develop in response to certain stimuli. So yeah.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (3, Insightful)

XDirtypunkX (1290358) | about a year ago | (#42941771)

There is a whole bunch of evidence for Neuroplasticity (your brain rewiring itself due to input, behaviour changes and illness), so it is possible.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

ppanon (16583) | about a year ago | (#42941775)

Nope. You probably just have a very strong need to identify with a group. When you decided the group you had identified with had disappointed you somehow (not hard with the current crop of Republicans if you haven't completely closed your mind to inconvenient facts) you switched to the only other available option. If you're not in the USA, well, the Repulicans aren't the only hypocritical right wing party that is fanning and exploiting fear, greed, and jealousy to gain power.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941903)

The fact that someone made a huge swing from Conservative to Liberal (even more hypocritical) means they've been high on weed!

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

jelizondo (183861) | about a year ago | (#42941787)

Now, pay attention. London cabbies are NOT born with expanded gray matter. They are "normal" people, become cabbies, get expanded gray matter.

Now, can your brain rewire itself?

Research suggests that yes, it can.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42941837)

Now, can your brain rewire itself? Research suggests that yes, it can.

Which is an incredibly dull and obvious conclusion. Of course it can: Otherwise we'd still think and act like infant children. All we've managed to do here is look closely enough at the brain that we can start to see landscape features and make inferences from that which are broadly true for others which have similar features. Which is no small achievement, but this is confirmatory research -- it tells us something we already knew, to a high degree of confidence.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (4, Insightful)

kdemetter (965669) | about a year ago | (#42941883)

I was a hard-core conservative a few years ago, now I'm a hard-core liberal.

Did my brain rewire itself?

It's more likely that your definition if conservative and liberal changed.
My people call themselves conservative or liberal, while meaning totally different things.

Infact, the original meaning isn't left right :
the normal opposite of "conservative" would be "progessive" ( sticking to what's known to work versus taking the risk of trying new things ).
the normal opposite of "liberal" , would be authoritarian ( liberalism favoring more freedom , whereas authoritarianism favoring less freedom ( more control by state ) ). Although there is also the distinction between liberal (state should ensure freedom ) and libertarian ( state should be minimized, thus providing more freedom)

Left : more personal freedom, less economic freedom.
Right : more economic freedom, less personal freedom.

For example, you could be a left-leaning conservative liberal, which would mean that you value freedom, with emphasis on personal freedom, but prefer to stick to tried and true policies for achieving this ( just an example, I'm not saying you are ) .

Re:How does this account for those who change part (3, Insightful)

onemorechip (816444) | about a year ago | (#42942063)

Right : more economic freedom

Well...Maybe, if you happen to be a corporation.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

venicebeach (702856) | about a year ago | (#42942085)

I was a hard-core conservative a few years ago, now I'm a hard-core liberal. Did my brain rewire itself?

Yes, of course it did.

How could you have different thoughts without different physical events happening in your brain?

Any change in behavior or cognition is accompanied by a change in the brain.

Re:How does this account for those who change part (1)

poity (465672) | about a year ago | (#42942095)

If I had to guess, you're probably just reacting to negative experiences. I find many self-ascribed "liberals" and "conservatives" aren't consistently liberal or conservative in their mindset, but are just adamantly anti-conservative or anti-liberal based on caricatures and stereotypes formed either through peer groups or personal experience. These are the people who find it easy to bring up the perceived wrongs committed by the other side, but will have a lot of trouble explaining their own positions without strings of platitudes and the fallacy of begging the question.

Reversed in America? (2, Interesting)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42941733)

So how does this work in a traditionally free country like America, where conservatives favor freedom of the individual, with its inherent risk that an individual might fail, while the liberals want the government to guarantee the health safety and happiness of every human being and remove all risk from life?

Perhaps it is explained that what the conservatives fear is not risk, but loss of control. American conservatives are afraid to place their fates into the hands of the elected experts on human happiness.

Re:Reversed in America? (2)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year ago | (#42941773)

American conservatives are afraid to place their fates into the hands of the elected experts on human happiness.

Experts? No, these are the people who make it through a popularity contest every few years. Popularity is the only expertise most of them have.

