Science: Dems lose elections because they’re too darned rational

posted at 2:08 pm on June 27, 2007 by Allahpundit

If only they were more emotional, like we fear-mongering man-monkeys, they might control all three branches now. I think all of us who’ve sailed the placid seas of Nutrootsistan can sympathize with that sentiment.

This is probably the third or fourth permutation of “conservatives bad, liberals good” science we’ve blogged since HA started, but this one’s special since it shares with George Lakoff’s stupid “branding” thesis the precious quality of being, in its own way, as insulting to Democrats as to Republicans. Does the left really need to have it explained to them by a scientist that emotional appeals tend to be politically effective? Don’t they have a few examples in their own scrapbook that prove the point? It’s like not being able to figure out sex without a doctor’s help.

Westen’s thesis is simple. “A dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions bears no relation to how the mind and brain actually work.” That’s true when it comes to choosing a significant other, buying a car, and choosing a president. Madison Avenue has known this for decades. Democrats haven’t. Instead, their strategists start from an 18th-century vision of the mind as dispassionate, making decisions by rationally weighing evidence and balancing pros and cons. That assumption is a recipe for high-minded campaigning—and, often, electoral failure. But by recognizing the strides that neuroscience, psychology and, in particular, the science of decision making have made in recent years, Westen argues, politicians can tap into “the emotional brain” that guides most political decisions…

Because emotions are central to beliefs and values, if an appeal is purely rational it is unlikely to tickle the emotional brain circuits that affect what we do in the voting booth. To the contrary: emotions can trump rationality. “People were drawn to Reagan [in the 1980 presidential race] because they identified with him, liked his emphasis on values over policy, trusted him, and found him authentic in his beliefs,” Westen writes. “It didn’t matter that they disagreed with most of his policy positions.” The same forces were at work in 2004, when pollsters found that voters in small-town America placed more weight on issues unlikely to directly affect their lives, such as terrorism and violent crime and gay marriage in Massachusetts, than on those that were, such as mine safety. Positions on issues matter to the extent they incite voters’ emotions…

Neuroscience research backs up the poll results. When voters are hooked up to brain-imaging devices while watching candidates, it is emotion circuits and not the rational frontal lobes that are most engaged. When voters assess who won a campaign debate, they almost always choose the candidate they liked better beforehand. The rationality circuit “isn’t typically open for business when partisans are thinking about things that matter to them,” Westen notes. Yet “this is the part of the brain to which Democrats typically target their appeals.”

Yep, nothing but sunshine, reason, and the Athenian agora for those Democrats. Here’s my favorite part:

Tougher gun restrictions? How about an ad showing a parade of Arab-looking men walking into a gun store, setting their money on the counter and walking out with three or four semi-automatics each, with this voice-over: “My opponent thinks you shouldn’t have to show a photo ID or get a background check to buy a handgun. He thinks anyone who wants an AK-47 should be able to buy one, no questions asked. What’s the point of fighting terrorists abroad if we’re going to arm them over here?”

Wouldn’t that be a rather striking example of racial profiling, heretofore a cardinal sin on the left? Sure, but hey: “Effective? Let’s just say that if John Kerry had used Westen’s words to attack the Swift Boaters who impugned his war record during the 2004 presidential campaign, Bush might be clearing a lot of brush in Crawford these days.” Ends and means, baby. Imagine what the abortion ads will look like.

Read the whole thing and ponder your exit question: In what meaningful sense is that piece different from a press release?

Update: See-Dub comments, “Meanwhile…as the picture of the pathetic polar bears on an ice floe drifts across our screen for the eight thousandth time as a newscaster reads a thinly disguised press release about global warming…”


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Belligerent. Self. Pity.

RushBaby on June 27, 2007 at 2:10 PM

Uh-Huh. It can’t possibly be because Americans want to be safe, with low taxes, and less government control?

amerpundit on June 27, 2007 at 2:12 PM

It’s not that their ideas are wrong. It’s that people are too stupid/emotional to get what they’re selling. Also, Republicans are mean.

brak on June 27, 2007 at 2:14 PM

Come on, folks! Haven’t you seen all those “rational” dems. You know, the one’s – so frothing at the mouth with BDS they can’t see straight – who think 9/11 was an inside job? Who think pulling out of Iraq

thedecider on June 27, 2007 at 2:15 PM

will somehow stabilize the region? (Hit the enter button too soon).

thedecider on June 27, 2007 at 2:16 PM

It’s not that their ideas are wrong. It’s that people are too stupid/emotional to get what they’re selling. Also, Republicans are mean.

brak on June 27, 2007 at 2:14 PM

And don’t forget, Bush is Hitler.

