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Brain Differences In Liberals and Conservatives 1248

Posted by kdawson
from the thinking-differently dept.
i_like_spam writes "Scientists from NYU and UCLA report in Nature Neuroscience that the brains of Democrats and Republicans process information differently. This new study finds that the differences are apparent even when the brain processes common information, not just political topics. From the study, liberals were more likely to be accurate and showed more brain activity in the region associated with analyzing conflicts. A researcher not affiliated with the study stated, liberals 'could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.' Moreover, 'the results could explain why President Bush demonstrated a single-minded commitment to the Iraq war and why some people perceived Sen. John F. Kerry... as a flip-flopper.'"
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Brain Differences In Liberals and Conservatives

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  • by denzacar (181829) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:31AM (#20550359) Journal
    From TFA:

    Previous psychological studies have found that conservatives tend to be more structured and persistent in their judgments whereas liberals are more open to new experiences. The latest study found those traits are not confined to political situations but also influence everyday decisions.
    Conservatives are conservative while liberals are liberal? O_o?

    Like... Whoa!
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:32AM (#20550361)
    A young person who isn't a liberal has no heart. An old person who is has no brain.

    So could it be that the mental flexibility of youth makes them more susceptible to liberalism (in the modern usage of the word) than the more experienced minds of the older generations?
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:35AM (#20550385)
    Thanks a bunch kdawson.

    (I've shown considerable restraint in pointing this out in the last 10 similarly crap stories, but enough is enough.)
  • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:43AM (#20550431)
    actually, according to tfa liberals are better thinkers.
    imho old persons become conservative just because of decline of cognitive functions due to old age.
  • It's maths. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:46AM (#20550457)
    The only reason you have a black and white Liberal - Conservative divide in the US is the mathematics of how your electoral system works. Other countries with sane electoral systems actually have shades of grey.

     
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:56AM (#20550521)

    , I don't really think there have been any new religious ideas of significant value in, say, 2,000-ish years.
    Both Christianity and Islam are basically judaism with a bit added on top. Most people don't know that Islam began in the 7th century, it's younger than both christianity and judaism.

    Having said that. I don't think there are any religious ideas of signifcant value. Buddhism I'd class more as philosophy.
     
  • Re:Just In! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:58AM (#20550543)

    or why Liberals are a bunch of pansies that want to back out of a war we need to win and can win?
    1. It takes great courage to admit you were wrong and back out of the war. It doesn't take great courage to start a war.

    2. This war should not be about "winning the war" or being a "pansie", it should be about stopping the suffering of the Iraqi people.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:59AM (#20550549)
    Don't forget this quote:
    "An open mind is like a fortress with its gates unbarred and unguarded."

    So yeah, you can flame them as much as you want, they're not going to change that easily.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:12AM (#20550615)

    1. It takes great courage to admit you were wrong and back out of the war.
    Yes, it certainly does. Assuming, of course, that you *were* wrong. That's pretty well the whole debate about Iraq there, isn't it?

    It doesn't take great courage to start a war.
    Let's all hope that you're never in a position to find out just how wrong you are.
  • by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:17AM (#20550667)

    actually, according to tfa liberals are better thinkers.
    actually, the tfa says nothing like that. It says liberals tolerate ambiguity better, and conservatives think in a more structured manner. Which is better (if at all) would depend on the situation.

    imho old persons become conservative just because of decline of cognitive functions due to old age.
    imho you're not old enough to have the experience required to know just how valuable experience can be.
  • by Nursie (632944) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:20AM (#20550687)
    Liberals aren't the folks who got so wound up in paranoia and fear that they cheered on the POTUS to invade a country that had fark all to do with any attacks on the US. Liberals aren't the ones constantly bleating about terrorists and alert levels and all the other nonsense.

    But yeah, it's liberals that are the wussy scaredy cats....

    Right.
  • by Lethyos (408045) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:24AM (#20550711) Journal

    You may want to do some reading before using the term. Start here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism [wikipedia.org].

  • by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:25AM (#20550713)

    this means that liberals actually think about what they do and are more accurate because of it.
    Or, it could mean that liberals are incapable of learning from previous experience.

    and this means that conservatives have difficulties to gasp changes and understand new ideas (nothing new here).
    Or, it could just mean that the conservatives are trying to use the experiences of the past to predict the outcome (albiet unsuccessfully, in this test).

    Now come on, folks - lets get real here. I've only read a half dozen comments so far, and already people are extrapolating WAAAAAAAAAAAAY too much from a simple test .... has anybody noted that the two people quoted in the article - one referring to "liberal" vs "conservative" way of thinking, and another doing "an analysis" of the study - aren't even connected to the study?

    Call me conservative ... but I think I'll wait till I've had a chance to get my hands on a copy of the article before I come to any conclusions.

    Uh-uoh - I think I just tolerated some ambiguity .... does that mean I'm not conservative after all?
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JonathanR (852748) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:29AM (#20550741)
    Finish fixing what problem, exactly?
  • Re:It's maths. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Qrlx (258924) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:45AM (#20550831) Homepage Journal
    Other countries with sane electoral systems actually have shades of grey.

    Really?

    Name three. France's fractious electoral system was gamed by Le Pen, the UK has Blair. Russian democracy is in retrograde, Italy can't make it through Act II of the opera, and Germany's Grand Coalition conjoins shades of gray at the expense of white and black. China doesn't have elections, and voting in Japan is like choosing Mothra or Gamera. (Hint: Vote Mothra!)

    Before you say "You forgot Poland" there are about 100 other countries where people's votes also don't matter, simply because their countries have become less than relevant. I'm looking at you Canada, Australia, and Iraq. LOL!

