Moral Contradictions

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

One, two, three - sigh.

Found an article entitled: Democrats and Republicans Both Adept at Ignoring Facts, Study Finds
over at LiveScience. Although this probably isn't news to anyone besides those live in a Peter Griffin-esque lifestyle, it's worth examining.

"We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning," said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. "What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts."

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

"None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged," Westen said. "Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones."

At least there's an explanation for this disease. I absolutely chafe when I come into contact with a partisan, and I will not vote for someone of either party who actively ignore rational counter-arguments. This is also why many partisans despise the so-called wishy-washness of moderates as they view us as not having any principles to stand upon.

Partisans stand for principles which they have convinced themselves of being true. Moderates stand for principles based on pragmatism - the knowledge that there are more than two sides of an issue, and compromise is generally in the best interests of most than all-out total victory by D's and R's.

To broaden the scope, I also resist debating folks who believe they are sent by God to convince me with their superior (and God-given) intellect that I'm wrong and they are right. I hold certain beliefs and certain opinions - some I hold to steadfastly, others I'm willing to reconsider. Yet, no matter where I stand on an issue, I do my best to respect another's opinion. I will not consider changing my mind if the other is not willing to do the same.

Our country, our Church, and our lives would be much healthier if folks laid everything out on the table and debated in an honest and respectful way. Just ask a certain President George Washington about his feelings on political parties, or a certain Savior about the unity of the Body of Christ. It's those few who possess enough ego and arrogance to ruin constructive discourse for everyone.


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