How Did Politics Get So Personal? By Thomas B. Edsall, New York Times,  JAN. 28, 2015 Political hostility in the United States is more and more becoming personal hostility. New findings suggest that the sources of dispute in contemporary life go far beyond ideological differences or mere polarization. They have become elemental, almost tribal, tapping into in-group loyalty and out-group enmity… Fully 36 percent of Republicans and 27 percent of Democrats believe the opposition party’s policies “are so misguided that they threaten the nation’s well-being,” … partisans on both sides believe different facts, use different economic theories, and hold differing views of history… liberals and conservatives process the same set of facts with different cultural thought styles…liberals and conservatives in the same country think as if they were from different cultures… Starting in the 1960s, when race came to the forefront, Poole wrote, other issues involving nothing to do with economics — gun control, gay rights, sexual issues — began to be drawn into the “liberal” vs. “conservative” dimension…the depth of our polarization reflects ingrained personal, cognitive and psychosocial traits — traits that are, in Iyengar’s word, “primal.”…However much they might want to pitch themselves toward the center, politicians will feel the need to tap into the energy, not to mention the primary votes, that ideological purity provides. It is this contradiction between purity and pragmatism that will shape the political landscape for the foreseeable future.

The Growing Realization That Our Individual Struggles Are All Connected Makes This “Our Moment” By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, December 7, 2013

Bigger Than Science, Bigger Than Religion by Richard Schiffman, YES! magazine,  Feb 18, 2015  “All civilizations have drawn on the wisdom traditions that have gotten people through death, tragedy, destruction, immense despair,” says [Yale religious scholar Mary Evelyn] Tucker, adding that we are currently in a perilous rite of passage. “We will need all of the world’s religions to help as well as a shared sense of an evolutionary story to get us through this.”   

Nonlinear Warfare — A New System of Political Control (2014) A short film by Adam Curtis - shows the how deliberate undermining of peoples perception of the world, by manipulating the media and civil society, creates confusion and contradiction, undermining any opposition to existing power structures. This strategy has allowed quantitative easing to go almost unnoticed and unchallenged, even though it is the biggest transfer of wealth to the rich in recent documented history.

Chomsky: Elites Have Forced America into a National Psychosis to Keep Us Embroiled in Imperial Wars By Noam Chomsky, AlterNet, December 2, 2014

Toward a “Common Spirituality”: Scaffolding for Evolving Consciousness by Richard Harmer…A person’s way of thinking and being is influenced by their worldview – the unique combination of attitudes, perceptions, and assumptions that inform how they personally understand and make sense of their place in the world

Your Personality Makes Your Politics By Jonathan Haidt @JonHaidt, Jan. 09, 2014…your moral beliefs make all the difference. Fifty years ago…There was so much diversity within each party…that stereotyping was harder, and cross-party alliances were much easier. But since the 1980s, the two parties have become ever more perfectly sorted…Nowadays you can make predictions about people’s values and votes from just a few seemingly unrelated things….Unfortunately, as the parties developed more divergent values and lifestyles, they also developed divergent facts. Republicans and Democrats believe different things—about history, the Constitution, science, and above all economics….

… the great divide in our politics isn’t really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work bestThis deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development….A Tale of Two Moralities By Paul Krugman

When Beliefs and Facts Collide by Brendan Nyhan, New York Times, JULY 5, 2014

How Unconscious Thought and Perception Affect Our Every Waking Moment By John A. Bargh,, January 2014 posted on

Reality Reconciles Science and Religion: Michael Dowd at TEDxGrandRapids

Persons, People, and Public Policy by Ron Cebik, Psychotherapist and Teacher,, 10/20/2013 — …we are all responsible for the confusion and dysfunction. The breakdown of government is not due to the failure of public policy or the conflicting policies of partisan factions in the body politic. It is due, to a great extent, to factors under the radar of both popular media and sophisticated or academic thinking…There is a flaring up of what has always lain below the consciousness of the American body politic; the presence of a hierarchical psycho-social structure which is denied and suppressed by the myth of the inherent equality of all citizens. This structure is about the development of an individual’s capacity to deal with the self in relation to the culture. The capacity to see beyond black and white responses to threats to one’s personal or group frames of reference requires the addition of internal abilities to tolerate ambivalence and toleration of differences in viewing the world. Too much developmental difference between people interferes in their ability to understand each other’s world views. This is not about intelligence. It is about the ability to manage culturally induced anxiety, the mechanism by which culture balances the need for societal control of the person and the need for personal freedom. The constituents of culture, i.e., economics, religion, technical complexity, etc. determine the level that the average member attains. Regression in psycho-social development occurs when the anxiety within the culture increases. Less tolerance for difference, the organization of self against threat without recourse to contemplation and evaluation, and rigidity of rules lead to conflict with dissent.

The United States is made up of differing cultures and has always been so. There is no common culture and there has never been. Public policy has always been worked out between conflicting cultures. When established cultural patterns are too threatened, anxiety increases, average levels of psycho-social development regress, and more rigidity is introduced into the inter-personal processes of deciding public policies

First, we have to define anxiety. Anxiety is actually preconscious memory of trauma caused by exceeding the boundaries that ensure the safety of the organism. In the beginning this involves dissolving the symbiosis of infant and “mother.” As self and self reliance emerge the boundaries of safety expand as culture teaches the limits beyond which the singular self is at risk. Remaining memories located in the amygdala (that part of the brain where trauma is stored and which triggers quick response to danger, real or imagined) are constantly sending signals to the organism to be vigilant to danger. When danger is attached to an object the body and mind go into the fight/flight mode. Later development opens the availability of options for responding to threats to well being. Acts of compassion and self sacrifice may emerge as the self incorporates increasing complexity in morality and interpersonal concerns. However, culture can also restrict and arrest development at a level that serves the needs of the culture. When this occurs, the discomfort resulting from anxiety can be brought into conscious control by attaching it to an object that can be feared thus giving a semblance of control over the object. I believe this is what is happening to many in our present national culture as they objectify their discomfort at changes taking place as a result of economic and technological changes, the threat of dilution of Caucasian domination of the culture, and seeming loss of control over their future. …The objectification of communal angst onto people who are different, be they of color, sexual orientation, religion, values, or willingness to challenge cultural boundaries for their own growth, results in public policy directed at diminishing the effect such people have…politicians through threats to their incumbency or for a desire for greater influence, inflame the forces of regression to levels of primitive rage and fear of anyone or any idea that threatens pre-conceived notions of cultural superiority. The tragic truth is that an angst-driven minority can dominate a well-meaning progressive majority through threats of disrupting the structures designed to maintain a stable social system. The answer to this threat is enough people to maintain a posture of non-anxious reaction to the chaos engendered by the frightened angry minority. The future of American and global well-being is dependent on raising the level of self-aware conscientious independent citizenry who ultimately consider their highest allegiance to be humanity itself.

Compassion, empathy and the common good

Compassion is the glue holding the world together. Sister Joan Chittister,

Collective Compassion by Gary Haugen TED2015, March 2015 The hidden reason for poverty the world needs to address now Collective compassion has meant an overall decrease in global poverty since the 1980s, says civil rights lawyer Gary Haugen. Yet for all the world’s aid money, there’s a pervasive hidden problem keeping poverty alive. Haugen reveals the dark underlying cause we must recognize and act on now.

Too Many People Can’t Break Out of Their Comfort Zones of Routine to Feel Empathy by MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT, February 6, 2015

Are Republicans Social Darwinists? By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine, April 2012

Where are the compassionate conservatives? By Eugene Robinson Opinion writer September 15, 2011  Government is more than a machine for collecting and spending money, more than an instrument of war, a book of laws or a shield to guarantee and protect individual rights. Government is also an expression of our collective values and aspirations…I believe the Republican candidates’ pinched, crabby view of government’s nature and role is immoral. I believe the fact that poverty has risen sharply over the past decade — as shown by new census data — while the richest Americans have seen their incomes soar is unacceptable. I believe that writing off whole classes of citizens — the long-term unemployed whose skills are becoming out of date, thousands of former offenders who have paid their debt to society, millions of low-income youth ill-served by inadequate schools — is unconscionable.

The Worst Ideas of the Decade – Compassionate conservatism by Reihan Salam, Washington Post, December 2009  – Compassionate conservatism won George W. Bush the White House in 2000, a year Democrats should have taken in a landslide. But over the next eight years, it badly undermined the Republican reputation for competence and fiscal rectitude…While compassionate conservatism elected a Republican president, it may have set the stage for an era of crony capitalism in which real entrepreneurship and growth are snuffed out for a generation.

The Power of Compassion — Karen Armstrong, Moyers Moment, March 13, 2009 -  “My work has continually brought me back to the notion of compassion. Whichever religious tradition I study, I find at the heart of it is the idea of feeling with the other, experiencing with the other, compassion. And every single one of the major world religions has developed its own version of the Golden Rule. Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you….We’ve got to do better than this. Compassion doesn’t mean feeling sorry for people. It doesn’t mean pity. It means putting yourself in the position of the other, learning about the other. Learning what’s motivating the other, learning about their grievances.