    That leaves you with, I dunno, India, and to be fair I haven't the faintest clue how the "world's largest Democracy" takes care of business. But I have a hunch "money" still buys, well, whatever it wants. Heck, I'm pretty sure skin color still plays a role. Tata, salesman.

    (If you disagree with my post, I kindly suggest you mod me down, get a sex change, and move to Darfur.)
  • Re:Just In! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhima (46039) <Bhima.Pandava@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @06:59AM (#20550929) Journal
    Please don't start with the socialist thing. Americans do not know what "socialism" is and they've co-opted the word to use as an insult. Much like "Liberal" and "Conservative" are no longer definitions of political ideology but epithets. In this black and white world of false political dichotomy there is no room for moderates and there is no understanding of any political ideology outside of those espoused by the two faces of the single American political party (Republicans & Democrats).

    In much the same way that religious voters will tolerate massive corruption and sexual perversion from politicians who claim deep religious convictions (of the White Anglo Saxon Protestant variety only please) . American's will tolerate outright evilness on the part of the avowed anti-communist & anti-socialist capitalist businessmen and lobbyists.

  • by tjstork (137384) <todd...bandrowsky@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:02AM (#20550939) Homepage Journal
    The deal is not so much that conservatives like corporate leaders, it is that conservatives believe that if they work hard, and get a bit lucky, they can form their own business as well, and achieve a degree of independence. On the other hand, a socialist system offers no independence at all.

    Really, conservatives place such a high premium on independence and freedom and that they are willing to accept a lot of other shitty things to get it. As much as conservatives talk about God and Jesus, really, they are all fixated on Dante's Devil, proclaiming, "It is better to rule in Hell than serve in Heaven"...
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Gorshkov (932507) <admgorshkov AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:02AM (#20550947)

    Well, dude; I didn't really get the impression that the neocon hawks that started this whole mess had a lot of courage. It's not their necks after all. Greed? Deception? Lies? Croniism? All of the above? I'd say yes. But sure as hell not courage. I think the evidence now pretty much indicate what a bunch of lying war-criminal-weasels the current US administration actually is
    If you honestly think that *any* president of the US doesn't spend a lot of time very carefully thinking about the cost of military adventures - especially the cost of lives on the soldiers - then you need a lot more help than what a Democrat in the White House can give you.

    As I said earlier, you can debate whether or not the war is worth the cost, or if it should have been fought at all .... but if you think the decision was made lightly, you need to check the shielding on your house - I think radio waves from the secret satallites the French uncovered is leaking in.

    I may be conservative, but I'm neither arrogant nor close-minded enough to believe that somebody is stupid, callous, or a coward just because they don't agree with me.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pedestrian crossing (802349) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:13AM (#20551005) Homepage Journal

    Finish fixing what problem, exactly?

    The problem of the security vacuum that was created when Hussein was brought down. After we brought down the old order, we failed to step up and maintain order, so now we have the unenviable task of trying to establish order where none exists.

    Our leaders were blinded by their own optimism, now many of our finest are paying the ultimate price for that failure.

  • Re:Just In! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Xiaran (836924) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:15AM (#20551011)
    I may be conservative, but I'm neither arrogant nor close-minded enough to believe that somebody is stupid, callous, or a coward just because they don't agree with me.

    I have no doubt that you as a person are not. However as a non American I must ask what did you think of the treatment of the French. Who disagreed with US policy and have the American media and public ridicule them as a country of cowards and idiots. Even tho I dont like the French(Ive had to work with them :) ) I found this behavior fairly appalling.
  • by KiloByte (825081) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:16AM (#20551019)
    Did I say that sticking to your beliefs is bad? I didn't.
    What is bad, is sticking to them without even considering other arguments. So is being a total flip-flopper: if you can't see which option is better, you should better refrain from choosing one altogether.

    In other words: choose an option and stick with it neither too strongly nor too weakly.

    And, I didn't say I'm a liberal, too. This word has been hijacked by american Commiecrats, a totally despicable party of corrupt populists who tout their version of socialism. I would dare to say they're more despicable than that lying group of power-mongering christian fascists, which is a huge accomplishment.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:16AM (#20551021)
    This story was obviously submitted so that you would see something like an "501 of 896" posting count. It is 100% pure flamebait or perhaps on a higher level a poorly written satire.

    I am not in the middle of this Liberal/Conservative "war," and I can tell you honestly that liberals can be very stupid, and conservatives can be very astute.
  • by Gazzonyx (982402) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:16AM (#20551027)
    I didn't read the article. I have a long day ahead of me and I don't want to read much about politics. That being said, I'm wondering how they qualified liberal vs. conservative? Especially when you consider that on the world wide spectrum, going from pure communism to pure fascism, even the conservatives in the US are fairly liberal. Our subset of the entire spectrum isn't a very long vector.


    Also, are we talking about ideals, financial, or strictly both to qualify conservative or liberal? My ideals are conservative, but I'm financially liberal; were these things weighted? I'd say my socio-economical class doesn't much lean either way (white male, middle-middle class, 23), so is the question just which side I relate to more?


    FWIW, I don't think binary labels are a good tool for representing an analog chunk of an analog spectrum without assigning weights to aspects that are of a social nature. Does anyone else feel that this entire study ended up with a group of people standing around grinning at their excessive cleverness at the end of the day, while no actual scientific work was accomplished?

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:24AM (#20551073) Homepage
    What is bad, is sticking to them without even considering other arguments. So is being a total flip-flopper: if you can't see which option is better, you should better refrain from choosing one altogether.

