Saturday, April 09, 2011

Brains differ in liberals, conservatives

There is little doubt that liberal and conservative brains do systematically differ. Liberals seem to have a bit missing where caution should be and an extra large bit where hatred resides. But proving that is another matter. The human brain is very complex and even particular parts of it seem to have many functions. The findings below do show that Left/Right brains differ but the detailed interpretation put on the results is just word-play. When does "fear" become "caution", for instance.

And the brain area said to drive "fear" is the amygdala. And associating the amygdala with "fear" is ludicrously simplistic. Other research has been interpreted as showing the same area to be associated with greater "sociability", for instance. So it would be equally logical to say that conservatives are more sociable rather than more fearful.

And the anterior cingulate cortex, which is said to be bigger in Leftists, is usually associated with emotion. So Leftists are more emotional! I won't quarrel with that!

The research below is interesting but hopelessly over-interpreted. All that the interpretations tell you is the politics of those who did the interpreting

EVERYONE knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.

Liberals have more grey matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study today in Current Biology.

"We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased grey matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala," the study said.

Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.

"Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual's political orientation," said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place. "Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure."

The study was based on 90 "healthy young adults" who reported their political views on a scale of one to five from very liberal to very conservative, then agreed to have their brains scanned.

People with a large amygdala are "more sensitive to disgust" and tend to "respond to threatening situations with more aggression than do liberals and are more sensitive to threatening facial expressions", the study said.

Liberals are linked to larger anterior cingulate cortexes, a region that "monitor(s) uncertainty and conflicts", it said.

"Thus, it is conceivable that individuals with a larger ACC have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts, allowing them to accept more liberal views."

It remains unclear whether the structural differences cause the divergence in political views, or are the effect of them.

But the central issue in determining political views appears to revolve around fear and how it affects a person.

"Our findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty," the study said.


The original journal article is here. It regurgitates a lot of other old myths too. But I have already written on them in the journals (e.g. here) so I will not repeat myself here.


Government Shutdown 2011? – Things You Need To Know

Both sides are attempting to play political hardball. During the 2010 campaign, the Republicans promised to cut $100 billion from the budget for 2011 and they know that Tea Party activists are going to hold them accountable. The Democrats control the Senate and the presidency and they probably figure that when push comes to shove that many of the new, inexperienced Republicans in the House can be intimidated into giving in.

But in the end it really doesn't matter that much who wins this battle. The Republicans are proposing $61 billion in budget cuts which would cut the budget deficit for 2011 by only 3.8 percent. The Democrats are proposing $33 billion in budget cuts which would cut the budget deficit for 2011 by just 2.1 percent. Is that extra 1.7 percent really going to make a massive difference over the long run? Of course not.

But right now Republicans and Democrats are both in the mood for a fight, so we really might actually see a government shutdown.

If the government does shut down, it probably won't be for too long. The longest government shutdown of all time ended in early January 1996 and it lasted just 21 days.

So exactly what would happen if there is a government shutdown in 2011? If it does actually happen, the following are 16 things you will need to know....

#1 Hundreds of thousands of "non-essential" federal workers will be told to stay home during a government shutdown.

#2 Those in the military will not receive paychecks during a government shutdown but they will be required to keep performing their duties.

#3 The Obama administration is anticipating "significantly lower staffing levels" at the White House if a shutdown happens.

#4 Barack Obama will continue to be paid during a government shutdown.

#5 Congress will also be paid and will continue to operate at close to normal levels during a government shutdown.

#6 The Federal Reserve will continue to operate normally during a government shutdown. The Federal Reserve is not part of the U.S. government.

#7 In all probability, all government employees will eventually receive any pay that is missed during a government shutdown. During the 5 day U.S. government shutdown back in 1995, approximately 800,000 "non-essential" government employees were told not to come in to work. But eventually they all got paid retroactively anyway.

#8 During a government shutdown, the Department of Homeland Security will suspend operation of its e-Verify system. Employers will be unable to verify the immigration status of job applicants and that could have a substantial negative impact on hiring.

#9 The processing of small business loans and FHA mortgages will be delayed during a government shutdown.

#10 The U.S. Postal Service will not be affected by a government shutdown. You will continue to get your mail.

#11 According to the Social Security Administration, everyone that is currently receiving Social Security benefits will continue to receive those benefits during a shutdown. New applications will be delayed however.

#12 Medicare payments will continue during a government shutdown, but there will be a delay in processing new applications.

#13 During a government shutdown, the processing of paper tax returns by the IRS would be delayed.

#14 If there is a government shutdown, the processing of passport and visa applications could be seriously delayed. This could have a negative impact on the tourism industry.

#15 National parks, museums and tourist attractions will be shut down. According to the Washington Post, "about 500,000 visitors could be turned away this weekend alone from the National Zoo and the major Smithsonian museums on the Mall".

#16 The annual Cherry Blossom Festival parade in Washington D.C. that is scheduled for this weekend would be cancelled.

So why don't the two sides just compromise on a figure and get it over with? Well, it is just not that simple.

Barack Obama is pledging that he will not sign any budget bill that cuts funding for Planned Parenthood and the Environmental Protection Agency.

But to Republicans those are very important things. Many Republicans are sick and tired of large amounts of money going to the Planned Parenthood abortion mills and many Republicans are determined to take away the EPA’s authority to regulate the "greenhouse gases" that many Democrats believe are causing "global warming".

