Monday, May 06, 2013

Dilbert, Skynet and the latest from the transparency front

Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) and I have both agreed and disagreed about transparency, for years. In his posting, Crime and Privacy, he has opined, for example, that "Ironically, the more the government clamps down on individual privacy, the more freedom the residents will have. When the government can detect every sort of crime, it will be forced by public opinion and by resource constraints to legalize anything it can detect but can't stop." 

DilbertHm, well, that's right in the general gist, though wrong in the specifics. What Scott is fumbling around -- and that I made explicit in The Transparent Society (1997) -- is that universal and pervasive surveillance can take us in either of two directions.  One is toward Big Brother, if elites monopolize the omniscience and can surveil in secret, without accountability or supervision.  In that case, you get what Vernor Vinge called "ubiquitous law enforcement." And if the cops can't arrest everyone?  Then they'll cherry-pick and arrest those whom they don't like.  In the specifics, Adams is dead wrong.

But Adams is floundering in the right direction when he holds "that a lack of privacy would lead to fewer activities being against the law. The only reason law enforcement can afford to act against drug users, or prostitution, or gambling, for example, is because only 1% of those crimes are detectable. If police could magically know every time someone violated a drug or prostitution law, the volume would be so high they would end up ignoring the entire class of crimes for purely practical reasons. And that's where we're heading."

Still wrong! But almost there. What is missing from his vision is… citizenship. Let us assume that we remain sovereign voters and citizens, not just legally but empowered by omniscience of our own. By "sousveillance" -- the ability and fierce determination to look BACK at the mighty - of government, oligarchy, corporatcy, criminality - in effect, watching the watchmen. (I portray this in my novels, EARTH and  EXISTENCE and it is very likely. ) Suppose we get used to applying reciprocal accountability and even inserting cameras of our own - or at least trusted witnesses - even in the authorities' surveillance chambers and control rooms. In that case:

1) Cherry-picking and other abuses will be caught and deterred.

2) We will argue, debate, deliberate and change some of the laws ourselves.  Some will be abandoned, as Scott Adams describes, only by our choice, not because of some cop-laziness.

For example, if you are caught every single time you break the speed limit, and if the fine every time is $400, then you will join millions of your neighbors demanding that the system of fines be changed!  You currently pay $400 because the law assumes it is missing 99% of the speeders.  If it catches 100% of them, then rational people will negotiate a shift to a tariff system, where you pay by the mile… and by the mph… each time you hurry above the limit, but are not putting folks at risk. Deterrence that's reasonable and flexible. Um…. duh?

Here is what I find depressing. People just don't get this! Not even smart, out-of-the-box thinkers like Scott Adams. They seldom look at the society of citizens around them and see it! We never notice that notice99% of the stuff… even the rules… around us is working! (Just stand at a 4-way stop sign intersection and watch a miracle at work.) Sure, complain about the wretched 1% that isn't!  I got a list of complaints that rolls out the door. But this tendency to only notice what's wrong seriously undermines our belief that we can fix things.

No wonder negotiation has broken down, in this era of dismal culture war.  We all assume the worst. We never ponder… is there a solution that we could negotiate, among ourselves, so that these trends won't rob our freedom, but enhance it?

== The matter at mean ==

smbcThe best and smartest of the topical web comics is Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal (SMBC), by Zach Weiner. A recent strip illustrates the psychological state that drives elites -- even well-meaning ones -- to proclaim a need for asymmetric information flows… to know everything about us while letting us know very little about what they are doing.  In fairness, such asymmetries can be necessary at a tactical level. But you can count on the rationalizations always getting pushed beyond sense, extending secrecy as a convenience, as job security, and an expression of self-importance -- a tendency that winds up endangering citizenship and freedom.

See also...How Internet fighting works: Another dollop of transparency wisdom from SMBC.

We shouldn't get angry about this fundamental trait of human nature -- it is likely what you or I would do, to some degree, if we found ourselves in a position of power. But human nature is a challenge, a foundation we had no part in shaping, a hand we are dealt that can and must be improved. When it comes to surveillance by those with power we simply have to keep up a steady counter pressure, to find innovative methods for applying transparency upward (sousveillance). Watching the watchers, in ways that do not prevent them from doing their legitimate jobs.  It turns out there are such methods, just waiting for a concerted effort on our parts. Here is one example: Free the Inspectors General.

