January 25, 2010

Just who is responsible for the “unconscious”: meaning, intent, and the use of “false consciousness” in the making of identity politics

At the risk of bringing up a sore subject… From NPR, “How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us”:

After making a silly mistake, it’s not uncommon for a person to say, “Oops — I was on autopilot.” In his new book, The Hidden Brain, science writer Shankar Vedantam explains how there’s actually a lot of truth to that.

Our brains have two modes, he tells NPR’s Steve Inkseep — conscious and unconscious, pilot and autopilot — and we are constantly switching back and forth between the two.

First, let me interrupt here to point out the obvious: even if we wish to argue with Mr Vedantam’s formulation — that is, even were we to take issue with the reduction of the brain into binary modes — what is important to keep in mind here is that both of these modes, conscious and unconscious, belong to us and so are ours, a product of the agency that is, in fact, us. This seems like a simple enough observation, but as the political arguments stemming from such descriptions tend to develop, this truism often gets lost, or at least “bracketed” by those who wish to use the observation in incoherent (and yet politically powerful) ways, as we will see momentarily.

Onward:

“The problem arises when we [switch] without our awareness,” Vedantam says, “and the autopilot ends up flying the plane, when we should be flying the plane” [my emphasis]

— And there it is, the subtle switch, the moment at which what begins as a descriptive metaphor becomes a political tool that deviates from its own kernel assumptions. To wit: Notice that what Vedantam does here is maneuver from a binary brain mode — conscious and unconscious, both of which we have established belong to us — to something like two separate and unique brains, one that runs the autopilot, the other of which belongs to a “we” that is now divorced from the “autopilot” mode.

And if it isn’t we who are running the autopilot, Vedantam will wonder, how then to account for it?

The autopilot mode can be useful when we’re multitasking, but it can also lead us to make unsupported snap judgments about people in the world around us. Vedantam says that when we interact with people from different backgrounds in high-pressure situations, it’s easy to rely — unconsciously — on heuristics.

Racial categorization begins at an extremely early age. Vedantam cites research from a day-care center in Montreal that found that children as young as 3 linked white faces with positive attributes and black faces with negative attributes.

Now we’re off and running: a day-care center, in its own specific geographical and political context, will be allowed, for the sake of this argument, to stand in as representative of how ALL children learn racial differences — a dubious control group for a scientist to use, especially when drawing conclusions from what is a rather pedestrian hypothesis. But no worries: he can be forgiven, provided he reaches the right conclusions.

Of course, were the data reversed (had, for instance, the day-care center under review been located in the basement of Reverend Wright’s church, say) — with whites linked to negative attributes and blacks viewed positively — that data almost certainly wouldn’t be extrapolated out as normative the way it is here. In fact, such data would likely be used to exhort the force of identity politics to “empower” historically disenfranchised groups, the result being that we must now believe that identity politics is simultaneously ameliorative (when it empowers certain identity groups) and “racist” (when it empowers other identity groups), even as the mechanism is precisely the same.

“Now, these were children who are 3 years old,” Vedantam says. “It is especially hard to call them bigots, or to suggest that they are explicitly racially biased or have animosity in their hearts.”

Vedantam says the mind is hard-wired to “form associations between people and concepts.” But he thinks that the links the children made between particular groups and particular concepts were not biologically based — those judgments came from culture and upbringing.

He says that for every 50 times a year a teacher talks about tolerance, there are many hundreds of implicit messages of racial bias that children absorb through culture — whether it’s television, books or the attitudes of the adults and kids around them.

“And it’s these hidden associations that essentially determine what happens in the unconscious minds of these children,” Vedantam says.

And here you have the last two maneuvers: 1) It is silly to call children as young as 3 bigots, Vedantam will (pretend to) concede; and yet they are showing bigoted behavior — like, for instance, they draw “bigoted associations” or make “racist statements” — which transgressions Vedantam will trace to “culture and upbringing”. Are these children responsible for their own culture? Their own upbringing? Of course not, the argument will suggest. And so their bigotry, which is undeniable (given the “associations” drawn by the kids in one Montreal day-care center) must come from somewhere else, and must be lodged somewhere outside of the conscious reach of these children (where presumably it could be corrected).

Once we are here — once we begin to give power to deeply-seeded attitudes learned through acculturation and rote indoctrination (and buried deep in our “sub-conscious”) while simultaneously divorcing the conscious mind from the unconscious mind in such a way that the unconscious mind is no longer a part of the intentional “we” — it is an easy next step to argue 2) that “we” are not responsible for any kind of unconscious racism or bigotry; thus, we can say racist things, or make racist associations, without those associations or statements being intentionally racist. More, we can’t be expected to recognize in ourselves such unconscious bigotry precisely because it lies in our unconscious mind, which is the “autopilot” to our “we,” and as such stands apart from our conscious control over it. Which means we’ll have to rely on others to spot our bigotry for us. God bless ‘em.

Can we therefore say something racist without being racist? Well, yes and no: “we” can be racist, but it is really “culture and society” that has programmed that racism into us. And so when we repeat those racist lessons taught us by culture and society, we are being racist — but the “we” in question is not so much us as it is the society and culture that inscribes (and so owns) our unconscious mind. It is the autopilot, the part of us that is no longer really us, separated as it is from the “we” that makes up our conscious mind. To deny it is to engage in “false consciousness” — and you are denying that part of yourself that others get to define. Which marks you as deluded and duped.

Or, to put it another way, yes, you are racist. But so is everyone else who was inscribed by the same culture and society as you. So don’t sweat it.

The upshot of all this is that we are left with an obvious way to fight “racism”: change society and culture in such a way that our “unconscious” mind — over which we have limited ownership (or rather, something akin to a rental agreement) — learns the “correct” lessons. We need to be taught which kinds of associations are acceptable and which are not. Our speech and thought needs to be cleansed; our autopilot re-educated.

And thankfully, plenty of folks from various identity groups will be happy to teach you the “non-bigoted” way you must think about them.

“We tend to think of the conscious messages that we give children as being the most powerful education that we can give them,” Vedantam says — but the unconscious messages are actually far more influential.

In American society, colorblindness is often held up as the ideal. And though it’s a worthy aspiration, Vedantam says it’s a goal that isn’t rooted in psychological reality.

“Our hidden brains will always recognize people’s races, and they will do so from a very, very young age,” Vedantam says. “The far better approach is to put race on the table, to ask [children] to unpack the associations that they are learning, to help us shape those associations in more effective ways.”

— And so we reach the end point.

Colorblindness sounds good, but because kids will always make associations (and one they will “always” make is based on “race”), our only choice is to teach them at a young age that much of what they learn from their own experiential encounters with the world is wrong, particularly when that experience rubs against some group-sanctioned narrative. And so we must teach children to stop believing themselves, and start believing only those with the “authenticity” to draw “accurate” and approved associations.

