Story Logic

The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor.

—  Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind (2012)

In this week’s sift:

  • The Narratives of NovemberWhat matters at this point in the campaign isn’t the Electoral College, favorability ratings, or head-to-head polls. It’s whether either candidate can assemble believable stories explaining why he should be president and his opponent shouldn’t.
  • Jobs, Hobbies, and Reflections on a Viral PostThe most common complaint about last week’s Rich People Don’t Have Jobs is that I co-opted the perfectly good word job. Why that seemed necessary opens a whole other can of worms.
  • Working for the Man and other short notes. Private prison corporations, lobbyists, and industries that pay peanuts for prison labor have established an incestuous relationship with government. The Yes Men take on the Bank of America. The Vatican cracks down on American nuns. Environmental arguments against immigration are actually arguments against the poor. Plus links to a few other things I found worth reading this week.
  • Book recommendation of the week: The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion, where this week’s quote comes from. It’s an important book for anybody who wants to influence politics (so I may give it a longer review in some future week). One key insight: It’s now possible to prove rationally that people are not rational. Intuition reacts to any situation first, and the rational mind then turns that intuition into a post-hoc argument that might convince somebody else. That’s not a glitch; it’s what the rational mind evolved to do. The possibility of using to reason to find truth is a happy accident that came later. Rational truth-finding hardly ever works except in subcultures (like the scientific community) that go to great lengths to foster it.
  • Last week’s most popular post. Rich People Don’t Have Jobs was only the sixth 1000-view post since the Sift moved to last summer. At last count it had 1156 views. It has a follow-up post (Jobs, Hobbies …) this week.
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