Six points explain “How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail” via @SciAm

It seems like, between this article and another I recall reading, asking dissenters to explain their viewpoints in as much detail as possible usually leads to more middle ground rather than less. Thoughts?

If corrective facts only make matters worse, what can we do to convince people of the error of their beliefs? From my experience, 1. keep emotions out of the exchange, 2. discuss, don’t attack (no ad hominem and no ad Hitlerum), 3. listen carefully and try to articulate the other position accurately, 4. show respect, 5. acknowledge that you understand why someone might hold that opinion, and 6. try to show how changing facts does not necessarily mean changing worldviews. These strategies may not always work

How I’m Voting on LA’s 2016 Ballot Measures (and Links to Voter Guides)

I figured since I spent some time researching and switching between various browser tabs and devices to understand the different ballot measures in this election, I’d share what I decided. Hopefully this information will make it easier for you to figure out how you’d like to vote!

Disclaimer: I’m unashamed to say that I consider myself a social progressive voter, so that’s going to be the way I slant with my recommendations.

First, here are the resources that I used:

  • Courage Campaign Voter Guide—This site’s clever interface lets you switch between different groups to see what positions they endorse on different measures. They also give good summaries of each of the California-specific props.
  • A Berner’s Progressive Voter Guide—Not the easiest page to view on a phone, but includes endorsements from Our Revolution regarding different offices.
  • LA Times Endorsements—LA Times has done some thorough coverage of the LA-specific ballot measures, as well as writing about the Senate race.

I was able to find positions that agreed with me from all of the above resources. The ones that I got hung up on most were the Los Angeles County ballot measures A, M, CC, HHH, JJJ, RRR, and SSS. The wording of these props can be quite tricky!

Measures A, M, and CC – Yes. As much as I don’t want to pay more taxes, these seem like important city infrastructure and services to fund.

HHH – Yes. Support seems pretty uniform around this one.

JJJ – No. In short, it seems like it could make actually building new housing more expensive, which would lead to less construction in a time during which we need more affordable housing built.

Also, there are “two smarter affordable housing proposals currently being studied at City Hall,” according to the LA Times.

RRR – Yes. Despite the scary mailers calling it a “DWP power grab”, it seems like a reasonable bit of legislation to nudge LADWP in the right direction. Here’s a salient quote (again from LA Times):

“Measure RRR is more like a series of tweaks to the management and oversight of the DWP. Some are necessary and common-sense changes to help the general manager operate the utility more efficiently, and can be done only by voter approval. Some are incremental changes that may or may not help streamline operations. And some are window dressings that make the measure seem more consequential than it is. On balance, though, Measure RRR has enough helpful changes to make it worthwhile, and voters should pass it.”

SSS – No. TL;DR: “Police pension Measure SSS raises too much doubt to support.

Financial issues aside, of which there are several covered in the LA Times piece above, the part that really stuck with me is this:

[In] supporting Measure SSS, voters may be unwittingly committing the city to a future merger of the airport police and LAPD without a proper public discussion about whether it would be the right decision for the airport or the city … But the consequences need to be explored fully before the city heads down that road.

Measure SSS is an incremental move in that direction, which seems premature. That, combined with the cost and the lack of support from the affected officers, is reason enough to vote no.

The Psychology of Victim-Blaming

Good read, this piece explores why we (Americans especially) are likely to blame victims for being victimized.

“No matter what we want to believe, the world is not a just place. And it takes some difficult cognitive work to accept both that bad things sometimes happen to good people, and that seemingly normal people sometimes do bad things.”

The Psychology of Victim-Blaming

Why Do Tourists Visit Ancient Ruins Everywhere Except the United States?

TIL about these amazing ancient ruins that are right here in the USA!

You might suspect that few people visit Cahokia because earthen mounds are not that inspiring (although the Egyptian pyramids are really just piles of rocks). Or because the large pueblos and cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon are remote (although tourists flock to isolated sites like Machu Picchu and the Valley of Kings).

But imagine if the Southeastern United States were today a country inhabited and led by Mississippians whose ancestors had built the earthworks that still dot the region. The Lonely Planet guide to the country of Mississippi would list dozens of operators that led tours of the ancient earthworks, and Cahokia’s ruins would be the can’t-miss attraction.