Liberal plasticity, Conservative rigidity

I have been thinking about right-wing cognition, and have developed a theory based on the fact that the moderately clear dichotomy between conservative and liberal (moral) thinking probably has a fairly simple genetic-developmental explanation. That is, relatively few genes predisposing to one or the other cognitive style.

1. It has been demonstrated that willingness to obey authority is genetically inherited. Such willingness would have conferred a survival value after city states had arisen – disobey at your own peril.

2. It is has also been repeatedly demonstrated that conservatives are more likely to be less educated and to be staunchly religious church-goers.

3. It is also known that the brain is plastic in that it can recover many functions after head injury. However, people do not recover equally well after head injury.

4. Personality disorders are notoriously difficult to treat (modify) and dogmatic thinkers typically fare poorly in talk-therapy. Liberal thinkers fare comparatively well. Some dogmatic thinkers are extreme left-wingers because that was their parents’ political affiliation. However, dogmatic thinkers are more likely to be right-wingers.

5. Conservative church-goers are more likely to exhibit emotional, black-and-white thinking, and to be bigoted. They are more likely to be ESJ than NP. They are notoriously closed-minded and strongly resist reconsidering any of their early beliefs and assumptions. It’s as though they are not even able to modify their early pathways. (This is the reason that right-wingers are fighting to corrupt early school education.) Conservative fundamentalists react very emotionally and personally to any questioning of their beliefs – either by taking offence, or by personal attacks on the questioner.

6. Liberal thinkers tend to move from facts to theory (induction). New facts lead to a logical re-evaluation of theories, particularly for scientists. Conservative thinkers tend to move from emotionally satisfying dogma to distortion of facts.

So, here’s my theory about a genetic predisposition to right-wing thinking. It’s basically a matter of generally lesser brain plasticity. Conservative brains are genetically predisposed to be less able to readjust (be plastic) than are the brains of liberal thinkers. It’s also likely that higher education trains the brain to be more plastic.

It's no accident that mythical Eve's mythical fruit was plucked from the mythical Tree of Knowledge.

I’d be fascinated to see a comparison between cognitive styles in those who recover well or poorly from similar head injuries, or between cognitive styles and other measures of plasticity.

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