Are The Others like us? Or are they different?


Salon catches up with Chris Mooney: It may be the oldest question in the history of warfare.

Are The Others basically like us? Or are “those people” in The Other Tribe basically different? Perhaps even less than human?

Throughout history, the Great Souls have tended to go with the first reaction. The war-makers have tended to pimp that second point of view.

It’s tempting to think that The Other Tribe is unlike us, perhaps less than human. Our brains are wired to think that way. In prehistory, thinking that way may have been a survival skill.

Today, our brains are still wired that way, but such impulses are generally unhelpful. This brings us to what happened last month when Joshua Holland of Moyers & Company “caught up with Chris Mooney.”

Are modern conservatives basically like modern liberals? Or are Those People basically different? When Holland caught up with Mooney, that’s the question he asked.

Holland posted this introduction to their interview. Salon reprinted the piece last week.

We think we see Holland leaning. Do you?
HOLLAND (10/31/13): A growing body of research suggests that we are a nation divided not only by partisanship or how we view various issues, but also by dramatically different cognitive styles. Sociologists and psychologists are getting a better understanding about the ways that deep seated emotional responses affect our ideological viewpoints.

Last week, Moyers & Company caught up with Mother Jones science writer Chris Mooney, host of the Inquiring Minds podcast and author of The Republican Brain: the Science of Why They Deny Science—and Reality, to talk about what this research may tell us about the attitudes of those involved in the tea party movement. Below is a lightly-edited transcript of our discussion.
We see Holland leaning in that synopsis. Here’s why:

First, he says that liberals and conservatives are divided “by dramatically different cognitive styles,” by “deep seated emotional responses.” To our ear, he is leaning more toward different, much less toward alike.

We see him leaning in one other manner. As has been true through the annals of time, Holland only wants to discuss what this research shows about “the attitudes” of the other tribe.

Our attitudes are presumed to be right. Their attitudes need psychiatric explication.

This is how wars have always begun. We’ll spend the next few days reviewing this conversation.


  1. I look forward to your completely objective review of this conversation over the next few days. I am particularly interested in how you will produce this review without ever diminishing the observations and conclusions expressed by your subjects, especially when they differs from your own.

    Also of interest is just what parts of your own attitude you won't presume to be right about.

    1. I look forward to just how much credence you'll offer to the pseudo-science you'll be presented because, as a rule, your tribe is just educated enough to respect science but not to understand what isn't it.

    2. Ever wonder how many of these myriad anonymous commenters are actually Bob? This one realy sounds like him.

    3. All the trolls are KZ

    4. All the Anons are whiners.


  2. Although Christopher Mooney is the science writer for Mother Jones and previously was science writer for Discover, amazingly, Mooney is not a scientist! A true scientist would be quite cautious about deducing that conservatives and liberals have different types of brains IMHO. For a non-scientist like Mooney to claim this "discovery" is a joke.

  3. Wish I could stick around untill the end of this new series, but it sounds like I already know the ending. The brains are gone in both tribes. The worms did it.