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Member since: Sun Dec 25, 2016, 04:42 AM
Number of posts: 2,492

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Petula Clark sings about sheltering in place...


my tu is usted

My flops are trusted

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(Warning: Includes the F-word, a lot)

How Authoritarianism Short-Circuits the Lizard Brain


The tendency of Republicans both to respond to and sow fear and panic has been with us for decades. Yet during the coronavirus pandemic, to anyone who bothers to look, we are seeing a new and strangely unremarked twist to their behavior, a development that gives valuable — and chilling — insight into Republican psychology.

During the early 1950s, Republicans stampeded themselves and much of the country into a state of hysteria over homegrown Communist subversion. That there were a few Communist spies is undeniable, but Republicans vastly overestimated their number. Senator Joseph McCarthy, the ringleader of the GOP vigilantes, was unable to uncover a single one, settling for ruining the reputations of innocent Americans.

Over the years, conservatives (I use the term interchangeably with Republicans) have swooned over various moral panics, such as the evergreen fear that gays will convert their children into perverts, or the imagined war against Christmas that secular humanists supposedly wage with the implacable ferocity of the Stalingrad campaign. Since 9/11, panic over Muslims has been a hardy perennial: the GOP faithful are forever on guard lest their city council should impose Sharia law on hapless Christians. Never mind that for the last decade, domestic right-wing terrorist incidents have greatly outpaced incidents committed by Muslims.

There is a reason for these inappropriately fearful responses that is related to brain physiology. Strongly conservative individuals literally have different brains than the rest of the population. MRI tests have shown that different centers of the brain light up more robustly in these persons than others, and their amygdala – the so-called “lizard brain” that controls the threat response – is larger than average. To what extent this characteristic is an inherited tendency and to what extent socialization alters the highly adaptable components of the brain is debatable.

Fear and Anxiety Drive Conservatives' Political Attitudes


1. Conservatives tend to focus on the negative.

In a 2012 study, liberal and conservative participants were shown collages of negative and positive images on a computer screen while their eye movements were recorded. While liberals were quicker to look at pleasant images, like a happy child or a cute bunny rabbit, conservatives tended to behave oppositely. They’d first inspect threatening and disturbing pictures—things like car wrecks, spiders on faces, and open wounds crawling with maggots—and would also tend to dwell on them for longer....

2. Conservatives have a stronger physiological response to threats.

A 2008 study published in the journal Science found that conservatives have a stronger physiological response to startling noises and graphic images. This adds to a growing body of research that indicates a hypersensitivity to threat—a hallmark of anxiety. But why exactly would those who scare more easily tend to support conservative views?...

3. Conservatives fear new experiences.

A 2008 study cataloged items found in the bedrooms of college students and saw that while liberals owned more books and travel-related items, conservatives had more things that kept order in their lives, like calendars and cleaning supplies....

4. Conservatives’ brains are more reactive to fear.

Using MRI, scientists from University College London have found that students who identify themselves as conservatives have a larger amygdala than self-described liberals. This brain structure is involved in emotion processing, and it's especially reactive to fearful stimuli. It is possible that an oversized amygdala could create a heightened sensitivity that may cause one to habitually overreact to anything that appears to be a potential threat, whether it actually is one or not. This disproportionate fear response could explain how, for example, Bush’s administration was able to gather wide public support amongst conservatives for invading Iraq. Maybe if they said the phrase “weapons of mass destruction” enough times, it wouldn’t matter whether they existed or not....

This explains a lot about why it's so difficult to discuss issues with die-hard conservatives.

What is CHS? Marijuana advocates warn of a little-known condition affecting heavy users

This is relatively rare, but as legalization spreads there may be more incidences of this syndrome.

Oddly, I think I ran across a young woman with this syndrome in the '70's. She was the girlfriend of a college housemate, and spent a lot of time throwing up and taking hot showers. The house split up after a year or two, but now I wonder if this is what she had.

In any case, this is something heavy pot users should be aware of. I haven't smoked any for over two decades, myself, and don't think I had these symptoms when I did.

From a medical point of view, it sounds like a very interesting puzzle.


As more and more U.S. states expand marijuana legalization, and with weed usage on the rise, doctors and advocates are warning about a little-known condition affecting heavy users of the drug.

Cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, or CHS, causes severe abdominal pain, nausea and “cyclic vomiting” among regular marijuana users — and can lead to extreme dehydration and, in rare cases, death.

“It’s very underdiagnosed,” said Dr. Joseph Habboushe, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at New York University Langone/Bellevue Medical Center, who co-authored a 2018 study on CHS. “Doctors aren’t thinking about it. Patients show up to the ER at an average of seven times before they’re diagnosed and have it for many years before it’s diagnosed.”

“Also a lot of patients are in a bit of denial,” Habboushe continued. “These are folks who have been consuming cannabis for many years, and then they develop these symptoms. So it’s hard for them to believe that these symptoms are actually due to the cannabis itself.”

(I posted this in the lounge because I didn't want to stigmatize it in one of the Medical related forums)

Why incumbent presidents have the advantage in re-election...

Bear with me, but I've been thinking of this as a major, if not the main, reason why incumbent presidents tend to have an advantage.

And it's not just because they are already in office.

Rather, it is because their party is united behind them at the start of the campaign season. Their opposition, on the other hand, has to wage a long series of primary campaign battles. This cannot help but splinter the opposition party. And perhaps more important than that splintering, is the psychological effect it can have on the electorate. The opposition party is seen as fractious and unsteady. This not only demoralizes the opposition party when it comes to the general election, but discourages independents from voting for the opposition candidate.

I've convinced myself this is the major problem in voting out an incumbent president. And the times when the opposition has succeeded in defeating the incumbent seems to be mainly when the incumbent is seen as weak and aimless. Examples: Carter in 1980; GHW Bush in 1992.

I'm not sure there is a good way to combat this problem. The GOP seems well aware of this issue, and has been busy shutting down primary elections and caucuses - in seven states so far. The Dems, so far, have little choice but to duke it out among themselves, and suffer the consequences in the general. Meanwhile conservatives seem delighted by the chaos on the Left.

Any ideas?
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