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The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show Podcast

NeuroPolitics; Darren Schreiber Does Brain Studies that Differentiate Democrats and Republicans

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This is an audio recording. I've included notes to tease the reader enough to listen. In 3-14 days we'll have a transcript, until then, this is what you get-- a bio and very rough notes. 
So, listen, but don't complain about the text-- it's half there to help the transcriptionist.

Darren   Schreiber 's research centers on emergence and complexity in political systems. He studied Politics, Philosophy, and Economics as an undergraduate at Claremont McKenna College.  After college he attended UC Davis School of Law, where he focused on civil rights litigation and had his first federal jury trial at age 23.  He then specialized in federal litigation at the 100 year-old law firm of Neumiller and Beardslee.  Unsatisfied with the intellectual life of a lawyer,  Darren  moved to academia.  While earning his Ph.D. in Political Science at UCLA,  Darren  developed an agent-based computer simulation of the formation and dynamics of political parties.  He has pioneered the subfield of neuropolitics with the first use of functional brain imaging (fMRI) to study the neural foundations of politics.  His first book,  Your Brain is Built for Politics , synthesizes a decade of research and develops novel insights into political sophistication, partisanship, racism, and voting behavior using neuroscience tools such as functional imaging and neural network models.  His long-term objective is to integrate his agent-based models of macro political dynamics with his computational model of political cognition in individuals in order to illuminate the emergence of political ideology in mass publics.   Darren  is currently a visiting researcher at Central European University and a lecturer at University of Exeter.  Prior to his move to Europe he taught at UCSD and served as Research Director at the Center of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research at Annenberg School, University of Pennsylvania.

Interview rough notes (mostly my questions)

Darren Schreiber Neuropolitics

How did the brain evolve for politics when people lived in tribes, sitting around fires.

Have you looked at it from an anthropological point of view?


So, you're saying the brain functions that are tied to political functioning evolved and are present in mammals and maybe birds. 

So you're talking about the kind of politics like whose turn it is to do the dishes or whose turn it is to hunt for the mastodon. 

Sports and politics-- 

have a brain built for politics.

 dealing with the complications that come from entangling alliances and competing concerns. 

Aristotle's (1996) claim, originally made circa 350 B.c., that "man is by nature a political animal" 

What do you mean by coalition? You're using that term a lot in your model. 

You talk about how racism is more about stereotyping than racism.

Rob Cursans? University of PA

Kind of the Hoodie response.

Doesn't the amygdala kick and respond before your thinking brain. 

matt lieberman

ventrolateral prefrontal cortex

Frontal cortex is newer than amygdala, so it makes sense that the frontal cortex over-rides the amygdala response.

You talk about the plasticity of the brain, how there is massive redundancy. 

Phineas Gage-- after the railroad rod went through his brain-- he changed, went from being an administrator to being a nasty, foul-mouthed person. 

  Stephen Pinker's book-- the Better Angels" 

Bottom up and top down brain functioning. 

fMRI blood flow. 


Red Brain, Blue Brain: Evaluative Processes Differ in Democrats and Republicans

Amygdala activations, associated with externally directed reactions to risk, are stronger in Republicans, while insula activations, associated with internally directed reactions to affective perceptions, are stronger in Democrats. These results suggest an internal vs. external difference in evaluative process that

Study differentiated Democrats and Republicans. 

You can't tell whether a person is a republican or a democrat based on gambling behavior.


Big differences in how they viewed risk. 

What is the insula? Where is it and what is its function

Insula is involved in interception. Involved in feeling the feelings of others. 

Is that connected to mirror neurons?

Egalitarian behavior Robinhood effect-- tied to insula. 

Tell me what you can extrapolate from this. 

Riato conai and colin firth

Interior cingulate and right amygdala.

Conservatives have more intense reactions to disgusting stimuli. 

Stronger your galvanic skin response, heart rate or breathing-- the more likely you are to be conservative. 

With biofeedback you can modulate responses" but stronger responses suggest brittleness. 

"We're hardwired not to be hardwired."

You say understanding the function of the brain provides fascinating new insights into the effects of engagement with national politics, the formation of our political attitudes, the dexterity of our racial attitudes, and the flexibility of our moral judgments. Flexibility of our moral judgments. How's the brain tie to moral judgments?

Are there are different parts of the brain associated with the different approaches-- 

Medial pre-frontal cortex 

Utilitarian calculation

Categorical moral imperative

Is there a difference in Democrats and republicans on how they define us and them?

Did you look at people who were not registered in parties?

I'm a former Democrat because they've been looking more and more the same.

"Democrats and Republicans are more different than ever"

Keith Poole and Howard Rosenthal

George Lakoff" 

Study shows the difference between people who are members of parties and people who aren't. 

"we identify the neural differences that distinguish members of the two main parties, from non- partisans."

Steven Poole 

The dazzling real achievements of brain research are routinely pressed into service for questions they were never designed to answer. This is the plague of neuroscientism -- aka neurobabble, neurobollocks, or neurotrash -- and it's everywhere.  BY STEVEN POOLE PUBLISHED 06 SEPTEMBER 2012

What's your response to that?

You say, "Even on the playground, we see remarkably sophisticated political machination.

our most essential political education occurs in environments like the playground"

We will see evidence of practice resulting in large-scale coherence throughout the book.

Practice thinking about politics helps"

political partisans react to the world in divergent ways.

brain's tendency to think in coalitions

us vs not us is also tied to experience of god. 

brain is capable of rapidly overriding these stereotypes when relevant information is available.

Part of the brain that is involved in religious experience is also associated with us vs them. It is quieted. 

Have you looked brain and different religions?

    called neurotheology.


The Emergence of Parties: An Agent-Based Simulation. Political Research Quarterly. Forthcoming.The Emergence of Parties: An Agent-Based Simulation. Political Research Quarterly. Forthcoming.

social lens-- how about stories?

Size: 30,986,400 -- 1 hrs, 4 min, 33 sec


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Rob Kall is editor-in-chief, publisher and site architect of, President of Futurehealth, Inc, and an inventor. He hosts the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, aired in the Metro Philly area on AM 1360, WNJC. Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is also published regularly on the

Rob Kall Wikipedia Page

Rob is, with the first media winner of the Pillar Award for supporting Whistleblowers and the first amendment.

See more Rob Kall articles here and, older ones, here. To learn more about Rob and, check out A Voice For Truth - ROB KALL | OM Times Magazine and this article. For Rob's work in non-political realms mostly before 2000, see his C.V..  and here's an article on the Storycon Summit Meeting he founded and organized for eight years. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal: Party's Left Pushes for a Seat at the Table

Here is a one hour radio interview where Rob was a guest- on Envision This, and here is the transcript. 

To watch Rob having a lively conversation with John Conyers, then Chair of the House Judiciary committee, click hereWatch Rob speaking on Bottom up economics at the Occupy G8 Economic Summit, here.

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My articles express my personal opinion, not the opinion of this website.

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Water, water, everywhere.   Maybe you'll ge... by Ned Lud on Monday, Feb 25, 2013 at 9:37:12 AM
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