Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Hope

people cling to selected “facts” as a way to justify their beliefs about how the world works. [Samuel Arbesman, author of the new book The Half-Life of Facts: Why Everything We Know Has an Expiration Date,] notes, “We persist in only adding facts to our personal store of knowledge that jibe with what we already know, rather than assimilate new facts irrespective of how they fit into our worldview.” All too true; confirmation bias is everywhere. 

--Ronald Bailey, Reason

America is seriously divided. We live under a president who openly disdains the large minority of his countrymen who live outside his well-defined coalition of government workers, minorities, unmarried women, and youth; his coalition topped by a progressive national elite that dominates the media, nonprofits, academia, and the entertainment industry.

I believe that in a democracy, sharp divisions make sense. It’s how parties organize, after all, to win elections. I worry, however, that the two sides are so far apart that they no longer learn from each other. They--as Ronald Bailey suggests (above)--each watch their own cable channels, go to their own internet sites, and increasingly talk only to those who think alike.

We used to have conference committees to hash out differences between the two houses of congress. Now though, with one house controlled by Republicans and the other by Democrats--a time when conference committee compromises would seem more useful than ever--the conference committee has disappeared. And that has to be a bad development.

Can we hope for more comity in 2013?

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