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Ezra Klein's strangled Vox

the economistVie, 11/04/2014 - 14:33

LAST weekend saw the launch of Vox, a new own online news site founded by the one-time wunderkind political blogger, Ezra Klein. For the happy occasion, Mr Klein, Vox's editor-in-chief, has produced an interesting think-piece, "How politics makes us stupid", in which he provides a diverting overview of recent experimental work on the hardy human propensity to shield tribal political faith from rational scrutiny. That Mr Klein's essay ultimately runs aground, tangled in its own question, may shed some light on the promise of Vox and its aspiration to help readers really understand the news.

Mr Klein's essay is chiefly dedicated to explaining the work of Dan Kahan, a professor at Yale Law School. Mr Kahan and his colleagues have conducted a spate of experiments that show how our ability to reason soundly, particularly about political subjects, is undermined by the need to protect our core beliefs. Mr Klein writes:

Kahan calls this theory...Continue reading

Shots fired

the economistJue, 10/04/2014 - 23:07

A POSTSCRIPT to this week's print piece on police violence in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This morning, after The Economist went to press, the Department of Justice published the results of its 16-month probe into the conduct of the city's police department, and they weren't pretty. The review, published in the form of a 46-page letter to Richard Berry, the mayor, said that most of the 20 deadly police shootings between 2009 and 2012 it investigated were unconstitutional; officers, the report said, "used deadly force against people who posed a minimal threat". In some situations these officers acted in a manner that "heightened the danger" and made the use of force more likely. They were also found to have used non-lethal force, such as Tasers, unlawfully.

This excessive use of force, the...Continue reading

By the numbers

the economistMié, 09/04/2014 - 22:28

APRIL has been a cheerful month for the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. More than 7m Americans have signed up for private coverage through the law’s exchanges and, by the end of February, more than 3m people had enrolled in Medicaid, the health programme for the poor. According to the latest Gallup poll, America’s share of uninsured has fallen to its lowest level since 2008. These figures are good news for anyone keen to expand health coverage. They may not be so helpful for the Democrats’ election prospects.

To understand why, consider another set of figures. The Rand Corporation, a think-tank, estimates that 9.3m adults acquired insurance through mid-March. But more than 40m older Americans are enrolled in Medicare, the public-health programme for those aged 65 and older, with more than 15m of them in private Medicare plans. These are reliable voters in mid-term elections. And Republicans are telling them, again and again, that Democrats are raiding their benefits to pay for Obamacare.

Democratic politicians are desperate to convince them otherwise. On April 7th health officials provided some help: after proposing in...Continue reading

Imposter anxiety

the economistMié, 09/04/2014 - 18:26

DEFENDERS of North Carolina's new voter-ID law have been crowing this week. "Hundreds of cases of potential voter fraud uncovered in North Carolina," declared a recent Fox News headline. "Study finds 765 cases of NC voter fraud in 2012 election" echoed the Daily Tar Heel. North Carolina's State Board of Elections recently announced they had discovered 35,750 records of voters whose names and date of birth matched people who had voted in other states. More damningly, 765 North Carolina voters in 2012 had the same last four Social Security digits as people who voted in other states, and dozens more had apparently voted after they had died. Local conservatives have hailed these numbers as evidence that the state's strict new voter rules are essential safeguards against dodgy voter behaviour. “These findings should put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist...Continue reading

Noise and clamour

the economistMar, 08/04/2014 - 23:54

WHEN same-sex marriage activists force an ideological opponent to quit his job, are they violating liberal principles? Andrew Sullivan, a steadfast advocate for gay rights, thinks so. I do too, and John Locke, the great 17th-century theorist of liberalism, would probably agree.

In 2008 Brendan Eich gave $1,000 to support Proposition 8, a ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California. When this detail emerged last month, some web developers boycotted Mozilla to protest its promotion of Mr Eich, one of the company’s co-founders and the developer of JavaScript, to CEO. OKCupid, a dating website, joined the anti-Eich campaign a few days later. "Mozilla’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples,” read the site's default screen for Firefox users. “We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OKCupid." On April 3rd Mr Eich resigned,...Continue reading

BIG Data.NOT.

Tom PetersMar, 08/04/2014 - 19:51

Consider … “The Gross National Product does not include the beauty of our poetry or the intelligence of our public debate. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion. It measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”—Robert Francis Kennedy “To […]

The post BIG Data.
NOT.
appeared first on Tom Peters.

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