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Transcript II: Neuropolitics-- Fear and Empathy, Amygdala and Insula-- Republicans and Democrats?

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Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio   


I interviewed Darren Schreiber on February 23 rd .  This is part two of a two part interview. 

Here's a link to part one of the interview

Here's a link  to the audio podcast.

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Thanks to Don Caldarazzo   for doing the transcript.

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Eric Schreiber Bio:

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. 

by Eric schreiber

by Eric schreiber


D:  So what we did with this study -- we were really lucky.  Other researchers had been funded to do research on drug addiction and other forms of addiction, and had given what they call the "Risky Gains Task" to large groups of people.  So this was funded by the NIH and a bunch of other groups, trying to get a better sense of how the brain functions.  In particular, in this group they were looking at some veterans, and ordinary citizens as well - a large group of subjects, and as they brain imaged them, what they asked them to do was what they called a Risky Gains Path. 


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[In] the Risky Gains Path, they basically give you twenty [20] cents, and if you hit the button you get to take the twenty cents. Or you can let it ride, and you can risk doubling that to forty cents - or losing forty cents.  And if you win the forty cents you can gamble again, and have it become positive 80 cents - or lose 80 cents.  So there is increasing risk and increasing gains as you play this game, and they brain image people while they were doing a series of these trials of this game again and again.  I think about it as like blackjack in Vegas and doubling down; you increase the amount of money that you're wagering with each round.  They then looked at the subjects that were doing this and then found some patterns of different ways that that people approach risk based on addiction. 


We came to that group of researchers, my friend and colleague James Fowler and I, and put together a large group of researchers to look at this data, taking the people who had participated in the previous study and matching their names to publicly available voter registration files.  So, in California, when you register to vote as a Democrat, Republican or whatever party, that's public record and we just took the records and matched them to the names of the participants in this study, and were able then to find out whether people registered Republican or Democrat.  We looked at the way Republicans and Democrats can look to see about their gambling behavior first off, and what we found is you can't tell whether somebody is Republican or Democrat by how they gamble. 


So, there's no difference in the behavior of the two: you couldn't go to Las Vegas and find out whether someone is a Democrat because they held on a sixteen.  You can only do that by (we found later on) looking at the brain imaging data and seeing the patterns that differentiate Republicans and Democrats.

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Rob Kall is an award winning journalist, inventor, software architect, connector and visionary. His work and his writing have been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC, the HuffingtonPost, Success, Discover and other media. He's given talks and workshops to Fortune 500 execs and national medical and psychological organizations, and pioneered first-of-their-kind conferences in Positive Psychology, Brain Science and Story. He hosts some of the world's smartest, most interesting and powerful people on his Bottom Up Radio Show, and founded and publishes one of the top Google- ranked progressive news and opinion sites, OpEdNews.com

more detailed bio: 

Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 


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