Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh, The Loh Down on Science is a fun way to get your daily dose of science plus a dash of humor in less than two minutes.
Hosted by Sandra Tsing Loh
Airs Weekdays 2:31, 3:31 and 5:49 a.m.

State of Stubborn

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The left!  The right!  Can’t we all just… talk it out?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science, saying..well, the answer is more complicated than you think. 

What happens in our brains when our deep-held beliefs are challenged?

Scientists at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute and Project Reason in Los Angeles conducted a survey. Forty stubborn, self-identified liberals were shown political and nonpolitical statements. Political topics included abortion. A typical nonpolitical example?  “Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb.” They ranked how strongly they felt about each one.

Next, scientists gave counterevidence to each claim. Then participants gave new rankings. The results?

Subjects were swayed by arguments about nonpolitical topics. But they became more stubborn when politics were challenged.  Why?

During the test, the researchers had looked at their brain activity using M R I. They noticed that the amygdala lit up in the most resistant participants. This part of the brain activates when we feel threatened.

This may be why you can’t change your neighbor’s mind when debating politics!

Lawn care, however, may be a safe topic.