How the Common Good Is Transforming Our World by Douglas LaBier,, October 17, 2010 … a steadily growing consciousness and behavior that refocuses personal lives and public policies towards promoting the common good.  By the “common good” I’m referring to a broad evolution beyond values and actions that serve narrow self-interest, and towards those guided by inclusiveness — supporting well-being, economic success, security, human rights and stewardship of resources for the benefit of all, rather than just for some.
It’s like a stealth operation, because it hasn’t become highly visible yet. But polls, surveys and research data reveal several strands of change that are coalescing in this overall direction….It’s an awareness of interconnection of all lives on this planet, and a pull towards acting upon that reality in a range of ways. They include rethinking personal relationships, the responsibility of business to society, and the role of government in an interdependent world.

The Prerequisite of the Common Good by Jim Wallis, Huffington Post, November 9, 2012 /the-prerequisite-of-the-common-good/people are longing for a vision of the common good that includes everyone…a vision drawn from the heart of our religious traditions that allows us to make our faith public but not narrowly partisan. That requires a political engagement that emphasizes issues and people above personalities and partisanship…The prerequisite for solving the deepest problems this country and the world now face is a commitment to a very ancient idea whose time has urgently come: the common good.…

The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, Interview by Amanda Gefter, New, February 17, 2010 — The Empathic Civilization by Jeremy Rifkin, Interview by Amanda Gefter, New, February 17, 2010 -
…before we can save ourselves from climate change we have to break a vicious circle and embrace a new model of society based on scientists’ new understanding of human nature…the premise of The Empathic Civilization…We have to think deeper, to think as a human family…Empathy goes hand-in-hand with selfhood; if you know you’re a self you can see yourself in relation to the other…Increasing individuation and selfhood is critical to increasing empathy… Empathy is the invisible social glue that allows a complex individuated society to remain integrated…

The Empathy Ceiling: The Rich Are Different — And Not In a Good Way by Brian Alexander, MSNBC, August 10, 2011 Studies Suggest The ‘Haves’ show less empathy than ‘Have-nots’ …the rich really are different, and not in a good way: Their life experience makes them less empathetic, less altruistic, and generally more selfish…the philosophical battle over economics, taxes, debt ceilings and defaults that are now roiling the stock market is partly rooted in an upper class “ideology of self-interest.”… There is one interesting piece of evidence showing that many rich people may not be selfish as much as willfully clueless, and therefore unable to make the cognitive link between need and resources. Last year, research at Duke and Harvard universities showed that regardless of political affiliation or income, Americans tended to think wealth distribution ought to be more equal. The problem? Rich people wrongly believed it already was.

The Growing Realization That Our Individual Struggles Are All Connected Makes This “Our Moment” By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, AlterNet, December 7, 2013

6 Habits of Highly Empathic People By Roman Krznaric, Greater Good, posted on, September 1, 2014 …Empathy is not just a way to extend the boundaries of your moral universe. According to new research, it’s a habit we can cultivate to improve the quality of our own lives. But what is empathy? It’s the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions…The big buzz about empathy stems from a revolutionary shift in the science of how we understand human nature. The old view that we are essentially self-interested creatures is being nudged firmly to one side by evidence that we are also homo empathicus, wired for empathy, social cooperation, and mutual aid…. psychologists have revealed that we are primed for empathy by strong attachment relationships [9] in the first two years of life.  But empathy doesn’t stop developing in childhood empathic personalities over the past 10 years — reveals how we can make empathy an attitude and a part of our daily lives [6], and thus improve the lives of everyone around us. Here are the Six Habits of Highly Empathic People!

Habit 1: Cultivate Curiosity about Strangers

Habit 2: Challenge Prejudices and Discover Commonalities

Habit 3: Try Another Person’s Life

Habit 4: Listen Hard — and Open Up

Habit 5: Inspire Mass Action and Social Change – We typically assume empathy happens at the level of individuals, but HEPs understand that empathy can also be a mass phenomenon that brings about fundamental social change…Empathy will most likely flower on a collective scale if its seeds are planted in our children…the big challenge is figuring out how social networking technology can harness the power of empathy to create mass political action…This will only happen if social networks learn to spread not just information, but empathic connection.

Habit 6: Develop an Ambitious Imagination – We also need to empathize with people whose beliefs we don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way…Organizations, too, should be ambitious with their empathic thinking…in an era of rapid technological change, mastering empathy is the key business survival skill because it underpins successful teamwork and leadership….

The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.

Values, Religion, Faith, Spirituality

Faith in social justice By Paul Massari, HDS Communications, May 2, 2014– interview with Dan McKanan, Ralph Waldo Emerson Unitarian Universalist Association Senior Lecturer in Divinity at Harvard Divinity School (HDS), on a new report from the Brookings Institutionreligious voices will remain indispensable to movements on behalf of the poor, the marginalized, and middle-class AmericansThere is a lot of potential for religiously unaffiliated progressives — especially millennials — to partner with religious institutions and organizations in working for economic justice…The Civil Rights Movement is still a good model for partnership between religious organizations and religiously unaffiliated individuals. Though the report characterizes the movement as an alliance of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews, its religious diversity was actually quite a bit broader than that. Religious humanists, secular humanists, Unitarian Universalists, and Muslims also played very important roles in the movement…

Real Christianity vs. Whatever The Heck It Is Conservatives Actually Follow By Allen Clifton, Forward Progressive, August 31, 2014

Chris Hedges on Christian Heretics,, Nov 2, 2013 – … what I’m willing to do, which the mainstream church is not, is to denounce the Christian right as Christian heretics…what they have done is acculturate the worst aspects of American imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, and violence and bigotry into the Christian religion… I think the great failure of the liberal tradition that I come out of is they were too frightened and too timid to stand up. I don’t know why they spent all the years in seminary if they didn’t realize that when they walked out the door they were going to have to fight for it. And they didn’t fight for it.

Wasn’t Jesus A Liberal? by Gary Vance, The Christian Left, August 4, 2014 Liberalism has been under assault for years now. The battering of this grand political philosophy has altered the contemporary definition of liberal to the point that Conservatives use it as a profane word…Liberalism as defined by Webster’s Third New International Dictionary: a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of man, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for tolerance and freedom for the individual from arbitrary authority in all spheres of life…Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history…It is time for Christians of conscience to stand up to religious and political hypocrisy. Christians should proudly proclaim progressive values today and should advocate for the Christian Liberalism that is our heritage and our legacy.

What Do We Mean By ‘Judeo-Christian’?  By Shalom Goldman, Religion Dispatches, January 21, 2011 Religious conservatives have, to varying degrees of controversy, been issuing online voting guides for “concerned Christians” for a while now, but this past election saw something new: a national “Judeo-Christian Voter Guide.” …although the use of “Judeo-Christian” seemed to signal a message of cooperation and ecumenicism, it was really a cover for an attack on the values of the Enlightenment, the very values that enabled Jews to enter Western societies…

The Stunning Resurgence of Progressive Christianity by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, Executive Religion Editor, The Huffington Post, 06/04/2014  Anyone born within the last 50 years would be justified in thinking that Jesus’ teachings and Christian preachings were the exclusive domain of social and fiscal conservatives. The ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s were dominated by Christians with names like Falwell, Robertson, and Dobson who leveraged television and radio to make theirs the default religious voice in America….There has been a largely unnoticed but radical movement over the last decade during which the spiritual fire has shifted to more progressive Christians and that has the potential to change both the political and spiritual landscape of America…progressive Christian leaders are speaking out and being heard in their effort to impact the public square. Pastors and priests have spoken out on blocked Medicaid expansions, gun control, and climate change…immigration reform…religious right to perform gay marriagesNet Neutralitychange drug sentencing laws. Groups like Nuns on a Bus, Sojourners, Red Letter Christians, The Cana Initiative, Moral Mondays, Faithful America and many others are consistently witnessing to injustice in visible — and reportable — ways. Now, when the mainstream media is looking for a Christian to comment on a story, they have a powerful progressive set of voices to chose from…The way forward is for people of good will of all faiths and no faith to work together on matters that promote the common dignity, respect and well-being of all Americans.

