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September 10, 2007

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Assuming this test shows something, the next question is what causes this difference in the first place. For instance, I doubt that hard-wired differences neatly correspond with the Red/Blue election map. Something e-mental is probably driving this in the first place.

I did a little amateur psychology on this yesteryear -- frankly, I think experiencing difference has something to do with it. compare for instance metropolitan cities with say afghanistan. something about diverse experiences makes you more humble about your own contingent k-ledge, etc. and maybe that makes one more tolerant of ambiguity, uncertainty, etc. It's not just ethnic -- i'm talking about experiences, travel, books read, religions experienced, etc. exposure to more stuff makes you less certain about your own. and the bravado of certainty might be a defense mechanism against the subconscious recognition of certainty's tenuousness.

again, all this is assuming there's something to this. obviously, it may not be, but that's the premise of this comment. take it or leave it.

by the way, i wished i lived in the era where you could be a famous psychologist without the need for messy empirical data, or proof more generally

not that everyone in a city is a model of tolerance. but in my experience, the more obnoxious close-minded city-dwellers are the ones who never really left their social circles even when going to college

This actually plays right into the righty mythology: only they could have won the Cold War, only they can fight terror, because only they can remain monomaniacally and monastically focused in the way that is needed! ... while we on the fey left are distracted by the consideration of ... alternatives.

Otherwise, I might have had to say something like: liberals are better at dealing with complexity, and at responding to the unexpected; and besides, we're over twice as likely to get things right! Hah!

That or after 2 terms of Dubya we've developed an innate adversion to the letter "W". One of the two.

The study could of course only end with the described bias. Liberals hate W and are strongly disinclined to press it. No doubt the "scientists" (are they sound?) knew that and designed the experiment that way. True conservatives demand a repetition with p/q, +/x, §/$*...

*that would be a real nailbiter ;-)

True conservatives demand a repetition with p/q, +/x, §/$*...

Are you implying that conservatives might be more able to mind their Ps and Qs? Or that they'd have an unfair disadvantage in the §/$ one because they'd be unable to resist pushing the button when seeing a dollar sign?

So, supposing this result is true and repeatable in a wide variety of situations. Does that mean that conservatism is a form of brain damage that should be protected from discrimination under the ADA?

I suspect this would never be news if it wasn't for the bonus in status that comes to white-coat science and brain research, compared to social science.

Does it really tell us anything that we didn't know already? I'm just an engineer, and even I have heard of the concept of "uncertainty avoidance", how it varies from culture to culture, and is connected to political preferences.

If they dropped the "ooh, look, this part of the brain lights up when they do this!" bit, the results (that liberals and conservatives do differently on the test) would arguably be just as interesting - but it wouldn't gain any publicity whatsoever.

It's important to note that the experiment in question switched the "W" and "M" choices in a control group. No difference.

So there is no evidence that "liberals" were less inclined to prefer the "W" key.

How does this new "study" explain people changing political views/affiliation if being liberal/conservative is so deeply hard wired in us?

How does this new "study" explain people changing political views/affiliation if being liberal/conservative is so deeply hard wired in us?

Because, as we all know, 9/11 changed everything.

How does this new "study" explain people changing political views/affiliation if being liberal/conservative is so deeply hard wired in us?

Because, as we all know, 9/11 changed everything.

How does this new "study" explain people changing political views/affiliation if being liberal/conservative is so deeply hard wired in us?

Because, as we all know, 9/11 changed everything.

Sorry about that.

Note to self -- never navigate away from the posting page using the "Back" button.

My apologies.

Ahh, yet another application for the P300 test.

It could also prove that liberals are more likely to be terrorists and criminals ;)

This is one of the most well-studied of the human EEG evoked components; it is thought to have applications in diagnostics or the construction of a viable brain-computer interface. It has also been studied for its possible use in screening for terrorists and other criminals, by seeing if they recognize items that an innocent person should not be able to do so.

Whoops maybe not so! This could be a button pressing exercise, instead:

One of its useful properties is that, unlike measure of physical responses like button pressing,

which would be a training exercise, much like seals honking horns or chickens playing Tic-Tac-Toe.

