Sunday, 28 June 2015
The Conservative "Thinker"
Recent research has thrown light onto to how those with liberal and conservative beliefs think about the world. Essentially subjects with strong political beliefs were placed into a scanner and their brain activity was monitored while they were shown various images to consider. In the brains of those with liberal beliefs it was those areas associated with analytical thinking that lit up. In those with conservative views the part of the brain that lit up was the amygdala, part of the limbic system associated with memory, emotion and decision making. So what does this tell us? Liberal thinkers tend to look at information and then consider what it means before reaching a decision about alternative views. Conservative thinkers compare what they are seeing to information stored in their memories, react to it on an emotional level and then make a decision about it. While liberal thinkers use abstract reasoning when considering a decision, conservative thinkers rely on concrete reasoning. Abstract reasoning is the ability to look at a problem and then imagine alternative solutions, considering the various alternatives before alighting on the most likely solution. It is an ability that some people, though by no means all, develop around the age of sixteen. Those who never make this transition from concrete to abstract reasoning are forced, because a lack of imagination, to investigate problems on a trial and error basis and tend to rely on what they already know from direct experience. If that experience is limited then they lack the intellectual equipment to consider other possible alternatives of which they have no direct knowledge. They are forced, in other words, to choose between the limited number of alternatives stored in their memory. Given a novel situation outside of their direct experience they will attempt to shoehorn into place a remembered solution to a different problem and lack the imagination to see that this "solution" is probably quite inappropriate and unlikely to work. Worse yet conservative thinkers will also tend to react on an emotional rather than an intellectual level, imbuing their simplistic solutions with an emotional element that can be both forceful as well as wildly inappropriate. The Tories in Britain, for instance, have been very successful with their "the British economy is just like a household budget" mantra. This appeals to conservative thinkers because it is something that many have direct experience of and it has a high emotional content. At the same time they lack the reasoning skills or imagination to see that the statement is actually economic mumbo-jumbo. It is hard to believe that the leaders of the Tory party could be as unintelligent as those who vote for them and this leads us to a startling conclusion. The Tory party are not conservative thinkers in the true sense and must understand that their "beliefs" are nonsensical. Rather they are cynical manipulators who, motivated by greed and selfishness, deliberately mislead the hard of understanding for their own advantage. They are, in other words, chancers, snake oil salesmen and confidence tricksters cloaked in the respectability of a political party.