Remember that giving a government too much control has really bitten us in the ass many times over many centuries... especially the last. Europeans should understand this, yet those who fail to learn history...

Re:Reversed in America? (5, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#42941793)

When you vote for the lesser of two evils, you get ever increasing evil.

Re:Reversed in America? (2)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year ago | (#42941839)

I would give you mod points if I could.

America needs to wake up and understand that there are other election systems out there. Plurality voting, which results in "lesser of two evils", is killing our ability to function politically.

I'm starting to research the Modern Whig party [modernwhig.org]. One thing that interests me is that they explicitly promote the Approval Voting system. It's not the best, but is much better than Plurality while making very little change to the current ballot system.

Re:Reversed in America? (5, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42941811)

So how does this work in a traditionally free country like America...

Please stop. You're suggesting that the brains from one country are somehow different from that of another country. If we change 'country' out for 'race', it should be painfully obvious what the problem here is.

American conservatives are afraid to place their fates into the hands of the elected experts on human happiness.

You really shouldn't comment on the complex political landscape of another country whose citizens you apparently have little regular contact with. It makes you look like an idiot. No, "american" conservatives are just like "british" conservatives which are just like "african" conservatives, which are just like every conservative. Ever. The definition of conservativism doesn't change because of the country you're in. Perhaps its expression does, but the study here isn't about expression, but reaction. In that, conservatives broadly and as an aggregate group, are simply risk-averse. And because of how the human mind operates, an unknown risk is almost always subjectively larger in a person's mind than a known one. This is why we spent trillions of dollars combatting terrorism (an unknown risk) while both retrospectively and at the time, it could have easily been shown that a known risk (drunk driving) costs far more lives.

To extrapolate from a specific behavior (risk aversion) a complete political ideology is... at best... dubious.

Re:Reversed in America? (5, Interesting)

readin (838620) | about a year ago | (#42941895)

Well, at least the way I hear it used on the news, American conservatives are very different from Chinese and Russian conservatives. American, Chinese, and Russian conservatives do have something in common - they want to preserve the status quo or even revert in some ways to how things were before. But "how things were before" is very different depending on the country. For an American conservative, the desire is to return to a time of less government intrusion in people's lives. For Chinese and Russian conservatives the desire is to return to a time of much greater government intrusion into people's lives.

Islamic conservatives provide another example of "conservative" that is very different from an American conservative (and actually pretty different from an American liberal too). Although I suppose if you really look at some of the societies the Islamic conservatives are actually very conservative because they are attempting to change (or have recently changed) their countries to be very different from what they were before. For example, women in Iran and Egypt used to walk around with their heads uncovered, now the so-called "conservatives" have forced them to start covering their hair or face harassment.

An American conservatives my be similar to a British conservative - I don't follow British politics much so I can't say for sure, but an American conservatives is very different from many conservatives throughout the world.

Re:Reversed in America? (2)

bondsbw (888959) | about a year ago | (#42942029)

This is where the terms "conservative" and "liberal" become politicized. Conservatism favors maintaining the status quo over the increased risk of change.

Therefore, when you said "return to a time of ...", you were actually forming a liberal statement by changing the status quo. It disguises itself as a conservative thought process because people generally assume that enacting policies focused on returning to a past way of life would actually result in the life that people had before (but, such movements are typically in vain and never results in the goal).

And keep in mind that today's conservatives have a lot in common with yesterday's liberals.

Re:Reversed in America? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941851)

No, American conservatives are very fearful. They fear terrorists, and demand the government protect them, even if that means loss of rights. They fear criminals, and demand guns to defend themselves, even though statistics clearly show that having a gun in your home puts you at greater risk. They fear gays and Muslims and commies and immigrants and regulations. They're not bad people, they just like life as it is, and are fearful of anything that might cause changes in their current life style.

Re:Reversed in America? (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | about a year ago | (#42941859)

I am sorry, but what are you talking about. The conservative sphere promotes limitation on abortion and drugs(there is more these are examples). If the freedom of the individual was valued they wouldn't try to limit the use of these. The fact is that in US politics left and right don't really exist. They are marginally left and right of center. The differences are exaggerated to motivate people to vote consistently along party lines.

