What Religion Would Countenance a Confidential Handbook?

From a NYT article about a new anti-gay policy of the Mormon Church: It appears that the new rules were not supposed to be made public. They were issued as changes to a confidential handbook, and sent out by email a week ago to leaders of the church’s 30,000 congregations around the world. What kind […]

Our beliefs resist new facts

Mother Jones has a really interesting article on how our beliefs block new information: Pre-existing beliefs, far more than new facts, skew our thoughts. Feelings arise before conscious thoughts and color them. Confirmation bias gives more weight to facts that match our existing beliefs. Beliefs are adjusted to match the audience.

Right-wing commentator tilts left!

David Brooks is the token conservative on the New York Times OpEd page. He replaced the insufferable William Safire, but has still been reliably conservative. But something has happened as of late; he has been writing columns displaying empathy, such as one eschewing vengeance in response to ISIS. The one that really amazed me was […]

Modern-day Feudalism

Here’s what the corporate state has come to: You need a college education to get a job; You have to pay for it; You can’t escape that debt (it’s high interest, and not dischargeable in bankruptcy); Therefore you have to work for us until it is paid off. Ergo: Capitalism has reinvented the feudal system.

Five Ways America is a Faux Democracy

The existence of elections, civil law and free speech gives the appearance of a functioning democracy, but in practice they are not acting as intended. 1. Voting is not Representative Voting is skewed in America in many ways. Districts are gerrymandered to bias the vote: “Through artful drawing of district boundaries, it is possible to […]

Political bias measured in Supreme Court Decisions

The NYTimes reports that how Supreme Court Justices vote on 1st Amendment claims depends on their political leanings. The worst liberal bias is 1.3, whereas the conservative biases range from 3 to 7. This is unsettling enough by itself, but even more disturbing is the implication is that conservative justices may be more biased in […]

The Effect of Patents on Drug Prices

The NYT has a good article on how patents enable drug companies to keep prices high – far higher than in other countries. For example, with the patent for the older oral contraceptive Loestrin 24Fe about to expire, the company Warner Chilcott stopped making the pill this year and introduced a chewable version — with […]

The Peace Poll

I’ve just launched The Peace Poll, a 2-question survey on peace. Visit http://peacepoll.org/ , read about our plans, vote, and tell your friends.

Firearms and Fear

Dear gun owners: I know you have many stories of how the presence of guns prevented a crime of some sort, and I in turn have stories of when their presence caused injuries or death. We’re both right. But when different stories each have internally consistent reasoning, the only way to choose between them is […]