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John Hartung – How Brain Shutdown Explains Core Support for Trump and Clinton

What a choice! More than 150 million natural-born citizens old enough to be President of the United States and we winnowed it down to these two extraordinary candidates—extraordinary in so many important ways. Donald Peaches Trump vs. Hillary Cream Clinton … how did we get so lucky?

Do we owe this master stroke to the intricacies of the primary process—the super-ness of Super Delegates, the ability of Independents to vote in some states but not in others, the serenity of the caucuses, the sublime wisdom of Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman Schultz? Or are we indulging in Peaches & Cream because a counterintuitive aspect of human nature worked its magic? Probably a big bolus of both, but I am not clever enough to ponder the perplexities of the primaries, so please consider a recent discovery in neuroscience: areas of our brains that handle critical thinking turn off when needy areas are stroked by words that they long to hear.

It happens, for example, when true believers listen to a speaker who reinforces their core beliefs. A Professor of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, a Professor of Magnetic Resonance Research, a Professor of Anthropology, and a Professor of Religion put religious and non-religious subjects in an MRI to look for differences in brain activity while they listened a voice recording of a highly rated preacher. If you guessed that Professor Schjoedt and his colleagues found that nothing special happened in the brains of non-believers, but something striking happened in the brains of believers, you guessed right.

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