from the world's big
A simple postcard can improve voter registration rates. Who knew?
- An experiment in getting more people to register to vote in Pennsylvania shows that a simple postcard can get big results.
- Just mailing a reminder to those who were eligible to register increased registration rates by 15 percent.
- The study is one of the first to seriously look at registration drives.
How to get people to register to vote without breaking the bank<p>The study, carried out by political scientists from major American universities with the State of Pennsylvania's assistance, sent postcards to eligible but unregistered (EBU) Pennsylvanians to see if they would register to vote at higher rates than those who were not sent a card.</p><p>Pennsylvania is part of the <a href="https://ericstates.org/" target="_blank">Electronic Registration Information Center</a> (ERIC) collection of states. This group, consisting of several states and Pew Charitable trusts, exists to improve registration rates and voter rolls' accuracy. The states in ERIC all agreed to make serious efforts to reach out to at least 95 percent of all of their eligible but unregistered voters before each election. This means that they have a list of these people, something other states lack.</p><p>Taking advantage of this situation, the authors of the study devised a variety of postcards to send to EBUs to satisfy the state's obligations to mail out to the required 95 percent of EBUs and used the remaining 5 percent as a control group. </p><p>The simplest postcards explained how easy it was to register to vote online and provided the required web address. More complicated versions included a QR code option and a section explaining that online registration was created in response to voter demand. All of them were designed in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of State and had the hallmarks of an officially sanctioned, state-issued mailer. <br> <br> The EBUs who were to be contacted were randomly assigned to groups getting one of four possible postcard designs. After the election, the researchers were able to see that the groups that received mailers of any kind registered at a rate of around 8 percent, compared to 7 percent of those who did not receive any postcard. The rate at which those who registered and ultimately voted was similar in all groups. The increase in voter registration was particularly substantial for younger voters, a historically tricky demographic to motivate. </p><p>There was little difference in the turnout of those who got the simple postcard and those who got the complex ones or those with specific phrasing. The authors suggest that this means the reminder and essential information are what's vital to maximizing turnout by this method. </p><p>Now, while a 1 percent overall improvement might seem low, remember that the control group had a measly 7 percent turnout. That 1 percent overall improvement represents a significant increase in comparison. In an election where turnout nationally was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election" target="_blank">just over 50 percent</a> and 60 percent in Pennsylvania, that increase is noteworthy.</p><p>It is even more impressive when you remember that Pennsylvania's electoral votes were decided by <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_United_States_presidential_election_in_Pennsylvania" target="_blank">a fraction of a percent</a> last time. </p>
This is great and all, but what can I do with this information?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="EdaCjUI1" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="97857a380f30c2428a28b18a576e45b8"> <div id="botr_EdaCjUI1_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/EdaCjUI1-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/EdaCjUI1-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/EdaCjUI1-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The authors suggest that their findings have several implications for people trying to get out the vote and political scientists more broadly, writing in the study:</p><p>"We find that a <em>single</em> postcard sent by state election officials several weeks before the election can produce meaningful increases in both registration and turnout. Even in the context of Pennsylvania, a hotly contested swing state which ranked third in terms of campaign visits by the 2016 presidential and vice-presidential candidates, contact by state officials appeared to reach individuals who had not yet been contacted or persuaded to register by the campaigns or other mobilization groups."</p><p>They suggest that further study is needed, as there is a limited amount of literature on registration drives in compilation to attempts to turn out already registered voters. </p><p>More broadly, these findings lend credence to the idea that very many people who don't vote would like to, or at least would, if given the right information. This will prove useful to those trying to improve voter turnout. More importantly, once registered, most of these people ended up voting. </p><p>However, it must also be remembered that the percentage of notified people who registered in the end was still abysmally low—suggesting that many people who are not registered have more complicated reasons for not signing up to vote.</p><p>American voter turnout is low. This study shows that a simple postcard can help raise voter turnout without turning to solutions that would alter how registration and voting are done. Given the importance that Americans place on their democratic traditions, perhaps some people can expect a postcard from their Uncle Sam before too long.</p>
Comfort has won, and most formality is gone.
Benedictus, Benedicat, per Jesum Christum, Dominum Nostrum. Amen.
Please be seated. It's dinner time in St Paul's College, Sydney, where I'm dean and head of house at Graduate House.
Sophists used rhetoric and debate to arrive at practical truths.