If the Republicans back down they risk alienating their Tea Party supporters. And we have already seen what happens to Republican politicians that cross the Tea Party. The truth is that many Tea Party activists are already upset with the compromises that Republican leaders have been making.

Originally, Republicans had pledged to slash $100 billion from the budget for this year. Then, they said that $61 billion was good enough because a large portion of the fiscal year was already gone.

Now that there are rumors that Boehner may be willing to reduce that figure even further, some Tea Party activists are becoming extremely upset. Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips posted the following message on his organization's website about a month ago.... "The Tea Party movement should find a candidate to run against John Boehner in 2012 and should set as a goal, to defeat in a primary, the sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives."

The truth is that this entire controversy shows how divided America is right now. The Democrat base is simply not going to accept cuts to Planned Parenthood or the EPA. The Tea Party base is simply not going to accept the small budget cuts that the Democrats are offering.

So who is going to give in? Whichever party does give in is going to have a lot of explaining to do to their base. But if neither side gives in we could be in for an extended government shutdown. It is certainly a fascinating game of "chicken" we have got going on. It is going to be extremely interesting to see who blinks first.

Personally I think it is going to be Boehner that is going to cave. If he can get the Democrats to agree to a budget cut figure in the neighborhood of 40 to 50 billion dollars I think he is going to grab it and try to "spin" it as a great victory for fiscal conservatives.

Unfortunately, the truth is that no matter who "wins" this current battle government debt is going to continue to soar. The Obama administration is projecting that the deficit for this year will be 1.6 trillion dollars. Even if we were to cut $100 billion from that number it would barely make a dent. The U.S. financial system is dying, and nothing that the Republicans or the Democrats are doing right now is going to change that.



Your government will protect you

Air traffic controllers have been catching a lot of grief for sleeping on the job lately. But do you know what Transportation Security Administration officials have been doing -- or rather, not doing -- lately? A federal watchdog revealed this week that TSA's counterterrorism specialists failed to detect 16 separate jihad operatives who moved through target airports "on at least 23 different occasions." The name of the TSA monitoring program paying for all this flying-blind failure, I kid you not: SPOT.

Under the "Screening of Passengers by Observation Techniques" plan, TSA's designated behavior detection officers are supposed to closely watch travelers who pose potential security risks and who exhibit any number of appearances or activities "indicative of stress, fear, or deception." But long-entrenched, bipartisan American political correctness hampers the kind of effective, efficient national security profiling that Israeli airline security officials practice so well.

The result? TSA's snoozing SPOT-ters catch nobody -- for fear of being accused by the grievance lobby of singling anybody out.

Stephen Lord, who specializes in homeland security issues at the Government Accountability Office, reviewed Justice Department documents showing that "in December 2007 an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to Somali terrorists boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport en route to Somalia. Similarly, in August 2008, an individual who later pleaded guilty to providing material support to al Qaeda boarded a plane at Newark Liberty International Airport en route to Pakistan to receive terrorist training to support his efforts to attack the New York subway system."

Other terror suspect travelers who slipped through the cracks have been subsequently tied to the 2008 Mumbai bombings; the plots to attack a Quantico, Va., Marine base and New York City infrastructure; and an attack by a Pakistani-trained American jihadi on an Afghanistan base.

Young. Male. Muslim. Traveling to al-Qaida friendly hot spots. How did these at-risk terror tourists escape scrutiny?




WI: Prosser gains 7,500 votes, reversing unoffical election result: "In a political bombshell, the clerk in a Republican stronghold released new vote totals adding a net total of 7,582 new votes in the tight state Supreme Court race to Justice David Prosser, swinging the race significantly in his favor. Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus said Thursday that she failed to save in her computer and consequently report 14,315 votes cast in the city of Brookfield, omitting them entirely in an unofficial tally released after Tuesday's election. The new totals give 10,859 more votes to Prosser from Brookfield and 3,456 more to Kloppenburg, she said."

Israel shells Gaza after anti-tank missile deliberately fired at school bus: "Israeli artillery and attack helicopters retaliated on Thursday after an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit an Israeli school bus, seriously wounding a teenage boy and injuring several others. Israeli forces immediately struck back, shelling various locations across the Gaza Strip, killing a 50-year-old man and wounding at least eight people including a 4-year-old girl, Palestinian medics said"

Shutdown can’t come soon enough: "In anticipation of the possibility that Congress will fail to 'reach a compromise' on a spending bill, CNNMoney reports that 'a shutdown is looking ever more likely.' Even in the event of a 'shutdown,' reminds the article, the federal government’s essential services, those 'operations necessary for the safety of human life and protection of property,' would carry on. It is perhaps telling, though, that government employees 'who protect … elements of the money and banking system' are among those 'essential' workers. In light of a potential 'shutdown,' the last of which came in 1995, we might take some time out to consider what the essence of the state really is, that is, what it is inherently designed to do in society."

Double standards on impeachment: "So The Nation was in favor of impeachment when the war was Bush's and it was useful to win votes for Dems in the 2006 elections. The Nation's editor was delighted with Holtzmann's article featured on the cover. But The Nation and the same editor now stand mute when the war and the violation of the Constitution are Obama's."


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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