Oh, lest this focus solely on government, note that the same psychological drive affects elites of all kinds, from finance to business to social or international or criminal. Only (a slim majority of) scientists regularly practice transparency as a schooled habit. We are all human. But we must stop this old habit from destroying us. We can't afford to indulge it anymore.

== Skynet now has lasers ==

Our friends the HST (High Speed Trading) or HFT (High Frequency Trading) algorithms are at it again. A single hacked/prank tweet on the Associated Press (AP) account, declaring that the White House had been bombed and Obama injured, sent the market into an instant freefall for three minutes, far too quickly for human traders to have been involved. "That goes to show you how algorithms read headlines and create these automatic orders – you don't even have time to react as a human being." See also: Skynet and the Flash Computer Trading Monster.

As if we didn't already have enough reasons to dread this particular path to artificial intelligence (AI) now they are planning to equip Skynet… I mean Goldman Sachs HST systems… with lasers! Laser beam technology originally developed for the military is being rolled out to shave time off trades. It will compete with new microwave networks that are increasingly being used by traders. Ah, humans.  Marx was right about capitalists, they will sell the new overlords the rope used to hang us all.

== Transparency-related Miscellany ==

I consulted with Qualcomm about this, amid my decades long campaign to change the design of our cell phone system, so that it will continue to be useful when we'll need it most, when some disaster (local or national or global) brings down the cell towers!  Implementing one of these resilience concepts, Qualcomm hopes to boost mobile coverage with a cell phone service that uses small cellular base stations installed in homes to serve passing smartphone users.

And along similar lines, adding to our potential resilience... Ushahidi aims to build the world’s most simple, reliable, and rugged Internet connection device, but with sophisticated cloud-based features. Its BRCK hub is rugged and can connect 20 devices  with any network in the world, providing eight hours of wireless connectivity battery life

VingeSmart dust computers, no bigger than a snowflake, will scavenge power from their surroundings, and monitor your world. Clearly a huge predictive hit for my friend Vernor Vinge in his novel -- A Deepness in the Sky -- which explores the possibilities.  Big potential upsides await… or else downsides far worse than Orwell. Raging against such things won't stop them from being abused.  Embracing them just might.

Hitachi Develops World's Smallest RFID Chip.  Nicknamed "Powder" or "Dust", the surface area of the new chip is a quarter of the original 0.3 x 0.3 mm, 60┬Ám-thick chip developed by Hitachi in 2003. And this RFID chip is only one-eighth the width of the previous model.  Already the hand-wringing has begun… while clueless over  how to deal with such a world.  Clue: moaning about this won't stop it.  Elites will have it. We have one option.  Give it to us all and ensure the elites are watched with this stuff.

- How easy is it to scam the Internet with a fake persona? "Santiago Swallow" skyrocketed from a nonexistent made-up name to a Kred social influence score of 754 out of 1000, within days of being "born" online… midwifed by British technology expert Kevin Ashton (who coined the term "Internet of Things.")  For example: It didn’t take long for Mr Ashton to purchase Swallow some 90,000 followers, all for the price of $50. An automated tweeting service was used to broadcast his thoughts to the world. Image manipulation software created Swallow’s look and Mr Ashton finished his experiment by writing a fake Wikipedia entry and setting up Swallow’s own website through WordPress.

In fact, there are business opportunities for a pseudonymity-reputation conveyance service that would be an instant hit, allowing tools to overcome scams like this. Alas, the general response is hand-wringing and "what'cha gonna do?"

== Past, present and future shock ==

rsz_screen_shot_2013-03-19_at_100548_amIn his book "Present Shock: When Everything Happens NOW," Douglass Rushkoff contends we must get used to the world arising out of Alvin Toffler's prophetically accurate "Future Shock"… a coming era when everything is happening all at once and the present becomes a cacophony of unbearable complexity. One in which the nostalgic reactions of left and right differ -- the Occupy Movement seeks an endless present of confrontation while the right wallows in apocalyptic dreams of an ending that would relieve one of having to think about complexity. And yet, both of these bickering twins express a common, underlying personality trait: anomie toward the future.

