Advertisements

The Siege Mentality Problem – by David Brooks – NYT

“Why are so many conservative evangelicals in Alabama still supporting Roy Moore? For that matter, why have so many evangelicals around the country spent the past two years embracing Donald Trump?

I just took part in a compelling conversation on this subject at the Faith Angle Forum, founded by the late Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and came away with one core explanation: the siege mentality. In fact, I’d say the siege mentality explains most of the dysfunctional group behavior these days, on left and right.

You see the siege mentality not just among evangelical Christians but also among the campus social justice warriors and the gun lobbyists, in North Korea and Iran, and in the populist movements across Europe.

The siege mentality starts with a sense of collective victimhood. It’s not just that our group has opponents. The whole “culture” or the whole world is irredeemably hostile.”

This is an imortant piece by David Brooks, and it rings true. There are issues to work through, as presented by the top comment, which I also endorsed, even though I basically agree with Brooks’ main premise. What is frightening, is that as a hard working environmentalist, terrified by climate change and overpopulation, I fit the bill of being in a member of group that has a siege mentality.

Ed in Seattle

Seattle, WA 1 day ago

Mr. Brooks thinks that America’s leaders should have worked out an accommodation with evangelicals over gay marriage. That’s a typical Brooks position – find a way to spread the blame over both sides. But he ducks the question of what kind of accommodation might be possible. Because there is no possible accommodation.

The evangelicals already have freedom of religion in their houses of worship. The government isn’t asking their churches to perform gay marriages. Would the accommodation have been, allow restaurants to deny service to gay couples? Allow hotels get to deny rooms to gay couples?

The fact is, religious conservatives are being asked to live in a society that recognizes the rights of people whose beliefs are different than their beliefs. Compromising on that basic principle not only sanctions bigotry, it sacrifices our core values of liberty and freedom for people of all faiths.

The Economic Case for Letting Teenagers Sleep a Little Later – The New York Times

“A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs and benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. It estimated that increased transportation costs would most likely be about $150 per student per year. But more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found that the added academic benefit of later start times would be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs.”

Scientists at Harvard and other places have already published research that teenagers are wired to get up later than other folks, and need more sleep than most everyone else.

Can People Change After Middle Age? – by David Brooks – NYT

“Shreveport saw a lot of ugliness during the civil rights era. But it is fortunate today to have Community Renewal, one of the nation’s most impressive community-building groups. Community Renewal builds settlement houses for kids in crime-ridden communities. It sponsors over 1,500 Haven Houses in neighborhoods rich and poor where volunteers sponsor activities and build relationships. It’s one of the most successfully integrated organizations I’ve seen.

Mike pulled out of his dental practice at age 49 and works at Community Renewal, often without pay. Bo heard about the organization from a member of his breakfast group and is now a volunteer and donor. When I sat with Bo and Mike after the staff and volunteer meeting on Monday, three things struck me, which often strike me about people who have transformed their lives for the final lap.”

David Lindsay Hamden, CT Pending Approval

Bravo David Brooks.
Looking at the negative comments, the left wing “progressive” fanatics can’t forgive you for coming from a respectable GOP past, but they are historical amnesiacs. They forget, or never knew, that just 50 years ago, it was the GOP that was the party of civil rights, and the Democrats were the party of racism and jim crow. One of the founders of the Republican Party was Abraham Lincoln.

The Trump Administration’s War on Science – The New York Times

” “Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people,” President Trump said in his speech to Congress last month, after summoning a list of technological triumphs from America’s past. “Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us,” and “American footprints on distant worlds.”

Against those lofty promises, his first budget blueprint is a cramped document that sacrifices American innovation to small-bore politics, shortchanging basic scientific research across the government — from NASA to the Department of Energy to the National Institutes of Health — in ways that can only stifle invention and undercut the nation’s competitiveness. Meanwhile, more than 40 top government science positions, including that of presidential science adviser, remain vacant.”

All good. Here is my favorite comment so far. Go figure:

Nick Charlottesville, VA 7 hours ago

Did you know that the mathematics needed for medical imaging was developed with stimulus funding? The stimulus funding of 1794. In France. That year, post revolution, France started their `Grandes Ecoles’, including the Ecole Polytechnique. The pure mathematicians hired and trained then became some of the most influential of all time: Cauchy, Lagrange, Poisson, and, finally Fourier, whose ideas about recreating unknown functions from definite integrals (measurable quantities) were turned into standard medical procedures 170 years later.

This is what government support for basic research gets you. There is no example in the history of mankind of this sort of work coming out of the private sector.

208 Recommended

A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality – By Dan P. McAdams – The Atlantic

Kathleen Schomaker has been trying to get me to read this McAdams article for months. It is very helpful, but won’t make anyone feel better about having a great narcissist, extrovert, disagreeable bully for a president. She wrote:

“This article profiles DT on multiple dimensions:

1) his personal disposition, including where he is on these 5 dimensions: extroversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeablenes, and openness;
2) his mental habits;
3) his motivations;
4) his self-conception;

The author, Dan McAdams is a professor of psychology at Northwestern University–more on his work profile at:
KS”
From the article:

“Research shows that people low in agreeableness are typically viewed as untrustworthy. Dishonesty and deceit brought down Nixon and damaged the institution of the presidency. It is generally believed today that all politicians lie, or at least dissemble, but Trump appears extreme in this regard. Assessing the truthfulness of the 2016 candidates’ campaign statements, PolitiFact recently calculated that only 2 percent of the claims made by Trump are true, 7 percent are mostly true, 15 percent are half true, 15 percent are mostly false, 42 percent are false, and 18 percent are “pants on fire.” Adding up the last three numbers (from mostly false to flagrantly so), Trump scores 75 percent. The corresponding figures for Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, respectively, are 66, 32, 31, and 29 percent.

