June 8, 2011


We all know that reasonable minds can differ in spite of the facts. Now science is beginning to understand why. In a recent article that appeared in the May 20 edition of “This Week, Chris Mooney, a science writer, discusses the theory of motivated reasoning. According to this new notion, the mind applies the same fight-or-flight reflexes to thought as it does to events in the external world. That means, “We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close.” In sum, our emotions rise to the surface before reason kicks in and these emotions determine how we weigh the information we receive.

I’ve mentioned “A General Theory of Love” by MDs Fari Amini and Richard Lannon before. They, too, explain that emotion and reason, having developed at different times, don’t communicate well together.


Surprisingly, our level of education has little to do with how we process information. Those who are informed about a subject are prone to be more biased than those who know little.

Given this new theory about the mind, how should we “reason together?”  Mooney’s advice is that we “Lead with values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance.”

My solution is to pull out my hearing aid to avoid being confused by the facts.