It’s like not being able to figure out sex without a doctor’s help.

Well, there’s something to be said for playing doctor…

ReubenJCogburn on June 27, 2007 at 2:18 PM

Read the whole thing and ponder your exit question: In what meaningful sense is that piece different from a press release?

By the way, that article leans so far to the left it’s practically laying on it’s side. Yes, it’s a press release.

thedecider on June 27, 2007 at 2:18 PM

Ah the old ” we cant win because the American people are too stupid to know how brilliant we really are” elitist rant.

The left isnt interested in elections only corinations

William Amos on June 27, 2007 at 2:19 PM

Funny, when I debate democrats I find them to be totally irrational. Facts don’t matter, just what they think reality might be.

lorien1973 on June 27, 2007 at 2:25 PM

Poor, dilusional me!

All this time I didn’t realize it was Rosie who was, “dispassionate, making decisions by rationally weighing evidence and balancing pros and cons.”

taznar on June 27, 2007 at 2:26 PM

You have got to be kidding me.

Does anyone remember,

Bush lied kids died,

If you elect Bush black churches will burn

If you elect Bush black men will be drug behind pickups,

If you elect Bush 12 million illegal aliens will…..Oh wait….

conservnut on June 27, 2007 at 2:27 PM

Liberals think they lose elections because people either don’t understand their message or the message didn’t get out. The exact opposite is true. The more they get their message out, especially with the messengers they have, the more the average person understands it and therefore is left with only two options. Reject it or move to CA or MA.

Conservatives lose elections because they have lost the trust of the average person.

So both sides have their problems and I think if no new names emerge after the primaries the general election will be decided by the New Hampstead Senior Citizens Bingo and Knitting Club, who were picked up and driven to the polls to vote since nobody else will bother with it this time around.

LakeRuins on June 27, 2007 at 2:30 PM

the most rock solid science, evah…. evah

libertytexan on June 27, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Yeah, Democrats never pander to emotional agendas (Global Warming) and only take rational and intelligent positions (socialized health care funded by cigarette taxes) that only show how intellectually superior they are (9/11 truthers).

Skywise on June 27, 2007 at 2:31 PM

Is that why most people become more conservative as they get olderTeenagers are more “logical”? Hmmmmm.

foxforce91 on June 27, 2007 at 2:34 PM

Is that why most people become more conservative as they get older?
(…is what I meant to say in prior post.)

foxforce91 on June 27, 2007 at 2:35 PM

“OK Westen, write something absurd that will give us an excuse to ratchet the emotionalism up even further.”

Mephistefales on June 27, 2007 at 2:36 PM

Wow… that one’s good, like reading Pravda from the 50′s or 60′s… two thumbs up from elgeneralisimo…

elgeneralisimo on June 27, 2007 at 2:39 PM

And Gores RIGHT about Global warming.. er… ah.. climate change…

And Rosie’s right about Fire and Steel!!!

Wait… didn’t we disect somthing by this same author a couple of months ago???

Romeo13 on June 27, 2007 at 2:40 PM

… if John Kerry had used Westen’s words to attack the Swift Boaters who impugned exposed his war record during the 2004 presidential campaign… —- Allahpundit

There… I fixed that for ya Allah.

Maxx on June 27, 2007 at 2:43 PM

Rational? Eighteenth century mind?

As in ADAM FARKING SMITH? People respond to incentives? Ringing any temple gongs for you, lefties?

see-dubya on June 27, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Madison Avenue has known this for decades. Democrats haven’t. Instead, their strategists start from an 18th-century vision of the mind as dispassionate, making decisions by rationally weighing evidence and balancing pros and cons.

Is that why they started calling themselves “progressives” and avoid their former moniker of “liberals” as if it was radioactive?

My bullsh!t-o-meter just detected a level 10 alert.

thirteen28 on June 27, 2007 at 2:49 PM

Meanwhile…as the picture of the pathetic polar bears on an ice floe drifts across our screen for the eight thousandth time as a newscaster reads a thinkly disguised press release about global warming…liberals are concerned they’re not using enough emotion.

see-dubya on June 27, 2007 at 2:52 PM

The Democrats can go back to their Chicago roots. They had a pretty good emotional appeal back then.

