Obama, Tea Parties and the Battle for Our Brains

Over the past couple of weeks, The New York Times has been reporting on results from the cognitive and brain sciences that confirm past research in those fields partly by me and partly by my community of colleagues. What makes this of general, not personal, interest is that the scientific results are especially important for understanding what has been going wrong for the Obama administration and for liberals generally, and what has been going right for conservatives. I'm going to start out with some science, and get on to the politics after brief discussions of three important New York Times' articles and what they mean scientifically.

It's always satisfying for a scientist to see his or her predictions proved right experimentally (which happens often), and actually discussed in the press (which happens rarely). As a cognitive scientist and linguist, it's been a good couple of weeks for me and my colleagues, especially in The New York Times. Experiments are hard to do, and I celebrate all the experimenters cited. Experiments are also hard to report on, and I praise the journalists at the Times for a fine job.

Metaphor and Embodiment

Back in 1980, Mark Johnson and I, in "Metaphors We Live By", demonstrated the existence of metaphorical thought and argued that metaphor and other aspects of mind were embodied. That book, and our 1987 books, my "Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things" and Johnson's "The Body in the Mind," helped to start a cottage industry in the study of embodied cognition.

The experimental results confirming our theories of embodied cognition have been coming in regularly, especially in the area of metaphorical thought. Natalie Angier, on February 1,  summarized some of the recent research very clearly:

Read the rest here.

Tags: conservatives, democrats, language, liberals, metaphor, ognition, party, republicans, tea

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Replies to This Discussion

I find this article interesting. I, for one, find the Teabaggers irrational beyond reason, and often racists and antisemitic as well. This also holds true for many other conservatives including Birthers. Like religious fundamentalists, they form a "shared reality" and reject all evidence that defy their "truths." They form conclusions and then seek facts that concur with their fantasy.

I would find it interesting had the authors made more mention of the many conservatives who, as time passed, became increasingly liberal or vice versa.
I find them to be irrational, too, and down-right scary.


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