In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don't Matter : NPR

In Politics, Sometimes The Facts Don't Matter : NPR

Thanks to Greg Weeks and his blog Two Weeks Notice: A Latin American Politics Blog for pointing to this NPR program on "backfire"—Brendan Nyhan's term for the tendency to cling even more firmly to your beliefs when you are faced with contradictory evidence. A major example right now is the outrageous and utterly false campaign in Arizona blaming illegal immigrants for crimes that aren't even occurring.

One curious thing about this transcript, if you get down to where they take calls from listeners: Every listener, it seemed to me, was eager to demonstrate that he or she, unlike ordinary prejudiced mortals, had changed views on some important issue after considering other arguments. And in each case, had ended up just as stubbornly convinced as before of his or her new "truth".  Ah, well, maybe there's no hope for rational discourse!


Public Citizen

Recommended site for all those who, like me, don't want to see the continuation of practices that destroy the earth in the name of free enterprise. Such as, for example, was exposed in the "Potosí" show at the Reina Sofía Museum this spring (link below).

Public Citizen Home Page
Check out the report on CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) and this pdf. "Backgrounder" which begins:
Pacific Rim Mining Corp., a Canadian-based multinational firm, sought to establish a massive gold mine using water-intensive cyanide ore processing in the basin of El Salvador’s largest river, Rio Lempa. … In December 2008, the firm filed a claim under the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), demanding hundreds of millions in compensation from one of the hemisphere’s poorest countries.

Also see:
Potosí and us — my review of "the complex, exhausting, sometimes exhilarating exhibition at the Museo Reina Sofía, Principio Potosí / ¿Cómo podemos cantar el canto del Señor en tierra ajena?"



Forges, El País, 29 July 2010
Good, thoughtful piece by Colm Tóibín (link below) about the commotion around Catalonia's banning of what we call "bullfights"—though aficionados don't think of them as "fights" but as festival.

As a product of an utterly different culture, I find it hard to get engaged by the ritualistic blood ballet of the corridas. I remember attending three in my whole life. The first, in Caracas, featuring a then (1963) famous Spaniard, "El Cordobés", I barely remember. I didn't understand much of the ritual, and neither did most of the Venezuelans, as far as I could tell. Then, more recently and after reading up on what to watch for, in the Plaza de Toros in Almería, reportedly the only plaza de toros in the country where everybody packs a lunch with wine to share with everybody else at the break between toreadores. And still more recently, in the big Las Ventas plaza in Madrid, to see something different, rejoneadores taunting and ultimately killing the bull from horseback—a stunning equestrian performance.

But unlike Tóibín, I don't think those who do get engaged with it are looking for cruelty to animals. I don't even think the ritual is especially cruel; those bulls lead far better lives than any of the animals we eat. But certainly outmoded, belonging to a more primitive time, when man had to demonstrate his power to overcome brute force of nature. Nowadays Spaniards are more likely to do that (personally or vicariously) in motorcycle and auto races.

Tóibín's article is especially good on Catalan sensibilities and why the Catalan Parlament's ban is stirring so much excitement in the rest of Spain.

Bullfighting ban is sweet revenge for Catalonia | World news | The Guardian