Here’s a very illuminating talk by Jonathan Haidt about the moral mind. Watch it then scroll down for my take.
The graphs he shows are incredible, simply for the discrepancies between the two sides of the moral spectrum. I think he tries too hard to wrap his interpretation of openness around the findings, though.
Ultimately the talk fails because – as he himself states – the principles of open discussion and embracement of ideas and change are liberal virtues. While the comparison to yin and yang was inspiring, I’m not sure how applicable it is. Yin and Yang are two sides of the same coin, whereas in the current climate (or has it been forever?) political polarity is such that each party wants to be the whole thing.
A followup I’d love to hear would be about the effects of discussion, and “conversion” rates. Although Haidt mentioned that a child’s “blank slate” was malleable, he didn’t mention how rigid a person’s morality becomes. Can they change? I can’t help but come away feeling mildly depressed, especially when one end of the spectrum revolves around pack mentality, self-imposed seclusion and rejection of the facts.
A new 2 minute-long ad from Obama spells out what he wants to do once in office.
Personally I love it: it’s substantive, logical, and it highlights the effects to the working class. But I’m not sure if your average low-information voter is going to sit through 2 minutes of, well, just talking. Maybe I’m underestimating the average American, but there’s a reason why most political ads are 30 second long “hit-and-run” style messages, with exciting graphics and the reassuring bass growl of a narrator.
This actually hits on the reason why I simultaneously respect Obama so much, and fear for the election: he’s not speaking down to people. He’s not telling them what to think, he’s not pushing smears, he’s not peddling to the lowest denominator. If America reacts to open, honest discussion of the issues, I’ll raise a glass to a people whose judgement survived 8 years of empty politics. But if they don’t, then they’ll have earned what they get in McCain.
So last night, McCain gave a strangeinterview in which he refused to say whether – once elected – he’d meet with Spanish president Zapatero or not. Not only that, but he changed the subject to Latin America several times, despite the reporter clarifying that she was asking his prospective administration’s relationship with Spain.
This comes at a time when people are starting towhisper about McCain’s mental acuity.
Today McCain’s campaign told the Washington Post that he meant to snub Spain like that. Now I don’t think that McCain’s becoming senile. I think he either wasn’t paying attention, or didn’t understand the question. But what I find scary is the vehemence with which his campaign declared that he meant what he said. It says a lot that McCain would rather damage ties to a NATO country than admit he made a mistake. Of course, if it was a senile moment and I was his spokesperson, I’d be telling everyone that he meant what he said, no matter how bad it sounded. Oh, he said he’d invade Canada? Uh, yep, he meant that.
Since once wasn’t enough, the McCain campaign has now decided to coopt Obama’s message a second time.
Mere days after the Obama campaign rolled out their new slogan “Change We Need” – a subtle change to their previous “Change We Can Believe In” – we see this post banking crisis ad. But wait, what message does the ad end on?
John McCain: Changing my message to whatever you think you need.
In a world drowning in vacuous interpretation and the empty drone of millions of people laboriously poring over every word uttered during the presidential campaign; in a blogosphere where everyone and their cat is an expert, one man throws his hat into the ring…
And with that LaFontaine-esque introduction, my blog begins. Stay tuned for some actual opinions sometime soon!