What: Seton Hill University will present “Your Brain on Politics,” a presentation by author, historian and journalist Rick Shenkman. The event, which is free and open to the public, is sponsored by the Seton Hill University Office of Student Engagement, the Political Science Department and the Marriage and Family Therapy Program.
When: Thursday, September 28 at 7 p.m.
Where: Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center, 100 Harrison Ave., Greensburg.
Who: Rick Shenkman is the founder of the popular History News Network, the website that features leading historians' perspectives on current events. He can regularly be seen on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC. He is a New York Times best-selling author of seven history books, including Legends, Lies & Cherished Myths of American History, Presidential Ambition: How the Presidents Gained Power, Kept Power and Got Things Done and Just How Stupid Are We? Facing the Truth About the American Voter. His latest book is Political Animals: How Our Stone-Age Brain Gets in the Way of Smart Politics.
Educated at Vassar and Harvard, Mr. Shenkman is an Emmy award-winning investigative reporter and the former managing editor of KIRO-TV, the CBS affiliate in Seattle. In 1997 he was the host, writer and producer of a prime time series for The Learning Channel inspired by his books on myths. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. He gives lectures at colleges around the country on several topics, including American myths and presidential politics. He is a member of the board of directors of The Dreyfuss Initiative, the civics project of the actor Richard Dreyfuss.
Background: The United States has just been through one of the most fascinating elections in its history. Why did people vote the way they did? Until recently, no one really knew because we lacked insight into how the human brain digests political information. But now we do. With the help of science we now know why voters are often apathetic, why they fall for manipulative politicians, and how biases of all kinds cloud their judgment.
In “Your Brain on Politics” Rick Shenkman draws on cutting-edge research in neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and behavioral psychology. The talk focuses on the core problem identified by evolutionary psychologists: Evolution has left us adrift in a modern world with a brain wired for the Stone Age. While in our personal lives ancient instincts often work to our advantage, in politics they usually don’t. Modern cues set off ancient instinctive responses that prompt us to behave in ways contrary to our own interests and good governance.