Sunday, October 09, 2016

Sunday Morning Links

This and that for your Sunday reading.

- Cindy Blackstock offers a reminder of Canada's long and shameful history of discrimination against First Nations children. And Donna Ferreiro takes a look at some of the faces of the Sixties Scoop which saw Indigenous children separated from their families due solely to racial and cultural prejudice.

- Matt Apuzzo, Sheri Fink and James Risen document the mental scars left behind by the U.S.' torture program under the Bush administration. And Neil Strauss offers a contrast between the increasing use of the politics of fear, and the decreasing real-world justification for the political spin:
Around the globe, household wealth, longevity and education are on the rise, while violent crime and extreme poverty are down. In the U.S., life expectancy is higher than ever, our air is the cleanest it's been in a decade, and despite a slight uptick last year, violent crime has been trending down since 1991. As reported in The Atlantic, 2015 was "the best year in history for the average human being."

So how is it possible to be living in the safest time in human history, yet at the exact same time to be so scared?

Because, according to Glassner, "we are living in the most fearmongering time in human history. And the main reason for this is that there's a lot of power and money available to individuals and organizations who can perpetuate these fears."

For mass media, insurance companies, Big Pharma, advocacy groups, lawyers, politicians and so many more, your fear is worth billions. And fortunately for them, your fear is also very easy to manipulate. We're wired to respond to it above everything else. If we miss an opportunity for abundance, life goes on; if we miss an important fear cue, it doesn't.

"The more we learn about the brain, the more we learn it's not something that's supposed to make you happy all the time," says Andrew Huberman, a Stanford neurobiology professor who runs a lab studying fear. "It's mostly a stress-reactive machine. Its primary job is to keep us alive, which is why it's so easy to flip people into fear all the time."

In other words, our biology and psychology are as flawed and susceptible to corruption as the systems and politicians we're so afraid of. In particular, when it comes to assessing future risks, there is a litany of cognitive distortions and emotional overreactions that we fall prey to.
- Meanwhile, Scott Santens argues that one of the most important functions of a basic income may be to turn down the amount of fear and stress people experience a a result of income insecurity.

- Cassie Werber highlights the World Economic Forum's conclusion that greenhouse gas emissions can be decoupled from growth, while Andrew Nikiforuk discusses Robyn Allan's study showing the Trudeau Libs are relying on flawed advice to the contrary. And Rick Smith offers a hopeful take that Canada may be turning the corner in acting to fight climate change - though I'd caution there's a difference between recognizing the right direction, and generating the necessary momentum to reach a destination.

- Finally, Margaret McGregor and Lisa Ronald question why Christy Clark's B.C. Liberal government is insisting on inferior, for-profit senior care rather than allowing for public facilities.

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