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What matters now. A publication from Medium about politics, power, and culture.

Americans must rise above confirmation bias, groupthink, and tribalism

Image: Free-Photos / Pixabay

Political polarization is nothing new in America, but recent studies show that a greater number of people are migrating further towards the extreme ends of the spectrum. Instead of a bell curve, the distribution of Americans along the political spectrum these days looks more like a dumbbell.

A key reason why we are shepherding ourselves to opposite poles lies in how we attain information. Psychologists have established that the brain is prone to confirmation bias, which is a subconscious tendency to summarily accept or reject evidence based on our beliefs. …


And now, he and his family must sleep in it. The rest of us have to.

This weekend, Fox News “personality” Tucker Carlson, on a family trip with his daughter, went to a fishing store called Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Company in Montana. There, a local fly fishing guide named Dan Bailey — amusingly, not the Dan Bailey of Dan Bailey’s Outdoor Company; he was somehow a different Dan Bailey entirely — saw Carlson and confronted him, telling the broadcaster:

“Dude, you are the worst human being known to mankind. I want you to know that. What you have done to this state, to the United States, to everything else in this world. I don’t care that…


Getting to racial justice is a long journey. Some folks are misreading the map

Image by Andreas Klein from Pixabay

You can sense it in some quarters of the burgeoning racial justice community — a feeling of dread that the movement has stalled a little over a year since the murder of George Floyd.

For most who express this concern, the evidence they point to is the fall-off of public protest since last summer.

“Why aren’t we in the streets every week?” many demand to know.

Naturally, they have their own answer. Most people they insist “weren’t serious” about change and were only performative activists — unlike them.

They, of course, are ready for the revolution.

Because sure they are.


Public persuasion campaigns can’t move the needle as much as the private sector requiring employees to be vaccinated

JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images

Over the past few weeks, the number of Covid cases, hospitalizations and deaths has risen sharply in the United States, particularly in states with low vaccination rates. While the vaccines do not offer perfect protection against being infected with Covid , they significantly reduce your chances of getting infected and, more important, they shrink your chances of being hospitalized, let alone dying, from Covid to almost nothing. That’s why, in the U.S., more than 90% — and perhaps as many as 99% — of Covid deaths over the past few months have been among unvaccinated people.

Despite this, a surprisingly…


POLITICS

Our president is steady, sometimes vague, but earnest, honest, and wants you to know that he’s not kidding around

Well, that was a mildly interesting but overall uneventful evening. If you could get past the odd and constant reminders by the president that he was “not kidding, “not joking,” and “not being facetious” — we know, Joe, you’re not kidding! — there were some important takeaways from last night’s CNN Town Hall with President Biden. (If you missed it, you can watch Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 online.) Immediately, there was a deluge of criticism from Trumpland, the right, and the Mean Girls on Twitter, who mostly lambasted CNN for the town hall being too softball and…


When Americans are born on third base and think they hit a triple.

I’m in line at the Target pharmacy watching a woman edge a baby stroller back and forth. Lena, the pharmacy tech, tilts her screen toward the woman and points. The information hits hard. The woman’s hands fly everywhere and nowhere, snapped masts with torn sails. I watch as she cycles the stages of grief: This is a mistake. Fix it! Is there a generic? A coupon? Please. She leaves empty-handed.

Lena tells me the baby’s medicine was too expensive, even with the woman’s insurance. …


As even our smartest friends fall to conspiracy fever, we have to accept it’s not about logic or politics, but addiction

Photo: Ludovic Toinel/Unsplash

It comes in waves. A friend here, a co-worker there, getting curious about one conspiracy theory or another until they follow one too many trailheads, and end up over the edge. It’s a casualty of living in disorienting times, we tell ourselves. It will eventually pass.

But the hardest part is when the people we’ve traditionally looked to for their brilliance and insights fall into this paranoid trap, as well. They leave us wondering how this could happen to people smarter than ourselves. …


Texas Governor Greg Abbott called a special legislative session in early July. One of the topics included on the agenda was “critical race theory,” which is addressed in a bill recently passed by the state Senate. With Democrats preventing quorum in the House, it’s not likely to pass before the end of the special session in August (World Travel & Tourism Council / CC-BY 2.0 Generic)

Though I’m not usually in the habit of giving advice to my political enemies, here’s a tip for Texas Republicans: When your opponents say that your ginned-up nonsense about Critical Race Theory is just cover for attacking anti-racism education in schools, don’t do the exact thing you’re being accused of. The GOP-dominated state Senate just voted on a bill stripping away curriculum requirements, including a clause that requires educators to teach the history of white supremacy and “ways in which it is morally wrong.”

Frankly, this is an extremely low bar to cross. The original bill passed in the House


How the ascent of the former president and vice president reflect the political expectations of Black America during their times

President Obama, (left) and Vice President Harris. (right)

By: Ian L. Courts, Esq.

It was 2008, the results of the presidential election were coming in on CNN; I was in the 8th grade and staying up late to watch the results. Excitement, fear, nervousness, and hope were competing for my anxiety’s airtime. I asked myself, could a Black man, this Black man, Barack Obama, become the first “Black” President? I hoped for the answer to that question to be yes, and once the results projected Barack Hussein Obama’s election to the Office of the President, I was ecstatic and could hardly hold in my excitement at school the…


THE ECONOMY

While billionaires like Bill Gates buy up all the nation’s farmland, Wall Street investors snatch up every home they can get their hands on.

Medieval illustration of men harvesting wheat with reaping hooks. Wikimedia Commons

For Father’s Day a few years back, my wife and kids surprised me with a trip to Medieval Times, an immersive dinner theater featuring staged Arthurian-styled games, such as sword-fighting and jousting. Anyone can enjoy the forgotten age of kings and queens for a reasonable price, at least for an evening.

For the next several hours, we sank into the fantasy world of wealthy lords and ladies. As we watched knights battle each other on horseback, the wait staff, dressed as lowly serfs, served overflowing plates of food and poured wine into our faux-jewel-encrusted goblets on demand. …

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