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Politics Government Science

Both Parties Ignore the Facts 803

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the big-surprise-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Any democrat will tell you the republicans ignore the facts. Any republican will tell you the democrats ignore the facts. Turns out they're right. A new study monitored brain activity of partisans; they shun logic and use emotional processing centers to justify their candidate's contradictory statements. 'With their minds made up, brain activity ceased in the areas that deal with negative emotions such as disgust. But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix.'"
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Both Parties Ignore the Facts

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  • by suso (153703) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:33AM (#14557194) Homepage Journal
    I think one of the biggest problems facing our society is not being willing to acknowledge when the other group is correct or when we are wrong. Everyone is too convinced that they are correct that they are blind to the other person's point of view and opinions. This is spread all across the spectrum, not just in politics. Acknowledging when someone else is correct is good for you and good for relations. The person that you are discussing with will acknowledge that you are seeing their side and can listen to what they consider to be "reason" and they are more likely to listen to your point of view. Its just like here on Slashdot. Often times I get replies to my comments from people who have a different opinion or just have some smart ass remark. I understand, people have different opinions, and they are just as human as I am.

    You can still acknowledge the other side and remain strong.

    Enemies are people too. [suso.org]
    • by ChristianNerds.com (949201) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:49AM (#14557389) Homepage
      Another study was done by a group of Republicans, and it seems that this particular study had been mistaken. Their findings were that only Democrats ignore facts, while Republicans do actually use the logic parts of their brains.
      • by trezor (555230) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:47AM (#14558801) Homepage

        Studies show that where politics involve more than 2 sides, people must actually justify their arguments rather than bash and demonize the other side, as there is no simple "other side" to blame for everything wrong.

        Ofcourse, this is utterly unimagineable for people living in the US, and I will be flamed into oblivion being named labeled both Neocon, Liberal and what not.

        Since I'll probably get bashed however I put this, let me put it this way: There's no politics or democracy in the US, only corrupt government and manipulation of the public. There, I said it. I have karma to burn.

    • by Surt (22457) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:55AM (#14557448) Homepage Journal
      The key problem with this argument is that our society has roughly split down the middle on some pretty key issues. The things that are makeing Republicans hate Democrats and vice-versa just aren't going to see one side acknowledging the other as right.

      Abortion, preemptive war, tax the rich vs tax the poor, social welfare programs, socialized medicine, environment preservation: people who hold strong beliefs about these things are relatively unlikely to find themselves acknowledging the other side as right or themselves wrong on these issues.

      With other, relatively less inflammatory issues, I think you'll find that people are open to debate. But as long as there are issues like these that are considered 'unsettled', the parties will continue to be able to divide us on them quite effectively, and calm debate about less divisive issues will essentially be buried under the weight of these more dramatic ones. So long as we have so many things where it seems like the position of one side or the other can be taken as evil it is going to be hard to get people to take things calmly. And frankly, they shouldn't. You shouldn't sit quietly debating when your opponent is evil, you should be making a loud noise to make sure people are attending!
      • The key problem with this argument is that our society has roughly split down the middle on some pretty key issues. The things that are makeing Republicans hate Democrats and vice-versa just aren't going to see one side acknowledging the other as right.

        But that's exactly what I'm talking about. People have polarized themselves so much that when an opposing opinion to their viewpoints comes along, they hit it like a wack-a-mole instead of considering it for a moment and trying to understand it.

        Take me for e
    • Ignoring facts (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:09AM (#14557604)
      This issue of both parties ignoring the facts .. I think that is why even "christians" who supposedly follow the same book ..can have diametrically opposing views.

      Social conservatives think they are "moral" and that especially they like to think they are christian and follow the bible. Yet most of them actually do exactly the opposite of what the bible says.

      Yet, on any given issue ... the "Social conservatives" don't follow the bible.

      For one thing, social conservatives oppose immigration/immigrants .. when the Bible is extremely clear on this topic. They also want to build a wall on the southern border (bible says "if you build a high gate, you invite destruction") .. all of histories' walls are tourist attractions today (Great Wall, Hadrian's wall etc.)

      http://www.churchworldservice.org/Immigration/bibl e-as-handbook.html [churchworldservice.org]

      Yet most social conservatives would call for a halt to immigration (or at least non european immigration).

      At one time a majority of them would have opposed interracial marriage .. yet the bible is clear on this question as well .. http://www.carm.org/questions/interracial_marriage .htm [carm.org] http://www.christiananswers.net/q-sum/sum-g003.htm l [christiananswers.net] and http://www.tbm.org/whatinterrac.htm [tbm.org]

      Very strangely the Numbers 12:1 reference used to be quoted (out of context) as a reason not to have interracial marriages.

