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The Differences between Liberal and Conservative Brains

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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02 January 2020 17:17
 

Two different mindsets, two different worlds:

1. Being scared can make you more conservative.
2. A conservative brain is more active in different areas than a liberal one.
3. On the other hand, feeling safe and endowed with strength might make you lean a little more liberal than you otherwise would.
4. Liberals are less squeamish about looking at yucky stuff like vomit, feces, and blood.
5. Conservatives tend to display more ordered thinking patterns, whereas liberals have more “aha” moments.
6. Liberals tend to follow the wandering gaze of others more often, while conservative eyes stay more focused on the original subject they’re looking at.
7. Holding conservative views seems to make people more resistant to change and help them explain inequality.
8. Liberal and conservative tastes in music and art are different, too.
9. Liberals are more likely to describe themselves as compassionate and optimistic, while conservatives are more likely to say they’re people of honor and religion.
10. Conservatives believe they have more self-control.
11. Liberals and conservatives extend feelings of compassion to different people.

https://tinyurl.com/y292qes4

•  Conservatives are pro-gun because they want to be able to defend themselves against criminal threats of any type.
•  They are mostly religious because religious rituals foster feelings of safety in a dangerous world such that the most dangerous countries in the world are also the most religious (1).
•  They tend to be more hostile to immigrants, foreigners, and racial or ethnic minorities and to view them as more of a threat.
•  They fear attacks by other nations and therefore support a strong military and a bellicose foreign policy on the theory that a good attack is the best defense.
•  Apart from military defense, where government is an asset, conservatives fear government intrusions into their lives and particularly fear having their wealth eroded by taxation.
•  They are pro-family because being surrounded by close relatives is the best defense against threats that surround them.
•  They oppose welfare for the poor because this encourages dependence so that the failures of a society are parasites on the successes thereby inverting the proper incentive structure.
•  They admire wealth because successful people are seen as having worked hard in pursuing a moral obligation to provide for themselves and their families in a difficult and uncertain world.

•  Liberals feel that protection of citizens against crime is better left to police and that armed citizens are a threat to those around them.
•  They are less religious than conservatives because they perceive the world around them as less threatening. Moreover, they rely more on science, and education, as a means to solve problems.
•  Liberals are more welcoming to immigrants. They are less likely to view foreigners, and racial or ethnic minorities as a threat.
•  They favor negotiation and consensus-building over warfare in foreign policy and do not believe in excessive military buildups that drain social spending.
•  Liberals are happy to pay their taxes if they believe that the money is being used to improve the quality of life of others whether they are poor or rich. Instead of being a threat, the government reflects the will of the people.
•  Liberals are less interested in family ties as a protective bubble.
•  They support welfare programs for the poor because these may reduce child poverty, as well as reducing crime and social problems.
•  Liberals are suspicious of wealth feeling that much of it is inherited or obtained through sharp business practices or outright corruption. They also feel that concentrating resources in the hands of the one percent impoverishes everyone else thereby undermining social trust (1).

https://tinyurl.com/yad4zsnj

Carney’s team describes conservatism “as an ideological belief system that is significantly (but not completely) related to motivational concerns having to do with the psychological management of uncertainty and fear. . . Similarly, concerns with fear and threat may be linked to the second core dimension of conservatism, endorsement of inequality.”

1. Flattering liberal portrait:

“They [Liberals] do not equate downtrodden or impoverished status with inherent unworthiness or inability . . . In a nutshell, liberals are less selfish and more empathic and tolerant than conservatives. Their fear of aiding the undeserving is outweighed by their fear not helping the truly needy . . . Liberals do not need to bolster their self-esteem by living in a stratified society in which they can claim superiority over this or that group . . . Finally, liberals do not blame the victim or make defensive attributions . . . Liberals acknowledge that fate can be capricious and that bad things happen to good people.”

2. Flattering conservative portrait:

“Conservatives realize the importance of incentives and that no, or little, aid is often the best help of all. The conservative response to social problems avoids the simplistic first response of treating the symptom by creating a new and expensive government program . . . conservatives are more integratively complex than liberals because they understand how often well-intentioned political reforms have unintended consequences or perverse effects . . . Finally, conservatives understand how free markets work, [they] recognize that the invisible hand of free market competition leads in the long term to incentives to produce good at levels of quality and quantity that satisfy effective demand for those goods.”

