i’ve been doing alot of thinking about thinking these days.
brought on by a natural tendency to do so, an article i read online and examination of propaganda as teaching…
the article i read had to do with the differences, actual physical differences betweenthe brains of right-wing folk and their left-wing counterparts.
it stated that the brains of self-identified right-wing types had a thicker region inthe part of the brain called amygdala. this region of the brain is called the primitivebrain. it is credited with the type of survivalist reactions such as respond with aggression to a perceived threat. it is the selfish part of the brain really. ( anyone curious can google amygdala for more information.)
it stated further that the brains of self-identified left-wing types had a thicker region in the part of the brain called anterior cingulates. this region of the brain bordersthe frontal cortex and among other things, empathy and the ability to think outside the box of ‘self’. (again, google this area of the brain for more information.)
these two bits of recent discovery got me thinking…does this mean that right-wing assholes and left-wing bleeding hearts aren’t to blame for the way in which they process information, perceive their world and respond to it?
were these regions of their brains always thicker and more active or did repeated use of one or the other build up the region, the way one might exercise a muscle?
there have been studies of the brain that suggest that serial killers have differences in the way their brains work as compared to those of us who don’t kill. does this mean that they just can’t help themselves? and if so, does it mean that they can’t be held accountable?
if these regional brain differences exist independent of external influence or internal exercise can there really be any hope of changing someone’s mind?
certainly propaganda experts through the ages have believed it was possible. but is it really?
can a person whose anterior cingulates and cerebral cortex predispose them to empathy and thinking of others as well as themselves be turned into xenophobic self-preservationists?
can a person whose amygdala makes them more concerned with their own survival and self-interests be taught to be compassionate, self-sacrificing for the whole?
i’m less of a determinist than some. i believe that change is possible, for better or for worse. if someone’s brain predisposes them to a certain way of thinking, i like to think it isn’t set in stone.
but would that mean that someone whose brain defines them as female while their bodies declare them to be male can have their mind changed too? or someone whose brains predispose them to sexual tendencies such as gay or bi? is there really any flexibility at all?
perhaps some things about the way we think can be changed and others can’t.
if we don’t give serial killers ‘a pass’ even tho their brains can be demonstrated to be different than non-killers, how can we condemn transgender people for the way their brains are?
did everyone affected by the nazi’s propaganda in a way that led to follow along have a tendency to think with their amygdalas? were those who resisted the ones whose anterior cingulates region was more developed?
can racist’s minds be changed?
i have no therefores.
just thinking about thinking is all…and ya know what? it just might be that the tendency to think about thinking is something not all brains do well…
but since i am of the belief that thoughts are things not far removed from deeds, it is my sincerest hope that it is possible to think differently and change a mind.
and then maybe…change the world