By Bishop Paul V. Marshall
The reason, it seems, people cannot converse rationally about certain subjects is that they aren't being rational at all.
A team led by Dr. Drew Westen at Emory University has demonstrated scientifically what most of us who work in professions involving values have long suspected. People do not approach key issues intellectually, but rather vote and act from their emotions.
In The Political Brain (2007) Westen tells how MRI technology waas used tot demonstrate that committed Democrats and Republicans alike do not go to the reasoning parts of the brain, but to its emotional center when responding to data that challenge theirj political allegiances.
His work demonstrates an emotionally biased pattern in people with fixed party identification when they respond to difficult issues: first is part loyalty, then feelings about the personalities of leaders, and last -- he says most people don't get this far -- their feelings about the issues. Finally, the part of the brain that senses reward (or a "fix") kicks in and the issues seems resolved without having actually been engaged...
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