Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality

( 12 )

Overview

Bestselling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality—it's just part of who they are.

From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won't Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they ...

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The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality

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Overview

Bestselling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality—it's just part of who they are.

From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won't Republicans accept things that most experts agree on? Why are they constantly fighting against the facts?

Science writer Chris Mooney explores brain scans, polls, and psychology experiments to explain why conservatives today believe more wrong things; appear more likely than Democrats to oppose new ideas and less likely to change their beliefs in the face of new facts; and sometimes respond to compelling evidence by doubling down on their current beliefs.  

  • Goes beyond the standard claims about ignorance or corporate malfeasance to discover the real, scientific reasons why Republicans reject the widely accepted findings of mainstream science, economics, and history—as well as many undeniable policy facts (e.g., there were no “death panels” in the health care bill).
  • Explains that the political parties reflect personality traits and psychological needs—with Republicans more wedded to certainty, Democrats to novelty—and this is the root of our divide over reality.
  • Written by the author of The Republican War on Science, which was the first and still the most influential book to look at conservative rejection of scientific evidence. But the rejection of science is just the beginning…

Certain to spark discussion and debate, The Republican Brain also promises to add to the lengthy list of persuasive scientific findings that Republicans reject and deny.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* "Drawing on a growing body of empirical research, he provides an intelligent, nuanced and persuasive account of how conservatives and liberals tend to differ at the level of psychology and personality" (Financial Times, April 2012)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781118094518
  • Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 4/10/2012
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 350,977
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Mooney is the bestselling author of The Republican War on Science, the host of the "Point of Inquiry" podcast, and the author of "The Intersection" blog for Science Progress. In addition to three books, in the past he has written for Mother Jones, the American Prospect, Harper's, the Washington Post, USA Today, and Slate. He has appeared on The Last Word, The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Book TV, Science Friday, Morning Joe, and Fresh Air, among other programs.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Equations to Refute Einstein 1

PART I POLITICS, FACTS, AND BRAINS 17

Prelude: Liberal Fresco on a Prison Wall 19

1. Denying Minds 26

2. Smart Idiots 42

PART II THE “NATURE” HYPOTHESIS: DANGEROUS CERTAINTY 57

3. Political Personalities 59

4. For God and Tribe 77

5. Don’t Get Defensive 89

6. Are Conservatives from the Amygdala? 111

PART III ENTER THE “ENVIRONMENT”: TURNING AGAINST CHANGE 127

7. A Tale of Two Republicans 129

8. The Science of Fox News 147

PART IV THE TRUTH: WHO’S RIGHT, WHO’S WRONG, AND WHO UPDATES 169

9. The Reality Gap 171

10. The Republican War on Economics 187

11. The Republican War on History 202

12. What the Frack Is True? 219

PART V THE POLITICAL LABORATORY 239

13. A Liberal Confronts New Data 241

Conclusion: Rescuing Reality 261

Acknowledgments 275

Notes 279

Index 311

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Customer Reviews

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( 12 )
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(5)

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(2)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 31, 2012

    This book is exactly what I've been looking for. As someone who

    This book is exactly what I've been looking for. As someone who knows a lot of Republicans, and would really like to respect them, this book gives wonderful insight into the thought processes employed by our nation's more troubled political half. How can so many good, kind, reasonably intelligent people be led into such ridiculous insanity? The paranoia, the judgment, the extreme conservatism to the point of being fearful of literally any kind of progress -- there had to be an explanation. Thank you, Chris Mooney, for giving it to us.

    11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    There had to be a rational set of reasons that explain why the m

    There had to be a rational set of reasons that explain why the modern Republican Party is led by irrational clowns. This book offers an excellent early set of those reasons.

