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bmc7505 on April 27, 2020 | hide | past | favorite

The results in the "Brain Studies" section is based on a single 2011 study [1]. I just skimmed the study and the results are very underwhelming. Figure 1 shows the correlation between political attitude and size of specific parts of the brain (see image here [2]). This single figure raises so many questions: Why is the size of brain measured in "a.u." [arbitrary units]? Why not in liters or perhaps kilograms? Why are the error bars so huge? (Note also that the error bars correspond to 1 standard error, so about 68% of the distribution.) What does negative gray matter volume mean? Why were only age and gender corrected for? Edit to add: With these error bars, you can practically draw any line through them.

To be fair, the title of the paper is accurate, but giving this paper into its entire section on Wikipedia really overstates the significance of the results.

[1] "Political Orientations Are Correlated with Brain Structure in Young Adults" https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3092984/

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/corecgi/tileshop/tileshop.fcgi?...

Yeah, strong claims especially around a political topic like this need strong evidence. I wonder what someone who has actually studied neuroscience would think of this. You've got to remember that it wasn't that long ago when there was "scientific evidence" that black people were genetically destined for a life of slavery.

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