Borrowing from some of the best web-philosophers, Rushkoff calls digiphrenia - digitally provoked mental chaos.  One of many overlaps in his book with near-future problems that I portray in Existence. Such as how corporate investing in new goods or services has been replaced by relentless -- and ultimately futile -- efforts to game the markets in real time, betraying the confident foresight that is supposed to lie at the root of capitalism. The motivator (in that case) appears to be less greed than a pervasive unwillingness to grapple with the gyrations of a rapidly shifting target called the near future.

Rushkoff is a savvy writer and perceptive in his attempt at a big picture.  Alas, temporal chauvinism happens to the best of us and the tendency in "Present Shock" is to fall for the very thing he describes happening to others.  Assuming that the present is the only topic here - the only subject worthy of myopic focus.  In fact, history teaches a sobering lesson - that every major new communication medium triggered disruption alienation and pain, before eventually becoming a net force for good.

Movable type, glass lenses, radio, loudspeakers, mass media. Each time this happened, some -- like the Luddites of 18th Century Britain -- would cry fore-tellings of gloom: that commonfolk would be overloaded, their ability to process overwhelmed, or that people would drift aimlessly without the anchor of tradition. Meanwhile others -- from Giordano Bruno to Benjamin Franklin to Teilhard de Chardin -- proclaimed ecstatic joy over the prospect of expanding human powers, predicting that the process might culminate in almost godlike omniscience. Every time, the grouches proved right in the short term and wrong over the long run.

Today’s Internet and media-blasted world shows every sign of passing through a similar era of confusion. A confusion well-documented in Present Shock -- though alas, without as big or deep or wide or as calming a perspective as Douglas Rushkoff claims that he is offering. That is no indictment. It is all right to be a meta-example of the very thing that you are describing. And he describes it all very well.

== More Transparency Miscellany ==

tor1- A cool and informative Scientific American article about Google Glass... and my sci fi augmented reality "specs" in Existence... and other takes on how we'll move through a world of many layers and textures.

- An almost completely plastic pistol, made in a 3D printer. It's heeeeere.  What a world.

- Fortunately, personal firearms will be nowhere near as important in the future as universal access to vision and knowledge. Citizen victories in the Age of Cameras can be among the most important in our time. Recent court decisions in the U.S. have supported a citizen's right to film and record police activity in public places and the Obama Administration has declared this right to be "settled law."  No matter could be more important than preserving the one recourse any person must retain, when dealing with authority… our ability to appeal to the truth.

- Now see how the same fight is being waged in Britain by a brave young woman -- Gemma Atkinson -- whose animated story is brilliant and informative.  Again, most of the time, most police are our good and faithful servants.  But the only conceivable way to keep them that way, is by getting them used to being supervised by their employers.  By us.


- An interesting rumination on Yelp! and other crowd-sourced "critic and review" systems… the advantages… and many many disadvantages that must be overcome, before this promising method can truly displace the appraisal of professionals and experts.

== Saving provocative politics for last ==

So you think I am always coming down on conservatism?  (That is, the current-loony Fox-led version; I admired  the intellectual honesty of Barry Goldwater and I tell everyone - left or right - to read Adam Smith;  but neither Goldwater nor Smith nor William F. Buckley would recognize today's mutant right.)
Well surprise-surprise… I am fully aware of sins of the left, as well!   And I will now  swivel to aim in that direction.

First, bear in mind that moderate liberals are a much larger population than actual leftists, and that liberals do not partake in many of the traits of their more dogmatic allies, nor do they believe almost anything that Sean Hannity claims that they do.  Nevertheless, there truly is a fringe and there are ways in which the far left wing behaves much like fanatics of the far right.

For example, both extremes demand tests of purity and the recitation of rigid, in-group defining doctrines. Neither wing is even remotely interested in applying the genius of pragmatic compromise. At times, the left's political correctness can seem as brutally intolerant as the know-nothing religiosity we see gushing from the opposite extreme.

