The day of Trump and Cruz has arrived. It boggles the mind.
This is the natural devolution of the Stupidparty environment that I discussed in my book Stupidparty Math V Myth– Unmasking the Destructive Forces Eroding American Democracy. When I was first coming up with the title of my book, I knew that many people might get put off, and I might lose potential readers, but the problem for me at the time was that this was clearly the correct name for this party, and thus my book. Calling it anything else would have just been dishonest. Stupidparty being one word, a new word, means that I get to explain what this word means. Stupidparty is simply a euphemism for far worse sins than stupidity. One cannot really be faulted for stupidity, but one can be faulted for ignorance, bigotry, hypocrisy, lying and being disingenuous. I do not tackle corruption as a general rule, unless we are talking about a “values” politician–because corruption is a bi-partisan issue.
So having known that this day would come, I would like to explain how it is we got here. It is not simply that so many people are delusional–I suspect we all have levels of self-delusion, whether it be that we think we have free will, believe absurd teachings of Joseph Smith, that our God wants us to kill innocent civilians, that America Football with six minutes of action in four hours could not be tailored to the needs of the spectators rather than the Billionaire owners (excepting the Green Bay Packers).
So we have not gotten to this absurdity as of today as a result of organic stupidity or delusion but as a result of genetically modified stupidity and delusion–carefully cultivated in the laboratories of the oligarchs and big corporate donors (what I call the asset strippers), who have effectively bought up the democratic process. They have been so successful that even the term Stupidparty seems rather quaint. We are now moving on to the next question–has the Stupidparty devolved into a hate GrOuP, as fewer and fewer can question the term Stupidparty and more and more must ask why are we still calling it the Republican party or the GOP? That is just wrong and it indicates a lack of understanding as to what has been transpiring.
So how did we get get here?
Well we should first deal with the clay, the malleable substance that can be molded by the skillful manipulations of the potters of this world. In this case the clay is the human brain, the putty carefully handled by those that want to own the final product–the asset strippers. For genetic reasons, the conservative brain is a great deal easier to manipulate.
It is no accident that before any tyrant can gain absolute power he must destroy the artists, the teachers, the well educated–because actual knowledge is the biggest threat to the bad guys.
Back in the 1960’s there was a science fiction movie the Fantastic Voyage, where people were shrunk to the micro level, they shrunk so much that they could be injected into the human body in order to explore its wonders (and check out a medical condition). So strap yourself in and explore the wonders of the Conservative brain, see if we can locate the aneurysm, and then figure out if rehab is possible.
Why is it that facts, when battling fiction, do not always come out on top?
Our gut informs us that stuff we have been erroneously taught or “brainwashed” about, possibly since birth, must simply be true. For the incurious, the story apparently ends there. However, if one’s life depended on it, I suspect even the most calcified of brains could learn new tricks. But how can the brain be so “deceiving”?
Luckily, science, in the form of a study in cognition by Andrew Shtulman at Occidental College, can shed some light.
Most non-physicists believe that if you dropped two balls of similar shapes (but one ball being obviously more massive than the other) from a great height at the same time, the heavier ball would land first. That is what our gut would tell us.
But even when non-physicists are confronted by a video of such an experiment showing the balls landing at precisely the same time, the brain triggers a particular pattern of activity associated with the perception of errors, a squirt of blood to the anterior cingulate cortex. Neurosurgeons are known to refer to this activity as the “oh, shit!” circuit, which perhaps explains why certain types of brain can simply reject reality, even when it is staring them in the face. As The New Yorker reports:
“Even after we internalize a scientific concept—the vast majority of adults now acknowledge the Copernican truth that the earth is not the center of the universe—that primal belief lingers in the mind. We never fully unlearn our mistaken intuitions about the world. We just learn to ignore them. Shtulman and colleagues summarize their findings: ‘When students learn scientific theories that conflict with earlier, naïve theories, what happens to the earlier theories? Our findings suggest that naïve theories are suppressed by scientific theories but not supplanted by them.’”
