Political Orientation, Personality, and Brain Structure?


We’re heading in to a discussion of the highly polarized nature of American political discourse lately. There is some research suggesting that liberals and conservatives may differ in fundamental ways having to do with personality or even biology. A recent story in the L.A. Times reports on research showing conservatives are more fearful in general: “Why Conservatives are More Likely than Liberals to Believe False Information about Threats.” Other recent research suggests liberals and conservative actually have different brain structures, although one wonders whether those observed differences are cause or effect of political orientation.

“Twenty-First Century Victorians”


This article in the left wing quarterly Jacobin relates to our discussion this week. The author describes how these days the the upper middle class uses a moralizing sort of self-improvement to assert its superiority, just as did the Victorian bourgeoisie that presumed to challenge the old aristocracy for the mantle of cultural centrality. And the whole dynamic reminds me of the aspirations of mid-century American middlebrow culture that Jacoby traces in her chapter five.