      So, when Jesus was tempted by the devil who was quoting scriptures ..Jesus used objective logic against it. Maybe that's what people need to use .. objective logic versus blind "adherence" to scripture.
      • Moral Politics (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:33AM (#14558625) Homepage Journal
        I'm currently reading "Moral Politics," an interesting if repetitive book. It has been sufficiently repetitive that I've take a break and am reading the New Testament to square it against the author's points. I'm currently only mid-Luke, so my picture isn't re-complete. But I can state a few preliminary conclusions: (things in quotes are paraphrased extractions from memory)

        Christ spoke out against immorality a few times, and most of those were within the context of marriage and divorce.
        Christ was quite clearly against moral accounting by Man. "Vengence is mine, sayeth the Lord", "Forgive seventy times seven"
        Christ was against making rule for others' behavior. "point out the speck in his eye, ignoring the log in your own"
        But it seems to me that most of Christ's criticism was reserved for the Pharisees and Sadducees, in other words, "the establishment," the wealthy self-righteous who looked down on "those sinners."

        One can take this however you want. I wish merely to point out the irony that those who wrap themselves in the flag and set themselves upon the Bible as a pedestal are acting as the Pharisees and Sadducees did. This is IMHO a clearly inconsistent position.
    • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:10AM (#14557610) Homepage Journal

      Acknowledging when someone else is correct is good for you and good for relations.

      Bullshit. You couldn't be more wrong.

    • Anyone who'se ever done engineering in a group becomes rapidly familiar with the lack of a line between the social and objective dimensions of problem solving.

      Someone makes a mistake, and they feel they need to defend it even though mistakes are an inevitable part of the process and everyone makes them, no matter how ingenious. Someone thinks of a plan, or their friend does, and they feel they need to defend it and advocate it even if they see a better plan, just because we are not only solving a problem, b
    • by foo fighter (151863) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:56AM (#14558134) Homepage
      But look at that from a game theory perspective.

      If you concede a point, there is no incentive for the opposite party to concede a point on their side. Instead they get a big benefit by jumping all over the fact that you conceded and will continue to argue against you.

      Instead of ever migrating to both sides conceding when they are wrong you get both sides never conceding anything.
      • Ok, I can see why you might think that and I'm sure that's what the popular media like to jump all over that (when someone is weak).

        But now look at it from a diplomatic perspective:

        To earn the trust and respect of others you have to acknowledge their ways, beliefs while at the same time, respectfully criticizing them while still being open to their rebuttals. Its based on building trust with your opponent

        I think that you are far more likely to be successful with your arguments if you use the diplomatic appr
    • I notice this quite a bit when watching sporting events on TV with friends and family.

      What I mean by that is that any call that goes against the team that they are rooting for is almost universally in dispute by them or even completely refuted. Many times I can see where the referees have made the right call and it looks obvious to me. However, those around me still proclaim that it is a "bad" call, etc. even in the face of slow-mo replay with HDTV clarity.

      I think the difference is that I just don't give
  • In Roman times ... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:34AM (#14557201) Journal
    Used to be in Roman times that the greatest senators of the republic were those who were the most stoic.

    Now, it seems the most desired senators are those most likely to be on Jerry Springer.

    My how the burning of Alexandria [umn.edu] set us back much further than we could have thought.
  • Facts (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ford Prefect (8777) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:35AM (#14557223) Homepage
    But yeah, you can prove anything with facts...
  • They allow you to join a club and make club membership more important in decision making than whether or not someone really represents you.

    My biggest frustration with many republicans is the fact that they claim to be for small government, and this administration has been anything but small government.

    My biggest frustration with democrats is that they claim to be all for civil liberties yet silently let pass things like Clinton's support of the clipper chip or Hilary's closed door meetings with insurance companies to hammer out a health care plan that benefitted them.

    • by bigtallmofo (695287) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:43AM (#14557314)
      You often witnesses a party acting more like their "opponent" because a very effective tactic of late has been to steal your opponent's position. There are dozens of very recent examples, but two glaring ones are Clinton's welfare reform and Bush's Medicare prescription drug coverage. This really helps swing voters to think that you're not an idealogue for one side or the other. Of course, it does nothing to sway radicals but then nothing would sway them.

      The sorry fact though is that this has gone on long enough that there aren't very many differences between the two parties today.

    • by gcatullus (810326) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:50AM (#14557399)
      Both parties have perverted what they had claimed to stand for.

      But this maxim still does apply: The Democratic Party is the stupid party, the Republican Party is the selfish party. So if anything is bipartisan it must be both stupid and selfish.
    • To me, the statement that drives this home the most is when a pundit says "we need to make this our issue."

      It could be campaign reform, it could be anything, but the idea that one club has to own an issue is more like sports than good governance. If both sides agree on the importance, than something should happen. Instead, there's a squabble for credit. If both sides were truly different, there'd be no need to seize the issue. One side would support it and the other wouldn't.
  • Heh (Score:5, Funny)

    by Moby Cock (771358) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:39AM (#14557259) Homepage
    But activity spiked in the circuits involved in reward, a response similar to what addicts experience when they get a fix.

    Instead of a War on Drugs, we have a War, on drugs.
  • by xusr (947781) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:39AM (#14557260)
    this sort of "turning off" of logic happens to all people, not just politicians. Start a conversation about religion, and you'll see what I mean. I don't just mean fundamentalist Christians, either; atheists, agnostics, muslims (mac users?) are just as likely to get defensive if you start criticizing something they hold to be true. The key here is to place more value on the person that you're talking to than on yourself. If the other person knows/feels that, your conversation has the potential to be the civil, enlightening discourse that we really want.
  • by Nugget (7382) <nugget@distributed.net> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:40AM (#14557273) Homepage
    This is certainly worth keeping in mind the next time we have to endure another "Linux versus Microsoft" argument here on Slashdot, too. Why should our own dogma be any different? Personally, I knew this years ago. The only way a person could seriously advocate MySQL would be if their brain was turned off. It's perfectly obvious!
  • by millahtime (710421) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:42AM (#14557303) Homepage Journal
    One of the newest members of congress and the youngest man in congress recently said that congress is like Junior High. What would you do if you were picked by the people to have a high paying job with a bunch of authority? (talk about ego) Then, on top of that, now that you are picked by a bunch of people for this you have all of these lobbying parties trying to buy you off by offering you all the stuff your heart desires. How would any of us react? I am not a good enough man to say I could fight that off. Then, because of the system, even the most well intended person doesn't get anywhere. But, they want to keep the power, popularity and especially all the perks. So, they, like a drug addict, will do what ever it takes to keep their fix. I don't think I would be any better. George Washington said a 2 party system would be bad. Could he have been right? Could it not be that one party is worse than the other but this is just a product of 2 parties? Could a 3rd powerful party help remedy this situation?
    • by Tom (822)
      Could a 3rd powerful party help remedy this situation?

      I don't think anyone can really answer that. Do we have any western democracies with 3 (or more) powerful parties? In most countries where multiple parties work, you still have two strong parties, each flanked by a number of coalition partners, or you have lots of fragmentation, see Italy which is a total mess.

      The problem appears to be that the whole minority voice, blabla thing doesn't work out. Parties soon realize that "market share" means power and i
      • by beeplet (735701) <beeplet@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:19PM (#14560086) Journal
        Canada has a strong multi-party system. Look at the results from Monday's election [canada.com]: Conservatives won 124 seats, Librals 103, Bloc Quebecois 51, New Democratic Party 29, with the Green party not winning any seats but getting nearly 5% of the vote. Granted, only the Conservatives and Librals have actually won an election, but the other parties form a very strong opposition, especially when the winning party does not actually have a majority.

        There is also more variation between these parties than between the US Democrats and Republicans, even discounting the Bloc, which is essentially a separatist party. I think the multi-party system encourages more variation, because if two parties become too similar in their agendas, other parties are there to fill in the void.
  • Surprise? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 3CRanch (804861) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:49AM (#14557393)
    Does this come as a surprise?

    Personally I'm embarrassed at how ineffective our government has become. Sure they all tout that they act in a bi-partisan manner, but that is nothing more than the politically correct verbiage buzz word that they pretty much have to use.

    Truth is that if you check just about any vote that has occurred over the last several years, you'll see that the votes are broken straight down the party lines -- except for a few that probably hit the wrong key during the vote.

    Perfect example is the vote that happened yesterday for the new proposed Supreme Court Justice Alito. The vote was divided 100% down the party lines.

    These people should be ashamed. We elected them to represent the beliefs of the state in which they represent, but it seems to always turn out that they cannot think for themselves. Rather they just follow their party's guidance.

    Pathetic...
  • BOTH parties? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bogtha (906264) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:57AM (#14557460)

    That's probably the worst thing about USA politics. There's this fantasy that there are only two parties to choose from. Since they agree on so many things, the voters who believe this fantasy get absolutely no say whatsoever on many topics. Because the people who realise the truth are vastly outnumbered by the people in fantasy land, they don't get any say in many topics.

    So basically, the voting public have no control over anything the Democrats and the Republicans agree on. That's not how democracies are supposed to work. Stop voting for Kodos!

    • Re:BOTH parties? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clamatius (78862) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:32PM (#14560260) Homepage
      Douglas Adams summed this up quite well.

      'On [the robot's] world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.'"
      'Odd,' said Arthur, 'I thought you said it was a democracy.'
      'I did,' said Ford, 'It is.'
      'So,' said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, 'why don't the people get rid of the lizards?'
      'It honestly doesn't occur to them,' said Ford. 'They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.'
      'You mean they actually vote for the lizards?'
      'Oh yes,' said Ford with a shrug, 'of course.'
      'But,' said Arthur, going for the big one again, 'why?'
      'Because if they didn't vote for a lizard,' said Ford, 'the wrong lizard might get in'"
  • by sam_handelman (519767) <skh2003@@@columbia...edu> on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:58AM (#14557483) Homepage Journal
    People find similar results when studying brain activity of people playing chess - when considering a good move vs. considering a bad move. Does this mean that people ignore reason when playing chess?

      We don't understand the brain, we don't understand how people reason and we don't understand how people make decisions. Anyone who claims otherwise is an idiot, a fraud or both. It is an interesting finding that certain particular areas of the brain "light up" when this particular sample of people are shown a particular sort of information in a particular way - but you can conclude nothing from this.

      For myself, the part of my brain that handles emotional responses to complete bullshit is lit up like a XMas tree. Am I, as I type, ignoring reason?
  • Politics 101 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by David Greene (463) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @09:59AM (#14557491)
    Look, here's the first thing to understand. In a political debate, facts don't matter. Read that again. Facts don't matter. This has been shown over and over again. People respond to values, not facts. Progressives lose because they argue the facts. They argue about the facts of global climate change. They wax wonkish on the merits of instant runoff voting.

    Nobody cares.

    As the right-wing Republicans have demonstrated so clearly, the way to political power is through values. Instead of citing world temparature statistics, ask people what they value. Do they value fresh air, abundant foliage, clean cities? Or do they value pollution, subsidies for big oil and murky rivers?

    Look at the values of society today. They can be summarized by fear, isolation and scarcity. Everything we hear out of the far right can be reduced down to this. We're told to be afraid of terrorists, of immigrants, of gays and lesbians. We're told to lock our doors and make sure we keep as much of "our" money as we can, because we certainly don't have enough wealth in this country to go around. We're told to work as hard as we can to get our own, because no one's got our back. Hyper-individualism is the rule of the day.

    If there's going to be change in this country, it's going to have to come as a result of a change in the conversation. We need to be talking about how we actually have abundance in this country and there is enough to build the kind of community we want to live in. There's enough to go around when we accept that each of us has a responsibility to contribute to the common good. There's enough to go around when we realize that we live in a connected community, not in isolated cabins on the frontier. There's enough to go around when we stop living in fear and start living in hope; when we realize that we support each other and we don't have to make it on our own.

    This is the kind of political power that progressives need. Unfortunately, they're too damn busy being geeks, wonks and nerds to get it.

    • Poster child (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149) *
      From the article summary:

      A new study monitored brain activity of partisans; they shun logic and use emotional processing centers to justify their candidate's contradictory statements.

      From your post:

      Look, here's the first thing to understand. In a political debate, facts don't matter. Read that again. Facts don't matter. This has been shown over and over again. People respond to values, not facts. Progressives lose because they argue the facts.

      I see; the problem with conservatves is they never use facts, da
  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:03AM (#14557530) Homepage

    It's nothing new ... my grandfather has written a few books on the human thought processes, and I typically cite his 'The Eight Common Errors in the Thinking Process [carlrpacifico.com]' (pdf).

    The quick summary (from the intro)

    1. Your brain uncritically accepts the first information it gets in any new subject area as correct, whether it is or not.
    2. Subsequent information that is in keeping with the information already present in your brain is uncritically accepted as correct, whether it is or not.
    3. A new item that is contradictory to the information present in your brain is automatically rejected as incorrect, whether it is or not.
    4. Your brain considers every item that is compatible with the majority of its information in a given subject area to be correct and every item that is contradictory to its information to be incorrect. As a result, the brain has no internal way to know which items of its information are correct representations of the real world and which are not.
    5. Your brain has no way to know whether or not it has all the information required to respond appropriately to a given stimulus.
    6. Unless your brain has additional information to the contrary, it interprets similar items as being identical.
    7. Your brain cannot measure anything directly. All measurements must be made by comparison against an appropriate standard, which is often done incorrectly.
    8. Your brain continues to interpret the external world as it was when the last sensory signal about a given subject area was received. As a result, the brain is not aware that some of its formerly correct information is now incorrect.

    All this new research has done is support #2-4.

    • by brpr (826904) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:28AM (#14557793)

      Before modding this guy interesting, you might like to consider the fact that the article he links to is full of unjustified assertions, pop pseudo-pyschology and other varieties of what might kindly be termed "crap". For example, take this rather incredible statement, presented as an obvious truth:

      When your senses detect a set of stimuli, your brain assembles all the information it has about the source of those stimuli and how to deal with them.

      This raises all sorts of difficult issues which the author ignores completely. For example, is it really plausible that the brain assembles all the information relevant to the stimulus and how you might deal with it? That is probably an infinite amount of information. In any given situation, anything whatsoever that you know is potentially useful information. The trick is (we really have no idea how the mind does this) to filter out a tiny fraction of your knowledge using a reasonably fast heurisitic, so that you have a manageable subset of your knowledge to process in any given situation.

    • I accept that all this is true. First I've heard of it.
    • by Tony (765) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:37AM (#14557901) Journal
      4. Your brain considers every item that is compatible with the majority of its information in a given subject area to be correct and every item that is contradictory to its information to be incorrect. As a result, the brain has no internal way to know which items of its information are correct representations of the real world and which are not.

      Yes, we do have an internal way to know which items are correct representations of the real world. It's an epistomological philosophy called science, and though it is a slow process requiring rigor and mental discipline, it works quite well. In fact, I would say it is the only way to have any certainty in knowledge.

      The fruits of science are still fairly limited. We jave a fairly large pool of knowledge concerning chemistry and physics; we know a little less about biology; and we know almost nothing of sociology and psychology (outside of a few biological facts and a few statistics).

      How do I know there is a large congruence between science and the real world? The results of that scientific knowledge are everywhere, in airplanes and longer life and jam and computers and interplanetary exploration and jam (more jam, perhaps) and big fuckoff buildings and psychological manipulation by politicians ("spin").

      Granted, the fundamental basis of science is that scientific knowledge is subject to subtle or radical change as new evidence surfaces; but, we do have a fundamental tool for objectively gaining knowledge about our universe.
    • by DarkSarin (651985) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:45AM (#14557995) Homepage Journal
      Who is your grandfather, and why should we care what he has written?

      As a psychologist, I need to have a name. Citation is more important. His name means nothing to me (I've read a fair bit of psychology-related research, too), so I am going to need some information.

      Look, I'm not trying to be rude, but as a sibling poster pointed out, this doesn't exactly jive with what I know to be currently accepted theory about information processing in the human mind.

      One thing the human brain does VERY well is pattern matching as pattern discrimination. Consider the idea of facial recognition. This is computationally intensive. Humans do it almost instantly in most cases. It is also capable of discriminating between two similar patterns in a fraction of a second (sorting tasks have demonstrated this quite conclusively).

      Very little is actually known about how we process information because we can't get a handle on it all. MRI's are helping, but haven't solved a lot of the problems that we face.

      I would therefore appreciate some more information about how these conclusions were reached and what the research supporting them is like.
    • by Mark_in_Brazil (537925) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:35AM (#14558644)
      I found this post really interesting.

      All this new research has done is support #2-4.

      I see all the points reflected in recent politics in the USA.

      1. Your brain uncritically accepts the first information it gets in any new subject area as correct, whether it is or not.

      I'd say Fox News understood this. On the night of the 2000 election, all the news channels received new data from Florida. There was no way Fox or anybody else could possibly have processed those data and come to any kind of a conclusion, but Fox went ahead and declared George W. Bush the victor (the person who actually made the call was a cousin of Bush). The other networks, not wanting to be last, followed suit and declared Bush the victor. The facts at that point could not support declaring either candidate the winner in Florida. But since Fox called the state for Bush and the other networks irresponsibly followed suit, the impression was created in the minds of the public that Bush had won. When the Gore campaign asked for a recount, it was seen as Gore trying to overturn a Bush victory when in fact no winner should have been declared by that point. The eventual analysis of the disputed ballots showed that if the Gore campaign had asked for and gotten a full recount, Gore would have won Florida. However, the Supreme Court stopped recounts, and one of the more delicious bits of irony in recent history is that the Democrats had only requested some weird partial recounts they had a better chance of winning, but they actually would have lost even if the Supreme Court had allowed them to continue. Only a full recount would have given a Gore victory, independent of the criterion used for counting ballots (most restrictive, most "liberal", or even allowing each county to apply its own established criteria). Further, the Gore campaign focused on undervotes, the famous "dimples" and "hanging chads," and ignored overvotes. Recent analysis has shown that there were tens of thousands of overvotes, largely from African-American districts, that would have gone for Gore. In those cases, the voter had both marked or punched to indicate a vote for Gore and written in Gore in the write-in space. Since the voter had "voted for two candidates" (even though the ballots were just marked two ways for the same candidate), those ballots were discarded. IF the Gore campaign had called for re-checking of overvotes, and depending on the criteria for accepting overvote ballots, Gore could have won Florida by tens of thousands of votes. I find something very funny in the fact that the Dems tried to get the partial recounts they thought would be most favorable for themselves, and in fact ignored much richer potential ways of winning, including the truly democratic full recount.
      Instead, Bush was seen as being the rightful winner, and Gore as being a sore loser. The recounts were seen as the desperate acts of a losing campaign, when in fact there was no way, short of careful analysis of all the ballots, of knowing who had won. The first "unanimous" declaration of a winner in Florida was for Bush, and voters largely accepted that as fact and ignored further arguments about the validity of the declared result.
      Fox later apologized for making that call so prematurely, but the damage was done, and there was no way to make it right.

      5. Your brain has no way to know whether or not it has all the information required to respond appropriately to a given stimulus.

      As a result, many people look to their "neighbors" when unsure. Since there were a lot of people saying Bush was the rightful winner and Gore was just a sore loser, and since the first "offficial" information the people had received was a Bush victory, a majority didn't want to hear anything about questioning the result, even though nobody had enough information at that time to determine who had "really" won.

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:04AM (#14557549) Journal
    The most dangerous thing in the world is finding someone you agree with. If say a TV station news is saying exactly what you think is right BE BEWARE! You are very likely only reinforcing your believes and not being supplied with new information. A newssource that says the exact opposite of what you believe to be true will cause you to either outright deny it (bad) or search for the real truth.

    Con men always work with this, they tell you what you want to hear so that you will end up trusting them and then they can scam you.

    Linux fans, don't trust claims by say IBM on linux performance blindly, Mac fans doubt every single thing Steve Jobs tells you and MS fans.... well there is no helping some people.

    That people like to have their ideas reinforced is pretty clear with the current world events involving armed conflicts between various factions. Why do I not say "war" or something like that? Because even that means taking sides. Call it war on terror and it becomes clear that america is the one fighting terrorists. I am pretty sure the other side claims however that it is america who is the one dealing in terror.

    Some americans who are against their goverments actions happily claim that european media, the BBC especially is so much more un-biased then their own networks. Is it? Or does the BBC simply say what they want to hear? Same of course the other way around. Is all the european press simply anti-american or are they only guilty of saying something you don't want to hear?

    Not to long ago I had an argument with an american about the race riots in france and the american claimed that in the US such things could not happen because immigrants were integrated into society better. Any recent immigrants in america want to reply on this? Apparently the riots in LA were not related to race.

    It is intresting to see this article take on it. I hadn't suspected it ran so deeply. Then again it may be related to how we defend any decision we made wich later turns out to be bad. Wether we find out that the car we bought is considered bad by everyone else or the partner we choose turns out to be abusive. People like to stick with their decisions because we hate to admit we were wrong.

    Linux zealots, mac slaves and MS apologists, all firmly believe their own myths and deny the enemies truths. Doesn't help at all when 99% of the time your in fact right. It makes it all the easier to think that 1 truth is a lie as well.

    In dutch politics we had a few years a go a new person on the political scene who really upset the current balance as he was neither left nor right wing. The left claimed he was extreme right and the right claimed he was to left. He was for instance against continued immigration (far right) but also wanted to stop buying american fighter aircraft (far left). He was killed and dutch politics went back to the total crap it has always been but perhaps that is the only way forward. A party that is neither left nor right but simply does what is best for the country without being hunted by dogmatic views from some political ideologie.

    A sort of enlighten socialism. Oh and before I get all the americans over me, remember that america is a socialist country as well. A true capatalist nation would have NO social security whatsoever. As long as tax money from the rich goes to those who are poor you are socialist. Take that you bunch of pinkos.

    If you agree with what I said, BE AWARE! Am I only saying what you wanna hear? If you disagree, are you just in denial ignoring the facts?

    In a way, all the responses to this article should be unmodded. Modding is after all only a way to reward those who say what you wanta hear and punish those who do not. If you don't believe me spend some real time meta-moderating.

  • by typical (886006) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:13AM (#14557629) Journal
    Oh, but libertarians are perfectly open-minded and don't simply hold to an ideological mantra at all. ;-)
  • by sulli (195030) * on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:20AM (#14557712) Journal
    "Facts are stupid things." [quotationspage.com]
  • Who is a 'partisan'? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lawpoop (604919) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:24AM (#14557755) Homepage Journal
    How did this study decide who was partisan? The article didn't say. Did they pick people out of rallies or fundraisers, or just people off the street who self-identified with a party?
  • by foniksonik (573572) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:33AM (#14557844) Homepage Journal
    What this describes is the commonplace delusion. People do it all the time. They do it mainly to make life easier on themselves.

    What is easier... going through life having made a decision about something and sticking to it... or constantly questioning your views and decisions and actions right up to the moment you have to commit to them?

    We train our brains to think within constant boundaries. This helps us decide on a course of action much more quickly and keeps us from being overwhelmed and shutting down completely. We also do this to fit in with our community and gain their trust when making group decisions about communal objectives.