3. Unflattering liberal portrait:

“They practice, in effect, a kind of social homeopathic medicine that treats symptoms rather than underlying causes . . . They fail to take into account the growing burden on the economy and the perverse incentives that dependency on public programs creates . . . Liberals not only exaggerate the efficacy of government; they underestimate the creativity of the free market. Many liberals mindlessly condemn capitalism as a culture of greed and ignore the power of the market to stimulate hard work, investment and entrepreneurship . . . [Liberalism] is a reflection of the widespread ‘psychology of dependency’ in which government, by transference, takes on the role of nurturant, powerful parent.”

4. Unflattering conservative portrait:

“[C]onservatives do not understand how prevalent situational constraints on achievement are and thus commit the fundamental attribution error when they hold the poor responsible for poverty . . . [C]onservatives are too prone to engage in zero-sum thinking, either I keep my money or the government takes it. They fail to appreciate the possibility of positive-sum resolutions of societal conflicts . . . Conservatives cling to the comforting moral illusion that there is a sharp distinction between allowing people to suffer and making people suffer. Finally, conservatives fail to recognize that even if each transaction in a free market meets their standards of fairness, the cumulative result could be colossally unfair. Some people will acquire enormous power over others . . . [C]onservatism and compassion are antithetical.”

https://tinyurl.com/ydce595y

It all adds up, according to Hibbing, to what he calls a “negativity bias” on the right. Conservatives, Hibbing’s research suggests, go through the world more attentive to negative, threatening, and disgusting stimuli—and then they adopt tough, defensive, and aversive ideologies to match that perceived reality.

https://tinyurl.com/y5yu72jl


  Political liberalism and conservatism were correlated with brain structure
  Liberalism was associated with the gray matter volume of the anterior cingulate cortex
  Conservatism was associated with an increased right amygdala size
  Results offer possible accounts for cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives


  Conservative brains are more active in declarative and episodic fact-based memory and negative emotions like fear.
  Liberal brains are more active in terms of emotional awareness and empathy.

Conservatives and liberals don’t just have differences in thinking, they seem to have biological and genetic differences too.

Liberals and conservatives don’t just have different ways of seeing the world, their brains usually looked different under an MRI. It seems that using just brain imaging alone one can guess whether a person is liberal or conservative with about a 60- 70% accuracy.

https://tinyurl.com/y8f3zgeh

[ Edited: 02 January 2020 19:38 by Cheshire Cat]
 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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03 January 2020 07:39
 

I despise polarized partisanship. I think it sabotages nearly every worthy project we could be pursuing as a community. I don’t know if these preferences are hardwired but I really hope that isn’t true. I hope its just the kind of juvenile projection and search for identity that people can grow out of.

 

 
Quadrewple
 
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Quadrewple
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03 January 2020 20:43
 

This is why arguing politics is almost completely pointless.

There are different gene sets, different “brain types” and there are ex-post facto justifications for those which we call “policy positions.”

There are horrifically stupid conservative arguments and horrifically stupid liberal arguments, just like there are stupid libertarian arguments and stupid statist ones.

The best any of us can do is stop making the really stupid arguments for our positions.

Also, people oftentimes come to the most reasonable conclusion present but have an embarrassingly stupid answer for how they got there.  People of all sides use this fact to discredit individuals instead of admitting that someone can be right about something without being able to verbalize why.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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03 January 2020 21:38
 

Human beings usually reach conclusions and make decisions intuitively. The post-hoc process of rationalizing these intuitive conclusions and decisions creates the illusion of having arrived at them through reason. The latest thinking is that rationalizing and defending intuitive conclusions is actually the purpose of reason! The purpose of reason is not—as was traditionally thought—to arrive at accurate conclusions and informed decisions. Which explains why study after study has found that human beings are bad at “reasoning” according to the traditional meaning of the word. (The Enigma of Reason; thanks again for the recommendation, Burt.)

What does it mean to reach a conclusion or make a decision intuitively? It means that the conclusion or decision is determined by the kinds of things described in the OP, and not by facts, evidence or logic.