Re:Reversed in America? (3, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42941887)

In the US, the labels are wrong and everything is forced into a false dichotomy. In fact, there are a number of identifiable groups of voters: Christian conservatives, nationalists/fascists, progressives/socialists, liberals/libertarians, and a few smaller ones like environmentalists. A different way of looking at it is the four combinations of fiscal/social conservatives/liberals.

Fiscal liberals and social conservatives are both motivated by fear, the former by fear of economic disaster, and the latter by fear of social change. The only group reasonably free of fear is those who are fiscal conservatives and social liberals.

Re:Reversed in America? (4, Interesting)

Osgeld (1900440) | about a year ago | (#42941893)

see thats a weird crossover, conservatives want you to take individual risk, but tell you exactly what you can and cant do, liberals on the other hand want you to live your live as free as possible, as long as the government oversees each aspect of it

so, do you want a bunch of GOD fearin, Jesus lovin, gun totin, conservatives telling you how to live your life, or do you want big brother, oppressive, if your not a victim your the problem liberals telling you how to live your life?

I want them to both fuck off

Re:Reversed in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941905)

You're going on what conservatives say they stand for, not their actions. Their actions are that of a petulant child who is afraid and needs his blankie/assault rifle.

Re:Reversed in America? (4, Insightful)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#42942065)

I don't see them favoring the rights of women very much or gays. That is the major reason that I just can not support them.

It doesn't matter what my views on abortion are. I don't have the right to impose them on someone else.

My views are the same on gay marriage. It is not something I will do but that does not change that others want to do it and they should have that option.

The republicans say they are the party of small government and getting government out of peoples lives but they don't act like it. Also I will say the democrats are just as bad but on different issues.

If the republicans would actually accept these social issues and actually be the party of smaller government it would be much easier to support them. However their history indicates this is just a talking point and not an actual action they take when given power.

I don't like the democrats either but they have tended to be far more accepting of other lifestyles and choices over the last 20 years or so and do more to push technology. Right now most people still don't realize that many of the jobs are gone and will never be coming back and our society is not really trained for the kinds of work that is needed now.

I am not saying that everyone needs a college education but there are good jobs that do need trained technicians that we should be teaching people to do and it doesn't matter if you are a democrat or republican. If you can find a program that costs $x and pays back >$x in tax revenue it is a good idea to do it since it puts more people to work and makes them productive citizens.

It is so tiring to hear ideas painted with liberal or conservative and then automatically thrown out. In many areas we need welders, electricians, etc but the funding is not there to get people out of poverty to train for those jobs and end the cycle. We also have a pretty decaying infrastructure in this company and are losing a LOT of jobs to places like germany with better infrastructure.

Re:Reversed in America? (1)

Panaflex (13191) | about a year ago | (#42942139)

Take New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles as examples. Don't get me wrong, I like those places and I like the people that live there. But all too often many of them tell me how screwed up education is, how the city is corrupt, and how taxes are destroying their way of life. You'll hear this from the advantaged people as much as from the poor and disadvantaged people.

On the other hand, places like Texas have less polar education quality, the cities are still corrupt, but the taxes are lower (yeah!). The conservatives often vote against policies that seem crazy to the liberals. They won't pay for better schools, they don't want new city halls, and they could care less about hospital improvements. The reason I've heard from many conservatives is that most often in the past, such funds went to administration, capital and profit rather than actual improvements.

In a nutshell, political leanings don't matter, the only thing that matters is liberty and freedom. Being able to choose where, how and what you live is more important than planning, administration and politics that grows out of the established leadership. Those that choose to can make the life they want in a vast array of places and opportunities offered in the world. Different places allow similar people to fit better and be happy together. When one group becomes too powerful and attempts to impose their worldview on others you create more divisive and intrusive governments.

Re:Reversed in America? (5, Insightful)

baboo_jackal (1021741) | about a year ago | (#42942233)

I don't think it's at all reversed. Here's how I rationalized it: At a low level, people with "conservative" brains tend to be risk-averse. As a result they engage in less risky and novel behaviors, and overall have more positive (or less tragically negative?) outcomes. The end result is that they tend to be more self-reliant, and in their higher cognition don't see why one should need an extensive social safety net, and therefore oppose it. Conversely, people with "liberal" brains seek out novelty and therefore expose themselves to more risk. As a result, some liberals end up with tragically bad outcomes, and the ones who don't (i.e., have trained themselves to be appropriately risk-averse) can cognitively understand how one might end up in a bad spot. This, coupled with their tendency towards feelings of connectedness and presumably empathy, result in a greater desire for more extensive social safety nets.

Put another way, conservative brains are all like, "Well, I would never let myself get into that position. Even if I did, I'd get myself out of it. I don't see why they deserve help." and liberal brains are all like, "Even if that person didn't make the best choices at every juncture in their life (or even made lots of bad ones), I can totally understand how they made the choices they did. At some less wise point in my life, I might have made the same decisions. They deserve our help."

I have both sides in my brain. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941737)

In certian circumstances certian policies make sense like abortion rights, in other circumstances like the right to bear arms I value my freedom and my rights to carry a weapon at all times.

Its the American political scene that's screwed up, its designed to fight against ourselves and the people who are caught in the middle are those who haven't fully seen either sides options and been able to pick and choose from either side.

It has nothing to do with genetics and hard-coded wiring of our brains, I believe its our upbringing which exposes us to varying levels of either left or right policies and behavior that decides whether or not we will vote left or right.

Interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941755)

I actually want to see how this would classify me given that while my reactions for friends / people in general are stronger than my family / country reactions, I'm incredibly risk averse on a personal level.

Structural? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#42941765)

It's not hardwired: If it were, we'd be able to do these scans at birth or an early age and find similar patterns. But we don't. Which means the brain's structure changes in order to specialize in certain thought and behavior patterns. The fact that this applies to politics as well as, say, geospatial, tasks, should be absolutely no surprise.

It's disengenuous to suggest these things are hard-wired because they imply they cannot be changed. Except they can: I've known many people who, after experiencing a significant emotional event, altered their politics, religious affiliation, and even base personality traits. The human brain is exceptionally malleable. This study only offers a snapshot at a particular point in time and suggests that if certain structural properties are present, the thinking pattern is likely to be of a certain type. It does not say whether that structure was present before, after, or the extent to which it can be changed, and if so, how quickly.

It's like taking a photograph of a car driving down the road and assuming that it's on that road, and only that road, forever.

Neuroplasticity, duh. you do it to yourself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941819)

Cowards are on the right. That is not news!

"No, the other left." (0)

Shag (3737) | about a year ago | (#42941799)

Given how many times I've told people I was dating over the years "no, the other left!" or "no, the other right!" to avoid getting into crashes or whatever, I'm guessing neither is hard-coded in some people's brains.

Two party bullshit (5, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | about a year ago | (#42941817)

Oh look, it's news reinforcing the false premise of the two party system.

Re:Two party bullshit (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#42942117)

Notice, however, that it's built on a left/right dichotomy just vague enough to promote argument. I almost suspect this is Slashdot's way of making us all wish we'd spent more time moderating submissions.

I don't believe it (3, Insightful)

stenvar (2789879) | about a year ago | (#42941831)

"Liberals" (in the modern US sense of progressives / left wing) are enormously fearful and risk averse: they want governmental protection against unemployment, against medical expenses, against global warming, against guns, and lots of other things. Granted, the nature of these fears are seemingly more rational and plausible than those of conservatives (who seem to fear anything from the wrath of God to being tempted into homosexuality by gay marriage), but they are still driven by fear.

The only group who isn't driven by fear is libertarians, people who actually have trust in their ability to make a living somehow and survive in an uncertain and changing world, independent of God or government help. Libertarians are often linked with "conservatives", but they are more accurately described as classical liberals.

Re:I don't believe it (2, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | about a year ago | (#42941949)

That's why I am basically a libertarian in outlook. I don't want help from the public, and really kind of resent being made to support people who should be doing for themselves. I'm fine with some programs to help the old, sick, or infirm... but demmit get off your ass and do something if you can.

And I say this after being unemployed, living hand-to-mouth, and refusing to take benefits.

Life can suck, get a fucking helmet and get to work! And after the hard times comes good times!

You're not a libertarian (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942079)

You seem to be confusing libertarianism with standard republicanism. Libertarians believe in individual freedom and choice, which includes both the freedom to go out there and do well for yourself and also the freedom to choose a more social life instead of joining the rat race.

