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The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  815 Ratings  ·  108 Reviews
Bestselling author Chris Mooney uses cutting-edge research to explain the psychology behind why today’s Republicans reject reality—it's just part of who they are.From climate change to evolution, the rejection of mainstream science among Republicans is growing, as is the denial of expert consensus on the economy, American history, foreign policy and much more. Why won't Re ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2012 by Wiley (first published January 1st 2007)
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Scott No. Most Republicans tend to believe in whatever supports their personal biases, even if it has no basis in reality or facts. Liberals listen to…moreNo. Most Republicans tend to believe in whatever supports their personal biases, even if it has no basis in reality or facts. Liberals listen to facts, science, and reality to form their opinions. There is the major difference.(less)
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Oct 26, 2012 Stephanie rated it really liked it
Shelves: psycology, politics, 2012
“Oh…….Sweet Jesus”- Joe Scarborough

So last night was the last presidential debate and all of us are a bit tired of politics at the moment, even political geeks like me. Also, considering the fact I live in Ohio, Ohio, Ohio, (if you live anywhere else, multiply your ads by ten) the most salivated over state in the nation……..well, I’m wanting this over! But, never the less, I had to read this book.

Why? Because, like you may have experienced yourself, I have been through some mind boggling convers
Sarah Clement
Jul 25, 2012 Sarah Clement rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this book. I am a leftie and a researcher, however, so I read this with a very critical eye. Mooney basically says at the end that liberals all need to stand together and stop criticising each other, but I can't give him carte blanche just because America is extremely divided at the moment.

Ultimately, I felt that this should have been a journal article that could stimulate discussion and debate. It didn't have enough substance for a book, or at least the way he wrote it
Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
-Stephen Colbert

That's the opening quote to this book, and probably the best once-sentence summary of its contents.

I was originally thinking of giving it four stars, based on its somewhat limited scope--it mentions conservatives and authoritarians in other cultures occasionally, but not in any real depth--but the title is, after all, the Republican Brain. That wasn't the real reason that tipped me over, however.

The real reason was the behavior of the conserv
Mar 30, 2012 Book rated it really liked it
The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science--and Reality by Chris Mooney

"The Republican Brain" is the latest contribution from bestselling author Chris Mooney. This interesting book tackles the psychology behind the anti-science stance that is currently typical of the political right. "We seek to understand how the political right could be so wrong". Mooney does a wonderful job of establishing his thesis and uses the best current science to demonstrate the thinking behind the Repu
Luis Uribe
Jan 10, 2013 Luis Uribe rated it really liked it
I had some misgivings about reading this book as I don't like self-congratulatory, biased reporting of any stripe. With a name like "The Republican Brain" I though it would be silly and endless GOP bashing with little substance. That's not the case. Mooney presents a well balanced and informative narrative on past and current research on the subject of political thought and decision making. He provides plenty of support for his theories with appropriate references, in case you'd like to read the ...more
Peter Mcloughlin
This book confirms what many people have suspected. Liberals and conservatives are different kinds of people down to the level of the brain. On big five scores libs score higher on openness and Conservatives score high on conscientiousness. Or in negative terms conservatives are more closed minded and tidy and liberals are open but unreliable and messy.
The brain regions of libs and conservatives are different. Conservatives have a bigger right amygdala (fear and threat center of the brain) and
Sep 14, 2012 Maxine rated it it was amazing
It's impossible to avoid US politics lately. It is, after all, am election year. However, if it seems to you that the two American parties are moving further and further apart, you are not alone. According to author Chris Mooney, the differences between the two parties may be grounded, not only in philosophy, but in the very workings of the brain. When brain scans have been conducted on self-described conservatives, they show a larger amygdala, that lizard part of the brain which triggers the fi ...more
Steven Peterson
Jan 12, 2014 Steven Peterson rated it liked it
The author surveys a considerable amount of literature and this work, and that is to the good. It provides the reader with an entree to a body of research work. The central thesis of the book is stated thus (page 10): "Political conservatives seem to be very different from political liberals at the level of psychology and personality." The author, Chris Mooney, draws upon research from a variety of areas--political science, social psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and ...more
Oct 24, 2012 Marshall rated it really liked it
This book turned out to be surprisingly remarkable. I was expecting yet another liberal rant making fun of conservatives' silly anti-science. Though it's written by a liberal, with a liberal bias, this book turned out much more balanced and humble than the subtitle would have you believe. It also really helped me to understand my own political beliefs and the ways I've developed those beliefs.