    Exactly. However, a lot of the ranting about Kerry "flip-flopping" seems to be trying to suggest that sticking to an idea, no matter how cretinously stupid and harmful, is the most important thing and changing your mind in the face of a changing situation is bad and wrong.
  • by jofny (540291) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:27AM (#20551095) Homepage
    Most people here assume just accepting new ideas at face value (which is all the study suggested) is a good thing. The article did not in any way indicate that it tested what the evaluative processes that liberals vs conservatives go through before they integrate new ideas into their view of the world. That's a critical thing to know. Frankly, I want people in charge and those voting to have some initial skepticism and to analyze new ideas before they accept them. Just because you hear it or have an initial thought doesn't make it true or valid.

    On another note, the article indicated that they chose "very liberal" or "very conservative". It's entirely plausible that the extremes are there for biological reasons and those who dont "identify" with their political orientation choose that orientation for different reasons (former biological, latter rational thought)
  • Re:It's maths. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stonent1 (594886) <stonent.stonent@pointclark@net> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:28AM (#20551107) Journal
    When you have 2 ruling political parties, it is easy to make things black or white. When you have about 5 or so like many European countries, you have to include intermediate shades of color. That's also probably why there are no run-off federal elections for President.
  • Re:liberals (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dragonslicer (991472) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:46AM (#20551239)

    I'm looking forward to further research that correlates liberal/conservative preference with population density. It seems that the more urbanized people are, the greater the comfort level with shifting responsibility/authority to the government.
    I think there's a very simple explanation for the correlation between population density and liberals/conservatives. People that are exposed to a wider variety of other people are more tolerant of change and differences in others, while people that live where everyone is of the same race and religion (and I grew up in the whitest state in the US) have their own beliefs reinforced and tend to have trouble handling differences in others.
  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:46AM (#20551243)
    And check this out...

    Participants were college students whose politics ranged from "very liberal" to "very conservative."

    Sorry, but polling COLLEGE STUDENTS does NOT reflect the general populous. Is this stat a little rigged? Very rigged? Think for a minute here--aren't college students naturally more open to doing things? I have seen an awful lot of college students go from "mad liberal" to moderate in a matter of a few years as I am in a "spectatorial" position where we hire guys fresh out of school and watch how they change throughout their careers.

    --parasonic
  • Re:Just In! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pzs (857406) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:48AM (#20551253)
    I guess it goes without saying that democratic politics seems to be something less than the shining beacon of leadership it's meant to be, at the moment. The "left" and the "right" seem to rarely argue from their traditional perspectives anymore (left: more tax, more public services, more rights for gay people and women; right: less tax, more freedom for corporations, "family values") and instead just stick to the party drift. Right: pro-war; left: anti-war.

    In the UK, we even have the leader of the right wing Conservative party (David Cameron) saying he will match Labour's spending commitments. There is now nothing to choose between them in terms of policy. The only difference is whichever set of politicians you think is the least idiotic and selfish.

    In the US, I guess it's whether you're more sickened by the corruption and incompetence of the Republicans or the cowardice and lack of direction of the Democrats.

    Peter
  • by Kongming (448396) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:49AM (#20551257)
    "And, I didn't say I'm a liberal, too. This word has been hijacked by american Commiecrats, a totally despicable party of corrupt populists who tout their version of socialism."

    You can choose to label it what you want, but the version of "socialism" in question would be called "conservative" in most first world nations.
  • by daeg (828071) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @07:58AM (#20551299)
    That's precisely what drove me crazy about the whole Kerry thing. Granted, Kerry wasn't the best candidate. By far. But being able to reason out various thoughts and change your decisions if the situation merits it is a sign of intelligence. Repeating the same thing over and over is something I'd expect a kid with autism to do, not a President or any other politician.

    If a stove burns you every time you touch the hot burner, do you stop touching it and get called a flip-flopper, or learn from the mistake and stop touching it?
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sqldr (838964) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:00AM (#20551313)
    Someone needs to repeatedly remind the French-hating Americans that it was the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys" who won the American war of independence at the battle of Yorktown.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:01AM (#20551329) Journal
    I guess it goes without saying that democratic politics seems to be something less than the shining beacon of leadership it's meant to be, at the moment.

    Got that right.. The last Democrat who was worth a damn was Harry Truman.

    -jcr

  • by ThosLives (686517) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:07AM (#20551379) Journal

    You assume one way is better than another. How un-liberal of you.

    See my sig.

  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:08AM (#20551387)
    "In much the same way that religious voters will tolerate massive corruption and sexual perversion from politicians who claim deep religious convictions..."

    Most religious voters are far and away not religious by their own holy text's standards, it's standard hypocrisy and magical thinking at work.
  • by PJ1216 (1063738) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:11AM (#20551417)
    Well, they probably had them fill out a questionnaire and figured out which way they lean. All your variables are based on that first assumption that they just went by the subject identifying themselves. While its true that may be a possibility in how it's done, it's also not the usual way an experiment would be conducted. And your whole variable of "are the subject of your study representative of all people..." would then make virtually ALL science awful. All science is based off a test sample and than basing some hypothesis that the idea will scale to the rest of society, with some margin of error.

    I don't think its junk at all. Determining differences in cognitive abilities on something such as politics makes a lot of sense. The study doesn't say one is better than another, but it did show a difference in thinking which supports WHY each faction has different tendencies. It doesn't seem out of reach that SO MANY people seem to be split on such basic ideas about the driving forces of our society.

    The only awful science is if you try to say that this article says one is better than the other.