- Sophists were more interested in arriving at practical truths through rhetoric than an absolute Truth (Sophia).
- Their techniques were heavily criticized by Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates.
- Asha Rangappa and Jennifer Mercieca write that Sophist techniques are particularly useful for recognizing and fighting disinformation.
The Sophists (A History of Western Thought 8)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4ead64a2750164c4c913f5c772410d04"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2BkhnoQHxhs?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>Initially, Sophists secured wealthy clients. In exchange for payment, they taught education and rhetoric, as well as music and other arts. Philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Xenophon were not fans; they believed Sophistry to be a lowly endeavor designed to sound deep. Socrates sang the praises of Truth (<em>Sophia</em>) alone; his student, Plato, thought Sophist rhetoric manipulated audiences. Sophistry could never lead to <em>Sophia</em>. </p><p>Mercieca and Rangappa believe Plato's <a href="https://www.britannica.com/biography/Plato/Dialectic" target="_blank">dialectic</a> was not sufficient to resolve political decisions, however. Socrates's insistence on Truth is debatable, as decades of neuroscience research on <a href="https://bigthink.com/mind-brain/media-memory" target="_self">memory</a> and perception now tell us. Arriving at one Truth on a planet of nearly eight billion people is impossible; we aren't designed to handle such volumes of data. Even 2,500 years ago, the Sophists strove for <em>Phronesis</em>, or practical truth. They knew that nuance matters. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Sophists taught the skill necessary for the practice of democracy—how to reach consensus about the truth. They taught people how to create arguments, to persuade audiences to believe their side, and to solve thorny political problems."</p><p>Mercieca, a professor, and Rangappa, a lawyer, argue that their professions are more like sophistry than philosophy. Whereas sophistry is usually portrayed as disingenuous, it accurately reflects the shared reality we experience in society. </p><p>We shouldn't get caught up in the current usage of sophistry. Words change meaning over time: the Hindu <em>svastik</em>, "auspicious," was co-opted by the Nazis; mythology, with an etymological root meaning "legend" or "story," became synonymous with myth, a falsity. Mythologies are the foundations of cultures, not fabrications. </p><p>Employed correctly, sophistry presents an argument that builds into a practical truth, not the Ultimate Truth. In this sense, Sophists and Buddhists share common ground in their love of debates. Monks have a long tradition of <a href="https://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780195393521/obo-9780195393521-0024.xml" target="_blank">critical inquiry</a> often accentuated with hand claps or loud syllables. A handclap (or for that matter, a koan) doesn't sound like a path to truth, yet in the right circumstance it reveals profound meaning. Not all learning is logical. </p><p>Debates are essential for democracy. Sadly, social media platforms are designed more for unfriending and trolling than introspection and dialogue. Screens are poor replacements for pantomimes. You read text in your voice instead of the writer's, skewing your understanding of their argument. Lack of intimate contact instigates retreat. You believe the fight is over when the bell hasn't even signaled round one. </p>
Tourists take pictures in front of the Athens Academy adorned with sculputures depicting ancient greek philosophers , Plato (L) and Sokrates (R) on June 10, 2016.
Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images<p>Disinformation is especially insidious in the digital age. Social media platforms allow for the quick spread of conspiracy theories. A particularly sophomoric form of persuasion is currently practiced by wellness influencers, who claim to be "just asking questions" while sharing anti-vaxx and anti-5G rhetoric. They then pretend to "not take sides." The problem, as Merciera and Rangappa allude to in the following sentiment, is that propaganda disguised as philosophy promotes an mindset made infamous by George Bush the younger: "You're either with us or against us."</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Propaganda and disinformation are persuasion without consent: In fact, by offering new versions of "facts," their authors try to hide that they're persuading us at all. These forms of communication provide a conclusion based on manipulation rather than reason. Propaganda and disinformation create a realm where disbelief is disloyalty, rather than a shared attempt to search for truth."</p><p>Propaganda is compliance, they continue, the preferred vehicle for authoritarians. (Likewise, Plato wasn't a big fan of democracy; he didn't think everyone could access Truth.) Bringing it home to today, the authors cite Twitter fact-checking Trump: an old democratic method, yet one sadly ill-equipped to handle Truth when anything that questions the king is taking a "side." This trend of being "all in" for charismatic figures leaves us on shaky ground. It's how cults form. </p><p>A healthy democracy, they conclude, should promote curiosity and debate, tactics more aligned with Sophism than the search for an absolute yet ever-elusive Truth. </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Accusations—rather than argument—and compliance—rather than persuasion—are incompatible with a democratic dialogue. The ancient Greeks rejected unquestioned propaganda and disinformation as well outside of democratic norms. So should we."</p><p>America isn't healthy. Our modern Octavian does far more damage than print slogans on coins. This administration has helped foment social conditions that reward vitriol over curiosity. Until a mechanism for questioning propaganda is invented—be it technologically or, more likely, rebooting the operating systems nature has endowed us with—constructive debate will always seem like ancient history. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
According to Harvard economists, Democrats and Republicans both perceive reality very wrong.