Obama Is the Antichrist By Jack Schwartz, The Daily Beast, July 14, 2014 …we have a new faith growing from this nation’s soil: the Tea Party…This religiosity explains the Tea Party’s political zealotry… Religion here doesn’t mean theology but a distinct belief system which, in totality, provides basic answers regarding how to live one’s life, how society should function, how to deal with social and political issues, what is right and wrong, who should lead us, and who should notThese people are true believers who turn out faithfully at the primaries, giving them political clout in great excess to their actual numbers….It is now a commonplace for Tea Party candidates to vow they won’t sacrifice an iota of their principles…They see themselves engaged in nothing less than a project of national salvation. The refusal to compromise is a watchword of their candidates who wear it as a badge of pride. This would seem disastrous in the give-and-take of politics but it is in keeping with sectarian religious doctrine. Like all revealed religions this one has its own Devil in the form of Barack Obama. This Antichrist in the White House is an illegitimate ruler who must be opposed at every turn…

The Tea Party As A Religion By Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, Oct 16 2013

For the Bible Tells Me So? By Mark Sandlin,, June 18, 2014

Liberal Christianity — 10 things to know about this ‘middle way’ By Douglas Todd, Vancouver Sun, June 6, 2014

Idealism, Conscience And The Spiritual Left by William Horden, Huffington Post, March 1, 2010  …Spiritual Left did not, of course, originate with the 60s.…it dates back at least to 1838, when Emerson and other Transcendentalists began their quest for a path “away from the old ‘religions of authority’ into a new ‘religion of the spirit.’”…sought a first-hand experience of the divine grounded in nature and community rather than institutionalized dogma. Rooted deep in the grain of American culture, the Spiritual Left has long acted as the progressive conscience of the nation, championing as it did from its very beginning unpopular causes like abolition and women’s rights…
While many in the Spiritual Left are politically active, many others eschew direct participation in the Political Left because it remains locked in a destructive cycle of conflict with the Political Right…
Amorphous and anti-authoritarian, the Spiritual Left is perhaps best defined as a borderless association of leaders. Free thinkers and independent seekers of spirituality beyond dogma, its members engage in–and disengage from–political activism as a matter of personal conviction, not ordained groupthink…The Political Left will need to return to the moral high ground of progressive American thought and give voice to the American conscience of compassion if it is to recapture the imagination and heart of its spiritual counterpart. It has to want to change the world for the better, not just get elected…

The Right-Wing Is Filled with Biblical Illiterates — They’d Be Shocked by the Teachings of Jesus if They Ever Bothered to Study Them By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, December 23, 2013

Holy Book Learning — Americans are shockingly illiterate when it comes to religions — including their own by Christoper Shea, Boston Globe, March 4, 2007

A New Religious America — How a “Christian Country” Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation by Diana L. Eck Understanding America’s religious landscape is the most important challenge facing us today…

Pope Francis called right-wing Christian fundamentalism a sickness. Stephen D. Foster Jr. October 21, 2013 Pope Francis [has] been particularly critical of right-wing Christian fundamentalism. Pope Francis has shifted the focus of the Catholic Church to issues facing the poor and the sick. He has railed against economic inequality and has criticized the anti-gay and anti-abortion strains that have come to dominate the Christian Right here in America. Such ideological extremism is dangerous, not only to Christianity, but to the world. And Pope Francis said as much last Thursday.

The Bible is a Good Book, But God Didn’t Write It, Interview with Bishop John Shelby Spong By Candace Chellew-Hodge, Religion Dispatches, January 8, 2012 — Retired Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong’s new book is Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World…Spong has been taking religious literalists to task for over 40 years…“I do not think for one moment that Bible is any literal sense the ‘Word of God.’
…the Bible [is] more than a manual for morality, but a living document.…We’ve encouraged people to think about the Bible as this kind of book, a source of authority, the final word, not to be debated.…
I think the Bible is a great book and I think if we can get people to look at it properly and not use it as a weapon to enforce their prejudices we’d be making a major step forward.
In this strange political climate we’re in, the Bible seems to be getting tossed around an awful lot… I think it’s sick.…
Christianity is not about saving people from their sins. It’s about expanding the sense of what it means to be human…What Christianity does is lift us beyond the survival mentality into a kind of humanity that can give itself away in love. That’s what the Jesus story is all about.

Why We Must Reclaim The Bible From Fundamentalists by Bishop John Shelby Spong,, October 13, 2011

The Tragic Story of Christianity: How a Pacifist Religion Was Hijacked by Rabid Warmongering Elites By Gary G. Kohls, Consortium News, posted on, January 30, 2012 — From time to time, I read about condemnations of religion coming from non-religious groups, especially concerning the all-too-common violence perpetrated in the name of religious gods. Indeed there is plenty to condemn…Obvious examples include those portions of the three major war-justifying religions of the world: fundamentalist Islam, fundamentalist Judaism and fundamentalist Christianity. I use the term fundamentalist in the sense that the religious person, who ascribes to a fundamentalist point of view, believes, among other dogmatic belief, that their scriptures are inerrant and thus they can find passages in their holy books that justify homicidal violence against their perceived or fingered enemies, while simultaneously ignoring the numerous contradictory passages that forbid violence and homicide and instead prescribe love, hospitality, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation. Behind the scenes, of course, there are hidden elites — amoral, politically and financially motivated operatives who are embedded in these religious organizations — who, through the strength of their political power, can easily manipulate the followers into clamoring for war, not against their enemies, but rather against the enemies of the ruling elites: the politicians, the financiers and the other exploiters of natural resources… critics of Christianity should start challenging the churches to go back to their roots where evil was not allowed to run rampant, but rather was aggressively and courageously resisted using the nonviolent methods of Jesus and his inspired disciples like Tolstoy, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, A. J. Muste, Martin Luther King, the Berrigan brothers, John Dear, Kathy Kelly and a multitude of other courageous prophetic voices…Jesus was definitely NOT a punitive, pro-death penalty, pro-militarism conservative. His power came not from the sword but from the power of love…That brand of Christianity definitely deserves condemnation… Church leaders need to repent of their support for (or their silence about) their nation’s state-sponsored terrorism and start acting ethically, as if the Sermon on the Mount mattered…

The New Religious Right in America By Dennis E. Owen and Samuel S. Hill 1982 Abingdon ISBN 0-687-27867-8 ‘The reader will see we’ve reached the conclusion that its impact on our common life will be limited. A movement to be taken seriously, yes. A movement that is likely to alter the basic course of American life, probably not…”

Holy Terror: The Fundamentalist War on America’s Freedoms in Religion, Politics, and Our Private Lives by Flo Conway and Jim Siegelman 1982 StillPoint Press, Dell Publishing 0-385-29286-4

Global economic crisis also values crisis - Davos poll — by Tom Henegan, Religion Editor, New Frontiers  |  Davos — PARIS, Reuters, January 27, 2010 –Two-thirds of people around the world think the global economic crisis is also a crisis of ethical values that calls for more honesty, transparency and respect for others, according to a World Economic Forum poll. Almost as many name business as the sector that should stress values more to foster a better world, said the poll for the Forum’s annual Davos summit that opened on Wednesday


Creative and higher-level thinking

Facebook and the Decline of Ideas By Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, Aug. 14, 2011 Neal Gabler writes today that we no longer care much about big, exciting ideas, the kind that we used to hear from Albert Einstein, Reinhold Niebuhr, Daniel Bell, Betty Friedan, Carl Sagan and Stephen Jay Gould. “We are living in an increasingly post-idea world — a world in which big, thought-provoking ideas that can’t instantly be monetized are of so little intrinsic value that fewer people are generating them and fewer outlets are disseminating them, the Internet notwithstanding. Bold ideas are almost passé.”

Conservative Politics, ‘Low-Effort’ Thinking Linked In New Study By David Freeman, The Huffington Post, 04/09/2012

New Evidence That Grandmothers Were Crucial for Human Evolution By Joseph Stromberg,, October 23, 2012  …grandmothering helped us to develop “a whole array of social capacities that are then the foundation for the evolution of other distinctly human traits, including pair bonding, bigger brains, learning new skills and our tendency for cooperation.”… From an evolutionary perspective, it makes more sense for older females to increase the group’s overall offspring survival rate instead of spending more energy on producing their own.…the social relations that go along with grandmothering could have contributed to the larger brains and other traits that distinguish humans…“Grandmothering gave us the kind of upbringing that made us more dependent on each other socially and prone to engage each other’s attention.”...The theory is by no means definitive, but the new mathematical evidence serves as another crucial piece of support for it. This could help anthropologists better understand human evolution—and should give you another reason to go thank your grandmother.

Susan Jacoby on Secularism and Free Thinking, Moyers and Company, March 1, 2013

How Thinking Works: 10 Brilliant Cognitive Psychology Studies Everyone Should Know by Jeremy Dean, PsyBlog, January 2014 

Why We Need New Ways of Thinking by Barry Boyce, Shambhala Sun, September 2008 — The same old thing doesn’t work… because when it comes to complex, tough problems—global warming, food crises, civil war, terror, drugs, urban decay, persistent poverty—we have to go beyond the approaches that got us there in the first place…a loose but growing collection of thinkers, activists, academics, and social entrepreneurs who are searching for the “unthinkable”—the new ways that we can’t see because of our old ways of looking…they all firmly believe that the good old world we’ve come to know and love is coming apart at the seams. Systems of all kinds are breaking down and will continue to do so. In response, they champion ways of seeing and acting that acknowledge that the world is a chaotic, deeply interdependent place, a place that won’t yield to attempts to overpower it. We must come to understand, they argue, the nature of complexity, chaos, and interconnectedness—and to train ourselves in ways of acting that embrace this unmistakable reality.

Wisdom: The Forgotten Dimension?  by Mary Jaksch…Wis­dom means hav­ing the moral will to do right by other peo­ple, and to have the moral skill to fig­ure out what doing right means. This is not a new idea; it is some­thing that Aris­to­tle taught in ancient Greece…A wise per­son takes the overviewCom­pas­sion­ate action – the out­flow of wis­dom – hap­pens when we stop being the cen­ter of our concern. Then we can open up to a wider view of real­ity that includes the suf­fer­ing of oth­ers, as well as our own – and  respond with compassion.

Reclaim­ing Our Imag­i­na­tions from ‘There Is No Alter­na­tive by Andrea Brower, Jan­u­ary 25, 2013 by Com­mon Dreams We live in a time of heavy fog. A time when, though many of us dis­sent and resist, human­ity seems com­mit­ted to a course of col­lec­tive sui­cide in the name of pre­serv­ing an eco­nomic sys­tem that gen­er­ates scarcity no mat­ter how much is actu­ally pro­duced. To demand that all have enough to eat on a planet that grows enough food, that absurd num­bers of peo­ple do not die from pre­ventable dis­ease, that utter human depri­va­tion amongst plenty is not tol­er­ated, or that we put the nat­ural laws of the bios­phere above socially con­structed eco­nomic “laws” — is pre­sented as unre­al­is­tic, as the fan­tasy of ide­al­ists or those who are naive to the “com­plex­ity” of the world’s prob­lems. If we cre­ate and recre­ate the world every day, then how has it become so sup­pos­edly absurd to believe we might actu­ally cre­ate a world that is hon­estly mak­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties of egal­i­tar­i­an­ism, jus­tice and democ­racy? Cap­i­tal­ism — the logic of sub­or­di­nat­ing every aspect of life to the accu­mu­la­tion of profit (i.e. the “rules of the mar­ket”) — has become today’s “com­mon sense.” It has become almost unthink­able to imag­ine coher­ent alter­na­tives to this logic, even when con­sid­er­ing the most basic of human needs — food, water, health­care, edu­ca­tion. Though many have an under­stand­ing of capitalism’s fail­ings, there is a res­ig­na­tion towards its inevitabil­ity…What sus­tains the tragic myth that There Is No Alter­na­tive? Those com­mit­ted to build­ing a more just future must begin re-thinking and reveal­ing the taken-for-granted assump­tions that make cap­i­tal­ism “com­mon sense,” and bring these into the realm of main­stream pub­lic debate in order to widen hori­zons of pos­si­bility…

Critical thinking or ignorance?

A Quick Puzzle to Test Your Problem SolvingConfirmation Bias and YOU By DAVID LEONHARDT, New York Times JULY 2, 2015 … what psychologists and economists call confirmation bias. Not only are people more likely to believe information that fits their pre-existing beliefs, but they’re also more likely to go looking for such information. …If you’re politically liberal, maybe you’re thinking of the way that many conservatives ignore strong evidence of global warming and its consequences and instead glom onto weaker contrary evidence. Liberals are less likely to recall the many incorrect predictions over the decades, often strident and often from the left, that population growth would create widespread food shortages.….

Conservative Politics, ‘Low-Effort’ Thinking Linked In New Study By David Freeman, The Huffington Post, 04/09/2012

The rise and fall of cognitive skills by Anne Trafton, MIT News Office, March 6, 2015

Triumph of the Wrong by Paul Krugman, New York Times, NOV. 6, 2014 …politics determines who has the power, not who has the truth. Still, it’s not often that a party that is so wrong about so much does as well as Republicans did on Tuesday…Republican policy proposals deserve more critical scrutiny, not less, now that the party has more ability to impose its agenda. So now is a good time to remember just how wrong the new rulers of Congress have been about, well, everything…the story of conservative economics these past six years and more has been one of intellectual debacle — made worse by the striking inability of many on the right to admit error under any circumstances… if Republicans have been so completely wrong about everything, why did voters give them such a big victory? Part of the answer is that leading Republicans managed to mask their true positions… the biggest secret of the Republican triumph surely lies in the discovery that obstructionism bordering on sabotage is a winning political strategy…This was, it turned out, bad for America but good for Republicans. Most voters don’t know much about policy details, nor do they understand the legislative process. So all they saw was that the man in the White House wasn’t delivering prosperity — and they punished his party.

financiers who presided over the market collapse… could have and should have seen it coming.…the financial crisis was not an accident and they were not powerless. The crisis was the result of irresponsibility and misjudgments by many people…Congress’s efforts at financial reform appear to be weakened daily by politicians who are more concerned with campaign donations than regulating the financial system. Who’s Not Sorry Now? Editorial, New York Times, April 11, 2010 

Political Values Are Dividing Us Over Basic Facts, Not Just Policy Choices By Justin Reedy and Christopher Wells, HuffingtonPost, 9/30/2014 … our country’s political disagreement. Everything from the best policy for solving a problem to the core values that should guide our nation seem to be hotly contested…most conceptions of democracy assume that these arguments will be over values and priorities — that we observe the world around us, and apply our personal conscience (and, of course, self-interest) to the political choices we face. Unfortunately, research is showing that it isn’t this simple. Much of the time citizens hold different understandings of even the basic facts related to the topics we are debating. We started investigating this phenomenonWhat is becoming clear is that our political ideology shapes more than just our values and sense of right and wrong — it can also lead us to believe or disbelieve “facts” about the world, regardless of whether they’re real or not. This doesn’t bode well for a vibrant democracy and good governance when opposing political groups can have their own sets of facts in line with their ideology… If people are seemingly able to develop false factual beliefs without any help from ideologically driven media messages, and if efforts like news media fact-checking are failing to correct shoddy facts, then what hope do we have for a vibrant, meaningful public debate? Ideas coming from a research program known as deliberative democracy are suggesting a startlingly simple answer: Bring together people to focus on an issue and talk about it….What we are seeing so far is that average citizens are willing and able to do this…

The Trouble With Brain Science By GARY MARCUS, New York Times, JULY 11, 2014

On Roboethics and the Robotic Human By Fred Guerin, Truthout | News Analysis August 3, 2014

Science Reveals How the Brains of Social Justice Activists Are Different From Everyone Else’s By Erin Brodwin  June 26, 2014… People who are more sensitive to the ideas of fairness and equity are driven by reason, not just passion, according to a recent University of Chicago study published in the Journal of Neuroscience….when people who are more responsive to injustice see things happen that they find morally wrong, such as abuse or race-based inequality, their minds respond by accessing the sections of the brain responsible for logic and reasoning. When they view examples of people acting morally just, such as giving equal rights to a marginalized group or protecting animals from harm, their brains respond in the same way…

Have Conservatives Abandoned Rationality, Skepticism and Truth? By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, June 19, 2014

On Your Mark, Get Set, Lie: Supreme Court Weighs Truth in Politics by Massimo Calabresi, April 22, 2014

Beyond the war on science: Why the right embraces ignorance as a virtue by Amanda Marcotte, posted on AlterNet, Jun 13, 2014

37 Percent of People Don’t Have a Clue About What’s Going on By Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle, March 20, 2013...about 37 percent of Americans are just are not very bright. Or rather, quite shockingly dumb…reading anything even remotely complex or analytical is something only 42 percent of the population enjoy doing on a regular basis, which is why most TV shows, all reality shows, many major media blogs and all of Fox News is scripted for a 5th-grade education/attention span…The smarter you are, the less rigid/more liberal you become…/37-percent-of-people-dont-have-a-clue-about-whats-going-on/


The Decline of Critical Thinking, The Problem of Ignorance by Lawrence Davidson /the-decline-of-critical-thinking/…the habit of asking critical questions can be taught. However, if you do not have a knowledge base from which to consider a situation, it is hard to think critically about it … loyalty comes from myth-making and emotional bonds. In both cases, really effective critical thinking might well be incompatible with the desired end…The truth is that people who are consistently active as critical thinkers are not going to be popular, either with the government or their neighbors. /the-decline-of-critical-thinking/


Conservatives With a Cause: ‘We’re Right’ By ASHLEY PARKER, September 30, 2013

The strange tension between theology and science By Michael Gerson, Washington Post, April 24, 2014

Dark Ages Redux: American Politics and the End of the Enlightenment by John Atcheson Common Dreams, June 18, 2012 We are witnessing an epochal shift in our socio-political world.  We are de-evolving, hurtling headlong into a past that was defined by serfs and lords; by necromancy and superstition; by policies based on fiat, not facts. Much of what has made the modern world in general, and the United States in particular, a free and prosperous society comes directly from insights that arose during the Enlightenment. Too bad we’re chucking it all out and returning to the Dark Ages. …Now, we seek to operate by revealed truths, not reality.  Decrees from on high – often issued by an unholy alliance of religious fundamentalists, self-interested corporations, and greedy fat cats – are offered up as reality by rightwing politicians…Second, the Enlightenment laid the groundwork for our form of government. The Social Contract is the intellectual basis of all modern democratic republics, including ours.  John Locke and others argued that governments derived their authority from the governed, not from divine right.  Governments could be legitimate, then, only with the consent of the governed. Jefferson acknowledged Locke’s influence on the Declaration of Independence and his ideas are evident in the Constitution. Here again, our founders used reason, empiricism and academic scholarship to cobble together one of the most enduring and influential documents in human history.  For all its flaws, it has steered us steadily toward a more perfect union. Until recently…We are, indeed, at an epochal threshold.  We can continue to discard the Enlightenment values which enabled both an untold increase in material wealth and a system of government which turned serfs into citizens.  A system which – for all its flaws – often managed to protect the rights of the many, against the predatory power of the few. Or we can continue our abject surrender to myths, magical thinking, and self-delusion and the Medieval nation-state those forces are resurrecting. Republicans and Tea Partiers may be leading this retreat from reason, but they are unopposed by Democrats or the Press. And in the end, there is a special place in Hell for those who allow evil to prosper by doing nothing. 

