Sunday, February 15, 2015

Conservative and liberal brains again

Ever since the first twin studies of the matter came out in the '80s, I have been pointing out that political orientation has a substantial inherited component and hence arises from inborn differences in the brains of liberals and conservatives.  That is not at all a popular proposition among either the right or on the Left but the scientific evidence for it continues to accumulate.  We can now specify to a degree the actual brain regions involved.

The Left endeavour to "spin" the findings concerned in a way favorable to themselves so I do occasionally take a little time to "unspin" such claims.  Below is another example.  It was reported as "Liberals have more tolerance to uncertainty (bigger anterior cingulate cortex), and conservatives have more sensitivity to fear (bigger right amygdala)".  So conservatives are scaredy cats and liberals are fine tolerant people.

They base that on the following excerpt from the original research report:

"...[O]ur findings are consistent with the proposal that political orientation is associated with psychological processes for managing fear and uncertainty. The amygdala has many functions, including fear processing. Individuals with a larger amygdala are more sensitive to fear, which, taken together with our findings, might suggest the testable hypothesis that individuals with larger amagdala are more inclined to integrate conservative views into their belief systems... our finding of an association between anterior cingulate cortex [ACC] may be linked with tolerance to uncertainty. One of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex is to monitor uncertainty and conflicts. 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."

As you can see, the report authors were much more tentative in interpreting their findings than were the commentators on it.  The commentators have turned maybes into definite statements.

Most such reports are however parsimoniously interpreted as conservatives being more cautious, which is hardly a discovery. And if there is something wrong with caution then there is everything wrong with a lot of things.  Science, for instance, is a sustained exercise in caution. So conservatives are born more cautious and Leftist brains miss most of that out.  So the "sensitive to fear" report above could be equally well restated as "cautious".  And the finding that liberals "have a higher capacity to tolerate uncertainty and conflicts" is pure guesswork.  As the report authors note, that is just "one of the functions of the anterior cingulate cortex".

I give the journal abstract below, paragraphed to make it easier to follow:

Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults

By Ryota Kanai et al.


Substantial differences exist in the cognitive styles of liberals and conservatives on psychological measures [1]. Variability in political attitudes reflects genetic influences and their interaction with environmental factors [2, 3].

Recent work has shown a correlation between liberalism and conflict-related activity measured by event-related potentials originating in the anterior cingulate cortex [4]. Here we show that this functional correlate of political attitudes has a counterpart in brain structure.

In a large sample of young adults, we related self-reported political attitudes to gray matter volume using structural MRI. We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala. These results were replicated in an independent sample of additional participants.

Our findings extend previous observations that political attitudes reflect differences in self-regulatory conflict monitoring [4] and recognition of emotional faces [5] by showing that such attitudes are reflected in human brain structure.

Although our data do not determine whether these regions play a causal role in the formation of political attitudes, they converge with previous work [4, 6] to suggest a possible link between brain structure and psychological mechanisms that mediate political attitudes.

Current Biology 21, 677–680, April 26, 2011 ยช2011. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2011.03.017


Obama White House dithered for nearly a month before launching bid to rescue ISIS hostages Kayla Mueller, James Foley and Steven Sotloff

The United Kingdom gave the Obama administration intelligence in June 2014 about where in Syria the ISIS terror army was holding its American captives, but the White House dithered and missed its opportunity to rescue them, according to a shocking report published Thursday.

U.S. and British officials said the administration sat on the information for nearly a month before launching a military raid to recover American aid worker Kayla Mueller and journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

By the time a rescue was mounted on July 4, 2014, the hostages had been moved.

All three are now dead. ISIS militants executed Sotloff and Foley, and ISIS claims a Jordanian airstrike killed Mueller when it hit a buiding where she was being held.

The Daily Beast quoted an unnamed American official saying that Obama’s national security team refused to plan a rescue mission around information gathered by a foreign government.

'The issue was that they didn’t trust it, and they wanted to develop and mature the intelligence, because it wasn’t our own,' the American official said. 'They got the information. They just didn’t trust it. And they did sit on it, there’s no doubt about that.'

British officials and private security contractors said that hesitation was a source of frustration since a string of videotaped ISIS executions began in August and might possibly have been prevented.

British intelligence had learned in May of last year from released ISIS captives the locations of two or three places where hostages were being held captive, according to the Daily Beast.

The UK also had surveillance images from satellites and drones, and the results of some 'electronic eavesdropping.

The information wasn't certain until early June, however. By then the British government had a 'positive identification and that information was shared with Washington,' according to a British source who spoke with the Daily Beast.

National Security Council spokesperson Bernadette Meehan insisted that 'U.S. forces conducted this (rescue) operation as soon as the president and his national-security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations.'

But Foley's mother Diane said the U.S. also had intelligence from the French government about the hostages' whereabouts as early as March 2014 but did nothing about it.  'That was part of our frustration,' she told the Daily Beast.

