Crossing the Southwest Border from 2000-2018: Are There Any Clear Patterns?

No doubt these Central American countries remain violent and unsafe - but the changing numbers of families leaving for the US appear unrelated to homicides rates. Guatemala in particular has seen declining homicides for a decade and has a much lower homicide rate than El Salvador and Honduras, yet the number of Guatemalan families apprehended at the border has skyrocketed over the past three years

Astrology, Political Attitudes and Party Affiliation

…twice as many Democrats as Republicans consider astrology “very” scientific and Republicans are more likely than Democrats to consider astrology “not at all” scientific. What’s going on here? Is there a solid scientific case for believing in astrology?

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Part III: Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

Verheggen et al gets the final word:

“Different surveys are not directly comparable, due to different groups of people being asked different questions…. Different surveys typically use slightly different criteria to determine their survey sample and to define the consensus position, hampering a direct comparison. It is possible that our definition of “agreement” sets a higher standard than, for example, survey question[s] about whether human activity is ‘a significant contributing factor’.”

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about Climate Change, Part IIa: How was the Consensus Established?

The above graphic conveys two things: first, getting skeptics to accept the scientific consensus on climate change is essential to convincing them of the need for urgent action. Second, in order for skeptics to accept the consensus, you have to convince them that the consensus is overwhelming - not just most scientists, but the vast majority of scientists. So is that what the studies in this graphic show? Let’s find out.

Truth-Telling and Persuasive Intent in Conversations about Climate Change, Part I: What is the Scientific Consensus?

Rule # 1: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, don’t misrepresent what the scientific consensus actually is.

Rule # 2: If you’re going to have an honest conversation about climate change, be prepared to discuss the evidence for a scientific consensus.

Rule # 3: If you want to have an honest conversation about climate change, remember that conversation is a two-way street. That means it’s just as much about listening as speaking.

Rule # 4: If your goal is to persuade someone to agree with you, then your goal is not to have an honest conversation.

Behind The Headlines: "Wealthy Opponents of New Shelter Claim Homeless Are Bad for Environment"


“This project will have a significant effect on the environment due to these unusual circumstances, including by attracting additional homeless persons, open drug and alcohol use, crime, daily emergency calls, public urination and defecation, and other nuisances,” the lawsuit states.

Opponents of the shelter have long said that their ultimate concern is public safety, a point that homeless rights advocates have argued was bigoted and dehumanizing.

How's The Economy Doing? What Small Businesses and American Consumers are Saying

Ok, small businesses are feeling pretty good about their economic prospects. How about American consumers? Luckily, I have a chart for that too, thanks to the University of Michigan Survey Research Center Institute for Social Research, which conducts a monthly survey covering three broad areas of consumer sentiment: personal finances, business conditions, and buying conditions. Here are the latest results: …

Language and Power: The Case of "Himpathy"

…Kate Manne introduces the word “himpathy” to describe “the inappropriate and disproportionate sympathy powerful men often enjoy in cases of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, homicide and other misogynistic behavior.”

Fact-Checking The Democratic Debates: Statements about the US Economy

Politicians run on platforms, which are statements of goals, problems, and proposed policies that aim to achieve the goals by fixing the problems. I often share the stated goals of both Republican and Democratic politicians. Yes to widespread prosperity! What’s more likely to give me pause is their take on what’s wrong with this country and what to do about it. Consider, for example, how Democratic candidates discussed economic issues in last week’s debates:

Trends in US Hate Crimes: 2005-2017

The FBI compiles detailed stats on US hate crimes, based on data submitted by thousands of law enforcement agencies covering most of the US population. News outlets and politicians often cite the FBI data as proof that hate crimes are increasing in the age of Trump. So let’s look at the data!

Political Rhetoric and The US Healthcare System: Demonizing Insurance Companies

“Look at the business model of an insurance company. It’s to bring in as many dollars as they can in premiums and to pay out as few dollars as possible for your health care. That leaves families with rising premiums, rising co-pays, and fighting with insurance companies to try to get the health care that their doctors say that they and their children need.” Elizabeth Warren, quoted by Jack Cassidy/New Yorker in The First Democratic Debate Shuns Donald Trump in Favor of Substance June 27, 2019

Household Income in the US: What's Changed Since 1979?

…Of course, the most affluent households did a lot better than the rest (228% cumulative income growth for the top 1%). But even the lowest income group made significant gains (69% cumulative income growth), mostly because their taxes went down and government transfers became increasingly generous during this period.

The Feeder Streams of Happiness

The feeder streams of happiness include:

  • Sense of control: you can actually change a situation

  • Sense of purpose: there are things you want to achieve

Personal Initiative and Happiness

Personal initiative is a proactive and goal-oriented mindset, characterized by long-term focus and persistence in the face of obstacles and setbacks.  Such a mindset is action-oriented, planful, and anticipatory: quickly turning goals into actions - with back-up plans ready just in case.