Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trust me

The executioner goes on and on about our seemingly maladaptive capacity for self delusion. The evidence is staring at us from every news outlet and hallway conversation. The executioner finds supporters of Bush league policies suffering in an alternate reality where, despite all facts, there somehow ARE WMD in Iraq, where, despite all the incriminating memos and cheques passed, Tom Delay is a model of political uprightness, where despite the crystal clarity of the second amendment it is somehow right to try enacting statutes cut and pasted from one sect's scriptures. While it doesn't go far enough in explaining WHY we become active and cooperative participants when we are being lied to, this little study does at least make clear that such cooperation with con men is, as the executioner claims, a "normal" sickness. Somebody sets you up to trust a scoundrel and the set up holds more sway than all the cheating which ensues. Exploiting this phenomenon has been Rove's job since day one and it is why Bush can repeatedly hurt the interests of red necks in blue collars and get away with it. Rove's propaganda work has more impact on the political prosperity of Dubya than the"best and the brightest" did for Kennedy or the "brain trust" did for FDR.

Skepticism is the rougher road, requiring more thinking and more independent sources of information. They'll tell you the smooth road is gated to keep the bad people out. That is the gate to the sheepfold.

The link is to a short summary of a longer and more technical article published in Nature Neuroscience by researchers from Cornell and NYU...worth reading but here is the punchline:

According to Phelps, these findings suggest that "second-hand accounts of moral character can override the impact of first-hand experience of trustworthiness as expressed in both behavioral choices and the underlying neural mechanisms"

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