    The problem with this methodology is that we decide to never re-evaluate our position. The reason we do this is that society judges us based on past expressions of opinion and labels us hypocrite if we decide to change.

    The solution is to change society so that it becomes okay to change position. The barrier is how to set a standard of proof that the individual really has changed their opinion and can be counted on to stick by that opinion.

    Anything less than what I've outlined here is an incomplete analysis of how views (religion, politics, preference, etc.) affect individuals within societal relationships.

    A comparitive study would be to test the same brain activity within a group of social animals when a leading figure within the group that has majority support goes off and does something unacceptable... I suspect that the rest of the group will ignore the action (brain activity will show a similar response as in theis study) initially in order to maintain the social hierarchy and promote stability within the group... until it happens again and again, at which point they would stage a coup and 'elect' a new leader. We do the same, only on a much grander scale.

  • by Lijemo (740145) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:37AM (#14557899)

    The Republicans pay lip service to small government, fiscal responsibility, and strong family, but often act in ways conter to these ideals.

    The Democrats pay lip service to civil liberties, social justice, and defending the "little guy", but often act in ways counter to these ideals.

    The Libertarians pay lip service to freedom, but work for a society that is essentially a neo-fuedalism: the amont of power and rights you have is based on how much land you own and wealth you have. If you're not born to land, weath, and oppertunity-- well, sucks to be you, because there's no one to protect your freedom from those that have these forms of power.

    The Greens pay lip service to enviornmental protection and social justice, but care more about ideological purity than the actual results of their actions. Thus, their actions often have results that are clearly counter to their aims, but because they're right dammit they do them anyway. They care more about being ideologically correct than about making a real difference for good.

    Choosing a political party is just a matter of deciding who's lies are prettier and more appealing.

    I would love a party that was fiscally responsible, beleived in personal freedom, social justice, enviornmental responsibility, supported small buisiness, supported real family values (i.e. NOT including "hatred" and "intolerance" and "close-mindedness"), was anti-corruption in government and business and supported government that did what was absolutely neccesary for a strong society, but no more than that. I doubt I will ever see such an animal. (well, one may come along that pays lip service to all these things, but more than that? Not bloody likely.)

  • by Big Jojo (50231) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @10:48AM (#14558036)

    It's not news that strong partisans are, well, partisan. The thing to notice here is that the article subject is repeating a meme that is a Republican talking point, getting used more and more desperately to hide rampant criminality. No, both parties do NOT run the K street project, and the last time there was a Democratic administration, the federal deficit SHRANK, and we were more or less at peace with the world.

    The real problem is when organizations that have traditionally been neutral arbiters, holding people to truth in public discussions, are taking sides.

    That's why little-d democracy in the US is in such serious trouble lately. It's virtually impossible to get out messages which highlight cases where the Republican talking points are flat-out lies ("nobody could have anticipated" New Orleans levee troubles, planes used as terror weapons, energy companies rigging markets, etc). Lies that are shaking the constitutional foundation of the country ... rather unlike anything that's attributable to the Democrats.

    Partisanship isn't so much an issue. The problem is the extermination of honesty in traditionally non-partisan (not bipartisan) circles.

  • by SnuffySmith (780790) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:05AM (#14558261)
    I think the response described in the article is essentially the same sort of response that people have to information or assertions that contradict their religious belief or lack thereof.

    Some Christians, for example, might have a visceral reaction to the presentation of logical or scientific errors in the Bible; but at the same time, a non-believer would have a similar response to a believer's unshakable claim to a real spiritual presence in his or her life. In both cases the believer and non-believer are faced with information that threatens their ideas of the constitution of reality. But they're more than ideas. These beliefs are part of the fabric of each person's world -- they are the frame for experiencing and understanding space and time. Threats to faith (in God's existence or his absence) threaten one's sense of well-being.

    Political beliefs, which may or may not be an extension of religious ones, are also a part of one's ideas about the structure of the world. For some, religious belief might tell them how they relate to God and the cosmos and the individuals they know in their lives. Political beliefs, though, tell them how institutions relate to one another and to individuals. Most likely, these political beliefs are an extension of religious ones, but they don't have to be. Threats to political beliefs like threats to political ones mess with people's core concepts of how the world is put together.

    But this makes sense. A visceral reaction to contradictory information is a natural and even helpful response most of the time. You can't go around constantly re-evaluating what you believe and then changing your course of action -- that will make you completely ineffectual or crazy.

  • The False Middle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:12AM (#14558333) Homepage
    "Partisan".

    Republicans are the only people who use this word, they and newscasters. It's a lovely thing, because they only use it as a term for people who call them liars.

    As for the "balanced" folk, the newscasters, the majority of Americans: the truth, reality, the right answers, call it what you will, is not determined by looking at the "left" and the "right" and finding with certitute that reality lies somewhere in the middle, with liars hedged all about it on "both" "sides".