It's a pure right-wing stance that those who lack interest in the rat race deserve to end up on the scrap heap. You seem to share that belief, so you're not a libertarian at heart at all.

Re:I don't believe it (5, Insightful)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about a year ago | (#42942125)

What about those of us that want a universal health care system because the system we have now costs society more in things like crime, lower productivity and inefficiency that a universal system would?

It has nothing to do with fear, it is just practicality. The profit motive for medicine is not really working and it leading to pretty poor health outcomes. Based on various recent studies our computer systems give about 40% better patient outcomes at about 50% of the cost.

I think the medical system is due for a massive overhaul to make it work better and cheaper but I don't see that happening with the corporate system we have now and I also doubt that the kind of universal health care system we can get in this country would get us there either but it would still be better than what we have now.

For global warming the way I see the problem is companies are allowed to damage private and communal property without paying for it. If companies that damaged underground aquifers by fracking had to actually play the FULL COST to clean up the damage they would do it safely or stop pretty quickly. The entire reason that companies can do all this polluting is they are externalizing the costs to the taxpayer and future generations in return for profits for them right now. Look at BP, the fine they got for polluting the gulf of mexico is insignificant compared to the costs of the cleanup. So long as that remains true they are going to keep doing it because that is the way the incentive structure is setup. You get the behavior you incentivize for, not the behavior you claim to support.

For guns I just want universal background checks. I don't care about the clip sizes or the types of weapons very much. Especially given that pistols are the most common weapon used to kill people not rifle type weapons.

I do like government protection against unemployment. Mostly because I like that more than desperate people doing whatever they can to get food for themselves and their family which costs a lot more to the society than just helping them. However I don't think we help people effectively. If you lose your job it would be nice if your skills could be evaluated and training offered for indemand positions. So a welding company that can't fill a position could basically tell a government jobs program about the position and a person could be offered to be trained for that position.

Sometimes social programs are just the cheapest way to solve a given problem. It is a nice idea to say that everyone needs to stand on their own and deal with their own problems. However humans are also pretty violent when pushed into a corner and if someone has no other way to get food they will tend to just take it which is more expensive for all of us.

so savage was really onto something.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941855)

How far a step is this from 'discovering' that some political viewpoints mental disorders?

No (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941857)

The doctor uploads that with a JTAG after birth...

such elaborate language (0)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about a year ago | (#42941873)

to point out the already-known fact that cowards are cowards.
The defining characteristic of conservatism is fear.

Where is non-idiot neither peoples? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941911)

I find the "left" and "right" people stupid and offensive to humanity. And these fruitpies love to think every person is either left or right. Is there an antidote other than murdering all these lefty and righty dittoheads. GAH

Two Kinds of People (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42941935)

There are two kinds of people:

People with ambition who want to build their own empire and support themselves (conservatives)

Lazy people who want the collective to take care of everybody and make everybody the same (liberals)

Then there is one third class: politicians who do nothing but live off the labor of others claiming some omnipotence to tell everybody else what they should and should not do (scum of the earth - regardless of party)

Cause or Effect (1)

cpaglee (665238) | about a year ago | (#42942015)

This study only discovers what liberal brains look like, not whether they are liberal because of their brain, or their brain developed in that fashion because they are liberal.

Worthless Science. Who paid for this worthless study?

Labels are meaningless in this context (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942021)

Such meaningless labels. Let me give two counter-examples regarding the alleged "left seek novelty"/"right fear change" divide:

- for reasons I've never entirely understood, environmentalism is stereotypically "leftie", and yet a large part of environmentalism is fear of change to the environment: be it deforestation, CO2 emmission, whatever. Founded or not, at root it's mostly down to an "intense physical reaction to threatening stimuli" (eg fear of what changes pumping more and more CO2 will cause).

- extreme capitalism... you know, "right wing" stuff... is all about the mantra "change (or progress/growth) is good". If you fear change then your hardly going to start dropping trade barriers and advocating for a free market that practically guarantees change and relies on novelty to remain strong.

yeah... (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about a year ago | (#42942025)

Another batch of liberals trying to justify their existence. Heard it before.

Re:yeah... (1)

steeviant (677315) | about a year ago | (#42942227)

Another batch of liberals trying to justify their existence. Heard it before.

