Last modified: 7:58 AM Saturday, 14 January 2017

What’re you lookin’ at?

Astounding. This is the second article I’ve read in four days that infers from the known connections of the amygdala (appearing below as two roughly eye-shaped red patches) to fear and other emotions a constellation of conclusions about that brain structure’s purportedly broad implications for personality.

The amygdala here resembles a pair of eyes

The amygdala here resembles a pair of eyes.
[ Image Source ]

The previous article asserted a positive correlation between amygdala size and political conservatism; this article finds a similar relationship between the size of one’s amygdala and that of one’s social network. If both statements are true, then we should find that the people with the largest amygdalas are right-wing social butterflies.

From sample size to methodology to possible conflation of correlation with causation, these articles are both clearly flawed. Any successor reports should be based on sound experimental data collected over some time across a large sample. The correct way to do this, in my opinion, is to euthanize (mercy killing, in this case, to put them out of our misery) all possible right-wing celebrities, pseudo-journalists, CEOs, pundits and politicians — starting perhaps with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Pamela Geller, Don Blankenship, Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrich, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell — excise their amygdalas, and then measure the latter for subsequent comparison with those taken from the cadavers of less socially active or less right-wing individuals who have died from natural causes.

This may not yield a useful conclusion, but it will at least rid the world of many pious charlatans.

Originally published as a review of a discovermagazine.com article on a study linking amygdala size with social networks.

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