'The State Department said they were connecting with the French and everybody at the highest levels. Very specific information was available as early as mid-March.'

'And that’s what’s been so tough for us as families, because apparently they were held in the same place all those months,' Foley said.

Obama himself has pushed back against the idea that he acted too slowly.  'I don’t think it’s accurate then to say that the United States government hasn’t done everything that we could,' he told the Buzzfeed website on Tuesday.



US Marines in Yemen Forced to Surrender Their Weapons!

Joe Otto

I am furious. I was going to write today about a different topic, but I just learned something that has left me absiolutely livid.

The Obama administration evacuated the U.S. Embassy in Yemen. That wasn’t too much of a surprise. We knew that this day would come.

Iran-backed rebel fighters toppled Yemen, a country that Obama once touted as a War-on-Terror success story, has.

Some of the last personnel to leave the embassy were the Marine guards. When they got to the airport, they were allegedly ordered to remove the firing pins from their weapons and surrender them to Yemeni officials. The Houthi rebels would not let them take their weapons with them and orders came down from Obama’s State Department for the Marines to hand them over to the rebels.

This story has created quite a scandal and the administration is trying to cover their actions. They’re now claiming that service rifles were destroyed at the embassy, but that the Marines’ personal weapons were surrendered to Houthi rebels at the airport.

Not a chance. As many as 100 Marines were providing security for the convoy travelling to the airport. When have on-duty Marines providing a security escort ever used their privately owned weapons? I’d venture to guess NEVER.

Words cannot describe how infuriating this is. I never served in the military, but I have enough friends who have served to know that Marines don’t surrender their rifles. Ever.

It is just so disgraceful. I mean honestly, what is the point of this?

The Marine guards could have taken their weapons with them. Instead, they were instructed to surrender them to Yemeni officials in some messed up ceremony straight out of Obama’s politically correct playbook!

The Obama administration can’t stop surrendering to our enemies! Demand that Congress intervene!

It’s one thing to surrender a diplomatic post. At the end of the day, the safety of our personnel has to be our top priority. If the country is going to hell and terrorists are taking control of the government, then it is time to move our personnel to safety.

But that’s not what happened today. What happened today was a surrender ceremony where U.S. Marines were forced to hand over their rifles to a rebel force.

The headline reads “U.S. Marines in Yemen Forced to Surrender Their Weapons” but the headline should read “Houthi Rebels Killed Trying to Seize Marines’ Weapons.”

Some media outlets are reporting that the rifles were destroyed. That is a LIE! The Marines removed the rifles’ firing pins. The only way to truly destroy a weapon is to take a blowtorch to it, which I doubt was done in the backseat of an SUV while these Marines were racing to the airport.

Now, these Iran-backed Houthi rebels have American rifles and 20 of our vehicles. They’ve also stormed the Embassy and taken it over.

Meanwhile, our perpetually stupid State Department announced that it is confident that these rebels will let the Americans back into the Embassy.

Yes, folks… it doesn’t get dumber than this. We evacuated our embassy, had our Marines surrender their weapons, and ran with our tail between our legs. And while the rebels are ransacking our embassy, State Dept. Spokesperson Marie Harf has the gall to say the administration is “confident” we’ll be allowed to return.

This is what I’m talking about. This wanton disregard for the facts that permeates through the entire investigation.

Islamic terrorists attack a Kosher deli in Paris? The administration says that is nothing but a random attack…

ISIS burns a captured pilot alive? Obama says we can’t judge because of atrocities committed by Christians 1000 years ago…

Shi’ite rebels seize and ransack our embassy after Marines are ordered to surrender their weapons? Don’t worry; they’ll let us come back…

These rebels are shouting “Death to America” from the courtyard of our embassy. It takes a special kind of stupid to believe that these extremists – who control the Yemeni government – would ever let Americans return.

I knew that the Obama administration’s weakness would come to a head sooner or later, but I never imagined something like this. I never imagined that Marines would be humiliated and forced to surrender their weapons…

Do you want to know why the world is in chaos? It is because the Obama administration is weak and unwilling to stand up to our enemies.

Now, the President wants Congress to give him a blank check to fight ISIS however he pleases. This Authorization for the Use of Military Force will determine how ISIS and other extremists are fought for the remaining years of Obama’s presidency. Barack Obama is telling Congress, “Don’t worry about the specifics… I know what I’m doing.”

Absolutely not! Barack Obama has proven himself to be unfit to fight the war on terror on his own. His idea of fighting terror is to remove the phrase “radical Islamic extremism" from our lexicon, send weapons to our enemies, and force our Marines to surrender their rifles to the enemy.

Six months after calling Yemen a success story, the U.S. Embassy is now in rebel hands.

Congress has the constitutional authority to decide how the fight against ISIS will be waged. It is imperative that you tell your Congressman and Senators to intervene!


UPDATE:  The USMC says the weapons were destroyed, not handed over


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog

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