Of course, what Vedantam doesn’t say is that “race” is, itself, a learned category — one that differs from mere pigmentation — and so it would, presumably, be just as easy to “unpack” racialist arguments early on, which is precisely what the idea of “colorblindness” endeavors to do. More, Vedantam seems to believe that merely recognizing differences in pigmentation has some sort of causal relationship to bigotry — that the negative and positive associations attributed to different colors by those in some Montreal day-care center are the result of color alone as it is filtered through cultural markers and societal cues.

But just because culture and society leads one to make politically incorrect associations doesn’t mean they’ve made incorrect or unreasonable associations — ones that as they become more socially aware and more logically savvy they will be able to disentangle as either causal or not, as having merit or not.

Identity politics wants to “help” us through that learning process by taking us right to the conclusions we “should” be reaching. And to do so, it hopes to force on “culture” and “society” certain ways of thinking and talking that will shape the “proper” associations in children.

In short, it wants to brainwash them. But for their own good.

Because after all, a little bigoted autopilot is a dangerous thing…

Going back to the autopilot analogy, Vedantam says it’s not a problem that the brain has an autopilot mode — as long as you are aware of when it is on. His book, The Hidden Brain, is about how to “take back the controls.”

On offer here is the following prescription: you can only know your autopilot by learning what culture and society have imprinted upon you. Once there, you can only “take back control” by changing what culture and society imprint. Because otherwise, nothing else Vedantam writes makes sense: if you could consciously control your unconscious, that would be a form of consciousness that robs the unconscious of its (presumed) power; so the answer is that you must control your unconscious mind by consciously decided what is appropriate for it to learn in the first place.

Which is to say, you can only take back control by giving over control to those who will properly teach you.

So if the human psyche is just a big constellation of conscious and unconscious cognition — which thoughts represent the real you?

“Most of us think of ourselves as being conscious, intentional, deliberate creatures,” Vedantam says. “I know that I think of myself that way: I know why I like this movie star, or why I voted for this president, or why I prefer this political party to that.”

But doing research for this book changed all that, Vedantam says.

“I have become, in some ways, much more humble about my views and much less certain about myself. And it may well be that the hidden brain is much more in charge of what we do than our conscious mind’s intentions.”

If the “hidden brain” were really just our unconscious, Vedantam’s conclusion would read something like this: “It may well be that we are much more in charge of what we do than, well, we are.”

– Which doesn’t sound quite so thoughtful — and has the extra added problem of pointing out that we are, in fact, responsible for ourselves, if only because it is US who act as the filter between culture and society and what we become.

“You” are the sum of your agency, which includes both your unconscious and conscious minds. In fact, the two are inseparable as components of your agency.

And while it may be easy to blame society for bigotries that are yours, you own them, whether you are 3 or 33. Just because society tells you to jump off a cliff…

Once you recognize that, you can turn your attention to the proper question: what is it that makes some associations de facto bigoted in the first place? And who has the right to declare them such…?

Trace the answer back to the source, and it’s easy to see why some much time and energy is invested into dividing you from you.

h/t Terry H.

****
update: my response to Helian Unbound, here.

Posted by Jeff G. @ 12:41pm
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Comments (0)

  1. Soon we’ll see people getting acquitted of crimes after pleading “not guilty by reason of just not really paying attention to what they were doing when they emptied that AK-47 banana clip into those co-workers.”

  2. Vendatum aspires to be an usher in the Cartesian theater; he will take your ticket and guide you to your seat.

  3. Don’t be coy, we know you’re really writing about HIM.

    /getting it out of the way

  4. these same “scientists” also have a side business in carbon credits

  5. I unconsciously think NPR is effing tiresome.

  6. Someone should show Shankar Vedantam the “Simpsons” episode where Bart explains “the rules of the playground” to his mother. It is far more insightful than his drivel.

  7. He is not being coy Dicentra he is trying to hide from me.
    But I’m on him like a hobo on a ham sandwich!

  8. When my daughter was about five, I made her go use the bathroom when she didn’t want to. She peed anyway, and declared “I didn’t pee; only my pee-pee peed!”

  9. There’s also a lot of assumptions NPR makes about its rich white audience feeling very comforted to know that the rest of society simply doesn’t know better but that rich white enlightened people like themselves do indeed have a role to play in the betterment of society.

  10. Oh and Feets, I left orders for you on the previous thread, so don’t let the brigade down;)

  11. I will do my best but after tasty mexican.

  12. But he thinks that the links the children made between particular groups and particular concepts were not biologically based — those judgments came from culture and upbringing.

    A kid who has never seen a dark face will find it upsetting when what is “normal” is changed to something “abnormal,” regardless of parental or cultural input.

    When I was three I was terrified if my dad merely covered his eyes only or his mouth only. I had nightmares about people with blank faces. Faces are a Thang with little kids, and if you mess with what they understand to be normal, they’ll freak. Just how it is at that age.

    Once we are here — once we begin to give power to deeply-seeded attitudes learned through acculturation and rote indoctrination (and buried deep in our “sub-conscious”) while simultaneously divorcing the conscious mind from the unconscious mind in such a way that the unconscious mind is no longer a part of the intentional “we” — it is an easy next step to argue that “we” are not responsible for any kind of unconscious racism or bigotry; thus, we can say racist things, or make racist associations, without those associations or statements being intentionally racist.

    Ah. There’s the touchy part. Indeed.

    We don’t control our subconscious mind. How useful for the mind-control freaks..

    Too bad that’s not how the brain works. That we make generalizations (heuristics) is what those huge frontal lobes are for.

    Watch America’s Funniest Videos and every few weeks you’ll get a vid of a dog or cat who won’t just walk through the newly de-screened screen door, even though the hoomin is prancing in and out. The critter can’t extrapolate and generalize to “if the hoomin can get through, so can I.” You’d have to pick up the critter and shove it through the new opening before it understands the new properties of the door. Once you do that, though, the critter walks confidently through the door until you replace the screen and hilarity ensues.

    If you fear dark faces at three (because you’ve never seen them before), then at five have some friends who have dark faces, and you meet their parents, who are nice people, the freaking heuristic map changes automatically, and the negative generalization won’t be made anymore, because you’ve got new, non-negative information about dark-faced people.

    Cripes, if even a cat can assimilate new information about a screen door and put it into his extremely limited heuristic formula, a five-year-old human can’t?

  13. I see the same thing coming from the feminist side as well. I am told that my sexism is something I unconciously do and in fact I am completely unaware of. In other words I have been programmed and am a sexist but its ok as long as I acknowledge that I am in fact a sexist and agree that I have no control over it. Its an unproveable theory because I can’t recognize my problem and must be shown why I’m actually a sexist. You don’t like Hillary so you are a sexist because you are a man and all men have been programmed to dislike “powerful” women. You can try and dispute this claim by pointing to your attitude or behavior towards other “powerful” women but that will be ignored because of course the true feminist can see things about you that you yourself are unable to divine. You’ll get a pat on the head with a, “its not your fault”, just don’t do it again lecture. Of course there are some exceptions made for liberal men since as we all know they are able to see themselves and their motivations clearly.

  14. See Jeff that wasn’t hard all you needed was a little inspiration;)

    All kidding aside, for someone feeling empty that was pretty deep stuff. Keep firing!
    Oh, and if current events are not inspiring just bring out teh funny!

