Saturday, August 31, 2013

Saturday Morning Links

Miscellaneous material for your weekend reading.

- Katie McDonough reports on new research showing the devastating effects of poverty on an individual's ability to plan and function:
According to researchers at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia, people living in poverty experience reduced cognitive functioning as a result of regularly wrestling with how to make ends meet. People struggling to get by were found to suffer a drop of as much as 13 points in their IQ, approximately the same difference found in people who go an entire night without sleep.

“Past research has often blamed [poverty] on the personal failings of the poor. They don’t work hard enough; they’re not focused enough,” University of British Columbia professor Jiaying Zhao, who co-authored the study, told the Washington Post. “What we’re arguing is it’s not about the individual. It’s about the situation.”
- Meanwhile, Larry Hubich points out some of the progress Saskatchewan has helped to lead in the past - while lamenting the fact that our current government insists on making life more difficult for workers. And anybody looking for inspiring news about the future of Canada's labour movement will want to tune in to Unifor's founding convention.

- Eric Horowitz discusses how less forceful arguments may be more effective in convincing people who start with an opposing set of assumptions. But I do think it's worth highlighting that any strategy along those lines has to be based on a limited set of circumstances - as the separate goal of building a strong movement with shared goals generally requires motivation based on strong points of agreement.

- Finally, the Cons' latest abuses of power include new rules to prevent international musical acts from performing in Canada, and hiring a new Parliamentary Budget Officer with the explicit intention of serving their own interests rather than the public's.

1 comment:

  1. The Horowitz piece is interesting, but I agree there are complexities there. On top of your point about movements, there are other issues.
    Many arguments are public. In such cases, it matters less whether you persuade your opponent and more who onlookers perceive to be right.
    Also, there is the question of framing. In many cases, argument about particular issues is not so much about the particular issues as it is about the frame one sees all the issues within. About, to put it more contentiously, ideology. If you argue in such a way as to persuade on a particular issue by avoiding any threat to the other person's self-esteem (which is wrapped up in their broader ideological frame), you may end up gaining a minor point (specific issue) by entirely conceding the frame or ideology. This is the kind of approach that gives us the worthless Democratic party, among other political horrors.

    What the article basically comes down to is an experimental verification of "Rogerian persuasion". To persuade an opponent, you want to argue in a way which does not reduce their self-esteem. It's a very good point. But this does not, to me, necessarily imply the use of weak arguments. Rather, it's more about validating where they're coming from and describing the arguments in a way that doesn't make them look/feel bad for having believed differently.