Monday, July 04, 2005

An Essay On Being A Responsible Citizen

Meandering Amongst Neurobiology, Russian Literature, and Political Philosophy

There now is evidence for a biological basis for peer pressure.  

Everyone knows that there is a strong tendency for members of a group to tend to agree with each other.  There is a tendency, especially, for persons with certain leadership qualities to define certain social norms.  What has been discovered recently is one of the mechanisms for this phenomenon.  Surprisingly, it is not merely an appeal to emotion.  Rather, it is an alteration in the perception of reality.  In this post, I review the results of a study that used fMRI to show what happens in the brain, when one acts under the influence of peer pressure.  I then discuss the implications of this finding, showing how it may render us more susceptible to malignant political influences.  This is illustrated with passages from The Brothers Karamazov, by Fyodor Dostoevsky.  Continue reading, here.