Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Knowledge Is Power

Or not.

Evidently we now know a little more about the neuroanatomy of gullibility than we used to. Interesting it might be; but it doesn't tell us anything about how to make teabaggers -- who, in general, are old farts -- regain charge of their brains. It may explain, for example, why birtherism is alive and well despite the incontrovertible evidence of the falsity of every one of its claims; or how it is that a college classmate just forwarded a warning about the New World Order and the already-planned -- with signed documents! -- consolidation of Canada, US, and Mexico; but it tells us nothing of how to take those who buy into that stuff and bring them back to earth, or, granting mercy, put them out of their misery. It does, I suppose, allow us to cut them a little slack: it's not their fault; their brains are just rotting, shriveling like elderly gonads.

(HealthDay News) -- Whether it's an email from an unknown gentleman on another continent pleading for money or a financial scammer selling a promising penny stock, the young and old tend to be more easily duped than middle-aged people.

Now, researchers have pinpointed the area of the brain responsible for this gullibility and have theorized why it makes children, teens and seniors less likely to doubt.

The ventromedial area of the prefrontal cortex of the brain -- a softball-sized lobe in the front of your head, just above your eyes -- appears to be responsible for allowing you to pause after hearing or reading something and consider whether it's true, according to a study published recently in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience.

"When most adults hear or read something, they believe it at first, and begin to process it," explained study author Erik Asp...

In children, the prefrontal cortex is still developing, not reaching full maturity until the late teens or even early 20s. As you age, the brain area responsible for doubting may begin to deteriorate, gradually reducing your propensity to question. The area is the last thing to develop in the brain and may be the first area to begin to show some decline, Asp explained...

Maybe instead of picture ID, we should be demanding brain scans of voters of a certain age. Because the last thing we need is more gullible people drooling in front of Bill O'Reilly's or Sean Hannity's image on TV, or nodding in mute, age-related, prefrontal apoptosis, literally lobotomized into agreement with Rush Limbaugh as he drains his pus into the airwaves; or downloading emailed conspiracies into their heads, letting them displace what's left of their neural processors.

Feel sympathy for them? Sure. Hope Romney doesn't voucherize their Medicare benefits out of existence? Yes, of course. Get them the help they need? Heck, I'm a liberal, after all. Pad their cells with goose down in suede. But allow them further to pollute the political process by accepting the crap they're being fed, deliberately, by people who have their worst interests at heart? When they no longer have the grey-matter wherewithal to recognize what's being done to them? Maybe not.

MRIs at polling places. I'm there. With hat in hand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As we wonder how Republicans can listen to all the lies and show no concern, it occurs to us that this is what they *want* to hear. They don't care that it's a lie, they just want to hear it as it reenforces their beliefs. This can also be seen in the bizarre emails that float around among conservatives.

So how did they get to the point that lies are what they want to hear? Recall back in the 50s and 60s we were so afraid that the government would get so powerful that they could bombard us with propaganda, much as the Soviets were doing to their people. With the strong emphasis on the first amendment, that didn't happen. But instead, the plutarchs stepped in and filled in the hole. They became the the propagandists.

Propaganda is easy when you can start with some basic beliefs that are then reinforced and built on. In the Republican's case these are racism, bigotry, religious extremes, and ignorance. Fear of things they don't understand (and never will) make it easy to direct their fears toward the UN, invasion by black helicopters and government takeovers of whatever. It doesn't matter that something is actually a good thing, calling it a bad name works every time.

I have a fear. That the country isn't going to wake up and will keep going down the hill under the control of those who do not have our best interests at heart.

CSM - just South of the middle of nowhere.

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