Yet another story is in the media highlighting the supposed superiority of liberals' brains to those of conservatives. Not long after the president of the American Publishers' Association claimed that liberals were simply more intelligent, based on a poll that showed liberals tend to read more books (one a year) than conservatives, a new study is highlighted by the Agencie France-Presse claiming that liberals and conservatives brain functions differ.
The story waits only four short paragraphs beofre focusing on the supposed superiority of liberals by claiming that,
Conservatives tend to crave order and structure in their lives, and are more consistent in the way they make decisions. Liberals, by contrast, show a higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity, and adapt more easily to unexpected circumstances.
So, liberals show a 'higher tolerance for ambiguity and complexity'? I guess we poor conservatives simply can't deal with complex and ambiguous issues. The story continues to point out the liberal advantage in dealing with change, stating,
The match-up was unmistakable: respondents who had described themselves as liberals showed "significantly greater conflict-related neural activity" when the hypothetical situation called for an unscheduled break in routine.
Conservatives, however, were less flexible, refusing to deviate from old habits "despite signals that this ... should be changed."
So I gather that conservatives cannot change even when it is necessary. To do it credit, the study does admit that these results could be seen in different ways, pointing out that,
Whether that is good or bad, of course, depends on one's perspective: one could interpret the results to mean that liberals are nimble-minded and conservatives rigid and stubborn.
Or one could, with equal justice, conclude that wishy-washy liberals don't stick to their guns, while conservatives and steadfast and loyal.
However, the main thrust of the story leaves no doubt of the writers' opinions- liberals are superior to those poor, plodding, inflexible conservatives. The repeated references to the supposed adaptability of liberals to 'unexpected situations' is one example. The equally repetitious nature of the authors' references to conservatives' 'refusal to deviate from old habits'. The point is made- adaptability and flexibility in reacting to conflict is good, steadfastness is bad.
This story is amusing on a variety of fronts. Firstly, the story assumes that change is a good thing, but history shows that change is not always for the best. Who can deny that the change to Communism was disastrous for millions in Russia and China (and we won't even mention the bloodletting upon the fall of South Vietnam)? Who can deny that the change in the educational system here in the US over the last forty years or so has had disastrous effects as the once-accepted concentration on classical liberalism and core skills (the three 'R's) has degenerated into a potpourri of multiculteralist garbage and a loss of some of our best and brightest with the de-emphasizing of mathematics, reading and writing. Today's students are indoctrinated- not taught to think for themselves. And who can deny that the so-called welfare society has been an unmitigated disaster, destroying the economies in Europe, while potentially also causing huge problems here in the US with the imminent insolvency of Social Security?
And that brings us to the second howler in this story. Liberals in fact are not known for their adaptability. In both higher education and in politics, liberals who are faced with a new situation- the loss of the once-monolithic liberal press voice- are reacting by trying to silence their opponents, not adapt to the changed playing field. Case in point is Dartmouth's recent decision to pack the board of trustees with appointed members so as to silence the voice of the alumni-elected members. On the current battlefield, liberals are unable to concoct a strategy to fight the Muslim imprialists who are trying so hard to kill us either, though conservatives have been willing to change strategies as events on the ground have changed. Liberals still are calling for a withdrawal of forces, irregardless of the actual conditions. They seem unable to embrace change and adapt to it.
So once again the media take a study that could be interesting, depending on the criteria used, and twist it into yet another 'liberal brain better' story.There may indeed be a difference in the way that liberals and conservatives think. but I serioiusly doubt that one is superior to the other. And certainly based on current events, to suggest that liberals are somehow more flexible is a laugher. You would think that after liberals and the media have been proven wrong on so many fronts- from socialism to communism to the war on paverty to their hopes for a defeat in Iraq- they might take stock of the fact that conservatives seem better able to actually analyze events and make the right calls on a more regular basis. Instead of actually taking stock and analyzing events however, the media is still pushing stories on why those poor conservatives are just dumb reactionaries. Media bias? Oh, you mean that media bias....