Sunday, April 27, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Thursday, April 17, 2008
April 17, 2008
Divided They Fall
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
If you’re a Democrat, your candidate won in Wednesday night’s presidential debate — that was obvious, and most neutral observers would recognize that. But the other candidate issued appalling distortions, and the news commentary afterward was shamefully biased.
So you’re madder than ever at the other candidate. You may even be more likely to vote for John McCain if your candidate loses.
That prediction is based on psychological research that helps to explain the recriminations between supporters of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — and the reasons why Senator McCain should be smiling as the Democratic campaign drags on.
To understand your feelings about Wednesday night’s debate, consider the Dartmouth-Princeton football game in 1951. That bitterly fought contest was the subject of a landmark study about how our biases shape our understanding of reality.
Psychologists showed a film clip of the football game to groups of students at each college and asked them to act as unbiased referees and note every instance of cheating. The results were striking. Each group, watching the same clip, was convinced that the other side had cheated worse — and this was not deliberate bias or just for show.
“Their eyes were taking in the same game, but their brains seemed to be processing the events in two distinct ways,” Farhad Manjoo writes in his terrific new book, “True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.” It’s the best political book so far this year.
Mr. Manjoo cites a more recent study by Stanford University psychologists of students who either favored or opposed capital punishment. The students were shown the same two studies: one suggested that executions have a deterrent effect that reduces subsequent murders, and the other doubted that.
Whatever their stance, the students found the study that supported their position to be well-conducted and persuasive and the other one to be profoundly flawed.
“That led to a funny result,” Mr. Manjoo writes. “People in the study became polarized.”
A fair reading of the two studies might have led the students to question whether any strong conclusions could be drawn about deterrence, and thus to tone down their views on the death penalty. But the opposite happened. Students on each side accepted the evidence that conformed to their original views while rejecting the contrary evidence — and so afterward students on both sides were more passionate and confident than ever of their views.
That’s what we seem to be seeing in the Democratic primaries. Even though the policy differences between the two candidates are minimal, each camp is becoming increasingly aggravated at the other. A Washington Post poll published Wednesday found that more than one-third of Democrats say that they may not support their party’s nominee if it is not their own choice.
Another challenge is the biased way in which we gather information. We seek out information that reinforces our prejudices. One study presented listeners with static-filled recordings of speeches that they believed they were judging on persuasive power. Listeners could push a button to tweak the signal, reducing the static to make it easier to understand. When smokers heard a speech connecting tobacco with cancer, they didn’t try to improve the clarity to hear it more easily. But they pushed the button to get a clearer version of a speech saying that there was no link between smoking and cancer. Nonsmokers were the exact opposite.
This resistance to information that doesn’t mesh with our preconceived beliefs afflicts both liberals and conservatives, but a raft of studies shows that it is a particular problem with conservatives. For example, when voters receive mailings offering them free pamphlets on various political topics, liberals show some interest in getting conservative views. In contrast, conservatives seek only those pamphlets that echo their own views.
Likewise, liberal blogs overwhelmingly link to other liberal blogs or news sources. But with conservative blogs, the tendency is much more pronounced; it is almost a sealed universe.
The situation isn’t hopeless. Similar psychological processes govern our perceptions of race, yet we’ve made great progress in revising our views and reducing prejudices. The same is true of attitudes towards gays.
The only solutions I see are personal ones, to work out daily to build our mental muscles. Just as we force ourselves to nibble on greens and decline cheesecake, we should seek an information diet that includes a salad bar of information sources — with a special focus on unpalatable rubbish from fools. The worse it tastes, the better it may be for us.
If that’s why you’re reading this, congratulations! And thanks!
