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Friday, September 18, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died


My condolences to her family and friends.
(CNN) - President Donald Trump on Saturday said that Republicans have an "obligation" to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant seat on the Supreme Court "without delay," as Democrats argue the Senate should refrain from confirming a replacement until after the next president is sworn in...
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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Disinformation Technology

    

An important Netflix documentary. I watched it last night, and will study it closely again. Highly recommended. Well worth an hour and a half of your time. See the film's website.

Stay tuned, just getting started here. Hope there's a script transcript. BTW, apropos, see my prior


UPDATE: A critic is not impressed. (h/t to one of my neighbors)

Also, a review from the Neurologica Blog.

RELATEDLY, FROM SCIENCE

The field of computational social science (CSS) has exploded in prominence over the past decade, with thousands of papers published using observational data, experimental designs, and large-scale simulations that were once unfeasible or unavailable to researchers. These studies have greatly improved our understanding of important phenomena, ranging from social inequality to the spread of infectious diseases. The institutions supporting CSS in the academy have also grown substantially, as evidenced by the proliferation of conferences, workshops, and summer schools across the globe, across disciplines, and across sources of data. But the field has also fallen short in important ways. Many institutional structures around the field—including research ethics, pedagogy, and data infrastructure—are still nascent. We suggest opportunities to address these issues, especially in improving the alignment between the organization of the 20th-century university and the intellectual requirements of the field.


We define CSS as the development and application of computational methods to complex, typically large-scale, human (sometimes simulated) behavioral data (1). Its intellectual antecedents include research on spatial data, social networks, and human coding of text and images. Whereas traditional quantitative social science has focused on rows of cases and columns of variables, typically with assumptions of independence among observations, CSS encompasses language, location and movement, networks, images, and video, with the application of statistical models that capture multifarious dependencies within data. A loosely connected intellectual community of social scientists, computer scientists, statistical physicists, and others has coalesced under this umbrella phrase.


Misalignment of Universities

Generally, incentives and structures at most universities are poorly aligned for this kind of multidisciplinary endeavor. Training tends to be siloed. Integrating computational training directly into social science (e.g., teaching social scientists how to code) and social science into computational disciplines (e.g., teaching computer scientists research design) has been slow. Collaboration is often not encouraged, and too often is discouraged. Computational researchers and social scientists tend to be in different units in distinct corners of the university, and there are few mechanisms to bring them together. Decentralized budgeting models discourage collaboration across units, often producing inefficient duplication…

"Computational social scientists must make the case that the result will be more than the publication of journal articles of interest primarily to other researchers. They must articulate how the combination of academic, industrial, and governmental collaboration and dedicated scientific infrastructure will solve important problems for society—saving lives; improving national security; enhancing economic prosperity; nurturing inclusion, diversity, equity, and access ; bolstering democracy; etc..."
We can hope. But, "hope is dope."

Tangentially, I'm reminded of this book I'd cited:

How many experiments do you think you’ve participated in over the past year? We’re talking about randomized controlled trials—experiments designed to test the impact of different treatments by randomly assigning you and other participants (often called subjects) to various treatment conditions, like those you might have participated in if you took Psych 101 or if you’ve tried out an experimental drug. 

So, what’s your number? At first blush, you might think the answer is zero. But unless you live in a bunker with no Internet access, you’ve likely participated in many experiments over the past year. If you logged onto Facebook right now, there’s a good chance you’d be an unwitting subject in a variety of the company’s ongoing experiments as you scroll through your News Feed and peruse the ads being shown to you. You are also likely to be a test subject if you search for an item on Google, watch a movie on Netflix, respond to email surveys, or call companies for customer support. 

In a dramatic departure from its historic role as an esoteric tool for academic research, the randomized controlled trial has gone mainstream. Historically, experimental methods may have been alien to the managerial toolkit. These days, companies like Google wouldn’t dare make a major change in their platforms without first looking at experiments to understand how it would influence user behavior...

