The L.A. Times has a wonderful article on the idea that people are pre-disposed genetically to be conservative or liberal. At first it sounds a little crazy, but the more I read, the more I thought they were talking about me.
They found to their surprise that opinions on such contentious subjects as gun control, pacifism and capital punishment are strongly associated with physiological traits that are probably present at birth.
But then I noticed that the experiment included 46 subjects. It reminded me of something I've been admonished about on this blog. I took my own individual gun experiences and tried to extrapolate a general theory from them. Of course that's a faulty proposition, or at least it's likely to be. The same problem may exist in this case.
As I read more, though, I realized the experiment was a truly incisive glimpse into the differences between conservatives and liberals. What could be more irrefutable than eye blinks?
In a second experiment, researchers measured eye blinks -- another indicator of fear -- as subjects responded to sudden blasts of noise.
People with strongly conservative views were three times more fearful than staunch liberals after the effects of gender, age, income and education were factored out.
I'm pretty much ready to write this one off as another kooky idea to come out of California. But, I do like this idea:
Fowler said the study added to the growing research suggesting that over millions of years, humans have developed two cognitive styles -- conservative and liberal. Cautious conservatives prevented societies from taking undue risks, while more flexible liberals fostered cooperation.
"For the species to survive, you need both," he said.
What's your opinion? Feel free to leave a comment.