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James Brody January 11th, 2011 05:59 PM

Conservative Fear Center? Nope!
“Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.
On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.
The ‘exciting’ correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.
They found that the size of the two areas of the brain directly related to the political views of the volunteers.”

There's another possibility.

“Conservative” minds have a slightly different organization, one that may be confused with fear but one which allows for an enlarged sense of the future and the fabrication of alternatives. “Liberals” are greased to act according to their immediate past and what they heard from their mothers, teachers, and clerics. “Wait and think” leads one group, “Do what worked yesterday” guides the other and your membership is guided by your genetic makeup.

There are outcomes.
- Conservative momentum stops easily and evolves easily; liberal movements endure like swine flu.
- White guilt…public praying…charitable activity…the “N-word” farce, welfare programs… all grow from a moment’s hesitation. One outcome is that the hesitant while being “nice” can become automated slaves.
- Talk radio may be a conservative phenomenon because its audience explores ideas rather than chanting them. It may be that cats are natural conservatives because they hesitate before acting…a hesitation that lets them consider options.
- Bill Bennett runs his talk program according to “candor, intelligence, and good will.” He has a good sense of “maybe.”
- Mass murder is usually an emergent from the left whether from Bolsheviks, Maoists, or Progressives in the ‘20s or the ‘60s. The Don Cossacks had a conservative social organization. Bolshevik machine guns aimed by factory workers mowed them as if they were wheat.
- Finally, network physics distinguishes “weak links” and “strong links” between networked participants. Such organizations evolve and systematically recruit participants rather than taking whomever walks past. Patriot groups are often emergent, Democrat organizations grow from your joining a union. Patriot groups bubble directions upward; liberal groups do what the leadership demands. Strong links support a rigid structure that collapses under strategic assaults. Weak links change connections, protect functions, and grow innovations.

Toynbee wrote of these things in his studies of civilizations: the mix of hesitancy and commitment found in conservatives is a civilization’s explorer, experimenter, and strongest defense. We are all lost if our nation coalesces into the uniformity of a winner-take-all organization.
Finally, Jay Nordlinger has commented that some of us “create a climate in which mass murders take place.” Murders by whom? And of whom? Lenin knew….

Barkley, Russell (1997) ADHD and the Nature of Self Control. NY: Guilford.
Bronowski, Jacob (1977) A Sense of the Future. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Csermely, Peter (2006) Weak Links: Stabilizers of Complex Systems from Proteins to Social Networks. NY: Springer.
Goldberg, E. (2001) The Executive Brain: Frontal Lobes and the Civilized Mind. NY: Oxford University Press.

ToddStark February 5th, 2011 05:58 PM

Re: Conservative Fear Center? Nope!
I agree, in that I'm not comfortable with the characterization of conservatism as "fear-driven" without a lot of further characterization. We do tend to crystallize beliefs and attitudes into non-random aggregates such as "conservative" and "liberal" perspectives, and I'm sure there is some biology involved, but in our attempt to understand this we seem to completely fail to grasp enough of the process to really understand it. I appreciate that you've added some more useful characterization than just conservatism being some sort of fear-based process, although I think this is a much bigger topic than anyone has really been able to address so far.

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