Luca, Michael (2020-02-06T22:58:59). The Power of Experiments (The MIT Press) . The MIT Press. Kindle Edition. 
So, Big Tech is using you in psych "randomized controlled trials" (computational social science) without your knowledge and consent? Nice. (BTW, it should be noted that minors are legally incapable of giving "consent." To the extent they are included as data elements in social media "experiments," each of those is properly a violation of law.)

UPDATE

More on "The Social Dilemma."

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More to come...


Sunday, September 13, 2020

"The most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy"

FDR
'Monuments in Washington, D.C., have chiseled into them words spoken by real leaders during crises. “Confidence,” said Franklin Roosevelt, “thrives on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection and on unselfish performance.”

We can be thankful that science has embraced these words...'
From the Editor in Chief of the AAAS Science Magazine.

When President Donald Trump began talking to the public about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in February and March, scientists were stunned at his seeming lack of understanding of the threat. We assumed that he either refused to listen to the White House briefings that must have been occurring or that he was being deliberately sheltered from information to create plausible deniability for federal inaction. Now, because famed Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward recorded him, we can hear Trump’s own voice saying that he understood precisely that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was deadly and spread through the air. As he was playing down the virus to the public, Trump was not confused or inadequately briefed: He flat-out lied, repeatedly, about science to the American people. These lies demoralized the scientific community and cost countless lives in the United States...


...now, a U.S. president has deliberately lied about science in a way that was imminently dangerous to human health and directly led to widespread deaths of Americans.


This may be the most shameful moment in the history of U.S. science policy. 


In an interview with Woodward on 7 February 2020, Trump said he knew that COVID-19 was more lethal than the flu and that it spread through the air. “This is deadly stuff,” he said. But on 9 March, he tweeted that the “common flu” was worse than COVID-19, while economic advisor Larry Kudlow and presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway assured the public that the virus was contained. On 19 March, Trump told Woodward that he did not want to level with the American people about the danger of the virus. “I wanted to always play it down,” he said, “I still like playing it down.” Playing it down meant lying about the fact that he knew the country was in grave danger...


...Trump was not clueless, and he was not ignoring the briefings. Listen to his own words. Trump lied, plain and simple. [H. H. Thorp, Science 10.1126/science.abe7391 (2020).]

Read the entire Editorial. It appears to not be firewalled (yet).

(CNN)—A defining trait of Donald Trump's presidency is his incessant destruction of reason, evidence and science in the service of his personal whims, conspiratorial mindset and political requirements.

I am an enthusiastic AAAS member and avid reader of its flagship journal. We have an existential problem, one that may well get materially worse in the wake of November 3rd, 2020, just 51 days from my posting this.


We may have 230,000 or more U.S. Covid19 deaths by election day. How Not to Lead.


HERD IMPUNITY UPDATE


JUST IN FROM SBM

I’ve said it many times before, but now seems as good a time as any to say it again. This blog is not, nor has it ever been, apolitical. It is, however, true that we do try to be as nonpartisan as we can be given that we are human beings, but we cannot be completely apolitical because medicine inherently has a political dimension. That is why it has been the editorial position of this blog since Steve Novella first announced it nearly 13 years ago that science-based medicine, for all its flaws, is still currently the most reliable method for determining which treatments and interventions work for various diseases and health conditions and which ones do not. Moreover, when it comes to issues like FDA regulation of supplements and homeopathy, the failure of states and the federal government to protect, for example, cancer patients from quacks like Stanislaw Burzynski, tightening of school vaccine mandates, state licensure of pseudoscientific “disciplines” like naturopathy, and, more recently, regulation impacting dubious and false medical claims about COVID-19, we certainly haven’t been shy in advocating for using SBM to guide policy.


Now that we’re around the six month anniversary of the first lockdowns to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, I saw a story over the weekend that led me, at the risk of being too “political,” to ask a very disturbing (to me) question: Can we still trust the CDC and FDA (and other federal agencies, like the NIH, ostensibly dedicated to upholding policy based on good science)? Although the answer is still yes for most topics, for COVID-19 increasingly the answer is no. I fear that the list of topics on which the CDC and FDA can no longer be trusted will only grow if Donald Trump is reelected and that, even if he isn’t, some of the changes weakening the firewall between political appointees and the career scientific personnel of these agencies might be permanent and difficult for a President Biden to reverse...

