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arely staircase

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Member since: Sun Dec 11, 2011, 06:54 PM
Number of posts: 12,440

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How conspiracists think

New research helps explain why some see elaborate government plots behind events like 9/11 or the Boston bombings

Did NASA fake the moon landing? Is the government hiding Martians in Area 51? Is global warming a hoax? And what about the Boston Marathon bombing…an “inside job” perhaps?

These findings are alarming because they show that conspiracy theories sow public mistrust and undermine democratic debate by diverting attention away from important scientific, political and societal issues. There is no question as to whether the public should actively demand truthful and transparent information from their governments and proposed explanations should be met with a healthy amount of scepticism, yet, this is not what conspiracy theories offer. A conspiracy theory is usually defined as an attempt to explain the ultimate cause of an important societal event as part of some sinister plot conjured up by a secret alliance of powerful individuals and organizations. The great philosopher Karl Popper argued that the fallacy of conspiracy theories lies in their tendency to describe every event as ‘intentional’ and ‘planned’ thereby seriously underestimating the random nature and unintended consequences of many political and social actions. In fact, Popper was describing a cognitive bias that psychologists now commonly refer to as the “fundamental attribution error”: the tendency to overestimate the actions of others as being intentional rather than the product of (random) situational circumstances.


Since a number of studies have shown that belief in conspiracy theories is associated with feelings of powerlessness, uncertainty and a general lack of agency and control, a likely purpose of this bias is to help people “make sense of the world” by providing simple explanations for complex societal events — restoring a sense of control and predictability. A good example is that of climate change: while the most recent international scientific assessment report (receiving input from over 2500 independent scientists from more than a 100 countries) concluded with 90 percent certainty that human-induced global warming is occurring, the severe consequences and implications of climate change are often too distressing and overwhelming for people to deal with, both cognitively as well as emotionally. Resorting to easier explanations that simply discount global warming as a hoax is then of course much more comforting and convenient psychologically. Yet, as Al Gore famously pointed out, unfortunately, the truth is not always convenient.

Posted by arely staircase | Thu May 2, 2013, 08:09 PM (164 replies)

3 pals of Boston Marathon bombing suspect charged with coverup

The three friends, who are all 19-years-old, allegedly went to Tsarnaev’s dorm room after the FBI photos came out April 18 and left with a backpack that contained fireworks tubes that had been emptied of their explosive powder, according to the documents....

...They then "collectively decided to throw the backpack and fireworks into the trash because they did not want Tsarnaev to get in trouble," Kadyrbayev told agents, according to the complaint.

Posted by arely staircase | Wed May 1, 2013, 07:45 PM (70 replies)

Happy Anniversary, Al-Quaeda

Two years ago President Obama brought to fruition his shift in priorities to focus on capturing or killing bin Laden. Did he make the right choice?

Posted by arely staircase | Wed May 1, 2013, 07:24 PM (1 replies)

over reliance on standardized testing is counter productive; reason #1

had a parent-teacher conference today about a kid who never turns in his homework and the mom asked me "the tests are over with, why are you making them do homework?"
Posted by arely staircase | Tue Apr 30, 2013, 11:02 PM (0 replies)

I am old enough to remember when kids were allowed to actually bring guns to school

and I am only 40 something. deer rifles in the back windows of pick ups in the high school parking lot were not uncommon in rural East Texas in the 1970s and even 80s. Of course that is also back when seat belts weren't required and it was legal to drive down the road drinking a beer if you were at least 18.

I wouldn't support returning to such policies, I'm just making a my-how-times-have changed and I guess I'm getting old observation.
Posted by arely staircase | Mon Apr 29, 2013, 03:39 PM (95 replies)

has the youtube comments section always been full of holocaust deniers and straight-up Nazis?

And I am not using the word as a hyperbolic substitute for conservatives, but actual Nazis. I was watching some pretty good documentaries on WWII from the BBC and other reputable, mainstream broadcasters and I mean, jeez.

And are there more of these people than I thought, or is this just the internet artificially magnifying things?
Posted by arely staircase | Mon Apr 29, 2013, 09:01 AM (33 replies)

Gene Robinson on Episcopalianism on Colbert

"It is like advanced placement religion. It's for thinking people" Bishop Robinson.


"You are part of a heretical religion and being sent to Hell" Stephen Colbert
Posted by arely staircase | Sun Apr 28, 2013, 06:38 PM (8 replies)

"The Hard Rock Cafe of catostrophic policy decisions"

Jon Stewart on the Bush Library.
Posted by arely staircase | Sun Apr 28, 2013, 04:05 PM (0 replies)

The Lesson of Boston

There’s also a danger built into the American experiment, the very nature of which leaves us exposed. Our rightly cherished diversity can make the challenge of belonging that much steeper. Our good fortune and leadership mean that we’ll be not just envied in the world, but also reviled.

The F.B.I. averted its gaze from the older Tsarnaev brother after it couldn’t find any conclusive alarms because that’s what the government is supposed to do, absent better information. We don’t want it to go too far in spying on us. That means it will fail to notice things.

While we can and will figure out small ways to be safer, we have to come to terms with the reality that we’ll never be safe, not with unrestricted travel through cyberspace. Not with the Second Amendment. Not with the privacy we expect. Not with the liberty we demand.

That’s the bargain we’ve made. It’s imperfect, but it’s the right one.

Posted by arely staircase | Sun Apr 28, 2013, 03:20 PM (0 replies)

Leftist priests: Francis can fix church 'in ruins'

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — A new pope from Latin America who wants to build "a church for the poor" is stirring hopes among advocates of liberation theology, a movement of social activism that alarmed former popes by delving into leftist politics.

Pope Francis has what it takes to fix a church "in ruins" that has "lost its respect for what is sacred," prominent liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said Saturday.

"With this pope, a Jesuit and a pope from the Third World, we can breathe happiness," Boff said at a Buenos Aires book fair. "Pope Francis has both the vigor and tenderness that we need to create a new spiritual world."


Well he is still a homophobic asshole, but let us hope this guy is right.
Posted by arely staircase | Sat Apr 27, 2013, 07:59 PM (33 replies)
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