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Member since: Thu Apr 29, 2010, 02:31 PM
Number of posts: 53,475

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Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else's


The news: People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by reason, not just passion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience. For decades, social science researchers have focused on the role of emotion in activist movements. A 1996 study of the 1960s civil rights movement, for example, examined how Freedom Riders used songs and speeches to express anger, sadness and frustration and to encourage others to become involved in the movement on an emotional basis. Similarly, New York University sociologist Jeff Goodwin wrote in his 2001 book on the subject that animal rights supporters "describe their journey into activism in terms of their emotional attachment to animals."

As it turns out, when people who are more responsive to injustice see things happen that they find morally wrong, such as abuse or race-based inequality, their minds respond by accessing the sections of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning. When they view examples of people acting morally just, such as giving equal rights to a marginalized group or protecting animals from harm, their brains respond in the same way.

The details: A team of researchers led by University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety monitored participants' brain activity using an fMRI while they watched videos of people exhibiting morally good or bad behavior. One of the clips showed someone putting money in a beggar's cup, for example, while another showed someone violently kicking the cup away. Those who said they felt more emotionally triggered by the action on the screen also exhibited more action in the areas of their brain associated with planning, organizing and logical thinking.


Why it matters: The research suggests that human rights and environmentalist organizations could get more public support by appealing to people's sense of logic and reason rather than to their emotions. Efforts to combat global warming, for example, saw a surge in public support after scientists and statisticians began publishing data about how much sea levels and temperatures would rise instead of sad polar bears on a floating iceberg.

I disagree that we could win more people over by appealing to logic and reason rather than to emotions. I believe it has to be both. Drew Weston's "The Political Brain" is an excellent resource for understanding this. I recommend it for anyone who wants to learn how to win elections - and why Democratic candidates have lost past elections when failing to make such appeals.


The Political Brain is a ground-breaking investigation into the role of emotion in determining the political life of the nation by Drew Westen, professor of psychology and psychiatry at Emory University. Westen shows how politicians can capture the hearts and minds of the electorate through examples of what candidates have said—or could have said—in debates, speeches, and ads.

The Political Brain shows how a different view of the mind and brain leads to a different way of talking with voters about issues that have tied the tongues of Democrats for much of forty years—such as abortion, guns, taxes, and race. You can’t change the structure of the brain. But you can change the way you appeal to it.

“Drew Westen is a must read and must hear for any Democrat… In 2008 we will win the presidency if our candidate reads and acts on this book.”
—Howard Dean, Chairman, Democratic Party

The difference between DU and Discussionist is obvious this week.

No one on DU is arguing that the Hobby Lobby decision is good for women.

No one on DU has used this issue to call Sandra Fluke a man-hater.

I've yet to encounter any blog that allows conservatives to participate that isn't awash in raw sewage.


7%, Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio

"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more. Its estimated 93% won't forward this. If you are one of the 7% who will, forward this with the title '7%'."

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it.

4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye, but don't worry, God never blinks.

16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

18. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

19.. It's never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will this matter?'

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

36. Growing old beats the alternative of dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood.

38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all through our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have, not what you want

42. The best is yet to come...

43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

44. Yield.

45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift."

Ever hear of a compulsive liar? How about a compulsive cheat? (X-Post from GD)

Past Road’s End, Democrats Dig for Native Votes

Given the sovereign rights of Native Americans, I can see the GOP suing that Native Americans aren't citizens and therefore have no right to vote!


Unlikely as it may seem, Democrats consider tiny tribal villages like this one — about 60 miles upriver from the Bering Sea, with a population a little over 400 — so vital to their tenuous majority in the United States Senate that they are building a vast outreach operation here and across rural Alaska. Native populations are one of the most important but least understood constituencies for the Democratic Party, and as Alaska has shown, they do not predictably break for one party or the other.

Six years ago, their support made all the difference for Senator Mark Begich, a Democrat who persuaded the tribes to vote for him over Ted Stevens. Mr. Stevens, the incumbent, was a towering figure among Alaska Natives until his legal troubles proved too much to overcome.

