The Biology of Our Political Beliefs

Have you ever wondered what is wrong with people who have political views so different from yours? Have you ever experienced frustration in discussing politics with friends who seem to stick to their ideology, irrespective of the evidence you might bring into the discussion? You are not alone, I guess, and you might find some interesting answers in a new prolific line of work in political science that connects political orientations to biological predispositions. A bunch of academics have indeed started tackling with some serious and scientific effort the question we always end up asking ourselves when we deplorably decide to talk politics with some people: what’s their problem?! In particular, this research tries to understand how genetic and biological components might be interacting with environmental factors in shaping our political beliefs. I was exposed to some of this research in a fascinating IAST (Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse) seminar held two years ago by Professor John Hibbing from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, I will present some of the main experiments and results.

No economics in the title

Through the looking glass (aka the Atlantic Ocean)

In Lewis Carroll’s sequel to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), the day-dreamer Alice wonders what it is like to live on the other side of a mirror’s reflection. The novel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) recounts the protagonist’s surreal adventures, which follows a pattern parallel to that of the story’s prequel: the first book has the deck of cards as a theme, and uses changes of size as a plot device; while the second one is based on the rules of a game of chess and uses distortions in time and spatial directions as plot devices. This article is about a different type of Wonderland though: Trump’s United States, and its new foreign policy…

No economics in the title

“Gauche caviar”

The picture above speaks loudly. There’s no room for interpretation. A boy stands on the edge of La Carlota, a military airport in the East of Caracas, after probably having been throwing rocks moments before. On the other side of the fence, a full suited guard aims at him, moments before he shoots to kill. It is illegal to use lethal weapons firearms to control protesters. Another case of unmeasured force by Maduro’s government: victim number 76, on the 83rd day of street-protests called by the country’s opposition. David José Vallenilla was only 23 years old. He must have been a considerable threat to this Bolivarian National Guard, despite the war-like armour and the metal fence that divided the two. The video of this incident, available by a simple Google search of the victim’s name, speaks even louder. Murder.

No economics in the title