    And yes, "liberal" and "conservative" are subjective titles, but mainly because each is a spectrum characteristic. They're varying degrees of liberalism and conservatism. So, when you try to place someone exactly where they belong, its difficult, but when trying to determine if they're on one half of the spectrum or the other has a lot less guesswork involved.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sqldr (838964) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:34AM (#20551629)
    "France only wins when America does most of the fighting."

    Most? I think Britain and Russia can claim the last one.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:1, Insightful)

    by zifferent (656342) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:37AM (#20551663)

    We were hoping that after Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, you people would have the decency to fade away.

    -jcr

    What does fascist communism have anything to do with socialism? In other words, you have no idea what socialism is and you need to shut up.
    Are you even aware that socialism is more common than straight capitalism? Even in the US. Do realize that there is *gasp* capitalistic fascism that is just as bad if not worse than socialism?
    Grow up. Learn about the world, then foam at the mouth.
  • by phobos13013 (813040) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @08:47AM (#20551755)
    I love how the strength of people's biases filter through to so control how we think and act in this world. The majority of responses here seem to complain about Democrat or Republicanism or some hardly veiled tack. Take a look at TFA, it purely distinguishes between liberals and conservatives (small l and small c) not Democrats and Republicans. THERE IS A HUGE DIFFERENCE. And to assume or extrapolate otherwise is a hugely incorrect step on all our parts. As a matter of fact, the word Republicans isn't even mentioned in the report! Strangely, the word Democrat appears once describing John F. Kerry (which is the most douchebagish way of saying John Kerry...), but regardless. Another important issue, is we cannot link directly to the ACTUAL study in question" [nature.com] (for a separate reason: due to the controlled access of knowledge by academic institutions, which sucks). How do we know truly what the study entails, how the methodology is controlled, etc., without access to the actual paper. This is only possible if you have $30 for the article entry, btw. Nonetheless, as long as Americans continue to automatically draw the line between liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican, black and white, etc., as the article quotes the author of the study: "liberals and conservatives are never going to agree". And articles like this do nothing to help. But ultimately, its all our faults for drawing lines in the sand and being so damned stubborn to the detriment of life, society, and wellbeing.
  • That's all fine and well and your story makes me weep, but the reality is that with your emotional diatribe, you've neglected to mention that these people are not in the USA legally. So, if these "victims" can't even be bothered to follow the laws of getting into the country, why would they even be reliably expected to follow the other laws of the country as well. And you know what, they -don't-.

    So please, don't keep on lying. Immigration and illegal immigration are two entirely different things. Legal immigrants are invited to this country, and improve it. Illegal immigrants are invaders.
  • Re:Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by raduf (307723) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:03AM (#20551921)
    90% of psychological research is done with college students. The side effects of this practice are well known to any researcher worthy of the name, and probably considered when drawing conclusions. I haven't RTFA yet, but if you dismiss it on this motive alone, you'd have to dismiss half of modern psychology with it.
  • Re:It's maths. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:06AM (#20551975)
    Here, here!!!

    Our electoral system is shit, and is forcing us to choose between only 2 options. The people with money clog both sides of the fence to the point no reasonable candidate can put themselves forward because they would essentially be independent of all parties and affliations. This vote "left" or vote "right" bullshit forces people to give up their true values and sell themselves to one of the two, possibly three, parties which have enough clout to appear in front of the eyes of the people.

    The voting system I like best is one where every option is presented on the ballot and every person has the ability to vote "Yes" or "No" on every option. This at least will get rid of the problem of someone winning with only a plurality.

    Right now a third party sucks away votes of support from one of the two dominant parties. This skews the statistics because a third party usually splits the support of one of the major parties. In a voting system like I propose, a person is able to vote yes in all three parties, only yes to two parties, or only yes to one party. This would more accurately reflect the will of the people and get the person elected that the most people agree with.

    Eventually a voting system like the one I am proposing would weaken the dualistic party system. A candidate would only need to get enough money to advertise and run. They would not have to cater to and kiss the ass of one of the major two parties to get further support and funding.

    Our founding fathers only lived under a totalitarian government. They created america as an experiment in democracy. Well the results are in, and a vote "left vs. right" system of voting does not accurately express the will of the people. A more accurate system would be a vote "yes or no on each option." We ran the experiment for 200+ years. Its time to analyze the results, learn from them, and correct the shortcomings. Our voting systems is the biggest shortcoming that I can think of because the way it is set up now is that it kills the expression of the true will of the people.

  • No reality of my "emotional diatribe" is: "Calling two German speaking dark coloured women of Cambodian decent "wetbacks" shows the stupidity of racism." My post and my family have nothing to do with illegal immigrants however racists like yourself obsess over illegal immigrants to the point where they will hassle anyone who does not look or sound like them. In my case my family was on holiday in the US and not illegally working there. Also in my case no one in my family is from anywhere near South America or speaks Spanish. So, regardless of how inapplicable it is, racists like yourself just apply the target of their obsession to whoever looks or sounds different.
  • by jofny (540291) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:18AM (#20552117) Homepage
    In the first split second. That in no way implies it doesn't happen later. Basically, we now know how liberals vs conservatives respond if they have only an instant to think about it - we know nothing about how the process routes afterwards.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:19AM (#20552129) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the inevitability of becoming more conservative as we age is overstated, at least from my observations.

    However -- there is something of a tendency this way, which is readily explained by something market researchers have known for years: the concerns of young people and old people are different.

    When you are young, you don't have much: not much stuff, not much property, not much power. But you have potential. Therefore you favor things that take wealth out of the hands of The Man in order to maximize human potential.

