Saturday, June 30, 2012

Political Outlook: Genes & Moral Values

From THE WEEK, June 1, 2012:

"Here's a simple definition of ideology: "a set of beliefs about the proper order of society and how it can be achieved." And here's the most basic of all ideological questions: Should we preserve the present order or change it?

"Political theorists long assumed that people chose ideologies to further their self-interest. The rich and powerful want to preserve and conserve; the workers want to change things. But that link has been largely broken in modern times, when the rich go both ways (industrialists mostly right, tech billionaires mostly left), and so do the poor (rural poor mostly right, urban poor mostly left). So for most of the late 20th century, political scientists embraced blank-slate theories in which people soaked up the ideology of their parents.

"But then came the studies of twins in the 1980s, which found that genes contribute to just about every aspect of our personalities. We're not just talking about IQ and basic traits such as shyness. We're talking about the degree to which you like jazz, your likelihood of getting a divorce, your religiosity, and your political orientation as an adult. Whether you end up on the right or the left of the political spectrum turns out to be just as heritable as most other traits.

"Researchers have found several genes that differ between liberals and conservatives. Most of them relate to the functioning of neurotransmitters, particularly glutamate and serotonin, both of which are involved in the brain's response to threat and fear. Other studies have focused on genes related to receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is tied to sensation seeking and openness to experience. Even though the effects of any single gene are tiny, these findings are important because they illustrate one pathway from genes to politics: The genes (collectively) give some people brains that are more (or less) reactive to threats and that produce less (or more) pleasure when exposed to novelty, change, and new experiences. Many studies have shown that conservatives react more strongly than liberals to signs of danger, while novelty seeking and openness to experience are among the best-established correlates of liberalism......"

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Conventional Fruit and Vegetable Pesticide Loads

Certainly helpful to your decision about which vegetables should be purchased organic and which conventional veggies may be safe, is the measured pesticide loads found on conventionally farmed fruits and vegetables.

    Of the 43 different fruit and vegetable categories tested by the Environmental Working Group and included in their Shoppers' Guide to Pesticides in Produce, these 12 fruits and vegetables had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy or grow organic:

        Sweet bell peppers
        Grapes (imported)

    In contrast, these foods were found to have the lowest residual pesticide load, making them the safest bet among conventionally grown vegetables:

        Sweet peas (frozen)
        Sweet corn (frozen)

    So if you need to work within a certain budget, use this information to help guide you to the best choices when it comes to lowering your overall pesticide exposure.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chen Guangcheng: Wife's Life Threatened

Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist in China, forced Chinese authorities to reveal the true nature of China's authoritarian government when Chinese officials forced him to leave the American embassy in Bejing by warning him that his wife would be "beaten to death" if he stayed. [The Chinese autocrats feel that they've lost face -- but it wasn't Chen who stole it / the brutishness of Chinese elites that revealed itself spontaneously in very clear terms].

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Cohabitation: A Slippery Slope

Couples who cohabitate tend to think of it as a safe first step before marriage.... "auditioning" their partners while the slippery slope of postponing commitment slides them past the trial phase into shared leases and contracts, furniture, pets, friends, etcetera... drifting into marriage while leaving them secretly wondering in they consciously chose their mate or not.
Search: "cohabitation"

Then realize that mentally and emotionally 'healthy' human animals tend to bond strongly with their sexual partners in a hard wired manner.