How does this new "study" explain people changing political views/affiliation

as people age, their tolerance for risk decreases. and, an individual's tolerance for risk is probably affected by their social environment - someone from a tolerant/laid-back city might lose some of that tolerance if they move to less-tolerant city.

Or russell hitting the post button.

S.G.E.W, you spoil all the fun ;-)
I guess it had to be outwardly similar letters (as opposed to e.g. O vs. X) but the Dubya joke was inevitable (I avoided the WH keyboard version where the Clintons allegedly removed the Ws before leaving).
But I guess that "loaded" letters like §/$ could actually influence the results to a degree.

Lazy joke headline: "Conservatives make more errors of judgement about "W".

Er, just to note, that the Dubya joke didn't make any sense to start out with - Liberals were better at hitting the "W" than conservatives.

Liberals were better at hitting the "W" than conservatives.

There's a probably illegal because it could be, with much imagination, construed as a threat against the president joke in there about how liberals would like to be good at hitting "W", but I'm not quite getting it. Probably just as well, given that I'm writing from outside the US and echelon is sure to pick this up.

I'm really dubious about this study. First of all, I am not confident that college students' definition of themselves as "liberal" or "conservative" is likely to be particularly accurate or stable.

I just tried to read the full study, but it costs $30. I would really like to see more about the methodology. I want to know whether all the students were freshman, or whether there was a mix of years. I want to know whether they were screened for dyslexia and/or other disorders that might cause people to hesitate in recognizing "M" or "W".

And in general I'm suspicious of studies that take weird, unlikely-to-occur-in-real-life skills and try to apply them to complex value systems and life choices.

Possibly I'm just feeling cranky today, but does anyone have access to the full study?

This study might go some ways in explaining the overwhelmingly liberalness among poets--ambiguity is our stock in trade (please forgive the cliche--it's early and I haven't had my coffee).

What I'd really love to see is this experiment repeated over decades. Because one of my first thoughts was:

Some people have worked out their principles, and are stably liberal or conservative whatever the two parties happen to be up to. But I would imagine that they are a minority, and that for a lot of people, 'liberal' and 'conservative' just mean 'basically Democrat' or 'basically Republican'.

Consider the group of people for whom this is true, and who would have identified as conservative in, say, 2000. For those people, the last six years would have to be one long series of anomalous events -- a series of Ws.

I'd expect that the people for whom liberal/conservative self-identification basically reflects their views of the two parties, and who responded to Bush's presidency by ceasing to self-identify as conservative, would be precisely those who can respond well to events that their antecedent views lead them to regard as anomalous; whereas the ones who still self-identify as conservative are the ones who would go on pressing M whatever happened. (Again, I'm not talking about people who have worked out their own principles in a stable way.)

But this is purely an artifact of recent developments, and has nothing to do with liberalism/conservatism per se. Thus, my desire for data over a decent stretch of time.

Or russell hitting the post button.

LOL.

When will I learn? No coffee, no postee.

Thanks -

See also The Open and Closed Mind (Rokeach) -- I can't find a decent link for people without jstor access

"I'd expect that the people for whom liberal/conservative self-identification basically reflects their views of the two parties, and who responded to Bush's presidency by ceasing to self-identify as conservative,"

You might consider that a fair number of people who regard themselves as conservatives rejected Bush's self-identification as a "conservative", on the basis that real conservatives don't feel the need to call themselves compassionate conservatives.

Seriously, Event Related Potentials are pretty difficult to test consistently.

Demonstrated by this article here

Sometimes I get a P300 response, sometimes I dont. Counting on your fingers is likely to mess things up when you are supposed to be adding the oddball stimuli in your head. Similarly, summing the infrequents only after a presentation of an ensuing frequent will mess up the response as well. Saving all the single sweeps, and then averaging the frequent responses prior to the oddball, and frequent responses post oddball, and the oddball responses, might be worth trying. As always, electrode impedances are important, a good artefact rejection scheme should be used, and the subject should be alert, yet relaxed.

