Sunday, May 31, 2020

The ending of America - We turn on each other

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In 1960, less than 5 percent of Democrats and Republicans said they’d be unhappy if their children married someone from the other party; today, 35 percent of Republicans and 45 percent of Democrats would be, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute/Atlantic poll—far higher than the percentages that object to marriages crossing the boundaries of race and religion. 

Recent research by political scientists at Vanderbilt University and other institutions has found both Republicans and Democrats distressingly willing to dehumanize members of the opposite party. “Partisans are willing to explicitly state that members of the opposing party are like animals, that they lack essential human traits,” the researchers found. The president encourages and exploits such fears. This is a dangerous line to cross. As the researchers write, “Dehumanization may loosen the moral restraints that would normally prevent us from harming another human being.”

Yoni Applebaum, How Amercia Ends, The Atlantic, December, 2019, p. 46

Editor's note:

What do you think is causing this polarization and escalation of the "blame game?" 

Would cooperation and collaboration be a better path to take? If so, what do you think will facilitate this?

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Lie machiines are toxic to democracy and well being

From One Zero, downloaded on 05/16/20
ie machines are on the rise — they’ve been built to undermine our faith in society’s key institutions and to encourage citizens to question authority. Lie machines have helped swing elections and sow discontent. And now they’ve been tuned to abet authoritarianism during the coronavirus crisis.
“It’s about doubting institutions that have performed pretty well for a long time, like national health care systems and professional news outlets,” says Philip N. Howard, the director of the Oxford Internet Institute. Howard is the author of the new book, Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives, which has taken on an urgent new relevance as states and political actors try to influence the perception of their response to the pandemic.
Howard defines the lie machine as “the social and technical mechanisms of putting an untrue claim into service of ideology,” composed of three parts: producers of lies, such as political candidates; distributors, such as social media platforms like Instagram; and marketers, such as political consultants. In the age of Covid-19, the lie machine is working to undermine trust in institutions like the World Health Organization, pushing a narrative that scientists and experts should not be trusted. And this, Howard argues, has worrying implications for global health.

Friday, May 15, 2020

There is no such thing as "the market" in spite of what the 1% want you to believe.

Who gets through this crisis more or less whole, and who does not, is almost entirely a political decision. If we feel like wiping out the shareholders in the airline industry, we can just let the market work its magic. The same would be true for the shareholders in the major hotel chains, the restaurant chains, and the cruise ship industry. We can also bid farewell to the high rollers in the financial sector who thought it was clever to speculate in junk bonds. Perhaps some major banks would also be in this category.
All of this could be accomplished by letting the market run its course through the shutdown period. As a practical matter, we are not likely to see wealthy shareholders or big actors in the financial markets among the losers in this crisis, for a simple reason: They have the political power to protect themselves. Donald Trump and the Republicans make little effort to hide their primary allegiance to the wealthy. The Democrats will feel a need to protect the interests of ordinary workers, but they too are mostly happy to ensure the wealthy are not harmed, since the rich contribute to politicians in both parties.
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Monday, May 11, 2020

"Ain't it awful" or solution focused journalism?

Ain't it awful or solution focused journalism?

This comes from a marketing letter from Ev Williams the CEO of Medium, the article curator web site.

But we also recognize the information we pay attention to plays a huge part in shaping how we think. It can divide us or empower us. It can lead to insight or spark anxiety.

There is a need today to rethink the systems that dominate our information landscape—and, therefore, our attention. Do they create more clarity or confusion? Do they mislead more than they inform? And do they serve the people or the advertisers that fund them?

Editor's note:

This is the first article in a series on Ain't it awful vs. solution focused journalism.

Publishers have learned that outrage sells.

Outrage gets clicks. Advertisers like clicks, and so publishers manufacture outrage as much as possible.

How do you want to inform your thinking, with outrage or solutions?

Follow our series as we investigage this question further