October 26, 2011


According to George Lakoff’s book, “The Political Mind,” the human brain is constructed to be hypocritical. We are wired to show empathy for one another but we also desire to dominate (blog 9/22/11). These two aspects of ourselves can have bizarre consequences. 

For example, a woman who supports a female’s right to an abortion may be the same woman who demonstrates against capital punishment.  Likewise, a person who opposes a woman’s right to choose may advocate for the death penalty. What’s more, those who work tirelessly against big government — believing it to be the enemy of freedom — are just as likely to demand laws that restrict human behavior. They’ll work to narrow the definition of marriage or family, as an example.

(Twentieth Century Fox)

These hypocrisies shine brightly in others, but are harder to see in ourselves and science has discovered the reason why. When one impulse is at work, the other lies dormant. The reason? Our brains are bicameral. We are, in effect, split personalities designed to both nurture and control but not simultaneously.

Can we overcome this blind spot? Should we? I don’t know. But understanding that we are all hypocrites may help us be more tolerant of the sins of others.