It discusses the brain research done on liberals and conservatives which has uncovered underlying differ
Joe Zagrodnik
May 01, 2012 Joe Zagrodnik rated it liked it
Chris Mooney wrote The Republican Brain from a liberal perspective, geared toward other liberal readers. The majority of the book confirms opinions that many scientifically-minded liberals hold about conservative bias and adds the latest in psychological research to explain why the dissemination of facts has become highly polarized in this country. To summarize:

1. Republicans distort facts for their benefit far more often than Democrats--global warming and history are cited most in this book, al
Jul 07, 2014 Vincent rated it liked it
This book surprised me. I had expected glorification of the liberal frontal lobe, accompanied by severe mocking of conservatives, who are supposedly shown to be phobic automated response machines by modern cognitive psychology.

But the book wasn't like that. Instead, Mooney gives a neat summary of advances in political psychology and tentatively links it to partisan behavior. He is not particularly critical of the research he describes, but also certainly doesn't overplay the value of any study o
Jan 28, 2013 Ann rated it it was amazing
After watching a particularly intense election season, I was often left wondering what in the world was going through the Republicans' brains. They deny climate science, evolution, and have anachronistic and incorrect understandings of history. They cling to backwards ideology about trickle down economics and think crazy things about President Obama (secret Muslim born in Kenya?).

Is it that they're stupid? Well, it doesn't seem like it...they sound intelligent and have gone to impressive Ivy le
Dec 10, 2013 David rated it really liked it
I went from thinking that conservatism is a straight up neuropathology to just an unfortunate set of circumstances and belief systems. But one thing is for sure, that unfortunate set of circumstances and belief systems leads them to be wrong about almost everything almost all the time. And not like the kind of wrong where you just disagree, the kind of wrong that is demonstrable and time tested. I'll just pick two things, interracial marriage and trickle down economics are both things they have ...more
Aug 20, 2012 Christian rated it really liked it
Depressing; doesn't give me a lot of hope for enlightenment values ever really taking root in human societies for long. Its not so much about Republicans as it is about the darker, tribal and fearful sides of human nature and how its difficult or impossible for many people to override them, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are factually wrong. Most likely because of how important evolutionarily it was for us to quickly determine in-group and out-group status as well as positio ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 12, 2015 Elliott Bignell rated it it was amazing
I was shocked to find that the author does not actually consider his title to be a contradiction in terms. Being a self-declared liberal, he has the inherent - indeed, if this book is correct then genetically-fixed - ability to see and be comfortable with both sides. As such, he comes down on conservatism as a series of character tendencies which are useful in their appropriate context but which are increasingly operating in the USA to create an atmosphere of anti-science delusion.

Speaking as pr
Bonnie McDaniel
This is a very interesting book that casts the eternal difference between liberal and conservative, progressive and regressive, and in the US, Democrats and Republicans, in the light of science and psychology, with some fascinating results.

It helped shed light, at least for me, on an everyday Internet phenomenon: why you can get into a "discussion" (read: argument) with some idjit who refuses to accept evolution, or denies climate change, or subscribes to the vaccines-cause-autism nonsense, or
M.A. Brotherton
Apr 25, 2012 M.A. Brotherton rated it liked it
Shelves: political, the-mind
Mooney is honest in his statement that he is biased because he is a liberal. Still, he does a pretty good job of looking at the psychological science of politics and ultimately draws the conclusion that the personality traits being studied are necessary on both ends of the spectrum for healthy politics. His ultimate finding is that conservative and liberal ideology held too tightly is damaging to America and humanity as a whole.

I encourage anyone to read this book, as it gives a new insight int
Todd Martin
Jun 01, 2012 Todd Martin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: culture-politics
Right wingers increasingly appear to be operating in an alternate reality where facts don't matter and truth is dictated by those with the most money and the biggest mouths. Thus we have birthers, death panels, global warming denial, anti-evolutionism, the belief that abstinence only education works, that the president is a Muslim, and Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein (who also supposedly had weapons of mass destruction) were in league together to cause 911, and a host of other ideas that woul ...more
Jan 08, 2013 Jesse rated it did not like it
Score: 1.5/5

I picked up this book off of Paul Krugman's recommendation, describing it as "not, as you might think, a partisan screed", so I nearly gave this 1/5 off the bat for being as one-sided as it was, until realizing I was judging it by Krugman's description. The book's introduction starts asking "Why are today's liberals usually right, and today's conservatives usually wrong?", which pretty neatly sums up how the book is going to go. This definitely seems to be a hot topic right now, espe
Jun 22, 2012 Bryan rated it liked it
The book and the studies presented therein had the potential to get 4 or 5 stars from me (not that getting a good review from me really means anything). I was perhaps over-enthusiastic about this one, and maybe had too high expectations, and therefore was a bit let down.