    There are two sides in today's reality, the rightists with Bush as their titular head, and everyone else in the world, which the rightists term the "left".

    That's why the Democrats are such a mess. They're absolutely everyone else that isn't Bush. They aren't a side, they're the majority of us, the contrarians to Bush's view of reality.

    The rightists are monomaniacs, magical thinkers, borderline psychopathic personalities. They can't change their minds; it's not a concept they can understand. They have the truth, and everyone else can go to hell. Evidence, science, exposure, error, nothing can reach them. They lack empathy and think it a strength.

    Bush and his co-thinkers have been wrong on the environment, tax cuts, terrorism, civil rights, causus belli, voting machines, the Swift Boat and Murtha smears, privacy, education, regulation, disaster relief, military reform, anti-missle tech, reactivating nuke weapon building, the UN, diplomacy, the powers of the executive, secret prisons, torture flights, torture, kidnapping, lying about same, secret executions, unpersoning American citizens in secret, being wrong about damned near every terrorist arrest and imprisonment, having the JAG's turn against him, the CIA turn against him, finally the military turn against him, the destruction of our preparedness for war, hiding personal military misconduct, wilderness preservation, the FCC, the internet(s), the Clinton's stealing furniture (Bush at least admitted they were wrong aboutthat, but who heard the retraction?, redistricting out of turn, bribery, treason in outing CIA ops for revenge, destroying the budget through tax cuts, borrowing from everywhere, on and on and on. He recognizes no error, no mistakes. At the "Q&A" last Monday, a student asked him why he cut education and student loans. He look confused, and denied he did it. Magical thinking. He can lie and not think it lying. This is the worst kind of madness. He enjoys lying. He thinks it artful. He laughs out loud as he fabricates, badly, on the fly.

    There is nothing like this list of crimes against sanity on the "other" side. The truth is not in the middle, and both "partisan" sides are not equal in mendacity. The war in Iraq will cost two trillion at the end.We're broke. He's lying. All the 'pubs, even McCain, are lying even to this minute. The "other side" still thinks that they are playing a gentleman's game, as I watched the Alito hearings. They just don't understand what they are up against.

    It's easy to play the fallacy of the false middle. It makes one seem wise, and has the advantage of relieving one of the hard work of making judgements based on actual knowledge. Reporters of the new school use it constantly. Thusly:

    "Bush said today that the sky is green. Some Democratic spokesmen have said that the President is not being straight with the American people. Here are three talking heads to tell you why they are wrong."

    All reporting thereforward is based on the Green Sky world, with occasional fillips of quotes from "partisans" saying that he might not be right. Entire cable networks dedicate there time to Green Sky stories, and it becomes the truth, inextricable. Later, geniuses talk about how both the Blue Sky and Green Sky "proponents" have not told the truth, and that they are addicted to their positions and their combat.

    But the sky is fucking BLUE. It's not blue-green.
    • by Catbeller (118204) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @11:43AM (#14558740) Homepage
      "Troll", hell. It's directly on point of this article. There is no "partisan". There is right, and there is wrong, and it should be possible to judge reality and state the truth without being labelled "partisan", and therefore out of the game. This article is trying to defuse sane debate by ejecting the debaters. It's nihilism.
  • by mabu (178417) on Wednesday January 25, 2006 @01:03PM (#14559858)
    One reason why there are so many polarized ideals is due to the eradication of The Fairness Doctrine [bsalert.com]. There will never be a moderate position that is truly moderate in the United States; there will never be equitible debate on a grand scale in the media, until the Fairness Doctrine is reinstated.

    In 1987 Reagan destroyed this precious aspect of democracy, which performed two very important things: it acknowledged that holders of valuable broadcast licenses had a duty to report news of interest to their constitutients, and it also gave citizens a right to peititon to have their side of a story heard in the media. When Reagan shot down this law, he paved the way for the new breed of media we see now, where editorial is intermixed with journalism, and we have 24-hour propaganda networks and extremist talk radio. This is why we now have a highly politically polarized populace who is incapable of recognizing 'facts.'

    Nothing will change. Nothing. Until the Fairness Doctrine is reinstated. Every other attempt to alter the current course of corporate-dominated political policy will fail until there is a means by which more than one side gets a chance to air their issues in a fair manner.

    People really need to understand this. It's THAT simple. It's all about the Fairness Doctrine. You can't organize an opposition party when the media has an interest in discrediting you. You can't even talk about important issues when the media won't report them. You can't create your own extremist broadcast network to counter another extremist broadcast network -- that doesn't work. The mainstream media must be forced to revert back to responsible journalism and giving equal time to opposing points of view. Without the Fairness Doctrine, nothing will change, and nothing else matters.

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