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The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 11:24:58 AM EST
Evidence for Flowing Water on Mars Grows Stronger: Scientific American

THE WOODLANDS, Tex.--Today's Mars is a frigid desert, a place where water--the key to life as we know it--has gone into hiding. Whatever water may have once existed on Mars in rivers, lakes or even oceans is now frozen into ice caps, locked up in hydrated minerals or buried in debris-coated glaciers.

But last year compelling evidence emerged that when conditions are right, salty brines may persist to this day in liquid form at midlatitude regions on Mars. Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona and his colleagues found tracks in high-resolution imagery that looked like liquid flowing downhill. The tracks appeared annually during the warmer Martian months on equator-facing slopes, extended downhill and then faded as temperatures dropped once again. One tantalizing interpretation was that the streaks were caused by briny water melting and seeping downhill through the soil.

At the annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference being held here this week, the researchers provided an update on their search for and analysis of the mysterious features, which they call recurring slope lineae, or RSL. Not only have they more than doubled the count of known RSL but they have been unable to devise a good explanation that does not involve the presence of liquid water.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 01:19:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Humans began walking upright to carry scarce resources, chimp study suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) -- Most of us walk and carry items in our hands every day. These are seemingly simple activities that the majority of us don't question. But an international team of researchers, including Brian Richmond at the George Washington University, have discovered that human bipedalism, or walking upright, may have originated millions of years ago as an adaptation to carrying scarce, high-quality resources. This latest research was published in this month's Current Biology.

The team of researchers from the U.S., England, Japan and Portugal investigated the behavior of modern-day chimpanzees as they competed for food resources, in an effort to understand what ecological settings would lead a large ape -- one that resembles the 6 million-year old ancestor we shared in common with living chimpanzees -- to walk on two legs.

"These chimpanzees provide a model of the ecological conditions under which our earliest ancestors might have begun walking on two legs," said Dr. Richmond, an author of the study and associate professor of anthropology at GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. "Something as simple as carrying -- an activity we engage in every day -- may have, under the right conditions, led to upright walking and set our ancestors on a path apart from other apes that ultimately led to the origin of our kind."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 01:19:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Paleo-anthropology runs around in cycles of 'bout 20 years and it's time for this to cycle back in.  Saying there is A reason for bipedalism is like saying there is A reason for ice cubes.  There's an ecological niche for bipedal species and humans happened to be descended from one of the hominid species that drifted (evolved) to fill it on the African savannah.  

Homo sap. sap. needs to stop thinking we're the bee's knees and cat's pajamas of the Entire Friggin' Universe.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 03:14:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
is the thing about climate change slowly transforming the forest into savannah, so the apes had to move fast from one group of trees to the next, and it helps if you walk upright because you can see the predators over the tall grass. Or whatever.

It all adds up. Change the mode of locomotion, you free up your hands to carry things that you would have otherwise left behind. So you get to spend more time perfecting your tools. Feedback, rinse and repeat.

It's all good. The researchers probably didn't write the press release.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 03:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But don't the predators hidden in the tall grass then get you? Wasn't there a long gap between walking upright and the invention of lawnmowers?
by gk (gk) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 04:06:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The well known Lucy:

he discovery of this hominin was significant as the skeleton shows evidence of small skull capacity akin to that of apes and of bipedal upright walk akin to that of humans, providing further evidence supporting the view that bipedalism preceded increase in brain size in human evolution ...

And the lesser known Ardi:

A. ramidus feet are better suited for walking ...

Researchers infer from the form of Ardi's pelvis and limbs and the presence of her opposable big toe that she was a facultative biped: bipedal when moving on the ground, but quadrupedal when moving about in tree branches. Ardi had a more primitive walking ability than later hominids, and could not walk or run for long distances.

Goes to show bipedalism arose before the increase in brain size.  

