The test subjects on both sides of the political aisle reached totally biased conclusions by ignoring information that could not rationally be discounted, Westen and his colleagues say.
Then, with their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix, Westen explained.
The study points to a total lack of reason in political decision-making.
The study offers a clear empirical basis for a phenomenon I’ve anecdotally identified in my own experience: the way liberals accuse us (the mainstream media) of a conservative bias, while conservatives accuse us of a liberal bias.
It also goes a long way to explain the scientization identified by Sarewitz: the ability of both sides on a contested issue to find science that supports their argument, while successfully ignoring or explaining away the science raised by the other side.
I like Roger’s snark:
If this study is correct then those “junk science” and “war on science” folks will each probably find a way to ignore or discount its conclusions! But on a deeper philosophical note, does this mean that those who allege that either Republicans or Democrats are worse abusers of science are in fact themselves abusing science?