  15. I love social “scientists” that compare the operation of a human brain to a computer.

    Wrong. Nice try at simplification, but sorry, just fuckin’ WRONG!

  16. “I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,’” Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’”
    “But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,’” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again.
    “They’ve a temper, some of them – particularly verbs, they’re the proudest – adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs – however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”

    Lewis Carroll; Who knew one could learn so much from a child’s tale?

  17. At least the little proto-bigots were from Montreal instead of the U.S.A.

  18. Check and mate. Having established an establishment, the logic simply needs to be designed to fit it.

    This by now familiar progression from assertion through moralism into tacit statism lends itself to all sorts of aims where the pretzel intent is to establish other, equally politically powerful controls: The left on statist feminism, the ostensible right on statist finance, or both on government as overbearing authority any time it expenses the individual, which all of these examples do.

    That said, how would this phenomenon be different from say, the individual hearth and home where the authority of moral redirection is traditional — even classically liberal — and to a degree inviolable, and being individual, formerly quite absolute against the State?

    Would it be the difference between personal liberty and State authority, Jeff, that bringing classical rights to the fore? I don’t care if my neighbor preaches the religion of global warming. I do care when my government does.

  19. Q: If My Betters were also unconsciously programmed by society, how did they manage to detect this invisible and inexorable programming where the rest of us did not?

    A: The question answers itself: they’re Your Betters.

    Q: Why are My Betters unable or unwilling to recognize their bigotry toward people like, say, Sarah Palin?

    A: That’s not bigotry, that’s a recognition of cold, hard reality. Deal with it.

    Q: In which lobe of the brain does this “Hidden Brain” reside?

    A: Shut up, that’s why.

  20. So, when I find myself wanting to jump the bones of the cute redhead at the coffee shop, is that my unconscious mind? Or is my unconscious mind the accumulation of cultural norms that says it’s unacceptable to just jump her bones? And if it’s my unconscious mind that’s telling me not to, then what’s telling me to do it?

  21. I think God will factor in here sooner rather than later. Secproggs were amazed to find this conclusion as concluding as it was.

  22. “Vedantam cites research from a day-care center in Montreal”

    there must be a hockey stick involved or maybe tree rings

  23. Silly me. “And here you have the last two maneuvers: 1)” led me to expect a “2).” DON’T JUDGE ME! Yes, I do see the second maneuver. Nice analysis. Henceforth whenever I hear the phrase “I was autopilot,” I’ll confidently point out, if bifurcate your consciousness is useful, you’re still accountable for both pilots. You own the contents of your mind.

    This post transported me back to my earliest instructions on race. I recall with the same sense of astonishment I felt then when my father informed us why the language we used was unacceptable. My older brother and I were shocked. We hadn’t imagined such things. I’m afraid I was on autopilot while reading this post because another part of my brain was occupied with being back there at five years of age and reliving that experience. Another part was feeling what I was reading. Another part was visualizing the guy making these statements. Another part was having an argument with that guy. (This other part was working out a pop-up card I intend to make involving meerkats but that’s irrelevant here.)

  24. So long ago taken up it is easy — too easy — to forget, but it is the betters or at root, the good, that wants the getting at when it comes to political things. h/t Kaus

  25. science fiction writer

  26. “The problem arises when we [switch] without our awareness,” Vedantam says, “and the autopilot ends up flying the plane, when we should be flying the plane.”

    Just wait a gol-durned minute. I’ve seen this before. The psychiatrist scene in The Mask. (I gave up trying to find a video link to it…)

    Curmudgeon,

    Someone should show Shankar Vedantam the “Simpsons” episode where Bart explains “the rules of the playground” to his mother. It is far more insightful than his drivel.

    That too.

  27. “You” are the sum of your agency, which includes both your unconscious and conscious minds. In fact, the two are inseparable as components of your agency.

    This is a statement that my unconscious mind finds palatable, yet my conscious mind rejects outright.

    I’m not sure if that means I agree with it or disagree with it. Possibly I’m tri-stated.

  28. One wonders if this little brain power slight of hand could be applied to the current political narrative that Dems are earnestly vomiting in the MSM.

    We hear all about the “generalized anger” that is affecting voters everywhere. especially as demonstrated in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. If it’s generalized might it not be subconscious? Aye, there’s the rub. Those poor rubes rejecting the fine arts of their political and social betters are positively being run by their culturally adapted autopilot brain to blame the nearest authority figure for their misery of the present.

    Bitter clinging on autopilot? Once the narrative defines the right anger against the wrong conclusion this all must be based in some kind of cultural bias, handed down stealth like in childhood until the voter can’t help himself, lost in the very automatic systems that run of their own volition. propelling the poor, tainted soul into unreason, unfaith and involuntary ignorance.

    The only thing missing is a hookah smoking caterpillar. Throw in a few fat prostitutes and I’m in. The folks at NPR will spend several days at their desks, hands on chins, nodding in solemn agreement, shaking their heads at inevitable randomness and inbred permanence of bigotry.

    [facepalm]

  29. there must be a hockey stick involved or maybe tree rings

    ROTFL!

    newsrouter wins the thread

  30. There was a study where they posed a series of hypotheticals to liberals and conservatives to the following effect: A. Would you kill a white person if it would save 100 black lives? B. Would you kill a black person if it would save 100 white lives? C. Would you kill a black person if it would save 100 black lives? and D. Would you kill a white person if it would save 100 white lives? Take a wild guess which one white liberals overwhelmingly responded NO to.

  31. The psychiatrist scene in The Mask.

    Ben Stein?

  32. BTW: OT, but I don’t care:

    Check This out

    C’mon, now, admit it – you thought all them goofy preachers on the teevee yelling “HEAL!” were full of bullshit, didn’t ya?

    Well, you’d be right.

  33. BJTex:

    Hidden Brain = False Consciousness

    Aaaaaaand it all loops back to Marx, neat as can be.

    Which it always does.

  34. I suppose it would be reasonable to call Obama’s Social agenda a function of him and his minions’ “autopilot.”

    Due to the lack of reason.

  35. it all loops back to Marx, neat as can be.

    Nuanced evangelicals. Does that wash?

  36. i wonder if the montreal study was peer reviewed? were the peers like the folks at cru just gibberish bouncing around the brains of leftists? is there science and ask only for “marxist brand science™”

  37. I would even question what is meant by “linking postive attributes” and “linking negative attributes”. How so?
    In what way? Are the white faces smiling? Are the brown faces frowning?

    I am shocked to find that a three year old would react differently to a face different from mommy and daddy’s face. Shocked I say.

  38. YOU ARE ALL SLAVES TO THE CULTURAL BIAS EMBEDDED IN YOUR HIDDEN BRAIN. YOU MUST BOW TO IT’S INEVITABILITY AND ABASE YOURSELF TO YOUR SOCIAL BETTERS!!!!

  39. “You are all slaves,” might have sufficed, or if we wanted yet more confusion, cite a strictly deterministic physical universe billiard balling its way to consciousness as output. To be or not to be? Compatibilist or Incompatibilist?