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Sunday, April 13, 2008
cindy ran into a guy she knew from provo days - he was carrying a golf club. odd.
the rocks were gorgeously covered in fine white salt debris. other rocks - further up the hill - had random lichen stuff growing on them. i loved all the colors and variations.
while walking to the end of the jetty i came across this treasure. it reminded me of mark's jacket from a new orleans trip (i'll have to blog that some time). it also reminded me of smithson's vision in making the jetty - the debris and decay of humanity. or something like that. i should really look it up and make an accurate statement here. or i can just trust you all to do your own googling.
in the middle of one of the loops people had made these miniature jetties. they look kind of worm like and sort of creeped me out. i think i'd rather they weren't there. luckily, when the water is a normal level they are covered.
here i am posing for my jetty portrait. the inner rings are behind me. you'd think no one was there (cindy did a good job framing it - thanks) but really besides our group there was the group cindy had a connection to and then a few other family types showed up at the end. plus on the drive home we must have passed at least 10 cars on their way out there. hooray for early morning trips!
this is my foot touching the final rock of the spiral. i believe you have to walk to the very end - otherwise what's the use of driving so stinking far and then only looking at the spiral's end.
on the way, we had fun playing with the salt foam. (some suggested raw sewage is dumped in the lake - but we have no verifiable evidence - again - someone feel free to do some googling.) i like how this blob looks like a large cloud in the background.
on the shore - when we first approached the jetty we discovered a mini one embedded in the sand. dainon is doing a find job as vanna.
i wanted to document the low level of water. these are my feet standing on the lake bed - next to the jetty. when i've been there before the water would have come up to my knees.
this is a photo from afar so you can see the largeness of it. that black thing down on the left, though, is not a car. i'm not sure what it is!
and one of the coolest things about this outing - was that i managed to get home in time to change into a dress, attend a surprise bday party and then attend a wedding reception. it was a full day of driving and friend bonding.
"As Callers, ‘Idol’ Fans Often Lack Real Talent" By Edward Wyatt Published: April 12, 2008
In 2004 the Federal Trade Commission ordered a group of Utah telemarketers to pay $40,000 in restitution to “American Idol” viewers who had been charged for their mis-dials. The commission said that Telemarketing Inc., of Orem, Utah, bought up the rights to toll-free numbers that were similar to the Idol numbers in the hope that viewers would mis-dial.
When they did, a recording instructed callers to dial a 900 number to cast a vote. When they dialed that number, the callers would be charged for the call and then given the correct number to dial to vote for “Idol” contestants, which the commission ruled was a deceptive practice.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Monday, April 7, 2008
Friday, April 4, 2008
"Troubled soul, thou are not bound to feel but thou are bound to arise. God loves thee whether thou feelest or not. Thou canst not love when thou wilt, but thou art bound to fight the hatred in thee to the last. Try not to feel good when thou art not good, but cry to Him who is good. He changes not because thou changest. Nay, He has an especial tenderness of love toward thee for that thou art in the dark and hast no light, and His heart is glad when thou doest arise and say, "I will go to my Father." Fold the arms of they faith, and wait in the quietness until light goes up in thy darkness. For the arms of thy Faith I say, but not of thy Action: bethink thee of something that thou oughtest to do, and go to do it, if it be but the sweeping of a room, or the preparing of a meal, or a visit to a friend. Heed not thy feeling: do thy work."
Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forgetfalls drop by drop upon the heart,until, in our own despair,against our will,comes wisdomthrough the awful grace of God.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Why is it necessary for us to suffer on the way to repentance for serious transgressions? We tend to think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin, but that is an incomplete view. A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind. On a windy and rainy day, the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin. If we focus only on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind. The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened.
When a person has gone through the process that results in what the scriptures call “a broken heart and a contrite spirit,” the Savior does more than cleanse that person from sin. He gives him or her new strength. That strengthening is essential for us to realize the purpose of the cleansing, which is to return to our Heavenly Father. To be admitted to His presence, we must be more than clean. We must also be changed from a morally weak person who has sinned into a strong person with the spiritual stature to dwell in the presence of God. We must, as the scripture says, become “a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). This is what the scripture means in its explanation that a person who has repented of his or her sins will forsake them (see D&C 58:43). Forsaking sins is more than resolving not to repeat them. Forsaking involves a fundamental change in the individual.
“In our approach to life, patience also helps us to realize that while we may be ready to move on, having had enough of a particular learning experience, our continuing presence is often a needed part of the learning environment of others.” – Neal A. Maxwell