It's amazing what people do to convince themselves that they're right when all the evidence at hand points to the opposite. Vaccines do NOT cause auti...moreIt's amazing what people do to convince themselves that they're right when all the evidence at hand points to the opposite. Vaccines do NOT cause autism. They don't cause diabetes, epilepsy, or any other disease. What they do is PREVENT the spread of deadly infections (both bacterial and viral).
Most of the anti-vac crowd seem to suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect:
The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled people make poor decisions and reach erroneous conclusions, but their incompetence denies them the metacognitive ability to realize their mistakes. The unskilled therefore suffer from illusory superiority, rating their ability as above average, much higher than it actually is, while the highly skilled underrate their own abilities, suffering from illusory inferiority. This leads to the situation in which less competent people rate their own ability higher than more competent people. It also explains why actual competence may weaken self-confidence. Competent individuals falsely assume that others have an equivalent understanding. "Thus, the miscalibration of the incompetent stems from an error about the self, whereas the miscalibration of the highly competent stems from an error about others."(less)
An uneven look at the history of socialism and social democracy in America. The trouble I had with the book was the poor organization of the material....moreAn uneven look at the history of socialism and social democracy in America. The trouble I had with the book was the poor organization of the material. The author kept jumping from subject to subject in a seemingly random way. (less)
A deeply troubling book, Deer Hunting with Jesus by the late Joe Bageant took me into a world I've only glimpsed fromt he window of a moving car, the...moreA deeply troubling book, Deer Hunting with Jesus by the late Joe Bageant took me into a world I've only glimpsed fromt he window of a moving car, the world of real, working-class Americans and reveals a world that is both unpleasant and mostly delusional. The author, a former working-class guy from Winchester, Virginia, returns to his hometown after years away as an author and journalist in California only to find the town he left has not only failed to move forward in the so-called shared prosperity of America, but has actually regressed. Work is scarse and what there is is either dangerous (working at the chicken slaughterhouse for instance or at the Rubbermaid plant) or low-pay (Wal-mart). Healthcare is a mess, the wealthy use their positions to manipulate local government to ensure their privileged positions continue despite the economic downturn.
The poor, often uneducated and unaware of the consequences of their actions at the polls, continue to cheer for an America that has long since abandoned them to the role of serf or peasant. They send their children off to die in wars for oil and their parents get shipped off to miserable nursing homes in West Virginia. It's an alien life to me, a life I've never lead nor known anyone to lead. This is a culture so eloquently described by Barrack Obama in 2008:
"You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."
Indeed, if this book had been written in 2010 instead of 2006, no doubt Bageant would have quoted this stump speech verbatim.
His prose is elegant and disturbing. Like James Howard Kunstler who writes Clusterfuck Nation (http://www.kunstler.com/blog/), his view is bleak.
"Many are working poor but kid themselves that they are middle class—partly out of pride and partly because of the long-running national lie that must Americans are middle class.
Being born lower class in working America makes some of us, probably most of us, class conscious for life. Consequently, a good deal of this book is about class in America, especially the class from which I sprang, the bottom third of Americans constituting the unacknowledged working—class poor: conservative, politically misinformed or oblivious, and patriotic to their own detriment." (Kindle location 92)
"In an ersatz democracy maintaining tile popular national fiction that everyone is equal, it is impermissible to say that, although we may all have equal constitutional rights, we are not actually equal. it takes genuine education and at least some effort toward self-improvement just to get to to the starting line of socioeconomic equality." (Kindle location 328)
"Americans, rich or poor, now live in a culture woven entirely of illusions, and all of us are rendered actors. Television actors portray nonactors in “reality shows,” and nonactors in Congress perform in front of the cameras, grappling over the feeding tube in Terri Schiavo. Michael Jackson shows up for court in pajamas, and Jeff Weise shows up for class with a gun." (Kindle location 3075)
For Liberals to regain the lost ground they're going to have to fight for the rights of the working-poor, for things that the working-poor value like the right to keep and bear arms. Like it or not, this is a core value for these folks. We've got to figure out how to embrace a position that many of us object to if we are going to be able to reclaim the high-ground.
This is an excellent, eye-opening look at America, and for me, a look at my own beliefs in what makes America great. (less)
Despite writing about events from the mid-1990s, Krugman's book reads as fresh today as it did back then. Many of the players are the same, most of th...moreDespite writing about events from the mid-1990s, Krugman's book reads as fresh today as it did back then. Many of the players are the same, most of the policy debates are the same and the world has changed little since then from a debate perspective. What HAS changed is another 15 years of supply-side economics which have savaged the American economy.(less)
The first half of the book is an excellent history of Painite thought through the course of Thomas Paine's life. The second half reads like a catalog...moreThe first half of the book is an excellent history of Painite thought through the course of Thomas Paine's life. The second half reads like a catalog of people on the left who used Paine in their arguments. This second half was like reading a catalog of names, dates and places and lacked the flow and passion of the first half.(less)
A fascinating journey into the mind of darkness. The author ties together conservative strains of thought that, on the surface, may appear dissonent,...moreA fascinating journey into the mind of darkness. The author ties together conservative strains of thought that, on the surface, may appear dissonent, but when you unpack the history and logic, make perfect "sense." If you want to get a better understanding of how the modern American conservative "thinks," this is a must-read book.(less)
An excellent re-interpretation of the role of Adam Smith in the creation of a new way of thinking about economics. Instead of the slave to libertarian...moreAn excellent re-interpretation of the role of Adam Smith in the creation of a new way of thinking about economics. Instead of the slave to libertarians, Rothschild shows how Smith actually fits more in with Thomas Paine and the French Revolution than he does with the likes of Edmund Burke.(less)
A strong condemnation of the recent wave of "Voter ID" (read: Voter Disenfranchisement) bills that have passed around the nation. Demonstrates, with d...moreA strong condemnation of the recent wave of "Voter ID" (read: Voter Disenfranchisement) bills that have passed around the nation. Demonstrates, with detailed data, how Voter ID solves a problem we don't have and ignores election fraud problems we do have. The entire enterprise of Voter ID is a fraud and a failure and represents the most cynical attempt to suppress voting by certain ethnic populations since Jim Crow.(less)
A great snapshot of how we got to where we are and what we need to do about it. The arguments are clear and backed by data, Krugman does an excellent...moreA great snapshot of how we got to where we are and what we need to do about it. The arguments are clear and backed by data, Krugman does an excellent job explaining how the economic world works and how the Very Serious People have forgotten the lessons of history.