  40. “Dammit, Barry, stop following me! It’s just creepy.”

  41. This post is too long, with too many words.

    I retract it, and go with “Obama supporters LIE!” instead.

    And if I have any extra change left over, I’d like to buy a Photoshop of Obama wearing a funny hat, looking like he may be telling others to lie.

  42. …carrying a light saber and humming the theme from Glee.

  43. That P’shop Althouse had last week was far better than any of the stuff that’s running all over the tubes joint right now. This one.

  44. “I’d like to buy a Photoshop of Obama ”

    hey if you’re goin’ make it as an outlaw little more self reliance please

  45. BJTex,

    One wonders if this little brain power slight of hand could be applied to the current political narrative that Dems are earnestly vomiting in the MSM.

    We hear all about the “generalized anger” that is affecting voters everywhere. especially as demonstrated in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia. If it’s generalized might it not be subconscious? Aye, there’s the rub. Those poor rubes rejecting the fine arts of their political and social betters are positively being run by their culturally adapted autopilot brain to blame the nearest authority figure for their misery of the present.

    “Autopilot” or not, Joe Klein thinks we’re all just too fucking stupid to know what’s good for us. See?

  46. Is an outlaw stance incompatible with a division of labor? By allah, let’s hope not. I mean, you got your triggermen and your drivers, your lockpickers and your blueprint-readers, no?

  47. hey if you’re goin’ make it as an outlaw little more self reliance please

    Mercinary IS outlaw. Or aren’t you up on your Firefly?

  48. Solid breakdown of the particulars Jeff. The underlying concepts mentioned in the article are gaining quite a bit of currency in the popular press. I’m about a third into this

    http://tinyurl.com/yjvb7fd

    which is a rather meh follow up to the much better

    http://tinyurl.com/dena8m

    Some of it has serious and substantial scientific basis, along with a decent dose of (un)common sense. Where things breakdown and become hopelessly biased is at the point when the subject matter crosses over from the cognitive and behavioral science of individuals, to the psychology and sociology of groups. At that point there is little or no more objective or quantitative basis and it all turns into conjecture and bias.

    The philosophers of the science of psychology seem to understand this limitation, unfortunately it appears that few, if any actual behavioral scientists do. But since many authors (Diamond, Erhenreich, etc.) have been able to employ this gobbledygook to significant advantage why would anyone be dissuaded from making the leap (of faith).

  49. racism is a religion I think… the NPR whores are its priests

  50. #47 that snark #45 had a shelf life of milliseconds sorry for any inconvenience

  51. “And while it may be easy to blame society for bigotries that are yours, you own them, whether you are 3 or 33.”

    Okay – okay — I read farther down. This part is completely wrong.

    A three year old doesn’t “own” it’s own bigotries.

    There – ya satisfied.

  52. “when the subject matter crosses over from the cognitive and behavioral science of individuals, to the psychology and sociology of groups. ”

    or poorly sited weather stations to agw

  53. Newrouter, you couldn’t be more apt, the processes are quite similar.

  54. Certainly a 3-year-old owns its bigotries. S/he might not call them bigotries — and “bigotries” as it is often used might carry the wrong freight for what a kid is doing in discriminating — but they are still his or her bigotries. They may hate broccoli and love cookies. Should this non-tolerance toward broccoli be allowed to stand?

  55. Walden II should have taught them all, ThomasD.

  56. this a reoccurring practice on the left for example the michael bellesiles fraud book on guns in america. somehow the his data disappeared too

  57. Of course, we can also start from this author’s conclusions and work backwards.

    That being that we are all fallible creatures, prone to err and stray from the path of righteousness, so therefore we must all look to a higher authority for guidance.

    Except the author probably fears that, if stated this way, he stands to lose a certain potential audience, and that while others may heed his advice, they may yet choose the ‘wrong’ higher authority.

  58. Did they show those Canadian pups a goalie with his mask on?

    That would DESTROY all their potty training.

  59. “Should this non-tolerance toward broccoli be allowed to stand?”

    yes

    I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.
    George H. W. Bush

  60. broccoli makes a tasty salad if you add a little mayo and srirachi and some chicken and also some almonds and pasta

  61. Isn’t Shankar Vedantam trying to explain something that was done with far more clarity in The Waterboy?

  62. cha I mean

  63. Should this non-tolerance toward broccoli be allowed to stand?

    It better. Broccoli is a scourge and an abomination.

  64. Albert Broccoli was OK.

    (especially with a nice chianti)

  65. Jeff, I had not heard of that novel until today. Thanks, now the reading pile grows ever larger.

    Has anyone else tried that ‘baby broccoli’ that’s now in the stores? It’s not rabe – it’s bigger, and much more mild. I do happen to like broccoli, although will not eat it if it has been overcooked, I tend to believe that that is the sin that makes most people dislike it.

  66. And some Favre beans…

  67. Wasn’t broccoli the wedge that divided the supertasters from the ordinary tasters?

  68. broccoli florets and sour cream yes

  69. Overcooked broccoli is the wedge that will drive me from the room – smells like a pulp paper mill.

  70. broccoli makes a tasty salad if

    You obviously can’t taste the ick in broccoli.

    Not everyone can.

    It’s not a “hidden brain” thing, it’s a more taste-buds thing.

  71. Like sdferr said, it’s a supertaster thing. I’m prolly one. Can’t handle capsaisn, either.

  72. I must have the “evil” taste buds as I like broccoli and brussel sprouts too.

  73. As tasty as broccoli can be I think the three-year-old is very astute to favor the cookies plus also cookies are easy to spell.

  74. Broccoli or cauliflower with melted cheese and butter…
    mmmmmmmmm good.

    How can a 3 yr old’s opinion about food or anything else be considered valid? If you’re 33 and you say you hate broccoli then I really believe you.

  75. dicentra, the supertasting wolftrap solution (wait, was that what they meant by Wolftrap?).

  76. If a three year old says he likes cookies he’s not lying I promise.

  77. Supertasters don’t like tonic water? Well, that rules me out.

    Sounds like a bit of a misnomer, more like ya’ll are simply cursed.

  78. This post is too long, with too many words.

    If you mean, with the phrase “too many words”, that you’ve pretty much covered the argument, and we can’t really disagree (or disagree MORE) … than you’re right.

    You should leave a few glaring misses for us to pick up on.

  79. did the montreal study include a broccoli floret and a cauliflower floret

  80. Supertasters have more tastebuds, which is why we can’t handle jalapeños. More buds screaming “FIRE!” tends to hurt more than fewer. Like 2/3 fewer, IIRC.

    So go ahead and call us wusses who can’t take a little heat, but remember that we’re not tasting the same thing at all.

  81. OT.

    ht de Rugby

  82. have you asked mr. andrew breitbart if he could use some wordy post on big journalism?

  83. Happy, I saw some red velvet cupcakes at Starbucks the other day. I let ‘em lie there.

  84. If a three year old says he likes cookies he’s not lying I promise.

    lol

    A 3 yr old who says he hates broccoli does hate broccoli I’m sure. I’m just saying that every adult who likes broccoli now probably didn’t when they were 3.

