Lying repeatedly about Brexit is affecting your brain!
It began with a wave of cognitive dissonance that swept the country in the run up to the Referendum last year as tribal political allegiances were shattered. It continued in the aftermath of a Leave victory with an outbreak of amygdala hijacks in which the Remain voters expressed outrage and rage towards those who voted Leave …. “they didn’t know what they were voting for, they are old and selfish, the people must overthrow this,”. And now there is definite and well researched evidence of another psychological effect infesting the Remain voters.
A few days back I observed with some hilarity a Twitter spat between Leavers and Remainers in which the latter asserted the following:
- Brexit has caused inflation to seriously rise
- The UK economy is now in a worse state than ever before because of Brexit
- Brexit is already causing food prices to rise and will lead to food shortages
- The UK economy is now in recession because of Brexit
- The £ has collapsed!
Now many of these, if not all, are just not true. They are in fact lies, and yet they are lies which are perpetuated and magnified over and over. I am not counting opinions of FUTURE potential effects of Brexit because everyone is entitled to their opinion, even if they predict the end of the world in 24 hours! But asserting causation between two factors without evidence, or actually stating a blatant untruth needs more than a robust challenge; it needs ridiculing. But a recent piece of psychological research goes one better and as a psychologist myself I am going to borrow it to debunk a lot of these Remainer assertions and warn them about how their brain structure is changing! Take a little time now to read this abstract below from Professor Tali Sharot:
“Dishonesty is an integral part of our social world, influencing domains ranging from finance and politics to personal relationships. Anecdotally, digressions from a moral code are often described as a series of small breaches that grow over time. Here we provide empirical evidence for a gradual escalation of self-serving dishonesty and reveal a neural mechanism supporting it. Behaviourally, we show that the extent to which participants engage in self-serving dishonesty increases with repetition. Using functional MRI, we show that signal reduction in the amygdala is sensitive to the history of dishonest behaviour, consistent with adaptation. Critically, the extent of reduced amygdala sensitivity to dishonesty on a present decision relative to the previous one predicts the magnitude of escalation of self-serving dishonesty on the next decision. The findings uncover a biological mechanism that supports a ‘slippery slope’: what begins as small acts of dishonesty can escalate into larger transgressions.”
This is the abstract from the publication The Brain Adapts to Dishonesty, by Tali Sharot in Nature Neuroscience, lots of evidence from MRI scans on subjects being questioned if you want to seek it out. Although the “slippery slope effect” of repeated lies is well known, what caught my eye here was the “escalation into larger transgressions” phrase because everyone has assumed that the noise level attempting to undermine Brexit will die down. My interpretation of Professor Sharot’s research is that it won’t die down, as politicians, celebrities, journalists and academics such as Cable, Lineker, Snow and Grayling feed their own amygdalas with their own lies in their own fantasy world.
Categories: Philosophy & Psychology