Archive for the ‘ Politics ’ Category

Cognitive loading…

“Eight, five, seven, five, three-oh…”

“Twelve! Four! Two! Twenty-six!”

“Eight, five, seven, five, um… Five…”

“Pony! Squirrel! Potato! Potato! Potato!”

“Eight, five, uh… Eight. Five. SEVEN. Eight five seven five three oh…”

“Eight, five seven, five three oh two.”

“Got it! I’ll call you tomorrow.”

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Who cares what Nancy Grace thinks of the budget ceiling debate?

Arguing from the facts, Opinionator, NYT (paywall).

Using recent debate over raising the Federal Government’s debt limit as an example, Gary Gutting has attempted to illustrate the difference between deductive and inductive reasoning but, to my way of thinking, has made a needlessly complex argument whose example positions are really only talking past one another. Each has a series of factually correct issues they wish to address, but rather than acknowledge their opponents’ arguments, they merely introduce new arguments, moving the goal posts and leaving neither any basis for compromise much less an opportunity to create consensus.

It also reveals some of the complexity of the issue and reveals its nature not as a principled debate about a contentious issue, but rather shabby political theater.

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Terry Pratchett goes to Dignitas…

Significant in that it’s release also coincides with Terry’s decision to file for his own assisted death with the Dignitas organization, this is, by and large, the kind of documentary one would expect, given the sources involved. What makes it remarkable, however, is to show just how ultimately straight-forward and painless the procedure actually is.

At an hour, the video runs long (especially for youtube), but it’s worth viewing in it’s entirety simply because the narrative lends an impact to the conclusion that won’t be felt if one just fast-forwards to the end.

You are not so smart…

I’m fond of this blog, which tracks various kinds of cognitive disconnects. Here’s an example of something called ‘The Backfire Effect‘. Submitted for your inspection without comment, but I feel it captures the dynamic quite nicely.

Yay. I suppose.

Doubtless, the death of Osama Bin Laden will produce such a tremendous volume of analysis that we won’t have a fuckin’ clue what we actually think about it by the time it’s finished.

Which is fine. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t think it means a whole hell of a lot. I’m glad it’s finally done; I think we probably did the right thing in shooting him in the head. This isn’t a statement I make lightly; I’m a firm believer in due process. But neither do I see that there was a different outcome possible, nor do I think we would have learned anything or benefited from the trial in any particular.

But we’re nowhere near finished even telling one another how one should feel about it.

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Dunbar’s Number Revisited

Here’s a post from Robin Dunbar, themselves. I’ve been fascinated by this idea for some months, now — the truth of it is just that I am continually encountering people that I know and remember, but whose name or other relevant details escape me. Of course it makes me feel bad, but it’s not the result of a lack of interest or inattention to detail, but a simple byproduct of the fact that my social network has always been a lot larger than I could ever hope to keep track of.


“…Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious…” – George Orwell, 1984

“… The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents…” – H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu

While I feel self-consciously trite about leading with such familiar and over-used citations, I also cede that as concepts, both are worthy of and capable of sustaining deep meditation on their meaning and relevance.

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