Links and Comments: Dishonest Republicans; Covid-19 Skepticism; Carl Sagan’s prediction of a charlatan leader

Why are Republicans so routinely dishonest? Do they think they cannot win without cheating? Or do they think they have some ‘higher purpose’ that excuses cheating (my provisional conclusion, which alas applies to every group of zealots throughout history, who can’t count on their supposed truths to will out).

The Hill: New York City tenants say they unwittingly appeared in GOP convention video: report

NYT: How did the party get low-income New Yorkers to praise Trump? They simply tricked them into participating. N.Y.C. Tenants Say They Were Tricked Into Appearing in R.N.C. Video. Subtitle: “I am not a Trump supporter,” one of the tenants said, adding that she was furious that her interview with a government official was used for the convention.

Washington Post: I speak with a computerized voice. Republicans used it to put words in my mouth.

Do Democrats commit shenanigans like this? The only thing I’ve seen lately impugning a Democrat is that story about Nancy Pelosi getting her hair done, via security footage from a disgruntled hair salon owner who immediately ran to Fox News with the tape. But that was Republican driven, not any kind of fraud committed by a Democrat.


A deeper look into Covid-19 death skepticism;, at Vox, “explained by a cognitive scientist,” subtitled: Faulty causal thinking may be driving death toll doubt.

With sections about counterfactual thinking, how we prefer simpler explanations, and the role of motivated reasoning.


Let’s step back. Via a Facebook post: Upworthy: In his last interview, Carl Sagan warned that America will be taken over by ‘charlatan’ political leader.

Shortly before his death in 1996, he appeared on “Charlie Rose” and made a dire warning about how the average Americans’ lack of skeptical, scientific thinking could lead to disastrous consequences.

Today, we can see the problems that are happening due to America’s anti-science streak whether it’s anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theories or climate change deniers.

“We’ve arranged a society on science and technology in which nobody understands anything about science and technology, and this combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later is going to blow up in our faces,” he told Rose. “I mean, who is running the science and technology in a democracy if the people don’t know anything about it?”

He then warned that our lack of critical thinking leaves us vulnerable to those who wish to exploit our ignorance.

“Science is more than a body of knowledge, it’s a way of thinking,” he says. “If we are not able to ask skeptical questions to interrogate those who tell us something is true to be skeptical of those in authority, then we’re up for grabs for the next charlatan political or religious who comes ambling along.”

Sagan believes that a democracy cannot function without an educated populace.


More in the next few days.

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