Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Science proves water wet again

Yes, of course, your boss, your elected officials, etc. are brain damaged sociopaths. But just in case you needed some data, here it is.
The historian Henry Adams was being metaphorical, not medical, when he described power as “a sort of tumor that ends by killing the victim’s sympathies.” But that’s not far from where Dacher Keltner, a psychology professor at UC Berkeley, ended up after years of lab and field experiments. Subjects under the influence of power, he found in studies spanning two decades, acted as if they had suffered a traumatic brain injury—becoming more impulsive, less risk-aware, and, crucially, less adept at seeing things from other people’s point of view.

Sukhvinder Obhi, a neuroscientist at McMaster University, in Ontario, recently described something similar. Unlike Keltner, who studies behaviors, Obhi studies brains. And when he put the heads of the powerful and the not-so-powerful under a transcranial-magnetic-stimulation machine, he found that power, in fact, impairs a specific neural process, “mirroring,” that may be a cornerstone of empathy. Which gives a neurological basis to what Keltner has termed the “power paradox”: Once we have power, we lose some of the capacities we needed to gain it in the first place.
Remember this the next time you find yourself in a situation where criticism of your supposed betters is met with the standard retort, "Well what is your plan? Why don't you run for office?" or some such.  This is a trap. Desiring power is bad for you.  Those who hold power are bad for the rest of us.  Don't listen to them. 

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