Ardi is even more interesting due to:

The canine teeth of A. ramidus are smaller, and equal in size between males and females. This suggests reduced male-to-male conflict, pair-bonding, and increased parental investment. "Thus, fundamental reproductive and social behavioral changes probably occurred in hominids long before they had enlarged brains and began to use stone tools"

Implying modern human-like in-group socialization and conflict resolution, and the relatively well developed pre-frontal cortex required for such, arose first ... even before 100% bipedalism and tool use.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:42:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very interesting, the bit about canines...
Compared to the chimpanzee, and like humans, bonobos have relatively longer legs, shorter arms, and a narrower trunk. The skull sits upright on the spine, and they have smaller canine teeth. There is sexual dimorphism in the canines where the males' are longer than the canines of the female. ... The average body mass for an adult male bonobo is around 85 pounds, and for the female it is around 65 pounds.
But Bonobos also have "reduced male'to-male conflict", don't they?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:54:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
German police use Web 2.0 to catch criminals | Germany | DW.DE | 25.03.2012

German police are increasingly using social media to fight crime by asking people to identify suspects on Facebook or urging witnesses to come forward. Data protection issues, however, remain a sticking point.

"Dear Facebook community, we have put out an urgent all-points bulletin on our page. Please help us by sharing it with others. Your police. "

That's how the Frankfurt police conduct manhunts on the social network Facebook. On display are phantom images and a description of the suspect. Users are asked for "relevant information," and witnesses are urged to come forward. Those who can provide tips are instructed to call the police department or fill out an online form.

Facebook manhunts are creating unprecedented opportunities for criminal investigators. The networking website allows many more people to be reached compared with traditional media like newspapers, radio or television.



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 01:20:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Living Together Trumps Matrimony for Recession-Wary Americans - Bloomberg

The probability of a woman getting married by age 25 dropped to less than half as more Americans opt to cohabitate with their romantic partners rather than tie the knot, a U.S. government study shows.

The proportion of women living with men without marriage almost quadrupled to 11 percent as of 2010 from 3 percent in 1982, according to data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For men, the proportion rose to 12 percent in 2010 from 9 percent in 2002, said Casey Copen, a demographer at the National Center for Health Statistics.

The shift toward premarital living arrangements contributed to the delay in first marriage for both women and men. The recession that started in 2007 also may have played a role as young couples avoided the commitment because of unemployment and uncertain financial security. In 2006-2010, women and men married for the first time at older ages than in previous years.

"In today's economic climate, many young adults are reluctant to pull the trigger," said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, which monitors the health of marriage. "They may be unemployed or underemployed or not know what the future looks like. They're hedging their bets."



The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 01:20:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe some of them just follow after Europeans and see no sense in certifying a relationship?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:14:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
U.S. Population 2010: 308.7 million. 50.8% women (U.S. census bureau). So 16.7 million women living with men without marriage and 18.8 million men living with women. Maybe some women are hedging their bets in more ways than one.
by gk (gk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 04:53:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You miscalculated both somewhere, 308.7 million times 50.8% times 11% is 17.3 million; the same times 49.2% times 12% is 18.2 million, and both figures come with a 0.5% numerical imprecision that is equivalent to just under 0.8 million. And I think the 11% resp. 12% were percentages of adults only.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 05:27:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was getting confused with "bc". I corrected it and then copied the wrong figures....
by gk (gk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:01:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Ballooning Brain: Defective Genes May Explain Uncontrolled Brain Growth in Autism: Scientific American
As a baby grows inside the womb, its brain does not simply expand like a dehydrated sponge dropped in water. Early brain development is an elaborate procession. Every minute some 250,000 neurons bloom, squirming past one another like so many schoolchildren rushing to their seats at the sound of the bell. Each neuron grows a long root at one end and a crown of branches at the other, linking itself to fellow cells near and far. By the end of the second trimester, neurons in the baby's brain have formed trillions of connections, many of which will not survive into adulthood--the least traveled paths will eventually wither.

Sometimes, the developing brain blunders, resulting in "neuro-developmental disorders," such as autism. But exactly why or how early cellular mistakes cause autism has eluded medical science. Now, Eric Courchesne of the University of California, San Diego, thinks he has linked atypical gene activity to excessive growth in the autistic brain. With the new data, he has started to trace a cascade of genetic and cellular changes that he thinks define autism. Although intrigued by Courchesne's work, other researchers caution that explosive neural growth is not necessarily a defining feature of all autistic brains.

Since 1998 Courchesne has been searching autistic brains for unusual structural features. His studies suggest that while in the womb, the autistic brain sprouts an excess of neurons and continues to balloon during the first five years of life, as all those extra neurons grow larger and form connections. Sometime after age four or five, Courchesne has also found, autistic brains actually start to lose neural connections, faster than typical brains.


The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman
by dvx (dvx.clt ät gmail dotcom) on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 01:20:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparantly the secret service has been in the business of protecting Germany from terrorists by handing them weapons since the RAF's time.

