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A Matter of Legitimacy

A Matter of Legitimacy

Barack Obama had to be delegitimized. In the brawl over the last eight years, perhaps they succeeded on a level not intended. They did not, I think, manage to delegitimize President Obama. Rather, they fulfilled one of Ronald Reagan’s rhetorical dictums and managed to delegitimize the idea of governance.

January 9, 2017 | By | 1 Reply More

God gives up on Human Project

“I feel like I’ve kind of hit a wall with humanity and this is probably as far as it can go, but I have some exciting new ideas for rocks and birds that I’m really looking forward to exploring,” said The Creator of All Things, adding that He felt human beings had “pretty much run their course” at this point before explaining His intention to give promising rocks such as sandstone and gneiss the consideration they deserve and finally furnish birds with the longer beaks He previously did not have the opportunity to bring into being.

January 8, 2017 | By | Reply More

On the stealing of jokes and cryptonesia

What is a trope? The website TV Tropes explains:

A trope is a storytelling device or convention, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognize. Tropes are the means by which a story is told by anyone who has a story to tell.

How often have you watched a new movie or TV show and noticed that it is drenched in tropes? I notice this constantly. TV shows and movies resemble other movies and shows so often that some have written, tongue in cheek, that there are actually only an extremely limited number of plots. Are there only seven plots? Are there only six plots?

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December 26, 2016 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp: BREAKING: How The Recount (& Election) Was Rigged By Both Sides!

We aren’t taking democracy seriously. If we were, we’d make sure that each citizen could vote and that every vote was counted.

Lee Camp Reports:

December 26, 2016 | By | Reply More

The United States is not much of a democracy

The United States is no much of a Democracy, and it wouldn’t have mattered much going forward had Hillary Clinton become the next president:

[T]here’s the brazen falsehood of the widespread belief that the U.S. is a “great democracy” in the first place, to be subverted by Russia (or anyone else). Over the past three-plus decades, leading academic researchers Martin Gilens (Princeton) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern), both establishment, liberal political scientists, have concluded, the U.S. political system has functioned as “an oligarchy,” ruled by the few wealthy elites and their corporations. Examining data from more than 1,800 different policy initiatives in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Gilens and Page found that wealthy and well-connected elites consistently steer the direction of the country, regardless and against the will of the U.S. majority and irrespective of which major party holds the White House and/or Congress. “The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy,” Gilens and Page write, “while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence.” As Gilens explained to the liberal online journal Talking Points Memo two years ago, “ordinary citizens have virtually no influence over what their government does in the United States.” Such is the harsh reality of “really existing capitalist democracy” in the U.S., what Noam Chomsky has called “RECD”—“pronounced ‘wrecked’ by accident.”

The Inauthentic Opposition

The late Princeton political theorist Sheldon Wolin considered U.S.-style RECD a form of “corporate-managed fake-democracy” and “inverted totalitarianism.” He called it “democracy incorporated.” It’s a “democracy” in which the only two officially viable and corporate-captive political organizations, the Democratic and Republican parties, both stand well to the right of majority progressive-populist public opinion. The right-wing leadership of these two corporate and militarist parties skews the game against those in their party who would campaign and perhaps govern in accord with that public opinion.

December 25, 2016 | By | Reply More

Sneaking reliable evidence past flawed world views

When solid evidence conflicts with a world view, some people often reject the evidence rather than the flawed world view. In Scientific American’s “How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail,” Michael Shermer (a former fundamentalist Christian) suggests the following approaches to persuading such people:

If corrective facts only make matters worse, what can we do to convince people of the error of their beliefs? From my experience, 1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews. These strategies may not always work to change people’s minds, but now that the nation has just been put through a political fact-check wringer, they may help reduce unnecessary divisiveness.

The rejection of facts is often caused by either or both of two human tendencies:

1. Cognitive Dissonance: the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously.

Psychologist Leon Festinger and his co-authors described what happened to a UFO cult when the mother ship failed to arrive at the appointed time. Instead of admitting error, “members of the group sought frantically to convince the world of their beliefs,” and they made “a series of desperate attempts to erase their rankling dissonance by making prediction after prediction in the hope that one would come true.” Festinger called this cognitive dissonance, or the uncomfortable tension that comes from holding two conflicting thoughts simultaneously.

2. Backfire Effect: Corrections actually increase misperceptions.

Why? “Because it threatens their worldview or self-concept.” For example, subjects were given fake newspaper articles that confirmed widespread misconceptions, such as that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. When subjects were then given a corrective article that WMD were never found, liberals who opposed the war accepted the new article and rejected the old, whereas conservatives who supported the war did the opposite … and more: they reported being even more convinced there were WMD after the correction, arguing that this only proved that Saddam Hussein hid or destroyed them.

December 22, 2016 | By | Reply More

Effects of Inequity: Demonstrated by two monkeys eating cucumbers and grapes

What happens when you pay two monkeys unequally? This is what happens, as narrated by primatologist Frans de Waal. This is an excerpt from the TED Talk: “Frans de Waal: Moral behavior in animals.”

Watch the whole talk here.

December 21, 2016 | By | 3 Replies More

Protecting Freedom of Thought and Religion

President Obama has signed a new law giving protection to atheists. As reported by Patheos:

For the first time, atheists and other nonreligious persons are explicitly named as a class protected by the law.
President Barack Obama has signed into law the Frank Wolf International Religious Freedom Act. The new law protects atheists, humanists, and other freethinkers around the world from religious persecution.

Congress passed the international religious freedom bill protecting atheists, humanists, and other non-theists last week with overwhelming bipartisan support, and Obama signed the legislation into law last Friday, Dec. 16. The new law explicitly protects atheists, humanists, and other non-theists, and upgrades the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act. In particular, the new law states:

The freedom of thought, conscience, and religion is understood to protect theistic and non-theistic beliefs as well as the right not to profess or practice any religion.

December 19, 2016 | By | Reply More

About Donald Trump’s Intelligence

It’s not a pretty picture, as described in this article in Salon:

Donald has followed in his father’s corrupt footsteps. Trump’s career is littered with bogus businesses (like Trump University); repeated ripoffs of suppliers, contractors and employees whom he failed to pay for services rendered; and the misuse of the Trump Foundation to feather his own nest while trying to look like a philanthropist. Six of Trump’s businesses have gone bankrupt. Despite this, on April 18, 2015, Trump tweeted this falsehood: ”For all of the haters and losers out there sorry, I never went Bankrupt.”

Trump has also lied about the size of his wealth, as various business publications have pointed out. Many observers suggest that one reason Trump has refused to release his tax returns is that they will show that he has repeatedly and wildly exaggerated his wealth and thus his success.

Given this background — his lackluster academic record, his dependence on his family’s connections and wealth to get into college and to succeed in business, and his troublesome and abusive business practices — it shouldn’t be surprising that Trump is so insecure about his intellect and so thin-skinned about his accomplishments.

December 18, 2016 | By | 1 Reply More