You are browsing the archive for 2018 May 12.

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This Column Will Probably Change Your Mind

May 12, 2018 in Economics

By Alexander Coppock, Emily Ekins, David Kirby

Alexander Coppock, Emily Ekins, and David Kirby

Will this essay — or the op-eds nearby — change your
mind?

The traditional op-ed may seem quaint compared with tweetstorms,
tell-all interviews and cable news shouting sessions. Skeptics may
be forgiven for dismissing this medium as old-fashioned and
ineffective. We have new evidence, however, that should persuade
even a determined skeptic.

Even in today’s allegedly
post-fact world, people are capable of considering new evidence and
reaching new conclusions.

In a peer-reviewed study we published this month, we find op-eds do
change minds. After reading opinion pieces, we found people were
far more likely to agree with the author’s point of view.
Even in today’s allegedly post-fact world, people are capable
of considering new evidence and reaching new conclusions.

The op-ed is an experiment only 50 years
old

In 1970, when the New York Times debuted the modern
“opposite the Editorial Page,” or op-ed,
then-editor John B. Oakes announced grand ambitions. This opinion page
was to be designed to an intellectual arena, designed to provoke
new ideas and discussion on public policies among regular readers
and political insiders alike.

Was Oakes’s optimism misplaced? Op-eds might fail to persuade
for a number of reasons. People might be unwilling to consider
alternative points of view. Even if they are, the arguments might
be too complex for people not versed in intricate policy details.
Those familiar with the topics — journalists, political
pundits, policy wonks and Capitol Hill staff — may already
have strongly held opinions. Or op-eds might simply preach to the
choir or flatter authors’ egos, putting their names in print.

Our evidence suggests not. We find not only can op-eds change
the minds among general readers, but also among Washington policy
professionals as well.

Here is how we did our research:

In our study, we assessed how about 3,500 Americans reacted to
reading op-eds. We obtained our sample on Mechanical Turk, a
service for obtaining online convenience samples that are not
representative of the public at large (though see recent evidence that Mechanical Turk produces
generalizable inferences in studies like ours). We randomly
assigned participants to read one of five op-eds, or no op-ed at
all. Afterward, they took a survey on the topics discussed in the
op-eds, to measure how much readers agreed with the authors. We
then compared the survey answers among those who had read the
op-eds with answers from those who had not.

Strikingly, respondents became substantially more likely to
agree with the author whose op-ed they read.

For example, some subjects were assigned to read “The Other Veterans Scandal” by Michael F.
Cannon and Christopher …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Most Successful Entrepreneurs Are Older Than You Think

May 12, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

The idea that the most successful new business ventures come from the young, even the very young, is widespread.


The romanticized image of entrepreneurs is a picture of youth: a 20-something individual with disruptive ideas, boundless energy and a still-sharp mind. Silicon Valley has bet on this image for years.

But is this right?

Far from it, according to our recent research with Javier Miranda of the U.S. Census Bureau and Pierre Azoulay of MIT.

Our team analyzed the age of all business founders in the U.S. in recent years. We found that the average age of the most successful entrepreneurs is 45 – and that founders in their 20s are the least likely to build a top firm.

The myth of the young entrepreneur

The idea that the most successful new business ventures come from the young, even the very young, is widespread.

Younger people are often thought to be less beholden to current thinking and thus more naturally innovative and disruptive. Many observers (perhaps enviously) believe the young have more time and energy, with fewer family responsibilities like nightly dinner with the kids or financial demands like mortgages. Besides, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said, “Young people are just smarter.”

Young founders also make for a dramatic story. The college dropout or young corporate drone shakes off conventional expectations to launch a new business with a ragtag team of fellow 20-somethings. After countless late nights, they emerge with the new killer app or consumer product that takes the market by storm, landing them on the cover of Inc., creating enormous personal wealth, and reminding stuffy executive types that hungry young upstarts can and will eat their lunch.

This stereotype has meaningful consequences. In Silicon Valley, for example, venture capitalists show a clear bias toward investing in younger founders, often leaving older founders out in the cold. The perceived link between youth and success is so prevalent that some tech workers reportedly seek plastic surgery to appear younger.

