RSA Animate: Matthew Taylor “Left Brain, Right Brain”


At first glance I thought these videos were overwhelming because of all the information so fast, but they are actually very interesting and I learn a lot. This particular one is about Matthew Taylor’s lecture discussing how our brain works and how it relates to our political system. It was very interesting because I would never really think that sides of the brain would have any effect on how we run politics.

A quote in the beginning I liked was “Democracy can only be as successful as we the people make it.” A lot of people talk about politics and democracy as something that acts on its own, but the people are really who affect the process. He says we have to understand our mental processes and how we focus more on short term goals than long. People want instant gratification and the political system doesn’t really work like that most of the time, so that is why a lot of people dislike politics.  

This video and concept made me think about the article by C. Wright Mills called “The Promise of Sociology.” He says that the more of the “ambitions and threats” around us, the more trapped we seem to feel. I know when I feel overwhelmed I want to give up, because seems too much for me to change. The political system is a lot like that because the voting turnouts are so low because people feel like their one vote won’t make a difference.

Our short term goals are usually self-centered, and this affects the democratic process because we should be working together to make good decisions as Taylor describes in his lecture. This relates to Mills who says that we “do not usually impute to the big ups and downs of the societies in which [we] live.” When there is an issue, we naturally think of ourselves and who we know first, not really how it affects society as a whole, but Mills also goes on to say that individuals understand their own fate and try to gauge their own fate by becoming aware of the other individuals in their circumstances. We care about others in our same situation because we want them to solve their issues so we see that we have a chance to fix our similar problem.

In the Taylor lecture, it said that we all agree there needs to be change, but we don’t change our actions. I think Mills would go along with this statement because he says “neither the life of an individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both” meaning that individual and society issues are closely related because what happens to people in a society affects the whole. The Taylor lecture and the Mills article had some similar points and they both made me think about how our society runs. They would both agree we have so much potential as a society and as Taylor said we need to accept our flaws and acknowledging the social nature of the brain can help us to improve our political structure and society.