You're just reacting that way because you're afraid that Liberals might change something.

Ignore (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942035)

Please ignore this story.

PLoS ONE is a scientific shit-heap. No intelligent person seriously considers anything that is published there.

More quack science (1)

Aeonym (1115135) | about a year ago | (#42942051)

If conservatives are risk averse, why are a strong majority of successful businessmen and entrepreneurs conservative? Please don't say it's because greed and the desire to keep their money overpowers their inherent timidity at the world. That would be incredibly smug.

If liberals love uncertainly and novelty, why are they the ones who push for the certainty and banality of pervasive welfare programs? Please don't say it's because their inherent love of "people" overpowers their personal inclination for uncertainty. That would be incredibly patronizing.

Re:More quack science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942209)

Okie dokie. Lets give it a try.

Keeping money generally entails being risk averse. Statistically speaking you might get rich by taking big risks, at the right time but you don't stay rich by taking *real* risks. You only invest minor parts of your fortune into any one thing once you've got it. That risk averseness is probably why they are generally against anything that would effect their money, its a risk to them that they "might need it" someday.

On the liberal side, if you're more willing to take risks, you probably also desire mitigation to make sure those risks aren't "fatal" (whether in the literal or financial sense), and most of those safety nets are not "middle class life level", they are not positions you want to be in, just ones that give those who want to take it an actual fighting chance.

The Genetic Influence on Political Beliefs (4, Interesting)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | about a year ago | (#42942107)

From the article Not by Twins Alone: Using the Extended Family Design to Investigate Genetic Influence on Political Beliefs [wiley.com]


Variance components estimates of political and social attitudes suggest a substantial level of genetic influence, but the results have been challenged because they rely on data from twins only. In this analysis, we include responses from parents and nontwin full siblings of twins, account for measurement error by using a panel design, and estimate genetic and environmental variance by maximum-likelihood structural equation modeling. By doing so, we address the central concerns of critics, including that the twin-only design offers no verification of either the equal environments or random mating assumptions. Moving beyond the twin-only design leads to the conclusion that for most political and social attitudes, genetic influences account for an even greater proportion of individual differences than reported by studies using more limited data and more elementary estimation techniques. These findings make it increasingly difficult to deny that—however indirectly—genetics plays a role in the formation of political and social attitudes.

The article can be found here [152.98.160.29].

This is complex indeed.

Biologically encoded behavior (1)

steeviant (677315) | about a year ago | (#42942123)

If I read the article correctly, the differences can be summed up thus:

Conservatives fear change - which leads to thinking that the current state of affairs is the best possible one and should never change
Liberals fear conflict - which leads to pandering and decisions by committee or focus-group that try to please everyone

Both groups need to recognize that we are actually capable of acting in a way that is contrary to our biological biases in the same way as we are able to resist these urges in the same way as we are able to resist going to the toilet until we reach a commode.

Life is not that simple (2)

markdavis (642305) | about a year ago | (#42942129)

Real political philosophy is not a one-dimensional "right" or "left". I know it is hard for some people to grasp, but you can't describe everything political on that stupid scale.

Shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42942137)

If Liberals take more risks, shouldn't Wall Street be teeming with Democrats? To be fair, I have no data to disprove that hypothesis, only a really strong gut feeling that I'll find a few Mitt Romney fans in finance. Maybe that instinct to reject the article is my hard-wired conservativism.

Not likely... (3, Insightful)

blahplusplus (757119) | about a year ago | (#42942149)

... since americans are among the most uninformed electorates on the planet today. The average american, and average slashdot poster is CLUELESS about politics.

The reality is america is totally hard right, obama would have been not long ago a moderate republican (which is hard right the rest of the world). So you have a bunch of clueless americans who are voting between basically what amounts to the same flavor of hard right ideology with little difference. Many americans then make a big stink about their uninformed political views and opinions.

Reality is the average american is too ignorant/stupid to have any kind of informed political view of america given the huge amount of propaganda that pervades their media and education system.

Cough -- (1)

wbtittle (456702) | about a year ago | (#42942171)

Science, in studies like this, manages to forget science. Science is finding what is wrong with your idea.

These folks (and all people who practice epidemiology irrationally, which is most) get lost in death and forget life.

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