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DONALD TRUMP ON COVID, IN AUGUST: "NOTHING MORE COULD HAVE BEEN DONE."

UPDATE

My latest Science Magazine hardcopy arrived.

Around the world, democracy is losing ground. Polarization and disinformation have rendered liberals and conservatives unable to agree on basic facts. State violence and suppression of citizens' rights are resurgent. Free and fair elections are being threatened.


In this special issue, we critically examine the state of democracy and how it must adapt to achieve its ideals in the 21st century. We need to meet the challenges and opportunities of living in increasingly multiethnic societies, of fostering democracy in a weakened international environment, of reducing inequality and elevating the political representation of the poor, and of organizing social movements and combating disinformation tactics in the digital age. Advances in technology are making it easier to distort true voter representation through gerrymandering, and political campaigns continue to struggle with reaching voters and persuading them to participate. Worryingly, state violence, which has always been a core feature of the democratic experience for some, is spreading in democratic societies.


Twenty years ago, it seemed inevitable that democracy would reach every corner of the globe. In this moment, we are reminded that we must fight for democracy and work to improve it. A scientific understanding of the social and behavioral phenomena that underlie its operation will help us enhance democracy and, by doing so, improve human lives and societies globally.

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, see


UPDATE

Scientific American Endorses Joe Biden

We’ve never backed a presidential candidate in our 175-year history—until now


Scientific American has never endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history. This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.


The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people—because he rejects evidence and science. The most devastating example is his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which cost more than 190,000 Americans their lives by the middle of September. He has also attacked environmental protections, medical care, and the researchers and public science agencies that help this country prepare for its greatest challenges. That is why we urge you to vote for Joe Biden, who is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment. These and other proposals he has put forth can set the country back on course for a safer, more prosperous and more equitable future.


The pandemic would strain any nation and system, but Trump's rejection of evidence and public health measures have been catastrophic in the U.S…

Thank you.

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More to come...

Friday, September 11, 2020

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

On "Leadership"

An interesting read thus far.

HOW NOT TO LEAD





190,000+ U.S. Covid19 deaths to date and counting. Watch the entire CNN clip and draw your own conclusions.

One of my 2015 riffs on "Leadership." And, prior to that in 2013 while covering that year's IHI Conference.
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More to come...

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

My beloved California

We moved to Baltimore from the SF Bay Area 17 months ago. We have many dear friends there. These fires continue to be just terrible. And, yesterday, the ambient temperature in Los Angeles hit a record 121F.

This stuff was going on when we lived there. Now it's materially worse.

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Friday, September 4, 2020

A Covid19 vax by November 1st?

Election day is November 3rd. Is elaboration really necessary?
During a MAGA rally yesterday in Latrobe PA, the President bragged about how vax R&D normally takes years, but HE managed to cut through the science bureaucracy and get this "done" in mere months.


SCIENCE MAGAZINE EDITORIAL

My latest hardcopy issue just arrived.

The world needs to trust science if vaccines are to prove useful, particularly those being developed to combat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). That is what makes the recent appearance of highly visible “do-it-yourself” (DIY) vaccine research so morally troubling. It's an obstacle to securing this trust.


As reported in last month's MIT Technology Review, at least 20 people are following the lead of geneticist and entrepreneur Preston Estep to take and promote a homebrew potential vaccine for COVID-19. They have formed a group, Rapid Deployment Vaccine Collaborative (RaDVaC), with the avowed mission of rapidly developing and sharing a vaccine recipe simple enough to be produced and administered by the public...