    11 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2012

    Insightful and fair, this book provides answers for those of fru

    Insightful and fair, this book provides answers for those of frustrated with the ways apparently rational people deny factual data.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 5, 2012

    By far one of the worst books ever written Aside from the numero

    By far one of the worst books ever written
    Aside from the numerous spelling errors and grammatical mistakes, this book rambles from subject to subject without end
    I have to wonder if the author was impaired while penning this mess

    7 out of 40 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Tortured Logic, Slanted Presentation

    The author presents litle hard evidence for his assertions of illogical conservative positions. For example, because poeple who believe, wrongly, that Saddam Hussain was involved in 9/11 also watched Fox News, he concludes Fox News must be the source of the misinformation, yet he cannot cite one specific instance of misinformation on Fox News. He repeatedly misstates conservative positions to set make strawman arguments, and makes value judgements that liberal misinformation is not as serious as conservative misinformation. The main thing I learned from this book is that is not necessary to be smart to write a book.

    6 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 6, 2012

    On Target Analysis

    Some will be threatened by the truth of this book. America is changing and Mooney captures part of the reason.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2013

    Life was so much simpler in the old days when you could tell who

    Life was so much simpler in the old days when you could tell who was right and wrong just by looking at the color of their hats. Then again, it wasn’t that simple even back then, at least not in the real world. Mooney explained in The Republican Brain how much more difficult it is to change the mind of a conservative than to do so of a liberal. Conservatives, by definition, seek to maintain a sense of stability. They become less open to experience that would indicate we should accept change. They tend to protect the tribe and the mythos—the values and culture—that define the tribe by denying empirical evidence and downplaying scientific and educational institutions providing that evidence. In contrast, liberals tend to seek new information even if potentially contrary to their long-held beliefs. Liberals tend to recognize nuance rather than absolutes and are comfortable with the gray areas in their sense of the world. These gray areas are the motivation that makes learning an exciting experience. Mooney emphasized these are indeed tendencies, not absolutes to pin on anyone labeled Conservative or Liberal.
    These tendencies also provide insight into much of the frustration I experience trying to discuss a scientific or social principle with Conservative friends, colleagues, or clients. Loyalty to the tribe and its mythos—by Liberals as well as Conservatives—often leads to denial of reality and an intense desire to dismiss demonstrable facts or develop a twisted logic to deny the existence of those facts. Mooney provided a well-documented and entertaining explanation, dovetailing on his previous work, The Republican War on Science, of the often intense desire to maintain that mythos, and the interaction of leaders and followers through information and misinformation, both of which are easier than ever to obtain and express, and at least as difficult to parse.
    As someone with openness to experience, Mooney would no doubt accept constructive criticism as he would accept praise. Mooney described his contribution to research intended to determine if there is a relationship between motivated reasoning and ideology. He was excessively apologetic about using research terminology and statistics. These “wonky” moments are just what we need to show readers the difference in rigor between a scientist demonstrating a real phenomenon and a pundit telling us what we should believe. Furthermore, I am not convinced the measurement described in the research was actually a good construct for motivated reasoning. In the research, participants were asked what they know or believe about particular issues and later asked how much their minds were swayed by stories that may or may not have been true. If instead of looking at the change as evidence of motivated reasoning, Mooney had considered the learning theory of constructivism, the conclusion might have made more sense. People do alter their understanding of reality when new information is brought to their attention, but a single essay is unlikely create a major shift when balanced with years of knowledge accumulation.
    I hope Mooney builds on his analyses of Republican thought with a third book explaining, if logic and evidence cannot move invested followers of misinformation into reality, what can bring those who are not open to experience into that state of readiness? Or at least how can we save those on the fence from becoming absorbed into a camp dedicated to misinformation?

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2012

    Amazingly misinforming and disappointingly childish

    I hate to tell this to all those democratic people but acting as if the republican party is a bunch of misinformed and crazy people is not going to make your party any better. Just to point something out also, that to anyone who thinks this is a fair book, the person who wrote this was very obviously a democrat, so it couldnt be fair unless someone with no party wrote it. Republicans are NOT led by crazy people. Our country cannot be great unless along with all the freedoms there is a degree of sense. This book is horrible and it puts republicans in an unecessarily bad light.

    2 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2013

    Never

    I wont ever spend a penny on anything this "author" tries to peddle

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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