Democrats and Republicans Are Both Addicted to Lying

This won’t be news to some, but the details are telling. Back in 2006 LiveScience reported:

Democrats and Republicans alike are adept at making decisions without letting the facts get in the way, a new study shows.

And they get quite a rush from ignoring information that’s contrary to their point of view.

Researchers asked staunch party members from both sides to evaluate information that threatened their preferred candidate prior to the 2004 Presidential election. The subjects’ brains were monitored while they pondered.

The results were announced today.

“We did not see any increased activation of the parts of the brain normally engaged during reasoning,” said Drew Westen, director of clinical psychology at Emory University. “What we saw instead was a network of emotion circuits lighting up, including circuits hypothesized to be involved in regulating emotion, and circuits known to be involved in resolving conflicts.”

Bias on both sides

The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.

Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.

The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.

“None of the circuits involved in conscious reasoning were particularly engaged,” Westen said. “Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones.”

Notably absent were any increases in activation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain most associated with reasoning.

The tests involved pairs of statements by the candidates, President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry, that clearly contradicted each other. The test subjects were asked to consider and rate the discrepancy. Then they were presented with another statement that might explain away the contradiction. The scenario was repeated several times for each candidate.

The brain imaging revealed a consistent pattern. Both Republicans and Democrats consistently denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate but detected contradictions in the opposing candidate.

“The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data,” Westen said.

Read more at LiveScience.

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  • Anonymous

    Politicians lying? That’s crazy talk..

  • Honuman

    Fine, both parties lie. We know this already. But the order of magnitude of lies that come from the right are considerably more grotesque.

    • Alech

      “Both Republicans and Democrats consistently denied obvious contradictions for their own candidate but detected contradictions in the opposing candidate.”

      I think your post illustrates the effect perfectly. So does this prove that politicians think with their lizard brain? Paging Dr. Icke!

      • Honuman

        You misunderstand me. I’m not saying the dems don’t lie. The politicians lie all the time. I’m talking about the way they lie. Consider Bush, the last Republican in office. There was available evidence prior to the Iraq war from Richard Clarke and other intelligence agencies that there was no link between Iraq and Al Qaeda and there were no wmd’s. The Downing street memo offers a clear indication that they intended to go to war in Iraq. Once started, the war in Afghanistan and Iraq have cost this country approx 12 bill./month and 4000+ American lives. The current deficit was seeded here. Yet you have right wing commentators and Fox spit shining this information or ignoring it or otherwise. So called commentators like Beck and Limbaugh have clearly exaggerated or lied. The left may lie and lie alot but I don’t see the blood on their hands the way the right does. Do they both lie? Of course they do.

    • Vox Penii

      “But the order of magnitude of lies that come from the right are considerably more grotesque.”

      coughcoughCitationNeededcoughcough

      #1 lie from the Left: “Hitler was a right-winger.” Sure, if you’ll believe that a right-winger led the National Socialist German Workers Party, was opposed to free-market economics, believed the government had a right to control breeding.

      • Andrew

        Did you feel a negative emotion such as disgust when Honuman claimed your identity group lies more than the group you identify as its biggest threat? Did you feel the activation of positive emotions similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix when you twirled the cognitive kaleidoscope until you got the conclusion you wanted?

        If the “left’s” biggest “lie” is failing to brand Hitler correctly according to the one-dimensional, polarized taxonomy you use, then they’re far more honest than I think they are. Using Noah Millman’s clearer and more descriptive taxonomy, Hitler was clearly a right-winger because he was more interested in rewarding success than in ameliorating failure–in fact, he wanted to exterminate the failures. He was also a conservative because he was an authoritarian who distrusted individuals, but he had both progressive (future oriented) and reactionary (past oriented) beliefs.

        Isn’t that more descriptive and informative than just pigeonholing everyone based on how piously fundamentalist their worship of the Invisible Hand is?