V-Mann Peter Urbach soll tot sein - Genau das Stückchen Arbeiterklasse - Politik - sueddeutsche.de undercover agent Peter Urbach supposedly dead - exactly that piece of working class - Politics - sueddeutsche.de
Weniger bekannt ist die Unterstützung, die die erst im Entstehen begriffene Untergrundarmee durch den Berliner Innensenator Kurt Neubauer (SPD) erfuhr. Der sah in den rebellischen Studenten um Rudi Dutschke ein so großes Ärgernis, dass er sie nach klassischer Polizeikunst zu unterwandern suchte.Less well known is the support that the nascent underground army received from the Berlin Interior Senator Kurt Neubauer (SPD). He considered the rebellious students round Rudi Dutschke so offensive, that he sought to have them infiltrated according to classical police procedure.
Sein Trumpf war der aus der DDR geflohene Klempner Peter Urbach. Als Ehrenproletarier fand der ohne weiteres Aufnahme im Kreis der weit besser situierten Kommunarden und Aktivisten. Urbach beschaffte seinen neuen Freunden nicht nur Drogen, sondern sorgte auch dafür, dass sich die bis dahin noch nicht militante Bewegung bewaffnen konnte.His trump card was the from East Germany escaped plumber Peter Urbach . As a proletarian he readily joined the select group of wealthier Communards and activists. Urbach procured his new friends not only drugs but also made sure that the not yet militant movement was able to arm itself.


Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sun Mar 25th, 2012 at 04:27:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why Nations Fail: Summary
Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest-growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or the lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities. The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions--with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 05:06:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ox Carts and No Coffee: Building a Monastery the Medieval Way - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

OAS_RICH('Middle3'); Despite the difficult conditions, the project has been swamped with applications. "I've had 85 stone masons apply already," says Geurten. "They all dream of having the chance to work with their hands." This also applies to the blacksmith. "They won't be hammering kitschy horseshoes for tourists. The forge must supply the site with tools," he adds.

Overall, the construction site will have 20 to 30 permanent staff in addition to volunteers. There has already been a lot of interest. "From Lufthansa pilots to a teacher, all kinds of people have applied." One candidate even sent his application written in medieval German on a real roll of parchment. Meanwhile, schools will likely be allowed to join in with the site's work for as long as a week. "We are developing a plan that will enable the children to prepare for their experience in the classroom first," says Geurten.

It will take about 40 years until the final stone is laid in the monastery church. By then it is highly unlikely that Geurten will still be alive. But he doesn't mind. "I just want a founding father's tomb in the crypt. Then they could come and light candles for me," he says.

very prescient plan...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 10:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
NY Times: Why Won't They Listen? (Review of `The Righteous Mind,' by Jonathan Haidt, March 23, 2012)
You're smart. You're liberal. You're well informed. You think conservatives are narrow-minded. You can't understand why working-class Americans vote Republican. You figure they're being duped. You're wrong.

...

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. Haidt shows, for example, how subjects relentlessly marshal arguments for the incest taboo, no matter how thoroughly an interrogator demolishes these arguments.

...

These moral systems aren't ignorant or backward. Haidt argues that they're common in history and across the globe because they fit human nature. He compares them to cuisines. We acquire morality the same way we acquire food preferences: we start with what we're given. If it tastes good, we stick with it. If it doesn't, we reject it. People accept God, authority and karma because these ideas suit their moral taste buds. Haidt points to research showing that people punish cheaters, accept many hierarchies and don't support equal distribution of benefits when contributions are unequal.

...

Another aspect of human nature that conservatives understand better than liberals, according to Haidt, is parochial altruism, the inclination to care more about members of your group -- particularly those who have made sacrifices for it --than about outsiders. Saving Darfur, submitting to the United Nations and paying taxes to educate children in another state may be noble, but they aren't natural. What's natural is giving to your church, helping your P.T.A. and rallying together as Americans against a foreign threat.

...

The hardest part, Haidt finds, is getting liberals to open their minds. Anecdotally, he reports that when he talks about authority, loyalty and sanctity, many people in the audience spurn these ideas as the seeds of racism, sexism and homophobia. And in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves "very liberal," were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals. Liberals don't understand conservative values. And they can't recognize this failing, because they're so convinced of their rationality, open-mindedness and enlightenment.



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 10:50:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if liberal ideas aren't compatible with human nature, where did they come from?

