Your Brain on Politics / Rick Shenkman
We’ve just been through one of the most fascinating and disturbing elections in American history. Why did people vote the way they did? Until recently, no one really knew because we lacked insight into how the human brain digests political information. But now we do. With the help of science we now know why voters are often apathetic, why they fall for manipulative politicians, and how biases of all kinds cloud their judgment.
The lecture draws on cutting-edge research in neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral psychology. The talk focuses on the core problem identified by evolutionary psychologists: Evolution has left us adrift in a modern world with a brain wired for the Stone Age. While in our personal lives ancient instincts often work to our advantage, in politics they usually don’t. Modern cues set off ancient instinctive responses that prompt us to behave in ways contrary to our own interests and good governance.