The DIY effort has no animal or safety trials; no confirmation of safety by closely monitoring healthy volunteers; no dosage studies; no effort to review the proposed science or recruitment of volunteers by an outside, independent ethics review committee; no plan to record all users, to encourage diversity among users, or for systematic follow-up; and no plan to provide help or compensation to anyone harmed by their participation. Moreover, there have been no papers published or data released in peer-reviewed outlets about the vaccine. The research is rife with conflicts of interest in that those making the vaccine are recruiting friends to try it while promoting their actions in the media. They are not selling their vaccine but stand to benefit from attention in the media and any resulting philanthropic support.


There are by most estimates around 200 COVID-19 vaccines in development around the world. Some three dozen are in human trials. A handful have progressed to full-fledged clinical trials. News accounts report that large-scale vaccination efforts without full human safety testing or ethical review are underway in Russia. Given the horrors inflicted on people around the world by the pandemic, it would be reasonable to expect that concerted efforts to find a vaccine would have huge popular support, but that is not the case. Large percentages of people polled in many nations say they will not use or are worried about the safety of a COVID-19 vaccine. Nearly half of all those polled in the United States and United Kingdom in recent months said they would refuse vaccination.


COVID-19 vaccine skepticism has many sources, including doubts about the trustworthiness of safety claims made by government leaders whom many distrust; the perceived inability of government regulatory agencies to maintain independence from political pressure to quickly approve products; and impressions of financial conflicts of interest on the part of those making vaccines.


Trust is the key ingredient in any effort to facilitate a vaccine solution to the current pandemic. Peer-reviewed science transparently assessed in carefully controlled trials by independent experts is the only way to cement that trust. DIY vaccinology is dangerous at a time when nonevidence–based claims of COVID-19 “cures” have done little but sow mistrust of science and public health.

Tangentially apropos, see

Stage IV Metastatic Crazy

UPDATE


MEDLIFE CRISIS
"Politicians have rightfully received much of the blame for the COVID carnage, but some scientists and doctors have been giving the rest of us a bad name. When confronted with a new disease, our understanding changes over time, and messages may change. That's good, that's how science should work. Don't let anyone convince you it means that science doesn't know what it's doing. None of these problems are new. Like with everything else, COVID-19 has just exposed issues that already existed, in this case deep problems with science and scientific research."

ON DECK


Read a review in Science. Stay tuned. The incredible Annie Duke (who has a new book coming out soon) recently called me a polymath during an email exchange after learning of my random walk life path. Majorly flattering, but I'm really just an old washed up guitar player still trying to figure out what I'm gonna be when I grow up, LOL.

Anticipated useful triangulation for this new read.


ANOTHER UPDATE

The reading agenda never abates. Coming up shortly.


Ran across the Berman book at SBM. Searching it on Amazon brought me to Dawes. Stay tuned,

OFF-TOPIC PERSONAL ERRATUM

Gave Calvin, my new Grandson (7.5 mo) his first Djembe drum lesson this week (we keep him 3 days a week).


His little Cuz, my Great Grandson Kai (2.5 mo, born 7 wks preemie), will be next, once we get to see him (they're in KC).


BREAKING NEWS ITEM
CCN: 81 Nobel laureates endorse Joe Biden for President
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More to come...

Monday, August 31, 2020

Big tech economic hegemony and the future of markets


…Today we rightly celebrate the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, which gave Americans the power to break apart private corporations. But in many respects, the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 was the more important document. This act was based on the understanding that monopoly networks like the railroad and the telegraph could be used to influence the actions of people who depend on them, and hence their power must be carefully restricted, in much the same way that we restrict the power of government. As Senator Sherman himself put it,
"It is the right of every man to work, labor, and produce in any lawful vocation and to transport his production on equal terms and conditions and under like circumstances. This is industrial liberty, and lies at the foundation of the equality of all rights and privileges."
For a century and a half, Americans used common carrier policies to ensure the rule of law in activities that depended on privately held monopolies. These rules served as a pillar of American prosperity through much of the twentieth century. By neutralizing the power of all essential transport and communications systems, the regulations freed Americans to take full advantage of every important network technology introduced during these years, including telephones, water and electrical services, energy pipelines, and even large, logistics-powered retailers. Citizens did not have to worry that the men who controlled the technologies involved would exploit their middleman position to steal other people’s business or disrupt balances of power.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Robert Bork, Richard Posner, and other neoliberal Chicago School legal scholars set out to overturn America’s antimonopoly regime, targeting the traditional prohibitions on discrimination that common carrier laws had established. Their scholarship later played a major role in the writing of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. In that bill, Congress simultaneously exempted internet platforms from any responsibility to police the content on their sites, and failed entirely to impose on them any requirement to provide equal and just service to all who depend on their networks.

