Escape from Reason

I was thinking about how our brains work and we (all of us) are prone to think emotionally and it takes effort to override that to make reasoned deciscions. And as the Repulican party is the most obvious example I Googled the pschology of ex president and found some old articles.

Emotions are powerful motivators of behavior. For most animals, emotion, not rational thought is what drives behavior, and this remains true for our esteemed species, self-christened as Homo sapiens—“the wise one.” But our decisions are not made solely by reasoning. In fact, in the most complex and momentous decisions we make we rely on emotion—gut feelings. Whom to marry, where to live, or even what entrée to select from a dinner menu, are decisions we make not by reason, but rather by how we “feel.”

Most of these circuits are deeply engraved by evolution in the brains of our primate and mammalian ancestors. A mother’s instant reaction to respond with unlimited aggression if necessary to protect her child is a familiar example. The human brain shares this same neural circuitry with other animals, and that circuit is separate from the neural circuit that launches us into defensive aggression in response to another type of danger, facing an intruder for example. To understand this election you must understand the brain’s threat detection mechanism.

This neuroscience perspective explains the seemingly incomprehensible situation of a privileged billionaire becoming the champion of working class men and women who are feeling angry and threatened. It is boggling to provide a logical explanation for this improbable hero of the working class, but his appeals to the anger, fear, and frustration that many feel—an appeal to the brain’s limbic system—is perfectly consistent with how the human brain makes complex decisions by relying on emotion when faced with momentous decisions. Perfume is not sold by describing how it will make us smell; it is sold by how it will make us feel. So it is with selling real estate. And rationally we know that all cars travel at the same speed on our roads. How then can we rationally explain the need to purchase a 500 horsepower Corvette, when it will ride the bumper of a jalopy in traffic, but cost 10 times as much? Marketing skillfully manipulates emotion—tapping into how we feel—to nudge our purchasing decisions.

https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/trump-s-victory-and-the-neuroscience-of-rage/ Another surprise victory is unlikely to happen again if this election is looked at from the same perspective of neuroscience that I used to account for the surprising outcome in 2016. Briefly, that article explained how our brain provides two different mechanisms of decision-making; one is conscious and deliberative, and the other is automatic, driven by emotion and especially by fear. Trump’s strategy does not target the neural circuitry of reason in the cerebral cortex; it provokes the limbic system. In the 2016 election, undecided voters were influenced by the brain’s fear-driven impulses—more simply, gut instinct—once they arrived inside the voting booth, even though they were unable to explain their decision to pre-election pollsters in a carefully reasoned manner.

Trump’s dismissal of experts, be they military generals, career public servants, scientists or even his own political appointees, is necessary for him to sustain the subcortical decision-making in voters’ minds that won him election and sustains his support. The fact-based decision-making that scientists rely upon is the polar opposite of emotion-based decision-making. In his rhetoric, Trump does not address factual evidence; he dismisses or suppresses it even for events that are apparent to many, including global warming, foreign intervention in U.S. elections, the trivial head count at his inauguration, and even the projected path of a destructive hurricane. Instead, “alternative facts,” or fabrications, are substituted.

Anyway I wanted to save these links


And to tie it to some other thoughts I see this along the lines of Erich Fromm's "Escape From Freedom" https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/3671847252

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