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Can politicians talk to Americans like adults

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#1    coberst


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Posted 16 July 2009 - 10:42 AM

Can politicians talk to Americans like adults?

I would claim that all adults are significantly more sophisticated in all ways from children.  However, in the matter of intellectual sophistication American adults do not differ enough from children to assure that our species will not self destruct within the next several generations.  The American adult, because s/he was taught what to think rather than how to think, has not yet become sophisticated enough to manage our high tech culture.

Can our brain survive this high tech modern world?  I doubt that our present generation of adults has the sophistication required to even comprehend the question.  Why is this the case?  It is the case because our brains have not been able to move from its primitive level to the modern level.

“Our political system sometimes produces such skewed results that it’s difficult not to blame bloviating politicians. But maybe the deeper problem lies in our brains.
Evidence is accumulating that the human brain systematically misjudges certain kinds of risks. In effect, evolution has programmed us to be alert for snakes and enemies with clubs, but we aren’t well prepared to respond to dangers that require forethought.”

The “human brain systematically misjudges certain kinds of risks”.   We go berserk looking for a stick to beat a snake to death.  We sleep without disturbance while stock piling thousands of nuclear weapons.  Our brain has evolved to be instantly alerted by enemies with sticks or snakes in the grass but we give little regard to any situation that is a long range gigantic threat to our well being.

Unfortunately when science informs us of the danger that our carbon emissions will destroy the planet as we now know it “only the small part of the brain that focuses on the future — a portion of the prefrontal cortex — will glimmer”.

“We humans do strange things, perhaps because vestiges of our ancient brain still guide us in the modern world, notes Paul Slovic, a psychology professor at the University of Oregon and author of a book on how our minds assess risks.”

“That’s why people are incensed about flag burning, or about what kind of sex people have in private, even though that doesn’t really affect the rest of us,” Professor Gilbert said. “Yet where we have a real threat to our well-being, like global warming, it doesn’t ring alarm bells.”

Quotes from NYTimes article When Our Brains Short-Circuitby Nicholas Kristof

#2    Paranormalcy



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Posted 16 July 2009 - 07:12 PM

I absolutely agree that politicians are disingenuous megalomaniacs - oh wait, nobody said that? Okay, I will. The very number one change that needs to be made is to remove all mentions of political parties - THEN see how "starkly contrasted" the "two sides of the aisle" are, and how people know who to vote for, other than "Duhh... Pepsi? I mean Coke! Coke." The world is NOT FRIKKIN BINARY!

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#3    Virtual Particle

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Posted 17 July 2009 - 12:14 AM

While the 100 years war was a land war, a professor of mine once explained in class that the peasants and soldiers who actually fought the war? Were told that the reason for the war was to do with which shoulder one touched first when making the sign of the cross (one side felt it was the left shoulder first and the other the right). Today there are still some claiming that the current President is ineligible for such a role, because of his repeatedly verified US birth certificate. When you go to any pharmacy and buy a bottle of Extra-Strength Tylenol (or for that matter anything else) the price you pay is marked up 400% from the actual cost of getting the product to the store and a reasonable profit. When you buy a car and arrange financing at the dealer, most of the time the dealer tells you a percentage rate that is more that the financing company quoted. When you make your payments instead of the finance company sending you the excess as an overpayment, they send the difference to the dealer (every month).

Nope society is definitely not an example of a Temporal/Spatial Causality Loop or for that matter a Binary. I also agree that despite the implied difference between children and adults, many see adulthood to some extent, as simply the means to do what they were not allowed to do as children.  

Any thoughts?

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#4    Startraveler


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Posted 25 July 2009 - 02:12 AM

A few months ago I went to a talk given by Charles Wheelan that essentially asked the same question as this thread's title. Wheelan is an economist, loosely operating out of the University of Chicago and he had just come in fifth in a Democratic primary race for Illinois's Fifth Congressional district (the seat vacated by Rahm Emmanuel). He had run heavily on his economic expertise and when I heard him speak he seemed to have little faith that good economics made for good politics. In essence, he argued that, in general, politicians cannot talk to Americans like adults. He attributed it mostly to a reluctance (or inability) of people to face harsh truths and accept the necessity of certain sacrifices. Wheelan gave the example of people he spoke to who agreed that we need to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change but recoiled at the idea of a higher gas tax because that would make it harder to fill up their trucks (and, of course, subsequently encourage less driving).

As for me, I tend to think it's pretty clear that people don't always think rationally when it comes to politics. I once had a professor who stressed the importance of understanding the "cognitive tricks" that influence how political debates are framed. On some level, politics is about manipulation (I hesitate to use the word because of its negative connotations--I don't intend to build a value judgment into this statement). Put another way, its about finding the best way to make your arguments stick and burrow into the popular consciousness. Witness the current debates over health care reform.

#5    puridalan


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Posted 25 July 2009 - 03:26 AM

Three words

Law of Oligarchy

#6    Purplos


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Posted 25 July 2009 - 04:05 AM



I want that on a t-shirt. :)

Embrace the impossible.

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