    When you are my age, you have lots more stuff, lots more power, but less margin of error. The twenty year old who loses everything has his entire work career to earn it back. The fifty year old can look forward to a miserable retirement. Therefore you are less interested in exploiting the possibilities of a brave new world, and more interested in holding onto what you already have.

    I would say that the most intellectually committed individuals on the right and left tend to shift less often than the people whose ideology is a shallow "stick it to the man" thing. The latter people's opinions really just reflect their selfish immediate interests throughout their lives.
  • by daeg (828071) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:26AM (#20552233)
    True enough. :-) But some of those examples do indicate learning from mistakes. It's sad, some of his original positions actually made more sense than his later ones.

    Research and willful learning are beyond most of today's politicians, though, which is sad for all parties and every citizen. They do, unfortunately, represent much of America, though.
  • Grrr... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jellomizer (103300) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:30AM (#20552271)
    It is one of those forms of science that annoys me. If I agree with the statement then I give credit for it. If I disagree and point out that say I am a conservative and I think this science is bubkiss then it only proves the science only further. Remembering this is only science and there is statical deviation where most conservatives show a trend of this and liberals show a trend of that. Doesn't mean that a conservative is unable to have a brain the functions like a liberal and vice versa, just more of a trend towards that direction. Sometimes a person is conservative because they spend a lot of time thinking about it and they see the direction that the liberals give is more flawed and in the long run will cause more problems then gains. E.g. Is spending more taxes on a service that has a marginal value vs. not paying the extra taxes and have the person use it towards something that offers better value. Or the opposite can be true, Eg Person A believes that there should be more taxes for government services because they grew up taking handouts from government services and that is the only life they know.
    As for a general trend I would agree with the data but you need to be sure not to go to someone with a republican bumper sticker and assume they are hard nose and cannot learn, or someone with a Democrat bumper sticker(s) (Normally the case with liberals who tend to have more bumper stickers then conservatives) you can assume they will collect information easily and can grasp new concepts easier. Because a trend doesn't equate to people falling into stereotypes, just the fact the dice is weighted slightly to one side.
  • by Xichekolas (908635) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:56AM (#20552667)

    This word has been hijacked by american Commiecrats, a totally despicable party of corrupt populists who tout their version of socialism. I would dare to say they're more despicable than that lying group of power-mongering christian fascists, which is a huge accomplishment.

    More likely that 'liberal' became equated to 'commiecrat' because that is how the Conservatives painted them, just like the Liberals paint all 'conservatives' as 'right-wing nut-jobs'.

    As for the Corrupt Populist Socialists vs. the Power-mongering Christian Fascists... that was just a stroke of pure genius. Sad that our political realm can be summed up so succinctly. Sad, but true...

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @09:57AM (#20552681)
    Everyone is always old enough in his own mind. When I was 15, I was definitly old enough and had enough experience. Or so I thought. I turned 21 and saw what a moron I was at 15. But at 21, I was set, ready and had all the wisdom necessary.

    I turned 25, and could only shake my head at the fool I was at 21. But no more, I swore!

    Now I'm past 30 and, seriously, that idiot I was at 25... let's not talk about him. But finally, I managed to be the pinnacle of wisdom and intelligence, now if my boss (who's gonna go for 50 in a few weeks) would only admit that I am...
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:02AM (#20552747)
    Please use some logic.

    Just because old people who are liberals are brainless, it does not mean that all brainless are liberals.
  • by squiggleslash (241428) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:11AM (#20552881) Homepage Journal

    Well, kinda, but that's largely the result of a media that generally has been manipulated by the right for the last 15-20 years and generally repeats conservative talking points and framing. Liberals have found it harder to frame issues than conservatives have.

    Liberals are generally standing up for the more unpopular issues and aren't looking for things to be terrified of. I spend a fair amount of time debunking various inane "OMG! The US is about to be invaded by... {insert current bugbear here}" chain emails that are increasingly fanatical and insane (the latest involves a Mexican-Canadian overpass, that I thought was someone taking an old Onion story seriously until I did some Googling and found it all over the websites of the right. There is no logic, no sanity, no rationality to this "conspiracy" and yet right wingers the country over are trying to interpret all kinds of facts to fit it.)

    Note, I'm not saying the left doesn't have its own insane conspiracy theories, it's just the left doesn't seem to have that same fear thing going. The left's has to do with the right being increasingly unhinged and manipulative to an extreme, whereas the right's has to do with actual invasions by groups that, in reality, pose little or no threat.

    So the right is cowardly. Their use of framing, to portray Bush as some heroic figure, a "war president", to suggest the principle of "shoot first, ask questions later" is anything other than the response of an immature teen holding a gun while peeing in his pants, is how they get away with it. It is the confusion of using violence with the very often opposite principle of bravery.

  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . c om> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:18AM (#20553003) Homepage Journal

    This story was obviously submitted so that you would see something like an "501 of 896" posting count. It is 100% pure flamebait or perhaps on a higher level a poorly written satire.

    I am not in the middle of this Liberal/Conservative "war," and I can tell you honestly that liberals can be very stupid, and conservatives can be very astute.
    I think that's the wrong way to draw conclusions from this study (the implied conclusions to which you're posing your counter-argument).

    I think the correct conclusion would be that a strikingly even line is drawn through our population. One half freely (to an extent) accepts new information when it's presented. The other half is resistant to new information, and favors information that is older and more established.

    I'd suggest that this is an evolutionary imperative. You need the free-thinkers who are going to provide your edge against the environment and potential rival species / groups. You also need the stability of consistent choices when change turns out to be temporary. For example, if a new source of food appears which has more nutritional benefit, you want to be able to adapt to that, but you want to also resist constantly selecting new foods, as this retards the development of specialized farming / gathering capabilities.