Cartoons: Sydney Harris. ScienceCartoonsPlus.com
The mind of a Stupidparty Disciple
So while those of us born not blessed with the bliss of ignorance mull over issues like alleviating poverty, pollution, wars and illegal wars, bigotry, etc., the people we would so like to converse with tend to disappear into their fully Fox-equipped caves and cyber miscommunicate in a fact-devoid world of fear and paranoia. They waste countless resources on unending nonsense. Let’s see what they come up with when thinking about just one quite talented and extraordinarily disciplined and patient Black guy:
Links to all these conspiracies can be found here:
The Stupidparty brain:
Fear makes man unwise in the three great departments of human conduct: his dealings with nature, his dealings with other men, and his dealings with himself. Until you have admitted your own fears to yourself, and have guarded yourself by a difficult effort of will against their myth-making power, you cannot hope to think truly about many matters of great importance. -Bertrand Russell (“Outline of Intellectual Rubbish” in Unpopular Essays, 1950)
“Numerous political psychologists have commented on the right’s ‘Darwinian’ dangerous-world metaphor. The Authoritarian Personality group at UC Berkeley remarked how highly ethnocentric subjects had ‘a conception of a dangerous and hostile world’ that resembled an ‘oversimplified survival-of-the-fittest idea.’ Others who have linked folk-Darwinism’s dangerous-world motif to conservatism include the British psychiatrist Roger Money-Kyrle (1951), Princeton political psychologist Fred Greenstein (1975), and Berkeley metaphor theorist George Lakoff (2002).”
“Research suggests that conservatives are, on average, more susceptible to fear than those who identify themselves as liberals. Looking at MRIs of a large sample of young adults last year, researchers at University College London discovered that ‘greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala.’ The amygdala is an ancient brain structure that’s activated during states of fear and anxiety. (The researchers also found that ‘greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex’—a region in the brain that is believed to help people manage complexity.)”
“From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won’t Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts? Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.”
“ProCon.org has gathered 13 peer-reviewed studies of behavioral and neurological studies and come to the conclusion that differences between Republicans and Democrats are more than skin-deep. ‘Basically, the different sides have been yelling at each other for millennia, and we’re trying to figure out what could be the root cause of this,’ said Steven Markoff, ProCon.org’s founder. The studies looked at things like differences between groups’ perception of eye movement, and aversion to threatening noises. Researchers also noted that Democrats had larger anterior cingulate cortexes, which are associated with tolerance to uncertainty, while Republicans had larger right amygdalae, which are associated with sensitivity to fear… Markoff concluded the studies combine to mean that the different groups communicate in different ways [and] psychiatrist Greg Appelbaum said the studies point toward conservatives’ tendency to avoid something called self-harm, while liberals avoid collective group harm.”
“There’s no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.
The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.”
“In a study that is bound to incite controversy, Canadian researchers at Brock University in Ontario have published the results of a research project in the academic journal Psychological Science, that they say demonstrates that people with lower intelligence are more likely to be conservative in their political views than are those that are more liberal.”
Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa at the London School of Economics and Political Science correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs.
Yes, there might be studies, perhaps even not emanating from faux research groups like the Heritage Foundation, that show that non conservative constituents do not meet certain benchmarks, but I cannot see how such constituents, even if they are acting as a cohesive political force, are driving the political agenda in Washington or driving the nation towards a culture of disrespecting and ignoring facts and science.
So all brains are fallible and liable, if left unchecked, to keep us in the dark. Then on top of that, the conservative brain has its own set of baggage. With its heightened sense of fear, it can become more susceptible to demagoguery, leading to a reflexive and uncontrollable urge to reach for the pitchfork.
Think about that conservative brain, living in the old Confederate South or more accurately in some regions trying to recreate the old Confederate South, when confronted with the generally accepted science that we have all evolved from a primate, perhaps from Africa. I do not think one would need a CAT scan to actually see that “oh, shit!” circuit kicking into overdrive.
Religion in itself does not have to add fuel to the fire—but when only the demagogues get to use the bully pulpit, one needs to start asking why. How can such an alternate myth-driven reality occur? Why are so many people determined to live in history rather than learn from it? Who is really behind all the nonsense? Who is pulling the strings, and why do so many people fall for it? Because we are in an escalating vicious circle of ignorance, always tending to fall further behind the benchmarks—a society finding it more and more difficult to tackle relatively easy problems in a rational manner. Gradually, I hope that the answer will take shape, as all the pieces to the puzzle begin to come together.
This is part 1 of a series of blogs that will explain how we got to this point. The Conservative brain is just one aspect of the tragic transformation that threatens to overrun mankind.