Prime time for entrepreneurship is middle age

But the image of the young entrepreneur didn’t hold when we looked at the data.

Past studies of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Psychologist Explains the Thinking Error at the Root of Science Denial

May 12, 2018 in Blogs

By The Conversation

This widespread rejection of scientific findings presents a perplexing puzzle to those of us who value an evidence-based approach to knowledge and policy.


Currently, there are three important issues on which there is scientific consensus but controversy among laypeople: climate change, biological evolution and childhood vaccination. On all three issues, prominent members of the Trump administration, including the president, have lined up against the conclusions of research.

This widespread rejection of scientific findings presents a perplexing puzzle to those of us who value an evidence-based approach to knowledge and policy.

Yet many science deniers do cite empirical evidence. The problem is that they do so in invalid, misleading ways. Psychological research illuminates these ways.

No shades of gray

As a psychotherapist, I see a striking parallel between a type of thinking involved in many mental health disturbances and the reasoning behind science denial. As I explain in my book “Psychotherapeutic Diagrams,” dichotomous thinking, also called black-and-white and all-or-none thinking, is a factor in depression, anxiety, aggression and, especially, borderline personality disorder.

In this type of cognition, a spectrum of possibilities is divided into two parts, with a blurring of distinctions within those categories. Shades of gray are missed; everything is considered either black or white. Dichotomous thinking is not always or inevitably wrong, but it is a poor tool for understanding complicated realities because these usually involve spectrums of possibilities, not binaries.

Spectrums are sometimes split in very asymmetric ways, with one-half of the binary much larger than the other. For example, perfectionists categorize their work as either perfect or unsatisfactory; good and very good outcomes are lumped together with poor ones in the unsatisfactory category. In borderline personality disorder, relationship partners are perceived as either all good or all bad, so one hurtful behavior catapults the partner from the good to the bad category. It’s like a pass/fail grading system in which 100 percent correct earns a P and everything else gets an F.

In my observations, I see science deniers engage in dichotomous thinking about truth claims. In evaluating the evidence for a hypothesis or theory, they divide the spectrum …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Watch: HBO's Bill Maher Confronts Rep. Duncan Hunter About McCain Insults

May 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Nicole Karlis, Salon

Hunter is a military veteran and Maher was curious what he thought about a former Trump aide who said that John McCain was 'dying anyway.'


Duncan Hunter, a California Republican House representative, braved a Bill Maher interrogation on Friday night. Indeed, on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Maher surprisingly decided not to interrogate him about the federal probe for alleged campaign-finance violations he's facing. Instead, he wanted to talk about President Donald Trump—and the insults that have been reportedly surfaced from the White House about Republican Arizona Senator, John McCain.

“I’m very impressed that you showed up,” Maher said to Hunter. “You’re a Republican, you’re one of Trump’s first supporters.”

Maher continued by taking Hunter's temperature about the insults that have been made about McCain who is currently battling brain cancer. Kelly Sadler, a White House aide, reportedly distastefully joked about Sen. McCain's opposition to CIA nominee Gina Haspel, and said that “he's dying anyway”—suggesting that his vote does not matter.

Hunter is a military veteran, and Maher was curious what he thought about a comment like this.

“It’s pretty rotten,” Hunter said. “The torture thing is different. You shouldn’t make fun of people when they’re dying but when you and I pass away, I’m sure some people are going to tweet bad things about it. I think with the oversensationalism and everything being on the 24-hour news cycle and the tweets, you’re gonna have people say bad things about everybody that dies.”

“You’re a veteran,” Maher said. “Come on. This doesn’t bother you and other veterans?”

“No. So, to be honest, we make fun because we’re in the military, it’s hard to ask someone who’s been in the military and has made every crass joke known to man—worse than you’ve made, I mean really bad jokes,” Hunter said. “I’ve made the same John McCain joke with my friends, who are other Marines.”

Maher brought up Haspel's nomination, and asked if whether or not she should be the CIA director. Haspel was under fire this weekfor dodging questions on if she thought torture was immoral or not.

