Moderation, Comfort, and Rage
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More Stupidity, Less Malice
It's easy to be paranoid, to view anyone in your way as having bad intentions. Your colleague who took credit for your idea at work was trying to rise up the chain. The guy who cut you off in traffic k,,,thought he was more important than you. The waiter who didn't bring you waters doesn't think you're going to tip well.
Robert J. Hanlon has a lovely idea to cut through this called Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity".
Like all philosophical razors (e.g. Occam's Razor), its a useful tool to eliminate unlikely explanations for human behavior. Next time someone does something you don't like, assume that they are acting ignorantly, rather than vengefully. Your life will be happier as a result.
More Moderation May Cause More Problems
Many people consider themselves to be "moderate" voters, or at least believe that "moderates" are an essential voting block. The problem, as political scientist David Broockman has found, is that moderates are largely a statistical myth.
There are exceptionally few true moderates, who belief in centrist policy positions. Rather, "moderate" voters have a number of extreme, but inconsistent, views. You may be very pro gay marriage, as well as very pro-gun, and get labeled a moderate, even though you're not moderate on any particular issue. This article has plenty of further examples.
Another commonly believed myth suggests that moderate, or centrist, positions are typically the most popular positions. Sure, there are some people with extreme views on either end, but most people agree that the right solution is somewhere in the middle.
This is also false. The single most popular position on marijuana is full legalization. The most popular immigration preference is "the immediate roundup and deportation of all undocumented immigrants and an outright moratorium on all immigration until the border is proven secure". On most individual policy issues, the single most popular viewpoint is an extreme one, not a centrist one.
Here's why this matters: efforts to empower moderate may be fuelling the rise of more extreme candidates. Politicians are increasingly focusing their "get out the vote" efforts and messaging to people who appear, on paper, to be moderates. By doing so, they may unwittingly be engaging voters who are actually more likely to be single-policy extremists, even if their overall political profile appears moderate.
More Comforting to Friends in Need
2020 has been a tough year for most everyone. Chances are you know someone who has lost a loved one, a job, or had some other tragedy befall them.
A good friend is one who can help make their friends feel better, but comforting a friend is no easy task.
This article makes it easier.
Specifically, if suggests that there are "Four States of Distress":
- Feeling Bad and Not Wanting to Feel Better
- Ready to Feel Better
- Feeling Better and Needing Solutions
At each stage, there are different things you should say and do to help comfort your friend. Do read the full article to get actionable tips and specific language you can use to be a better friend.
More Rage at Road Signs
Counter-intuitively, road signs can decrease road safety.
Lots of road signs, traffic lights, and other indications allow drivers to go onto auto-pilot, which may increase accidents. If this were true, we should remove traffic lights and street signs and expect to see road accidents go down.
That's exactly what happened in the Netherlands and in the UK. The ambiguity of the surroundings, sans street signs, forces drivers to slow down and concentrate on what's happening around them. Drachten, a town in the Netherlands, removed all traffic lights and saw accidents drop dramatically. Removing the center line from roads in the UK brought down accidents by 35%.
Check out this 6 minute video from Vox for more details.
More Confident that Nuclear Energy is the Future
Nuclear Energy is cleaner, it works, and it creates high paying jobs. Modern nuclear reactors have no risk of meltdowns, use up nuclear waste, and and are cheaper than any other form of energy.In the 2000-2009 period alone nuclear power may have prevented an average of 76,000 deaths. If Germany had pursued the same investment in nuclear energy as they did in wind/solar, they would already have 100% clean energy.
“If you want to know what a given society believes in, look at what its largest buildings are devoted to.”
— Joseph Campbell
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