Sunday, December 02, 2012

Some thoughts on Chris Mooney's Republican Brain

by Simone Amselli (posted with her permission by Gary Berg-Cross

The following were some thoughts Simone had about Chris Mooney's presentation at WASH MDC on The Republican Brain. Simone is a teacher of French & Spanish.
others who attended or have read the book will be interested in these and in commenting.:

1-First, Mooney based his studies on only two elements of the political spectrum: the Liberals and the Conservatives. This is what I call a “black and white” outlook on the subject. There are so many nuances of grey that can be addressed.

2- The topic is presented as scientific (which would mean that the theory could be applied universally), but it contemplates only the American perspective.

3-My opinion is that in what determines our personality, the cultural element is much more important than our genetic disposition. Mooney said rightly, that the choices we make in politics can be compared to those we make in religion. However, most of the time people don’t “choose” their religion; they were raised in it. This can apply to politics. I see my students just repeating the political arguments their parents are using; this was quite obvious at the time of the last election. I wonder if a study has been made, or could me made to see if the children of the so called “liberal parents” feel more free not to stand by their parents ‘political affiliation than the Conservative’s. Of course, in that topic, like in many others that pertain to human sciences, there are a lot of gray areas.

4- Regarding the definitions Mooney give of each group: the Liberals being more open-minded, and the Conservatives liking structures, they can be applied to the individual members of each party: There are among the “Liberals” people who like structure (and are not "messy") and are used for their sense of duty and organization. There are among the “Conservative” people who like to discover, learn new things. All parties need people who reach out, and others that are duty oriented. All spectrums of personalities can find their niche in any party.

5-and last: I agree with the comment of the gentleman who said that Mooney’s theory is somewhat deterministic: "our political inclination is dictated by the configuration of our brain". This seems to be the conclusion Mooney is aiming at. However determinism is a huge subject… and a lot can be said about it. Even the cultural context can be deterministic.

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