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question everything Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:54 PM
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Reading the Mind Of the Body Politic
The Wall Street Journal

Reading the Mind Of the Body Politic
The subconscious is the new frontier in politics. But is it good for democracy? Alexandra Alter reports.
By ALEXANDRA ALTER
December 14, 2007; Page W1

During last Sunday's Republican presidential debate in Miami, Mitt Romney declared he was the only candidate who had stopped talking about universal health care and "actually got the job done." Across the country, in San Francisco, five volunteers watched the debate while wearing electrode-studded headsets that track electrical activity in the brain. When Mr. Romney said the words "got the job done," there was a pronounced shift in activity in their prefrontal lobes. "They liked what they were hearing," said Brad Feldman, an analyst with EmSense Corp., the company that conducted the test.

This campaign season, the newest thing in presidential politics is neuroscience. Driven by new research that suggests monitoring voters' brains, pupils and pulses may be more effective than listening to what they say, EmSense is one of a cottage industry of neuromarketing firms across the country that are pitching their services to presidential campaigns. Seattle's Lucid Systems is trumpeting a biofeedback program that tracks brain waves, pupil dilation, perspiration and facial-muscle movements, while a Chicago company says it is talking to campaigns about its voice-analysis technology, which is used in insurance-fraud cases.

(snip)

..the company developed an Internet survey that asks voters questions like which candidate they support. But rather than just tallying the results, the survey tests their subconscious attitudes by recording how quickly the respondents enter their answers -- the theory being that faster responses indicate stronger feelings. So far, TargetPoint has used the survey four times, sampling 3,200 Republicans who are likely primary voters. Alex Gage, Mr. Romney's director of strategy, says the campaign is looking at the reaction-time data to gauge the "intensity" of voters' views. "It has a lot to do with how mature an opinion may be," he says.

(snip)

Presidential campaigns have always played to the emotions of voters: Thomas Jefferson's opponents warned that if he was elected, murder, incest, robbery and rape would flourish, while Andrew Jackson's detractors circulated a portrait of him as Shakespeare's villain Richard III. Lyndon Johnson's campaign aired a famous 1964 ad that cut from a girl picking flowers to a mushroom cloud. The notion that candidates are sold to the public much like products became a standard cultural trope with the 1969 book "The Selling of the President," which argued that Richard Nixon's campaign profited from selling spin over substance.

(snip)

In recent years, advances in brain-scanning technology have allowed researchers to identify areas of the brain involved in political beliefs and in some cases, to conclude that political views and behaviors are hard-wired. A recent study conducted by New York University psychology professor David Amodio, which was published this September in the journal Nature Neuroscience, tracked electrical fluctuations in the brains of 43 self-identified liberals and conservatives while they performed a simple cognitive task. The results suggested liberals were better than conservatives at adapting their behavior to new circumstances.

(snip)

When John McCain ran through a list of Hispanic politicians who had endorsed him, the company says the brain-wave frequencies of the test subjects stayed flat, indicating a lack of interest. When Mike Huckabee argued that withdrawing troops from Iraq would create a power vacuum for terrorists, the volunteers' adrenaline spiked. Fred Thompson's discussion of health care caused a pattern of brain activity that suggests the viewers thought about what he said, but didn't like it. The company, which says it plans to begin contacting campaigns later this month, says it could help candidates vet advertisements or hone their language and delivery in speeches.

(snip)


URL for this article:
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119759511839128473.html (subscription)

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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 02:59 PM
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1. What the hell...
it's not like things are that far from completely FUBAR'ed... why not just kick it on into high gear?
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Jackpine Radical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 04:11 PM
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2. Well, all I have to say is
I have lots of biofeedback equipment on hand including the ability to read 4 channels of EEG + electrodermal & EMG responses simultaneously. Anybody wanna provide financial backing for a company?
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redqueen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-14-07 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
3. I'm kicking this cause I thought it was worth a read...
maybe other folks didn't see it...
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