Author Archive | Good German

Trust Me: Research Sheds Light on Why People Trust

Adrian Ruiz (CC BY 2.0)

Adrian Ruiz (CC BY 2.0)

Dartmouth College Via ScienceDaily:

Trust matters whether it’s love, money or another part of our everyday lives that requires risk, and a new study by a Dartmouth brain researcher and his collaborators sheds light on what motivates people to make that leap of faith.

The findings appear in The Journal of Neuroscience.

Collaboration is essential to human life, fostering interpersonal relationships that are intrinsically rewarding, fulfill a basic social need to belong and promote positive physical and mental health. One critical aspect of collaboration is trust, or assuming mutual risk with a partner.

In the new study, participants thought they were playing an economic investment game with a close friend, a stranger or a slot machine. In reality, they were playing with a simple algorithm that reciprocated trust 50 percent of the time. The researchers developed a computational model that predicted each player’s decision for each round given their previous experiences in the game.

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The Varieties of Denialism

global-warming-denialism-04

Massimo Pigliucci writes at Scientia Salon:

I have just come back from a stimulating conference at Clark University about “Manufacturing Denial,” which brought together scholars from wildly divergent disciplines — from genocide studies to political science to philosophy — to explore the idea that “denialism” may be a sufficiently coherent phenomenon underlying the willful disregard of factual evidence by ideologically motivated groups or individuals.

Let me clarify at the outset that we are not talking just about cognitive biases here. This isn’t a question of the human tendency to pay more attention to evidence supporting one’s view while attempting to ignore contrary evidence. Nor are we talking about our ability as intelligent beings to rationalize the discrepancy between what we want to believe and what the world is like. All of those and more affect pretty much all human beings, and can be accounted for and at the least partially dealt with in the course of normal discussions about whatever it is we disagree about.

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The Elk Says, “Fuck You!”

Peter Sinclair writes at Climate Denial Crock of the Week:


Ever wonder how these guys can sleep at night?In what seems a redux of Ronald Reagan’s famous “trees cause pollution” quote, the National Association of Manufacturers has a new ad claiming that new pollution regs would put the Grand Canyon in violation of the Clean Air Act.ClimateProgress:

A powerful organization representing industrial polluters launched a misleading new television ad last week with images of pristine national parks that are, in fact, experiencing dangerous levels of air pollution caused by its own members.

The ad is part of a multi-million dollarcampaign by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) against a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce ozone pollution, which causes breathing problems, aggravates lung diseases, and contributes to premature deaths. The TV ad claims that the proposed regulations are so strict that even America’s “pristine” national parks would fail to comply.

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Israel Arrests Jewish Activist for ‘Nationalist Crimes’

Via Al Jazeera English:

A right-wing Jewish activist has been arrested after a Palestinian baby died in a West Bank firebombing, as police investigated online threats against Israel’s president for condemning “Jewish terrorism”.

The domestic intelligence service named the activist as Meir Ettinger, a grandson of Meir Kahane, a rabbi who founded the anti-Arab movement Kach and was assassinated in 1990 in New York.

Ettinger was arrested in Safed in northern Israel “because of his activities in a Jewish extremist organisation”, a Shin Bet spokesman told the AFP news agency.

Police said Ettinger, who is aged around 20, was suspected of “nationalist crimes” but did not accuse him of direct involvement in Friday’s firebombing.

Israeli media alleged that he was implicated in a June 18 arson attack on a shrine in northern Israel where Christians believe Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

Ettinger was due to appear in court on Tuesday for a custodial hearing, police said.

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Poverty’s Most Insidious Damage Is to a Child’s Brain

Low-income children have irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20 percent gap in achievement explained by developmental lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.  Brian Chua (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Low-income children have irregular brain development and lower standardized test scores, with as much as an estimated 20 percent gap in achievement explained by developmental lags in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain.
Brian Chua (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Washington University in St. Louis Via ScienceDaily:

An alarming 22 percent of U.S. children live in poverty, which can have long-lasting negative consequences on brain development, emotional health and academic achievement. A new study, published July 20 in JAMA Pediatrics, provides even more compelling evidence that growing up in poverty has detrimental effects on the brain.

In an accompanying editorial, child psychiatrist Joan L. Luby, MD, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, writes that “early childhood interventions to support a nurturing environment for these children must now become our top public health priority for the good of all.”

In her own research in young children living in poverty, Luby and her colleagues have identified changes in the brain’s architecture that can lead to lifelong problems with depression, learning difficulties and limitations in the ability to cope with stress.

