Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Why Does Science Hate America?

This is not entirely surprising, but it's disturbing, and it explains a lot.

I'll sum up: Essentially, an Emory psychiatrist/neuroscientist conducted an updated version of a 50s experiment on social conformity, wherein test subjects were shown pictures of three-dimensional objects from different angles and asked to identify whether or not they were pictures of the same object. The trick is, they conducted the test with four other "subjects" who were ringers who would give unanimously incorrect responses to some of the pictures, which the real subject would see before making his or her own decision.

The end result was that the subjects went along with the group on wrong answers 41% of the time. Additionally, the real subjects were hooked up to an MRI scanner to monitor their brain activity in an attempt to determine whether decision-making/conflict-resolution or perceptual regions lit up. In other words, did the subjects give in to an urge to go along with their "peers", or did they actually "see" the same thing they thought everyone else did?

If I'm reading the article correctly, the perceptual centers were activated when the subjects went along with the group, meaning their actual perceptions of reality were altered by social pressures. Also interesting, the subjects who disagreed with the group had activity in their emotional regions, suggesting some degree of stress in resisting the majority.

Assuming the study can be taken seriously (I don't have enough science-fu to judge), this explains a whole lot about the seemingly inexplicable success of the Republican party. It provides scientific validation of their strategy of manufacturing inevitability and fostering the perception that their positions and talking points represent the conventional wisdom and consensus of a vast, "silent" majority, with any dissenters representing a marginalized radical fringe.

To me, this explains how good people can still support the Republicans. Thanks to the media (which I also believe to be an effective proxy for "the majority"), they think that most people believe what the Republicans are saying, and therefore it must be true. Anything that conflicts with that is just an annoying buzzing sound in the background, or the propagandist rantings of those frustrated liberal wackos.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

blog away, while you can. soon the jackbooted thugs will stop this too.

If science could hate, it would hate US for paying for this whatever it takes, just let me fill 'er up mob mentality.

Thersites said...

I wish I could agree with you, but my friends at Fox News said I shoudn't.

Desi said...

I was going to agree, but then someone gave me this glass of kool-aid, and now I've changed my mind.

oldwhitelady said...

That does, indeed, explain why the Republicans get away with so much. I remember a "joke" told to me in highschool. I didn't laugh because I didn't get it. I kept on until they told me that it was something they made up to see if people laughed. I guess they were doing their own poll.