HaidtOne very smart social psychologist who lays out the case in ways that should make left-of-center intellectuals squirm is Jonathan Haidt. If you are one of those intellectuals, and are honest, you'll give him a look and listen: Tribalism and the Bright Future of Post-Partisan Social Psychology. (Or see his book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion). And perhaps even adapt. Please. We can only afford one half of the American polity going psycho at a time.

And continuing my swivel to cast a wary eye in all directions: a war on whistle blowers? It is much more complicated than this, and there have been other measures that enhanced whistle blowing incentives, of late. Still we need to keep paying attention.

And… the U.S. gives big push to internet surveillance: Senior Obama administration officials have secretly authorized the interception of communications carried on networks operated by AT&T and other Internet service providers, a practice that might otherwise be illegal under federal wiretapping laws.  I see such things as inevitable.  What I demand (and you should) is that we get something in return.  Ever increasing powers of supervision.

There. See?  I am wary in every direction. Remain suspicious! Especially if you have a "side" that you feel is better than its opposition.  It may only be better in 90% of the ways…

…and that 10% could become lethal. Unless we make sure that even our "friendly" elites know.  That we are watching them.

35 comments:

Alex Tolley said...

While I agree that your transparency and sousveillance solution is the right way to proceed, I would be more sanguine about it if I saw that elites were in fact dealt with when their wrongdoing was detected. Our recent experience is not encouraging.

Michael C. Rush said...

>>(Just stand at a 4-way stop sign intersection and watch a miracle at work.)

A minor thing that doesn't question your overall point, but I wonder if this sort of social cooperation is really the result of a growing progressive trend or merely an example of a particular cultural compliance. I recently spent 2.5 months in Thailand, and not only does this sort of cooperative organization not occur there, but the degree of American buy-in is baffling to many. In other words, does the fact that our particular society has successfully conditioned (most of) us to compliance to engineered rational constraints generalize well?

Alfred Differ said...

Conditioned us? How?

Stand at one of those intersections with a pen and a pad of paper and try to write down the rules people are following. If you leave before you've filled a ream, you aren't done.

We know the surface rules and teach them because they are obvious and appear to work, but the vast majority of what we do is unknown even to the people following them. We copy them through imitation and testing. The 1% failure rate is necessary as it is part of the learning procedure.

Now visit a typical street corner with a more complicated stop light arrangement with a nearby rail crossing. You could write books before you are done, yet most drivers master the rules with only a little more effort. We learn them yet don't know them until someone breaks one.

Tim H. said...

Concerning law enforcement, don't overlook the desire of most organizations for more, more money, more people, more power. A lack of privacy could energize a lot of empire building.

Trekelny said...

A few "ums" here:
- To pay $400 for speeding I'd need to be doing in exces of 100 mph. It's 60-in-45 that gets people killed, and the penalty should probably go beyond money then. The real charge laid against us will be harming the environment through waste- and you're doing that at 55-in-50.
-The real bible of amateur-video-equals-truth isn't Gemma Wilkerson. It's "Blair Witch Project". Warning issued.

Tony Fisk said...

... hence the confusion about Thai traffic behaviour (best measurement being throughput)

Local etiquette on escalators is for the stationary to stand on the left so that others can stream past them. I seem to recall a bit of surprise when I mentioned this (standing on the right would work just as well, of course!)

Another anecdote on this topic concerns the preparations made by the Warsaw authorities in anticipation of a visit by a newly elected and somewhat outspoken Pontiff: they withdrew all traffic police!

Contrary to centralised thinking, the general populace managed just fine on their own.

Alex Tolley said...

@Trekelny
The real charge laid against us will be harming the environment through waste- and you're doing that at 55-in-50.

Why is waste measured as a speed rather than the total pollution emitted? Why should a driver of small car with high fuel efficiency driving at 60 mph be considered as wasteful as even a driver of an SUV driving at 30mph with a lower fuel efficiency?
If the crime is to be pollution, or carbon footprint sizes, then that should be the direct metric.