    So did the 3 yr old “own” the bias or was it a childhood opinion that was later outgrown?

  85. So did the 3 yr old “own” the bias or was it a childhood opinion that was later outgrown?

    Whether you like a particular food is not a matter of opinion but of perception. Kids have more acute sensibility to taste and texture than adults. What bugged you as a kid (“Ewww! The gravy ran into the peas!”) doesn’t as an adult because the experience was different.

  86. And kids perceive faces in an experiment differently.

    It’s not a lifelong bias that the 33 yr old has to live by because that’s what he perceived when he was 3. The adult “owns” the opinion/perception/bias. The child does not.

  87. the important thing is you know where they are…

    I’ve done very good and after NY this week I have to be very disciplined. Like Carin levels of discipline with maybe bonus wind sprints. I’m not necessarily gonna die if I don’t get a new job this year but I want to be ready to interview I think, and red velvet cupcakes are not my friend in this endeavor I don’t think. The whole cupcake family even.

  88. swiss cakes

  89. Whatever happened to those things that are half white icing and half brown icing? Headlights?

    Never see those anymore.

  90. My autopilot wanted cupcakes. Then “I” took over and I still wanted cupcakes. Weird.

  91. I’ve never had a black n white cookie. So this is my goal in NY this week.

  92. The child does not.

    This isn’t the Dr. Phil kind of “owns”–where you take conscious responsibility for something–it’s the “owns” in the sense that it’s in the child’s head, therefore it’s his.

    Who else’s would it be? Elmo’s?

    Whatever happened to those things that are half white icing and half brown icing?

    Back East they’re called half-moon cookies, IIRC.

  93. It’s not a lifelong bias that the 33 yr old has to live by because that’s what he perceived when he was 3. The adult “owns” the opinion/perception/bias. The child does not.

    Who said anything about “lifelong.” The bias you own lasts only so long as it is yours. Once you cease the bias, you no longer own it, nor is it a part of “you” — except as one part of the you that led to the current you but that no longer is you.

    So yes, a three-year-old owns his bigotries, however ephemerally.

  94. Oops. I see dicentra’s already been there.

    Oh well.

    …OBAMA IS A DOODY! LINK ME, INSTY!

  95. my autopilot just brought me a whisky and soda. Like it knows, or something.

  96. what’s missing from this post is that it is linked to to previous post. yea last post revealed some astroturf. but what was cru but astroturf?
    and if the blogosphere were to unleash its collective/individual guns on the montreal study how thin would this author’s argument be. (beck i need a chalk board to diagram sentences)

  97. Does this mean black and white TV, Movies, Pics, and books are teh RACIST!!!!11!!eleventy!!! and didn’t know it?

    Meanwhile as a graphic artist versed in color theory, this story makes me *facepalm*.

  98. research from a day-care center in Montreal

    research in montreal. where’s the research that confirms the findings in montreal?

  99. So we are all a split-personality. The “bad” part formed by society, culture. So society, in the form of the State, must take responsibility for and control of this bad part for the “good” of all and for the “good” of our innocent, conscious, half.

    How convenient the scientific “truths” are on the left. Like iron filings on a magnet they align, pointing always to the one axiomatic “truth”. The State is All. The State is Mother. The State is Father. The State loves you and you will love it, to and unto death.

  100. “Which is to say, you can only take back control by giving over control to those who will properly teach you.”

    And buying their book that just happens to be coming out, yes?

  101. Say, how does this link in with Garafalo’s “limbic brain” theory?

  102. “he tells NPR’s Steve Inkseep ”

    i remember michael bellesiles fraud book was featured on npr’s terrygrossest show

  103. I can tie a bowline knot – very useful knot. Take your line and make a loop over the top of the line. Take the end of the line and go into the loop from under the line. Take the end of the line, and from the back of the loop (the non-loop side) go back under the line above the loop. Bring the end of the line back into the loop. (The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree, and back into the hole.) Pull tight. I can do that automatic, I was trained. I can tie it behind my back.

    I do not like cauliflower. I was not trained to dislike cauliflower. I just do not like cauliflower.

    That is, I think, the difference between what is learned and what is not learned.

  104. “I do not like cauliflower”

    that’s, that’s discrimination !!!11!

  105. Ten years ago, after reading drivel like this, one’s only solace would have been a strong drink and some useless muttering.

    Thanks to Silicon Valley, today we can gather around the computer screen with some like-minded folks and read Jeff’s thoughtful vivisection of this pseudo-intellectual tripe.

    I hope someone forwards Vedantam a copy so that he can stop writing poorly thought out papers and follow true destiny right into the telephone-based customer service industry.

    Was that racist, or just stereotyping? I can never tell.

  106. I see dicentra’s already been there.

    You gots ta wake up pretty early in the morning to…

    Aw hell. This has been such a Monday. But the chocolate pudding I got in the cafeteria (with brownie chunks and whipped cream and it’s like 12 ounces!) should fix that.

  107. Q: If My Betters were also unconsciously programmed by society, how did they manage to detect this invisible and inexorable programming where the rest of us did not?

    A: The question answers itself: they’re Your Betters.

    Never, ever ever ever be right when Your Betters are wrong. It can only end in Revolution.

  108. Which, all you atheists and agnostics have got to ask yourselves: Would chocolate pudding exist in a godless universe?

    See? I got you there. The proof is in the pudding, where it’s always been.

  109. The proof is in the pudding, where it’s always been.

    Is “proof” slang for balls or am I spending way too much time at Ace’s?

    I kid. I kid.

  110. Thomas D,

    Of course, we can also start from this author’s conclusions and work backwards.

    That being that we are all fallible creatures, prone to err and stray from the path of righteousness, so therefore we must all look to a higher authority for guidance.

    And what would you do without him?

    Does Your Subconscious Think Obama Is Foreign?

    Did you vote properly, racist?

  111. The new Caprica thingy is working on the zombie consciousness thesis reaching forward to Battlestar Galactica, somewhat more explicitly anyhow. It might prove marginally interesting but then given the complexity of the subject, it might not too.

  112. The Plouffe proof is in the pudding

  113. Abe: I should have seen that coming, but like I said, it’s been a total Monday, so everything’s coming out sideways.

  114. newrouter, I took a course from Bellesiles at Emory back in, oh, ’95ish. It was a constitutional history class. He was a douche. He invited the class over to his house for afternoon sherry. He wore black, acid-wash jeans to the first class and quoted Emerson Lake & Palmer. That was all pre-fraud.

  115. I don’t know if it was so much discipline, Happy, as a desire to insure that my first time is special. I can’t just have any old Red Velvet Cupcake (or cake)…

  116. VDH so totally rocks:

    A year ago, a number of “moderate” Republicans and Democratic stalwarts, in the gush of the inauguration, warned us of new Democratic majorities for years to come. A new race/class/gender dynamic would doom conservatives and their-old-white-guy party and its reactionary fellow-travelers. And, of course, the post-national, post-racial, post-modern president would hope and change his way to just about anything he wanted.

    All of this was nonsense, but the narrative did mesmerize quite a lot of DC-NY pundits, who mistakenly fell for the Emanuel/Axelrod thesis that popular outrage at Wall Street banditry, weariness with Iraq, and the lackluster McCain campaign would translate into populist support for a kinder, gentler socialism.
    ….
    Since Obama is both inexperienced and apparently a stubborn ideologue, I think all we will be left with when the novelty wears off is rhetoric and euphemism….

    That’s about all you have, when you bet your holdings on European-style socialism and it proved a losing hand.

  117. redder than velvet was the night

  118. if you want to wear acid washed jeans don’t eat the swiss cake rolls nor cupcakes. echo: that is all

  119. Spake Jonah:

    What is with all of these people? Forget that Obama already rolled out his own slogan, “Yes We Can!” The idea that Obama’s problems all stem from poor communication skills or practices is absolutely bizarre. The same people who think Obama is the most eloquent speaker since MLK or Cicero or Reagan also think his only problem is that he hasn’t effectively explained himself. Obama himself thinks his only failing was to eschew the cowbell.

    Look, evabody: “We didn’t communicate well enough” means “nobody fell for our lies” or “our snowjob didn’t take” or “the proles don’t know what’s good for them.”

    If they really believed that lack of candor were their problem, they’d say, “Hey, this health care bill? It’s about consolidating a huge hunk o’ power in Washington. Y’all OK with that? I mean, that’s how they do it in Europe, and who doesn’t want that? A permanent left-of-center political culture would sure make my tired old face smile, so why don’t you give one up for the ol’ Baracky already?”

  120. If you do want acid washed jeans, buy new ordinary jeans, become a plumber, sweat copper and wipe your flux greased hands on your jeans and you’re good to go.

  121. Blowhard, thanks for the rap, man.

    Major props to Hayek for:

    The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.”

    That cannot be said too often.

  122. “The proof is in the pudding, where it’s always been.”

    Which, I guess, is better than the balls being in the pudding.

  123. I’m way on the “autopilot” side of this, but my thinking about it is so not like NPR guy’s, I can’t even object to him (or to objections to him) without going on a monster rant.

    Very reduced rantlet:

    Our un- or subconcsious (or whatever) is what we separate from us, or act like we do, not an inscription from Outside. Like

    And while it may be easy to blame society for bigotries that are yours, you own them, whether you are 3 or 33. Just because society tells you to jump off a cliff…

    but the other way around, kinda.

    The unconscious (or whatever — the shit you deny, not the shit that denies it (presuming they’re separable shits, for the sake of the rantlet)) puts (or recognizes and accepts) things outside it through which its unspeakable-to-”you” desires can be satisfied deniably, irresponsibly, by not-you — institutions, mostly.

    So I blame “bigotries” for “society.” For NPR, certainly.

  124. That Hayek quote is evidence of the benefits of English as a second language.

  125. So I blame “bigotries” for “society.”

    I agree with this, but my subconscious bigotries are jumping around shrieking “ook” which I take to indicate disagreement.

  126. …but I could be misinterpreting…

  127. …’cause right now they’re doing “The Wave.”

  128. True, it can’t be said enough, sdferr.

    It can be broadened quite easily. Economics is like all other human based systems, composed of unpredictable feedback loops and unknown pathways.

    Jeff has laid out the flaw in this “racist subconscious” argument. Now imagine you give this goofball the ability to create policy to fix this “problem”. Think that guy could even begin to figure out what would actually happen from that policy? Think he could predict one percent of it?

    Of course not. Yet, all we get, day after day, is social engineering from overly ambitious people trying to fix the world.

    Okay, back to work.

  129. Psycho, I fall on the autopilot side also, but mainly because I see all of us as inherently ‘lazy’ in that we are prone to to relying on behavioral scripts and cognitive filters that are not nearly as reliable or complete as prudence (or even experience) might dictate. Perhaps this could be framed as a ‘desire’ to expend less mental/physical energy, but I’m thinking that’s not what you are describing.

  130. I like having a hidden brain. I delegate most things to it.

  131. What the autopilot stuff is or isn’t in relation to the intended stuff is of no import to this particular argument. The sum of both is still 100% you, is all that matters for my purposes here. Learned phatic speech, eg., is learned by us and is used often unconsciously or by rote. Doesn’t make it any less ours.

    To separate out the autopilot as either that which society inscribes you with, or the part of you you deny on some (pre- or post- cognitive) level (the grouping of which denials gives you your social identity) creates other interesting discussions, surely; but it doesn’t help this feint toward false consciousness either way, once the whole ideological suitcase is unpacked.

  132. I’ve no argument with that. It is foundational to the concepts of classical liberalism that what we do and what what we think are all part and parcel of the same package that is what we are.

    Attempts to deny (or minimize) the will are always attempts to deny your freedom.

  133. What bears the responsibility calls the tune and the dance.

  134. So, there’s a ghost in my machine that I can blame all of my neo-KKKonfederate, h8tey winger RAAAAAAAAACIST beliefs on; does that mean I get a pass for free? Or, do I have to go to the “re-education” camp?

    And here I thought I was drinkin’ the haterade for fun, profit, and racism-as JD once so eloquently out it…

    Silly me.

    I’ll bet my “unconscious” brain knew, and just wasn’t tellin’ me!

  135. “that children as young as 3 ”

    what kind of people are fixated on this stuff

  136. pilot — steering agent
    autopilot — self-steering [agent]
    autopilot-autopilot — self-steering-self-steering [agent]
    and so on.

    These are players in the Cartesian Theater. They are all fictions, albeit possibly useful fictions or placemarkers.

  137. Bob Reed – I am honored that my insouciant snark is even read, much less paraphrased by you.

  138. you kind of switch back and forth between the Vedantam with a u and Vedantam with an a but I don’t mind I just think this one’s a keeper is all

  139. Think that guy could even begin to figure out what would actually happen from that policy?

    As Krauthammer so pithily said: “Liberals always measure their success in public policy by inputs and not outputs.”

    So “beginning to figure out what would actually happen” isn’t in the project plan. The good intentions that initiate the policy are all that counts.

    RAAAAAAAAACIST

    Flag on the play! Four extra As on the field! Five yards from the point of infraction.

  140. Listening to MadCow quote that evil demonic dwarf Krugman is fucking brutal. Spending freeze has her head assploding.

  141. The idea that this will ever actually be a spending freeze is laughable.

  142. What the autopilot stuff is or isn’t in relation to the intended stuff is of no import to this particular argument. The sum of both is still 100% you, is all that matters for my purposes here. Learned phatic speech, eg., is learned by us and is used often unconsciously or by rote. Doesn’t make it any less ours.

    Part of what I’m seeing here is that shrinks like this Shankar Vedantam character are still beating the “yes, the accused committed these heinous crimes, but he’s also a victim, because Society is to blame” dead horse.

    Or am I way off base?

  143. it locks in last year’s 10% increase

  144. The spending freeze would apply to a relatively small portion of the federal budget, affecting a $477 billion pot of money available for domestic agencies whose budgets are approved by Congress each year. Some of those agencies could get increases, others would have to face cuts; such programs got an almost 10 percent increase this year. The federal budget total was $3.5 trillion.*

    headline: Little President Man Steers Towards Cliff, Steps On Gas

  145. JD,

    Listening to MadCow quote that evil demonic dwarf Krugman is fucking brutal. Spending freeze has her head assploding.

    It’s recovered from assploding Tuesday night already, eh?

  146. It is like an ongoing continual assplosion.

  147. ‘feets

    headline: Little President Man Steers Towards Cliff, Steps On Gas

    Never saw Thelma & Louise, did he? Someone should let him know that it didn’t end well.

    Or are we seeing the Cloward-Piven strategy in overdrive?

  148. obama & axeldude over the precipice or a unicorn

  149. Spending freeze. Hah! Nothing will happen, it’s just to garner a headline or three going into and out of the SOTU.

    As per dicentra;
    “The good intentions that initiate the policy are all that counts.”

  150. This thread contains the best laughs I’ve had in a long time.

    Does anyone else find it odd that someone actually thinks a pseudo scientific study of three year old kids could be extrapolated to mean anything in regards to society in general?

  151. “someone actually thinks a pseudo scientific study”

    please respect the humanities

  152. Everyone should force themselves to watch an entire evening of MSNBC from time to time. Barcky is having a bad week.

  153. my fav mccainiac; tell it sister:

    Instead of real leadership, though, we’ve had broken promises and backroom deals. One of the worst: candidate Obama promised to go through the federal budget “with a scalpel,” but President Obama spent four times more than his predecessor. Want more? Candidate Obama promised that lobbyists “won’t find a job in my White House,” but President Obama gave at least a dozen former lobbyists top administration jobs. Candidate Obama promised us that we could view his health care deliberations openly and honestly on C-SPAN, but President Obama cut deals behind closed doors with industry lobbyists. Candidate Obama promised us that we would have at least five days to read all major legislation, but President Obama rushed through bills before members of Congress could even read them.

    Candidate Obama promised us that his economic stimulus package would be targeted and pork-free, but President Obama signed a stimulus bill loaded with pork and goodies for corporate cronies. Candidate Obama railed against Wall Street greed, but President Obama cozied up to bankers as he extended and expanded their bailouts. Candidate Obama promised us that for “Every dollar that I’ve proposed [in spending], I’ve proposed an additional cut so that it matches.” We’re still waiting to see how President Obama will cut spending to match the trillion he’s spent.

    link

  154. Can it really be all that much worse than Fox News?

    I find cable news very concerning generally.

    Try graphing the national debt against cable news viewership since CNN first aired on through MSNBC, Headline and Fox.

    It’s very sobering.

  155. Without having given it much reflection, wouldn’t such a graph suffer from a “correlation is not causation” sort of stabby problem, hf? Not to say the link to causation couldn’t be made, just that it wouldn’t necessarily jump off the page singing in the right key.

  156. I think the graph strongly suggests all the yammering doesn’t much help …

    you can’t prove it I guess…

    mostly it would just be a cool graph

  157. So the autopilot automatically executes your learned activities/behaviors. How did the autopilot learn these things? Because you consciously did these things a few times. As an example, say you were born here in the states and learned to drive on the right side of the road. You won’t suddenly find yourself driving on the left side just because your autopilot took over. Now you go to England and you consciously drive on the left side. There is a danger for awhile that if the autopilot takes over you will drive on the right(wrong) side of the road, until the autopilot learns the new way of driving.

    Now lets take the case of racism. You have never consciously done anything racist. But when your autopilot kicks in you become a one man Klan rally?

    It is a mystery.

  158. No doubt I’m repeating what has been said over and over and over…

    Kids are cautious of what is not familiar. I’m blond but my son who was born when I was at Clark AB went more readily to women (other than myself) who had black hair and dark eyes because his first baby-sitter was a Filipina lady. The difference was striking. I’d be not at all surprised if he goes for dark hair now that he’s old enough to think of that.

    And the teachers who teach about tolerance? All I’ve ever noticed with that is that younger children who have been brought up not to care what anyone looks like take away from these “lessons” that people who look differently distrust each other, sometimes they fight or say bad things, so if the child *does not* do any of those things, the child wonders what part of how the world works did he or she miss and then tries to incorporate it.

    Small children aren’t trying to figure out what is right and what is wrong. They’re trying to figure out what IS.

    So thanks to all those do-gooder educators telling young children that racism *is*. You can stop trying to help now.

  159. Kids of three are terrified of clowns and Santa Clause as well. Is that bigotry? Or is it just that three year olds are often afraid of the unknown?

    Here’s another example- I have a daughter who is multiply disabled. She does not speak and has tested at profoundly retarded (she’s probably slightly above that level, but not much). Here is something I observed pretty much consistently with my friends’ small children- mostly around 2 years old. They would be freaked out by my daughter, frightened, and sometimes that fear made them angry and they would push her away (she is a very gentle soul, so she wasn’t doing anything threatening, just being ‘different’).
    I’ll admit that at first this upset me and I thought it indicated that their parents weren’t really comfortable with my child, either, and those kids were picking up ‘hidden associations’ around them. But then I noticed two things that opened up my eyes to the reality that little kids ARE naturally uncomfortable around the ‘different:’

    Quite often the two year olds who were terrified of her and pushed her away had been one year olds who played happily side by side with her, 19 month olds who tried to share food or toys with her, kids who had clearly been quite comfortable with her.
    Then my own two youngest children did *exactly* the same thing- although they had loved and played with their sister from their birth, and I certainly had no ‘hidden assumptions’ about her for them to pick up (and they weren’t in nursery school, but with me all day, every day), at around two they would freak out over her at some point, and have to be reminded that there was nothing to be afraid of and encouraged to relax and share, and I would explain that she was just different, and that was okay.

    She hadn’t frightened them before because they hadn’t realized before that there was a sort of baseline for ‘normal’ behavior and she is far outside that.

    And that’s what I think this “I don’t want to call it ‘bigotry’” Vendantam sees in children- a normal developmental stage where they recognize and are made nervous by differences and people outside the norm- clowns, Santa Claus, giant fuzzy pink bunnies at the mall, the retarded, people with different skin color… With my disabled daughter they had reached a point where they realized she did not respond or behave like other people, and that realization caused them to be nervous.

    It’s a parent’s job to help them assess when that nervousness is reasonable, and when it is something to overcome, to teach them manners and appropriate behavior, sure. But it doesn’t come up in the first place because there’s some hidden evil assumptions in the adults of their world. Kids come by this fear or nervousness naturally.

  160. I wouldn’t trust this guy Vendantam at all.

    “I have become, in some ways, much more humble about my views and much less certain about myself.”

    V’s Conscious self’s just not up to it. He’s admitting that he can’t control even his Conscious mind and therefore has no responsibility for whatever he says or does.

    “And it may well be that the hidden brain is much more in charge of what we do than our conscious mind’s intentions.”

