< link rel="DCTERMS.isreplacedby" href="http://caltechgirlsworld.mu.nu/" /> Not Exactly Rocket Science: I hate people like this

Friday, November 05, 2004

I hate people like this

This quack is another dude who gives science a bad name. His project was to scan Republicans and Democrats using fMRI, a technique that measures changes in blood flow in different parts of the brain, and see how their brains work differently when viewing the different candidates. If you read the article carefully, you'll see that this is little more than a hyped-up technological lie detector. Further, the researchers seem to be trying to decide if one party has a superior brain, although they didn't find any structural differences, which is good because then the Daily Mirror can't use this research to support it's cover story....

This is the most interesting part, though:
"Nonetheless, some differences appeared between the brain activity of Democrats and Republicans. Take empathy: One Democrat's brain lit up at an image of Kerry "with a profound sense of connection, like a beautiful sunset," Freedman said. Brain activity in a Republican shown an image of Bush was "more interpersonal, such as if you smiled at someone and they smiled back."
Which is what I have been saying all along. Democrats associate Kerry with a concept, "Anybody But Bush", while Republicans see Bush as a man they know and feel comfortable with. Also this:
"And when voters were shown a Bush ad that included images of the Sept. 11 attacks, the amygdala region of the brain - which lights up for most of us when we see snakes - illuminated more for Democrats than Republicans. The researchers' conclusion: At a subconscious level, Republicans were apparently not as bothered by what Democrats found alarming."

This dude is trying to insinuate that Republicans are insensitive, gung-ho GI Joes who want to take over the world, consequences be damned; while the democrats were more sensitive to what happened on 9/11. Give me a freakin' break.

The amygdala is the area of the brain associated with fear and fear memory. I'm guessing that Republicans were less fearful because the images reminded them of the strength and leadership of the President in the days following 9/11, and how that comforted a grieving nation, Republican and Democrat alike. Democrats probably only thought of horrible images and how the President was reading about a goat.

But this is BY FAR the best part:
"When viewing their favorite candidate, all showed increased activity in the region implicated in empathy. And when viewing the opposition, all had increased blood flow in the region where humans consciously assert control over emotions -- suggesting the volunteers were actively attempting to dislike the opposition." (emphasis original)

No Dillweed. Wrong. They were trying to stifle their dislike and pay attention, like you asked them to. We don't actively like or dislike. We actively SUPPRESS like or dislike.

The story goes on to discuss "neuromarketing", how brain scans are being used to decipher people's secret likes and dislikes for the marketing of products and services, including Chrysler and Mercedes automobiles and movies (a study carried out at my alma mater, regretably). I predict this will die as soon as some corporate goon realizes that a simple survey will give you the same damn results for a pitiful fraction of the cost. Utilizing the technology in this way is nothing more than a hyped up Uber-technological lie detector. Plain and simple.

Of course Republicans and Democrats have different reactions to the candidates. If you like liver, you and I would have different reactions to a plate of liver and onions. DUH.

Finally, I agree with this guy:
"This is a story of the corruption of medical research," warned Gary Ruskin, who runs a Portland, Ore., nonprofit organization called Commercial Alert. "It's a technology that should be used to ease human suffering, not make political propaganda more effective."

Science is about science. The pursuit of knowledge has one supreme purpose, to improve the world by unlocking its secrets. This is crap, its purpose solely to inflame and reiterate that which any child could understand, the division of us and them.

Hat Tip: Patterico (who was initially asked to be a part of this experiment, even though he ended up not participating and asks some good questions about this pseudo-science, with good discussion in the comments) (Sorry I forgot to include that earlier... I was somewhat miffed at the time)


At Saturday, November 06, 2004 3:21:00 AM, Blogger Patterico said...

You forgot to mention that I was asked to be a part of this experiment.


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