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    More to the point, its a study of the way our preexisting beliefs hardwire us to accept that which affirms those beliefs and reject that which contradicts our beliefs. Fascinating…and important work…although its a safe bet that the spin doctors of the world, right and left alike, are already well aware of these trends just by virtue of observing the results of their work.

    To make a light hearted example…pointing out that I’m just as susceptible as anyone else…you can show me a video of cows being abused…but ice cream and steak are staying in my diet. I’m really hard to budge on this. My distrust of politicians is almost completely universal…with the exception of a few locals whose work I can actually vouch for on a daily basis, I’d believe just about any evidence of a politician contradicting him/herself…

    …but mess with my steak or ice cream and its a f*ckin throw down!!! (besides..I heavily favor locally farmed organic products…you really can taste the difference.)

    • Vox Penii

      To paraphrase Louis Black, the main difference between the parties is that Democrats suck and Republicans blow.

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        Louis Black…love that guy. He’s hilarious. Here’s one of my own favorites…

        The difference between Democrats and Republicans is, if you give a Dem a dollar…they’ll give you back a nickels worth of services you can’t even use. A Republican would never waste a perfectly good nickel on anyone stupid enough to give them a dollar.

  • Ironaddict06

    A perfect example shown by Honuman. If you want to put a label as left or right people causing trouble-Hitler,Ted Kaczynski, Castro, Chavez, and James Lee were all Left wing extremeist.
    You could label Timothy McVeigh as right wing, but he’s reasoning was pay back for the Waco murders.

  • Liam_McGonagle

    Wrong again. What’s with the phoney equivalencies here? Are you a troll for the GOP?

    Richard Rahm, Grover Norquist and Glenn Beck have you all figured out. They know that in the U.S. it’s not the party with the best moral/policy arguments that wins, but the side with the biggest ELECTION DAY TURNOUT. So for the devious incompetents like Sarah Palin, Job# 1is gin-up hatred and phoney “controversies” like the non-mosque affair to make sure their side shows up.

    Job #2 is to make sure left wingers DON”T show up. Very easy to do. Historically no one’s been more willing to beat up on the left than the left itself. Just post some B*S* anonymously on line to a site frequented by lefties suggesting that their only effective political leadership may possibly not shit gold or walk on water, and they’ll just STAY HOME ON ELECTION DAY. Simple as that.

    The Right don’t have to prove they themselves are correct, they just have to prove the left isn’t 100% perfect. AND THE LEFTIES WILL BEG TO SURRENDER TO SARAH IN NOVEMBER.

  • Poetre

    It’s always been a choice between the lesser of two evils

  • Anonymous

    However it’s a no brainer that democrats represent what is best for the country. For example look at health care. people with pre-existing injuries can now be insured and more children will be insured. Look at unemployment. There would be no unemployment for many people who have lost their jobs if not for democrats. Teachers would be laid off if not for democrats. Obama a democrat is trying to follow the plan of FDR during the depression. Which is public jobs programs and regulations on the banking industry. That and Unions fueled the United States out of the recession.

    • Chrismertz92

      Teachers are still getting laid off, it was just postponed. Pharmaceutical industries are pushing for the passage of the healthcare reform so they can get paid more.Troops are not entirely leaving Iraq. And what you said about regulation to banking did not happen, wallstreet was just cut so nobody has the chance of getting rich ever again. Neo-Conservatives have hi-jacked the republican image, and corporations have taken public attention through clever campaigns that are controlled by the democratic party. Its all necessary though in order to maintain our International image and control the worlds energy in such uneven times. You better believe its a free world.

  • Chrismertz92

    Teachers are still getting laid off, it was just postponed. Pharmaceutical industries are pushing for the passage of the healthcare reform so they can get paid more.Troops are not entirely leaving Iraq. And what you said about regulation to banking did not happen, wallstreet was just cut so nobody has the chance of getting rich ever again. Neo-Conservatives have hi-jacked the republican image, and corporations have taken public attention through clever campaigns that are controlled by the democratic party. Its all necessary though in order to maintain our International image and control the worlds energy in such uneven times. You better believe its a free world.

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