Thursday, February 02, 2006

Three Links of the Day

In a desperate attempt to keep this blog looking fresh despite the brief shelf life of my last post, I hereby present my three links of the day, gleaned from some of my favorite websites (commondreams, huffingtonpost, dailykos, etc.):

1. Is there a golden thread linking the GOP-Abramoff scandal with ripping off American Indians? Even if the connections to Abramoff turn out to be thin--note that I'm not suggesting they are, and I certainly support pursuing this case further--it is worthwhile just to learn about this huge class action lawsuit involving gross federal mismanagement of Indian trust lands. U.S. citizens, in particular, should be educating themselves about this issue, if we care even a tiny bit about rectifying in some small way the huge injustices perpetrated against Indians in our nation's history. I have to plead guilty myself to not knowing enough about this whole mess before, even though I have an interest in federal land law and American Indian history.

2. On the lighter (?) knew there were researchers studying everything imaginable, right? Well, take a look at this news report on a fascinating study based on brain scans and detailed questionnaires. Apparently, people with strong partisan political views are often incapable of fairly evaluating information that contracticts their pre-existing biases--and their (should I say, our?) cerebral "reward centers" became stimulated when they simply rejected the discordant information. Kind of like drug addicts, they note. (Other researchers at the same conference apparently found a correlation between Republican partisanship and holding implicit negative views about Black people...hmmmm....I guess many of the great political ad-makers and campaign strategists probably knew that already.) Denial of information that does not fit a preconceived worldview seems to be a particularly salient problem nowadays.

3. Continuing the theme of how people deny information that does not fit their worldview, I wonder if one issue that most Americans, Republican and Democrat, have a hard time re-examining is 9/11. I have checked in from time to time on the growing, but still relatively marginal, movement to radically revise the official account of what happened on 9/11. Every time I delve into this world, I have a hard time dismissing the arguments put forward by some of these people, who are often derided as "conspiracy theorists." The thing is, not all of their arguments are wacko, and in fact, there seems to be substantial evidence supporting the alternative scenarios. What am I talking about, you ask? Take a look at this website, which is among the most thoroughly researched and thoughtful that I've seen--and even includes some peer reviewed papers by scientists, engineers, and other scholars. I admire their bravery and dogged pursuit of wherever the evidence seems to lead them, even if it conflicts with the stories most of us believe in order to avoid having to confront the worst scenarios. I have no idea, really, if these people are on to something. But it certainly seems worth keeping an open mind.

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