    Well, at least he’s also proved his submission to the Group, which is now going to become his Unconscious, and it seems to be what he wants – apart from selling some books.

    But unfortuneately for Vendantum, according to his own theory he can’t know if this is not his “unconscious” doing all the talking in the first place, or that he is totally “socially constructed”.. So he’s willingly trapped almost by design. But he can always blame “culture” or his parents..

    And who decides what is the “right” way to act, since everyone could be similarly afflicted? Non-rational forces gain control. People become enslaved.

    His ramblings sound to me to be just another form of relativism or subjectivism, or even determinism – they’re all pretty similar, imo. Does he ever talk about rationality, because it would seem that he’s denied its existence or that it has any particular power in his case And by now I’m happy to take his word for it. Although if he denies its existence he must know what it is but maybe just doesn’t want to use it. That’s always the dilemma I come to in trying to figure out these people: do they have a significant rational capacity and just don’t want to use it – which according to V might have even been Culturally wrought; or don’t they have enough of a rational capacity right from the beginning, from conception on?

    I don’t think you can teach rationality without a rational capacity already installed as “inherent”. But you can significantly control speech/thought
    Now,
    Howard Dean said back when he ran for President that he felt confident about saying anything that just popped into his head because he knew ~” his unconcious had worked on it.” So there’s that.

    I think a lot of people have an “autopilot” experience when driving. They are driving along then suddenly come-to some miles down the road frightened as to how they got there safely. I’ve had it most markedly while driving and also when I get into good enough shape to not be forced by agony to have to pay attention to what I”m doing. Once or twice I’ve completed a 45 min. hill run, and the only reason I knew I had done it was that it was 45 min. later and I couldn’t have just been standing around there sweating. I think you just don’t remember it, that’s all. So what? It’s always very pleasant, and I didn’t go around belittling people when it happens.

  161. Um, Shankar Vedantam is a Liberal.

    That about says it, does it not?

  162. Instalaunch. Just saying.

  163. #138

    These are players in the Cartesian Theater. They are all fictions, albeit possibly useful fictions or placemarkers.

    Cognitive scientists will attempt to counter this by pointing out the correlations between specific stimuli and the changes that can be seen on functional MRIs of the brain. Although what is often not discussed are the problems encountered when one attempts to extrapolate this data from individual behavior to group behavior. Fiction, and ever less useful fiction, is often what results.

    Humans do use mental models, even though we know they do not necessarily always reflect reality. That we do so, with this knowledge of our own fallibility, makes the whole exercise seem rather impervious to much scientific study, much less what is passed as scientific study.

  164. The good Doctor cannot tell me what he is measuring, what the standard is, nor what its correlation is to actual observed phenomena. He cannot tell me in exacting terms what the relationship between those defined phenomena are and how they influence each other. He cannot measure what it is he is seeing.

    If you can’t measure it, it isn’t science.

    And if you can’t define what it is you are trying to measure in concrete terms with numerical values attached, then you are blathering and waving your hands about unwilling to do the hard work of defining what it is you are measuring, how it works, and describing that phenomena that can then be tested by others to see if your measurements hold up under scrutiny of other experiments and conditions. I do wish you could make a science of society but that rests on individuals and how they act as individuals and in groups. And there is only one group working on that and they don’t tend to run daycare centers.

  165. #162
    The Zen of driving, or whatever task one does routinely. Deadly if you’re in bomb disposal. Helpful if your only job is to sort widgits on a conveyor belt.

  166. Is my racism subconscious, unconscious, or conscious? I always thought it was for fun and profit.

  167. A Handy Guide

    (A)Trait: A behavior pattern or genetic characteristic displayed by a majority of an ethnic group that is both true, and flattering.

    (B)Stereotype: A behavior pattern or genetic characteristic displayed by a majority of an ethnic group that is also true, but unflattering.

    Racist: You, if you agreed with (B).

  168. Jeff, this is you at your brilliant best.
    I wish there were some way to get you a rebuttal on NPR to awaken the conscious brain parts of their listeners long ago rendered comatose by the hours of drivel NPR produces.

  169. Let’s face it, no matter what you say about any race, positive or negative, somebody is going to call you a racist.

  170. Let’s face it, no matter what you say about any race, positive or negative, somebody is going to call you a racist.

    Unless you’re a Democrat, in which case, all is forgiven.

  171. Clearly you’ve all missed the point:

    Canadian daycare centers make children racist. Simple as that.

  172. Also, this “autopilot” thing? Sounds a lot like Thetans.

    V-dawg is a crypto-Scientologist! Break out the E-Meters!

  173. This, like AGW, NCLB, etc.
    is going to be another huge
    hit to the Liberal Left, as
    the Science catches up with
    the Sophistry, revealing an
    inconvenient experimental truth opposed to their
    wish-fulfillment fantasy
    that we are all equally
    angelic, and we can all
    get along, with a little help from our friends.

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  175. Only conservatives are responsible for their subconscious because the liberals aren’t responsible for anything. Just ask them.

  176. Hey JG? Just wanted to say thanks. I’m not as well educated as the regs here, but you make it fairly simple. One thing though? “Phatic speech”…I don’t know what that is and do not understand what I see on wiki. A little help?

  177. Bullshit thinking from the 60s. Will this crap never decompose?

  178. Pingback: “It’s Not Really You. It’s Your Unconscious Mind.” | Little Miss Attila

  179. Pingback: Daily Right 1/26/10 « The Quantum Conservative

  180. Rebecca? It will as soon as THEY start decomposing. Until then? We’re stuck with the hippie radicals.

  181. Blitz, I’m under-qualified myself but I think Jeff is referring to automatic or unthinking speech.

  182. BH, That’s what I read too, but ….HUH? How can one speak w/o thinking? That’s where I’m lost.

  183. Blitz, I think it isn’t so much unthinking (literally) as just automatic without a lot of thought. Like when you say “yes” immediately when you hear, “Does this dress look good on me?”

    I’d agree that, strictly speaking, you can’t speak without thinking. But, I don’t know, people speak while sleeping. I guess synapses are firing but it would be outside what we normally mean by thinking.

  184. LOL…..I get it BH, Thank you. I’d prefer to think that my dreamspeak wasn’t “phatic”, though. My GF? swears she’s going to record me someday.

  185. What is “phatic?” It’s whether or not you can get your pants zipped up.

  186. Cynn? Unzip yours sometime. There’s this thingy at the top of your thingy? TOUCH IT…..it may distract you from boxed wine and Protein Wisdom…..

  187. CRAP…..I like you Cynn, but WHY put a BS comment into a late post that has pretty much nothing to do with anything?

    That’s the definition of a TROLL hon, and you’re better than that.

  188. No thanks k’bai.

  189. I reject the argument that there are two independent knowings. I think that a human has an individually defined spirit that measures itself against good versus bad. I agree in part with Jeff that one sensibility can override another.

  190. FYI, I am writing Jeff’s grant language.

  191. Pingback: Of Human Nature and Political Games @ Helian Unbound

  192. Pingback: Julian Jaynes–I Mean, Jeff Goldstein, on the Bicameral Mind

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