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Neural correlates of political ideology

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posted on Sep, 14 2007 @ 03:40 AM
reply to post by apc
Difficult to know how to phrase this, since I'm trying to curb my Bhairava-like instinct to batter and maim in the cause of enlightenment.

So, as non-invasively as possible...

I believe group selection among humans is largely a result of conscious choice.

That would be what we call eugenics. Not what we are discussing here.

Particularly when the distinction of fitness is manually projected on mass.

Selective fitness is not decided by dictatorial fiat and propagated by mass communications; it is determined, inexorably, by the iron hand of nature.

Communism and socialism are not inherited phenotypic traits. The daughter of good communists is not genetically predisposed be a communist. There is a world of difference between differential tolerance for novelty (which is, according to the sources quoted by melatonin, heritable) and political affiliation (which is not -- at least, not genetically). It's a cardinal error to confuse politics with genetics.

The rest of your post is rather funny, but perhaps the humour was not intentional. It may not be apparent, actually, to someone who doesn't really understand natural selection and how it operates. At any rate, it does little to favour a defence of conservatism over liberalism.

If you haven't already read Sociobiology by E.O. Wilson and The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, I recommend these books to you highly.


posted on Sep, 14 2007 @ 07:49 AM

Selective fitness is not decided by dictatorial fiat and propagated by mass communications; it is determined, inexorably, by the iron hand of nature.

How are you not seeing that this is my point?

Liberalism is in direct conflict with human nature. The L-types may have a greater capacity to adapt to change and conflict than the C-types, but that capacity can prove to be a disadvantage as well as a result of human intelligent choice.

If humans were just like any other organism on the planet, you could continue to define everything in terms of biology and natural evolution.

As we are not, you must incorporate many more variables. Self-awareness, for starters.

As both the L-types and C-types carry damning disadvantages, neither can sustain dominance. Therefore it doesn't matter if one is less fit for survival than the other. You must bring human intelligent (read unintelligent) choice into the equation, and when you do it is clear that when one succeeds, it self-destructs allowing for the reemergence of the other.

Continue to focus solely on natural evolution all you want, but I would advise a bit of adaptation to the change that is human intelligence.

posted on Sep, 18 2007 @ 08:15 AM
Here's a new related political ideology study this week:

Research Article
Interpersonal Disgust, Ideological Orientations, and Dehumanization as Predictors of Intergroup Attitudes

Gordon Hodson11Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and Kimberly Costello11Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada1Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Address correspondence to Gordon Hodson, Department of Psychology, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2S 3A1, e-mail:

ABSTRACT—Disgust is a basic emotion characterized by revulsion and rejection, yet it is relatively unexamined in the literature on prejudice. In the present investigation, interpersonal-disgust sensitivity (e.g., not wanting to wear clean used clothes or to sit on a warm seat vacated by a stranger) in particular predicted negative attitudes toward immigrants, foreigners, and socially deviant groups, even after controlling for concerns with contracting disease. The mechanisms underlying the link between interpersonal disgust and attitudes toward immigrants were explored using a path model. As predicted, the effect of interpersonal-disgust sensitivity on group attitudes was indirect, mediated by ideological orientations (social dominance orientation, right-wing authoritarianism) and dehumanizing perceptions of the out-group. The effects of social dominance orientation on group attitudes were both direct and indirect, via dehumanization. These results establish a link between disgust sensitivity and prejudice that is not accounted for by fear of infection, but rather is mediated by ideological orientations and dehumanizing group representations. Implications for understanding and reducing prejudice are discussed.

In sum, people sensitive to interpersonal disgust (rather than disgust reactions to spiders etc) are more likely to be right-wing, moreover, they also express more out-group prejudice.

It's been known for a while that right-wing authoritarianism is related to prejudice, but we now have an indication of what mediates this.

I would think that placing these people in fMRI, showing them out-group faces, would do one of two things, or both;

(i) reduced activity in the medial prefrontal cortex - this would be due to deactivation of areas of the brain related to processing 'people'-related stimuli. A previous study showed that the same thing happens for extreme outgroups (e.g. homeless people) compared to in-group stimuli. Essentially, such people are processed by the brain in a way comparable to inanimate objects - that is, they are dehumanised.

(ii) Secondly, it is likely that areas of the brain implicated in disgust might well be activated, particularly the insula.

I'm sure this will be undertaken with time.

[edit on 18-9-2007 by melatonin]

posted on Sep, 19 2007 @ 02:28 AM
The Genocide Gene

reply to post by melatonin

Has anyone speculated on the evolutionary roots of prejudice? What would be the selective advantage of keeping a particular subset of a genotype intact if the bearers of genes in the subset are not close kin?

You might suggest that combinations of these genes fare better, survival-wise, than random combinations of some of them with other, outgroup genes. After all, that's how kin selection is supposed to work.

But in kin selection -- correct me, someone, if I've got this wrong -- for Hamilton's formula* to give a positive result, either the relationship between altruist and beneficiary must be pretty close, or else the benefit conferred by the genetically-programmed altruistic behaviour must enormously outweigh its cost.

In the latter case, the kin group possessing the gene would probably outcompete all its conspecifics within a relatively short time, ensuring that, in a few generations, all members of the population carry the gene.

Well, human beings are far more closely related to one another, genetically speaking, than is usual for animals. And racism and prejudice seem to be rather widely distributed among us. Could the latter phenomenon be a legacy of the circumstances that gave rise to the former?

Was the bottleneck a holocaust?

Genetic evidence suggests that humanity experienced a sudden and catastrophic decrease in numbers around seventy thousand years ago, when our population appears to have decreased to around fifteen thousand individuals. Various explanations are cited for this, among them a volcanic eruption that caused catastrophic climate change.

But what if the bottleneck was self-inflicted?

Perhaps humans, up to seventy thousand years ago or whenever it was, were peaceful, gentle creatures like modern bonobos. Then, into one sub-population of these peaceable beings, a mutant was born whose defining trait was murderous hostility towards other humans not closely related to it. Given a certain combination of circumstances, it seems to me quite likely that such a mutation would have spread like wildfire through the sub-population -- or rather, what was left of it. This mutant sub-group would then progressively destroy all other humans until, at the end, only its members would be left alive.

How many? About fifteen thousand individuals.

In the aftermath, the survivors would be much more closely related to one another, and every one of them would carry the 'MHTO' (murderous hostility towards outsiders) gene. Non-carriers would all be dead.

This seems to agree well with what we see today: a genetically quite uniform population in which intolerance, prejudice and a predisposition to violence against 'outsiders' are widespread.

The return of humanity to humanity

Over time, genetic drift and possibly mutation, together with the competing or complicating effect of other genes, seem to have reduced either the efficacy of expression of MHTO, or its prevalence in the population, or both.

Perhaps this reduction was also facilitated or driven by factors I mentioned in an earlier post on this thread: the ever-higher level of integration of human society and the increasing pace of change, both of which place a high premium on cooperation (to the degree that competition between individuals or groups can only be tolerated within an overarching framework of close social cooperation). Both would tend to favour a suppression of MHTO. Of course, the individual alleles concerned may yet be strongly favoured because of their other expressions in the phenotype, so we should not be too sanguine.

Of course, this is all speculation and well on the wild side at that. Nonetheless, the results described in melatonin's quote strongly support what I and many other liberals believe: conservatism is immoral at its very root.

* which measures the potential rate at which genes for an altruistic behaviour spread through a kin group.

[edit on 19-9-2007 by Astyanax]

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