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Why we do what we do

Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds

Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Read More

Asinine study, considering

Asinine study, considering liberals are the ones that mostly succumb to things like the global warming farce and the world is collapsing pandemonium. Conservatives are clearly more objective and reason oriented thinkers. They don't buy into irrationality like liberals are known for.

Asinine comment, considering

typical conservative retort - they are too ignorant to address the real points (strengths and weaknesses) so as typical they attack the persons via name calling and insults.

Funny that's also inline with the author's hypothesis. Which begs another question, is it the size of the amygdala itself or the activity that is the critical feature?

I'd also like to see this study replicated on a different demographic sample.

lack of accountability

Fear combined with lack of accountability usually has a bad ending.

Oh really

Um... Isn't LACK of fear more the product of lack of accountability? If you're less accountable, you have less to fear, I would think.


Or is the idea that fearful people seek positions in society with less accountability? And then (by some people's standards) "abuse" it?

I guess that would at least make some kind of logical sense, whether true or not. In that case accountability would not produce fear, but fear would produce LACK of accountability (by motivating the fearful to seek it).

Asinine study considering it

Asinine study considering it finds you a typical cowardly conservative?

As a conservative..

Use your purported complex brain to run through this one: If an opponent really is cowardly, what sort of threat do you think he might perceive in being called a coward? The likely result is this conservative pulling into his conserv-o-shell™ and treating you as a serious threat to his social standing, which in the evolutionary past had a serious link to his chances for survivial. And his brain still sees it that way.

Or put another way, you might as well have just threatened to kill the man for the amount of fear that comment just evoked.

>>>a serious threat to his

>>>a serious threat to his social standing, which in the evolutionary past had a serious link to his chances for survivial.<<<

People of different social standing have significantly different survival today too, not just in some far-away "evolutionary past".

And moreover, the laws of nature haven't changed between now and the "evolutionary past".

It is always challenging to

It is always challenging to accept new information, even that based on rigorous scientific exploration, if it doesn't conform to one's belief system. Simply discounting scientific research without actually analyzing one's own biased or reading the paper seems immature to me. But what do I know, I have the ability to see the complexity of systems and I'm not afraid of learning new things about the universe as I am a self-proclaimed liberal. Oh yeah, and a physics teacher.

Belief system, huh

So, did this new information conform to your belief system or not?

Global warming is based on

Global warming is based on scientific evidence, not farce. But, of course, conservatives actually believe there are such things as "death panels" included in Obamacare, not because they are real, but because somebody told them so, and with their heightened fear response, they do not look rationally at such claims to see if there is any validity to them. Nor do they look rationally at any other outrageous claims the far-right makes, they just believe them outright because, with their enlarged amygladas, they are easily frightened. Those who are passing off these ideas count on it! Just like they neither understand, nor look at the science involved in understanding climate change before they dismiss it as a farce, because somebody told them to. Do your own research, learn some science. Educate yourself!

The Bell Curve is also based

The Bell Curve is also based on science. There's also a study that says liberals are more likely to be pedophiles. And then there's the number of liberals in prison. Oh, and liberals don't really fair all that well on IQ tests either. Perhaps what conservatives really fear is a world run by perpetual adolescents.

liberals have lower IQ?

liberals have lower IQ? where is that study?

This entire comment is a

This entire comment is a complete fabrication. Sorry you were so threatened by the scientific evidence in the article.

liberals don't really fair all that well on IQ tests either.

No, that should read "fare all that well on IQ tests either." But according to your logic you may just be claiming to be a liberal, yourself.

Global warming is based on

Hummm... interesting. I would love for someone to please explain to me how any scientist, meteorologists, etc can claim that global warming actually exists when neither can ACCURATELY predict what the weather or temperatures will be just a month out, BUT we are to totally believe they can predict what will happen a hundred years out? How in the world is this possible? I truly would love to have this answered. And, if the science is there... why did they have to change it from 'Global Warming' to 'Climate Change'? Is it because we have been in a cooling phase for the last couple of years? I believe that God has taken really good care of this great planet over the years. It has cooled... it has warmed... and then it cooled again...and it still exists. Not only has God taken great care of us and the planet that we live on... He also has a great sense of humor. Whenever there is a 'global warming' rally, He has it snow...just to show that He is in charge and in control.

