Climate Change and Framing: Brain Morphology, Why Facts Fail, and Debiasing Strategies

We only use 10% of our brains.  Is that claim true or false?  Is it backed up by the scientific literature? Is it just an old myth that refuses to go away?  Is it a misquote of someone who actually knew what he was talking about?  Scientific American tries to get to the bottom of…

Individual vs. Collective, Corporation vs. Government, and Democrat vs. Republican: Thoughts on the Political and Legal Landscape of Information in America

In Culture Jam, Kalle Lasn pens a chapter titled “The Unofficial History of America,” in which he decries the corporate dominance of American life. He calls into question the public memory and cultural meaning of America and uses those questions as a starting point for investigating the power of corporations and what he sees as…

Think Tanks in Action—A Real World Example

A colleague read my lecture notes on think tanks and told me that he has first-hand experience with the Heartland Institute.  This piqued my interest because Heartland Institute (located here in beautiful downtown Chicago!) is pretty big in the global warming denial game, though their interests include all laissez-faire (quick poli sci question:  what does…

Thoughts on Psychology, Neuroscience, Information Literacy and Global Warming

We see from the story of censorship in the former Soviet Union that too much state control of the media is potentially a very bad thing.  We see from the Texas School Board that too much power in the hands of even a small band of elected officials can lead to censorship of culture and…

A Brief History of Newspapers in America

The first newspapers in the US were owned and run by political parties.  If you had one set of beliefs, you knew where to get your news, and your idiot neighbor, having the other set of beliefs, knew where to get his news too.  This was a pretty cozy arrangement for all involved (except for…

Think Tanks, Bias, and Information Ownership: Smoking, Global Warming, Manufactured Doubt, and Sound Science

In understanding the complicated media and political landscape in any policy debate—global warming being a big one–it is important to understand the competing sides of the debate as well as the biases of the policy experts that politicians consult to inform or justify their decisions.  We will pay particular attention to the role of think…

Two Different Kinds of Government Censorship

The former Soviet Union provides us an excellent example of censorship in action.  Theirs was a huge, monolithic government capable of controlling virtually all information their citizens were exposed to.  Everything had to be run though “official channels” to make sure it corroborated the state’s version of reality.  Even when people KNEW that the story…