Couldn't find an existing thread on this. Also it's a bit of a gray area which forum this should go in. Anyways...
So most of ye will remember the story from a year or two ago studying the physical structure of the brain, where conservatives were found to have an enlarged amygdala, while liberals tended to have an enlarged anterior cingulate cortex.
Study: Liberals and conservatives have different brain structures
Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults
This actually at least partially explained a great many things, such as why conservative media and political speeches were heavily focused on emotional button-pressing (particularly fear); and also why conservative political rhetoric had...let us say a casual relationship with objective verifiable facts.
Now this study - oddly of Vietnam veterans, though I suppose if you want a large group of physically and psychologically traumatised people to study it makes perfect sense. Anyways, it turns out that the vets who were religious fundamentalists showed clear damage to the prefrontal cortex. And that this is because they had reduced cognitive flexibility - a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness.
Which also explains the very strong correlation between strong religious belief and politically conservative views, neh?
Link between brain damage and religious fundamentalism established by scientists
So all this leads to some very interesting questions.
- What is the direction of cause and effect - do these differences in brain structure cause the views, or does having these views alter the brain structure over time?
- Similarly - are there certain life experiences, traumas etc that can cause these differences in structure, or are they inbuilt genetically and we are born with them?
- Does knowledge of what is going on inside our brains influence how we then react to stimuli i.e. are we capable of overcoming instinctive responses and overriding threm with reason (certainly some people are otherewise we wouldn't have skydivers and tarantula enthusiasts) - but again is this a skill anyone can learn or is it itself predicated on having a particular brain setup?
- Should society treat religious conservatives as mentally-ill sufferers of a chronic condition, who just need appropriate medical care?
- Does this mean that, eventually, there will be an actual cure for religious mania and conservative batsh1t WingNuttery?