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Apple fanboys vs. Microsofties: A scientist's verdict

Love and hate apparently use the same circuits in the brain, which might help explain the rivalry between Apple and Microsoft devotees.

Since embracing Incorrectness, I have noticed that the passion of those who love either Microsoft or Apple seems even to exceed a Goth's passion for black eyeshadow.

The more I have come to know the two sides, the more their mutual stand-off resembles the kind of love-hate continuum embraced nightly by those two remarkably large-headed souls, Fox's Bill O'Reilly and MSNBC's Keith Olbermann.

Now, research led by Professor Semir Zeki of University College London may help to illustrate and explain the inflamed emotions that surround two mere technology brands.

It appears that, although love and hate seem to be rather opposing feelings, some of the same nervous circuits in the brain are responsible for both emotions.

The lovely thing is that the two radical heights of intensity both seem to involve two of the most pornographically named parts of the brain's sub-cortex: the putamen and the insula.

CC AndiLeBlanc

But here's what the study, which involved delving into the darkest parts of 17 deep haters, suggested was the main difference between love and hate.

Hate is more rational.

"This may seem surprising since hate can also be an all-consuming passion like love," Zeki told the Independent. "But whereas in romantic love, the lover is often less critical and judgmental regarding the loved person, it is more likely that in the context of hate the hater may want to exercise judgment in calculating moves to harm, injure or otherwise exact revenge."

This surely suggests that those who love Apple and Microsoft have utterly lost their minds to each brand. But when it comes to the loathing, they coldly find the most vicious yet factual criticisms to stir their negativity.

Love, it seems, is blind. Whereas hate has GPS.

So the more rational reasons an Apple enthusiast finds to hate Microsoft, the more intense his (or her) hate becomes. (Might this, perhaps, be related to the entirely unscientific fact that there seem to be a few more Apple-loving Microsoft-haters than Microsoft-adoring Apple-haters around at the moment?)

What Zeki's interesting analysis doesn't seem to cover, though, is whether hate for a thing, person or brand, given that it comes from the same cranial regions, actually reinforces love of another thing, person or brand.

Does hating Microsoft reinforce an Apple fanboy's love of the brand that bore the iPod? Or could the strangely close neuroscientific relationship between love and hate actually hide a reluctant and dangerous admiration for the hate-object?

I only ask because when I watch Olbermann skewer O'Reilly on a nightly basis, I wonder whether he secretly covets his ratings. Or his salary. And when I watch O'Reilly, I wonder whether he covets Olbermann's penchant for saying what he really thinks.

Similarly, is it possible that Apple fanboys secretly covet something about Microsoft? And that Microsofties are desperate for some of Apple's pips? What might be the object of their hidden, painful admiration and desire?

Microsofties and Apple fanboys, please examine your putamen and insula immediately and let me know.