Sandra asked:

It is unscientific to generalize about Republicans or Democrats. Does he mean all of them? If so that simply isn't true. If not why does he make such sweeping statements. I agree that most Republicans are more wedded to certainty (that which is true) and most Democrats are more wedded to novelty (that which is new and untried).

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 facts, science, and reality to form their opinions. There is the major difference.
Courtney Andresen BOTH Democrats AND Republicans fall prey to a thing called 'Confirmation Bias', which is not a Liberal/Conservative thing but a HUMAN thing. Some believe it is a defense mechanism developed by our brains (I'm fairly ignorant on that idea so I'll leave it there). Whatever the case and/or your political leanings, I strongly encourage you all to research this phenomenon. It has managed to vastly alter the way I view the world and positively influenced many of my personal relationships. I used to assume that I, as a Liberal, was "scientific-minded" and "tolerant" and "open-minded", etc., etc., but I soon learned that I was subject to this same bias. It's hilarious to me now to see how the two sides make the same disparaging remarks to each other, but backed up in completely different ways! (Example: I recently spoke with a Conservative relative who mentioned that she didn't understand how a person could be BOTH Christian AND Democrat. Flabbergasted at first, I was eventually inclined to point out how Democrats make the same arguments about Republicans! And like me, she had never considered that... :) ) Bottom Line: We're just dragging each other in inane circles with the generalizations and getting nowhere fast....
Architeacher What I got from Mooney was not Republican versus Democrat. Rather I heard about the bifurcation of our species: two 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 you call novelty), and 2) defenders of the hearth who remain to tend the home fires and maintain the stability of the cave (what you call certainty). One welcomes change; the other prefers changelessness. To the extent that these binary ideas reflect the differences between our two political parties, then, yes, Mooney's book can be interpreted that way. He does, in fact, state at the outset that it might have just as reasonably been titled "The Democratic Brain" but also qualifies that simplistic reading by showing the science underlying the book as a range of responses, rather than mutually exclusive opposites. Rather than the convenient labels of "Republican" and "Democrat," he suggests Liberal and Conservative.

All of that being said, I confess to being a social and fiscal Liberal who finds finds Mooney's arguments defensible and the insights they afford intriguing.
Naz It's not "unscientific" to generalize in that sense. We can say pandas tend to eat bamboo, but that doesn't mean you won't ever find one that wouldn't mind your pizza. Have you read the book? Does he say "all"?

Sweeping statements are fine if the evidence points to it, otherwise no one would know anything outside of absolute math.

Emma The primary beliefs of the Republican party do tend to counter that of which has been proven - however, it is correct to not generalize. People do not entirely submit to their party's beliefs. And yet, as time goes on, Republicans and Democrats are experiencing a stronger dichotomy of beliefs that ever, with fewer and fewer people even agreeing on one statement. It is complicated and intricate indeed, but the research on denial and reasoning for rejecting things such as science that are vital to our understanding is definitely an intriguing topic and one worth discussing.
James G. Lemmers Rock hound
Democrats are not wedded to novelty. They generally push socialism which has failed every time its been tried. Global warming is real. Man's influence on climate is inconsequential and CO 2 is vital to life. It is not a driver on temperature due to its low capacity to absorb infrared. Water vapor is 477 times more effective than CO2. The climate models have failed. The hockey stick is a demonstrated science fraud. Ice cores show that CO2 levels are not related to temperature. Democrats are more wedded to fantasy than to novelty. Obama lectured Coast Guard academy graduates on global warming being the biggest challenge of their life while the coast guard was deploying larger ice breakers for the Great Lakes because the ice has thickened on an average basis for decades. Liberals do have a strong inclination to punish any who disagree.
ADignorantium Scott, I haven't read the book yet so I can't comment on Mooney's agenda but I can remark based on the current political climate. The majority of republican lawmakers, from congress persons to presidential candidates, are climate change deniers while most Americans accept it.
Many republican elected officials and a few republican presidential candidates are pushing a religious fundamentalist agenda.
Several republican lawmakers are pushing to have creationism taught in public schools, rejecting the scientific study of evolution.
Creationism is based on religion.
Religion is based on faith, not fact.
So your assertion that "most Republicans are more wedded to certainty (or truth)" is false.

It is a mistake to paint all people with such a braid brush, but when the most vocal among republican lawmakers evangelize, there's a problem. That's not to say democrats don't also have their extremists, but today's republican party bears little resemblance to the party my grandfather so proudly championed.
Kakie Thank you Scott, I AGREE.
Image for The Republican Brain
by Chris C. Mooney (Goodreads Author)
Rate this book
Clear rating

About Goodreads Q&A

Ask and answer questions about books!

You can pose questions to the Goodreads community with Reader Q&A, or ask your favorite author a question with Ask the Author.

See Featured Authors Answering Questions

Learn more