Different views, equally wrong<p>The paper is being written by Stefanie Stantcheva, a professor of economics at Harvard University, and Armando Miano, a doctoral candidate. Famed economist <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alberto_Alesina" target="_blank">Albert Alesina</a> also worked on the paper until his tragic death earlier this year.</p><p>According to Stantcheva, the impetus for the research was to get into people's heads to see what really drives their policy views. As she told <a href="https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/06/study-finds-political-bias-skews-perceptions-of-verifiable-fact/" target="_blank">the Harvard Gazette</a>: </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"One thing that we've been doing a lot is to study what we can observe...like what people actually do, what people learn, and what people decide. What we really have not known until now so much is: What's going on in the background? How do people think about their decisions? How do they decide which policies to support or not? How do they reason about these?"</p><p>To answer those questions, the researchers sent detailed surveys to thousands of respondents. The surveys covered topics such as social mobility, tax policy, social inequality, and immigration. </p><p>To the surprise of no one, Republicans and Democrats sported different views. The difference proved even wider when comparing respondents who did or did not vote for President Donald Trump. But which group had a more distorted view of reality?</p><p>As Stantcheva summed it up, "One group is not necessarily more wrong than the other. Everybody's quite wrong."</p>
Signals lost in political white noise<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM5NjA1NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMjQxMDM1MH0.izd_yLgBtQdEQROoq9TU2KAfpVzypce9RXp6XTBU_n8/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C0%2C0%2C46&height=700" id="19e83" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3f694896ae3f8937ad34ac3e4725716a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
A graph showing Democrat and Republican perceptions of politically-charged facts against the reality of those facts.
The persistence of misperception<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8be3c16e88bab308b601df69402188cb"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/kyioZODhKbE?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>How do misperceptions persist despite verifiable facts being a mere Google search away? </p><p>One reason, the researchers note, is that such issues are permeated by political narratives. Even if a signal cuts through that noise, we're operating on different frequencies. As shown in the social mobility survey, our perceptions will lead us to weigh its value based on its narrative use, not its empirical merit. </p><p>They also note that <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/media-bias-chart" target="_self">the demand for accurate information is politically charged</a>, too. In one experiment, respondents were allowed to pay a randomized amount to receive accurate information about immigration in the United States. Care to guess who was least likely to pony up?</p><p>"The people who most need the information are going to be the least likely to seek out that information. It seems that either they don't realize that they're wrong, or they're just very entrenched in their beliefs, and do not want their beliefs to be changed," Stantcheva told the Gazette.</p><p>But Stantcheva and her fellow researchers aren't entirely pessimistic about the future. By understanding the political thought process and how we create our own reality barriers, we may be able to intervene in that process and let a more accurate picture of reality seep through.</p>
A massive Dating.com study reveals just how important politics are in the dating world right now.
- According to a new survey from a popular dating website, 84 percent of people currently looking for a relationship through dating apps won't even consider dating someone with opposite political views.
- Additionally, 67 percent of the dating site's users have admitted to previously ending a relationship due to opposing political views.
- Licensed marriage therapist Dr. Gary Brown says that there is more "venom and animosity" now than there was during the Vietnam War.
Exploring the connections between romance and politics<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM4OTA0Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMDEyNDU2N30.PtZ8GeZv4bc8U0wTTwP_zPcmzZq2oul73sSsqDW06Tk/img.jpg?width=980" id="4245b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6d5d17ac69c91176f0090f738a5badd5" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="vote pins concept of voter registration" />
Sex and politics have been closely linked for a long time.
