Blame it on the Amygdala

December 30, 2010

Let’s face it – America took a horrible sucker-punch on September 11, 2001.  I was as horrified as everyone else as I watched the World Trade Center buildings collapse on themselves that day.  We were all frightened then – and rightfully so.   Our Commander-in-Chief  was so frightened that he sat dumbfounded in a school room for an eternity while the national defense establishment awaited his response.  Then he spent the rest of the day aloft, jetting around the country from base to base on Air Force One.

But when the immediate crisis passed, some of us didn’t let go so easily of our fear.  It took our vice-president several years to emerge from his undisclosed location.  He even ordered Google Earth to blur out the details of his residence – in the interest of “national security,” of course.  Meanwhile, Congress stampeded to create an additional layer of bureaucracy in our intelligence apparatus (the “Director of National Intelligence”) and re-shuffle numerous government functions into a massive and unmanageable Department of Homeland Security.  (What do passports and FEMA have to do with each other?  And doesn’t “homeland security” sound kind of fascist to you?  It does to me.)

And then there was the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001.”  That unusually cumbersome name magically can be abbreviated to USA PATRIOT Act!  How about that!  (A 23-year-old Congressional staffer is credited with this bit of cleverness.  His mother must be proud!)

The PATRIOT Act was and remains (after some minor 2005 amendments) a grab-bag of every tool any prosecutor anywhere ever wished he could access to get around the clear language of that pesky Fourth Amendment.  It made it easier for the Feds to access telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records; eased restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States; expanded Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions, and loosened rules on detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of anything that might be considered related to “terrorism.”  It also expanded the definition of “terrorism” to include “domestic terrorism,” thereby enlarging the number of activities to which expanded law enforcement powers can be applied.

Over the objections of a few critics, these measures were all passed in Congress by large majorities from both parties.  No one can say whether all this made America any safer.  It seems that the only foiled terrorist plots that we hear about are those in which a young lone-wolf fanatic builds a non-working bomb with the help of an FBI provocateur, having been “ratted out” to law enforcement by a fellow Muslim.

In further response to the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush ordered “regime change” in Iraq – a country that had none of the advertised “weapons of mass destruction” and which had nothing to do 9/11.

And not all of the madness stayed in Washington.  Right-wing gasbags stirred up a revolt against a “Ground Zero mosque,” which was neither a mosque nor located at Ground Zero.  My home state of Oklahoma passed a constitutional amendment banning use of Sharia Law in its courts, as if Sharia were a real threat to American jurisprudence.

The Homeland Security Advisory System fluctuates between “yellow” (elevated) and “orange” (high), although no one seems to know exactly what that means or how to respond to changes.  )Except that we still have to remove our shoes and go through full-body imaging at the airport, no matter what the “threat level.”)

Now that the dust from 9/11 has settled almost ten years later, one more Great Divide has emerged in America.  As a broad generalization, “conservatives” still support all of the 9/11 reactions outlined above.  “Liberals” tend to consider the same reactions to be irrational overreaching that thumbs its nose at the Constitution.  “Conservative” politicians warn us that only they and their vigilance can protect us from The Terrorists.  Liberals wonder if the 9/11 attacks didn’t take a large chunk out of the Constitution along with the World Trade center, four airplanes, one side of the Pentagon, and thousands of American lives.

The political satirist Stephen Colbert called the divide by name in his part of the pre-election rally on the National Mall:  “Keeping Fear Alive.”

Why are the ongoing appeals to fear so successful – but only to some of us?  Why do those who continue to live in mortal fear of Radical Islam tend to be Fox-News-Viewing “conservative” Republicans – and not the sort of voters who listen to NPR and support the ACLU?

Blame it on the amygdala!

A study to be published next year at University College London suggests that conservative brains are structured differently than the brains of other people.

Specifically, the research shows that people with conservative tendencies have a larger amygdala and a smaller anterior cingulate than other people. The amygdala — typically thought of as the “primitive brain” — is responsible for reflexive impulses, like fear. The anterior cingulate is thought to be responsible for courage and optimism. This one-two punch could be responsible for many of the anecdotal claims that conservatives “think differently” from others.


If the study is confirmed, it will help to explain a lot about America’s polarization between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans.  When one person is acting out of fear signals coming from a reptilian part of the brain, and another out of courage and optimism, they can’t possibly perceive a given situation in the same way.  So how can they ever come together?


  1. Seriously.. You guys should get out more.. Funny how a bunch of libs can sit in a circle jerk.. Stroking each others ego… All the while reaffirming extremist thought!! This is worse than FOX news..

    On a side note.. Hope you guys had a great Christmas.. I wish you health and wealth in the new year…

    • WE ought to get out more? You may not like our offering here, but it’s several tiers above your favorite activity of vandalizing other people’s websites.

      The comparison to Fox News is fallacious. We don’t claim to be “fair and balanced.”