This is a piece of raving nonsense. I can agree with someone like Lakoff who says that it's useful to learn conservatives 'reason'.

But this seems to be saying that only conservative 'reason' is reasonable, and liberals should just accept this.

It's like arguing that slavery, genocide or cannibalism are reasonable because they've been popular pastimes.

The point of being progressive is to - well - progress. And that means not doing stupid, destructive stuff just because that's the way it's always been done in the past and some people like it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 11:46:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So if liberal ideas aren't compatible with human nature, where did they come from?

That's not what this is saying, what it's saying is that "liberals" have a theory of mind deficit. Well, that's not what it's saying either, that's what I'm saying it's saying. Possibly because the Enlightened philosophers were, you know, on the autistic spectrum (I'm thinking, for instance, about the stories about Kant never leaving his home town, never marrying and his neighbours setting their clocks by the timing of his daily walks - the categorical imperative is definitely autistic in its rejection of externally determined morals, which includes rejecting socially determined morals).

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 11:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In particular:
Haidt seems to delight in mischief. Drawing on ethnography, evolutionary theory and experimental psychology, he sets out to trash the modern faith in reason. In Haidt's retelling, all the fools, foils and villains of intellectual history are recast as heroes. David Hume, the Scottish philosopher who notoriously said reason was fit only to be "the slave of the passions," was largely correct. E. O. Wilson, the ecologist who was branded a fascist for stressing the biological origins of human behavior, has been vindicated by the study of moral emotions. Even Glaucon, the cynic in Plato's "Republic" who told Socrates that people would behave ethically only if they thought they were being watched, was "the guy who got it right."


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:00:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also:
Haidt's account of reason is a bit too simple -- his whole book, after all, is a deployment of reason to advance learning -- and his advice sounds cynical. But set aside those objections for now, and go with him. If you follow Haidt through the tunnel of cynicism, you'll find that what he's really after is enlightenment. He wants to open your mind to the moral intuitions of other people.


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:01:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of being progressive is to - well - progress. And that means not doing stupid, destructive stuff just because that's the way it's always been done in the past and some people like it.

What if a majority of the population have a cognitive makeup not conducive to progressive morality?

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 11:58:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Then we'd still be cannibals.

We aren't. (Or rather, we are - but only economically.)

Empirically it's obvious that there's a significant progressive influence in collective morality.

Now, it may be a historical sport, but the fact that it has happened at all proves that it's anthropologically significant.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:28:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How about the fact that a better scientific understanding of human psychology has led to Goebbelian abilities of mass manipulation?

The argument here is that you cannot start a successful political programme from the axiom that humans are rational when a rational understanding of human cognition shows humans definitely are not rational (at least in the narrow definition of Enlightened philosophy).

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:31:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's an issue of collective morality, not collective rationality.

There's a difference between short-term stimulus-response psychology - see also, advertising, etc - and moral policy considered empirically.

One defines means, the other defines ends.

The point here is that even if the means are rational and empirical, the ends can still be the same old mish-mash of tribal emotionalism.

Rational collective morality would be about finding cultures that do something worthwhile - let's keep it simple and make that cultures that increase entropy, energy throughput, and information in some useful way - and increasing the likelihood of worthwhile things happening.

Goebbels had useful practical insights into mass manipulation, but his culture's morality was suicidal and counterproductive.

Rational individuals were already aware of this well before the war.

Unfortunately existing political models damp out that rational signal instead of amplifying it.

The problem isn't that the signal exists, it's the fact that there's no formal tradition of using it as a basis for policy.

Humans aren't not rational. In limited circumstances, rationality is possible. The challenge is to increase the scope of those circumstances, and make good empirical prediction a basis for policy.

It's not all that different to science, where models that expand the understanding of reality are always counter-intuitive.

The same likely applies to politics. Good policy is always counter-intuitive too.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:52:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's anthropologically significant just means it's another culture. There's no reason to expect it to be a superior one (in the adaptive sense).

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:32:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is, because it has become possible to imagine futures that wouldn't be imaginable without it.

It may not be possible to reach those futures, but the fact that they exist in the collective awareness has strong adaptive potential.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:58:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But this seems to be saying that only conservative 'reason' is reasonable, and liberals should just accept this.