    The use of the word "accurate" in the summary is highly questionable, however. I'll have to read the full article when I have time to understand what they mean by that.
  • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:20AM (#20553029) Homepage Journal
    I suspect that the reason many business owners are conservative has more to do with taxation rates and regulation than cognitive differences.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:39AM (#20553387)
    The situation is worse than that, and in my opinion is one of the reasons that it is practically impossible for a member of the Legislative Branch from running for President. Kerry didn't take a single issue and change his mind a couple of times. Rather what happened was that the issue in question was a rider which was tacked onto three different other bills. What Kerry did was to vote yay or nay on the actual bill and the rider was, well, just along for the ride. Kerry was not voting against sending body armor to the troops, he was voting against making the Bush tax cuts permanent, but someone with an agenda can take that vote and make it look like Kerry was giving the troops the middle finger.

    Every single legislator who has ever voted on a bill has the same exact voting record if you're willing to dig for it. When you can tack arbitrary riders to other proposed bills that is the situation you get. If you take a bill proposed to aid war veterans and tack on a rider to club baby seals there simply is no good way to vote on that bill. You either hate veterans or you hate baby seals.
  • by ZonkerWilliam (953437) * on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @10:52AM (#20553667) Journal
    Considering that majority voters will vote for people who hold common beliefs, I do not see an issue with that. this is one of the problems Democrats seemed to have, they can't connect with the people, the voters.
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalker@nosPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:04AM (#20553893) Journal
    Part of it is learning from mistakes, another part of it is blowing with the political win. In our Representative Democracy we expect our leaders to form knowledgeable opinions and stick to them even if its an unpopular opinion. Simply having an opinion because it is popular leads to mob rule and is ultimately destructive.
  • by megaditto (982598) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:06AM (#20553945)
    Illegal immigration is an administrative violation, and is a lesser crime than speeding or letting your parking meter run out. Do you also consider double-parkers and cellphone drivers criminals or are you anal only towards immigrants?

    'Illegal' immigration becomes an actual crime after an immigrant fails to report to an immigration hearing, or fails to follow a deportation order; doing either is a misdemeanor. I believe working without authorization could also be a misdemeanor. Re-entering the country after having been deported is a felony. Simply being here 'illegally' is neither.

    Congress has tried in the past to make first-time border crossing a misdemeanor or even a felony, but failed.
  • by jbeaupre (752124) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:42AM (#20554669)
    So we should reject the next rich powerful candidate because she is related to a former president? Just trying to apply your logic to present day.
  • Short-term quirk (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seebs (15766) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:54AM (#20554879) Homepage
    In the short term, in America, "right-wing" and "conservative" overlap.

    In general, conservatism is an attempt to preserve existing state, liberalism an attempt to change it, or at least an openness to change. That people who are open to change are open to change is not a surprising result.
  • by Wdomburg (141264) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @11:56AM (#20554937)
    I'm sure your parents think so. :)
  • by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:01PM (#20555039)
    imho you're not old enough to have the experience required to know just how valuable experience can be.

    Is that why the vast majority of people do their best and most well known work before 30.
  • by zegota (1105649) <rpgfanaticNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:12PM (#20555235)
    Sen. Larry Craig says otherwise.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danse (1026) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:20PM (#20555393)

    Our leaders were blinded by their own optimism, now many of our finest are paying the ultimate price for that failure.
    They weren't blinded at all. I watched part of an interview with Cheney from 1994 where he was asked why we didn't invade and get rid of Saddam after he attacked Kuwait. He said (and I'll paraphrase here because I don't have the exact quote):

    If we remove that government, what do we put in its place? Iraq would fly to pieces. It would be a quagmire. We have to ask ourselves, how many American lives is it worth to remove him. We believe not very many.
    So, they knew what the problems were likely to be. I'm not sure how Rumsfeld was able to stand there with a straight face and claim that this war would be quick and cheap. I'm not sure how they were able to claim that we'd be greeted as liberators when they knew that chaos was likely to ensue after the invasion. I'm not sure how they justified sending such a small force to do the job when they knew that there were likely to be huge problems once they created that power vacuum.

    We always get the "things changed after 9/11" argument, which I can understand to a point. That may have made it more appealing to them to remove Saddam, faulty intelligence or not. However, it certainly didn't change the problems that Cheney talked about before. It didn't change the likely outcomes of an invasion one bit. So, I don't know how we could possibly have been so unprepared, but it certainly wasn't because they were blinded by optimism.
  • by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:21PM (#20555411)
    I will point out the flaw, "conservative" and "liberal" are subjective labels. How do you objectively decide that someone is conservative or liberal? Do you go by their self identification? If so, how do you select your candidates? Are the subjects of your study representative of all people who self identify that way? I can go on. There are so many variables about people that trying to determine differences in cognitive ability based on political leanings is junk.

    Their self applied labels. So what ever convinced them to be one or the other has some correlation. We haven't done tests to determine causation. So for some reason being Lib correlates to more accurate adaptability in simple tests of reflexes.
  • Just Plain Wrong (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:27PM (#20555511)

    liberals 'could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas.'

    A lot of new ideas are just plain wrong. Accepting every new idea that comes along just because it's new throws out knowledge and wisdom that has properly withstood the test of time. I'd rather stick with what works, than fall for every new scam that comes along.

    Keep an open mind, and a lot of garbage will be thrown into it.