Fear, hate, violence

Violence Caused by Far-Right Extremists Has Surpassed That Caused by Domestic Jihadists, Study Says By Alice Speri, March 2, 2015  

Deep Anger: We need to rediscover something we lost along the way By Darren Fleet and Stefanie Krasnow /…In this world, when push comes to shove, most of us are too comfortable to care, too polite to speak out. With so much at stake we need to rediscover something we lost along the way: our anger…Dr. Glen Coulthard of the Yellowknife Dene, [and member of radical First Nations scholars] delivered a paper saying that folks on the front-lines of land, climate and environmental battles in Canada are tired of being told not to be angry; that given the ongoing process of colonization, theft and exploitation, anger is not only a natural response, but the only moral response. What he hinted at was a resurgent anger. Deep Anger…In our culture, anger is seen as impolite, brutish, violent and indulgent. It’s politically incorrect. It makes people squeamish. We’re afraid of anger like we’re afraid of obsessive passion and overt eroticism. Anger is dark and dirty, but Deep Anger is a form of empathy, care, even love…despite our civilization’s claim to reason, there is a deep irrationality, a fatal blind spot blocking out emotion and sanity. We’re so deeply in denial about what is happening to our planet that we’re risking our own extinction. Unless humanity breaks through the denial, unless we start to get angry…then we won’t ever be able to accept the challenge at hand…

Confronting the Politics of Paranoia and Narcissism: An “Old Europe” Alternative By Thomas J. Scott, Truthout, April 17, 2015 …anger has emerged with a passion as the Republican candidates for the 2016 election gear up for the party’s presidential nomination. The US public will be increasingly exposed to what [Richard] Hofstadter called the “paranoid style” of politics: discourse associated with “heated exaggeration, suspiciousness and conspiratorial fantasy.”

Scientific Studies Prove Some Right-Wingers And Rich People Really ARE Psychopaths (VIDEO), by Elisabeth Parker, April 2, 2015…Recent scientific studies reveal that some right-wingers — and the rich CEOs they serve — really ARE psychopaths…The psychopath can have a variety of destructive and antisocial traits, but they always have one thing in common: Lack of empathy, and lack of remorse for the harm they cause. defines the word as: “A person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc. […] Also called sociopath: a person afflicted with a personality disorder characterized by a tendency to commit antisocial and sometimes violent acts and a failure to feel guilt for such acts” Furthermore, there’s a particular type of psychopath who shows what is referred to as the “Dark Triad” of negative traits: Narcissism (a big ego), Machiavellianism (will do anything to get ahead, no matter how evil), and basic psychopathy. Because, seriously, there’s no other possible explanation for how right-wingers can deport children, cut food stamps, destroy our natural resources, deny couples the right to marry, force women to bear children against their will, and expect millions of their fellow Americans to work for slave wages, and still sleep at night. Social Dominance Orientation (SDO) is what makes Some Right-Wingers so mean…why these extreme right-wing positions so often seem contradictory, hypocritical, and crazy to the rest of us…“the defense of hierarchy is what conservatism’s all about,” …“The core ideology of conservatism stresses resistance to change and justification of inequality and is motivated by needs that vary situationally and dispositionally to manage uncertainty and threat.” [says John T. Jost, New York University]…Wikipedia explains, SDO is “a measure of an individual’s preference for hierarchy within any social system.” They add that this includes the “domination of lower-status groups.” Extreme right-wingers, of course, tend to have high SDO scores, believe in a “dog-eat-dog” world, and are hence more inclined to encourage — or at least accept — discrimination against women, people of color, LGBTs, non-Christians, immigrants, the poor, and even the merely not-rich. As explained in Wikipedia, people who fit the RWA profile are more inclined to obey people in power without question — but only when they’re seen as “legitimate” and not from Kenya — and to punish those who do not conform. “Right-wing authoritarians (RWA) are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to societal conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don’t adhere to them. They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.” That’s why they forgive the never-ending transgressions of those they see as their superiors, while piling on perceived enemies for far lesser crimes (#BENGHAZI!). The majority of RWAs are highly conventional as people, and more inclined to follow orders and go along with their crowd.

Violence Caused by Far-Right Extremists Has Surpassed That Caused by Domestic Jihadists, Study Says By Alice Speri, March 2, 2015  

Hard-Nosed Advice From Veteran Lobbyist: ‘Win Ugly or Lose Pretty’ By ERIC LIPTON, OCT. 30, 2014 — Richard Berman, a political consultant, said oil and gas industry officials … must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,”

The U.S. Is Number One — But in What? By Lawrence Wittner, History News Network, October 13, 2014  No. 1- weapons exporter; violence and preparations for violence; more guns and gun-related deaths than any other country; capacity for violence

Right-Wing Militias Are Thriving — and the Media Won’t Talk About It by Paul Rosenberg, Salon, posted on, July 22, 2014 

How Conservative Radio Creates an Echo Chamber of Hate

America Can Be a Violent, Hateful Place: One Group Is Fighting Back By Frank Joyce, AlterNet, June 19, 2014    …Not In Our Town has evolved into a national movement to stop hate, address bullying and build safe, inclusive communities for all. NIOT harnesses the power of film and online media to change hearts and minds, and engages local communities on the ground in sustainable, long-term action. Racial, religious, ethnic, and gender divisions can undermine democracy and prevent people from participating in civic life. NIOT works to surface these issues and create community-wide solutions….

Americans Are More Likely to Be Killed by Right-Wing Terrorists Than Muslims—But the Media’s Afraid to Say It By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, May 20, 2014  … you are far more likely to be murdered by a far Right-wing American than a Muslim American, but the term “terrorist” remains reserved exclusively for acts of political violence carried out by Muslims. If terrorism is defined as violence against innocent civilians designed to advance a political cause, then all racist murders that occur in the U.S. are also acts of terrorism, because the perpetrators commit the violent act to send a political message to minority communities (i.e. intimidate them into a subordinate status.).. In the years 1990 to 2010, there were 145 acts of political violence committed by the American far Right, resulting in 348 deaths. By comparison, 20 Americans were killed over the same period in acts of political violence carried out by Muslim-American civilians…. our conception of the terrorist threat is shaped more by ideology than objectivity… The Southern Poverty Law Center calculates there are 939 far right-wing hate groups across the country today, including neo-Nazis, Klansmen, white nationalists, neo-Confederates, racist skinheads, border vigilantes and others…The number of Patriot groups, including armed militias, skyrocketed following the election of President Obama in 2008 – rising 813 percent, from 149 groups in 2008 to an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012. The number fell to 1,096 in 2013,” the SPLC calculates. Yet terrorism and racist violence are not considered to be equally significant threats by the U.S. government and the mainstream media……Like the violent acts we normally think of as terrorism, racist violence not only takes the lives of its immediate victims, but also sends a larger message of fear to the wider population… The growth in far Right extremism is fueled not only by a right-wing echo chamber that legitimizes false propaganda about immigrants and other minorities, but also, in part, by liberal timidity, which is why Sen. Reid’s use of the term “domestic terrorist” is an important step forward in dealing with the threat of far Right extremism. I mean, terrorism.

The politics of hatred by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, The Washington Post, June 11, 2012 -  …I believe the worst legacy of Richard Nixon is the soul-destroying hatred that he himself described and that he bequeathed to the nation…Nixon saw he had destroyed himself, but he also bequeathed a politics of hatred to the country that is still destroying us at the most fundamental level. This is a soul-destroying hatred of one another; the idea that it is not enough to simply achieve one’s policy aims in politics, it is necessary to obliterate the other side. I believe that nations, like individuals, have souls.…Nixon attacked our most cherished national value: the rule of law…Nixon was a master of playing off one group of Americans against another…Nixon realized that political power in an enduring sense could be gained from making Americans permanently resent and even fear each other…Anger that is “profound and long-lasting,” however, is best described as hatred. Hatred is a deep-seated aversion to either individuals or groups that goes well beyond anger, though it is born in anger..Soul-destroying hatred is too high a price for any nation to pay for political power…We should therefore judge our political candidates and political parties on whether they pursue a politics of love and justice, or a politics of hatred. Then, and only then, can we as Americans finally escape the legacy of Richard Nixon.

