(Justin Gardner) We’ve all heard the phrase: “Let’s not talk about politics.”
A new scientific study shows why people readily abandon rationality for political beliefs. It also underscores how well Establishment forces have been able to push the populace into an ‘us vs. them mindset.
Researchers at the Brain and Creativity Institute used functional MRI – a revolutionary technique that maps the brain by coupling cerebral blood flow and neuronal activation – to find out what happens in the brain on politics.
“When people’s political beliefs are challenged, their brains become active in areas that govern personal identity and emotional responses to threats, neuroscientists have found.”
This would certainly explain how a hyper-partisan atmosphere breeds knee-jerk hostility, and agreement on anything becomes out of reach.
“During their brain imaging sessions, participants were presented with eight political statements that they had said they believe just as strongly as a set of eight nonpolitical statements. They were then shown five counter-claims that challenged each statement…
The study found that people who were most resistant to changing their beliefs had more activity in the amygdalae (a pair of almond-shaped areas near the center of the brain) and the insular cortex, compared with people who were more willing to change their minds.
“The activity in these areas, which are important for emotion and decision-making, may relate to how we feel when we encounter evidence against our beliefs,” said Kaplan, a co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center at USC.
“The amygdala in particular is known to be especially involved in perceiving threat and anxiety,” Kaplan added. “The insular cortex processes feelings from the body, and it is important for detecting the emotional salience of stimuli. That is consistent with the idea that when we feel threatened, anxious or emotional, then we are less likely to change our minds.”
Instead of treating a political subject like a normal debate topic – weighing factual evidence and its relation to other significant realities – it can quickly devolve into an irrational state. Enlightenment is sacrificed as the goal becomes defeating ‘the other.’
As Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” Sadly, this is becoming an endangered art.
The situation is ripe for exploitation by the propaganda machine to advance The Narrative. The corporatocracy and mainstream media thrive when people are distracted by meaningless arguments and manufactured rage. Rational discussion is a threat to the establishment.
Now, what passes for the national discourse is nothing more than shouting matches by talking heads armed with the day’s talking points – as seen on cable TV ‘news’ channels. Amygdalas are running wild.