Quick hits (part II)

1) Aaron Carroll on all matters of “evidence-based dentistry” besides just flossing.

2) Slate’s Daniel Politi with some nice context on “deplorables.”  47%, this is not.  And if it were, there’s no evidence 47% acctually mattered at all.

3) What is deplorable is Donald Trump’s lie after lie after lie.  Paul Waldman on how hard this gets for the press:

Here’s the problem this presents. What he’s saying is so transparently phony that it just boggles the mind, yet you can’t do an “objective” fact-check on whether Trump has a secret plan to defeat the Islamic State, because you can’t prove that he doesn’t. But he doesn’t. I also can’t prove that every night while I sleep my dogs haven’t been painstakingly constructing a teleportation machine, then burying it in the back yard before sunrise, only to dig it up again the next night to continue their work. But it would be lunacy to assume that that’s what’s happening. Among those inclined to defend the Republican nominee, is there a single person who could say with a straight face, “Yes, I’m sure that Donald Trump is telling the truth when he says he has formulated a secret plan to defeat ISIS”? …

Our entire system is set up on the presumption that the people running for president will accept certain norms. Even if they might fib from time to time, they’ll agree that the truth does matter in a fundamental way, and that they’re accountable to it. They’ll accept that the presidency is a serious position and the people who would hold it should have some degree of understanding of the issues they’ll confront. They’ll accept that they have an obligation to explain what they’re going to do if they win. The campaign may be dominated by trivial controversies and superficial appeals, and both candidates are trying to put on a compelling show, but there has to be something substantive underneath that show, whether you agree with that candidate’s priorities or not.

Both parties’ nominees have always agreed on those basic norms. Yet Donald Trump accepts none of them. [emphasis mine] And right now he’s trailing Clinton by only around 5 points in the polls.

4) Fascinating new research reveals why the measles vaccine is so effective at preventing not just measles, but many other childhood diseases (short version: even when you survive the measles, it wreaks havoc on your immune system).  All the more reason to push back hard against the anti-vaxxers.

5) Now, I really don’t know all that much about Kratom and how horrible or not it is.  But I honestly trust a HuffPo journalist on the matter more than I trust the DEA.

6) Great advice for how to find the fastest line in the grocery store.  I’ve been using this bit of knowledge successfully for years:

Get behind a shopper who has a full cart

That may seem counterintuitive, but data tell a different story, said Dan Meyer, a former high school math teacher who is the chief academic officer at Desmos, where he explores the future of math, technology and learning.

“Every person requires a fixed amount of time to say hello, pay, say goodbye and clear out of the lane,” he said in an email. His research found all of that takes an average of 41 seconds per person and items to be rung up take about three seconds each.

That means getting in line with numerous people who have fewer things can be a poor choice.

Think of it this way: One person with 100 items to be rung up will take an average of almost six minutes to process. If you get in a line with four people who each have 20 items, it will take an average of nearly seven minutes.

7) The simple psychology tricks that maybe aren’t so simple.

8) Really enjoyed Chait on patriotism:

The second category, national pride of the conventional conservative variety, connects patriotism to national ideals, like democracy, and insists that those ideals have always been more or less fulfilled. A Reagan or a Bush — any Bush — would speak movingly of America as a shining city on a hill and a beacon of hope to the world and treat any acknowledgment of the country’s failure to uphold its ideals as an attack on its essential goodness. “I’ll never apologize for the United States of America, ever,” said George H.W. Bush, a fervent believer in his country as a force for good throughout the world. “I don’t care what the facts are.” Mitt Romney’s book No Apologyis built on the very same premise. Their belief in American goodness is a nearly theological conviction — no set of facts could dent their certainty that the country is a light unto other nations.

Moving farther left, liberal patriotism, the patriotism of Obama and Clinton, also connects love of country to ideals. Liberals, though, acknowledge the disparity between the country’s ideals and its reality, and place the struggle to bring the two into line as the essence of patriotism. In his 1993 inaugural address, Bill Clinton said, “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.” At the Democratic National Convention in July, Obama, repeating a constant theme of his, declared, “We’re not done perfecting our union, or living up to our founding creed that all of us are created equal; all of us are free in the eyes of God.” Or, as Michelle Obama told the same convention, “The story of this country” culminated in a world where she could “wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves.” Liberal patriotism is the celebration of an ongoing progression to realize the country’s ideals.

9) Donald Trump supporters are worried about election fraud now?  You should read what was going on in the 1800’s.  Election fraud may well have killed Edgar Allen Poe.

10) Toobin on Hillary Clinton’s scandals.

11) Yes, it is way past time every phone was waterproof.  Though, it’s not easy.

12) John Cassidy on Trump’s constant lying.

13) Dave Weigel on Trump and Putin and the GOP:

Max Boot, a conservative policy analyst, former Romney ­national security adviser and author who plans to vote for Hillary Clinton, said that “there’s no precedent for what Trump is saying.”

“George McGovern was not running around saying, ‘What a wonderful guy Ho Chi Minh is!’ ” Boot said. “It’s never been the view of one of the leaders of our two dominant parties that an anti-American foreign leader was preferable to our president.” …

Gene Healy, the vice president of the libertarian Cato Institute and the author of “The Cult of the Presidency,” was hopeful that Republican affinity for strongmen would subside after the election.

“It’s not just the Putin crush: There’s something warped about a guy who gets giddy about how efficiently Kim Jong Un knocked off his rivals, like he’s admiring a scene from ‘Scarface,’ ” Healy said, referring to earlier remarks by Trump. “But I can’t say that I’ve noticed renewed longing for strong leaders from the right. Just the opposite: Mainstream conservatives are hoping the Trump candidacy is the ‘rock bottom’ Americans need to hit before we can finally admit we have a problem, like the junkie who has a grim epiphany after raiding his mother’s purse.”

14) Ezra’s take on the Lauer forum.

15) This Vox feature from last month on race and police legitimacy is great.  Short version: it’s all about procedural justice.  People just want to feel they are being treated fairly.  And far too often, police create an environment where they do not feel that way.

16) Frustrating headline, “Politics Are Tricky but Science Is Clear: Needle Exchanges Work.”  I really wish that “science is clear” would be enough for policy, but, alas, it is not.  Stupid moralism!!  Of course, this means people will needlessly get diseases, but, hey, serves them right for being drug addicts.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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