Biology and politics
Posted by Peter W. Schramm
Left-Right orientation could have biological underpinnings?
It is too bad that a study like this makes news. But I guess anything that makes freedom and the soul less visible is news, even good news, for some. Too bad.
7:13 AM / September 20, 2008
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Maybe, but if it is good news it doesn't corrolate well with Gallup daily tracking of the Happiness index which is near a low at 39. The funny thing is that happiness swings more wildly than misery which seems to be at much more of a constant. I suppose this is because Gallup get a lot more independents when it comes to happiness indexes, but sometimes happiness tends upward on the same day that misery tends upward and the fall in happiness from 63% in January to the low of 39% most recent, was only accompanied by a climb in misery from 11 to 14.
I think either the McCain camp or the Obama camp would be happier taking 24% hit if it only moved the opponent up 3%.
But in any case what I was thinking when I read the story was that "startle impulses" might be linked to the extreme variation in the happiness index.
Biological underpinnings or not, somehow I think it will all come back to having whatever underpinnings study members believe are most conducive to happiness.
Republicans have derided Barrack Obama as largely a sort of celebrity type figure, and democrats have and are reciprocating with Palin....but if you want to talk about biology, has anyone really figured out the placebo effect?
When McCain says that the "fundamentals of the economy are strong" what does he mean? Are republicans commited to being happy about the economy because being unhappy is perceived to favor the democrats? Is the happiness measure itself bi-partisan?
Do folks commit to being happier healthier or wiser on the basis of who is elected president? How big is the: I will take my ball and go home/move to canada mentality?
I am highly tempted to say that Obama is better on the economy, regardless of policy/biology/medicine by virtue of pure placebo effect.
I think it is largely because others share this general apprehension that the scientists scurry around to quantify it. Not because it can fully be quantified but because it represents a hole in the armor of any argument that would attempt to be definitive.
I mean I am not exactly making things up when I say that this is a sort of Glass/barrier breaking placebo ridden election, and while I am in many ways very much opposed to the intervention and market bailout, I can't help but simply feel that this is all a giant game of looking like you know what you are doing, and hopeing it has a placebo effect.
My general view is that bringing biology into it is simply a way to appear "scientific" and thus an expert who is not shooting from the hip.
So while sugar pills can have a placebo effect a spoon full of sugar still requires medicine.
When things are really awful, humor is the only comforting response.
My husband, who has a lot of time on his hands just now, works with a division of AIG and gets obsessive about things that interest him, insists that the AIG bailout is actually well-structured and could bring in real revenues to the federal coffers. Of course, who knows what will happen when Congress gets into the act. But McCain is right. The economy of America is basically sound in its the foundation. He will not tamper with that,Obama says we need to fix that, the law of unintended consequences being what it is, I prefer the non-tamper mode. Read more about Canada to see why moving there does not seem an option.
But I do not see why what we are like in our character would NOT have some foundation in biology. I do not say we do not have choices, but we are biological beings with souls attached. Animated meat, but how would the animation (our most interesting aspect) not be effected by the meat it inhabits? There is something to it, but as the guy in the article indicates, there is no way science has any grip on reality in the situation. They are still just noticing interesting correlations.
I am still contemplating what it means, Kate, to be "animated meat." I take your point and agree with it as far as it goes. But you will pardon me if I demure from the title--however accurate and descriptive--of "animated meat." Even so, it may be a useful way to put it. Another way to say it might be to acknowledge that we ought to be guided both by our limitations (our meat) and also by our possibilities (our souls or "animation") in nature. Too much emphasis on the first makes us base and ignoble . . . like mere animals. Too much emphasis on the latter can make us useless or, worse, tyrannical (like would-be gods). Nature ought to inspire us to our highest possibilities but also remind us of our, inevitable, limitations. We ought to be both too proud to be beastly and too humble to presume we are godly or, even (possibly) wise.
Julie, yes. I wonder who can get to the end of a week and and with retrospective honesty think himself wise. I know I cannot.
One thing I was thinking about was the type of chemicals in our brains that incite depression or even schizophrenia. I was also thinking about hormones, especially after having endured menopause, and what turmoil those can bring us. Men, their hormones, and what drives some of them to foolishness over women is another cause for curiosity. Whatever our bodies' chemistry does to us, somehow it is in the response we make to it that our humanity is most defined.
Is it pride that keeps us from being beastly? I think love drives us to behave well to one another. But I would not really argue with what you say and thank you for saying it.