Dumbest News Story of the Day

“Scientists” in London claim to have found evidence of differences in brain structure between conservatives and liberals. You get one guess as to which group is flattered by the comparison:

Scientists have found that people with conservative views have brains with larger amygdalas, almond shaped areas in the centre of the brain often associated with anxiety and emotions.
On the other hand, they have a smaller anterior cingulate, an area at the front of the brain associated with courage and looking on the bright side of life.
The “exciting” correlation was found by scientists at University College London who scanned the brains of two members of parliament and a number of students.

It’s exciting to various left-wing web sites, apparently, but the “correlation” identified by these scientists is absurd on its face. No doubt it is good to have both a properly functioning amygdala and a properly functioning anterior cingulate, but what does the function of these areas of the brain have to do with their size? In all likelihood, nothing. It is a safe assumption that every area of the brain is important; does this mean that the world’s most admirable people are those with the biggest heads? These people might as well be doing phrenology.
For what it’s worth, the role of the anterior cingulate cortex is complex and not well understood. As for the amygdala, the “scientists'” association of that region of the brain with “anxiety and emotions” is entirely arbitrary. Time magazine headlined: “How to Win Friends: Have a Big Amygdala?”

Got a big social network? Then you probably have a large amygdala, according to a new study that found a connection between the size of this brain region and the number of social relationships a person has. The complexity of those relationships — as measured by the number of people who occupied multiple roles in a social network such as being simultaneously a friend and a co-worker — was also linked with amygdala size. …
Understanding the relationship between the size of an individual’s amygdala and his or her social relationships could help lead to treatments for a variety of conditions that involve difficulties with social connections, such as depression or autism.

So the British “scientists” could just as easily have concluded that liberals are depressed, autistic loners who live by themselves and eat cat food.
All of this is stupid, of course, but it is a valuable reminder that many who call themselves scientists will sell out science in a heartbeat in order to advance a political agenda. Global warming alarmism is another example of this phenomenon.


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