The Political Mind: Why You Can't Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain

George Lakoff, Author . Viking $25.95 (292p) ISBN 978-0-670-01927-4

Lakoff (Don't Think of an Elephant ) harnesses cognitive science to rally progressive politicians and voters by positing that conservatives have framed the debate on vital issues more effectively than liberals. According to his research, conservatives comprehend that most brain functioning is grounded not in logical reasoning but in emotionalism—as a result, huge portions of the citizenry accept the Republican framing of the “war in Iraq” and “supporting the troops” rather than liberal appeals and phrasing of “the occupation in Iraq” and “squandering tax money.” George W. Bush won the presidency by concocting a “redemption narrative,” persuading tens of millions of voters that his past moral and business shortcomings should be viewed as a prelude to pulling himself up, rather than as disqualifying behavior. While sections of the book employ technical scientific terminology, the author masterfully makes his research comprehensible to nonspecialists. His conclusion—that if citizens and policy-makers better understand brain functioning, hope exists to ameliorate global warming and other societal disasters in the making—will be of vital importance and interest to all readers. (June)

Reviewed on: 04/07/2008
Release date: 06/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
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