As a result, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other platforms were free to develop business models that treated every seller and buyer—every citizen—differently. These corporations exploited this license to the fullest, and have used their power to reorganize entire realms of human activity. Amazon, Google, and Facebook match individuals to specific shoes and clothes, specific restaurants and hotels, specific movies and music, specific jobs and schools, specific drugs and hospitals, specific sexual partners, and even specific books, articles, speakers, and sources of news.

These companies are the most powerful middlemen in history. Each guards the gate to innumerable sources of essential information, services, and products. Yet thus far no governmental entity in the United States has signaled any intention of limiting the license these corporations enjoy to serve only the customers they choose to, at whatever price they decide.

This means that Jeff Bezos, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, and Mark Zuckerberg enjoy much the same power as God did in Babel. We live in the world they manufacture for us. Their vision for what we should do, where we should go, how we should think, and who we should be is now our vision, too. As their manipulation machines increasingly deliver different information to each member of the public, it becomes harder for people to engage in debate and have any chance at bringing these companies under control…

From Harper's.

Imagine going to the supermarket or department store and being charged prices for your items based on your purchase histories and other Big-Tech-gleaned personal data. Absurd? Read the entire article (may be paywalled).

e.g.,

...In 2018, an Irish technologist named Dylan Curran downloaded the information Google had collected about him. All in all, Curran found, the corporation had gathered 5.5 GB of data on his life, or the equivalent of more than three million Word documents. 
In an article for the Guardian, Curran wrote that within this trove he found 
"every Google Ad I’ve ever viewed or clicked on, every app I’ve ever launched or used and when I did it, every website I’ve ever visited and what time I did it. They also have every image I’ve ever searched for and saved, every location I’ve ever searched for or clicked on, every news article I’ve ever searched for or read, and every single Google search I’ve made since 2009. And . . . every YouTube video I’ve ever searched for or viewed, since 2008." 
In addition, Curran discovered that Google keeps a detailed record of what events he attends and when he arrives, what photos he takes and when he takes them, what exercises he does and when he does them. And it has kept every email he has ever sent or received, including those he has deleted...

Ponder the implications.


It's by no means limited to Amazon, Google, and Facebook.

Uber’s vast cache of data about where people go and when provides an ever more perfect map of traffic to and from a community’s bookstores and coffee shops and churches—and to its backroom casinos and drug dealers and sex clubs.

All this information gives the corporation the ability to understand just how badly you need a ride. Do you rush off every Thursday at 8 pm to see your boyfriend? Do you like to squeeze your Sunday visit to mom in between a morning round of golf and the afternoon NFL game? Every Tuesday and Thursday at 3 pm, do you have to get to your psychiatrist and back without your boss knowing?

Well, your boss may not know, but Uber does...
Don't get me started on the con that is Uber.

I worked in subprime credit risk analytics and management (large pdf), 2000-2005. We had many, many facts regarding our customers and prospects in our own databases that we couldn't legally use in our vetting.

It's a different world now. The unregulated digital panopticon is here.
"In the world of Amazon, Google, and Facebook, not only are we subject to the will of a few private companies, manipulated moment to moment by unseen forces that rule our commerce, track our movement, and record our every thought. Each of us must now suffer alone, with less and less ability to commiserate with others about our common problems. The power of the middleman has become so great as to make each of our problems unique, solely a matter between us and the master."
UPDATE

Click the image.

