thinking

Scientists Identify a Key Cognitive Error that Could Explain Why People Believe in Creationism and Conspiracy Theories

As absurd and patently false as it may be, the notorious Q Anon conspiracy theory has gained traction among a passionate portion of the United States in recent weeks and months. This should hardly be surprising given that the country elected Donald Trump, known widely for spinning racist conspiracy theories of President Barack Obama's place of birth.

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Your Ultimate Guide to What Women Really Want: 4 Giant Myths Debunked

One of the most frustrating and common experiences of being a woman is having men tell you they know better than you do what women think and feel. By increasing the number of conversations people get to have, the Internet has also increased the number of opportunities women get to have men tell us what we’re thinking and feeling.

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The Amazing Benefits of Daydreaming on the Mind

As a young kid, I was asked by a psychologist, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Without skipping a beat, I replied, "I have this reoccurring dream of one day being a psychologist and giving lots of talks."

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5 Things to Know About How Corporations Block Access to Everything from Miracle Drugs to Science Research

Should a company be able to patent a breast cancer gene? What about a species of soybean? How about a tool for basic scientific research? Or even a patent for acquiring patents (see: Halliburton)?

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The Real Story Behind the Detroit Pension Fight and What it Means to America's Future

When the city of Detroit filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in July 2013, America sucked in a collective gasp. This was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by the amount of debt ($18–20 billion), and Detroit was the largest city ever to officially go bust.

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The United States Is Awash in Public Stupidity, and Critical Thought Is Under Assault

America has become amnesiac— a country in which forms of historical, political, and moral forgetting are not only willfully practiced but celebrated. The United States has degenerated into a social order that is awash in public stupidity and views critical thought as both a liability and a threat. Not only is this obvious in the presence of a celebrity culture that embraces the banal and idiotic, but also in the prevailing discourses and policies of a range of politicians and anti-public intellectuals who believe that the legacy of the Enlightenment needs to be reversed.  Politicians such as Michelle Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich along with talking heads such as Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Anne Coulter are not the problem, they are symptomatic of a much more disturbing assault on critical thought, if not rational thinking itself.  Under a neoliberal regime, the language of authority, power and command is divorced from ethics, social responsibility, critical analysis and social costs.

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Elizabeth Warren Confronts the Atrocity of Drug Money Laundering by Big Banks

Heavens to Betsy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren leapt from the gate of her first term pummeling Ben Bernanke on too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Then she demanded to know why American banks were never brought to trial. Finally, last Thursday, looking for all the world like a school principal called to sort out teenage hooligans, she queried regulators as to why HSBC bankers who launder money for drug lords and terrorists should go free. Quoth the senator:

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"More Better Faster!": How Our Spastic Digital Culture Scrambles Our Brains

One of the more pernicious enclosures of the commons is the enclosure of time and consciousness. It's pernicious because it is so subtle and rarely discerned. When commercial values such as productivity and efficiency become so pervasive and internalized, they crowd out other ways of being. Our very sense of humanity -- full-bodied, spontaneous, spiritual -- leaches away.

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Iraq's Catch-22

As Shiite Islamists and Kurdish warlords cobble together the latest interim Iraqi government, the regime of Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari and President Jalal Talabani is facing the ultimate Catch-22. And it's one that poses an almost impossible problem for Bush administration officials looking for an exit strategy for Iraq.

The Catch-22 is this: To gain legitimacy in the eyes of Iraq's population, and to avoid being seen as puppets, the new government has to distance itself from the U.S. occupation forces. Doing so, however, is impossible, since the newly elected regime wouldn't last a week without the protection of U.S. forces. So they are stuck in a fatal embrace. "Nobody wants to be in the picture frame," says David Phillips, a former U.S. adviser on Iraq policy and author of Losing Iraq: Inside the Postwar Reconstruction Fiasco. "Being seen with Americans is a political liability for Iraqi politicians."

Because those Iraqi politicians depend for their physical survival on the U.S. military occupation, they aren't inclined to ask the troops to pack up and go. "Can you imagine what would happen if we ask [the Americans] to leave?" said Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari, in a Feb. 1 Agence France-Presse article. Jaafari not only works but actually lives inside the heavily fortified Green Zone in downtown Baghdad. "This could mean the beginning of a civil war."

But every day that the U.S. occupation continues, it further undermines the credibility of the Jaafari regime. Exactly that happened to the government of Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, whose reputation as a CIA and British MI-6 agent fatally wounded his credibility among Iraqis, especially after he approved the U.S. assault on Fallujah last fall. And it happened to the ill-starred Iraqi Governing Council before that. By now, Iraqis are aware that although the current government emerged from elections held on Jan. 31, virtually all of its leading actors are retreads from the IGC, which was appointed by L. Paul Bremer, and from Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, the exile-dominated coalition that included Chalabi, Talabani, Abdel Aziz Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and other officials and members of the just-elected National Assembly.

