Bad Science: Do Liberals Have Better Brains?

By DonPMitchell Posted in Comments (18) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

New of a neuroscience study hit the mainstream media last week, that NYU professor David Amodio had proven that "liberals" have brains that processed new information more effectively than "conservatives". Kudos to William Saletan, at, for some much-needed debunking:

Saletan is by no means a conservative himself, but he seems to value the concept of truth more than some people in the soft sciences.

He criticizes several details of the study, which was based on "conflict monitoring". I'll let you read the article. My own criticism would extend to questions of how one even scientifically classifies a person as "liberal" or "conservative". Are we talking Goldwater conservatives here, or Jerry Falwell conservatives? Is a hardline doctrinaire Marxist a progressive open-minded liberal thinker?

The tendency to medicalize unpopular behavior is often suspect. We all do it, when confronted with a person who believes something we do not, we are quick to say they are stupid or crazy. But when the scientific establishment does this formally, it is more serious, and there has been extensive criticism of this practice in psychology and psychiatry (e.g., Michel Foucault). Now we see political belief medicalized by liberal scientists, attempting to prove that conservatism is neurologically inferior to liberalism.

It also seems to me that folks like Amodio and previous authors of such studies like Frank Sulloway at Berkeley are failing to cite prior art. Psychologists in the Soviet Union proved long ago that anti-leftist thinking is a psychologically defect. They benevolently treated folks for this disorder by imprisoning them in mental hospitals.

My apologies for some last minute edits that messed up the grammer of my article. When will I ever learn to preview...

You only need to look at the posts of liberals on this site to come to the conclusion that their brains are most definitely not functioning well, let alone better
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Bcause thy have never been used and remain perfect inside the tinfoil wrappers.

The sentence should read - because they have never been used and remain perfect inside the tinfoil wrappers.

If you're a Conservative, you're SICK! Actually this kind of thing pops up from time to time -- the last time, the story was that Conservatives are basically whiny, disgruntled children. I can tell you from firsthand experience that every psychology major in this country has a theory about why Republicans are sick. The main reason is that almost every psychology major in this country is a liberal/leftist, and so it's a natural process. Everyone has a theory, and the sad part is that they can get the funding to do these worthless studies. I can tell you all about how it works, but then I'll have to kill you.

The stupidest time in my life (and I'm saying this as a person with an IQ that has been tested in the "genius range", whatever that means) was when I was a self-identified leftist/liberal. You cannot *believe* the things I bought into in the name of intellectual "openness" and "curiosity." It takes quite a bit of experience (probably about a decade in most cases) to really be able to get some distance on your ideas -- at which point you begin to realize how silly a lot of them were.

In other words, I was a very smart Democrat before I became an even smarter Republican. I would like to extend my heartfelt and existential thanks to a few people here on this blog for their assistance:

1) Nick Danger/Robert A. Hahn
2) Paul Cella
3) Thomas
4) Joshua Treviño
5) Gamecock

Making the most of what you already have is a wonderful thing to be able to do, and for a long time I was so terribly lost because I had the grey matter but was applying it badly.

How is he ever going to accept the fact that while he was doing all that work on the Apollo Flight Computer and the Poseidon Missile Guidance System at MIT for IBM he was, in fact, unable to process information as effectively as his peers.

He'll be devastated to learn this, I can tell you.

"We liberals are smart, doggone it, and people like us!"

I figure they have to write these things from time to time to reassure each other that they aren't a bunch of bozos. Given how successful they've been with their politics lately, they must wonder.

After getting their clocks cleaned in election after election for over a decade, they finally win one. What happens? They get their clocks cleaned again, this time by the hated "Booosh," whom they insist is an idiot. Only six months after sweeping into Washington as the hailed victors, they are more unpopular than the "unpopular" President.

In the face of all this, they need some professor to tell them that they are smart. It's the only evidence they've got.

Drink Good Coffee. You can sleep when you're dead.

"Every little boy and girl
That's born into this world alive
Is either a little Liberal
Or a little Conservative." - Iolanthe

they were the first generation to get their philosophies/beliefs from pop music.

and I base my conclusion on personally observed data spanning more than forty-years (Pre-teen years excluded):

Liberals "react."