Final thought for the moment (one mapping to the original Health IT focus of this blog). Recall how interoperable EHRs were going to bring us to the clinical nirvana of "personalized medicine?" 'eh?


Can you say "finely tuned personalized rationing by price and ability to pay, as intermediated by Big Tech?"


See also my prior post,

GAFA, Really Big Data, and their sociopolitical implications


And, my latest read:

Something broke in the American economy around 1978. It stopped functioning as well as it had for working-class people over the previous several decades. The great middle-class expansion was ending. A middle-class shrinkage was starting. At the center of it all was a divergence…


The divide was opened by technological progress and an accompanying economic evolution that shifted the business of the United States away from building or fixing things with your hands and toward helping people or solving puzzles with your brain. In a world where machines get better every year at doing work previously handled by humans, some of that evolution was inevitable. The pace and the scope of the change were not. They were stoked by policymakers, usually in Washington, and cheered on by the titans of commerce who just so happened to reap the rewards more than anyone else.


Tankersley, Jim. The Riches of This Land (p. 99). PublicAffairs. Kindle Edition.

Recommend triangulating it with these two.


My recommendation rationale will become self-evident.

UPDATE

Finished Jim Tankersley's book. Really enjoyable, thought-provoking work. Indeed, triangulate with the Andersen and Kendi books. The topic (of rebuilding a morally healthy economy and society) is urgent, exigent. Grist for a post of its own, ASAP.

“Surprising and enlightening and timely. The Riches of This Land turns our understanding of why America once had an economy that delivered prosperity on its head. Only when black men, women of all races, and immigrants broke through blockades of oppression did their gains flow out to everyone. And, now, as Americans seek to find their way out from another devastating economic crisis, Tankersley exposes the true heroes of American prosperity—and why they are the source of our future renewal.” —Ibram X. Kendi [pg 272]

Also germane, a book I cited in my August 23rd post:

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More to come...

Friday, August 28, 2020

The Past Tense Pandemic

White House grounds, August 27th. Donald Trump's re-election convention finale.

More than 1,500 supporters compactly crowded in, hardly a mask in sight. Attendees were reportedly not screened for the coronavirus (neither via exposure questions nor testing). The audience did, however, hear at length about the existential horrors awaiting all Americans in the wake of a Biden-Harris win on November 3rd.

Senior Trump officials have repeatedly referred to the Covid19 pandemic in past tense language, notwithstanding more than 181,000 U.S. Covid deaths as of today, and mounting.

CNN--A well-known coronavirus model previously cited by the White House forecasts more than 317,000 US deaths from Covid-19 by December.

As of Friday morning, the model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects that 317,312 people may die from the illness -- marking an increase of about 8,000 deaths from a previous estimate the model projected one week ago…

MEANWHILE, THE DEFINITION OF OBSCENITY


"I know it when I see it." #HatchActViolations 

 

Ahhh... "Norms?

ERRATA


Okeee dokeee, then.

CODA

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More to come...

Sunday, August 23, 2020

In late 2016, Americans opted to have the cure be worse than the disease.

There are now 72 days left (and counting down) until the Constitutional opportunity via which to rectify the existential error.

My post the day after Election Day 2016. Then a month later. And then on the eve of January20th Inauguration Day.

No, I don't like him. Seriously, (unsurprisingly to my regulars). With ample rational reason. See also my 2018 post on the midterms. He merely wanted the title of "President," not the actual job.

