Tuesday, November 11, 2003

wow, those Italians are incredible!!!!

posted to sociology list...

Sorry, small tear…

Did anyone else see the article last week about how the brain is “hard-wired” for empathy? Brief summary:

“Researchers used a tool called functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to monitor the brain activity of 14 [Italian] men as they watched short movies of people smelling pleasant, disgusting and neutral odors. Brain activity was also monitored while participants themselves smelled a variety of odors. The researchers found that a part of the brain called the anterior insula, which previously has been linked to feelings of disgust, was activated not only when participants smelled something disgusting but also when they watched others take a whiff of something stinky.” (I added whatever these things [ ] are called – brackets?)

And the researcher had this to say about “things cultural” and empathy…

“Although Keysers said that empathy for others is often thought of as a matter of morals, "in our study, on the other hand, we show that empathy is a very basic, simple and automatic process," he said.”

So, there ya have it, 14 Italian men have set the standard for empathy worldwide; 14 Italian men represent the entire depth and breadth of humanity, regardless of culture, ethnicity, gender, etc. 14 Italian men have the exact same physiological response as EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING in the world. So, simple, how come we never knew this before??? We need these 14 Italian men for more testing on other nifty things, eh? These guys are going to be popular! I can see a reality TV show emerging from this – “The 14 Italian guys and fantastic scientific discoveries!”

And this is accepted as “science” – amazing, isn’t it? I am not even going to comment on how they operationalized “empathy.”

Hmmm, we sociologists DO have a lot of work to do, don’t we????

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