Since January, the United States has sought to keep a low profile. It has tried to reduce its military operations, pushing ill-trained Iraqi police and national guard soldiers out front, and Ambassador John Negroponte—just appointed as the first U.S. national intelligence director—maintained (in public, at least) a hands-off attitude as Iraq's fractious politicians failed and failed again since Jan. 31 to announce a government lineup.

But Iraq's resistance groups have figured all this out, and they've changed tactics in an effort to draw the United States out of its foxhole. Refusing to allow U.S. forces to hunker down inside their camps, the insurgency has conducted a string of spectacular, well-organized attacks—first on Abu Ghraib prison, then on a U.S. military base at Al Qaim near the Syrian border, and finally in a sophisticated attack on a U.S. convoy that involved three separate car bombs and a coordinated fusillade of automatic weapons fire from concealed snipers. The Al Qaim attack led to heavy fighting over several days that included U.S. air force attacks that reportedly left 20 Iraqis dead in bombing raids. And, most recently, three U.S. troops were killed on their base when insurgents fired mortars into it. The obvious intent of these attacks is draw the United States into direct, frontal clashes with resistance groups. It's a tactic designed to remind Iraqis that the U.S. occupation is still the 800-pound gorilla in Iraq, and it seems to be working.

So far, the U.S. counterstrategy—called "Iraqification"—has been an utter failure. It will be years before the Iraqi army, police, and national guard are ready, trained and equipped to fight either the Sunni resistance or Muqtada Sadr's Mahdi Army.

But it is just as likely the Iraqi police and army recruits will end up fighting each other in a sectarian civil war that will pit Shiites vs. Kurds and both of them against the Sunni nationalists in the heartland. For the United States, the most worrisome sign is that the ascendant Shiite bloc is committed to purging the Ministry of the Interior and the Iraqi intelligence service of its core cadre. According to sources close to the ruling Shiite coalition, the purge—aimed at veteran Iraqi military and intelligence officers recruited over the past 18 months by the CIA—will be carried out under the direction of Chalabi, who is slated to get a critical post as deputy prime minister responsible for security and intelligence. Last week, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld publicly and explicitly warned the Shiite bloc—of which Chalabi is a prominent member—not to purge the security forces. "My concern is they'll come in and clean house," said Rumsfeld, clearly annoyed. "You can't do that, if you are trying to create a chain of command in the Iraqi security force and defeat a doggone insurgency."

But Chalabi, Jaafari and Hakim—who leads the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade militia force of 20,000 men—are committed to doing exactly that. They intend to replace battle-hardened officers, many of whom had experience in Iraq's war with Iran and both the 1991 and 2003 U.S. wars, with militiamen from the Badr Brigade, from Chalabi's own militia, and from the Kurdish pesh merga forces. By purging alleged former Baathists from key security positions, Chalabi will almost certainly push Sunni moderates, fence-sitters and former military men into the camp of the resistance, hardening battle lines for a tri-cornered showdown among Iraq's power blocs sometime this summer.

Hightower: The Gap Gets It Right

Good grief -- we won one! Last summer, I reported that The Gap -- that cool store specializing in casual cotton clothing -- was doing something very uncool. It was peddling T-shirts and other goods sewn in a notorious sweatshop in El Salvador, where teenage girls worked up to 18 hours a day, were sexually harassed, and physically threatened. The girls were paid 12 cents to make the T-shirt The Gap sold to you for $20. The Gap, like other brand-name retailers that also contract for clothing from such exploitative sewing shops, had denied that any exploitation was taking place, since that would be against company policy. Sort of a "we-don't-see-it-so-it-ain't-happening" approach. But a fiesty, no-nonsense group called the National Labor Committee put The Gap's corporate feet to the fire and wouldn't let up. NLC did something The Gap wouldn't do: talk to the girls in the factory. They then brought a couple of them to our country to tell their story to the American people. Naturally, you folks were sickened by their treatment and began agitating. Consumers wrote letters, students protested to local Gap outlets and religious groups asked The Gap's executives to search their consciences. As the head of NLC put it: "People are not interested in wearing clothes made by exploited workers and children." Bottom line: The Gap opened its eyes and signed a historic, groundbreaking agreement with the NLC to fix conditions at the plant and set a new code of conduct for all of its contractors to allow third-party monitoring of their compliance with the code. This is a victory that sets a new standard for the whole clothing industry, and it came about because ordinary people like you stood-up. Remember: We're not just consumers -- we're citizens.