This year, Democrats are redoubling their outreach, knowing that just a few votes in a few small villages could tip the balance of Mr. Begich’s re-election bid, and possibly the entire Senate. The effort, like a similar one aimed at Native Americans in Montana, will involve 130 workers in five new field offices spread out across a land mass roughly twice the size of Texas — from here in the state’s southwest to north of the Arctic Circle.


Beyond Alaska, Democrats are hitting the ground again in Montana, where Native Americans make up 6.5 percent of the voting-age population, or 50,000 people. A good response there could help improve Senator John Walsh’s tough odds in turning his temporary Senate appointment this year into a full term. (He replaced Max Baucus, who is now the ambassador to China.) Democrats plan to have field offices on or near all seven of Montana’s reservations. The week after Mr. Walsh was sworn in, he visited six of those reservations.

Right-wing "free hand of the market" and "work it out in the courts" are a pack of lies.

The right-wing has no problem with espousing this philosophy and then making sure the courts do not provide recourse for those who are harmed. The medical malpractice laws in Wisconsin are just another example ...


Medical malpractice lawsuits plummet in Wisconsin
State caps and a $1 billion malpractice insurance fund discourage claims even in the face of apparent wrongdoing

The number of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Wisconsin fell to 140 last year, a drop of more than 50% since 1999, court records show. Malpractice lawyers blame the decline on state laws that they say are skewed in favor of doctors and hospitals; medical groups contend that malpractice suits have declined because health care professionals have gotten better at their jobs.

At the same time, a state-run malpractice insurance fund — created because of fears that medical malpractice insurance premiums would skyrocket without it — has grown to more than $1.15 billion, a total larger than all the money it has paid out during its entire 39-year history.


Florida is the only other state with a similar ban. No such ban exists for other wrongful deaths in Wisconsin, such as those caused by drunken drivers or other negligent acts. In those types of cases, Daniels' grown children would have had every right to file a lawsuit. "The rule would not apply if you died because you were hit by a Pepsi truck or a Coke truck," said Paul Scoptur, a Milwaukee plaintiffs' lawyer and trial consultant. "To deny accountability when someone is killed is wrong."


Collecting on a medical malpractice claim has gotten more difficult nationwide — the number of claims paid dropped 39% from 2003 to 2013. In Wisconsin, the decline was more than 66%, according to the National Practitioner Data Bank, a registry maintained by the federal government. Meanwhile, the number of issues reported to the federal database increased substantially. The issues — known as adverse actions — include reports of medical errors, loss of privileges and disciplinary actions. In Wisconsin there were 38 adverse action reports involving doctors filed in 2003, a figure that increased to 105 in 2013.

D's and R's have split the last 14 Presidencies, but R's have appointed 12 of 20 SCOTUS justices


The Supreme Court Blunder That Liberals Tend to Make

With President Obama entering the final years of his presidency and Senate control up for grabs this year, Supreme Court transitions have again become a salient subject. Ruth Bader Ginsburg, at 81, is the oldest justice, and Stephen Breyer, who also leans left, is 75. Antonin Scalia (78 years old) and Anthony Kennedy (77), both Reagan appointees, presumably have no interest in handing another nomination to Mr. Obama, but they may face their own hard choices a few years from now.

The court — now entering the final weeks of this year’s term, when many of the biggest decisions will arrive — is of course closely divided. Five-to-four decisions are the norm on most big issues, including climate change, voting rights, same-sex marriage, campaign finance, abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, prison crowding and defendants’ right to counsel. If a conservative were to replace a liberal justice, or vice versa, the outcome of major cases would flip.


The mistake that liberals have made, while less known, is no less real: They have surrendered seats on the court by being less strategic than conservatives with the timing of their retirements. The six most conservative justices, based on their voting patterns, to have retired in the last 50 years all left the bench under a Republican president. By contrast, only one of the six most liberal justices has departed when a Democrat was president.


Just think about what liberals would give to have had a Democratic president replace Justice Marshall. And think about how many major cases — on voting rights, campaign donations, the death penalty and other issues — might have turned out differently.

Ever hear of a compulsive liar? How about a compulsive cheat?

Human engineering simplified

Sherrod Brown says you don't need a tin foil hat.

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