Chris Mooney

Chris Mooney is back with another GOP-bashing tome, and why not? As the world becomes ever more complex and dependent on technology, as the U.S. fails to educate enough engineers, programmers, scientists, and doctors, the Republican primary debate regressed to ever simpler terms. Instead of evidence and rationality, Romney and company embraced an agenda of ...FREEDOM! As in, freedom from facts, statistics, and the empirical method. In The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality (Wiley, $25.95), Mooney blames the subcortex, that older, lizard-descended part of the brain that dictates our fight-or-flight emotional impulses. This leads to "motivated reasoning," where the newer parts of the brain (i.e. the prefrontal cortex) get overwhelmed with key memories and associations from the older bits. (Do you want to reason with the spider or crush it?!?) Every time you argue with your father-in-law or click to FOX News to make yourself angry, there's a kind of synaptic reinforcement at work—for both liberals and conservatives—as those emotions are rehashed. Says Mooney, "The more we activate a particular series of connections, the more powerful it becomes. It grows more and more a part of us, like the ability to play guitar or juggle a soccer ball." Put differently, practice makes us all very pissed-off. BRIAN MILLER

Fri., May 11, 7:30 p.m., 2012

 
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