We've been trying to figure out for too many years now, how anyone-- let alone 62,984,828 people in 2016 and 74,216,154 people in 2020-- could not see right through the Time Square con-man and career criminal, the P.T. Barnum of our day. I have usually attributed it to some kind of combination of racism, xenophobia, low IQs, primitive superstition that passes for Republican religion, opioid addiction and a craving for an authoritarian leader. Low IQs are generally a common denominator-- at least among every Trump voter I have ever met. They are really, really dumb-- sometimes loud and assertive, but unbelievably stupid. How stupid? These were the most Trump-voting counties in a random sample of states (2016) along with their vaccination rates as of today, a combination of factors that proves stupidity:
Winston, Alabama- 90.0% Trump (21% fully vaccinated)-- 94.3% white
Mohave, Arizona- 73.7% Trump (40% fully vaccinated)-- 78.2% white
Polk, Arkansas- 80.4% Trump (34% fully vaccinated)-- 88.75 white
Lassen, California- 72.7% Trump (37% fully vaccinated)-- 65.9% white
Washington, Colorado- 84.3% Trump (30% fully vaccinated)-- 88.3% white
Holmes, Florida- 87.9% Trump (29% fully vaccinated)-- 87.3% white
Brantley, Georgia- 88.5% Trump (25% fully vaccinated)-- 92.6% white
Idaho, Idaho- 78.3% Trump (29% fully vaccinated)-- 91.7% white
Wayne, Illinois- 84.3% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)-- 96.7% white
Daviess, Indiana- 79.6% Trump (32% fully vaccinated)-- 93.0% white
Sioux, Iowa- 82.1% Trump (41% fully vaccinated)-- 88.3% white
Scott, Kansas- 84.9% Trump (46% fully vaccinated)-- 81.5% white
Leslie, Kentucky- 89.4% Trump (50% fully vaccinated)-- 98.6% white
LaSalle, Louisiana- 88.8% Trump (43% fully vaccinated)-- 83.2% white
Missaukee, Michigan- 73.8% Trump (47% fully vaccinated)-- 94.9% white
George, Mississippi- 88.0% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)-- 87.9% white
Bollinger, Missouri- 85.1% Trump (32% fully vaccinated)-- 96.9% white
Musselshell, Montana- 81.4% Trump (34% fully vaccinated)-- 92.5% white
Holt, Nebraska- 85.9% Trump (41% fully vaccinated)-- 94.9% white
Wyoming, New York- 73.0% Trump (50% fully vaccinated)-- 89.8% white
Graham, North Carolina- 79.6% Trump (48% fully vaccinated)-- 88.0% white
Mercer, North Dakota- 81.4% Trump (38% fully vaccinated)-- 93.9% white
Mercer, Ohio- 80.7% Trump (37% fully vaccinated)-- 96.2% white
Beaver, Oklahoma- 88.8% Trump (30% fully vaccinated)-- 76.0% white
Lake, Oregon- 78.7% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)-- 85.6% white
Fulton, Pennsylvania- 84.2% Trump (35% fully vaccinated)-- 96.5% white
Pickens, South Carolina- 73.9% Trump (45% fully vaccinated)-- 86.5% white
Tripp, South Dakota- 78.7% Trump (44% fully vaccinated)-- 82.0% white
Wayne, Tennessee- 86.2% Trump (40% fully vaccinated)-- 90.7% white
Wheeler, Texas- 90.5% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)-- 68.8% white
Emery, Utah- 79.8% Trump (44% fully vaccinated)-- 93.2% white
Bland, Virginia- 82.3% Trump (38% fully vaccinated)-- 93.1% white
Grant, West Virginia- 87.7% Trump (43% fully vaccinated)-- 96/7% white
Crook, Wyoming- 88.8% Trump (30% fully vaccinated)-- 96.8% white
So... wasn't I excited this morning when one of my friends sent me a post from a couple of years ago at Alternet by Bobby Azarian, Scientists establish link between religious fundamentalism and brain damage. "A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex. The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness-- a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness."
Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real. Religious beliefs differ from empirical beliefs, which are based on how the world appears to be and are updated as new evidence accumulates or when new theories with better predictive power emerge. On the other hand, religious beliefs are not usually updated in response to new evidence or scientific explanations, and are therefore strongly associated with conservatism. They are fixed and rigid, which helps promote predictability and coherence to the rules of society among individuals within the group.
Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues. Fundamentalist groups generally oppose anything that questions or challenges their beliefs or way of life. For this reason, they are often aggressive towards anyone who does not share their specific set of supernatural beliefs, and towards science, as these things are seen as existential threats to their entire worldview.
Since religious beliefs play a massive role in driving and influencing human behavior throughout the world, it is important to understand the phenomenon of religious fundamentalism from a psychological and neurological perspective.
...According to Dr. Grafman and his team, since religious fundamentalism involves a strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists. As such, they predicted that participants with lesions to either the vmPFC or the dlPFC would score low on measures of cognitive flexibility and trait openness and high on measures of religious fundamentalism.
The results showed that, as expected, damage to the vmPFC and dlPFC was associated with religious fundamentalism. Further tests revealed that this increase in religious fundamentalism was caused by a reduction in cognitive flexibility and openness resulting from the prefrontal cortex impairment. Cognitive flexibility was assessed using a standard psychological card sorting test that involved categorizing cards with words and images according to rules. Openness was measured using a widely-used personality survey known as the NEO Personality Inventory. The data suggests that damage to the vmPFC indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by suppressing both cognitive flexibility and openness.
These findings are important because they suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile-- can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness.
The authors emphasize that cognitive flexibility and openness aren’t the only things that make brains vulnerable to religious fundamentalism. In fact, their analyses showed that these factors only accounted for a fifth of the variation in fundamentalism scores. Uncovering those additional causes, which could be anything from genetic predispositions to social influences, is a future research project that the researchers believe will occupy investigators for many decades to come, given how complex and widespread religious fundamentalism is and will likely continue to be for some time.
In 2020, 81% of White evangelical Protestant voters cast their ballots for Trump. Normal Jews in America, vote against anything that smells like fascism, but the ultra-orthodox, a group that certainly fits the whole idea of brain impairment have more in common with snake handlers and evangelicals than with normal Jews. Between 23 and 31% of all Jewish voters went for Trump-- and most of the outliers were Orthodox (10% of the Jewish population in America). In the Haredi neighborhoods of Brooklyn, for example, Trump won dozens of precincts with over 90%-- some with totals favoring Trump by margins like 449 to 3 and 610 to 15 and 519 to 10. Are they all brain damaged? Or just stupid beyond belief? If the shoe fits...