Many of the studies presented here concerned the way we divide people by in-group and out-group categories in as little as 170 milliseconds. The anterior cingulate cortices in American and Chinese brains activate when people see members of their own group endure pain, but they do so at much lower levels when they see members of another group enduring it. These effects may form the basis of prejudice.Sounds like Gladwell's Blink book, but also social identity theory which has much relevance for scholars of ethnic conflict. Brooks goes on to point out that in experiments these effects of identification can be manipulated to lessen people's instincts to react differently to different kinds of people.
The funny thing is that Brooks either intentionally or unintentionally begins the piece with a stereotype:
When you go to an academic conference you expect to see some geeks, gravitas and graying professors giving lectures.Is he trying to be ironic and hip by imitating that which he learned during the conference, or is he just sorting academics into a pre-conceived box. Or is it just the desire for alliteration? I don't resent the gray or the geek reference, but gravitas? Hmmm.