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By STEVEN SLOMAN and PHILIP M. FERNBACH
Published: October 19, 2012
IF we are reminded of anything this election season, it is that America is a house divided against itself. The anger and mistrust between Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, often seems as bitter as it is reflexive. Most worrisome of all, we have grown so accustomed to this divide that we no longer flinch at the brazen political attacks on either side — even when the logic underlying these attacks is hard to fathom.
Take the case of two political ads recently shown on television. One, from Mitt Romney, asserts that the employment situation in the United States “doesn’t have to be this way if Obama would stand up to China.” The other, from President Obama’s camp, implies that a Romney presidency would be bad for the coal industry, in part because Mr. Romney has a Swiss bank account.
The truth is, even experts have difficulty spelling out how changing our trade policy with China will make more than a modest dent in unemployment numbers — or how, with or without a foreign bank account, Mr. Romney’s proposed policies are likely to hurt the domestic coal industry. But that doesn’t matter.
Such attack ads work, in large part, because we don’t understand them. Statements take advantage of a fact about human psychology called the “illusion of explanatory depth,” an idea developed by the Yale psychologist Frank Keil and his students. We typically feel that we understand how complex systems work even when our true understanding is superficial. And it is not until we are asked to explain how such a system works — whether it’s what’s involved in a trade deal with China or how a toilet flushes — that we realize how little we actually know. More: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/opini ... html?_r=1&
Do certain people here see how this applies to them? I wonder.
All I know is that I have a reasonable understanding of political tactics, underhandedness, the role of greed, the pursuit of oil and hegemony in the 20th century, etc, etc. I read Noam Chomsky, Michael Hudson and countless heterodox economists, historians and social scientists. I have significant formal tertiary studies in:
- science -- physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science, electronics
- engineering -- civil, mechanical
- social sciences - psychology, sociology, anthropology
- political science
and advise a political party noted for its honesty and expertise in exposing the political trickery of the big 2 players in the local Westminster system of govt. I count several contrarian economists as friends and colleagues, one of whom predicted the GFC two years out from his analysis of rising debt in the economy, something not considered in neo-classical economics training.
It all helps make sense of the world. So the Obama and Romney remarks above are pretty transparent, but many people of course are bewildered by the complexity of modernity and the Wizard of Oz smokescreens out there.
Maybe the remarks apply to you, really? who knows. Sounds like just another really? self-important, snide jab to me.
Well, i can say politics wasn't the point. However, you did not miss the other point.
I don't think you have to be a genius to see through the BS politicians put out. Just ask them how they plan to accomplish all of their crazy ideas and you'll already see a lot. The problem is modern politicians are puppets... It's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Politics keep getting dirtier and the more they trend in that direction the less the problem-solvers want to get on board. We have ideological mouthpieces for party ideals in office, not people looking for genuine solutions that are in the best interest of the country. Besides the few candidates that show the slightest bit of potential have little chance of success because modern America does not understand critical thinking, their interest is in the superficial. What sounds good is good.
Critical Thinking and Logic offer the only sure path to truth.
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