Tuesday, January 24, 2006


I'm guessing that at least 3 of our regular readers, of which there are (sadly) probably no more than 5, will be interested in this LiveScience article.

The article reports a study in which human subjects with strongly held political beliefs were presented with information that contradicted their preferred candidate from the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains did not exhibit increased activity in areas involved in reasoning. The subjects then reached conclusions that were not justified based on the facts given to them, at which point brain activity "spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix." In short, the "study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making."

So, care to guess weather it was the die-hard Republicans or the dyed-in-the-wool Democrats who so ably demonstrated their irrationality? The answer: both. Fascinating, eh? It appears that both conservatives and liberals can be unreasonable when they hold strong pre-existing opinions. So try to keep an open mind, will ya?

By the way, I suspect that this same pattern would be observed when people with entrenched opinions on other topics are faced with correspondingly contradictory statements.


  1. I was at the conference where this data was presented. It was pretty amusing to see images of the brain scans, because everybody in the crowd knew what they implied before the speaker had a chance to explain them. Much laughter ensued.

  2. That's pretty impressive. I'm usually half asleep partway through the first talk in each session, so I have to be spoon-fed the interpretation and ramifications of any data, otherwise I just miss the point.

    Seriously though, it's cool that you got this from the horse's mouth.