Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Red-State Dementia?

From the NY Times, a sad - but provocative - report about heightened incidence of memory loss, stroke, and dementia in the American South when compared to other regions of the US. As someone who was born and raised in Kentucky - and is quite familiar with Southern fried-food culture - I can't say that I'm terribly surprised by this.  And it's important to take to heart the observation made by the study's authors, both southerners, that the new data can be misinterpreted.

“One of the things we are concerned about is, it does sort of reinforce every negative stereotype about the South, that there are these slow hicks down here,” Dr. Howard said. “The first question is, is there a problem? Unfortunately, as a Southerner, the answer is yes. If we can get to why it exists, then we can get to what to do to change it.”

Nonetheless, dementia and memory loss are not sudden-onset conditions.  Rather, those afflicted experience prolonged decline in mental faculty and intellectual acuity, in the ability to process information and use it in sustained, rational discussion and debate.

And their votes count as much as anyone else's.  And the states from which they hail have been voting consistently, almost universally - indeed, some might aver, mindlessly - conservative, evangelical Republican for decades.  Without them, George W. Bush could never have been elected.

It would be too glib to claim that the Iraq war was caused, even in part, by excessive consumption of Crisco and Southern fried chicken.

But, still . . . .  Just sayin' . . . .

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