Hallelujah! By the strictest standards of science, my most cherished belief has been proved to be fact. Nope, it has nothing to do with the existence of God, unequivocal evidence of evolution or the final word in the debate whether WWF Pro Wrestling and Reality TV are scripted.
Here it is: Science has proven that politicians and their hard-line supporters are sniveling, self-serving, weasels.
A recent study at the clinical psychology department of Emory University has uncovered something shocking. Well, maybe it’s not really shocking. Deep in our hearts, we knew it all along.
Through experimentation Emory scientists, directed by Drew Western, have discovered in "staunch party members" a "total lack of reason in political decision-making.u201D Bingo. Thought so! That explains it all!
It seems that what these brave soldiers of science did was to assemble a group of hard-line Republican and Democratic party supporters, hook them up to some bells and whistles all the better to study what parts of their brains functioned when u201Cthinking.u201D The subjects were given conflicting statements by both President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry while their brain… uh… u201Cactivityu201D was monitored. The test subjects became quite excited and defended their respective party leaders with gusto. And then, to make things even more fun, the subjects were given statements that proved their respective party leaders’ statements were false. By so doing, the researchers deliberately induced what is known as u201Ccognitive dissonance.u201D
To put it simply, cognitive dissonance is what the brain goes through when what it truly believes is proven to be wrong. A confused brain has to go searching for some sort of pacifying explanation, no matter how bogus.
You know, it’s like after months of believing some two-bit dictator has stockpiled mountains of WMDs and then, having spent billions of dollars invading his country, having to accept the fact that the WMDs simply are not there after all. Uh… golly, uh… duh… he musta hid ‘em somewhere.
At this point in the experiment, the Emory University scientists had a quorum of cognitively dissonant partisan Bush and Kerry supporters all foaming at the mouth and wired up to monitors. (No, the research was not held during one of the two parties’ four-yearly presidential candidate nominations.)
Guess what? The section of the brain that controls reasoning, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, did nothing! That’s right, whatever gibberish their boy had spouted, the u201Cstaunch party supportersu201D would defend it without the benefit of rational thought.
The lights were on but nobody was home!
Just what is the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex anyway? OK, the key word here is u201Cfrontal.u201D You know, it’s that big bump on your forehead with which, far and above other life on earth, humans are blessed. Well, that is where thinking and reasoning are supposed to take place.
If the Emory University research is true for "staunch party members" it will be doubly true for America’s elected representatives.
Aye carumba! Learning that politicians and those who worship at their shrine routinely fail to use the unique powers of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex doesn’t generate a lot of confidence. While doing their decision-making, our elected officials may not actually be thinking any deeper than, for example, my two Caymanian West Bay Shepherds, Nimrod and Little Brain. But I’ll tell you what; neither Nimrod nor Little Brain has ever gone bird hunting while drunk.
As well, neither dog has bitten my face by accident. However, they will grovel at and lick my feet. They will beg for handouts. They do make a whole lot of noise at anything that threatens their territory. And when unchained they will run amok all over the place wreaking havoc. I’d say this gives them all the qualifications they need for a seat in Congress.
Happy days are here again! Let’s return to science. The frontal cortex just happens to be that section of the brain Dr. Walter Freeman loved to poke with an ice pick. Back in the 1950s, Dr Freeman’s u201Ctechniqueu201D was used to render his u201Cpatientsu201D more docile. Sometimes it worked! Usually it just made them more stupid.
So, you could say that politicians and their devoted supporters, be they Republicans, Democrats or members of the Bull Moose Party automatically lobotomize themselves when asked to pass legislation affecting the nation and the world.
The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex also happens to be a region of the brain that has an effect on a whole bunch of the negative aspects of schizophrenia, not that there are any positive ones.
Yeowza! If this area gets damaged or isn’t firing on all cylinders, IQ levels drop, problem-solving skills fall away, poor insight develops and information processing goes swirling down the toilet. A person suffering from a malfunctioning dorsolateral prefrontal cortex may have delusions of Empire, see terrorists shopping for tubes of Preparation-H packed with yellow cake uranium in Wal-Mart or believe they have a mandate from God. I’d sure as heck hate to trust my country and life to a person like that! We’d be up the Euphrates River without a paddle toot sweet! Oops, I guess we already are. Well that also explains a lot!
The Emory University study proves beyond a doubt that politicians and their acolytes have the gift of ignoring factual information contradicting their own agenda. As we all suspected, they are lying morons. Or as George Costanza once said on an episode on Seinfeld u201Cif you truly believe it, it’s not a lie.u201D Well now… that explains everything.
Elizabeth Gyllensvard edited and contributed to this story.
Tom Chartier [send him mail] played lead guitar in legendary Los Angeles punk band The Rotters for 26 years until their final appearance in January of 2004. He has lived in Tokyo, Japan as well as Los Angeles working in the entertainment industry. He is the primary caregiver of his ten-year-old son and currently resides on Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean.