Saturday, December 20, 2014

Partisanship Has a Way of Short-Circuiting Intelligence

Good Day World!

In April and May of 2013, Yale Law professor Dan Kahan — working with coauthors Ellen Peters, Erica Cantrell Dawson, and Paul Slovic — set out to test a question that continuously puzzles scientists: why isn’t good evidence more effective in resolving political debates?

For instance, why doesn’t the mounting proof that climate change is a real threat persuade more skeptics?

The leading theory, Kahan and his coauthors wrote, is the Science Comprehension Thesis, which says the problem is that the public doesn’t know enough about science to judge the debate.

According to author Ezra Klein (How Politics make Us Stupid)

“Perhaps people aren’t held back by a lack of knowledge. After all, they don’t typically doubt the findings of oceanographers or the existence of other galaxies.

Perhaps there are some kinds of debates where people don’t want to find the right answer so much as they want to win the argument. Perhaps humans reason for purposes other than finding the truth — purposes like increasing their standing in their community, or ensuring they don’t piss off the leaders of their tribe.

If this hypothesis proved true, then a smarter, better-educated citizenry wouldn’t put an end to these disagreements. It would just mean the participants are better equipped to argue for their own side.

Partisanship has a way of short-circuiting intelligence.

In another experiment Kahan and his coauthors gave out sample biographies of highly accomplished scientists alongside a summary of the results of their research. Then they asked whether the scientist was indeed an expert on the issue. It turned out that people’s actual definition of "expert" is "a credentialed person who agrees with me."

Imagine what would happen to, say, Sean Hannity if he decided tomorrow that climate change was the central threat facing the planet. Initially, his viewers would think he was joking. But soon, they’d begin calling in furiously.

Some would organize boycotts of his program. Dozens, perhaps hundreds, of professional climate skeptics would begin angrily refuting Hannity’s new crusade. Many of Hannity’s friends in the conservative media world would back away from him, and some would seek advantage by denouncing him.

Some of the politicians he respects would be furious at his betrayal of the cause. He would lose friendships, viewers, and money. He could ultimately lose his job. And along the way he would cause himself immense personal pain as he systematically alienated his closest political and professional allies.

The world would have to update its understanding of who Sean Hannity is and what he believes, and so too would Sean Hannity. And changing your identity is a psychologically brutal process.

Kahan has another theory: Identity-Protective Cognition:

"As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values."

Elsewhere, he puts it even more pithily: "What we believe about the facts," he writes, "tells us who we are." And the most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love.

Anyone who has ever found themselves in an angry argument with their political or social circle will know how threatening it feels. For a lot of people, being "right" just isn’t worth picking a bitter fight with the people they care about.

Today, our political parties have sorted by ideology, and now neither the House nor the Senate has any Democrats who are more conservative than any Republicans, or vice versa. This sorting has made the tribal pull of the two parties much more powerful because the other party now exists as a clear enemy.”

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Friday, December 19, 2014

Heaven and Hell: World Wide Web Offers Both

                                   Good Day World!

We live in the Age of the Internet.

It’s one of the biggest advancements/achievements in human history, allowing common people instant access to information that was once difficult to obtain.

The internet is the Mother of all Libraries. The source of answers for all things in our world. A source of entertainment without end. A way to stay connected with friends, family, and news.

Most people stay on the surface of the internet. But there are layers and dark places just beneath that surface that most of us use.

It’s estimated that 96% of the internet’s vast world wide web lies hidden to most users. Some call it the “Wild West” of the internet. A place where dark things thrive. Where sales of  illegal drugs, guns and stolen credit cards are common.

Often called the “Dark Web”  it’s populated with sites with names like Evolution, Agora and Nucleus, where criminals can buy and sell all manner of illegal goods and services. The sites can attract hundreds of thousands of users, and pull in millions in monthly sales.

So, what's the future of this dark industry?

“Analysts say it will only get darker—and bigger. Despite the government's best efforts to destroy this market, analysts say it remains to be seen what kind of long-term impact Uncle Sam is really having.” (Source)

How ironic that technology that provides such valuable information to mankind, has such a dark side. Much like man himself.

Heaven and hell. It’s the same old story.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Colorado Funds Groundbreaking Research on Medical Marijuana

FILE - In this April 29, 2014 file photo, Moriah Barnhart, a mother of a child with severe cancer, sits with her three year old daughter Dahlia, who...

In this April 29, 2014 file photo, Moriah Barnhart, a mother of a child with severe cancer, sits with her three year old daughter Dahlia, who receives legal medical marijuana extracts for treatment, at their home in Colorado Springs, Colo. Colorado is poised to award more than $8 million for medical marijuana research, a step toward addressing complaints that little is known about pot's medical potential. Photo by Brennan Linsley.

                                        Good Day World!

Good news!

Colorado will spend more than $8 million researching marijuana's medical potential — a new frontier because government-funded marijuana research traditionally focuses on the drug's negative health effects.

The grants awarded by the Colorado Board of Health will go to studies on whether marijuana helps treat epilepsy, brain tumors, Parkinson's disease and post-traumatic stress disorder. Some of the studies still need federal approval.

Though the awards are relatively small, researchers say they're a big step forward. While several other federal studies currently in the works look at marijuana's health effects, all the Colorado studies are focused on whether marijuana actually helps.

"This is the first time we've had government money to look at the efficacy of marijuana, not the harms of marijuana," said Dr. Suzanne Sisley, a Scottsdale, Arizona, psychiatrist who will help run a study on marijuana for veterans with PTSD. Sisley plans to do her research in private practice after previously working for the University of Arizona.

Dr. Larry Wolk, Colorado's Chief Medical Officer, says the lack of research on marijuana's medical value leaves sick people guessing about how pot may help them and what doses to take.

"There's nowhere else in medicine where we give a patient some seeds and say, 'Go grow this and process it and then figure out how much you need,'" Wolk said.

"We need research dollars so we can answer more questions."

Three of the eight research projects, including the veterans study, will still need federal clearance and access to the Ole Miss marijuana. The other five are "observational studies," meaning the subjects will be providing their own weed.

Among the projects poised for approval:

— Two separate studies on using marijuana to treat post-traumatic stress disorder ($3.1 million)

— Whether adolescents and young adults with irritable bowel syndrome benefit from marijuana ($1.2 million)

— Using marijuana to relieve pain in children with brain tumors ($1 million)

— How an oil derived from marijuana plants affects pediatric epilepsy patients ($524,000)

— Comparing marijuana and oxycodone for pain relief ($472,000)

The money is coming from Colorado's medical marijuana patient fees, not Colorado's new taxes on recreational pot.

Last year, lawmakers authorized $10 million from reserves for "objective scientific research regarding the efficacy of marijuana and its component parts as part of medical treatment."

A group of medical marijuana patients announced a lawsuit Wednesday challenging Colorado's marijuana research. They say Colorado's medical marijuana law requires excess cash to be refunded to patients who paid the fees, not diverted to other research.

(Source: Kristen Wyatt can be reached at

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Remember When Movie Theaters Were a Safe Place to Go?

                                        Good Day World!

Remember when movie theaters were a sanctuary? A place to escape reality and to be entertained?

Millions of Americans – for over a century – counted on going into movie theaters for a good time. They were safe places to go to watch adventures, comedies, and dramas. A treat for the whole family.

That, sadly enough, is changing for the worse. 

It was a year ago this week that the sickening sound of gunfire rang out at a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in Aurora, Colo. The mass shooting reverberated painfully in Hollywood, and how could it not? It happened at the movies.

More recently…

Leading movie theater chains have pulled Sony's film "The Interview" from their lineups in the face of the threat of a Sept. 11-style attack against theaters who screen the upcoming movie.

Regal Cinemas, Cinemark, Cineplex and AMC Theatres will not show "The Interview" after Sony Pictures Entertainment hackers posted a message threatening movie theaters and moviegoers who attend screenings of the satire.

They join Bow Tie Cinemas and Carmike in deciding not to show the picture. More theater circuits are expected to follow suit.

Hackers who go by the name Guardians of Peace - backed by North Korea perpetrated an unprecedented act of cyberwarfare against Sony Pictures that exposed tens of thousands of sensitive documents and escalated to threats of terrorist attacks that ultimately drove the studio to cancel all release plans for "The Interview," the film at the heart of the attack.