Of course, the "adding in your head" type of test has several types of ways to do it, and the button pushing appears therefore to be more straightforward. But then we get into possible problems with muscle artifact, etc.

Brett: You might consider that a fair number of people who regard themselves as conservatives rejected Bush's self-identification as a "conservative"

Not from 2000-2006, they didn't.

on the basis that real conservatives don't feel the need to call themselves compassionate conservatives.

More like, on the basis that real conservatives don't like to associate themselves with anyone who is such a complete loser.

Not from 2000-2006, they didn't.

the Freepers even have a Big List of all the wonderful conservative things W has done.

but, i do love the spectacle of so-called conservatives trying to dissociate themselves from W when pressed, but otherwise defending his policies every chance they get.

OT - This is about the most depressing things I've read in a while.

Sheik Jamal al-Sudani leads a group of volunteers with one of the most solemn tasks in Iraq: Collecting and burying the hundreds of unclaimed dead every month and giving them a proper burial.

Actually the top story on CNN.com for awhile, but it's sure to be replaced by the Petraeus clown show and whatever Britney Spears did last night at the VMAs.

There also are olfactory ERPs where they shoot stinky smells up your nose when you are inhaling. I'll try to get a grant with Hillsdale to perform this on a large sample set of liberals. Likely I'll run out of money before I get around to testing the conservatives.

Thematically, this result is not at odds with the basic notions of "conservative" and "liberal". For instance, if you are standing athwart history yelling "Stop", you are probably a conservative by temperament an dprobably find th epast to be a very useful guide for decision-making; hence, you will over-hit the more frequenbtly presented letter.

Conversely,if you think each experience is novel you are more likely to be inclined to reinvent every human institution over breakfast and actually type the letter being shown by the researchers.

That said, I take umbrage with the notion that the liberal approach is "better". It was better in terms of producing a higher score on this particular test, where a different stimulus merited a different response. But let's picture a slightly different test - imagine a training video where the test subject plays the role of a policeman confronted by a scary suspect.

The suspect makes a threatening gesture with his right hand; the test subject reacts appropriately (no,I have no idea what that means); the suspect makes another threatening gesture with is right hand; again, the test subject reacts appropriately.

Now the suspect makes a threatening gesture with his *left* hand. Ahh! One might infer from the cited study that a "conservative" brain won't get hung up on left-right distinctions and will react the same as before. And for purposes of this test, that would be the right answer.

But a proper left brain really ought to pause an extra moment and puzzle over whether there is some subtle difference in play calling for a different response. And that extra reaction time would be the wrong answer.

Well, that would be my guess as to how the two brains types ought to react, and in this hypothetical test, "conservatives" would do better.

In fact, the authors note this in their paper:

"Although a liberal orientation was associated with better performance on the response-inhibition task examined here, conservatives would presumably perform better on tasks in which a more fixed response style is optimal."

Put another way, if we accept this study than we should expect that liberals will bellyflop on tests that offer lots of differences without distinctions.

As to what life is like, who will say?

Not to purposely agree with Tom Maguire, but I argued on a recent thread on ethics that No free lunch theorems dictate that the landscape determines whether an algorithm is sensible or not, and the argument here is really about the lay of the land.

Interesting experiment, but I think the article is missing the point. And maybe Frank Sulloway is smarter in person, but the article doesn't make him sound very good.

The interesting part of this isn't the correlation between political identity and position along an adaptive<->persistive spectrum. It's the correlation between a cognitive A/P spectrum and a sensory/motor A/P spectrum.

That part sounds pretty cool (though admittedly not totally unexpected). We already know that there's an adaptive<->persistive behavioral spectrum. We know that it has neurological components (though we have no reason to think that it has anything to do with political environment). We know that the behavioral spectrum is predictably distributed within populations. The political aspect strikes me as a red herring...

the landscape determines whether an algorithm is sensible or not, and the argument here is really about the lay of the land.

Bingo.

Seems to me that the set of self-identified conservative students at NYU is a small one, and unlikely to be representative of conservatives as a whole. In my experience at a different liberal university, the conservative students felt embattled and belittled at every turn, which could really do a number on your brain after a few years. I'd be interested to see how self-identified liberals at, say, Baylor, do on the same test.

fascinating...(as well as confirming).

