WEIRD is how someone might describe Sherlock Holmes. The term is psychological parlance to describe people who think logically when problem-solving. (“The Science of How We Vote” Scientific American Mind, May/June 2016, pg. 8.) 15% of the world’s cultures think WEIRDly, most of them from the west. The rest of the planet thinks intuitively, meaning they see life as interconnected and use intuition as a tool for understanding. (Ibid Pg. 8.)
Recent research indicates that being WEIRD or NOT-WEIRD influences our political beliefs. (Ibid pg. 9) Surprisingly, conservatives, like those from NON-WEIRD cultures, think collectively. Many of them live in rural areas, so they value social ties and their responsibilities to the community and family. They disfavor social programs, seeing them as a leg up for an individual rather than strengthening the group. (Ibid pg. 9) Liberals tend to concentrate in cities where they think in terms of individual rights. (Ibid pg. 9.)
Beyond our lifestyle, other researchers speculate there are links between our politics and our genes. (“The Genes of Left and Right”, Scientific American Mind, May/June 2016, pgs. 9-10.) Liberal women, they have found, carry certain gene-type receptors that are also associated with being extroverts and seekers of novelty. (Ibid pg 10.) On the other hand, conscientiousness compliments a conservative stand, a gene connection that exists in 37.5% of the remaining women.
The genetic difference among women could account for the ancient genesis of conservative and liberal thinking. Within a tribe, some feared strangers because they might be violent or pose a danger as carriers of unknown diseases. (Click) To others, those with liberal gene-type receptors, strangers were seen as an opportunity to bring new blood into the tribe or a way to gain new knowledge.
If the links between liberal and conservative thinking are found to be true, then Shakespeare may be proved wrong. Our fate rests not in our stars but in our genes.
(Originally published 4/21/16)