Me thinks that it is the left, "the intellectuals" that are the ones that are afraid. After all, it seems that it is the 'right' or the 'conservatives' that are the ones that have no qualms in protecting themselves and others (yes, even the left) with their personal firearms, when the need arises. Most in the military are also conservatives. They are the ones that think of others before themselves. It is they that will lay down their lives to protect their fellow man, not the left. And if you are tempted to start spouting that guns need to be banned because of the deaths that have occurred because of them... stop and research it first. Every single one of them were leftists. They were mostly mentally impaired, usually stolen the gun because they had been declined when trying to purchase a gun from the gun shop (as in Laughner's case and others). It is not the gun that kills people, it is the evil, demented person that pulls the trigger. A gun in the hands of the good person, will be the one that saves innocent lives.

Why we know Global Warming is real

I'll take a stab at it..

I can address the specific argument you've posed by giving you a similar argument you can see through.
If you're very drunk and driving through the mountains at 120mph, I can tell you with a very high level of certainty that you'll crash. I can't tell you Exactly where you will crash, just like a meteorologist has trouble telling you what the weather will be in 11 days at a specific point on the planet.
The fact that you can't stay in your lane on a curvy road that you're traversing at well past what could possibly be a safe speed shows a clear pattern though.. you skid around the corners but eventually, you'll skid just a bit too far and you'll be embedded in the mountain or flying off the edge of the road.

Weather is chaotic. No one denies this. Just like no one knows exactly where the drunk will end up the next time they turn the wheel, it's difficult to predict Exactly what will happen in the next instant in a chaotic system.

It's not call Global Weather Change though.. is it?
It's called Global CLIMATE change.
Weather is not Climate. It's vitally important that you understand this so I'll harp on this a bit. Bear with me please.

Last Winter, it was brutally cold over most of North America. Conservatives predictably proclaimed Global Warming debunked because it was 15 below in the mid-west. But what about the other side of the planet? At the same time it was 15 below in North America, it was 60 degrees F at the same Latitude in Russia.
From the limited perspective of looking out a mid-west window, it sure looked like the climate was getting colder last winter but all you had to do to understand how faulty the perspective was to turn on the TV and watch people walking around in Shorts at the Winter Olympics.

We have a solid record of GLOBAL temperatures. We know that the planet has begun to warm precipitously since the start of the Industrial Revolution. It doesn't go up every year, sometimes the average temperature of the planet recedes for a year or two but the overall progress over decades.. over a century and a half.. has been upward.

Here's what we know...

* The average global temperature Has been going up since we started releasing large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere in the mid-1800s.
* several of the hottest average years on record have been in the past decade.
* Urban heat islands.. we've understood the phenomenon for almost a century.. we adjust for that in the data.
* C02.. Physicists have understood why it's Greenhouse gas and how it works as such for nearly Two hundred years. Seriously. The science is that settled.
You can prove it for yourself with a couple bottles, thermometers, a heat lamp and some bi-carbonate antacid tabs if you really wanted to.. the science is really that simple.
* It's OUR CO2 in the upper atmosphere. We know there's more Co2 in the upper atmosphere, we know how it affects the climate, and we know we put it there because it's isotope ratios match that of the carbon that was formerly locked away in fossil fuels.
* It's not the sun.
.. I could go on and on.

There's literally hundreds of years of solid evidence for Climate change. More than you can imagine. The science behind it is solid.
Further, to hold your position you have to argue that tens of thousands of Climate Scientists who have spent their lives becoming experts in this field have all successfully conspired to carry on an elaborate hoax without anyone giving up the secret. Have you ever known 10 people to keep a secret? Tens of thousands of Climate Scientists have though? For Decades?

Of course, you can ignore all the science and just believe that God wouldn't allow such a thing.
Let me re-cast your argument for you though.
"Not only has God taken great care of us and the planet that we live on".. he'd never allow plagues to happen that wipe out half of the population of a content, nor would he allow huge swaths of Australia burn year after year as it suffers through heat-induced droughts. He'd never allow a lake as large Erie to become so polluted that it's tributaries would catch on fire. He'd never allow for nuclear melt-downs that de-populated hundreds of square miles in Russia.. because he takes great care of us and the planet. Right? World Wars? Cataclysms like volcanos? Nope.. they don't happen because God takes care of us and the planet.