I'm sorry if this is covered in the comments (I got here late), but did the study speculate on what then happens if someone shifts from being liberal to being conservative (as with Dennis Miller) or the other way around (as with any wealthy person [or corporation] who suddently loses their fortune)?

"the landscape determines whether an algorithm is sensible or not, and the argument here is really about the lay of the land."

Right. I'd say the basis of conservatism is a bias against the new, premised on the notion that if you've been surviving doing the same thing over and over, it might be mistaken, but it's at least proven to be a survivable mistake. While a novel mistake might not be survivable. Conservatism isn't about being right, it's about being safe. It's not hard to see why a substantial number of people might be wired to think that way, it's got real Darwinian advantages.

OT:

I'm hoping hilzoy will post about Sally Haslanger's paper on Women in Philosophy Departments.

just drivin' by ...

the conservative students felt embattled and belittled at every turn

i blame the liberal media and the out-of-control courts

A link to CT on Haslanger, including a working link to the paper. Which, judging from the first half or so, I found a bit long on anecdote and short on data - but I agree it would be interesting to hear from hilzoy.

Sorry, but this whole discussion is so terribly slanted as to be wrong: it might work for explaining the difference between social conservatives and liberals, but only in this regard.

Yet much of what we contemporarily consider as conservative or "right" is actually associated with dynamic and risky behaviour, while a lot of the current "social democratic" or "left" principles are emphasizing stability and security as opposed to change. "Conservatives" generally favour hardcore capitalism, which is inherently dynamic, while social democrats want to provide citizens with economic security. "Conservatives" are never shy about the use of violence and war, which is the biggest conceivable disruption, while liberals favor diplomacy and gradual change. And, at least in Europe, the immensely risky technocratism associated with nuclear power was supported by conservatives, while those on the left were in unison against it.

A site like politicalcompass.org tries to accommodate this complexity by using a matrix with 4 poles representing political orientation, but even that is, while quite useful, not really sufficient.

Here's a three-dimensional political model. Whatever the agenda of the site's owner, the model is interesting, or maybe just amusing. You might have to look at it for a while to interpret it properly. At least I did, but me dumb.

Yet much of what we contemporarily consider as conservative or "right" is actually associated with dynamic and risky behaviour, while a lot of the current "social democratic" or "left" principles are emphasizing stability and security as opposed to change.

No, I think the issue surrounds the mental models that people use. For example, sometimes while arguing politics on these here blogs, I will object to the horns and devil tail that are assigned to Hezbollah members (again, for example), and when I proceed to examine political motivations of said members as though they were something more than death-craving psychopaths, I am quickly classified by some as a supporter of Hezbollah, despite being no such thing and having given no indication of being so.

This indicates a lack of nuance in some people's internal political modeling, and a desire for simple and extreme categorization. If you don't conform to one side, as defined by a set of rigid rules, then you are automatically classified on the exrteme other side.

I find this occurring far more often from commenters of the right persuasion than of the left. And yes, of course, this is is an extreme generalization.

Yet much of what we contemporarily consider as conservative or "right" is actually associated with dynamic and risky behaviour, while a lot of the current "social democratic" or "left" principles are emphasizing stability and security as opposed to change.

No, I think the issue surrounds the mental models that people use. For example, sometimes while arguing politics on these here blogs, I will object to the horns and devil tail that are assigned to Hezbollah members (again, for example), and when I proceed to examine political motivations of said members as though they were something more than death-craving psychopaths, I am quickly classified by some as a supporter of Hezbollah, despite being no such thing and having given no indication of being so.

This indicates a lack of nuance in some people's internal political modeling, and a desire for simple and extreme categorization. If you don't conform to one side, as defined by a set of rigid rules, then you are automatically classified on the exrteme other side.

I find this occurring far more often from commenters of the right persuasion than of the left. And yes, of course, this is is an extreme generalization.