The situation doesn’t have to be as hopeless as it seems, though. The authors of Enigma claim that accurate conclusions can still be reached when individuals defend their intuitive conclusions against those of other individuals. In other words, reason only works if individuals are willing to listen to other individuals with differing intuitive conclusions and modify their own conclusions when it makes sense. The authors make clear that spotting the flaws in other individuals’ intuitive conclusions is easy, whereas spotting the flaws in our own is nearly impossible.

Unfortunately, our two political parties and their cheerleaders in the media have come to realize that they have a vested interest in preventing the kind of dialog between their respective members that would allow them to reach accurate conclusions and make informed decisions: “divide and conquer.”

Ditch your political party! Transcend your useful idiocy! Then sit back and watch the Reds and Blues demonstrate, ad nauseam, the “enigma of reason.”

America Is Now the Divided Republic the Framers Feared

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 06:29
 

ASD:

Human beings usually reach conclusions and make decisions intuitively.

Yes, but.  Let’s dive into that word “intuition”. Cognitive scientists who study expertise use “intuition” and “expert intuition” almost interchangeably. And what they mean is something like “the demonstration of expertise that cannot be explained”. And the definition of an “expert” is someone who, in their domain, performs well, RELIABLY. So a chess master is an expert. She has played thousands of tournament games and has demonstrated the skill to play well reliably, move after move after move. But she cannot explain how she made her last move. She has what’s known as “tacit knowledge”. This sort of expert intuition or tacit knowledge is held by everyone for mundane day to day tasks (like walking - which cannot be explained), and it’s held by every flavor of expert: master plumber, computer programmer, diagnostician, sports coach, and on and on.

ASD:

The post-hoc process of rationalizing these intuitive conclusions and decisions creates the illusion of having arrived at them through reason.

I will agree that - post-hoc - we try to make explicit our implicit / tacit knowledge. But I disagree that the original “intuition” was not arrived at through reason. It was arrived at through reliable reasoning that simply cannot (yet) be made explicit.

Put another way, it’s frequently the case that the part of the brain that can talk, is NOT the part that holds expertise.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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04 January 2020 08:04
 
icehorse - 04 January 2020 06:29 AM

ASD:

Human beings usually reach conclusions and make decisions intuitively.

Yes, but.  Let’s dive into that word “intuition”. Cognitive scientists who study expertise use “intuition” and “expert intuition” almost interchangeably. And what they mean is something like “the demonstration of expertise that cannot be explained”. And the definition of an “expert” is someone who, in their domain, performs well, RELIABLY. So a chess master is an expert. She has played thousands of tournament games and has demonstrated the skill to play well reliably, move after move after move. But she cannot explain how she made her last move. She has what’s known as “tacit knowledge”. This sort of expert intuition or tacit knowledge is held by everyone for mundane day to day tasks (like walking - which cannot be explained), and it’s held by every flavor of expert: master plumber, computer programmer, diagnostician, sports coach, and on and on.

ASD:

The post-hoc process of rationalizing these intuitive conclusions and decisions creates the illusion of having arrived at them through reason.

I will agree that - post-hoc - we try to make explicit our implicit / tacit knowledge. But I disagree that the original “intuition” was not arrived at through reason. It was arrived at through reliable reasoning that simply cannot (yet) be made explicit.

Put another way, it’s frequently the case that the part of the brain that can talk, is NOT the part that holds expertise.

I don’t disagree with the gist of what you’re saying. “Expert intuition” essentially mirrors so-called “deep learning” neural network artificial intelligence that learns to play chess or read X-rays, etc.. Like the human “expert,” deep learning AI cannot explain how it reaches its conclusions.

However, I don’t see how you can claim that “intuition” and “expert intuition” are interchangeable. “Expert intuition” leads reliably to correct conclusions, as you say. But “non-expert intuition?” Leads reliably to flawed conclusions. This is born out in study after study, which leads to the so-called “enigma of reason:” if the ability to reason is an adaptive trait whose purpose is to arrive at accurate conclusions about reality, how to explain why humans do it so badly?

It’s as if I claimed that the evolutionary “purpose” of a peacock’s tail feathers was to help it escape from predators. You would rightly claim that the tail feathers impede the peacock’s ability to escape from predators by slowing it down. “Ah,” I say, “that’s the enigma of the peacock’s tail feathers: they evolved to help the peacock escape from predators, and yet they actually interfere with that very thing! What a mystery!” In fact, it’s not a mystery at all because the purpose of the peacock’s tail feathers is for an entirely different purpose than escaping predators: attracting mates.

