Sunday, February 26, 2006

No Big Surprise: Emotions may drive politics

In 1992, Time magazine reported an amazing discovery: Women and men are different. Only adults were shocked at this stunning discovery. A syndicated Washington Post story carried in the Detroit News proposes another shocking hypothesis government will undoubtedly fund studies for with millions of taxpayer dollars: Emotions may drive politics.

Duh. How's that for emotion?

What they're planning to do won't come cheap.

"But social psychologists ... have begun to study political behavior using such specialized tools as sophisticated psychological tests and brain scans."

Emotions are great motivators which is why skillful speakers use them to manipulate the masses. When people succumb to emotions they stop thinking rationally. Wait.. that's too kind. When people succumb to emotions they stop thinking. Period. If people thought instead of felt Muslims wouldn't suicide-bomb themselves and everyone around them into the after life. If people thought instead of felt they wouldn't burn homes and loot shops whenever their favorite team won a championship, or lost a championship, or a referee's call or jury verdict didn't go their way. If people thought instead of felt they wouldn't be so easily herded into mobs and lead to slaughter. Moooo!

As valuable as emotions may be for getting things started that might not otherwise (like the American Revolution) there are some things better left un-started. Like suicide bombs, looting, burning, overturning police cars, or voting for Democrats (note to self: consider removing Democrats to avoid rousing emotions). Emotions eventually wear off (except in the Middle East) but after they lift us from our easy chairs into action logic and reasoning sustain us.

Already we know the majority of college students don't understand credit card offers and their cognitive skills are sinking. Is it any wonder many American's can't reason their way politically and must resort to feelings? All they have left to guide them through life is their feelings. We've substituted self-esteem for self discipline. Individual responsibility, once a hallmark of the American psyche, has been supplanted with entitlements and civil suits. And moral relativism is more appealing than accountability because everyone's OK when measured by relativism's individualized yardsticks. Do American's really want Dr. Phil and Oprah as political consultants or worse -- candidates?

Social psychologists should save their (read: our) money and time and study something that truly escapes logic: If everyone did it before and still does it, why is everyone upset at Britney Spears?

1 comment:

  1. "If we could live without passion, maybe then we'd find peace. But we'd be hollow."

    "Follow your feelings. Your feelings will never lead you wrong" -- Care Bears

    Too often the first quote leads to the second quote. The first is wise, the second is stupid and dangerous. Methinks we need to find a way to balance the two.