What is human nature?
Karen Abbott is a journalist and author of the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, an exploration of the role of brothels in the cultural and political life of turn-of-the-century Chicago. Prior to publishing Sin in the Second City – which took her three years to write and research – Abbott worked for Philadelphia magazine and for Philadelphia Weekly. Abbott, a native of Philadelphia, received her BA from Villanova University in 1995. The critically acclaimed Sin in the Second City tells the story of Chicago’s Everleigh Club, a famous high-end whorehouse that was known as the “finest brothel in the land.” Abbott lives with her husband in Atlanta and is working on her second book, a portrait of Gypsy Rose Lee and Depression-era New York.
Karen Abbott: I don’t know if this answer is it, but you know I think it’s okay to keep parts of yourself hidden. And I think that human nature is probably, you know, an equation between . . . an equation that factors in how much of yourself you’re comfortable with hiding, and how much of yourself you show. And how much of yourself you show that . . . that is . . . that is a sort of gussied up version of yourself. You know I think there’s several different things that factor into human nature. And the way that people treat and sort of divvy up those three different things is what sort of differentiates everybody from everybody else, if that makes any sense whatsoever. I think it was easier because it was . . . I mean the fact that it’s history was a little bit helpful. I had a lot more problem with that when I was writing journalism and I, you know . . . I just went to see, you know, a family whose four year old got hit by a stray bullet and killed. Or you know somebody whose . . . they just, you know, got beat to death in a bar fight – you know a couple things I wrote about in Philadelphia. It was easier to . . . That was so visceral and immediate. They’re standing in front of you and crying. This was sort of, you know, you can imagine what they went through. But it was . . . you know you have that sort of time period . . . the buffer of a century that sort of helps with that. But I did wanna make sure there was a dark undercurrent throughout the book. I mean there are a lot of fun anecdotes – you know the Prince Harry of Prussia, the drinking from the slipper, and the Susie …, and you know all of these fun anecdotes that went on at the club. And I really want to make sure that there was that sort of . . . that seamy underbelly was there just because it would be the only way to accurately portray this time period. And there were lots of dark pockets in this time period.
Recorded On: 1/22/08
Abbott talks about how she could write about such dark materials.
Swiss researchers identify new dangers of modern cocaine.
- Cocaine cut with anti-worming adulterant levamisole may cause brain damage.
- Levamisole can thin out the prefrontal cortex and affect cognitive skills.
- Government health programs should encourage testing of cocaine for purity.
Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.
- Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
Civil discourse has fallen to an all time low.
The question that the American populace needs to ask itself now is: how do we fix it?
Discursive fundamentals need to be taught to preserve free expression
In their findings the authors state:
upholding First Amendment ideals.
Talking politics at Thanksgiving dinner
- Progressive Activists: younger, highly engaged, secular, cosmopolitan, angry.
- Traditional Liberals: older, retired, open to compromise, rational, cautious.
- Passive Liberals: unhappy, insecure, distrustful, disillusioned.
- Politically Disengaged: young, low income, distrustful, detached, patriotic, conspiratorial
- Moderates: engaged, civic-minded, middle-of-the-road, pessimistic, Protestant.
- Traditional Conservatives: religious, middle class, patriotic, moralistic.
- Devoted Conservatives: white, retired, highly engaged, uncompromising,
It's interesting to note the authors found that:
"Tribe membership shows strong reliability in predicting views across different political topics."
Here are some statistics on differing viewpoints according to political party:
- 51% of staunch liberals say it's "morally acceptable" to punch Nazis.
- 53% of Republicans favor stripping U.S. citizenship from people who burn the American flag.
- 65% of Republicans say NFL players should be fired if they refuse to stand for the anthem.
- 58% of Democrats say employers should punish employees for offensive Facebook posts.
- 47% of Republicans favor bans on building new mosques.
Here are some guidelines for civic discourse that might come in handy:
- Practice inclusion and listen to who you're speaking to.
Civic discourse in the divisive age
dangerously tribal, fueled by a culture of outrage and taking offense. For the combatants,
the other side can no longer be tolerated, and no price is too high to defeat them.
These tensions are poisoning personal relationships, consuming our politics and
putting our democracy in peril.
Once a country has become tribalized, debates about contested issues from
immigration and trade to economic management, climate change and national security,
become shaped by larger tribal identities. Policy debate gives way to tribal conflicts.
Polarization and tribalism are self-reinforcing and will likely continue to accelerate.
The work of rebuilding our fragmented society needs to start now. It extends from
re-connecting people across the lines of division in local communities all the way to
building a renewed sense of national identity: a bigger story of us."
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