Apart from that, I enjoyed many aspects of this book, and it helped me ask questions and think differently about political psychology more than ever before. Psychology is an interesting subject to me, probably because I know almo
Adam S. Rust
Nov 13, 2013 Adam S. Rust rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful book with with an awful title. The title is awful because it reeks of partisan wankery which is nowhere to be found inside the book itself. Rather, the book provides a sober, sophisticated, analysis social psychological research on default personality types and how people with certain personality traits have drifted towards one major political party or the other in American politics. He also does an excellent job of showing how this psychological sorting contributes to our po ...more
Evan Macbeth
Mar 04, 2013 Evan Macbeth rated it it was ok
This is more of an article than a book. Or, perhaps better said, a very interesting article stretched and filled to become a book, and in doing so made less compelling. This book contained a lot of repetition of main points, which was important for clarity in a few cases. But the majority of cases of repetition in this book, the author's thesis and points in support of it were clear and simple enough to not require the level of exposition and repetition he used.

I am glad to have read it, given i
JR Simons
Nov 07, 2014 JR Simons rated it really liked it
While this certainly helped me to understand its subject matter, it also helped me to understand the workings of my own liberal democratic brain.
Priest Apostate
Jan 01, 2014 Priest Apostate rated it it was amazing
Pretty insightful, and given to a balanced assessment of both the liberally and conservatively minded, how we approach facts, and suggestions as to how we can work to understand each other. Benefits and disadvantages are listed on either side, and the author takes special care to provide voluminous research (and experiment results) to bring the reader to the undeniable conclusion that he has done his homework. Some would argue of a slight element of repetition, but I believe that there is just t ...more
Jim Razinha
Aug 27, 2015 Jim Razinha rated it it was amazing
An excellent book that deserves more comments (to come later). I took off a half star for the maddening end notes - you discover them after you've read the chapter... I don't know what style that is, but if there are notes, I like to know about them when I am reading...not after I move on...Page number, sentence fragment to indicate the reference tie...I guess you have to flp back after the fact. Irritating.

Still, I gave back that half star because the book was so well sourced.

Another book that
Jun 17, 2015 Antonia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We’re all susceptible to misinformation (especially when it fits with our own worldview), blind spots, logical fallacies, and motivated reasoning. Some of us more than others elevate wishful thinking to a belief system. But believing something doesn’t make it so. There’s still objective reality — facts. And a lot of people, both on the right and left, seem to be living in an alternate reality that doesn’t comport with the facts — whether we’re talking about science, history, or economics. Why is ...more
John Kaufmann
This book explains differences between conservatives and liberals through the lens of core personality differences, based on the OCEAN theory of personality (Openness to experience, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism). While titled "Republican" brain, the book doesn't spare liberals from criticism. If you're into politics at all, this is and interesting and illuminating read.
Aug 07, 2015 Ryan rated it liked it
An accessible and valuable review of the emerging literature on the biological correlates of political ideology. As comforting as the book will be for partisans (especially those who are left of center), as it suggests a deep and unchangeable "nature" to political ideology, the book fails to deal substantively with the key criticism of this line of research: are these characteristics inherited and immutable or are they acquired? Even if it is the former, those inclinations, like so many other co ...more
Tai Tai
Apr 25, 2013 Tai Tai rated it really liked it
libs should be less wussies and repubs should be less deluded
Mar 13, 2016 Architeacher rated it it was amazing
What I got from Mooney was not Republican versus Democrat. Rather I heard about the bifurcation of our species: two diverging branches that reflect our origins as either 1) hunter-gatherers who depart the cave and engage with the world, ready for the unknown and prepared to deal with unfamiliar (what one commenter here calls novelty), and 2) defenders of the hearth who remain to tend the home fires and maintain the stability of the cave (what he calls certainty). One welcomes change; the other p ...more
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Chris Mooney is a science and political journalist, blogger, podcaster, and experienced trainer of scientists in the art of communication. He is the author of four books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science and the forthcoming The Republican Brain: The Science of Why They Deny Science and Reality (April 2012). He blogs for "Science Progress," a website of the Cen ...more
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