So it is with reason. We’re probably disagreeing on semantics, but if the real purpose of reason is to rationalize, post-hoc, intuitive conclusions—whether they’re right or wrong—then the process of arriving at intuitive conclusions cannot also be called “reason.” I’d say it’s more like an elaborate process of pattern recognition. “Recognition” being a subconscious, or intuitive, act. Which is exactly how deep-learning AI works: pattern recognition.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 08:20
 

Happy New Year ASD!

I should have bolded a word from your earlier post:

Human beings usually reach conclusions and make decisions intuitively. The post-hoc process of rationalizing these intuitive conclusions and decisions creates the illusion of having arrived at them through reason.

For the sake of this discussion I’m fine to distinguish between the kind of unreliable “intuition” you refer to and the kind of reliable “expert intuition” I brought up. Both flavors are common.

That said, my claim is that expert intuition plays a far more dominant role in our lives than might seem intuitive. The part of our brain that can talk, cannot reliably: execute motor control skills, read people, diagnose, predict, categorize, design, and on and on. My sense (I’m less sure of this part), is that the part of the brain that can talk is closely allied with the “ego”. The ego likes to think it’s in charge of stuff, but the reality is that most of what we can do, we do in spite of our ego’s help, not because of it.

 
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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04 January 2020 08:20
 

I’m not sure politics changes minds as much as it rallies the like-minded.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 08:30
 
Skipshot - 04 January 2020 08:20 AM

I’m not sure politics changes minds as much as it rallies the like-minded.

We gotta figure out ways to improve our abilities to change minds.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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04 January 2020 08:45
 
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:20 AM

Happy New Year ASD!

I should have bolded a word from your earlier post:

Human beings usually reach conclusions and make decisions intuitively. The post-hoc process of rationalizing these intuitive conclusions and decisions creates the illusion of having arrived at them through reason.

For the sake of this discussion I’m fine to distinguish between the kind of unreliable “intuition” you refer to and the kind of reliable “expert intuition” I brought up. Both flavors are common.

That said, my claim is that expert intuition plays a far more dominant role in our lives than might seem intuitive. The part of our brain that can talk, cannot reliably: execute motor control skills, read people, diagnose, predict, categorize, design, and on and on. My sense (I’m less sure of this part), is that the part of the brain that can talk is closely allied with the “ego”. The ego likes to think it’s in charge of stuff, but the reality is that most of what we can do, we do in spite of our ego’s help, not because of it.

I agree that intuition plays a bigger role in our lives than we realize. In general, people tend to attribute far more of their behavior than is warranted to “consciousness” (the “ego,” as you put it). Attributing intuitive conclusions—expert or not—to “reason” is one example.

Where we disagree is on the commonness of the two flavors of intuition. Based on all the studies that have been done on the subject—and based on the stark differences in the way people of different political stripes perceive reality—it seems to me that “expert intuition” is far less common than the unreliable flavor.

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 08:52
 

ASD:

Where we disagree is on the commonness of the two flavors of intuition. Based on all the studies that have been done on the subject—and based on the stark differences in the way people of different political stripes perceive reality—it seems to me that “expert intuition” is far less common than the unreliable flavor.

My experience is that the concepts of expert intuition and tacit knowledge are not widely known and not often cited. Do you have any links to the studies you’re referring to? I’m wondering whether you’re bringing other ideas like “bias” into the mix?

That said, I’d speculate that when people talk about large complex systems like politics or economies, you’re correct - there is a LOT of unreliable intuition happenin’.

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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04 January 2020 08:53
 
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:30 AM
Skipshot - 04 January 2020 08:20 AM

I’m not sure politics changes minds as much as it rallies the like-minded.

We gotta figure out ways to improve our abilities to change minds.

A good place to start is to ditch your political party. Belonging to a political party interferes with your ability to reach accurate conclusions about reality in the same way religion does. But of course you don’t believe that. You believe the converse to be true: that reaching accurate conclusions about reality led you to support one party or the other. That’s the “ego” talking!

