RWs are not stupid; it's much worse than that

In journalist Chris Mooney’s new book, The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science – and Reality (which I’ll actually read when my hold-order at the library comes through – I’m basing this on more accessible magazine articles Mooney has written about it), he argues that conservatives and liberals might have brains differently wired. We’ve seen this idea floated before – Wiki even has a page now on Biology and political orientation.) However, in this Mother Jones article – which begins with a discussion of the Conservapedia page on (that is, against) the theory of relativity in physics (no, really, click it) – he is at pains to point out:

IOW, the problem appears to be, not that RWs are not intelligent, but that they won’t use their brains to deal with facts, but only to rebel against them and substitute “facts” more to their liking and defend those.


What can we do about that?! :eek::frowning:

Here’s my predictions for how conservatives will handle it:

  1. Deny it.
  2. Ignore it.
  3. Shoot the messenger. Chris Mooney is clearly a socialist.

What set of ‘facts’ are you referring to. I am not talking about fringe issues like the birther movement. That is just a straw man and both sides have their own versions of them. Once again, the ‘progressives’ (note the presumptuous name) think that they know the one true right way and everyone would agree with it if they simply knew as much as they do about everything.

More likely, some people just have different worldviews and don’t want the same outcome given the same starting set of circumstances. I am not socially conservative but I am economically conservative. Economic liberalism turns me off because I simply don’t care about economic equality of outcomes or even think it is a good thing to trend towards. Other people think that everyone is in this together and we all must make sure that the government provides for people who can’t or won’t do as well on their own. That is a philosophical issue just like it always has been. No set of facts or convincing can change that.

The left-wing version of birthers aren’t driving policy.

There are things that are opinions and there are things that are facts. Conservatism lives in a space where facts are optional. Evolution: Optional. Global Warming: Optional. Government is the spender of last resort in a recession: Optional.

Obviously many conservative policy positions are based on opinion, like, say birth control support or abortion.

Facts can show you that your position produces worse results. Facts can show that some form of universal health care would be cheaper, and produce better outcomes for our citizens.

You have the right to ignore those facts and cling to ideology, but don’t pretend that you’re doing it for any but ideological reasons.

Stephen Colbert put it best: “I’m not a fan of facts. You see, the facts can change, but my opinion will never change, no matter what the facts are.”

I agree that there are facts in many cases that are ignored by groups of people because of ideology, but this is not good example. It may be a fact that universal healthcare would benefit the majority, but it’s a perfectly reasonable argument to say it wouldn’t be of benefit to a particular individual and in fact may ending up costing that individual, for example in raised taxes. I’d prefer a society where people think of others, not just themselves, but as with anything the argument is about where these limits should be, e.g. how much is too much when it comes to taxes.

I’d also like to say I doubt there is in general a difference between right and left wing brains, especially as there isn’t really a left wing in the USA, but don’t forget that the right wing is currently imploding in the USA and those who are vociferously supporting the Republican party at the moment are not necessarily your standard Republican party voters of old.

Gee, what an insightful OP.

As singer/songwriter Fred Eaglesmith said: You all call it “socialized medicine”. We just call it “sharing”.

Sorry OP. I am not a RW but I have plenty of experience with ‘Liberals’. They are just as dogmatic and refusing to consider facts contrary to their opinion as RWs.

However, to bring them up would make you go…but but but…that is wrong and my stance is right!..which is just what RWs do.

You want an example?

  • In a company where the upper management is 100% White but the rank and file is White/Black proportionate to the population… it is perfectly acceptable to chose a Black candidate for promotion to upper management if he is equally qualified with a White candidate wishing for the same promotion.

In addition, a very liberal person seems to be much more willing to try to damage your career for a difference of opinions than a very conservative person. YMMV

Emphasis added.

He “might” be right. But then, he “might” be wrong. Then again, he “might” not know what he’s talking about if he actually uses that phrase. Actually, he probably doesn’t, if he uses that phrase.

And the example given tells us more about the mind of a religious fundamentalist than anything else. Granted, RFs are more likely than not to be RWs, but that doesn’t mean RWs are more likely than not to be RFs.

I see what you did there…

In the various Zimmerman / Martin shooting threads, I believe the trend I see is liberals substituting “facts” more to their liking.

Granted, I see apparent conservatives doing this too. My point is that in this example, liberals do not seem to be fact-driven.

Other examples include nuclear power – the bulk of protests against it seem to come from reliably liberal groups and are not fact-based.

What is your – or Chris Mooney’s – explanation for this?

Do you have any statistics on the amount of liberals or democrats that don’t support nuclear power? As a liberal, I’ve never understood this myself. It’s the cheapest, cleanest, most abundant power source available ATM. Sure the cleanup is a bit of a mess, but if done properly, no worries. I always thought it was the hardcore environmentalists that railed against nuclear power. But nobody listens to them anyway.

As for ZimmermanMartin thing, I didn’t like the way the police just dismissed it from the outset. I thought there should be a more thorough investigation. I thought Zimmerman’s story was questionable on a number of points. That’s all. Just more investigation and no white-wash (no pun intended).

Further, I’ve always thought the real problem with nuclear power is that nobody (D or R) wants a plant or a storage facility in their backyard.

Mooney’s article in Mother jones is, frankly, stupid. First of all, it devotes a huge amount of time to an article in Conservapedia about the theory of relativity. No one can know who wrote the article or whether or not it was intended as a joke. Hence it proves nothing about whether any group of people are or are not willing to accept facts. If Mooney wanted his thesis to be taken seriously, he should have found a much better principle example of his point.

Then he goes on to a long list of positions that conservatives hold certain positions that are not only “wrong”, but supposedly “can be shown to be through simple fact checking mechanisms that all good journalists, not to mention open-minded and critically thinking citizens, can employ.” In most cases he gives neither evidence that most conservatives hold these positions nor evidence that the positions are incorrect. To give just one example of a supposedly incorrect position, “they think [Obamacare] will increase the federal budget deficit”. The effects that Obamacare will have on the federal budget deficit are unknown. All predictions about that matter depending on predicting future costs, future numbers of people enrolled in various programs, future tax receipts, future employment, and other future data that can’t be known now. Hence there’s no way for Mooney to make a factual assertion that he’s right and the conservative are wrong about what Obamacare will cost.

Lastly, he claims to have scientific evidence of psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. He doesn’t give a single citation for this. He probably should.

Mooney lists these as examples:

I’m assuming the R in RW stands for Republican, but what does the W stand for?

Right Wingers, I’d guess.


RW=Right Wing.