That is also not what the text is saying

Haidt isn't just scolding liberals, however. He sees the left and right as yin and yang, each contributing insights to which the other should listen. In his view, for instance, liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests. Haidt believes in the power of reason, but the reasoning has to be interactive. It has to be other people's reason engaging yours. We're lousy at challenging our own beliefs, but we're good at challenging each other's. Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of "producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system."


There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:14:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
liberals can teach conservatives to recognize and constrain predation by entrenched interests.

I don't see how this differs from other liberal positions, or why conservatives would be any more likely to accept it than any other liberal point of view.

Haidt compares us to neurons in a giant brain, capable of "producing good reasoning as an emergent property of the social system."

This is just hand-waving and story-telling.

If he had some empirical evidence that liberals and conservatives working together produce more 'good reasoning' than liberals on their own, he might have a point.

But flight from reality into story-telling and moral fable is the whole 'reasonable' basis of conservatism.

Empirically, if you put conservatives in charge of anything, they break it - precisely because reason, and predictive logic, is something conservatives don't do very well.

The one exception is political cynicism and manipulation for personal gain, where liberals are at a disadvantage because it's difficult for us to imagine that humans are capable of being as self-serving, immoral and empathically absent as the right is.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:38:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
liberals are at a disadvantage because it's difficult for us to imagine that humans are capable of being as self-serving, immoral and empathically absent as the right is

Isn't that exactly what Haith is saying?

in a survey of 2,000 Americans, Haidt found that self-described liberals, especially those who called themselves "very liberal," were worse at predicting the moral judgments of moderates and conservatives than moderates and conservatives were at predicting the moral judgments of liberals

Empirically, if you put conservatives in charge of anything, they break it - precisely because reason, and predictive logic, is something conservatives don't do very well

Yes, but that is irrelevant to the question of how people get put in charge of things, except within an impersonal meritocratic bureaucracy. But you can't expect people to democratically vote to institute a meritocratic bureaucracy. Autocrats set up meritocratic bureaucracies, to serve empires.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:43:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru:
But you can't expect people to democratically vote to institute a meritocratic bureaucracy.

France?

Migeru:

Autocrats set up meritocratic bureaucracies, to serve empires.

Ah, so Napoleon did it. Fair enough.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 04:53:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well
The Polytechnique was established during the French Revolution in 1794 by Gaspard Monge, it became a military school under Napoleon in 1804. It is still under the control of French Ministry of Defence today. Initially, the school was located in the Latin Quarter of central Paris, and it moved to Palaiseau on the Saclay Plateau about 14 km (8.7 mi) southwest of Paris in 1976. It is a founding member of the ParisTech grouping of leading Paris-area engineering schools, established in 2007.
The École Normale was also founded in 1794. And then the ENA was founded by de Gaulle in 1945.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 05:09:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Autocrats is an exaggeration. Just say executive power does.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 05:12:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, both Haith and the reviewer appear to be liberals trying to salvage something from the shipwreck of the Enlightenment theory of Man the Rational
Haidt is part of this process. He thinks he's just articulating evolution. But in effect, he's also trying to fix it. Traits we evolved in a dispersed world, like tribalism and righteousness, have become dangerously maladaptive in an era of rapid globalization. A pure scientist would let us purge these traits from the gene pool by fighting and killing one another. But Haidt wants to spare us this fate. He seeks a world in which "fewer people believe that righteous ends justify violent means." To achieve this goal, he asks us to understand and overcome our instincts. He appeals to a power capable of circumspection, reflection and reform.

If we can harness that power -- wisdom -- our substantive project will be to reconcile our national and international differences. Is income inequality immoral? Should government favor religion? Can we tolerate cultures of female subjugation? And how far should we trust our instincts? Should people who find homosexuality repugnant overcome that reaction?

Haidt's faith in moral taste receptors may not survive this scrutiny. Our taste for sanctity or authority, like our taste for sugar, could turn out to be a dangerous relic. But Haidt is right that we must learn what we have been, even if our nature is to transcend it.



There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:18:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've alwasy tended to the theory that liberals use their intellect to challenge their prejudices whilst conservatives use it to defend them.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 12:42:32 PM EST
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Need to give the basis for a critique I'm hope to do later today when I have some time.

Reason:

... is a term that refers to the capacity human beings have to make sense of things, to establish and verify facts, and to change or justify practices, institutions, and beliefs.

