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Which Brain Did You Buy?

Which Brain Did You Buy?

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Published by Sherwin Steffin
In this article, the author views the recent election as having been an auction. Like traditional auctions we have the “buyers” and the “products” that were offered. There the comparison ends. What all of us were attempting to “buy” was a person who would implement our hopes, aspirations and dreams, protect us from the people and events we fear, and punish those who have angered us.
In this article, the author views the recent election as having been an auction. Like traditional auctions we have the “buyers” and the “products” that were offered. There the comparison ends. What all of us were attempting to “buy” was a person who would implement our hopes, aspirations and dreams, protect us from the people and events we fear, and punish those who have angered us.

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Published by: Sherwin Steffin on Apr 09, 2009
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05/24/2012

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Introduction
In this article, the author views the recent election as having been an auction.Like traditional auctions we have the “buyers” and the “products” that wereoffered. There the comparison ends. What all of us were attempting to “buy” wasa person who would implement our hopes, aspirations and dreams, protect usfrom the people and events we fear, and punish those who have angered us.We sought to buy, in effect, the picture we hold of how we
believe
we would act,were we to hold the position of the individual we chose to represent us. Putting itanother way, each of us sought to buy a “clone,” of what we conceived to be our own brains. While we are (perhaps) aware that the brain we buy was going to befar different from our own, we sought the closest approximation of that brainbetween those offered “for sale.”This article introduces the reader to the factors that served to influence the brainsof the voters, with an analysis of the brains of the candidates, and somereflections regarding the likelihood that Obama will indeed behave as anticipatedby the electorate.
The Brain of the Buyer 
Almost everyone reading this has, at one time or another, made a purchase or asale on eBay. In most cases, you were satisfied with the transaction, but if youare a frequent buyer, inevitably, the chances are that at one time or another youhave been stung with a buy which failed to deliver as promised. You found thatthe product was defective, failed to perform as promised, turned out to beoverpriced, or worst case, was never delivered.As a buyer of products, regardless of where you purchased them, your satisfaction with them has most likely been directly proportional to the quality of vetting you did, prior to the transaction. Yet, we as a nation seldom end upcompletely satisfied with a class of products we buy every two, four or six years.These products are roughly 15 centimeters or 5.9 inches in length, and weigh just a bit over three pounds (1400 grams). One was offered by the DemocraticNational Committee, with the remaining one offered by the competing “seller.” Weare, of course, talking about the brains of Obama and McCain.For this “buyer,” it was, in fact, what was inferred about these brains, whichgoverned his “purchase decision,” made on the first Tuesday in November, 2008.Inference is the essential word here, because, unfortunately although thetechnology exists for some rather precise examination of these respectiveproducts, their sellers refuse to provide the access to this information. Each of the candidates has supplied some information about his or her medical history,but we are yet to have access to any information about the health or constructionof their brains. Yet, that organ is the place from which all decisions andcommands will originate.Since we did not have access to medical information, we had but one place toturn to make our inferences – the behavioral history of the candidate. There was
 
ample data to make that assessment coming from all the speeches, press andblog coverage, video, and for some, up-close personal observations of thecandidates.
Predicting Voter Behavior 
Before considering the specifics of likely candidate behavior, we must look to theconstruction and performance of our own brains to better appraise the brain wefinally “purchased.”
Brains of “Deciders” 
Almost all voters land somewhere in a continuum that has come to be labeled,“Liberal – Conservative.” While neither implies “Good,” or “Bad,” a recent studysuggests that there is a significant difference in the brains of those self identifiedas belonging to one or the other of these groups. (Recently posted as aQuickLink on OEN).In a more detailed fashion, researchers have provided an in-depth portrait of thearchetypical conservative. The author builds a context by which the Conservativepersonality may be understood. This framework consists of five essentialelements
Fear and aggression
Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity
Uncertainty avoidance
Need for cognitive closure – Solve it Now!
Terror management“What we see in this personality is a predisposition to displayfear and aggression when confronted with complexproblems, and uncertainty about optimum solutions. Theneed to reject opposing views is always in the forefront.“The terror management feature of conservatism can beseen in post-Sept. 11 America, where many people appear to shun and even punish outsiders and those who threatenthe status of cherished world views, they wrote.“Concerns with fear and threat, likewise, can be linked to asecond key dimension of conservatism - an endorsement of inequality, a view reflected in the Indian caste system, SouthAfrican apartheid and the conservative, segregationistpolitics of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-South S.C.).”
 
There was another interesting element of this same behavior – it wouldappear to equally manifest itself in the far Left of the political spectrum.What, after all, was the difference between the Conservative call to takedraconian measures against illegal immigrants, and the Left’s demand for immediate withdrawal of all military in Iraq?
 
An inspection of the operation of he Hillary Clinton campaign raises aspectrum of strategies which are illustrative of the same behaviorsdisplayed four years ago employed by the Republicans supporters who“swift-boated” John Kerry. Moreover, the solutions she advocates for complicated issues seems much more the simplistic approach of McCain,than the rich complexity and thought reflected in Obama’s response to thesame problems.This author would offer the view that, rather than responding to specificpolitically defined content, we attend more closely to how an individualresponds to intellectual challenge, as we attempt to classify who they are,and predict how they will respond to future issues.
Thus, for the remainder of this paper, you may find it useful to disconnect thelabels “Liberal,” and “Conservative,” and instead, use “Rational-brained ,” and“Emotional-brained,” instead, as descriptors for two diverging cognitive styles of processing and using information.
The Dominance of Emotional vs. Rational Decision Making 
Much as we hold out for ourselves the image of being rational, reasoning people,the evidence would suggest the reverse. According to a 2006 study,Reported inUSA, Today:“The evidence has been piling up throughout history, andnow neuroscientists have proved it's true: The brain's wiringemphatically relies on emotion over intellect in decision-making.”In a long and thoughtful article titled,Moral Psychology and theMisunderstanding of Religion, the author suggests:“Our brains, like other animal brains, are constantly trying tofine tune and speed up the central decision of all action:approach or avoid. You can't understand the river of fMRIstudies on neuroeconomics and decision making withoutembracing this principle. We have affectively-valencedintuitive reactions to almost everything, particularly to morallyrelevant stimuli such as gossip or the evening news.Reasoning by its very nature is slow, playing out in seconds.“Studies of everyday reasoning show that we usually usereason to search for evidence to support our initial judgment,which is made in milliseconds. But I do agree with JoshGreene that sometimes we can use controlled processessuch as reasoning to override our initial intuitions.”
Morality and Political Decision-Making 
For many, their views of morality, translated into the term “Values,” stronglyaffected their predisposition to select one candidate over another. Not only didmany premise their electoral choice on the degree to which the candidate’s

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