Maybe there's a god, maybe there isn't. If there is a Christian god though.. you should re-read your scriptures to see what he's capable of allowing. Not only did he give us free-will, he's demanded genocide of his followers in the past. We've proven we have the ability to destroy our environment over and over. That's undeniable. He hasn't stopped us before, he's not stopping us now.

Climate is Not Greater Than the Sum of the Weather

Having lived a long life of summers and winters, droughts and floods, cold weather and warm, I can faithfully report that the climate has not changed - at least there has been no change in the ranges of expected weather conditions. Or do you insist that the climate is changing without effect on the weather?



And again, we have someone who doesn’t understand that Climate is the measure of weather trends over time and large areas.

If you lived in Antartica, you might think the weather in your neighborhood was unchanging.

Cold in the Summer, deathly cold in the Winter, period full stop.

If you lived in Arizona, though, you’d have noticed the persistent drought that’s been going on for decades.

And if you weren’t that smart, you might assume that was the “new normal”.

Remember, just because it’s not raining in your back yard doesn’t mean there isn’t a flood going on a mere hundred miles away.

Because weather is not the

Because weather is not the same thing as climate, and if you don't understand the difference in that, how can you expect to know anything about global warming? That is basic.

I think your comment supports

I think your comment supports most of the study's findings; especially on intelligence. One should never end a sentence with a prepostiion. Nothing worse than dumb confidence!

That rule only applies to

That rule only applies to British English and not American English. Americans can end a sentence with a preposition. You are probably using as your source a joke that used to go around about a Texan visiting Harvard and asking where the bathroom was "at". The Texas answered, "Ok, so where is the bathroom at, asshole?". It's a joke and not exactly accurate for American English, at that.


Is that what liberals are known for inside the conservative reality bubble? Interesting.

Okay, I already knew that, since I used to be a conservative and lived inside that bubble. Not understanding what liberals could possibly be thinking does look like irrationality to a conservative. Thing is, as a liberal now, and former conservative, I understand exactly what conservatives are thinking, and why*. Neither side is necessarily irrational, but one side is definitely ignorant and simplistic, and that's the side that I outgrew as I learned more about the world, and chose to lean more toward love than fear.


[* You would be blushing at that, if you had the self-awareness to know the why of your thinking, yourself. It usually involves lazy/sloppy thinking, pretending prejudice isn't biasing you, and arrogance.]

reason oriented

??? they think Obama is a Moslem from Africa and that if two gay folks get married, their fifth marriage is threatened...oh please..there is enough irrationality on both sides to go around. However, the instant name calling is getting waaaay too old.
Address the issues raised, please. Discuss the facts laid before you. This study raises more questions than it answers and both liberals and conservatives (and the country) would be better served if we discussed them. I KNOW it can be done because I grew up in a loving family that had both and were able to carry on decent, civil arguments and continue to love each other. Sometimes learning new ideas from each other and sometimes moving on after "agreeing to disagree". GROW UP!!

Open Mouth Insert Foot

As partisan as things are, do you really think that increasing the disparity between the parties, is prudent?
I mean, you may as well just dye the people with one gene orange, and the other purple... As we already have Black, and White, and Red, and Yellow, and Brown...
If conservatives are as paranoid as you say... Don't you think this type of article would be fodder for their FEAR?
Just something else for them to think is inferior/superior... "We conservatives have bigger amygdala's than the Dems"...
One step short of The Third Reich!

Let's see... I was born to conservative Parents, both of which have/had enlarged amygdala's, due to PTSD. My mother from having half her face burned, and scarred since she was 2 years old. My dad from WWII service on Batan.

I was beaten, neglected, and humilliated as a child. I experienced the death of 6 year old compatriots, stabbings in HS, being molested by a teacher, a bombing in school, and being raped by a "friend"... I have PTSD, as do all of my 5 siblings. We all have enlarged amygdala's...
So... Why are my two sisters and I Liberals, and one of my 3 brothers is a liberal/conservative...

And as fearful as we may be of things happening in the world, we are fearful most of CONTROL FREAKS like my parents, and two teabagger brothers. Afraid of their "all for me and screw them" attitude...
My sisters and I have been a minority all our lives. We know how it feels to be under paid and under supported... Less than WHITE MALE. Most of our Sisters of the world know this, too.

Just look at Sarah Palin... Female Puppet of the Conservative party. She is a ho to money, and notoriety, now... After being USED as a Female Token Presidential Runningmate, when the Conservatives knew they were not going to win. Then she continues to make women look like ho's, by offering her daughter and herself up, to the "Reality" TV Wasteland. She fears the conservatives.
She is serving to humiliate woman everywhere with her being a Bimbo for money and fame.
She is now going around the world SPREADING FEAR to other countries.
Conservatives in Wisconsin are trying to remove collective bargaining from... NOT THE POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENT and their collective bargaining... They are trying to take MOSTLY WOMENS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING RIGHTS!

There are WAY TOO MANY FACTORS involved in political leanings/draggings, to say that a "gene for fear" makes one a conservative voter.
If anything, having a gene for fear might make one good at handling their fear... And knowing who is TRUELY SCAREY!

I think you may have slightly

I think you may have slightly misunderstood the point of these findings. An enlarged Amygdala merely means that one can be more vulnerable to fear-mongering. Certainly, one's personal history and education also must be taken into consideration as far as what one's political leanings will be. The fact is, though, that with a larger Amygdala, one can be more vulnerable to fear-mongering and irrational ideas...the right wingnuts have used this to their advantage, clearly. lol!

larger amygdalas

It would be nice to know that just because someone has a large amygdala, they don't have be a conservative, but how do you know that you, your siblings, and your parents all had large amygdalas?
Also I want to commend you on overcoming so much tragedy.


I can easily believe based on that rant that you have a huge amygdala.

Seems like you're in the wrong team then.

It could as well be the opposite or something quite different

The whole thing with the amygdala is not so simple. Larger amygdala correlates also with "social" stuff. According to some studies, one could reasonably make the opposite guess, that larger amygdalas are associated with liberalism:

Amygdala volume and social network size in humans

We found that amygdala volume correlates with the size and complexity of social networks in adult humans. An exploratory analysis of subcortical structures did not find strong evidence for similar relationships with any other structure, but there were associations between social network variables and cortical thickness in three cortical areas, two of them with amygdala connectivity. These findings indicate that the amygdala is important in social behavior.

At the same time, the correlation of fearfulness and size (in contrast with activity) is relatively weak, and more strong in girls (presumably also on women, and women don't seem to make the bulk of conservativeness, if I'm not mistaken, women are more likely to be liberal):

Amygdala volume correlates positively with fearfulness in normal healthy girls

Research into the neural underpinnings of fear and fear-related pathology has highlighted the role of the amygdala. For instance, bilateral damage to the amygdaloid complex is associated with decreased appreciation of danger and recognition of fear in humans, whereas enlarged amygdala volume is associated with internalizing syndromes. It is unknown whether amygdala volume and fearfulness are related in the absence of pathology. We examined the correlation between normal fearfulness and amygdala morphology in 116 healthy children and adolescents (60 boys, 56 girls, age 7–17 years). Fearfulness was measured using the parent ratings on the Pediatric Behavior Scale and amygdala volumes were determined by manual tracing. We found a positive correlation between right amygdala volume in girls (r = 0.29). This relationship was more robust and present bilaterally when analyses were limited to girls with a positive nuclear family history of depression (for left r = 0.63; for right r = 0.58). In boys there was no significant relationship which may suggest that biological mechanisms differ between sexes. Given the role of enlarged amygdala volume in pathology, these findings may indicate that variation in amygdala morphology marks susceptibility to internalizing disorders.

If Conservatives Are Driven By Fear...

...why is it that LIBERALS are constantly panicking?

I mean, there has never been a happier, more confident, more optimistic politicians than Ronald Reagan, has there? And liberals LOATHED him for it! They thought his sunny smile merely proved that he didn't grasp how TERRIBLE everything is, and how rapidly the world was going to Hell.

Pick up any left-leaning magazine from the past 30 years, and you'll find scare headlines. AIDS is going to kill us all! GLobal warming is going to destroy all life on Earth! Reagan is going to get us into a nuclear war!"

A more fearful band of people you will never meet!

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Nigel Barber, Ph.D., is an evolutionary psychologist as well as the author of Why Parents Matter and The Science of Romance, among other books.


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