Have They No Shame? By Sally Steenland, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative, Center for American Progress posted on, 10/02/2013

Antigovernment ‘Patriot’ Movement Expands for the Fourth Year in a Row, SPLC Intelligence Report  By Mark Potok, March 7, 2013…Capping four years of explosive growth sparked by the election of America’s first black president and anger over the economy, the number of conspiracy-minded antigovernment “Patriot” groups reached an all-time high of 1,360 in 2012, while the number of hard-core hate groups remained above 1,000. As President Obama enters his second term with an agenda of gun control and immigration reform, the rage on the right is likely to intensify…

We Need a Little Fear by Jonathan Haidt, New York Times, November 7, 2012 How will our still divided government deal with our mounting threats and challenges? Shared fear can help. A national election focuses our attention on a single level of competition — political party versus political party…Since the 1990s we’ve been stuck at one level — party versus party. Partisanship is not a bad thing. We need multiple teams to develop competing visions for voters to choose among. But when so many of our leaders can’t even occasionally place national interest before party interest, we’ve crossed over into hyperpartisanship. And that’s a very bad thing, because it amplifies other problems like the debt crisis, the absence of a rational immigration policy and our aging infrastructure. We the people bear some of the blame for what’s happened in Congress, for we, too, have become more angrily partisan. So what can we do to pull ourselves up to that higher level? How can we unite not just with our brothers and sisters, but with our cousins? One way is to focus on common threats, rather than on common ground… It’s only the threat of the stranger that brings the extended family together… We’re in big trouble, and anyone who does that hyperpartisan stuff now should be ashamed — or kicked out of office

Anger Can Be Power By THOMAS B. EDSALL, New York TImes, October 8, 2013 These are extraordinary times. The depth and strength of voters’ conviction that their opponents are determined to destroy their way of life has rarely been matched, perhaps only by the mood of the South in the years leading up to the Civil War…They lack the power to control their own government. But they still have just enough to shut it down. Animosity toward the federal government has been intensifying at a stunning rate. In a survey released on Sept. 23, Gallup found that the percentage of Republicans saying the federal government has too much power — 81 percent — had reached a record-setting level. The movement to the right on the part of the Republican electorate can be seen in Gallup surveys calculating that the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as conservative grew between 2002 and 2010 by 10 percentage points, from 62 to 72 percent. During the same period, the percentage of Republicans who identify themselves as moderates fell from 31 to 23 percent. These trends date back to the 1970s.…pollster Stan…Greenberg’s premise is that “you cannot understand the government shutdown unless you understand the G.O.P. from the inside.” Greenberg puts Republicans into three categories: evangelical and religiously observant voters (47 percent); libertarian-leaning Tea Party supporters (22 percent); and moderates (25 percent).…One of the key factors pushing Republicans to extremes, according to Greenberg’s report, is the intensity of animosity toward Obama…the base supporters are very conscious of being white in a country with growing minorities. Their party is losing to a Democratic Party of big government whose goal is to expand programs that mainly benefit minorities. Race remains very much alive in the politics of the Republican Party. Voters like this, according to the report, are convinced that they have lost the larger battle:… Republicans see a president who has fooled and manipulated the public, lied, and gotten his secret socialist-Marxist agenda done. Republicans and their kind of Americans are losing… They believe this is an electoral strategy — not just a political ideology or economic philosophy. “These voters think they are losing the country,…The evangelical and Tea Party wings of the Republican Party combine into a clear majority of Republican voters...Big government, Obama, the loss of liberty, and decline of responsibility are central to the Tea Party worldview….A determined minority can do a lot in our system. It has already won the battle for the hearts and minds of the Republican House caucus. That is not a modest victory.


Why Fundamentalist Christians Fear Intellectualism By Mark Sandlin first published at Patheos,  March 14, 2015

Why Do Some Americans Speak So Confidently When They Have No Clue What They’re Talking About? By Bruce E. Levine, AlterNet, January 22, 2014 

The Results Are In: America Is Dumb and on the Road to Getting Dumber By CJ Werleman, AlterNet, June 4, 2014

The Deadly Conservative Anti-Science Movement Was Predicted EXACTLY by Carl Sagan (Video) Posted by: Bob Cull in  AATTP, June 14, 2014 In The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan wrote:
Science is more than a body of knowledge; it is a way of thinking. I have a foreboding of an America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time — when the United States is a service and information economy; when nearly all the key manufacturing industries have slipped away to other countries; when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few, and no one representing the public interest can even grasp the issues; when the people have lost the ability to set their own agendas or knowledgeably question those in authority; when, clutching our crystals and nervously consulting our horoscopes, our critical faculties in decline, unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true, we slide, almost without noticing, back into superstition and darkness.

How Anti-Intellectualism Is Destroying America By Terrence McNally, AlterNet, August 14, 2008 

The Evangelical Rejection of Reason by Karl W. Giberson and Randall J. Stephens, New York Times, October 17, 2011

The Right’s Stupidity Spreads, Enabled by a Too-Polite Left by George Monbiot, The Guardian/UK, February 7, 2012 — …There are some very clever people in government, advising politicians, running think tanks and writing for newspapers, who have acquired power and influence by promoting rightwing ideologies…they now appeal to the basest, stupidest impulses…former Republican ideologues, David Frum warns that “conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics”. The result is a “shift to ever more extreme, ever more fantasy-based ideology” which has “ominous real-world consequences for American society”… Confronted with mass discontent, the once-progressive major parties… triangulate and accommodate, hesitate and prevaricate… They fail to produce a coherent analysis of what has gone wrong and why, or to make an uncluttered case for social justice, redistribution and regulation. The conceptual stupidities of conservatism are matched by the strategic stupidities of liberalism. Yes, conservatism thrives on low intelligence and poor information. But the liberals in politics on both sides of the Atlantic continue to back off, yielding to the supremacy of the stupid…

The Will­ful Igno­rance That Has Dragged the US to the Brink by Sarah Church­well, The Independent/UK, August 2, 2011  - The Tea Party version of the American Revolution is not just fundamentalist. It is also Disneyfied, sentimentalized, and whitewashed..
In one sense, it is difficult to know what to say in response to the utter irrationality of the Tea Party’s self-destructive decision to sabotage the American political process – and thus its own country’s economy, and the global economy…
the Tea Party has never let facts get in the way of its belief system, and now that belief system is genuinely threatening the well-being of the nation they claim to love

Will Republican Voters Believe Anything? The Right’s Hyperbolic, Dysfunctional World By Gary Younge,, March 28, 2011  Polls suggest there are between one in three and one in four Americans who would believe anythingThese are national polls that span the political spectrum. So you can imagine how concentrated the distortions become when filtered through the tainted lens of the right. The challenge for the primaries is neither new nor unique to the right. The tension between appealing to the base and to moderates is the perennial test of any successful candidate in national United States politics. To win the party nomination you must appeal to your motivated base. To take the country as a whole you generally must engage the wavering centre. What is relatively new, however, is the level of logical dysfunction and hyperbole within the American right…what you need to say and do to be credible within the Republican party essentially deprives you of credibility outside it…With just a few exceptions only social conservatives (anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, pro-gun) can get elected within the Republican party, so it has ceased to be much of an issue in primaries. 

American Intellectuals’ Widespread Failure to Stand Up to Billionaires and Authoritarian Power By Robert Jensen, AlterNet, July 5, 2013  …Why is the majority of intellectual work in the United States not challenging but instead helping to prop up the unjust distribution of wealth and power, and the unsustainable extractive/industrial system? Both intellectuals and the people who provide the resources that allow intellectuals to work should ponder this crucial question. I am not suggesting that to be a responsible intellectual one must agree with me on all these issues, that anyone who does not agree with my approach to these issues is a soulless sell-out. My argument is that if we take seriously the basic moral principles at the core of modern philosophical and theological systems we claim to believe in, in light of the data on social injustice and the serious threats to ecological sustainability, these questions should be central in the work of intellectuals…a sharp critique of intellectuals as a social formation is warranted…This analysis focuses on those doing intellectual work with the most privilege and the most autonomy. Ideally, we pay intellectuals to help us deepen our understanding of how the world works, toward the goal of shaping a world more consistent with our moral and political principles, and our collective self-interest. What are the forces that keep people, especially relatively privileged people, mute in the face of such a clear need for critical intellectual work?I suspect that a desire to be accepted by peers is at least as powerful a motivation for intellectuals to accept the status quo. Humans are social animals who generally seek a safe and secure place in a social group, and there’s no reason intellectuals would be different.… When one’s professional cohort works within the worldview that the wealthy and powerful construct, the boundaries of that world seem appropriate. Curiosity about what lies beyond those boundaries tends to atrophy. Those forces have been in play for a long time, but another potentially crucial factor is the way in which confronting the reality of injustice and unsustainability can be morally and psychologically overwhelming for anyoneIntellectuals are in the business of assessing problems and offering solutionsWe are told that it is “realistic” to capitulate to the absurd idea that the systems in which we live are the only systems possible because some people like them and wish them to continue. But what if our current level of First-World consumption is exhausting the ecological basis for life? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take that lifestyle as non-negotiable. What if real democracy is not possible in a nation-state with 300 million people? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that take this way of organizing a polity as immutable. What if the hierarchies on which our lives are based are producing extreme material deprivation for subordinated people and a kind of dull misery among the privileged? Too bad; the only “realistic” options are those that accept hierarchy as inevitable. The ultimate test of our intellectual abilities is whether we can face the possibility that there may be no way out of these traps and yet continue to work for a more just and sustainable world…to be a responsible intellectual is to be willing to get apocalyptic, and the first step in that process is to give up on the myth of neutrality. Intellectuals shouldn’t claim to be neutral, and the public shouldn’t take such claims seriously.

