Politics

Historical Context: Investing in Education, In Spite of Economic Woes

We have seen the importance of education time and time again: from preventing polarization in politics and combating the over reliance on authority figures whom we deem infallible through the Halo Effect, to improving political engagement and increasing the lifespan of the educated.  However, in today's world with soaring tuition costs it can be difficult for many people to accept the insurmountable burden that obtaining a college degree can place on a family; especially when it's no golden ticket to employment after graduation.

Add to this the fact that we exist, in a world where congressmen believe that wind is a finite resource, homeopathic remedies are touted on a daily basis in lieu of medicine, and junk science has become an international export - can we really afford to have a polarized political environment that's too busy fighting over the existence of evolution (in the House Committee of Science no less) to enact meaningful change? If increasing education reduces the number of believers in an absurd theory (e.g. astrology), even without specifically addressing that theory - then an increased number of educated members in our society leads to a healthier, more engaged, and less susceptible to junk science populace.

So when graduating seniors are faced with the inability to go to college without taking on an unsustainable amount of debt, it affects the country in far more ways than just the job market. In fact, as the former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, points out it may start a self-fulfilling prophecy where an underemployed workforce hurts the economy, which affects tax revenue, which drives down government programs.  A lack of government programs drives up tuition in schools and drives down political engagement, polarizes the political spectrum, and causes future generations to be underemployed as well. 

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization

Linguistics, Education, and Polarization
The Deffuant-Weisbuch (DW) model describes how interconnected individuals can influence one another's beliefs. The less certain someone is about their belief, the more that individual could be swayed towards the belief of a more confident individual with whom they interact. Under the DW model, "extremists" are defined as a minority of people who are very confident about and unlikely to change their beliefs. As a result, if an individual is uncertain about their belief, they are more likely to be swayed by an extremist.

The Halo Effect, Polarization, and Modern Politics

The Halo Effect, Polarization, and Modern Politics

There's a psychological concept known as the Halo Effect in which an object, person, or ideology (OPI) in which you find positive is assumed to have no negatives and an OPI in which you find negative is assumed to have no positives.  This effect can be illustrated through some very simple thought processes: 
 

  • I like Jill, she is nice. 
  • I think donating to charity is nice. 
  • Therefore, I assume that Jill donates to charity. 


This assumption is based on no outside information.  I have never spoken to the hypothetical character named Jill, but I have a predisposition to assume that Jill would be "the kind of person who would" donate to charity.  If we step back and think, we would realize the fallacy here, but until we actively engage in that thought processes, or until we receive information which contradicts this (e.g. "Jill is especially tight fisted with her finances"), we will operate on the assumption that Jill donates to charity as if it were a fact. 

This assumption of fact is more powerful than just the Halo Effect. When we receive information, we immediately categorize it into one of two different sets:  True and False.  As a result, it's increasingly difficult to reach informed, unbiased positions with simple things (crop yield statistics), and almost impossible with complex issues. When news agencies lost their journalistic integrity, they helped set the stage for the polarization of the American public. 

Generation At War

Generation At War

I am a man of the ripe old age of twenty-three, and while my generation may lack some of the experiences of past generations, we carry an interesting perspective on life that must be acknowledged for its importance.  We have always been a generation at war.

The realization that our generation has always been in war is not a solemn one for me, it's actually quite a trivial matter; statements like:  "We've always been at war," or "My father, brother, husband, or myself may deploy and not return [the same]" have become facts of life.  I say them with the same emotion and conviction that I would tell a child that the Earth revolves around the Moon, or that there aren't monsters under his bed.   There is no trepidation, anxiety, or fear in my affirmation of these simple truths; they merely exist.

They exist in the same purgatory as this perpetually never ending conflict exists.  This purgatory we find ourselves in is one of our own creation and its one that thousands every year seek to escape.  We find ourselves in a limbo that we know nothing outside of, because it's all that we have ever been taught.  We grew up in a post 9/11 world, where terrorism has surpassed communism as the 'big bad boogie man' and regulation for safety at the expense of freedom has become the status-quo.

Oh Look, Another "Cybersecurity" Bill

Oh Look, Another "Cybersecurity" Bill

Back in March, I posted a detailed post about PICP/SOPA and Lamar following a massive outcry of netizens across the world.  At first, it would have appeared that boycott lead by Google, Reddit, and Wikipedia was successful.  However, the ruling party simply does not seem to want to give up.  Don't worry though, we're not alone.  Some other countries have similar laws on the table; among them are the obvious choices (Korea, Iran, etc).  However, what may surprise you  also The United Kingdom

" The British government is about to unveil proposals to block the Internet for copyright enforcement purposes. The confirmation came in a Parliamentary debate yesterday on Intellectual Property, in which pro-copyright MPs had a little ‘chit-chat’ about the allegedly ‘anti-copyright’ government, and indicated their desire for the activation of the Digital Economy Act"