I never thought I’d see the day movie houses would lose their magic and become targets for the insane. Targets for groups – and countries like North Korea -threatening action against movies they don’t want released.

Movie theaters becoming death traps, not escapes from the harsh realities of the world.

I can’t help wondering if this recent threat is going to become a common way to censor movies in America in the future. It’s a troubling thought.

Time for me to walk on down the road… 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Brace Yourself! Bush Clan Seeks Return to Power

                                      Good Day World!

I had an uneasy feeling that after George Bush left office it wasn’t going to be long before another Bush clan member sought it. Now Jeb is seeking to restore the family’s dynasty.

I guess he was waiting until Americans memories got dim over the lousy job his brother did.

Memories can be short. I’m sure Jeb is counting on that. But it’s going to take more than eight years to forget the crap “Dubya” pulled. Even though the members of the United Nations want to try him (and Cheney) for war crimes, brother Jeb is still talking about running for president.

I’ll go so far to say that both Bush regimes thus far have hurt this country. Especially Dubya’s administration.

His time in office plunged us into a phony war and took away more of our personal freedom and rights than any president in history.

Remember, it’s a family affair, which means Jeb fell from the same tree as Dubya and we can expect a repeat of those dark years when he took the country to the brink of economic collapse.

I’m reminded of the family affair in North Korea.  Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un formed a dynasty that shows no signs of letting up. Take a look at life in that country. It’s not pretty.

The last thing our country needs is another Bush in the White House. With his family connections and wealth he’ll probably be the leading poster boy for the Republican Party in 2016.

The only way I see Jeb failing in his bid, is if there’s a great voter turnout among minorities. That’s the only hope against the vast political machine and major donors Jeb has access to.

So, it’s really going to be up to the voters who don’t believe the Republican lies that will be told in the purchased mass media.

If the Democratic Party wants to a chance to succeed in 2016, it better start reaching out to minorities right now. Today. Because the Republicans are already working at restraining voting access for minorities.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Congressmen proves he’s a sell-out by slipping Wall Street bailout into last-minute spending bill

Good Day World!

I thought I’d give a shout-out to second-term Congressman Kevin Yoder (R-Kansas) today. That’s his smiling face in the photo.

Yo Kevie boy!

How come your constituents are having a hard time reaching you lately? Could it be that sneaky little bill you introduced?

You know the one I mean. The one you introduced last summer. Don’t be shy now, everyone knows your largest contributors are in the finance industry. Are you going to make me spell this out?

Okay then. That piece of crap you introduced was literally written by Citigroup executives. Your thinly-veiled attempt to pretend it was your wording was laughable, but good enough to get it rolled into an amendment to a spending bill in a House subcommittee meeting.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Here’s what happened:

“The provision, which prompted a fiery speech by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), undoes a rule that prevents big banks from relying on the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. to bail them out if things go sour when they trade risky assets.

The rule was put into place as part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which overhauled the financial regulatory system after the 2007-2008 financial crisis stemming from banks making extremely risky bets and losing. The government had to bail them out with taxpayer money, and Yoder's provision paves the way for another possible bailout.” (source)

So, my question now, Kevie boy, is why have you’ve been so quiet about about your deed? I haven’t heard a peep out of you about the spending package since it passed the House.

Like the media, and your constituents, I haven’t been able to reach you.

Your office hasn't responded to multiple requests for comment on why you slipped the Citigroup language into it. That’s odd, don’t you think? Those press statements on your website say nothing about the provision or the spending bill.

There are no posts about it on your Facebook page.

Nor was there anything on your Twitter feed. But, I did notice some of the comments on your Facebook page. You’ve got some explaining to do boyo! It seems Kansas voters have been getting wind of your sneaky little maneuver and they’re not happy campers! 

They’re joining the rest of the nation’s voters in universal condemnation of your underhanded action. Got a hunch your not going to have a long career wise guy!

Meanwhile, those good old boys at Citibank maintain the rule change is good for everyone. Everyone on Wall Street that is.

Time for me to walk on down the road…

Blog Break Until Presidential Election is Over

I finally hit the wall today. I can't think of what to say about all of the madness going on in this country right now. I'm a writer...