Truth and lies

In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.  George Orwell

The First Iraq War Was Also Sold to the Public Based on a Pack of Lies by Joshua Holland,, June 27, 2014

False facts and the conservative distortion machine: It’s much more than just Fox News Paul Rosenberg, Salon.Com, Aug 18, 2014

New Study: Republicans Lie More Than Democrats by: Dan Arel, The Center for Media and Public Affairs, August 5, 2014

Why Machiavelli Still Matters By JOHN T. SCOTT and ROBERT ZARETSKY, New York Times, December 9, 2013

10 Big Fat Lies and the Liars Who Told Them, interview by Bill Moyers with Chuck Lewis, author of 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity, June 27, 2014 The title of the book refers to the number of times President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top administration officials made false statements in the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But the book has a far greater scope, looking at how lies have shaped American policy over several decades. 

The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking by Maria Popova,, January 3, 2014

What Would Machiavelli Do? The Big Lie Lives On by Thom Hartmann,, August 26, 2004  There is nothing new about the Swift Boat ads.
German filmmaker Fritz Kippler, one of Goebbels’ most effective propagandists, once said that two steps were necessary to promote a Big Lie so the majority of the people in a nation would believe it. The first was to reduce an issue to a simple black-and-white choice that “even the most feebleminded could understand.” The second was to repeat the oversimplification over and over. If these two steps were followed, people would always come to believe the Big Lie…The Big Lie is alive and well today in the United States of America, and what’s most troubling about it is the basic premise that underlies its use. In order for somebody to undertake a Big Lie, they must first believe Niccolo Machiavelli’s premise (in “The Prince,” 1532) that the end justifies the means…
Believing that the end justifies the means is the ultimate slippery slope. It will ultimately kill any noble goal, because even if the goal is achieved, it will have been corrupted along the way by the means used to accomplish it…
like George W. Bush repeatedly asserting that he had to invade Iraq because of WMDs and because Saddam “threw out the weapons inspectors”…trying to accomplish a “good” by using the means of an “evil” like a Big Lie inherently corrupts the good.
Now the Bush campaign and its allies are encouraging a new series of Big Lie techniques to assail John Kerry’s Vietnam War record…Swift Boat ads. Thus, there is no equivalence between the MoveOn (and other) ads and the Swift Boat ads, moral or otherwise. Truths and issues — however unpleasant — cannot be weighed on the same scale as lies and character assassination, explicit or implicit…Techniques, interestingly enough, that have an uncanny resemblance to character smears used by the Bush family against Michael Dukakis in 1988, against Ann Richards in 1994, against John McCain in 2000, and against Max Cleland in 2002.  Lee Atwater, on his deathbed, realized that the “ends justifies the means” technique of campaigning he had unleashed on behalf of the Bush family was both immoral and harmful to American democracy. Atwater’s spiritual and political protege, Karl Rove, soldiers on. Big Lies are emerging from Bush allies with startling regularity, and old Big Lies are being resurrected almost daily, most on right-wing talk radio. The most alarming contrast in the election of 2004 isn’t between the conservative Bush and liberal Kerry. It’s between those who will use any means to get and hold power, and those who are unwilling to engage in the Big Lie.  History tells us that, over the short term, the Big Lie usually works. Over the long term, though, the damage it does — both to those who use it, and to the society on which it is inflicted — is incalculable.  

Shameless GOP Lies: Is There Any Limit to What Republicans Will Say — And What People Will Believe? By Ernest Partridge, The Crisis Papers,, April 20, 2011 — Is there any limit to the outrageousness of the GOP lies? Is there any limit to the capacity of a large number of our fellow citizens to accept these lies?…a long string of Republican lies thrown at the public by right-wing politicians and pundits and largely unchallenged by a compliant corporate media. Among them:…Barack Obama was born in Kenya and is a secret Muslim. Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and was involved in the attacks of September 11, 2001…Global warming is a gigantic hoax, perpetrated by thousands of deceitful scientists. Obama has raised taxes…These are not “matters of opinion,” they are flatly and demonstrably false. Clear and decisive refutation of all these claims are available to anyone who cares to examine the evidence. As Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously remarked, while we are entitled to our own opinions, we are not entitled to our own facts…finally, there is the “dogma” —  “Government is not the solution to our problem, government is the problem.” (Ronald Reagan). Market fundamentalism: “A free market [co-ordinates] the activity of millions of people, each seeking his own interest, in such a way as to make everyone better off.” (Milton Friedman) Privatization: “Whenever we find an approach to the extension of private property rights [in the natural environment,] we find superior results.” (Robert J. Smith). “There is no such thing as society.” (Margaret Thatcher) “There is no such entity as ‘the public.’” (Ayn Rand) These last two dogmas bear significant implications. For if there is no such thing as “society,” it follows that there are no social problems or “social injustice. Poverty is the fault of individuals who are sinful and lazy. And if there is no “public,” then there is no “public interest,” and thus no need for government to promote same. A large portion of the American public believes these lies, accepts these contradictions, and embraces these dogmas, not because of supporting evidence (there is none) or cogent arguments (there are none), but out of sheer unquestioned repetition in the corporate media. …as long as …millions accept uncritically the lies, myths and dogmas fed to them by the mega-corporations that own our government, there appears to be little hope of a return to economic justice and democratic government that we once enjoyed in the United States of America. But all is not lost…liars tend through time to lose their credibility. We should strive to accelerate this process as it applies to the corporate media by exposing the lies and boycotting the sponsors of those who tell the lies…The restoration of sanity in our public discourse is essential to the restoration of our democracy. 

The Politics of Lying and the Culture of Deceit in Obama’s America: The Rule of Damaged Politics  by Henry A. Giroux - Sep­tem­ber 21, 2009 — In the cur­rent Amer­i­can polit­i­cal land­scape, truth is not merely mis­rep­re­sented or fal­si­fied; it is overtly mocked… it becomes dif­fi­cult to dis­tin­guish between an opin­ion and an argument …At a time when edu­ca­tion is reduced to train­ing work­ers and is stripped of any civic ideals and crit­i­cal prac­tices, it becomes unfash­ion­able for the pub­lic to think crit­i­cally. Rather than intel­li­gence unit­ing us, a col­lec­tive igno­rance of pol­i­tics, cul­ture, the arts, his­tory and impor­tant social issues, as Mark Slouka points out, “gives us a sense of com­mu­nity, it con­fers citizenship.”…matters of judg­ment, thought­ful­ness, moral­ity and com­pas­sion seem to dis­ap­pear from pub­lic view. What is the social cost of such flight from real­ity, if not the death of demo­c­ra­tic pol­i­tics, crit­i­cal thought and civic agency? …Obama’s pres­ence on the national polit­i­cal scene gave lit­er­acy, lan­guage and crit­i­cal thought a new­found sense of dig­nity, inter­laced as they were with a vision of hope, jus­tice and pos­si­bil­ity — and rea­son­able argu­ments about the var­ied crises Amer­ica faced and civilized…The pol­i­tics of lying and the cul­ture of deceit are wrapped in the logic of absolute cer­taintyDemoc­racy is frag­ile, and its fate is always uncer­tain…We now find our­selves liv­ing in a soci­ety in which right-wing extrem­ists not only wage a war against the truth, but also seek to ren­der human beings less than fully human by tak­ing away their desire for jus­tice, spir­i­tual mean­ing, free­dom and individuality…

The Death of Honesty by William Damon (Senior Fellow and member of the Virtues of a Free Society Task Force),, January 12, 2012  A basic intent to be truthful, along with an assumption that people can be generally taken at their word, is required for all sustained civilized dealings…No civilization can tolerate a fixed expectation of dishonest communications without falling apart from a breakdown in mutual trust.… Our serious problem today is not simply that many people routinely tell lies…The problem now is that we seem to be reaching a dysfunctional tipping point in which an essential commitment to truthfulness no longer seems to be assumed in our society. If this is indeed the case, the danger is that the bonds of trust important in any society, and essential for a free and democratic one, will dissolve so that the kinds of discourse required to self-govern will become impossible. …As the Founders of our republic warned, the failure to cultivate virtue in citizens can be a lethal threat to any democracy.

