Fox News knows its audience

If you don’t know the story of Trayvon Martin, you should.  (Really short version: Black teenager walking in his neighborhood while carrying skittles and a cell phone is shot to death by overzealous White neighborhood watch fellow who’s convinced the kid is up to no good.  Local police do not charge).  You can see why Fox News viewers may not want to hear a lot about this story.  Hence, we get this graphic via ThinkProgress:

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Photo the day

One thing that I have learned since my interest in checking out cool photos on line is that spiders do really amazing things in floods.  Here’s a photo of such amazing things following flooding in a place with my new favorite place name: Wagga Wagga Australia:

A field covered in spiderwebs next to flood waters in Wagga Wagga, on March 6, 2012. (Reuters/Daniel Munoz)

Face blindness

Really interesting 60 Minutes segment this week on prosopagnosia, aka face blindness.  This is the inability for your brain to recognize faces.  It really is pretty bizarre.  I first listened to the story on podcast and thought that maybe this was harder than I thought when the photo shown is just a face.  Nope, it’s still really easy.  But, for some people, their brain just cannot correct process faces– even their own family members.  It’s really something to behold.  They also link to a quiz of 30 faces to test yourself.  I got 27, which is slightly above average.

Sacred political values

So, when I posted the other evening about biology and politics, John F made the immediate connection to Jonathan Haidt’s really interesting research on morality and ideology (which I thought of myself, but, hey, how much do you want from me on a Saturday night post while watching March Madness?).  Well, Haidt made himself unavoidable, as the very next morning I saw a blog post of his about the very topic.   Basically, humans do not vote out of self interest, but “tribal” instincts and the “sacred” values that define each tribe:

Despite what you might have learned in Economics 101, people aren’t always selfish. In politics, they’re more often groupish. When people feel that a group they value — be it racial, religious, regional or ideological — is under attack, they rally to its defense, even at some cost to themselves. We evolved to be tribal, and politics is a competition among coalitions of tribes.

The key to understanding tribal behavior is not money, it’s sacredness. The great trick that humans developed at some point in the last few hundred thousand years is the ability to circle around a tree, rock, ancestor, flag, book or god, and then treat that thing as sacred. People who worship the same idol can trust one another, work as a team and prevail over less cohesive groups. So if you want to understand politics, and especially our divisive culture wars, you must follow the sacredness…

For the American left, African-Americans, women and other victimized groups are the sacred objects at the center of the story. As liberals circle around these groups, they bond together and gain a sense of righteous common purpose…

[Narrative excised]

[For conservatives] This, too, is a heroic narrative, but it’s a heroism of defense. In this narrative it’s God and country that are sacred — hence the importance in conservative iconography of the Bible, the flag, the military and the founding fathers. But the subtext in this narrative is about moral order. For social conservatives, religion and the traditional family are so important in part because they foster self-control, create moral order and fend off chaos.

Good stuff– read it.  Though I have not looked at the “sacred values” angle myself yet, I really mean to.  I think there’s really a lot going on here.  That’s why I am so interested in politics and social identity (including a conference paper next month that I really need to get cracking on).

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