Photo by 3dfoto on Shutterstock<p>From the <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/us/politics/george-and-kellyanne-conway.html" target="_blank">extremely public disagreements</a> between White House advisor Kellyanne Conway and her husband, to the tense argument you and your partner had on voting day, politics can be a breaking point for any relationship.</p><p>Sex and intimacy provide a strong driving force for humans that reaches far beyond the confines of the bedroom. Our personal relationships influence our behaviors, our thoughts, our motivations, and our even our political opinions, to some extent.</p><p><strong>If your sexual preferences align, your political values might, too. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0191886916310364" target="_blank">According to this 2017 study</a>, traditional behaviors in the bedroom (what some might deem to be <a href="https://sofiagray.com/vanilla-sex-gets-a-bad-wrap-heres-why-its-actually-great/" target="_blank">"vanilla" sex</a>) can be closely related to more conservative orientations, whereas more adventurous sexual endeavors can suggest more liberal ideas. </p><p>Whether you're swiping right or scrolling through, it can be hard to find a match who's values and opinions are in line with yours. While some minor disagreements and conflicts can actually <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/conscious-communication/201703/why-conflict-is-healthy-relationships" target="_blank">be healthy in a relationship</a>, pairing up with someone who has opposing political views might just mean you have two very different sets of morals that may not bring out the best in each other.</p><p><strong>Defining dating expectations allows you to see how important political views are in the beginning of a relationship. </strong></p><p><a href="https://www.itsjustlunch.com/do-politics-and-dating-make-a-match" target="_blank">According to a study</a> released by It's Just Lunch, 50 percent of single men and women stated that dating someone with opposing political views was fine for short-term relationships but would not be ideal for long-term commitments. </p><p>If you're looking for something casual and fun, perhaps politics doesn't need to play as big of a role as it would if you were swiping right to find a long-term relationship. </p><p><strong>Navigating politics and relationships is more difficult now than ever before.</strong></p><p>That same study by It's Just Lunch has around 40 percent of men and women claiming they believe it's "too risky" to bring up politics on a first date. </p><p>It's not just dating website studies - therapists around the world are struggling to defuse politically-charged landmines in relationships. <a href="https://drgarybrowntherapy.com/" target="_blank">Gary Brown</a>, Ph.D. and licensed marriage therapist explains to <a href="https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a19943112/relationship-therapists-politics-advice/" target="_blank">Women's Health Magazine</a> that now more than ever we are living in such an intense political climate that it is undoubtedly causing tension not just in romantic relationships but in friendships and among colleagues as well. </p><p>"It's everywhere," Brown explains. "I can't remember a time, not even during the Vietnam war, where there was as much venom and animosity as there is now. Even people who deeply love each other are falling victim to the 'politics of personal destruction', where it's not enough to disagree with someone but you have to destroy them and everything they stand for in the process." </p>
How to (respectfully) broach the topic of politics with a potential match<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM4OTA0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwOTU4NjY2M30.aP7RVtnmbxWyR8TvF2X4KkAOPGQzyj_yH1vSz9irjV0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C52%2C0%2C52&height=700" id="25b1e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="4dee3450c09733a0f67664f4896e2621" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="man and women disagreeing arguing on couch" />
Polarizing political views can be a deal-breaker - here's how to navigate the topic of politics on a date.
Photo by fizkes on Shutterstock<p>"During a time where we are surrounded by politics, it is important to look at the impact that it has on the online dating industry," Vice President of Dating.com, Maria Sullivan, explains. "We have seen a huge increase in political terms being added to user profiles."</p><p>According to the study, 72 percent of singles would rather you flaunt that you voted at all (rather than who specifically you voted for) in your bio. More than half the participants surveyed said that bringing up a discussion about politics too early can be a huge turn-off.</p><p>So how do you make sure you make your view known while not being too pushy about the subject too early on? </p><p><strong>Use non-confrontational language and keep things vague in the beginning. </strong>If voting is important to you, make that known and suggest that you're open to talking politics with anyone who is interested. </p><p><strong>Choose the right time.</strong> Perhaps the first words you say shouldn't be an accusatory statement about who they voted for and why. Bringing up political views is an important test to see if the match is right, but choose the right time to insert politics into the conversation. </p><p><strong>Be open-minded (or respectful, at the very least).</strong> While you may have a hard stance on your political views (as many people do), being respectful of other people's opinions is often the best approach and the thing that might open the conversation up in a healthy way.</p>