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Politics

Sometimes bad policy isn’t caused by red state/blue state, but by biased human cognition.

Start with deeply opposed ideological beliefs, toss in some heated red state/blue state tribal conflict, and things can quickly devolve into bad public policy. We see it on the news every day. But sometimes bad public policy stems from another cause, the hidden flaws and biases in human cognition. This is more interesting since less […]

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Politics

Gay marriage is conservative

Since most Americans now support same-sex marriage, it’s become a question of when same-sex marriage will be the law of the land, not if. I think that’s great, and a rapidly growing majority agree. The progressive narrative on gay marriage has been around equal rights, as the red equal signs on my facebook feed show. Again, quite […]

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Politics

The Long View on Violence and Gun Control

One of my favorite books from 2012 was Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature: Why violence has declined.” His book has two parallel lines of discussion: 1) data showing the unappreciated and massive drop in violence over centuries, and 2) explanations as to why this drop happened. Let’s tie Pinker’s book to the gun control […]

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Politics

The winding path to multi-ethnic democracy

At the end of the cold war there were two popular but competing speculations on where history was headed. One came from Francis Fukuyama, from a 1989 article and then 1992 book The End of History and the Last Man. Fukuyama argued that with the end of the cold war there was no powerful ideology left to […]

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Politics

Understanding Republican Science Denialism. Haidt is right. Mooney is wrong.

With the Presidential election cycle hitting it’s partisan peak, let’s talk about Republican science denialism since it’s a subtext of the election.

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Politics

Partisan Incomprehension. “You didn’t build that” edition.

The theme for the first day of the Republican convention was “We Built It.” What struck me was not that the Republicans twisted an Obama quote to make a tag line. Rather it was how some people found the focus on that line simply incomprehensible. And yet that incomprehension has a story to tell. In […]

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Politics

Why did Paul Ryan lie about his marathon time?

In a recent interview Paul Ryan gave a much faster personal record for his marathon time than he actually ran. Nicholas Thompson has a good overview, plus James Fallows as well. Ryan claimed to have finished “Under three, high twos. I had a two hour and fifty-something.” Via Thompson he actually finished with a 4:01 […]

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Politics

The Enduring Appeal of Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand is in the news this month since Congressman and VP hopeful Paul Ryan cited her as a major influence. In reaction, Paul Krugman wrote that Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is “a perennial favorite among adolescent boys”. And in regard to the G.O.P.:“What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets […]