John Kass

Thanks to learned scientists, I've discovered that I suffer from a mental problem afflicting millions of Americans.

It's not really a disease. It's more like a peculiarity, one that irritates polite society yet may be corrected with surgery to the frontal lobe. What is this deviancy?


For many years now, conservatives have secretly feared the day when science would identify us as aberrant, or to use the vernacular, abby-normal.

Sadly, that time has come, in the pages of the liberal-leaning but well-written Mother Jones magazine, and a story about yet another attempt by scientists to chronicle the pathology of conservatism.

According to research from professor John Hibbing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, conservatives and liberals react differently to certain stimuli. Hibbing and his team have determined that conservatives dwell on negatives and have a stronger "disgust sensitivity" than do liberals.

This problem, researchers believe, could be genetic.

"So, if you have a negativity bias, and you focus more on the aversive and disgusting, then the world seems more threatening to you," says the Mother Jones piece. "And thus, policies like supporting a stronger military, or being tougher on immigration, might feel very natural."

What fascinated me most weren't the conclusions as much as the machine Hibbing strapped to the heads of his human subjects to measure their responses to stimuli.

Some might mistake it for a medieval device used to torture heretics. But it is remarkably similar to the contraption Stanley Kubrick's "scientists" strapped to the head of a sadistic British thug in the now-forgotten masterpiece of scientific rationalism and acute political correction, "A Clockwork Orange."

In that story, the thug underwent aversion therapy. He was gentled by science. Can conservatives and their rambunctious libertarian siblings be far behind?

The article offered a link to four photographs Hibbing used in his research. One was of pretty young girls in ballerina costumes. Liberals mostly stared at that one. But conservatives couldn't take their abby-normal eyes off the really disgusting stuff.

Disgusting black flies crawling on a juicy cob of just-eaten corn; an open wound oozing in disgusting fashion on a human hand; and a disgusting pile of moist dog poop on summer grass.