  • What a joke (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Orig_Club_Soda (983823) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:34PM (#20555745) Journal
    Tapping a W when supposed to be tapping a M makes you "dumb?" What a fucking joke. If you ask me, anyone who can see how a W could be an M (but upside down) is MORE open minded, MORE creative. Someone capable of seeing both sides of an issue.

    And this is a joke to "liberals 'could be expected to more readily accept new social, scientific or religious ideas."

    Come visit the San Francisco Bay Area. The liberals here just as intolerant and just has condeming as an conservative. Liberals here hate religion, refuse to accept science that conflicts with their beliefs, and refuse to accept that some lifestyles are OK even if they are undesirable.

    Its more of a matter of who is the dominant group. Dominance demands conformity.

    *
    btw I am not a Republican if you were jumping to conclusions.
  • Re:Just In! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by notamisfit (995619) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:35PM (#20555767)
    Right on. "Socialism" is at best an ad hoc concept, able to exclude "bad people" at will. Modern day socialists want to have their cake and eat it too: they want to separate themselves from Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and all the other evil fuckheads while remaining committed to the collectivist moral ideals they espoused. When you've accepted that the rights of the individual may be trampled on for the sake of the group, the actual number of corpses is just a matter of details.
  • by pnewhook (788591) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @12:58PM (#20556401)

    Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote

    Interesting quote.

    So what would it be if given the two wolves and a lamb, only one wolf was well armed? Liberty for the armed wolf or a dictatorship? Guns don't provide liberty, beliefs and actions do.

  • wrong terminology (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Curtis_Branum (1155097) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @01:08PM (#20556659)
    I hate the generalization of all Democrats being Liberals and all Republicans being Conservatives. I am a democrat, I drive a car when I could easily bike to work, waste plenty of electricity, and still believe in personal responsibility (I'm not even going to get into that one). In other words, I'm not a Liberal, please don't call me one.
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @01:36PM (#20557277) Homepage Journal

    As for the Corrupt Populist Socialists vs. the Power-mongering Christian Fascists... that was just a stroke of pure genius. Sad that our political realm can be summed up so succinctly. Sad, but true...

    It's bad because when I try to tell people this they say I'm the nut-job, and that I'm just "throwing my vote away". I'm not sure when the socialists took over the Democrats, and when the Christians took over the Republicans and Boy Scouts. But I'm pretty sure, unless revisionists have worked their black arts, that Republicans and Democrats were not originally this way.

    Although this is all in the context of US politics, Europeans for example think both are parties are for right-wing religious nut-jobs. And don't find our Democrats to be anything like what they would call a Liberal or a Socialist.

    - too bad the lofty ideals of socialism require the use of force against all people.
  • Cocksure (Score:2, Insightful)

    by moun10surfer (1155103) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @01:43PM (#20557411)
    Read through all the user comments on the article... The vast majority of them are COCKSURE. It's a human tendency that we should try to overcome. Conservatives tend to exhibit this headlong stubbornness more so than liberals. But, it exists in all of us. "Don't let overconfidence consume THEE!" (+10 pts to whomever remembers what old Mac video game that quote is from) Quick thinking is rarely a sign of wisdom. I think wisdom and critical thinking are best measured by a person's ability to put on the brakes when they think they have formed a conclusion and continuously go back up their decision-tree to revisit assumptions. And, put their ego aside. No one likes to be wrong... just watch how angry I get when someone trolls this post.
  • by StalinsNotDead (764374) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <agabmu>> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @02:06PM (#20558037) Journal
    all males are butchers

    Isn't that a premise of radical feminism?
  • by darkwing_bmf (178021) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @02:34PM (#20558697)
    What the law is says nothing about what the law should be. For instance, at one time slaverly was legal. Should it have been legal? Now the debate isn't whether or not there are legal restrictions to immigration, but what should those restrictions be (if any).

    Personally I view the issue as one of personal freedom. If I see an illegal alien working I'll let it go and not report it, much in the same way that if I saw a run away slave a hundred years ago I'd let it go and not report it even though both acts would have been illegal. I think our laws should be changed so that if a person can find work here, they should have legal status here (and pay taxes and be allowed to drive if they obtain insurance and pass the tests, etc...). Some on the anti-immigration side talk about the damage done to our culture. But to me our culture means individual freedom. Mass deportations and agressive limitations on immigration do not say freedom to me.

  • by gfxguy (98788) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @02:37PM (#20558761)
    There's not a problem with nuance, it's that, for example, it's not practical to proceed doing something unless your path is clear.

    As an example, the drinking age is 21 in every state in the U.S. (as far as I recall). Now, there are obviously people under the age of 21 who are responsibile enough to drink, and there are obviously people over the age of 21 who are not. Moreover, a store can lose it's license by selling someone alcohol at 11:59pm the day before the purchasers birthday, as if one minute, or one day, or even one week really changes anything.

    But it's simply not practical to say, for example, test everyone and give them a license just to buy alcohol (or cigarettes).

    You can't "kind of, sort of" decide to go to war... this was a problem in Vietnam and also in Iraq. It doesn't matter how whether or not you agreed with it, but if you're going to do it, you need to do it and not restrain yourselves to try to look better in the eyes of the media while the problem festers and grows. War is a horrible, mean, vicious endeavour that should never be gotten into lightly - but if you do it, you need to be horrible, mean, and vicious.

    On the other hand, there are debates that certainly can, and must be, more nuanced. Abortion, for example. People full tilt to the left want abortion on demand at any point in the pregnancy for any reason. People full tilt to the right want abortion banned for any reason whatsoever. But the vast majority of both conservatives and liberals are certainly somewhere in the middle... the vast majority of people have a nuanced opinion on the subject.