Well, crap. What's with the back button doing double posts suddenly?

novakant and hairshirt, both those sites are dedicated to the proposition to the idea that "you are a libertarian, you just don't know it". The graphs are cute, but the questions are too loaded to be much good.

I like the idea of the 3D graph, but there needs to be much more neutral questions to get a correct mapping.

Here's a three-dimensional political model.

Hey, NSFW image in there.

not the politicalcompass.org site, they make a distinction between libertarian as in anarchism opposed to authoritarianism and libertarian as in neo-liberalism opposed to collectivism; now one could haggle over words, but I understand my result and pretty much agree with it, within the limitations of the test

...now one could haggle over words...

Okay, here goes.

...they make a distinction between libertarian as in anarchism opposed to authoritarianism and libertarian as in neo-liberalism opposed to collectivism;

That would be socialist anarchism vs right-wing laissez-faire libertarianism then.

I'd say the basis of conservatism is a bias against the new, premised on the notion that if you've been surviving doing the same thing over and over, it might be mistaken, but it's at least proven to be a survivable mistake.

Here's an honest question. I'll pick on you because you self-identify as a conservative (or at least seem to here).

What is it that is changing? What is it that requires preservation, and that seems to be threatened by "liberalism" as we experience that here in the US?

I'll look forward to your reply.

THanks -

well, socialist anarchism sounds a bit oxymoronic to me, since socialism implies a degree of collectivism which is at odds with anarchism - but maybe it's anarcho-syndikalism you're after here ;)

well, socialist anarchism sounds a bit oxymoronic to me...

Anarchism is actually a socialist movement, and always has been, right back to Pierre Proudhon, generally regarded as the first anarchist. Mikhail Bakunin, probably the best-known historical anarchist, was a prominent figure in the First International. Anarcho-Syndicalism envisions a society that is run by trade unions. Unions like the IWW are generally regarded as anarchist.

There is nothing about collectivism that is inherently at odds with anti-authoritarianism.

Oops, sorry about that.

I know, I know, on the theoretical level or on the margins of the splinter groups everything is possible, but once you've moved over to the realm of real existing socialism the socialists always made minced meat of anarchists and others with funny thoughts in no time and for good reason, since they were a hindrance to their goals;

now one might argue that real socialism hasn't been tried yet, but that's another matter and a purely theoretical a that

russell:

I agree with people who "conservatism" is at base an emotional predispostion, and often a very useful one. For instance, I am conservative about nature -- I don't like to get rid of old species or habitats just for the heck of it.

Politics is about power, so true political conservatism *must* be about keeping power in the hands of the powerful, or the same kind of people who are already powerful.

In 19th-century Europe, that meant the aristocracy. In 21st-century America, it means the corporate plutocracy. In both cases, "social" conservatism means patriarchy and white supremacy, keeping white males at the top of society.

I know, I know, on the theoretical level or on the margins of the splinter groups everything is possible, but once you've moved over to the realm of real existing socialism the socialists always made minced meat of anarchists and others with funny thoughts in no time and for good reason, since they were a hindrance to their goals;

I think you misunderstand of socialism or anarchism or both.

"Socialists" haven't made mincemeat of Anarchists, Anarchists are socialists. Anarchists have had conflicts in the past with Marxist-Leninists, but both movements are different branches of socialism. And socialism itself is a wide movement that encompasses a variety of opinions about the use of state power.

Perhaps you are mistakenly equating the terms Marxist-Leninism and Socialism?

If you don't conform to one side, as defined by a set of rigid rules, then you are automatically classified on the exrteme other side.

I find this occurring far more often from commenters of the right persuasion than of the left.

Unfortunately it's far from unknown on the left, as I have experienced personally despite being a vehement opponent of Broderism and Liebermania.

Unfortunately it's far from unknown on the left...

Absolutely.

FWIW I've been a fan of multidimensional political/economic models (and of phase-space models in general) for a long time, and over the years I've concluded that four is just about right...

1. Centralist <-> Decentralist
2. Authoritarian <-> Libertarian
3. Collectivist <-> Individualist
4. Progressive <-> Preservationist

These have particular meanings for me that arguably differ somewhat from common usage (especially #1, which is what I use when that's all there's room for), but #4 is pretty much equivalent to the adaptive<->persistive spectrum that was originally being discussed.

