Do as I say, not as I do…but actions speak louder than words

The scientist in me craves information. I want to know what’s going on and why. It’s undoubtedly what made science so attractive to me. It’s also what makes research with human subjects so unappealing to me. People lie, and can’t be trusted (of course I know that’s not entirely true, but when it comes to research, it’s a real problem and I’m continuously impressed by those who take on those problems). We know people lie because we see it all the time. This isn’t a misanthropic judgement, it’s just a statement about who we are. Most of it is unintentional, and we even lie to ourselves. How many times do we say that we don’t want to eat that last chocolate, but we eat it anyway? We say that we wanted to go to the gym, but we stayed on the couch instead. We become living contradictions. We have the verbal report (even the voice in our head) saying that want something (or don’t want something), but our behavior tells the opposite story. When faced with this contradiction, if we’re trying to figure out which is the real version (the not wanting to eat the chocolate, or the eating the chocolate), I think the behavior tells the real story. We may say or think that we don’t want to, and a piece of us might not want to, but if we eat the chocolate, we clearly wanted to more than we didn’t want to. To make it worse, how can I know if somebody is lying when they say that they don’t want to do something, but they do it anyway? Until we invent a mind-reader, and can be sure that we aren’t lying to ourselves, all I have is the action, and, to be as cliche as possible, actions speak louder than words. What makes me say this today? Sanctuary cities. It’s a stretch, but follow along if you want.

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How often do we see ourselves in others?

I’ve used this blog in several different ways since it started. Mostly as an outlet for whatever random thing that might have crossed my mind that day or morning or evening or in the depth of night. I find myself more excited to write about things that defend a move by government with which I agree, and less excited about criticising moves that I don’t like, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody who has read anything else I’ve written that I’ve been less excited about writing lately. This shows up in what’s come out of me on this page lately. An article about our priorities, about the flaw in word usage that might have hurt women’s rights, a jobs policy that sounds good to me. All of this while there are a million ways I could express my dissatisfaction with the current government, and complain about the moves they are or aren’t making. But that clearly doesn’t make me want to write as much as other times. In fact, I’ve been uninspired, actively seeking things to write about, and have been mulling this idea for a while. Some of it is obvious, and some might only be a partial explanation, but as a scientist, I’ve learned to live with partial explanations, and fully recognize that the whole explanation is often too complicated, so we make do with parts. So this is the “part” that I’m thinking about this morning, as I’ve thought out for several mornings over the past couple of weeks:

Can we infer somebody’s inner sense of the world by attributes they ascribe to others? In other words, how deep does the psychological construct of projection go?

Continue reading “How often do we see ourselves in others?”

Do our priorities expose moral flaws?

The GOP is busy trying to repeal and replace Obamacare. They’ve proposed the American Health Care Act as a means to that end. To be honest, I can’t seem to find the bill online anywhere, but the CBO has released its estimates of the impact (the CBO says it combines legislation, but it doesn’t say what legislation it combines). As an aside, in my search for the bill on congress.gov turned up H.R.277 (American Health Care Reform Act) that has collected 29 cosponsors), but also turned up H.R.1275, which has a much better name: “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan.” I’m quite sure it’s not, but it’s still a great name.

I am not going to get into details about the CBO score, but the summary is that the plan will save Americans $337 billion over 10 years, at the cost of increasing the number of uninsured by 24 million. The CBO says that 14 million people will become uninsured by 2018, mostly because they will opt out of coverage after the mandate is repealed. People speaking in support of the plan have said that it will maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions for people who maintain continuous coverage, so it looks like these 14 million will lose that benefit of the ACA. By the end of the ten year estimate, the CBO says a total of 24 million more Americans will be without insurance, bringing the total uninsured to 52 million Americans. The impact of this could be devastating to those Americans, and we will watch them suffer, all to save some money. I think that’s a moral failure.

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A feminist by any other name…might be an equalist.

Today is International Women’s Day 2017, and it’s probably not a coincidence that I had a thought about being a feminist this morning while driving to work. It’s surely a thought that many have had, and, like everything else I write about here, it’s coming from a complete amature position, so take it with a grain of salt. I consider myself a feminist, and have written before about being a male feminist. There are many people out there who are turned off by that word, and people who I consider feminists who might refuse to call themselves that. It made me wonder if there was something about the word itself that people rejected. And that thought got the figurative wheels in motion while the literal wheels were moving under me.

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Some thoughts on jobs

Once again, I have to start with a disclosure: I am not an economist and these thoughts likely shouldn’t be taken seriously by anybody. Of course a lack of expertise hasn’t stopped me from bloviating about ways to fix the world, and not being an expert certainly hasn’t even stopped Donald Trump from becoming president. With that in mind, I have a dream about a program to help get people to work. It has two main ingredients, and I don’t know if it would work, but it’s fun to imagine anyway.

To think about how to fix the jobs problem in the United States, we have to first think about what the problem is, and who is affected. And then it leads me to the solution that’s been in my dreams lately. It’s a great dream, of a bold initiative, with a practical solution to a pressing problem. Something I could imagine being a crux of the Bartlet Democrat platform.

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