“I differ with McCain on torture,” Hunter said. “[Haspel oversaw torture] …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Noam Chomsky Explains Exactly What Went Wrong in the 2016 Presidential Election in Brand New Interview

May 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Dan Brook, Truthout

“The Sanders campaign, the most remarkable feature of the '16 election by far, broke with the long-standing pattern of reliance on wealth and corporate power.”


Noam Chomsky is an exceptionally influential figure. Author of well over 100 books (as well as many articles, letters, speeches and interviews) published over the past 60 years, Chomsky is integral to cognitive science, modern linguistics, philosophy, mass media criticism and political analysis — especially of US foreign policy, the military-industrial complex, capitalism and imperialism. Chomsky is a defender of free speech and is one of the most cited authors.

This interview first appeared at Truthout.com.

Chomsky was kind enough to take some time out of his extraordinarily busy schedule to give what he described as “much too brief” responses to Truthout's questions.

Dan Brook: Worker-owned cooperatives (co-ops) seem to be a hybrid between capitalism and socialism. Other such hybrids could include consumer-owned co-ops, nonprofit organizations/non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and even state-owned institutions.

Noam Chomsky: Not just co-ops, but also worker-owned, and sometimes, worker-managed enterprises. These I think are very important developments, which could be the germs of a very different society. Sometimes they reach considerable scale, like the Mondragon conglomerate in the Basque country. There's important literature on all of this, particularly Gar Alperovitz's recent work.

NGOs and state-owned institutions are a different matter.

Classification of enterprises as “capitalist” or “socialist” (or hybrids) has no clear meaning because the terms are so imprecise and often used so loosely. So, take the world's largest corporation, Apple. It began producing marketable computers in the late '70s, adapting the results of creative work mostly in the dynamic state sector of the economy for decades — and that continues — say, the technology in the iPhone. So, is it “capitalist”?

Trump is both cause and consequence of so many horrible things going on in the US. People create conditions, while conditions create people. What's your view on human agency and leadership?

I don't think much can be said at a very general level. There's all sorts of variation and complexity.

Despite all the fraud, voter suppression, corporate mass media biases, political party duopoly, plutocracy, etc., votes are still mostly counted in this very imperfect, top-down democracy. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Racial Justice Groups Are Freeing Black Women From Jail for Mother's Day

May 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now

“Black Mama's Bail Out Day” is raising money to bail out as many black women from jail as possible.


It's Mother's Day this weekend, and racial justice groups around the country are bailing black women out of jail so they can spend the holiday with their families. For the second year in a row, “Black Mama's Bail Out Day” is raising money to bail out as many black women from jail as possible. The effort is taking place in dozens of cities to call attention to the injustice of cash bail. We speak to Mary Hooks, co-director of Southerners on New Ground and an organizer of National Black Mama's Bail Out Day.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: Sunday is Mother's Day. Racial justice groups around the country are bailing black women out of jail so they can spend the holiday with their families. For the second year in a row, Black Mama's Bail Out Day is raising money to bail out as many black women from jail as possible. The effort is taking place in dozens of cities to call attention to the injustice of cash bail.

This is Serena Sebring, an organizer with Southerners on New Ground, or SONG, which spearheaded the effort. This is video from SONG's celebration last year in Durham, North Carolina.

SERENA SEBRING: SONG has been spearheading this effort, because Mary Hooks had a dream. She thought, “What if we came together with our local and national partners and collected our resources to bail as many black mamas out of jail the week before Mother's Day?” It's part of a larger critique of money bail as a system, which we know leaves people in cages, when we believe that nobody should live in cages.

AMY GOODMAN: Since the effort launched last year, there's been a growing national movement to eliminate cash bail from the criminal justice system. Just this week, Google and Facebook announced they'll no longer take money from America's for-profit bail bond agencies. Still, the cash bail system keeps millions of people who have not been convicted of any crime imprisoned in jails every day nationwide while they await trial.

For more, we go to Mary Hooks, …read more

Source: ALTERNET