Vote Democrat or get your store shot up.
Vote Democrat or get your legs broken.
Vote Democrat or sleep with the fishes.
Vote Democrat or meet the other end of a ‘Chicago typewriter’.

gabriel sutherland on June 27, 2007 at 2:52 PM

Oh, dear, now I’m getting scared because I’m on the irrational side of the aisle with all the emotional people, and the dispassionate cerebral folks are fixin’ to attack me with irresistable appeals to my poor lil’ illogical emotion circutits. I’ll probably end up voting for Hillary, I won’t be able to help it!

NellE on June 27, 2007 at 2:57 PM

What, is that from the Onion or something?

Kensington on June 27, 2007 at 3:07 PM

Silent Spring sure was dispassionate and logical. Imagine the impact if they had used propaganda techniques instead!

shirgall on June 27, 2007 at 3:08 PM

If being delusional and believing your own lies = rational then the point may be well taken. Since it is not, just another distortion of the truth that pales poorly under scrutiny.

volsense on June 27, 2007 at 3:09 PM

Somewhere Lawrence O’Donnell is smacking his enormous, bulge-veined forehead and saying “Ah! I’ve just been too rational all this time!”

see-dubya on June 27, 2007 at 3:12 PM

Greg West
Rational? Rational?
Is supporting the killing of an unborn child while at the same time opposing the death penalty rational?
I think not mon frier.

TheSitRep on June 27, 2007 at 3:14 PM

Imagine what the abortion ads will look like.

So, what’s the emotional side of the pro-abortion argument? I don’t think that many Muslims are getting abortions, so they couldn’t re-use the cast from the gun commercial. Hmm… if memory serves, aren’t most abortions by black mothers?

The camera follows an eight-and-a-half-month-pregnant black lady as she walks into an abortion clinic; the voiceover describes her as a “welfare queen”; she sees a giant sign saying “No Partial Birth Abortions by Order of Evil Republicans”, so she turns around and waddles back out toward the hosptial next door; the voiceover says: “Is this what you want, America, more nigger babies being born instead of killed?”

It would be idiotic for any person – let alone someone claiming to be a psychiatrist – to imagine that Democrats are robots. Of course there is no calculous to determine “right” and “wrong” social policy. Every human’s fundamental drives are based on emotion.

To say the very least, liberals are not one whit more logical than anyone else. They simply go to extraordinary lengths to HIDE their motivations – even going to the pathological extent of trying to deny that they HAVE any values.

Obviously, that’s insane. Of course liberals have values; it’s just that they can’t afford to admit – even to themselves – what those liberal values ARE. If they ever decided to give up that facile charade, even for a second, liberals would lose their grip on power instantly. And they are painfully aware of that fact.

logis on June 27, 2007 at 3:20 PM

we should buy and send a copy of: “Intellectual Morons: How ideology leads smart people to stupid ideas”

to the ‘researchers’ of this…

jp on June 27, 2007 at 3:24 PM

Uhhh. Hey y’all..I’ll be outa here in a sec. Had to chuckle at NellE on June 27, 2007 at 2:57 PM : “emotion circutits”

captivated_dem on June 27, 2007 at 3:27 PM

So Republicans are from Mars Democrats are from Venus? Or the Republicans are Klingons and the Democrats are Spock. Where have I heard that before?

BohicaTwentyTwo on June 27, 2007 at 3:30 PM

i wish i wuz smart lik teh newswek riters.
help me jon carry!

Blacklake on June 27, 2007 at 3:37 PM

“That’s not a dark art, THIS is a dark art” Cheney says as he slowly crushes your windpipe WITH HIS MIND!

BohicaTwentyTwo on June 27, 2007 at 3:41 PM

bwahahahaha

hahahahhahaha

Defector01 on June 27, 2007 at 3:44 PM

Dims just think they’re smarter. You know it. The holier than thou attitude. The upturned nose. I went to Hahvahd. I deal with it all the time. Then they disprove it constantly when they open their mouths.

PowWow on June 27, 2007 at 4:10 PM

Dispassionate minds like this one?
“Robert Bork’s America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens’ doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution…”

Ted Kennedy some time in the 1980s. That’s not emotional at all, is it? A simple, dispassionate statement of fact.

