Saturday, February 18, 2006

A charicature in the al-Quds Palestinian daily. The title says: The Palestinian Legislative Council 2006-videoconference. From left to right, the television screens say: "Ramallah"; "Gaza"; "the prisons"; and finally, "checkpoints".  Posted by Picasa


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see you've changed your picture, Yousef is adorable. Have you ever considered wearing niqab?

7:51 PM  
Blogger solitarioh2005 said...

This message is definetely off topic but I find it so interesting I could not help posting it.
In previous messages I have mantained that arguments in message boards lead nowhere since
peoples beliefs,ideas were not based in rationality. Therefore peoples ideas will never change through a rational debate.
A study recently released does confirm what I already knew.

Political beliefs: Rational?
Tue 31 Jan 2006 11:48 AM CST

To learn more visit myDNA's Mental Health Center Read More

A staunch Republican and an avowed Democrat listening to Tuesday's State of the Union address could, in a sense, hear two different speeches and come to two very different conclusions.

When it comes to forming opinions and making judgments on political topics, people of all political persuasions ignore the facts and base their decisions on emotion, an Emory University study shows.

During the three months leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Drew Westen, Ph.D., director of clinical psychology at Emory University in Atlanta, and his colleagues looked at how the brains of 30 avowed Republican and Democratic males responded when the men were asked to evaluate information about their candidate that showed a contradiction between the nominee's words and deeds.

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers found that the areas of the brain associated with emotion, rather than reason, were much more active when the study subjects dealt with information about their own candidate.

Each man had no difficulty recognizing the opposing candidate's contradictions, but at the same time easily ignored negative information about his own candidate because he couldn't discount it rationally.

This probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who follows the political scene. When it comes to partisan politics, people apparently ignore the facts and focus on their preconceived beliefs.

Yet, there could be a good reason for this.

Reason vs. Emotion

George Marcus, Ph.D., professor of political science at Williams College in Massachusetts and author of "The Sentimental Citizen: Emotion in Democratic Politics," a book based in current neurological research, recognizes that there has long been a dichotomy between reason and emotion.

However, he also thinks it's time we "reconceptualize" and understand that emotions are a prerequisite of reason. And as a prerequisite, emotions become integral to both political judgment and rational deliberation.

"Emotion is generated by neural processes, just as vision is," Marcus said. "Light comes into the eyes, down the optic nerve and into the brain where those electrical signals are, and is then processed and reconstituted into the subjective experience we have of 'vision.' So, too, with emotion. The neural processes attend to sensory information and then process that information and produce emotional states."

Although there are individual differences in how these "affective processes" work, they are what influence how we make sense of information.

"We examine incoming sensory data quickly, and check it against our expectations," Marcus said. "If there is a match, the system does nothing other than generate a feeling of calm. If there is a mismatch, or if what we find is novel or unexpected, then what I call the surveillance system kicks in."

During the surveillance process - which takes a split second - we feel anxiety depending on the degree of disparity between what we expected and what we actually sensed, according to Marcus. Then we shift our attention toward what's causing that disparity and think about how to handle it.

( My comment : This is the reason why a pro Israeli does love to read the Jerusalem Post but does hate to browse throught From Occupied Palestine website.

The pro Israeli does enjoy information that does confirm his vision of the world. With a pro palestinian is the other way around. He will read the site From Ocupied palestine but he will avoid reading the jerusalem post. )
Each side does need to confirm his expectations, his preconceived vision of the world ).

J. Steven Poceta, M.D., a neurologist at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., and chair of the Sleep Disorder Channel for Revolution Health Group's Medical Advisory Board, explained it another way.

"Emotional responses are further ingrained in basic brain areas than are newer cognitive or rational mechanisms," he said. "Remember, the flight-or-fight response is emotional and very basic and hard to overcome with rational response."

Marcus explained one reason for this. "The affective processes are very fast, yet consciousness is much slower," he said. "So, we get an emotional assessment of the world we experience before we have conscious awareness, and these affective appraisals are tied into our memory so that what we have experienced before is also assessed."

Unfortunately, because decisions appear to be made in part before we are cognizant of them, an element of bias - of which we're seldom aware - can exist.

Where Pigheaded Decisions Come From

Because of the way our affective processes work, and because our ability to reason is slower than those processes, we begin formulating decisions and thoughts based on emotional reaction.

"An emotional element is not part of cognition," Poceta said, so "we aren't aware of the bias in our decision brought on by the emotion."

"Knowing to count to 10 to defuse emotion before making a decision may not be enough, and the more emotional issues will be harder to be purely rational about, even if the person is trying to be very rational," he added.

Thus, we're faced with knowing that many of our decisions are based on emotional response, of which we're unaware. And this can have far-reaching implications - not just in politics, but also in our personal and professional lives.

"Everyone from executives and judges to scientists and politicians may reason to emotionally biased judgments when they have a vested interest in how to interpret 'the facts,' " Westen said.

10:00 AM  
Blogger Ari said...

Laila - I'm trying to raise some awareness regarding the topic of my last blog posting. Here's the link:

If you could post this on your blog and pass this along that would be great.


8:41 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home