To get back to DB's post on this subject, we already have cameras at junctions to automatically fine vehicles. There was almost no push back from citizens. However, IIRC, in one east coast town, it was taken to court and established that the use of private contractors to erect these cameras and be paid from the revenue stream was illegal. The case was brought after it was found that when the cameras reduced violation rates, the company fixed the timing of the lights to force more violations. Perhaps this small incident proves DB's point, but I think this was a fairly unique case.

fingle said...

Just wanted to differ with Trekelny... A recent ticket in upstate New York, doing 24MPH over the posted limit, set me back over $600 dollars US. I was simply driving my usual California freeway speed. My fault, but... wow...

Tim H. said...

Speeders aren't really a political constituency, and are fair game to make up for the tax cuts of the privileged.

Tom Crowl said...

This is a gross oversimplification... but a short way of putting it is that:

machine 'intelligence/consciosness' at or beyond a human level is inevitable unless we blow ourselves up first...

Kevin Kelly sees the "technium" as a more-or-less inevitable path and that we should simply have faith that consciousness in on the way to some sort of Godhead with humanity simply a step along the way... and that pretty much all we can or should do is sit back and appreciate it... (hence seeing Ted Kzynski and the Amish as sort of rather hopeless interruptions in the inevitable process)

Whereas Douglas Rushkoff agrees that technology seems to be driving things but it doesn't look much like any kind of Godhead is at the end of the road from his perspective.

My position is that its no sure thing either way...

And that its going to be determined by how we design the landscapes which new technologies make possible.

And this is many times determined by details.

I found it fascinating in Existence how you posit the role humans can play in 'humanizing' the artificially intelligent beings they create... which is certainly not an inevitable prospect but desirable.

A real threat that Douglas points out (to me at least)is just how good technology is getting at pushing the boundaries of opinion and emotional manipulation... and I don't think this gets enough attention.

We may have representative government but does it cultivate a critical electorate?

Careful analysis by a skeptical electorate is not really a top priority for politicians.

So the drive for that must come from somewhere else.

P.S. Spent 1 1/2 hours today with attorneys from Perkins Coie (literally one of the top startup firms)... I am seeking one or two post-graduates or grad students from the West Coast with interest in co-founding patented microtransaction system with certain P2P capabilities and moving to next stage (which is exit to existing player in payment space once proof-of-concept demonstrated.)

This is way too much for me by myself (I'm 63 and not a business man)...which should be a blessing for somebody out there... and I believe its an opportunity.

In a time where they seem to be running a bit short for the younger generation.

demo http://www.chagora.com

Mitchell J. Freedman said...

My take on Haidt's book and Haidt's ignorant use of "liberal" and "conservative" is here:

http://mitchellfreedman.blogspot.com/2012/03/tired-of-stupid-elite-people.html

Haidt needs a remedial sociology course with William Julius Wilson or Christopher Jencks.

The problem with Haidt is the old garbage in, garbage out.

Jumper said...

You may have heard of planners' surprise and then careful embracing of phenomenon whereby certain traffic intersections have signals removed and flow is improved.

Also, Ender's Game trailer is out! (cross fingers..)

locumranch said...

Ironic that David started this post by citing Scott Adams, humorist & social critic, an author who has consistently argued that (1) intelligence does not necessarily imply logical capacity, (2) consensus group-think makes us all stupider and (3) most people are self-centered, small-minded and petty, which sounds awful similar to trollish things that I've said.

Many of you think bass-ackwards because you are semantically illiterate: You are shocked & dismayed when CNN tells you that an organization designed to perpetuate violence (aka "The Military") perpetuates (gasp!!) violence; you conclude like Judge Dredd that humans were created to serve 'The Law' rather than vice versa; you believe that the possession of an improved human technology reflects an improved humanity (ha!!); you confuse critical "fault-finding" thinking with socially agreeable populist thinking; and you dismiss your critics as unscientific cultists while you pray for liberation by Technological Singularity.

You & your Singularity Cultists are just as irrational as the Christian Fundamentalists who pray for liberation by Rapture, worse than, because at least they don't to pretend that their faith is either logical or 'scientific'.