  2. Still bitter.. I see..

    • If you want to troll go to Rutherford’s site or Alfie’s. All trolls there.
      Sorry but there are several studies now that connect regressive behavior with malfunctioning and/or illformed brains. Regressing towards lizard like behavior. You can’t help it.

    • The penalty for open comments is having to put up with the likes of you, Smoke.

      It’s not so much that I’m “bitter.” It’s that my past history with you is something I don’t care to extend. Surprised?

      Since you don’t like what you find here, there is absolutely nothing we can do to keep you from staying away.

  3. Let me see.. you liberals are relating choice on the size of the brain.. hmmm. I’m no medical expert here.. but it is a good marketing try.

  4. oops on the size of the brain should be to the size of the brain.. LMAO..

    • no it’s not as simple as size…the brain is highly complex.

  5. This thread just has given me a migraine.. my migraines are very complex.. no one has figure them out.. I have had them since I was 25. Only imitrex can kill it. and that stuff is very expensive. I wish there was a way to prevent them… Alas.. I haven’t figure it out.

  6. WR – do you recognize our old buddy in the earlier comments?

  7. http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2010/12/obama-vacation-costing-more-than-14m-paper-claims/1

    FYI.. I don’t know if you all classify USAtoday as faux news..

    and yes.. I recognize the Webg.. I have to agree with him.. on this thread..

  8. PS.. as I look at it.. We caught a Morocco Mole. If it were not for a cyber whore handing over the Rockfish Island, and then again slamming her colleagues again and again, she would not have gotten her ‘Christmas Present’ last year.

    She had every opportunity to tell the Truth.. and then some. LMAO.. Those who befriend her were pawns in a very dysfunctional sick fantasy turned reality affair. The Pawns learned a valuable lesson…Good triumphs over Evil every time! In addition to NEVER messing with the Pals of a seasoned Bluebird from Chicago!! 😀

  9. Yes the was smoke all right. Luckily he only does infrequent hit and runs. Like all of that ilk they cannot handle extended – on topic – discussion.

  10. BYD.. I don’t mind the smoke.. it’s the other one.. Jeff Johnson aka Atticus Finch, Alan Shore, aka today he is the Liberal Kuzak on the TW who I can’t stand..

    Question: If Jeff was running for an office today.. would YOU vote for him.. doggie. hmmm. I know what Graychin would say.. but what would you say..??

    • I don’t find any of those names in profiles.

      I seldom go there anymore and don’t recall where they stood on anything.

    • OK so i found him. No sense of humor? Can’t take a joke? Thin skin? He’s funny.

    • I agree with the Dog! He must have rabies.

    • if you agree with me you probably did not read what I wrote. If he does cp that is ok – his lines were new to me.

      Want to cricize retards on there? It would be wonderful if droopy and thier ilk did c/p. Then they would not use the same line for weeks on end.

  11. Kuzak is a good commenter. He’s insightful and clever, which pisses off people who disagree with his point of view. But that’s exactly what he wants.

    Vote for him? For what office? City Council? He’d be an improvement, but who wouldn’t? I’d vote for any Democrat for state rep.

    For anything else – I’d need some actual information.

  12. Chin.. you would vote for a person just because they are a DEMOCRAT.. good god.. Judge a person by their character NOT by their choice of party! (Jeff)Kuzak is a putz! He steals his jokes. He is a cut and paster.. doesn’t have an original thought as Fredsdad said. He is a bored individual who is stuck in the stacks at Spirit Aerospace in the bowels of Wichita with a jar of Vaseline and a PC.

    • No, I wouldn’t vote for someone just because he’s a Democrat. I need to amend my statement.

      I would almost always vote AGAINST someone, just because he (or she) is a Republican. So if Kuzak was running against a Republican, he would probably get my vote.

      Actually, my own state rep is a Republican – Dr. Doug Cox. And I vote for him. He’s that very rare breed – a Republican who has independent thoughts, doesn’t always vote the Party Line, and shows an occasional glimmer of common sense. For example, he was the only Republican to vote against overriding the governor’s veto of that obnoxious bill to require women getting abortions to receive and view an ultrasound. Frosty Troy (one of my heroes) regularly rates him as one of the ten best in the OK legislature.

      I did vote for Jim Rogers against Tom Coburn. Rogers was manifestly unqualified. But Coburn is worse.

  13. What if Jeff is a flip flopper like so many politicians today are.. a liberal on the GOP ticket!

    • I prefer to just see the GOP shift ever rightword – until they are totally in the ditch – almost there.

    • Hey dog.. off topic.. I don’t have your email.. but if you shop on-line.. this is a good site..
      to get good deals plus cash back.. no gimmicks.. I checked it out. PS.. I hope you bought some Silver when I told you all about it.. It is over 30 today.. I’m just trying to help yawl out. Copper is a good buy today.. as well as medical equipment..


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