Linkdump: Science, society, conspiracy theories, the fear of NRA conventioneers


The Atlantic: Are We Living in a Giant Cosmic Void?. Maybe.

Scientific American: How the Science of “Blue Lies” May Explain Trump’s Support. Subtitle: “They are a very particular form of deception that can build solidarity within groups”

Guardian: Oldest Homo sapiens bones ever found shake foundations of the human story. (Well, newspaper headlines often exaggerate; but the history of science is a steady progression of filling in details and expanding the limits of what was previously thought settled.)

Sam Harris interview with Siddhartha Mukherjee: The Moral Complexity of Genetics. Mukherjee wrote the acclaimed book The Gene.

New York Times Sunday Review, Gray Matter column: You’re Not Going to Change Your Mind. It’s not just about confirmation bias:

But what if confirmation bias isn’t the only culprit? It recently struck us that confirmation bias is often conflated with “telling people what they want to hear,” which is actually a distinct phenomenon known as desirability bias, or the tendency to credit information you want to believe. Though there is a clear difference between what you believe and what you want to believe — a pessimist may expect the worst but hope for the best — when it comes to political beliefs, they are frequently aligned.

Jerry Coyne comments on Sean Illing’s interview of Robert Sapolsky

Psychology Today, via Alternet: The Deep Roots of Left vs. Right. Subtitle: And how to get both wings to fly together.

(This relates to my thought that, no matter what I might personally think is true or right, it takes a range of personalities and psychologies for a society to be functional. If everyone were just like me — or you– it wouldn’t work.)

Remembering that what we’re all really negotiating—the right balance of constraint and freedom, security and liberty—may make us more receptive to negotiation, and smarter negotiators too, not taken in by hyperbolic half-truths about the one true way.

Society: A ‘coastal elite’ named Marie Myung-Ok Lee takes a car trip across southern US with her autistic son, and concludes, My road trip through Trump country taught me that staying in the liberal bubble has its advantages.

ThinkProgress: The strange origins of the GOP ideology that rejects caring for the poor. Subtitle: “No, that’s not what Jesus says.”

Handy term: Overton Window: the range of ideas the public will accept. It shifts over time, generally in a progressive direction — you don’t see conservatives campaigning against women’s suffrage, as they might have done a century ago — but lately the alt-right has made claims that their views — of nationalism, racism, white purity, etc., — has shifted this window back.

Is this an example? Wisconsin State Rep: ‘The Earth Is 6,000 Years Old, That’s A Fact’ There Is No Finland: Birth of a Conspiracy Theory. Some people will believe anything.

LA Times Op-Ed: What happened when a 64-year-old liberal attended his first NRA convention

One common thread among the conventioneers I met was fear. Real, genuine fear. But that’s no accident. Protecting yourself from crime, real and imagined, is what the NRA is all about. The NRA’s America, unrecognizable to the vast majority of Americans except from television, is a very dangerous place. Lawlessness, crime and violence reign. Rioters rule the streets. Islamic terrorists are coming to your town. Unarmed women are rape bait. Unarmed men are cowards. It is twilight in America and no one is going to defend you. Except you.

NY times, Masha Gessen: Trump’s Incompetence Won’t Save Our Democracy. “History shows that stupidity and autocracy aren’t mutually exclusive. In fact, they go hand in hand.”

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