We have deep trouble. On myriad fronts

If our political / cultural "disease" was in large measure that of snooty anti-populist, anti-flyover country "limousine liberalism," the "cure" of Donald Trump has garishly failed to demonstrate "efficacy." Quite the contrary.

apropos, my most recent read:

29: The Plague Year and Beyond
When the original band of intellectuals and CEOs and politicians and the very rich began pursuing their dream of hijacking the U.S. political economy and dragging it back in time to the days before the New Deal, surely none of them imagined they’d wind up here. By which I mean either the scale and durability of their victory, or with such a front man—so deranged and unpleasant and idiotic, so brazenly racist and xenophobic and misogynistic, a businessman yet so completely incompetent as an executive. Today’s evil geniuses find him embarrassing and tiresome. All they and their predecessors ever really wanted was a system permanently guaranteeing them inordinate fortunes and power, with a clubbable Bush or Romney at the helm. Over the decades, however, as they decided again and again that their ends (money, supremacy) always justified any and all means (stoking racism and other hatreds, spreading falsehoods, rousing their rabble while also rigging the system against them), it was bound to end somewhere in this horrid vicinity. In 2016, as the current generation of Fausts made their darkest bargain yet, surely some of them smelled a whiff of sulfur or heard a demonic cackle as they signed away whatever remained of their souls.

The obeisance of the rich right and their consiglieri to Trump for the last four years has exposed more nakedly than ever their compact—everything about money, anything for money—and the events of 2020 pushed that along to an even more shameless, grotesque crescendo. In early spring, when COVID-19 had killed only dozens of Americans, Stuart Stevens, a strategist for four of the five previous GOP presidential nominees but now a fierce apostate, wrote that “those of us in the Republican Party built this moment,” because “the failures of the government’s response to the coronavirus crisis can be traced directly to some of the toxic fantasies now dear to the Republican Party… Government is bad. Establishment experts are overrated or just plain wrong. Science is suspect.”

He could have also listed Believe in our perfect mythical yesteryear, All hail big business, Short-term profits are everything, Inequality’s not so bad, Universal healthcare is tyranny, Liberty equals selfishness, Co-opt liberals, and Entitled to our own facts as operating principles of the Republican Party and the right. During the first six months of 2020, all those maxims drove the responses (and the nonresponsiveness) of the Trump administration and its extended family of propagandists and allies and flying monkeys...


Andersen, Kurt. Evil Geniuses (pp. 367-368). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition

ON DECK

Just watched an Amanpour & Co interview with Jonah Berger. Bought his new book. Stay tuned.

Reactance, Endowment, Distance, Uncertainty, and Corroborating Evidence can be called the five horsemen of inertia. Five key roadblocks that hinder or inhibit change.

Each chapter focuses on one of these roadblocks, and how to reduce it. Integrating research and case studies to illustrate the underlying science behind each roadblock and the principles that individuals and organizations have used to mitigate it.

These five ways to be a catalyst can be organized into an acronym. Catalysts reduce Reactance, ease Endowment, shrink Distance, alleviate Uncertainty, and find Corroborating Evidence. Taken together, that forms an acronym, REDUCE. Which is exactly what great catalysts do. They REDUCE roadblocks. They change minds and incite action by reducing barriers to change...


Berger, Jonah. The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone's Mind (p. 13). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

UPDATE

Finished the book. Buy it and read it. From the Epilogue:

Behavioral scientist Kurt Lewin once noted, “If you want to truly understand something, try to change it.” But the reverse is also true. To truly change something, you need to understand it.

Too often, as potential change agents we focus on ourselves. We center on the outcome we’re looking for or the change we’re hoping to see. We’re so blinded by the belief that we’re right that we assume if we just provide more information, facts, or reasons, people will capitulate.

But more often than not, things don’t budge. And by focusing so much on ourselves and what we want, we forget the most important part of change: understanding our audience.

Not just who they are, and how their needs might be different than ours, but—as we’ve talked about throughout the book—why they haven’t changed already. What barriers or roadblocks are stopping them? What parking brakes are getting in the way?

The more we learn about what is preventing someone from changing, the easier it is to help. And to realize that things aren’t as zero-sum as they may seem.

People think that, when changing minds, someone has to lose. Either they change or I’m worse off. That things are black-and-white and there are only two ways to go.

But the truth is often more complex...
[pp 221-222] 

Goes to my interest in so-called "Deliberation Science."

PERSONAL ERRATUM

Two years since my SAVR px, Aug 23rd, 2018. Grateful to still be alive, Parkinson's and all.

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More to come...