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My Township Calls My Lawn ‘a Nuisance,’ but I Still Refuse to Mow It

Jess Johnson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Jess Johnson (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Sarah Baker writes at the Washington Post:

A mutilated garter snake, a sliced frog and countless slashed grasshoppers. That was the scene of carnage in my yard in September, after local officials ordered me to mow my overgrown lawn or be fined $1,000. Three months earlier, I had stopped mowing my nearly one acre of country land outside of a rural Ohio town. A potpourri of plants began to flourish, and a rich assortment of insects and animals followed. I had essentially grown a working ecosystem, one that had been waiting for the chance to emerge.

So this season, I took a stand and refused to mow at all.

In June, my partner and I received an official written warning from the trustee board of St. Albans Township, stating that our yard had become “a nuisance.” Ohio law allows local governments to control any vegetation that they deem a nuisance on private property , after a seven-day warning to the property owners.

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Ted Rall: 14 Years Ago, a Woman Vindicated Me Now

"Ted Rall" by Joshin Yamada from Portland, USA - 20070929_MG_8712.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ted Rall” by Joshin Yamada from Portland, USA – 20070929_MG_8712.jpg. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Ted Rall writes at CounterPunch:

A woman walking down the street in West Hollywood saw a police officer roughing up and handcuffing a man, whom he accused of jaywalking. Appalled, she challenged the officer. “Take off his handcuffs!” she demanded.

Noticing the commotion, more passersby approached. Soon a small crowd of people had gathered around. Some people shouted at the officer to stop. Others mocked his aggressiveness, sarcastically suggesting that his unfulfilled sexual desires explained his behavior. Surrounded by pissed-off citizens, the cop replied with a smirk: “I’m SO scared.” Others stood and watched, witnessing.

This happened 14 years ago. The man was me.

None of us knew that the cop, Officer Will Durr, was secretly capturing the audio of my arrest on a tape recorder — some of it, anyway.

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How To Write A Contrarian Thinkpiece

Chris Potter (CC BY 2.0)

Chris Potter (CC BY 2.0)

Michael Schaub writes at the Pessimist:

You probably think that the online contrarian thinkpiece represents a new low in journalism: a dispensable, reactionary quasi-essay written by a condescending know-it-all, and published by a magazine desperate for web traffic. Well, guess what? You’re wrong, you stupid idiot. I hate you and your face. Your family is probably ashamed of you, you wrong, stupid idiot.

I’m kidding, of course. You’re right. There is a great historical tradition of contrarian journalism, but it’s a tradition that didn’t survive the 20th century. Our founding fathers might have penned classic protest essays like “What Ho, Lord Shelvington! You Shall Tariff Our Churns No Longer, Good Sir!” (working from memory here but I’m pretty sure I nailed it), what passes for contrarianism these days is much more soul-crushingly petty. It is smug, personally insulting to the reader, and usually about low-stakes subjects like kale or Girls.

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Stewart Lee on Political Correctness

From 41st Best Stand Up Ever (2008). Commentary over the video is from Lee’s book, “How I Escaped My Certain Fate: The Life and Deaths of a Stand-Up Comedian.”

“If political correctness has achieved one thing, it’s to make the conservative party cloak its inherent racism behind more creative language.”

“Even in my carefully filtered crowds, to which I attempt to apply the most thorough social-screening procedures, there could be trouble. When I did this bit in Hastings, where a sixteen-year-old Qatari student was randomly murdered by a white gang in 2008, some guys started shouting out ‘rag-heads, rag-heads’, and it was hard to plot a course back to the core of the routine as I saw it when the vibe of the room had been thus altered. They apologised, embarrassed, at the end, and I think they were just overexcited.”

“I’m absolutely sick of people blaming the restrictions created by health and safety culture, itself exacerbated in turn by a trend towards increased litigation, on the political and ideological doctrine of political correctness.… Read the rest

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The Climate Deception Dossiers

Thanks to a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists – we know that the fossil fuel industry never believed the denial science that they’ve been funding for the last 30 years. The report shows that as early as 1981 – ExxonMobil was having internal discussions about the climate impacts of one particularly large extraction project. That’s almost seven years before NASA scientist James Hansen testified about the threat of a warming world to Congress. And in 1995 – a memo circulated among companies that said that climate change is caused by burning their products – and that the relevant science is “well established and cannot be denied” So the industry knew that their actions were driving the planet to a crisis – and they did nothing to avoid it. And when scientists and the public cried out – they spread lies to cover their guilt. The simple fact is – we wouldn’t be facing such a dire crisis if we had taken action when the companies first knew that burning fossil fuels drives climate change.… Read the rest

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