    So, being a conservative leaning libertarian, I'd suggest that conservatives maybe often see things in black and white when it's prudent to do so, and that's why you cannot be for the war before you were against it, or voted for the war and now want to withdraw funding for the troops. All that says to me is that you did not seriously consider your original vote before casting it. That's not "nuanced," that's just wrong.
  • Re:I see... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rakarra (112805) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @02:39PM (#20558815)
    You can have a strong dislike for Israel without being a "jew-hater." Do NOT confuse anti-semitism with dislike for a country's policies or divisiveness.
  • by dotlizard (932961) <dotlizard@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @03:18PM (#20559641) Homepage
    Actually one of the symptoms / characteristics of extremely low IQ (developmental disability) is rigid thinking. Job coaching DD clients is quite challenging, as once they get a concept in their heads it is extremely hard to dislodge, they fixate on it. Much like many conservatives I know. I'm just sayin'.
  • Re:It's maths. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by devnulljapan (316200) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @03:34PM (#20559947)
    When you have 2 ruling political parties, it is easy to make things black or white.

    Not really. To me your two parties are conservative and conservativer [imdb.com]. You don't have a left and a right, you have a right and an even more right. Seriously, look outside your borders a bit.

  • by KevinIsOwn (618900) <herrkevinNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @03:46PM (#20560163) Homepage
    It's quite likely that your ancestors didn't enter this nation legally either. Or if they did enter legally, they were forced to utilize one of the "tricks" of getting American citizenship in order to stay (Marrying for the sake of citizenship). Or some just lived out their lives illegally knowing that because their children were born in America that they would be able to live here legally. That happened with all immigrants who came here, because American laws have always been xenophobic to varying degrees. Our laws have always been somewhat xenophobic for a nation that prides itself as a melting pot of cultures, and I encourage everyone who wants to become an American citizen to give the middle finger to those oppressive laws and follow their dreams.
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @04:53PM (#20561375) Homepage Journal

    I might do some research before touching the stove in the first place thus be able to stick to my guns on an issue and not flip-flop... over and over and over.
    It sure would have been nice to have a candidate who fit that description. Instead we were stuck with the choice between the idiot who learned, and the idiot who didn't.
  • by mhall119 (1035984) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @04:57PM (#20561449) Homepage Journal

    Guns in the hands of the victims lets them not be as victimy.
    Maybe, but it also lets them be more victimizing. It's a fallacy to believe that criminals can never be victims, and victims can never be criminals. Assume everyone can potentially be either, and doll out rights and protections accordingly.
  • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Tuesday September 11, 2007 @05:21PM (#20561877) Homepage Journal
    Liberal parties are called Liberal parties in Commonwealth countries because capitalism was originally a liberal ideology, as opposed to the state-controlled merchantilist economies that preceded it. These were not socialist, but probably what you'd consider even more "capitalist"; government supporting particular large corporations for the purposes of consolidating power in the hands of the ruling elite of the nation in question. Free market capitalism arose as a part of the general liberal movement against government authority; that sort of pro-market attitude which was classically called liberalism is today also known as (surprise) "classical liberalism" or, in the United States, libertarianism. Newer movements have since co-opted the name "liberal" for themselves, despite promoting often illiberal agendas, and labeled the older liberal movement (accurately) "conservative"; though in the US at least, large portions of those classically liberal conservatives have somehow become entangled with the sort of authoritarian conservatives that the original liberalism was rebelling against.

    Liberal and Conservative are not antonyms. "Liberal" just means in favor of liberty, and its antonym is "authoritarian". "Conservative" just means in favor of the status quo, and its antonym is "progressive". When liberal democracies first started arising out of the mire of medieval monarchies and aristocracies, the liberals were progressive, because the status quo was highly authoritarian, and so authoritarians were rightly called conservative. Thus the terms "liberal" and "conservative" functioned like antonyms for a time; but only because the liberals happened to be the new guys (the progressives) and the conservatives (the establishment) happened to be authoritarian.

    Eventually the progressive liberals mostly won out, but the societies they built still weren't satisfactory for everyone (viz. the pitfalls of so-called "actually existing capitalism", as opposed to the peaceful, voluntarist, competitive free markets that classical liberal authors dreamt of). So new movements, mainly socialism, continued to push for further change, in many ways changing back away from liberal ideals to more authoritarian ones, just intending to use that authority more benevolently. But the terminology didn't keep up with that. The people pushing for more authority (to be used benevolently) still call themselves "liberals". Further confusing the issue is that in addition to the liberals who are now conservative in comparison to socialists, there are still also the old elitist authoritarians who are even more conservative - though I guess a more apt term for them would be "regressive", as they want to change many things back to how they used to be long ago. Still adding further confusion to the issue, in America at least, is that the "progressive" socialists and the "regressive" old conservatives have made enough headway by now that the people who originally called themselves "conservatives" (now more often called "libertarians"), wanting to keep this country liberal as it was founded, are now in many ways progressive, or even regressive; wanting to change things from the now-authoritarian status quo, back to the liberal way things used to be. And all of this hides the issue that both libertarians and authoritarians can be subdivided on the issue of egalitarianism (though the split between the old aristocratic authoritarians and the new socialist authoritarians hints at this).

    I find that the simplest way to clear up all the confusion is to stop all the talk about progressive or conservative, as those terms are entirely time-relative and imply different things now than they did a hundred years ago, and have even less in common with what they implied two or three hundred years ago, even though the words literally *mean* the same thing in all those times (i.e. someone who is in fact [not self-labeled] conservative now holds an ideology very different from someone who was in fact conservative 100 years ago, because the status quo now is very

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