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

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3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  545 ratings  ·  96 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 2012)
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Stephanie
“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...more
Luis Uribe
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
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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...more
Sarah Clement
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...more
Maxine
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
Joe Zagrodnik
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...more
Vincent
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...more
Brian
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...more
Steven Peterson
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
M.A. Brotherton
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...more
Todd Martin
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
Bryan
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...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...more
Adam S. Rust
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
Ann
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...more
David
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
Christian
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
Tai: entrepreneur
libs should be less wussies and repubs should be less deluded
Dan
Feb 19, 2013 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Republicans. Anyone interested in politics or psychology.
"How could HE vote like THAT?"

If you've ever found yourself asking this question, or others like it, then this is the book for you.

This is a book that delves into the psychological underpinnings of why we think and vote the way we do. The book focuses on the 'Republican brain', but Democrats can learn something about themselves too. And who wouldn't want to understand themselves better? Well...

If Chris Mooney is right, not many of my fellow Republicans will want to read this book. That's a sha...more
Jason
The ideas in this book are so interesting and well researched that it's a waste that everything's presented in such a clearly biased way that ensures that no conservative--no one who could gain some personal insight from its conclusions--will ever bother reading it (although according to one of the book's studies, conservatives tend not to be the carefullest readers in general). Basically, Mooney demonstrates here that many of our political beliefs and values correlate with biological difference...more
Marshall
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...more
Christina
I'm a former Republican who turned Democrat during George W. Bush's first term (I always thought I was rare until reading in this book that many of the more fiscally-minded intellectual conservatives were jumping ship at this time as well).

I found this book to be well-researched and written, especially the conclusion of this book is very well written. Mooney describes dozens of neurological, psychological, and sociological studies on the differences in brain structure and thought between liberal...more
Erica
I rushed through reading this book, but I think I got the gist of it; Mooney gathered and analyzed research in brain & personality functions in terms of political self-identification.

In short, this is what I took away (I may have misinterpreted or misunderstood or forgotten some): People who vote Republican on average tend to make decisions & stick to them, choosing to ignore most new information and (of the little new information they let in) to be dismissive of contradictory informati...more
Jesse
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...more
Grant
I'm not sure I've done a 5 star review before but I am now. It's not from poetic artistry but rather personal impact. It's very frustrating not knowing why people make certain choices (or lack of choices in some cases) and even though the Republican Brain is political science (the scientific study of politics) it has a lot of insight into WHY people are they way they are. Why do liberals waffle when it comes time to making decisions? Why do conservatives ignore empirical evidence (the point of t...more
Ray
Considering the title of this book, you can't help but consider this to be an anti-Republican, anti-Conservative and pro-Democratic, pro-Progressive book. Mooney claims that not to be the case. Rather, he writes that his point is simply to point out that people on the left and people on the right are simply two very different types of people, with two differing types of brains and personalities.

The book offers a different way of looking at people on the right and on the left. Through various st...more
Kurt Rice
A balanced look at the psychological and neurological underpinnings of political belief, Mooney tackles both conservative and liberal response to evidence, and goes some way to demonstrate how motivated reasoning, while manifest in all of humanity, is more entrenched in the GOP. Further, he argues we need both approaches in order to succeed as a nation and proposes some ways to break the extreme partisanship crippling our representative, democratic process. Of course, he doesn't expect the Tea P...more
Lori
I was really disappointed in this book. I was hoping for enlightenment that would help me peacefully coexist and agree to disagree. Like many liberals I want to understand them. They’re my neighbors and coworkers and relatives and I don’t like having the same unwinnable arguments. That’s time wasted that we could spend focusing on where we agree. And I certainly believe in tolerance and free speech and not allowing the majority to tyrannize the minority. BUT:



The consequences of their beliefs ar...more
Eve
A mixed review on this one. While it was provocative and provided some interesting data, I felt that it was far too partisan. Mooney makes a half-assed effort at the end of the book to explain why the Republican way of thinking (more decisive due to fewer shades of grey, more partisan and loyal due to authoritarian tendencies) has its benefits, but he also comes across as smugly liberal. I'm very liberal (and maybe smug) but I felt that the book was unbalanced. Jonathan Haidt's The Righteous Min...more
Kerry
Quite an interesting read. As a left-wing climate scientist who is totally amazed at the right wing's ability to disregard and deny basic facts, this makes that whole process make more sense. The normal reaction up to now has been, well, they haven't heard enough facts, once they see enough then they will finally understand and change their minds.

Now with more research on the basic differences in brains of conservatives and liberals, it appears that is completely the wrong approach. Surprisingl...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
More about Chris C. Mooney...
The Republican War on Science Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming

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