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

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  666 ratings  ·  102 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 ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by John Wiley & Sons (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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,066)
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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
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
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
Book
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
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
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
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
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
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
Evan Macbeth
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
...more
JR Simons
While this certainly helped me to understand its subject matter, it also helped me to understand the workings of my own liberal democratic brain.
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
Elliott Bignell
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
...more
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
...more
Toni
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
Tai Tai
libs should be less wussies and repubs should be less deluded
Dan
Feb 19, 2013 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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
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Chris Mooney is the critically acclaimed author of Deviant Ways, World Without End, and Remembering Sarah, which was nominated for the Barry Award and the Edgar Award for Best Novel. He lives in Boston with his wife and son.

Series:
* Darby McCormick
More about Chris Mooney...
The Missing (Darby McCormick #1) The Dead Room (Darby McCormick #3) The Soul Collectors (Darby McCormick #4) The Secret Friend (Darby McCormick #2) The Killing House (Malcolm Fletcher, #1)

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