They respond based almost entirely on their "emotions" or "feelings." -- "How do you feel about...?" --

It is a rarity for a liberal to answer a question that begins with - "What do you think about...?" - without altering the context of the question and substituting an emotional response that includes the words - "I feel..."

Conservatives are able to distinguish the contextual differences between "think" and "feel" and will respond accordingly.

Therefore, the liberal mind probably is more "effective."

To consistently pursue the emotional track completely ignores rational thought, requires less cerebral effort and produces more uniformity.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

The study's lead author, NYU professor David Amodio, told London's Daily Telegraph that "liberals tended to be more sensitive and responsive to information that might conflict with their habitual way of thinking."

They are; I was. There's absolutely no doubt about it. The problem is that they're absolutely rudderless. And if you read enough liberal "critical thinking" the only conclusion that you can reach is: "why be alive?"

I was so responsive to information that conflicted with my habitual way of thinking that I could be pushed around by almost anyone, even people much, much less intelligent than I was: all I needed to do was have my *empathy* kick in and tell me that they were pitiful, and because they were pitiful, they needed my help. It's a death spiral.

From a political point of view, the only good thing about Liberals is that they tend to be very vicious toward their own loved ones. In fact, they're much more critical and vicious of their loved ones than they are of others, because they don't want to be identified with any of the negative traits in their loved ones.

Garrison Keillor was correct about that, even though he didn't intend to be; he was trying to make fun of it, but it's true: the worst person you can be in a liberal family is one of the family who doesn't toe the line of the latest liberal fad.

They're horrific to each other in reality. Go to a liberal law school and really listen to what they say about each other behind the scenes: they hate each other. They're all like the original members of the Sex Pistols.

to my observations.

Each of these - empathy, pity, viciousness and hate - are emotional responses.

Non-conformity is simply not tolerated, and the collective will respond ruthlessly. Again, another emotional response.


“Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they are ignorant, but that they know so much that isn't so.” – Ronald Reagan

Coincident with the stupidest period in my life (which I take full responsibility for) was the added influence of actually *being* a leftist/liberal during that time, and taking myself seriously as one.

It was the most self-hating, most dejected and pessimistic time that I've ever lived through. The worst thing that can happen to anyone who is a leftist/liberal is to take themselves really seriously -- suicide seems like a good answer, and believe me, if you can't find one reason to be depressed and quasi-suicidal, you'll turn right around and find someone else to give you another one to chew on.

Postmodern liberalism is all about deconstruction and ex-post-facto guilt. If you take it seriously, especially as a "privileged white male", you might as well be dead. I almost was, and you can go there yourself if you'd like. You'll find it very easy to indoctrinate yourself at any of our nation's most esteemed universities.

There are two kinds of people: those who believe you can classify everyone into two neat groups, and those who don't.

As a scientist, I've thought about human intelligence and had the privilage of knowing some very smart people. People's mental skills are complex and varied, and classifying people into neat catagories or measuring their ability with a single parameter like IQ is impossible. And the idea of classifying people primarily by whether their poltics are "liberal" or "conservative" is one of the stupidest I've seen.

Across the spectrum of religious or politcial beliefs, you can find people who are thoughtful and analytic, and you can find people who are ignorant, zealous and intolerant.

I was going with the spirit of the thread. I generally don't classify people that I meet firsthand. I've been more impressed by cabdrivers in Chicago than I have been by some of the professors that I've known, for example. But if we're going to overgeneralize, let's overgeneralize.

I believe intolerance of certain things is a virtue. I know that there are some things that I JUST WON'T TOLERATE any more. I'm an absolutist about those things, particularly when it comes to the expansion of government. I won't tolerate that, and I don't care how much empathy I have for the people proposing it.

One of the other things, that I think was very salutory from what Greenspan has said in his recent book, is that Ronald Reagan had very clear ideas about what government should and should not do.

He was anathema then because of that, he's anathema now in certain circles. But that's the kind of guy we're looking for, and Greenspan came right out and said it.

I have a zero-tolerance policy for the expansion of government and I also have NO tolerance for the continued influence of leftists in our Univeristies. None. I'm absolutely judgmental about that.

and mostly wrong about Bush. Mostly right about GOP congress.

Clearly, Greenspan had no problem with expanding government if his pal Bill was doing it.

Mike Gamecock DeVine @ The Charlotte Observer
"One man with courage makes a majority" - Andrew Jackson

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