JohnJ on June 27, 2007 at 4:17 PM

This thesis makes me boil with uncontrollable irrational rage.

I can hardly think straight.

What did they say again?

Vote Republican?

I’m furious!

Must eat raw flesh now.

profitsbeard on June 27, 2007 at 4:41 PM

When I think “rational,” I think Al Franken, Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Michael Moore, Alan Colmes, James Carville, et al. Yup, when I think “rational,” I think “Lefticle.”

OhEssYouCowboys on June 27, 2007 at 5:03 PM

Funny, when I debate democrats I find them to be totally irrational. Facts don’t matter, just what they think reality might be.

lorien1973 on June 27, 2007 at 2:25 PM

That sums it up well. With libs, everything is measured in the currency of feelings and emotions, not logic, evidence or reasoned discourse. Every time they try to show otherwise, it only ends up reinforcing the central axiom; for they perceive rationality in the same way that a spoon perceives the taste of food.

This particular instance is just a variation on a snobbery-based theme that swiftly devolves into nothing more than an exercise in projection. I’ve seen a similar “analysis” positing that libs are “too nice” and need to learn to become vicious, mean and nasty – “Like those *%^@$#* Rethuglicans, ya know what I mean?”

The problem for libs is that when minds unfamiliar with the ordinary tools of rational debate (e.g., intellectual consistency, factual evidence, and reasoned discourse) try “the logic thing,” it always ends up being so contrived, self-contradictory, convoluted and dishonest that it ends up looking like something right out of The Onion. Check of proof: Westen’s article itself.

Bottom line: Liberalism is a mental disorder, and at some unconscious or semi-conscious level, people like Westen know it. But rather than take the uncertain and painful path to wellness that begins with an honest self-examination, it’s so much easier to retreat into a fantasy world shielded by thick walls of denial, displacement and projection.

The only challenge remaining after that is to hang some fig leaf of “rationality” on the avoidance mechanisms, in an effort to fool themselves about themselves while simultaneously trying to fool others. It never works, but can be a source of some entertainment.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 27, 2007 at 5:19 PM

Fear mongering like telling senior citizens that Republicans are going to take their social security away or telling them that Republicans are going to take away their medicare? Or that Republicans are going to reinstate the draft? Is that the kind of “fear mongering” they’re talking about?

Capitalist Infidel on June 27, 2007 at 5:23 PM

There is the scientific method and then there is the method the authors of this excrement use: “How could Democrats lose? We’re smarter, handsomer and darn it, people like us!”

MCPO Airdale on June 27, 2007 at 5:52 PM

The scientific method does not yield valid results if you build your work based on faulty starting assumptions.

A)Democratic policies are rational
B)Republican policies are emotional

Note she doesnt argue why this is the case that is the her STARTING point to draw the conclusion she wants.

Resolute on June 27, 2007 at 7:49 PM

I am actually related to several Democrats, and have known many.

The vast majority of them were and are firm believers in;

UFOs

Ghosts

Bigfoot

Reincarnation

Crystal therapy

The Erich Von Daniken/ W. Raymond Drake “Ancient Astronauts” theory

Past-life regression (all of them were kings, queens, etc;
at least three I know of all insist they were Cleopatra )

Alien abduction

Various JFK assassination conspiracy theories (none of them involving Lee H. Oswald)

Anthrogenic Global Warming

That all nuclear power plants are actually bombs just waiting to go “boom”

Extreme vegenism

The theory of Atlantis

and of course

The healing power of green tea.

If you can swallow all that, convincing yourself that you are inherently smarter and more rational than anyone else, in spite of all factual evidence to the contrary, isn’t much of a stretch.

If you want to see where a lot of this began with the “progressive” crowd, you actually have to start with the “UFO contactee” movement in the post- World war Two period. It’s amazing how many of the “mainstream progressive” beliefs of today began with the people who were routinely taking joyrides to Venus, Mars, and points up with the “Beautiful Space People”. (Google “Donald M. Ware” and you’ll see what I mean.)

cheers

eon

eon on June 27, 2007 at 7:59 PM

The lose elections because they are too rational? Whoever wrote that must have been born after the 06 elections.

crosspatch on June 27, 2007 at 8:08 PM

Imagine what kind of a world Westen must live in where a pile of mendacious trash like this can get out the door, not to mention in the news.

