Monday, February 20, 2017

History is written by the victors

One of the most unfortunate and widely-accepted ideas about historical thinking is that “history is written by the victors.” This talking point asserts that the truth of the past is not shaped by reasoned interpretive historical scholarship or a factual understanding of the past, but by the might of political and cultural leaders on the “winning” side of history who have the power to shape historical narratives through school textbooks, public iconography, movies, and a range of other mediums...
“History is written by the victors” is a lazy argument that is usually deployed in the absence of historical evidence to defend claims about the past.

The quote, "history is written by the victors" appears to be misattributed to Winston Churchill

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Was the Civil War about Slavery?

We're not fighting for slaves. Most of us never owned slaves and never expect to, it takes money to buy a slave and we're most of us poor but we won't lie down and let the North walk over us, about slaves or anything else.
-Confederate soldiers in John Brown' Body, a book length poem by Stephen Vincent Benét.

It should be noted that Stephen Vincent Benet wasn't speaking from personal experience. Even if he were, one person never really speaks for an entire group.

Still, the there are arguments here. Does it make sense for the South to care so much about slavery when so few owned slaves? I recall a dispute with someone who insisted that most of them fought because they hoped to one day own slaves. I don't find that believable. So many gave so much for such a little chance - seems dumb.

When I read the articles of secession it seems to me that the civil war was really about States Rights of which slavery was one important subset.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

One Kidney down, One to go.

Here's Dylan Matthews on the Science and Ethics of Kidney Donation.

Related: Economists generally range from accepting to uncertain of the proposition:

"A market that allows payment for human kidneys should be established on a trial basis to help extend the lives of patients with kidney disease."

I've looked into donating a kidney to a stranger. Fear or safety isn't the main obstacle, complication is.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Minimal Group Paradigm

Here is The minimal group paradigm study everyone should know. Since people will discriminate according to even the most arbitrarily invented groups, to make discrimination stop happening along certain categories is to stop making those categories a thing. Or at least less of a thing.

Maybe the "race isn't real" people have a tactical advantage over the "race pride" people?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Trump and his Male Friends Attack Women's Right to Abortion

Donald Trump Signs Anti-Abortion Executive Order Surrounded By Men.

Who happened to be around when Trump signed the order should be taken, at best, as symbolic rather than as evidence I fear many are taking it for.

What does actual evidence say? It doesn't support abortion being a men vs. women issue. Consider: "Men and women hold very similar views on abortion and under which circumstances it should be available."

A fairer summary is that women are only slightly more pro-choice these days (not so true in the past), it still doesn't really qualify as an issue dividing genders. The Blue Team has a habit of sacralizing the fight of oppression, especially of certain groups like women (never whites, males, or Asians). And when you sacralize something, it's very hard to think straight about it.

So Trump's being surrounded by men probably has more to do with the demographics of his administration in general, not a male attack on women's rights.

What are gender attitudes toward abortion when you adjust for other variables like politics and religiosity? It's still being debated.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

We don't burn witches anymore
but the group psychology endures
Moral distance, cognitive discipline seem to be the cure
The first two Spider Man movies weren't good either

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Both are true:

"About twice as many economists believe a voucher system would improve education as believe that it wouldn’t"

"only a third of economists support vouchers"