YMMV of course...

Perhaps you are mistakenly equating the terms Marxist-Leninism and Socialism?

Socialism used as an umbrella term is notoriously vague, almost meaningless: Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder are "socialists.

What I was saying was that, whenever socialism was put into practice on a state level and thus set apart from the level of mere movement politics in which indeed all sorts of factions can coexist because there is no concrete and unified cause, anarchists were either marginalized, imprisoned or killed. And there is a reason for that, namely that anarchism is incompatible with organized socialism on a large scale.

Socialism used as an umbrella term is notoriously vague, almost meaningless: Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder are "socialists.

Yes they are. And Nixon, JFK, Trudeau, and Franco were all capitalists. That doesn't make the term vague, it describes an attribute of their political ideology. If the term is too wide, then be more precise. Use the term "Marxist-Leninist" when you mean that ideology rather than the wider one.

And there is a reason for that, namely that anarchism is incompatible with organized socialism on a large scale.

Well, here's a possible way to resolve this dilemma. You name a number of prominent self-described or published Anarchists who are not socialists, along with their Wikipedia link. For each one you list, I will do the same for ten who were or are socialists.

Yes they are.

Only if you pay attention to meaningless name tags and take their word at face value instead of judging them by their actual policies and values. Schroeder managed to implement more social cuts, deep ones all the way to the bone, in 4 years than Kohl ever even attempted in 16. Blair, who liked to spend his holidays on Berlusconi's yacht, and his greedy status-obsessed New Labour gang have turned Britain into a capitalist's paradise, while self proclaimed ueber-socialist Livingstone presides over the second most expensive city in the world and doesn't do a thing to make it easier for those who exceedingly can't afford to live a decent life there. If that's socialism, then you have a very broad definition of the term indeed.

Well, here's a possible way to resolve this dilemma.

I'm not saying that many anarchists might not consider themselves socialists, even though there are also a lot of capitalist anarchists around, I'm saying that they never have and never will play a significant role when socialism is put into meaningful practice on a large scale, because of incompatible elements inherent in anarchism.

But it seems we could haggle over words endlessly, especially since a lot of the intellectual history in this area consists of just that.

I am not a great fan of Schroeder but there is something of a rule over here that only the left can survive doing deep cuts in the social net (those may be necessary or not). There are good arguments that Kohl lost his last election over the minor pont of paid sick leave (i.e. the first three sick days would not automatically be paid anymore). Before the reemergence of a strong party to the left of the SPD there was nowhere to run for disappointed left voters, while CDU voters could change to the SPD or Greens without a fundamental change of political worldview. SPD and CDU are much more similar than Dems and GOP although the CDU's evil twin the Bavarian CSU aims for the GOP imitation award (and the secretary of the Interior got infected too recently).

Here's a three-dimensional political model.

Hey, NSFW image in there.

Sorry about that. (Kate Moss wasn't the model I was referring to.)

P.S. I hate having to google these acronyms you bloggier-than-I people use.

Blair, who liked to spend his holidays on Berlusconi's yacht, and his greedy status-obsessed New Labour gang have turned Britain into a capitalist's paradise, while self proclaimed ueber-socialist Livingstone presides over the second most expensive city in the world and doesn't do a thing to make it easier for those who exceedingly can't afford to live a decent life there.

Engles was a factory-owner, as was William Morris and Robert Owen. Leo Tolstoy and Peter Kropotkin, both socialists, both anarchists, both aristocracy.

Socialism is the political belief that societies function better and more fairly through mutualism, and a general belief in an eventual communal society. It is not a vow of poverty, the wearing of hair shirts, and the thrice-daily bowing in the direction of Marx's grave.

If social democrats do things like make cuts to social services, then they are either responding to the electorate, economic conditions, or other factors. Either way, they have to face the judgment of their power base for doing so. It doesn't mean that they are not socialists, which seems your implication.

If that's socialism, then you have a very broad definition of the term indeed.

