Friday, September 26, 2008

Scare tactics

According to a fun study reported on Scientific American, people who scare easily are more likely to vote conservative. Scientists surveyed 46 Nebraskans (leaving aside, for now, the delicate question of how closely 46 Nebraskans correspond to the entire population of the United States) and found that:

"Having conservative leanings predicted stronger physiological reactions to scary pictures, including a spider sitting on a person's face, a bloodied face and a maggot-infested wound. People who leaned more politically left didn’t respond any differently to those images than they did to pictures of a bowl of fruit, a rabbit or a happy child."

Reminds me of a political "conversation" I had with a former classmate about the Iraq invasion. After a few useless sallies, he broke out with,

"Do you realize that there are terrorists in Iraq? That terrorists could kill people? That they could kill your parents?"

This was his ace argument. He was one of those very educated boneheads, but his moment of honesty revealed what (I consider to be) one of the driving forces behind people's initial support of that misguided war. We were running scared. The problem with running scared is that there's no guarantee you're going to end up going in the right direction. This is what happened with Iraq.

An earlier cited study says that trauma makes people more likely to vote conservative. Which means that W's traumatic mismanagement should have turned the whole nation Republican by now.

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