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From the penalty box to the ballot box, our brains are wired for tribalism

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I’ve been living in southern Ontario for more than a decade, having also lived in various parts of the United States and India. But I’m a Montrealer, born and raised. It was a bit of an adjustment moving to my neighbouring province but I’ve adjusted to my life here quite well.

Except for the Leafs. I’m a Habs fan. I cannot root for the Leafs. So what am I holding on to? Well, besides being a Canadiens supporter, I also work in the field of neuroscience, so I can tell you.

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Our neural hardware responds differently when we perceive people to be on “our team” (in-group membership). This hard-wiring allows for positive biases for members of our group, helping them, and us, survive — a clear evolutionary advantage.

My father, who came to Canada from India, loved watching hockey. Hockey Night in Canada was always on TV, whether we were home on a Saturday night or at someone’s house for dinner. His big jump — “SCORE!” — was a highlight. His contagious exuberance about the game gave life to us all. So you could say rooting for the Habs is a great memory that I’m hanging on to.

Memories

Our limbic system — our “emotional brain” — contains the hippocampus, the neural structure responsible for our memory. Those childhood connections between pleasure and pride are deep-seated in my identity. And those memories are not just about being a Montrealer.

I know it makes no logical sense to care about the Habs, 35 years after those Cup parades. But because I know which part of my brain cares about the Habs, I can rise above my limbic system and use my pre-frontal cortex to reflect about what I’m actually doing.

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Seen another way, I know I’m not a chimp. Yes, as a primate I am wired for in-group vs. out-group biases. But the neocortical difference between me and our close primate relatives means I can look beyond my emotional attachment to my Montrealer identity, and see it for what it is. Thus, my human brain can also let me slow down, pause, and reflect. I can think.

We’re not chimps. So we should be able to use our brains to slow down and reflect on our visceral instincts.
Ryan al Bishri/Unsplash

Political strategists know that the politics of division can manipulate most of the electorate as if we were chimps. They know that all they need to do is repeat a familiar mantra about someone being different, and we’re straight into fight/flight mode. It’s morally wrong, but it’s fast, and it works.

Division works

The politics of division is clearly working in this era. A recent Ekos survey found that 40 per cent of Canadians believe there are too many visible minority immigrants in Canada.

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Ethics in politics became passé with the election of Donald Trump. Why do the right thing when you can make it to the White House? Similarly, here at home, Doug Ford, Jason Kenney and Francois Legault are doing a great job of dividing us. And let’s not forget Narendra Modi in India, who just won a huge majority.

Perhaps simply reminding us humans that we are not chimps is the way to go. If I had to choose one rule, just one rule to live by , it is that I am not a chimp. And neither are you. Let’s do better.The Conversation

Veena D. Dwivedi, Associate Professor, Psychology/Neuroscience; Director, Dwivedi Brain and Language Laboratory, Brock University

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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2020 Election

Trump campaign mocked after unveiling new red hats: ‘Do you have arm bands as well?’

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President Donald Trump's 2016 "Make America Great Again" hats have been replaced with new "Keep America Great" hats.

Trump re-election campaign manager Brad Parscale modeled one of the hats on Twitter.

Here is some of what people were saying:

https://twitter.com/LazarusLeBaron/status/1165430924093165568

Here I made an arm band design for you pic.twitter.com/inTyqVi2wo

— Christopher Goodwin (@LazarusLeBaron) August 25, 2019

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‘This will not end well’: Far-right extremism expert warns of Trump’s intensifying authoritarianism

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An expert on the far-right in America warned of President Donald Trump's "genuinely dangerous levels" of authoritarianism on Saturday.

Author David Neiwert posted a long Twitter thread on the commander-in-chief's "Social Dominance Orientation" -- and warned it will not end well.

Neiwert is the author of the 2017 book Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump.

Here is the thread he posted:

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428067138846720

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165428524808724480

https://twitter.com/DavidNeiwert/status/1165429018486702081

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2020 Election

‘The Mooch’ attended Biden fundraiser in the Hamptons — because Trump ‘has lost his mind’

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Former White House press secretary Anthony Scaramucci attended a fundraiser for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday.

CBS News reporter Ben Mitchell posted a photo of Scaramucci at the event, and subsequently interviewed "The Mooch."

Scaramucci said he was still a registered Republican, but added that Trump "has lost his mind."

Spotted at a Biden event in the Hamptons: Fmr. Trump WH Comms Director Anthony @Scaramucci pic.twitter.com/PWVTZ8Qm15

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