Map of the day

Via Vox… apparently it’s not only American honeybees that are dying off at disturbing rates:


Why?  Probably lots of different reasons all working in concert.  See the link for more.

Photo of the day

From an In Focus gallery of brilliant finalists from the Smithsonian magazine’s photo contest.  Wow:

A wall cloud near Omaha, Nebraska. “This cell grew exponentially over the next 16 minutes, split twice and spawned three EF4 tornadoes with $67.4 million in damage to residences and crops.” Photographed by Kenneth DiLuigi of Sewell, New Jersey.

Time is a flat circle

I love this little parody soooo much (as a college basketball fan, I see these AT&T ads all the time) and y’all know how I feel about True Detective:

Lower tax rates… lower tax revenue

Surprise, surprise, after nice tax cuts for North Carolina’s wealthiest residents, tax revenues are… down.  SMH– you mean supply-side economics doesn’t work?!!  Oh, and the supposed economic benefits of our lower tax rates were going to create a budget amount to fund teacher raises.  Oh well, so much for that.  From WRAL:

 — Tax cuts that state lawmakers passed last year have trimmed the amount of revenue North Carolina is collecting to the point where promised raises for teachers are at risk.

When lawmakers wrote the two-year budget last summer, they left about $360 million unspent for this year, which they planned to use for proposed raises for beginning teachers. That cushion might not be there when the new fiscal year starts in July, however.

Lawmakers likely will have to use $200 million or so to cover another shortfall in the Medicaid budget, and the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division has issued a gloomy forecast for tax collections.

Although collections through the end of March were $12.1 million above target, personal income tax is coming in $221 million below forecasts, according to the Fiscal Research Division…

The revenue squeeze is the result of tax cuts included in last year’s overhaul of the state tax system already taking effect [emphasis mine], while other changes meant to offset the impact of the cuts, such as the elimination of several deductions, won’t be felt until people file their 2014 tax returns next year.

Well, who could have ever seen that coming?  Gee, if only there were some evidence that cutting (already low) tax rates doesn’t lead to increases in tax revenues.  Oh, wait, there is.  Who needs evidence when you’ve got Fox News.

A stupidity asymmetry?

First, read Ezra’s big article “how politics makes us stupid” which was featured to lead off Vox.   I’ve mentioned before the research that shows partisanship is so powerful as to make you bad at math, but Ezra nicely works this into a big piece about the state of politics today.  Read it, okay?

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I was intrigued by how Krugman used this as a jumping off point to suggest a partisan asymmetry in stupidity:

What Ezra does is cite research showing that people understand the world in ways that suit their tribal identities: in controlled experiments both conservatives and liberals systematically misread facts in a way that confirms their biases. And more information doesn’t help: people screen out or discount facts that don’t fit their worldview. Politics, as he says, makes us stupid.

But here’s the thing: the lived experience is that this effect is not, in fact, symmetric between liberals and conservatives. Yes, liberals are sometimes subject to bouts of wishful thinking. But can anyone point to a liberal equivalent of conservative denial of climate change, or the “unskewing” mania late in the 2012 campaign, or the frantic efforts to deny that Obamacare is in fact covering a lot of previously uninsured Americans?[emphasis mine] I don’t mean liberals taking positions you personally disagree with — I mean examples of overwhelming rejection of something that shouldn’t even be in dispute.

The thing is, the evidence is clear that liberals certainly can be just as “stupid.”  Over-reaction to GMO’s and gluten, anyone?  But, in the real world, I think it is safe to say there is definitely less of an impact of “stupid” liberal thinking.  So, what’s up?

One possible answer would be that liberals and conservatives are very different kinds of people — that liberalism goes along with a skeptical, doubting — even self-doubting — frame of mind; “a liberal is someone who won’t take his own side in an argument.”

Another possible answer is that it’s institutional, that liberals don’t have the same kind of monolithic, oligarch-financed network of media organizations and think tanks as the right.

Whatever it is, I think it’s important: people are people, but politics doesn’t seem to have the same stupiditizing effect on left and right.

Starting with Krugman’s second suggestion… ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!  Yep.  If liberals did have an entire political/media infrastructure feeding them the stupid, they’d be stupid.  Fortunately, we don’t.

But, I also think that actually interacts with the earlier proposition.  I think liberals are far less inclined to blindly accept that type of infrastructure.  There absolutely are real personality differences between liberals and conservatives.  For example, we in recent years there has been a huge divide where conservatives are much more likely to embrace right-wing authoritarianism (i.e., implicit submission to authority).  Other research suggests that liberals are higher on openness to experience and conservatives on conscientiousness and it is quite plausible to expect that these basic personality differences could result in substantially different rates of actually embracing “the stupid” in politics.

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