GroupThink on All Sides

8 11 2010

. . .of animal rights and how that affects the Meaning of Life to us humans.

“Ironically, it is at just this point of their agreement—about monkeys and companion animals not being special—where both groups’ values differ most from those of the general population. . .apes and monkeys and dogs and cats are being confined, vivisected, and killed while animal advocates are ignored as a lunatic fringe.”

November 7, 2010
Animal Research: Groupthink in Both Camps

Lawrence A. Hansen, M.D., is a professor of neuroscience and pathology at the University of California at San Diego, where he also leads the neuropathology core of the Shiley-Marcos Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

Professors like me, with established research credentials at animal-research-intensive universities who are also members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are rare. But a dual identity as a research faculty member and an animal advocate affords a unique perspective on both camps.

A striking similarity between the two is that animal researchers and defenders of animals both employ groupthink, a mode of thought that people engage in when Read the rest of this entry »

Can a Dog Receive Communion or Would You Complain? WWJD?

23 07 2010

“[I]n my opinion, Christ would have thought it was neat. It was just being human. And it made everyone smile.”

We’ve talked before about potential human life, about animals and even robots, how in the end the way we treat any of those is all about OUR humanity, not theirs. Not to mention how we treat each other, as enemy rivals or extended family and friends . . .
Read the rest of this entry »

Politics for the Dog Days of Summer?

8 07 2008

Seen on my local theatre list today, fun!

Which breed of dog should the Obama family get? (They should get
getting one from the pound but, alas….their kid has allergies)

Vice President isn’t the only high-level position that Barack Obama is currently trying to fill. It’s been widely reported that – win or lose – the Obamas have promised their two daughters a dog after the presidential election. With 158 breeds registered by the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) – each with its own unique temperament, coat type, size, energy level and appearance – the search for a canine cabinet member is on.

“Deciding what breed to get is as important as deciding whether to get a dog in the first place,” says AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “The first step in being a responsible pet owner is to do some serious and careful research to determine which breed of dog is right for you and your family.”

The Obama family will be adding a dog to their household for the first time, but according to an Associated Press survey Republican Presidential nominee John McCain and his wife already have 24 pets, including four dogs.

Cast your vote!

And we’d better get to vote on the name, too. Should we wait to see what kind the dog turns out to be, or start the nominating process right now, here at Snook? (guess Hussein is out?)

When Getting In Is Hard to Do

14 02 2008

“It’s capitalism gone nuts, but it’s also absolute socialism because everyone is born with the same number of points,” says Justin Wolfers, an assistant professor of business and public policy.

So somehow you prepare your teen to win the college admissions competition, get into a good college of their choice. And somehow you’ve figured out how to cover the costs. Now the real competition begins. Apparently once a course becomes popular, everyone wants in and there’s not enough room, who knew??

College decisions and choices could be be less conscious choice than like catching a virus, see the “behavioral contagion” of romance (happy Valentine’s Day to all) and the “social contagion” of falling in — and then out of — love with the hotly contested Best In Show at Westminster?


“Conventional Quackery” of Deadly Education Fad: Liberals, Conservatives Both Guilty

13 10 2007

Francis Cullen, a distinguished research professor in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati, says their popularity was based on “conventional quackery.” In the absence of scientific proof, the boot camps just seemed like a good idea.

“What was special about the boot-camp idea is that liberals and conservatives liked it — though for different reasons,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

Favorite Daughter, Santa Claus and a College Newspaper’s Catfight

1 10 2007

From FavD’s college campus, a blogpost written on the laptop she just bought with money she earned, and carries around in a black Abbey Road Beatles book bag, snugged in a neoprene sleeve:


I have a theory that exposed to the world’s religions, both ancient and modern, your standard eight-year-old would call bullshit in about an hour, if that. Hell, the various creation myths are so clearly derived from one another, I don’t know how adults fail to notice. Kids are really more logical than you’d think — they may believe in magic, but their magic plays by clearly defined, sensible rules. Prime example, my younger brother, who we are trying to wean off Santa Claus this year. . .

Btw, this weekend FavD auditioned for, and was cast in, the singing, dancing ensemble for the January production of a gritty journalism musical called “Sweet Smell of Success” — nicknamed Smell around here — set in the edgy jazz, corrupt film-noir culture of the 1950s. She’s also been named Dance Captain. Rehearsals start tomorrow night.

John Lithgow won the Tony award for his starring role in Smell as all-powerful celebrity gossip columnist “JJ” (good name, right?) and there are a couple of strong female leads. The newspaper ink gets smeared on everyone by the end. The storyline of this story imo, is the power of newspapers right or wrong, to define the power of every story — which as it turns out in this story, isn’t just about money but literally life and death.

Probably due to my own shady past in journalism and “public information” work, the song from this show I learned first and easiest, is “Dirt:”

Dirt — it’s an animal need.
I don’t pick up the paper for the sports or the news,
Those ain’t the “sports” that I choose!

The real world of journalism can be SO educational, not to mention musical theatre. . . oh, and college too.


Back to School Take-Home Quiz: The Ethics of Teaching and Training

25 08 2007


People want to do the right thing.
What the right thing is, however,
depends on what you value.

Michael Pollan in The Sun Magazine, May 2006, in which he says our cognitive and cultural tools have been turned against us by industry.

COD has a head-scratching thread about how we treat puppies and snakes (all animals, actually) and how we justify it ethically. It all connects in my mind to whether compulsion in educating and “socializing” children is ethical — puppies are socialized too, “schooled” by responsible owners in standard behavior taught with standard methods — and then to Dr. Anne Foerst, theologian of robot learning, as a better philosopher on moral-ethical education riddles than Rob Reich, and finally, to ways we all could “progress” in the ethics of compulsory schooling and training, rather than devolving:

About Rob Reich, disingenuousness is one problem he doesn’t seem to have, unlike most liberal critics of home education. I really do believe he believes it is an ethical problem to teach any captive audience, and if he would extend that to all education — as we propose to do here — instead of limiting it to homeschooling, it could be a GREAT discussion, maybe groundbreaking. Read the rest of this entry »