Archive for March 19th, 2012

Daniel Kahneman teaches how to think about thinking

| March 19, 2012 | Reply
Daniel Kahneman teaches how to think about thinking

At Edge.org, Daniel Kahneman offers a video course that parallels his excellent newest book: Thinking, Fast and Slow.

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Why we kill and why THEY kill

| March 19, 2012 | 8 Replies
Why we kill and why THEY kill

Here’s what Glenn Greenwald has to say about the way we characterize the motives of Americans who kill others versus others who kill Americans:

Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivated U.S. Staff Sgt. Robert Bales to allegedly kill 16 Afghans, including 9 children: he was drunk, he was experiencing financial stress, he was passed over for a promotion, he had a traumatic brain injury, he had marital problems, he suffered from the stresses of four tours of duty, he “saw his buddy’s leg blown off the day before the massacre,” etc. Here’s a summary of the Western media discussion of what motivates Muslims to kill Americans: they are primitive, fanatically religious, hateful Terrorists.

Although Greenwald doesn’t analyze it in such terms, this is the classic ingroup-outgroup effect. For ingroup members, we make excuses. For members of outgroups, we pour on the venom. Most Americans are repulsed by the idea that we would actually try to understand the “terrorists'” actions by trying the see the world through their eyes. What is that viewpoint? Greenwald offers some ideas:

[T]hey’re responding to American violence in their country; they are traumatized and angry at the continuous deaths of Muslim children and innocent adults; they’ve calculated that striking at Americans is the only way to deter further American aggression in their part of the world.

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What would happen without public funding for family planning?

| March 19, 2012 | 1 Reply
What would happen without public funding for family planning?

How important is it to publicly fund family planning? Consider the following information from a mass emailing I just received from Guttmacher Institute:

Publicly funded family planning services play a crucial role in improving maternal and child health, helping women and couples achieve their fundamental childbearing goals and achieve economic security for themselves and their children. These efforts save almost $4 for every $1 invested and help avert almost two million unintended pregnancies per year, which would otherwise have resulted in 860,000 unintended births and 810,000 abortions. Without these services, the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions occurring in the United States would be nearly two-thirds higher among women overall and among teens; the number of unintended pregnancies among poor women would nearly double.

The email included this link for additional information on this topic of public funding. Consider the information provided by Guttmacher under the heading: “WHO NEEDS CONTRACEPTIVE SERVICES?”

• The typical American woman, who wants two children, spends about five years pregnant, postpartum or trying to become pregnant, and three decades—more than three-quarters of her reproductive life—trying to avoid pregnancy.

• About half of all pregnancies in the United States each year—more than three million—are unintended. By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion.

• There were 66 million U.S. women of reproductive age (13–44) in 2008.

• More than half of these women (36 million) were in need of contraceptive services and supplies; that is, they were sexually active and able to become pregnant, but were not pregnant and did not wish to become pregnant. The number of women in need of contraceptive services and supplies increased 6% between 2000 and 2008.

And consider the following, under the topic, “Who Needs Publicly Funded Service:

• Among the 17.4 million women in need of publicly funded contraceptive care, 71% (12.4 million) were poor or low-income adults, and 29% (5 million) were younger than 20. Four in 10 poor women of reproductive age have no insurance coverage whatsoever.

Guttmacher offers a wealth of statistics here.

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