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 08:56
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 January 2020 08:53 AM
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:30 AM
Skipshot - 04 January 2020 08:20 AM

I’m not sure politics changes minds as much as it rallies the like-minded.

We gotta figure out ways to improve our abilities to change minds.

A good place to start is to ditch your political party. Belonging to a political party interferes with your ability to reach accurate conclusions about reality in the same way religion does. But of course you don’t believe that. You believe the converse to be true: that reaching accurate conclusions about reality led you to support one party or the other. That’s the “ego” talking!

Your ability to guess my political persuasions is poor. Care to take another whack? You’re down to infinity - 1 possibilities smile

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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04 January 2020 09:00
 
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:52 AM

ASD:

Where we disagree is on the commonness of the two flavors of intuition. Based on all the studies that have been done on the subject—and based on the stark differences in the way people of different political stripes perceive reality—it seems to me that “expert intuition” is far less common than the unreliable flavor.

My experience is that the concepts of expert intuition and tacit knowledge are not widely known and not often cited. Do you have any links to the studies you’re referring to? I’m wondering whether you’re bringing other ideas like “bias” into the mix?

That said, I’d speculate that when people talk about large complex systems like politics or economies, you’re correct - there is a LOT of unreliable intuition happenin’.

I’d recommend the book I linked above. Also, I’m pretty sure you read Kahneman’s Thinking fast and slow? That included examples of how “fast thinking” (intuition) often leads to flawed conclusions.

Bias is a part of intuition, isn’t it? You can’t escape it. Maybe one of the differences between “expert intuition” and “unreliable intuition” is the degree to which bias influences intuitive conclusions?

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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04 January 2020 09:12
 
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:56 AM
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 January 2020 08:53 AM
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:30 AM
Skipshot - 04 January 2020 08:20 AM

I’m not sure politics changes minds as much as it rallies the like-minded.

We gotta figure out ways to improve our abilities to change minds.

A good place to start is to ditch your political party. Belonging to a political party interferes with your ability to reach accurate conclusions about reality in the same way religion does. But of course you don’t believe that. You believe the converse to be true: that reaching accurate conclusions about reality led you to support one party or the other. That’s the “ego” talking!

Your ability to guess my political persuasions is poor. Care to take another whack? You’re down to infinity - 1 possibilities smile

I’m guessing you’re an independent, like me, or maybe a member of a third party. Like me, you probably agree with more of one party’s positions than the other’s, but at the same time realize that the party itself is primarily self-interested and bad for our country. That political division is by design, a Machiavellian tool employed by both parties to stay in power.

Here’s a podcast you might be interested in, if you haven’t already listened to it: America’s Hidden Duopoly

 
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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04 January 2020 09:12
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 04 January 2020 09:00 AM
icehorse - 04 January 2020 08:52 AM

ASD:

Where we disagree is on the commonness of the two flavors of intuition. Based on all the studies that have been done on the subject—and based on the stark differences in the way people of different political stripes perceive reality—it seems to me that “expert intuition” is far less common than the unreliable flavor.

My experience is that the concepts of expert intuition and tacit knowledge are not widely known and not often cited. Do you have any links to the studies you’re referring to? I’m wondering whether you’re bringing other ideas like “bias” into the mix?

That said, I’d speculate that when people talk about large complex systems like politics or economies, you’re correct - there is a LOT of unreliable intuition happenin’.

I’d recommend the book I linked above. Also, I’m pretty sure you read Kahneman’s Thinking fast and slow? That included examples of how “fast thinking” (intuition) often leads to flawed conclusions.

Bias is a part of intuition, isn’t it? You can’t escape it. Maybe one of the differences between “expert intuition” and “unreliable intuition” is the degree to which bias influences intuitive conclusions?

Does “The Enigma of Reason” discuss expert intuition vs. non-expert intuition? Does it discuss tacit knowledge? This isn’t meant to be snarky, I’m asking a favor.

Yes, I would agree that bias is an unescapable component of all flavors of intuition, and yes, I read Kahneman.

The bias that I’m emphasizing in this conversation is the bias we all have towards assuming that the part of our brain that can talk “is all that”. When you recognize that wildly inaccurate bias, you start to see how a lot of discussions about humans ought to be recast.

 
 
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