Archive | May, 2012

Are You Stupid and a Poor Judge of Character?

31 May

A Little Cesium Keeps the Skeptics Away How many times I thought – if only people would take the time to figure out the problem! I might be wrong. It could get worse. With more time that lump of gray matter atop our necks could devise even more nonsensical rationalizations.

So if it’s not a lack of scientific literacy causing disagreement with the experts, then what is it?

The authors of the study looked at an alternative explanation referred to as the cultural cognition thesis. This thesis posits that individuals try to fit their interpretations of scientific evidence into pre-formed cultural philosophies. More specifically, those with a hierarchical, individualistic worldview were expected to be sceptical of climate-change risks, the acceptance of which might lead to unwanted restrictions on industry. Those with an egalitarian, communitarian worldview were expected to agree with the experts, as they are generally less troubled by commerce-cramping regulations.

The data bore this out. And, perhaps most fascinating of all, increased scientific literacy only increased the cultural divide.

Could something simlar happen with radioactivity?

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Power Reveals

31 May

It’s hard to recall an author who rises to the level of his subject, but Robert Caro is a great writer. Watching Caro answer Charlie Rose is like trying to capture lightning.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

I read selections of Caro’s earlier volumes on Lyndon B. Johnson in college Political Science classes, as part of sheaves of photocopies teachers compiled when the books were too bulky. I should have bought the books then, and just read through the assigned pages to the entire narrative. I had a prodigious amount of material to process, and the selections were impressive enough. Now, I just want to fast-forward to the fourth volume.It’s a rare pleasure to read about greatness, about the man Caro extolls as the greatest practitioner of power in 20th Century America. Caro, answering the most pointed question of the program, replies that he is awed by LBJ, I can understand that. Still, after having read many biographies and finding some detail by which to admire the subject, there’s nothing yet I like about LBJ.

“Power reveals”. Not, that conscience is expressed in power. Caro says that “power reveals” who LBJ is after JFK is slain.

Watching Caro I can see him try to slow down his thoughts to express them in words. Caro admits he writes the first drafts in longhand, expressly to slow down himself enough, to think deliberately. I wish bloggers would do the same.

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Photos Snapped While the North Korean Minder Was Busy

30 May

Eric Testroete managed to take photographs of not quite propaganda value, and more than a few quite revealing (via Business Insider) during a trip to North Korea with his girlfriend in September, 2011. The photos offer a dystopian, alt history twist  on a 1950s Korea warped by patriarchal power and extreme deprivation.

Little Girl in Pyongyang

There are more than a few photographs of children here, and a pained face on extreme poverty.

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