August 8, 2012

Dumb And Dumber - Brain Circuitry Versus Sociocultural Argumentation

Dumb and Dumber by George Lakoff, Foreign Policy, August 7, 2012

Linguist and cognitive scientist George Lakoff's point is a simple one - liberals go wrong when they use the term "low-information voters" for Americans who vote for Republicans, a party that, in fact, works to their disadvantage. Fine, point made.

Need he claim, like so many now on the neuroscience bandwagon, that "conservatives and liberals have different ideas of what is right: …they have different moral systems, each characterized by neural circuitry in the brain?" What, let's not discuss or debate our differential values and beliefs, let's take a look at our brain scans when we think about them? What, because certain configurations of the brain are detectable by scanners when one thinks one way or another we must therefore accept Lakoff's argument that liberals shouldn’t use or think of certain Republican voters as “low-information voters”? Please.

A simple, more demonstrable and therefore better argument is that the values and beliefs of liberals about what constitutes a “better” America are different from the values and beliefs of conservatives, and that liberals and conservatives differ in terms of what they value and use as bases for decision-making behavior such as voting. List the values and beliefs in two columns and compare them, critically. Then point out errors in liberal methods to persuade others of the merits of their values and beliefs, and ways liberals can do better. Period.

Brain circuit images don’t trump, prove, or disprove sociocultural explanations.

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