I mean, literally no one who looked at it said “wait a minute…”?

Merovign on June 27, 2007 at 9:20 PM

I am actually related to several Democrats, and have known many.

The vast majority of them were and are firm believers in;…

eon on June 27, 2007 at 7:59 PM

I couldn’t help but notice that list includes almost every belief system on planet except for organized religion.

And there’s a reason for that. Liberalism is secularism; they deny that their beliefs ARE beliefs.

Spirituality is mankind’s way of dealing with the world of the unknown versus the world of the mundane. And liberals utterly reject that entire process. They think that the simple act of labeling their idiotic fantasies “reality” magically makes them “true.”

Denying the distinction between the spiritual world and the physical world is just as bad as not understanding the difference between fantasy and reality.

…That’s not just a FORM of insanity; that’s the very DEFINITION of insanity.

logis on June 27, 2007 at 9:25 PM

Past-life regression (all of them were kings, queens, etc;
at least three I know of all insist they were Cleopatra)

Yeah, it’s funny how none of them ever had past lives where they were say, Shmobo the peasant boy, who got killed by a runaway manure cart.

ReubenJCogburn on June 27, 2007 at 9:35 PM

Science: Dems lose elections because they’re too darned rational

I think all of us who’ve sailed the placid seas of Nutrootsistan can sympathize with that sentiment.

Yep, nothing but sunshine, reason, and the Athenian agora for those Democrats.

To you, sir, Ayn Rand would say “Bravo”.

What she’d say about their rationality or rationale, I’d give anything to hear today, straight from the source.

Entelechy on June 27, 2007 at 10:36 PM

I have enjoyed Allah’s commentary in the past and on this interesting thread as well.

Aside from the distorted political angle, this “attempt to reduce mind to brain-states neuroscience” stuff by the author of the article really raises two profound philosophical questions:

1.) Is the attempt to reduce mind (READ: “A dispassionate mind that makes decisions by weighing the evidence and reasoning to the most valid conclusions.”) to neurological brain-states philosophically successful?

The answer is negative because the immaterial mind that grasps propositions, numbers, abstract objects, moral values ***can never*** be reduced to that which is purely physical.

We know we have immaterial mind. This fact poses difficulties for any worldview that attempts to reduce mind to physical brain-states, such as the worldview of naturalism.

Besides the metaphysical difficulties noted above, there is the epistemological difficulty of reconciling knowledge with naturalism.

2.) what worldview best “accounts for” the answer given to question 1?

There are paradigm cases where we know that mind cannot be “reduced” or “equated” with neurological brain-states.
But this rules out the philosophical worldview known as Naturalism.

There are some who may disagree with my very brief analysis above.

I very much respect their opinion, and I take their comments seriously.

One approach, Christian Theism, says that question 1 is answered successfully because a Divine Mind crafted mankind in His image.

I may be guilty of reading too much into this brief article. But maybe it is because I see this naturalistic ploy of “let us reduce immaterial mind to physicalistic brain all too often” in contemporary literature.

Besides, I have been on the phone all day trying to save our country from ruthless Senators. :-)

ColtsFan on June 28, 2007 at 2:41 AM

One approach, Christian Theism, says that question 1 is answered successfully because a Divine Mind crafted mankind in His image.

ColtsFan on June 28, 2007 at 2:41 AM

Sorry, I had the wrong http link posted.

I had originally planned this link.

And also this link as well.

Victor Reppert got me thinking about this subject awhile back.

I just can’t find his Argument from Reason in a step-by-step, concise format, that he used to have posted on this blog above.

http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/

ColtsFan on June 28, 2007 at 3:10 AM

One approach, Christian Theism, says that question 1 is answered successfully because a Divine Mind crafted mankind in His image.

ColtsFan on June 28, 2007 at 2:41 AM

Oops, I had the wrong link.

I had originally planned for this link here.

And also this link here.

Victor Reppert had a clear, step-by-step argument concerning his subject on his blog awhile back, but I simply cannot find it.

ColtsFan on June 28, 2007 at 3:21 AM

That assumption is a recipe for high-minded campaigning—and, often, electoral failure.

Cognitive dissonance on parade.

Freelancer on June 28, 2007 at 4:15 PM