The politics behind right-wing climate change denial

Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 08.55.44

“Most Republicans still do not regard climate change as a hoax,” said Whit Ayres, a Republican strategist who worked for Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign. “But the entire climate change debate has now been caught up in the broader polarization of American politics.”

“In some ways,” he added, “it’s become yet another of the long list of litmus test issues that determine whether or not you’re a good Republican.”

pub. 06/2017

On the confluence of political and economic division in America

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.51.30

The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.

pub. 02/2017

Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.

On media bias and attempts at neutrality

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 16.27.08

Institutions like journalism draw their authority from trust. With enough of it, journalism can become a true “fourth estate,” an independent power center with an existence separate and distinct from dueling political factions. Without at least some trust that bridges tribal lines, its authority wanes, and it can only passively report as tribalism takes over.

In the end, for building trust, there simply is no substitute for A) guild professionals with special expertise in gathering and assessing information, B) strong norms to govern their behavior, C) institutions to enforce those norms and vouchsafe good work, and D) social norms granting those professionals some transpartisan authority.

The US has lots of A, but not much of B, C, or D.

pub. 05/2017

 

Video: From the gentlest of atheist debaters, effective methods for undermining people’s non-evidence-based beliefs

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 13.10.42Huh, that headline is hard to connect with. Let’s try again:

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 13.26.04pub. 05/2017

Street epistemology is a method of asking people not only what their beliefs are and why they believe them, but most importantly how they determined their beliefs are true. We know that being presented with established facts only causes “the other side” of any debate to dig in deeper, so street epistemology skips specific facts altogether to focus on the bigger picture. This video is an introduction to the concept.

Labor in America: The blue past and red present of West Virginia

Screen Shot 2017-05-06 at 12.09.42

Blair Mountain is the closest thing to Gettysburg that the American labor movement has. Its historic significance is immense. It also happens to sit in the poorest region of a state that is in desperate need of tourism dollars and economic development. Drive on Route 17 to the speck of a town called Blair, though, and all that you will find is a single historic marker for the battle, along with a trailer-sized post office, two churches, and a handful of houses. There is no museum. There is no trail. You cannot even wander up Blair Mountain yourself, because it is private property, owned by coal companies and patrolled by their private security. In fact, those coal companies have, since 2009, been waging a legal battle to prevent the Blair Mountain site from being added to the National Register of Historic Places, so that they can strip mine it instead of preserve it.

pub. 05/2017

Some of the top comments add other context not mentioned in the article, like talking about the deep racism in West Virginia and its effects on the election.

The changing morality of white evangelicals

Screen Shot 2017-04-29 at 09.06.03

Amid this identity crisis, fears about cultural change and nostalgia for a lost era — bound together with the ties of partisan identity — combined to overwhelm the once confident logic of moral values. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Russell Moore, an early and consistent critic of Trump, put it starkly. White evangelicals have, he argued, simply adopted “a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it.”

pub. 11/2016

 

Audio + Transcript: The deep-rooted, inflexible source of some Trump support

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 15.08.38

Audio at link, transcript here.

Lakoff: Boy, did he know what he was doing. He knew perfectly well what he was doing. First of all, there are in this country about 35 percent of Americans who have what I call a strict father morality…

…[If] you look at history, you will see that the strict fathers win. And you can take a look at who wins, and they win because they’re right. That morality and authority go together, that the strict father knows right from wrong. So that if you want to see who’s better than who, you look at who beat who….

…That is what Trump not only believes, he hacks and he assumes is correct. And he knows that about 35 percent of the country — the 35 percent who still support him — that, you know, who also believe this, even if they’re poor…. It’s self-definition, and people don’t vote against their self-definition. Not only that, it doesn’t matter if Trump lies to them, and they know he’s lying, because there’s a higher truth, which is strict father morality itself, which has consequences and that they are truer than any lies. And that if you deny that, if you accept the lies as more important, you’re denying your self-identity. That is why there are alternative facts.

(Quote from transcript) pub. 04/2017