Brief enough? Or, should I invoke Jonathan Haidt and accuse you of being intuitive theologians for Science?

Semantics, like Morality, binds and blinds.

Best.

David Brin said...

There is not one sentence of locum's missive (above) that did not have me scratching my head and going "huh?" Seriously, the guy's logic patterns are... unusual. Reminds me of that scene in Existence with the alien probes, worming their way into Web discussions to start grasping human logic,

Seriously, did I say anywhere that I think Scott Adams is righ all the time, or even a lot? Witty and interesting, yes, but I criticize him often and did THIS time!

locums 2nd para... um... WHO is he talking to? There he goes again, playing BATTLESHUP, shouting our grid squares in completely different ocean.

MY singularity cultists? Lazy bum, doesn't even bother ever reading a scintilla of the writings of the host (who has a world rep for being interesting.) Just tosses out guesses, hoping he won't get caught.

Silly lad.

Alfred Differ said...

63 isn't all that old. 8)

I suspect Kevin Kelly is correct enough to matter, but faith isn't necessary. As long as we stay alive there is a social ratchet at work here. It might not produce the world we would imagine, but it will heap innovations upon people and change their world. The ratchet has been working for a very long time across cultures and it doesn't slip very often or very far.

Zeus wielded a power imagined for gods, but we are way, way past what his myth crafters could imagine, let alone do. I would argue that the 'godhead' is already here. We built our own Mt Olympus and while some choose not to move in, enough do and they provide the next generation of innovation.

I'm doubtful of utopian visions of singularity mostly because we've already got a lot of experience changing our world. We won't agree on what is best in the future anymore than we have in the past and that is a good thing. The world of our children's children's children will enable them to wield the powers of gods, but they will probably see it as non-utopian with much room for improvement.

Alfred Differ said...

locumranch:

...you believe that the possession of an improved human technology reflects an improved humanity...

Reflects? No. Is.

I view our social institutions as a form of technology as much as they are a part of us. We both 'free' and 'tools'.

Paul451 said...

Jumper,
"whereby certain traffic intersections have signals removed and flow is improved."

Not just signals. There've been examples in Europe of towns that removed all traffic signs, and found that their road toll drops. In theory, signs, when not ignored, reduce the negotiation that David speaks of.

From a few threads back:
Robert,
"I have to wonder how many NRA members would shriek if the Federal Government passed a law requiring all gun owners to participate monthly in a government-run militia. [...] and a gun buyback program so that anyone who doesn't want to belong to the militia can opt out by no longer owning a gun."

Ten points to anyone who can get this rumour spreading on rightwing conspiracy sites.

There's already a rumour that Federal agencies are buying up ammo en mass in order to create shortages... because... err... Obama! Gun Control! This belief is widespread enough that at least two Congressmen have publicly claimed the conspiracy exists. So it seems you would have an audience ready to believe in a secret Obama plan to introduce compulsory-militia for gun owners. Nothing onerous, two weekends a month, two weeks a year, like the Reserves. And free. The buy-up of ammo is so they can supply rounds for "training" exercises (read: "Indoctrination", amirite patriots?) because... err... Entitlements! Socialism!

Jumper said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect
Explains Scott Adams, etc.

Ian said...

"I have to wonder how many NRA members would shriek if the Federal Government passed a law requiring all gun owners to participate monthly in a government-run militia. [...] and a gun buyback program so that anyone who doesn't want to belong to the militia can opt out by no longer owning a gun."

The Militia Act of 1792 didn't limit gun ownership but it did require almost all white adult males to enlist in the militia and gave the President broad power to conscript militia members for military service - including against domestic uprisings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Militia_Acts_of_1792

Ian said...


"Many of you think bass-ackwards because you are semantically illiterate"

What's your excuse?

Jumper said...

Perhaps my x:23, Ian.

Randy Winn said...

