Editor's Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: "Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11?" The resulting essay, being presented here as a series, is a synthesis of both academic research and clinical observations.
In answering the question in the title of this essay, last month's segment, Part 7, examined groupthink, a maladaptive manifestation of conformity in which the desire for unity by the group members results in an incorrect or deviant decision-making outcome, an inflated sense of certainty in decisions by the "in-group," and often irrational and dehumanizing actions toward an "out-group."
We continue Ms. Shure's analysis in "Part 8: Brain Research, Part 1," which examines how beliefs—and our tendency to hold onto beliefs—are encoded in our DNA and our central nervous system.
The Human BrainStudies suggest that some people have a brain structure that makes it difficult for them to tolerate ambiguity, conflict, or new ideas that contradict their worldviews (usually those who identify as conservatives), while other people find it easier to accept new social, scientific, or religious ideas (usually those who identify as liberals).1
One of these studies reveals the discovery of a "liberal gene" that has been linked to a personality type that is driven to seek out new experiences.2 Could this partially account for the fact that 2.5% of people from the Diffusion of Innovation studies, explored in Part 2, are more venturesome with new ideas?