Pondering Differences

March 26, 2012

I do a lot of reading, trying to understand what makes people think and act as they do. What motivates us. Why we think this is moral and that is not. I also try very hard to limit my own bias in hopes of actually understanding, even if not accepting other points of view. These two articles were  thoughtful reads.

The first, a review of the book ‘The Righteous Mind,’ by Jonathan Haidt.

“To the question many people ask about politics — Why doesn’t the other side listen to reason? — Haidt replies: We were never designed to listen to reason. When you ask people moral questions, time their responses and scan their brains, their answers and brain activation patterns indicate that they reach conclusions quickly and produce reasons later only to justify what they’ve decided.”

And, “The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others. ”

The second post is brief, but pertinent: ” Why Republican Women Vote for Santorum

“I would hypothesize that women who have accommodated themselves to living an evangelical lifestyle have nothing to gain from questioning the premises of Christian patriarchy. Their lives are more comfortable, less fraught with domestic conflict, if they simply decide to be happy and make the most of their assigned roles.”

And, “How many of us want to challenge the social constructs within which we have created active lives that are reckoned as meaningful? ”

This is a puzzle I have been pondering, and discussing with others.  We cannot all be activists. And I have often wondered if people, as a rule, aren’t more comfortable with certainty – knowing their role, feeling they can predict and define in black and white. Security feels safe.

Uncertainty  and self-responsibility are hard taskmasters.

Climate Change

March 22, 2012

“Beginning in mid-March, however, its various offices began issuing bulletins that sounded slightly shaken. “There’s extremes in weather, but seeing something like this is impressive and unprecedented,” ”

“It’s hard to overstate how impossible this weather is—when you have nearly a century and a half of records, they should be hard to break, much less smash.”

There’s nothing much that needs to be added to this:

90 Degrees in Winter: This Is What Climate Change Looks Like

http://www.thenation.com/article/166917/90-degrees-winter-what-climate-change-looks

Once again, Calamities of Nature gets it dead right.

History Humor

September 28, 2011

“When you think about it, a lot of things have happened already,” Ennis added. “That’s what history is.”

What a wonderful revelation.

The Onion has thoughtfully presented an essay on a radical new concept. In simple, easy to comprehend language, historians offer ready-made guidelines for The Nation to use when making decisions.

http://www.theonion.com/articles/historians-politely-remind-nation-to-check-whats-h,26183/

I don’t know why I gave even a wry chuckle at this. There is no reason, no logic, no sense in what the republicans proclaim.

If you truly despise big government, then what are you taking money for?

http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/575.jpg

For some reason this image won’t load, so it’s just a link. Sorry.

Lovely little commentary on US history – graphjam style.

http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/funny-graphs-like-it-or-unfriend-it.gif

click image to enlarge

And now for the final three comics in Non Sequitur’s week long exploration of Argumentative Reasoning  (first three here)  or: why we have so many problems understanding facts.

Wouldn’t it be brilliant if politicians and media were required to state facts clearly, without spin? And cite their sources, and list consequences of the advocated actions? Of course, it would be so boring to most people that no one would pay any attention.

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202221.gif

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202222.gif

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202223.gif

Argumentative reasoning is a hot topic just now.

Essentially it is the idea that we make our decisions based on immediate, unconscious emotional reaction; then, equally unconsciously, we select arguments or proofs that support our emotional bias.

As far as I can tell, this idea explains all of the global warming controversy in this country. If people actually looked at the facts… well, let’s not get optimistic.

Cherry-picking evidence is the great boon of the internet. Instead of being alone in your head, you can click away until you find myriads of like-emotioned people to support any ol’ whacky premise you can devise.  And plenty of political groups who are pretending to agree with your views so they get your votes.

What would happen if people actually analyzed the track records of the people they vote for? But then, I keep wondering why any woman would support fundamentalists, of any religion. Do they really think their whole purpose of living is to be a slave? Domestic servitude, domestic prostitution,and a brood-mare to boot. What sane person would *choose* that life for themselves and their daughters? And yet, women follow fundamentalism and its political arms, such as the tea party.

I cannot see a good argumentative reasoning for that. Which, of course, exposes my confirmation bias. But I will keep trying. I want to understand how people come to the conclusions they do, and what would convince someone their life is *systematically*  without any value.

If the tea party got into control, how long do you think women would be allowed to hold public office, let alone have the vote?

Humor can sometimes open a crack in a closed mind. With that faint, wistful, wishful hope, here’s three comics from Non Sequitur:

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202234.gif

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202235.gif

http://www.arcamax.com/newspics/20/2022/202220.gif

Disheartening To Be #1

April 21, 2011

We live in a land of awe-inspiring natural beauty. We have incredible universities, fascinating cities, and wonderful people.

But let us never forget to look at all the facts, even the ones we aren’t proud of.

from graphjam:  http://graphjam.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/usano1.jpg

He’s done it again. Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=2192

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