As I said, it is a broad definition. That was my point.

Forgive me, my friends in the southern lands, but the general knowledge about the history and nature of socialism in the US is almost non-existent. Beyond "commies are bad", there isn't much else.

P.S. I hate having to google these acronyms you bloggier-than-I people use.

Sorry, thought that one was in common usage.

It means Nice Sofa Fountain Winkle.

My take on this is that Newt Gingrich prefaces every one of his cockamamie ideas with the words "It's very simple". His brain, under advanced scanning, appears as a black and white checkerboard, with one grey square wherein he decides whether to screw his mistresses on the table or the desk.

Osama Bin Laden's brain contains an image of himself sitting in a cave, and that image's brain in turn contains an image of himself sitting in a cave, and that tiny image in turn contains an image of himself sitting in a cave and, ad infinitum.

Dick Cheney's brain features Osama in precisely the same arrangement, with the exception of a video crew on hand for whatever purposes deemed Machiavellian.

George Bush's brain reveals a chemical simulacrum of a chocolate chip cookie on a very high shelf just out of his reach. His brain stem is a yellow smirky face.

If I had these brains in pickling jars, I would don my lab coat and very carefully carry them to the dissecting table and I ... ah, crap .... I've dropped them and they've shattered and sloshed all over the place ... geez, maybe I should kick the brains underneath the table so no one finds out about this......

.... except for the Nobel Peace Prize committee in the ThankGodForClumsyOafs category.

More seriously (but, not much more), my recent research into brain chemistry and how it affects personality and human and societal interaction has revealed only one conclusion:

That one person can say "I love you", perhaps in poetic form, and the other person will respond with "My sensory organs have received your message and after converting it into various brain chemicals, the receptors in my amygdals and prefrontal cortex have transmitted it on to my deep limbic system for consideration. May I put you on hold?"

It's like Paliacci beseeching Mr. Spock. It's like Billy Martin trying to get B.F. Skinner drunk. It's like Daffy Duck planting a big wet, emotive smacker on Emmanual Kant's cold, dead lips.

Maybe it's like Rilkefan talking to himself. ;)

"Maybe it's like Rilkefan talking to himself."

Actually that's astonishingly accurate.

Probably talking to myself, but does Edwards's use of "kumbaya" in reference to Obama make anyone else cringe a little?

I think reading a racial reference into it is a bit of a stretch. But I do wonder how it will go over with the Christians who are familiar with singing "Kumbaya" in their church youth groups.

"you are more likely to be inclined to reinvent every human institution over breakfast"

Puts a bit of a different spin on 'you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs' . . .

I've been on a one week, no-net-or-TV-access, vacation and it is really late according to my body time but if I were to take a stab, I'd say that the interpretations appear to be rather vague--almost to the point of uselessness and self-identification (especially of college students but really of everyone) is always pretty suspect.

I find radish's dimensions of political thought interesting. To repeat, they are:

1. Centralist <-> Decentralist
2. Authoritarian <-> Libertarian
3. Collectivist <-> Individualist
4. Progressive <-> Preservationist

I'm not sure if this is covered in #4, but there really is a very important process (or systems) vs. results difference too. I think it transcends what we normally think of as left-right. Process oriented people are more willing to admit that their own personal ideas might be wrong, so want to engage in a process which usefully gathers the input of lots of other people. Hilzoy and I are both process oriented, but we certainly don't fall right next to each other on the left/right spectrum.

Novakant, the political compass is definitively suspicious. As far as I can see, they refuse to tell us how they are weighing the questions on the test, and on what axes.

(I've done a little research, though, and I'm 90% sure believing in astrology makes you more authoritarian in their system. That says something...)

And when it comes to politicians and celebrities, they place them after their own heads, and give no justification.

The late Chris Lightfoot solved these problems and more in his two political surveys (they are at politics.beasts.org - one is British-specific and conducted using a random sample, the other is general but based on site visitors): In his surveys, he let the answer correlations themselves define the axes, and put names on those afterwards.

It was a work of genius. The main axis his British survey revealed was pretty scary.

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