Very often people confuse reason with Critical Thinking:

... is the process of thinking that questions assumptions. It is a way of deciding whether a claim is true, false; sometimes true, or partly true.

a Metasystem of structured thought such as Scientific Skepticism:

... the practice of questioning the veracity of claims lacking empirical evidence or reproducibility, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge."

or specific systems such as Boolean Logic:

... the [Logic] of truth values 0 and 1, or equivalently of subsets of a given set.

And now, to work I must go.


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:12:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe when you have some time later you can condense this thread into a diary...

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 01:16:15 PM EST
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To get at the meat of Prof. Haidt's argument I'll have to read the book.  He, apparently, conflates morality with politics and I don't know how.  He could be saying morality is politics (in some sense) XOR he could maintain that politicians use morality as justification.  The distinction is crucial to the discussion.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Mon Mar 26th, 2012 at 08:28:00 PM EST
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It is a common idea, maybe stemming from enlightenment, that politics is applied morality as formulated in ideologies.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 06:21:55 AM EST
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Plato talks about a carefully inculcated morality in the ruling class in The Republic.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 11:45:58 AM EST
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I think the point there is that political behaviour is motivated by moral reasoning. As in Lakoff's Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think.

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 06:24:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the point, isn't it?

Reason in politics and moral philosophy can be a series of justifications warranting a non-cognitive conclusion IOR reason could be used to arrive at an "objectively" (in some sense) derived conclusion.  If it's the first, there's no "motivation by moral reasoning" since the moral reasoning is consequent to previously acquired conclusions since "motivation" has lexical connotative links to "casual" (defined broadly) which cannot be the case.  Thus, and looking at the definition of reason I gave above, to obtain understanding the lexical probability field should be collapsed by using the phrase: "motivated by moral justification."

Second, either Prof. Haidt or Mr. Saletan (the reviewer) continually says, overtly and covertly, if something CAN have the Property or Attribute of X it MUST have X, a gross fallacy even in Excluded Middle Logics.  (Not knowing which of the two commits the Logical Fallacy makes it impossible to know who to beat with a stick, intellectually speaking.  :-)   This error is most egregious when discussing the affects and effects of human neurological functioning - Limbic System - on higher cognitive functioning - Brodmann Area 10 & etc.  There is no doubt emotions CAN have an affect on "reason cold" and there is no doubt emotive tagging (per Logical Positivism) can be repressed -- call it.  

Along those lines, no one would (I hope) expect a Right Wing Authoritarian (per Altemeyer) to exhibit cognitive functioning of a Left Wing Libertarian nor a Schizophrenic to exhibit a high degree of cognitive congruence with/to Reality.  Indicating the insights and services of a clinical or abnormal psychologist is needed, not a moral philosopher.

Last, the 'deep insight' (sic) higher cognitive structures are dependent on the Logical and Emotional premises - call 'em - of an individual is a commonplace of Logic, as a discipline, as well as Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, Anthropology, Epistemology, Product Marketing, General Systems Theory, Advertising, the neurosciences, Complexity Theory, and various other fields; saying someone who brings out these discoveries is "impish" only means the writer hasn't paid attention to what has been going on over the last sixty years.  I know not if the obliviousness is Prof. Haidt's or Mr. Saletan's or, conceivably, both ... so I don't know who to pillory.  

I also don't know if the reviewer accurately conveyed the message(s) of The Righteous Mind.  It could very well be Prof. Haidt is innocent of the dreck and drool in the review.  Prof. Haidt may have made an important advance in the fields of Political Science (Politics, writ large) and Moral Philosophy with this book.  I'd have to read the thing to find out and the chances of that are slim.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 01:29:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, the intelligence and facts are being fixed around the policy and the policy is arrived at by "moral intuition" or "gut feeling".

There are three stories about the euro crisis: the Republican story, the German story, and the truth. -- Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 02:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe.

Without looking at the Policy, and the way it was arrived at, and the person or people advocating it it's impossible to say if it stemmed from objective and scientific procedures, moral intuition, gut feeling, dysfunctional schizophrenia, moral turpitude, & etc.  And even then THAT doesn't say, much, about the Policy itself.  In theory it's possible for someone to advocate, e.g., National Public Health Services, for entirely selfish and egotistical "reasons" ... and it would still, IMHO, be the correct Public Policy.

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As a side bar, having lived in the US I think you'll "morally intuit" why I am leery to fearful of Public Policy being decided by "moral intuition."  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Mar 27th, 2012 at 03:08:41 PM EST
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