In sum, Donald Trump’s basic personality traits suggest a presidency that could be highly combustible. One possible yield is an energetic, activist president who has a less than cordial relationship with the truth. He could be a daring and ruthlessly aggressive decision maker who desperately desires to create the strongest, tallest, shiniest, and most awesome result—and who never thinks twice about the collateral damage he will leave behind. Tough. Bellicose. Threatening. Explosive.”

Source: A Psychologist Analyzes Donald Trump’s Personality – The Atlantic

Tips for handling a toxic co-worker (and how to avoid becoming one) – The New York Times

“This article is part of a series aimed at helping you navigate life’s opportunities and challenges. What else should we write about? Contact us: smarterliving@nytimes.com.

For many Americans, navigating the modern workplace can be like traversing a minefield of time-crunched, stressed-out colleagues who prefer to keep one another at a safe distance rather than form bonds.That’s tricky enough, but what happens when you come across someone who makes your workday a living hell? The subject of handling toxic co-workers is a popular one on workplace-focused websites and discussion boards, mostly because it’s a tricky subject, and most of us still have to coexist peacefully.

Jean Fitzpatrick and Rachel Sussman, two New York City-based relationship therapists, offered a few tips for dealing with a tough working relationship.

Identify the problemA toxic work relationship can leave a lasting impression, so it’s important to figure out what’s bothering you, Ms. Sussman said.There are many types of uncomfortable work relationships, but there are a few types of bad behavior that can send up red flags: Beware the colleague who talks badly about other people, or the person who complains nonstop. The person who needs to be given credit for everything — or shuts you out of meetings — can also be a bad sign.”

Source: Tips for handling a toxic co-worker (and how to avoid becoming one) – The New York Times

The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists – Vox

“”Science, I had come to learn, is as political, competitive, and fierce a career as you can find, full of the temptation to find easy paths.” — Paul Kalanithi, neurosurgeon and writer (1977–2015)Science is in big trouble. Or so we’re told.In the past several years, many scientists have become afflicted with a serious case of doubt — doubt in the very institution of science.Explore the biggest challenges facing science, and how we can fix them: Academia has a huge money problem Too many studies are poorly designed Replicating results is crucial — and rare Peer review is broken Too much science is locked behind paywalls Science is poorly communicated Life as a young academic is incredibly stressful

Conclusion: Science is not doomed
As reporters covering medicine, psychology, climate change, and other areas of research, we wanted to understand this epidemic of doubt. So we sent scientists a survey asking this simple question: If you could change one thing about how science works today, what would it be and why?We heard back from 270 scientists all over the world, including graduate students, senior professors, laboratory heads, and Fields Medalists. They told us that, in a variety of ways, their careers are being hijacked by perverse incentives. The result is bad science.The scientific process, in its ideal form, is elegant: Ask a question, set up an objective test, and get an answer. Repeat. Science is rarely practiced to that ideal. But Copernicus believed in that ideal. So did the rocket scientists behind the moon landing.

But nowadays, our respondents told us, the process is riddled with conflict. Scientists say they’re forced to prioritize self-preservation over pursuing the best questions and uncovering meaningful truths.”I feel torn between asking questions that I know will lead to statistical significance and asking questions that matter,” says Kathryn Bradshaw, a 27-year-old graduate student of counseling at the University of North Dakota.”

Source: The 7 biggest problems facing science, according to 270 scientists – Vox

Why I Identify as Mammal – by Randy Laist, The New York Times

“In a world of conscious beings, identity matters. Self-perception plays a vital role in behavior, so the question of how human beings think about themselves in relation to the world is more than simply one of semantics; ways of seeing lead, directly and indirectly, to ways of acting.Given all that, I choose to identify as mammal.And this is my reason: Our relationship to the natural world, which is changing in such dramatic ways, is in desperate need of revision. Human exceptionalism — expressed in our treatment, use and abuse of other animals, and in the damage we do to the natural environment — has paved the way for enormous harm. It seems clear, then, that identifying exclusively as human has its pitfalls.”

Source: Why I Identify as Mammal – The New York Times

Should We Bank Our Own Stool? The benefits of restoring our microbial system become more and more obvious. We need a way to make this system reboot easier. nytimes.com|By Moises Velasquez-Manoff

“BY last August, my 1-year-old son had taken five courses of antibiotics for recurrent ear infections. That was alarming. By age 10, the average American child has had about 10 courses, and some microbiologists argue that even one course a year is too many — that it might damage our native microbial ecosystem, with far-reaching consequences.

My son was off to a worrisome start. Why, I wondered, didn’t doctors work harder to prevent this collateral damage, not with store-bought probiotics, but with “microbial restoration”? Why didn’t we reinfuse patients with their own microbes after antibiotics?

The scientific term for this is “autologous fecal transplant.” In theory, it could work like a system reboot disk works for your computer. You’d freeze your feces, which are roughly half microbes, and when your microbiome became corrupted or was depleted with antimicrobials, you could “reinstall” it from a backup copy.”

The benefits of restoring our microbial system become more and more obvious. We need a way to make this system reboot easier.
nytimes.com|By Moises Velasquez-Manoff