September 26, 2007

Lyric of the Week

Filed under: Music — Bob Gifford @ 7:46 pm

Grey Street by The Dave Matthews Band. Not an uplifting lyric, to say the least, but then life isn’t always uplifting.

Oh look at how she listens
She says nothing of what she thinks
She just goes stumbling through her memories
Staring out onto Grey St.
And she thinks…hey
How did I come to this
I dreamed myself thousand times around the world
But I can’t get out of this place

There’s an emptiness inside her
And she’d do anything to fill it in
But all the colors mix together
To grey, and it breaks her heart

Oh how she wishes it was different
She prays to God most every night
And though she swears He doesn’t listen
There’s still a hope in her He might
She says I pray
But they fall on deaf ears
Am I supposed to take it on myself
To get out of this place?

There’s a loneliness inside her
And she’d do anything to fill it in
And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now,
It feels like cold blue ice in her heart
When all the colors mix together
It’s grey, and it breaks her heart

There’s a stranger speaks outside her door
Says take what you can from your dreams
Make them as real as anything
It’d take the work out of the courage
But she says “Please
There’s a crazy man that’s creeping outside my door,
I live on the corner of Grey Street
And the end of the world. ”

Oh there’s an emptiness insider her
And she’d do anything to fill it in
And though it’s red blood bleeding from her now
It’s more like cold blue ice in her heart
She feels like kicking out all the windows
And setting fire to this life
She could change everything about her
Using colors bold and bright
But all the colors mix together
To grey
And it breaks her heart…Oh and it breaks her heart
To grey, Yeah…

And here’s the video from the Live at the Gorges DVD:

He Has Returned!

Filed under: Random Stuff — Bob Gifford @ 7:54 am

Oh wondrous day! Oh glorious sunrise! We leap and dance, full of rejoicing! Praise Master Chief!

We have been quietly, patiently waiting and watching, scarcely able to believe that this day would come, but the Master Chief has returned once again.

Yes, Halo 3 has arrived.

Our household had pre-ordered, of course. The bad news is that days are filled with work and school. The even badder news is that I have to wait in line behind my kids. By the time I get to it, they’ll have already mastered it and be ready to effortlessly kill me ten different ways in competitive play.

But I’ll not let that ruin it for me. Let us celebrate!

September 19, 2007

Haidt on Morality, Evolution, Religion and Politics

Filed under: Politics — Bob Gifford @ 9:25 pm

It seems that, morally speaking, I’m a liberal. But then you already knew that.

Let me explain. Yesterday the NY Times had a write-up on research done by Dr. Jonathan Haidt on morality. The whole thing is worth a read, but one of his key hypotheses are his five moral systems:

He identified five components of morality that were common to most cultures. Some concerned the protection of individuals, others the ties that bind a group together.

Of the moral systems that protect individuals, one is concerned with preventing harm to the person and the other with reciprocity and fairness. Less familiar are the three systems that promote behaviors developed for strengthening the group. These are loyalty to the in-group, respect for authority and hierarchy, and a sense of purity or sanctity.

People’s relative weighting of these moral systems apparently determines their politics:

They found that people who identified themselves as liberals attached great weight to the two moral systems protective of individuals — those of not harming others and of doing as you would be done by. But liberals assigned much less importance to the three moral systems that protect the group, those of loyalty, respect for authority and purity.

Conservatives placed value on all five moral systems but they assigned less weight than liberals to the moralities protective of individuals.

Dr. Haidt believes that many political disagreements between liberals and conservatives may reflect the different emphasis each places on the five moral categories.

And of course there is an online test to rate your views on these five moral dimensions and compare your results to self-identified liberals and conservatives. My results are here:

So like I said, I track pretty well with the average liberal.

I find this theory has a great deal of explanatory power. Liberals view gay rights as a fairness issue, while conservatives view it as a purity issue, and hence the need to “protect the sanctity of marriage” sounds nonsensical to liberals but vitally important to conservatives. The erosion of civil liberties is a fairness issue to liberals, but this concern is exceeded for conservatives by their submission to authority. Flag-burning offends conservatives’ sense of loyalty to the country, while liberals are more concerned about the fairness issue of putting political protesters in jail for expressing their beliefs. It makes a lot of sense.

Of course there’s always the “so what” question — it’s nice to have some explanation for differing views, but what does this have to do with our daily lives? From the article:

Extreme liberals, Dr. Haidt argues, attach almost no importance to the moral systems that protect the group. Because conservatives do give some weight to individual protections, they often have a better understanding of liberal views than liberals do of conservative attitudes, in his view.

I think it’s incumbent upon liberals to better understand conservatives instead of just shouting past each other. To the extent Haidt’s theory is confirmed, it can shed a lot of light for us on how to better engage in a more meaningful (and ultimately more persuasive) dialogue with those with whom we disagree.

For more on all this stuff in Haidt’s own words, see here, and for an unpublished Reason article on the topic see here (h/t).

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