US Running on Myths, Lies, Deceptions and Distractions by John Atcheson, Com­mon Dreams, Feb­ru­ary 20, 2012…the country is running on lies, myths, deceptions and distractions… a few of the most destructive lies and myths.1.Corporations and the uber rich are the job creators2.Government can’t create jobs…
3.The deficit is our main problem, therefore we need an austerity budget…
4.Republicans actually care about deficits: Let’s put a stake in the heart of this one right now. Reagan and the two Bushes created more than 66% of the country’s debt — an amount equal to more than twice as much as all other President’s combined (including Obama). Did you hear any complaints while this record breaking debt was being wracked up? Not a word. Clinton, it’s worth remembering, had a surplus.
5.Republicans favor small government: In fact, the size of government exploded under Reagan and Bush II, and we didn’t hear a peep out of Republicans. In the last thirty years, only Clinton reduced the size of government significantly, and he did so while declaring “the era of big government” to be over. What they really favor is weak government, which brings us to …
6.Regulations stifle the economy; deregulation unleashes economic growth…
7.Climate Change is “just a theory” and we can’t afford to address it: Leaving aside the fact that in the pantheon of science, “theories” are reserved for issues that are about as certain as the scientific method allows, the scientific consensus on global warming is as strong as it gets.…Thanks to Republican denial, Democratic complicity and press malfeasance, we’re literally sleepwalking into the worst catastrophe the human race has ever faced.
8.Republicans want to protect your freedom. Except when they want to tell you who you can sleep with, who you can marry, whether or not you can use birth control; when and whether you can choose to die; or when they want to tap your phone or detain you without due process, of course. So why is it that these myths and lies – so easily disproven – persist. Indeed, why have they become conventional wisdom for many Americans, and why do they shape the national debate? Here’s where the Democrats, distractions and the press’s malfeasance comes in. Republicans throw up a lot of flack to keep people from focusing on the fact that they’re basically getting screwed by the 1%.…it only works because Democrats are too wimpy – or too complicit – to confront this bait-and-switch bullshit… It doesn’t help that Democrats are feeding at the same corporate trough… But the real culprit is the press – they’ve simply abrogated their responsibility to give people accurate, truthful information… We are now stuck with a media that puts “balance” or “objectivity” before truth.… At the end of the day, trying to run a country according to the rules of fantasy island isn’t a recipe for success. But it does serve the interests of the 1%.

Worldview – progressive

The Progressive Conscience in Action by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Center for American Progress, April 6, 2009  …For progressives, a crucial guiding principle in regard to public policy is to secure the common good while protecting individual liberty to the fullest extent possible. The progressive understanding of the “common good” is based on the conviction that not only is each individual endowed with human dignity, purpose, and worth, but also that human society as a whole should reflect these characteristics. Therefore, human beings together should strive to realize social relations based on these universal values…

Obama Returns to His Moral Vision: Democrats Read Carefully! by George Lakoff,, April 17, 2011 - Cognitive linguist and expert on messaging analyzes Obama’s spech on vision and values — The policy topic happened to be the budget, but he called it “The Country We Believe In” for a reason. The real topic was how the progressive moral system defines the democratic ideals America was founded on, and how those ideals apply to specific issues. Obama’s moral vision, which he applied to the budget, is more general: it applies to every issue. All politics is moral. Political leaders put forth proposals on the assumption that their proposals are the right things to do, not the wrong things to do. But progressives and radical conservatives have very different ideas of right and wrong. The basic idea is this: Democracy is based on empathy, that is, on citizens caring about each other and acting on that care, taking responsibility not just for themselves but for their families, communities, and their nation. The role of government is to carry out this principle in two ways: protection and empowerment.

Obama And the Rise of Secular Spirituality by Deepak Chopra and Dave Stewart,, January 18, 2009  … the rise of secular spirituality in this country, a liberated set of values that exists largely outside organized religion… Religion was hijacked for political gain by the right wing beginning as far back as the Nixon era, yet there is a much stronger current of secular spirituality running through our history.….secular spirituality…Nothing about secular spirituality is radical. Most of its principles are articles of belief for millions of average Americans who have largely been shut out of politics for eight years…Nothing less than spiritual renewal is needed across the board…

Worldview — Conservative

Why Right-Wing Christians Believe GOP Lies By Frank Schaeffer, AlterNet, November 5, 2014

Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative By Chris Mooney, Mother Jones,    Jul. 15, 2014  Ten years ago, it was wildly controversial to talk about psychological differences between liberals and conservatives. Today, it’s becoming hard not to…A large body of political scientists and political psychologists now concur that liberals and conservatives disagree about politics in part because they are different people at the level of personality, psychology, and even traits like physiology and genetics….It is a “virtually inescapable conclusion” that the “cognitive-motivational styles of leftists and rightists are quite different.”… political conservatives have a “negativity bias,” meaning that they are physiologically more attuned to negative (threatening, disgusting) stimuli in their environments… the conservative ideology, and especially one of its major facets—centered on a strong military, tough law enforcement, resistance to immigration, widespread availability of guns—would seem well tailored for an underlying, threat-oriented biology…Granted, there are still many issues yet to be worked out in the science of ideology…All of this matters, of course, because we still operate in politics and in media as if minds can be changed by the best honed arguments, the most compelling facts. And yet if our political opponents are simply perceiving the world differently, that idea starts to crumble. Out of the rubble just might arise a better way of acting in politics that leads to less dysfunction and less gridlock…thanks to science.

Have Conservatives Abandoned Rationality, Skepticism and Truth? By Amanda Marcotte, AlterNet, June 19, 2014 

The Conservative Psyche: How Ordinary People Come to Embrace the Cruelty of Paul Ryan and Other Right-Wingers By Joshua Holland,  Alter­Net,  August 14, 2012

The Family Values Charade By Wayne Besen, Falls  Church News-Press, April 16, 2014

Diagnosing Paul Ryan’s Psychopathy: Arrogant, Manipulative, Deceitful, Remorseless By Paul Rosenberg, Salon posted on, May 5, 2014

Conservatives, Evil and Psychopathy: Science Makes the Link! By Paul Rosenberg, Salon, posted on May 1, 2014 

The Brainwashing Of My Dad’ Exposes Fox, Hate Media & Rush Limbaugh

Paul Krugman ridicules GOP for believing “facts have a liberal bias”

Can Science Explain the Rage, Reality-Denying and Distorted Thinking Patterns of Tea Party Radicals?

Scientists Are Beginning to Figure Out Why Conservatives Are…Conservative

Where are the compassionate conservatives? By Eugene Robinson Opinion writer September 15, 2011  Government is more than a machine for collecting and spending money, more than an instrument of war, a book of laws or a shield to guarantee and protect individual rights. Government is also an expression of our collective values and aspirations. There’s a reason the Constitution begins “We the people . . .” rather than “We the unconnected individuals who couldn’t care less about one another . . . .” I believe the Republican candidates’ pinched, crabby view of government’s nature and role is immoral. I believe the fact that poverty has risen sharply over the past decade — as shown by new census data — while the richest Americans have seen their incomes soar is unacceptable. I believe that writing off whole classes of citizens — the long-term unemployed whose skills are becoming out of date, thousands of former offenders who have paid their debt to society, millions of low-income youth ill-served by inadequate schools — is unconscionable.

Why Right-Wingers Think the Way They Do: The Fascinating Psychological Origins of Political Ideology By Chris Mooney, The Washington Monthly, April 28, 2014 

Family values hypocrisy By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, December 15, 2014  …Our current discussion of what constitutes “freedom” is shaped far too much by a deeply flawed right-wing notion that every action by government is a threat to personal liberty and that the one and only priority of those who care about keeping people free is for government to do less than it does. This perspective ignores the many ways over the course of our history in which government has expanded the autonomy of our citizens. Consider how much less freedom so many of us would have without civil rights or voting rights laws, without government student loans, without labor laws, without public schools and without Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (And we don’t take seriously enough the implications of a most basic fact of our national story: that it took big government in Washington to outlaw slavery.)…we need to think more about “positive liberty,” the ability to realize certain goals in our lives. Democratic government can create the framework in which we have more power to reach those ends… 

How the Conservative Worldview Quashes Critical Thinking — and What That Means For Our Kids’ Future By Sara Robinson, AlterNet, May 18, 2012

The real conservative scandal By E.J. Dionne Jr., Washington Post, November 13, 2011…the problem for conservatives. Their movement has been overtaken by a quite literally mindless opposition to government… This is a long way from the conservatism I used to respect. Although I often disagreed with conservatives, I admired their prudence, their affection for tradition and their understanding that the intricate bonds of community are established with great difficulty over time and not easy to reweave once they are torn asunder. At their best, conservatives forced us to think harder. Now, many in the ranks seem to have decided that hard and nuanced thinking is a telltale sign of liberalism…that so many other members of a movement theoretically devoted to traditional values on sexual matters would eagerly jump into this mess on Cain’s side speaks volumes about its condition. To paraphrase Bennett from another context, where’s the outrage about a conservatism that is losing both its intellectual moorings and its moral compass?