Judge Otis T. Wright appropriately invokes Star Trek in slapping down a litigation mill that used internet traffic activity to generate scads and scads of lawsuits:
Ingenuity 13 v. John Doe.
There is much worth reading in this short order: SF has so mainstreamed that references to Star Trek need not even be explained; use of software to troll for people to sue (presently confined to the private sector, but one can imagine a cash-strapped government coming into the market); good old-fashioned ethical issues in internet-enabled bottles.

---

(I got the link from a Schlock Mercenary FB group. SF promotes interesting discussions!)

Jumper said...

"Third, though Plaintiffs boldly probe the outskirts of law, the only enterprise
they resemble is RICO"
LOL

sociotard said...

Dr. Brin, were you involved in Project Hieroglyph?

This article about the project just sounds like you.
Can Science Fiction Writers Inspire The World To Save Itself?

David Brin said...

Yeah I've been co-preaching this with Stephenson. I intend to help hieroglyph but lack time.

David Brin said...

A genuine Monster:
http://www.examiner.com/article/rush-limbaugh-worried-ohio-kidnap-victims-might-receive-welfare-benefits

Alfred Differ said...

He isn't worth the bandwidth.

Naum said...

Recently finished reading Haidt's book -- it is brilliant and I love the way he weaves metaphors in narrating his hypothesis. It is mostly spot-on, but Mitchell Freedman (comment further up the thread) is correct in assessing Haidt's absurd caricature of liberal/conservative. It's as if Haidt stamped ubiquitous *liberal* "like in his academic circle" upon a whole population. When liberals vary just as conservatives do. Worse, it's bad enough that conservatives caricature liberals in ridiculous ways (i.e., conservatives are honest/hard-working/productive/moral v. immoral/freeloading) that Haidt feels the need to cast other misguided dogmatic stereotypes at liberals too.

Ironic, that Haidt plays into his own assessment. And conservatives much more savvy in the political rhetoric game (as wordsmiths like Nunberg, Lakoff, psychologists like Westen have publicly attested).

Still, *The Righteous Mind* is a remarkable and worthy read, despite Haidt's sociological blinders.

Hans said...

Ten points to anyone who can get this rumour spreading on rightwing conspiracy sites.


10 points? Hell, I say we do a kickstarter for this.

TheMadLibrarian said...

I wonder if taking some of our signs out of the library might result in better attention to the ones remaining. We have directional and informational signs, but still end up asking people to please go outside with their cell phone calls and not bring in their Super Big Gulps. Patrons act shocked when we ask them to observe the courtesies that libraries have always requested.

TheMadLibrarian
sumroma: a few Gypsies

Paul451 said...

Someone at Gitmo is a Python fan.

US military released pics of the prisoner "media room" at Guantanamo:

http://www.alternet.org/3-pictures-tell-you-everything-you-need-know-about-guantanamo

"Fetch... the comfy chair!"

Tony Fisk said...

'We are trying to overlook your tragic mistake!'

Paul451 said...

Re: Sousveillance.
4 Baltimore cops beating on a suspect during an arrest then notice a woman (completely unrelated to the first suspect) filming them on her phone-cam. So one of them smashes her phone, drags her from her car, then all four cops beat on her, then arrest her for "assaulting" the first cop (hitting his fist with her ribs?) and "resisting arrest". Since her two year old child was also in the car, they used that to taunt the women that they were going to make sure she lost custody of the child. She's now suing them and the city, obviously.

http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/cops-beat-woman-filming-another-beating

La deda dede, la deda deda.

[Anyone know a good sousveillance app for phones? One that not only silently records (no need to attract undue attention) but also live uploads the video to a remote server that can't be easily deleted under duress. Qik is a video sharer, but isn't really suited for emergencies and its too easy to delete the remote-stored video in the app. GandhiCam used to be designed for this, but is a lapsed project.]

Tony Fisk said...

@paul451 I've heard of bambuser (used by twitterati James Albery @alberyj to monitor events when Assange sought asylum.) This article might be worth a look also: http://bit.ly/109n03a

Currently reading Sean Mcmullen's 'Zendegi' which has got a running account of the cat and mouse antics of a popular uprising in Iran.

Michael C. Rush said...

>> We copy them through imitation and testing.

You don't see that this is conditioning?