POSSIBLE TOPICS: VOTER INFO, Washington Post Settles Lawsuit With Student in Viral Protest Video – A $250 million defamation suit over coverage of an encounter with a Native American elder came to a confidential end. Racial disparities seen in how doctors treat pain, even among children, Calls for racial justice gained steam with empathy, Confederate symbols have no place in public spaces. Stone Mountain is no exception. Trump posts misleading ad using Ukraine photo, Sinclair says it will postpone and ‘rework’ segment featuring conspiracy theory about Fauci, Nuclear Gulf: Is Saudi Arabia pushing itself into a nuclear trap?, CORPORATE SOCIOPATHY: Not Just A Catchy Buzz Phrase, MORE.
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Thinkwing Radio with Mike Honig (@ThinkwingRadio), a listener call-in show airing live every Monday night from 3-4 PM (CT) on KPFT-FM 90.1 (Houston). My co-host and Editor is Andrew Ferguson.
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SIGNOFF QUOTE[s]: “In my work with the defendants [at the Nuremberg Trials, 1945-1949] I was searching for the nature of evil and I now think I have come close to defining it. A lack of empathy. It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to feel with their fellow men. Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.”~ Captain G. M. Gilbert, the Army psychologist assigned to watching the defendants at the Nuremberg trials http://www.crisispapers.org/essays8p/empathy.htm (For attribution, I found this information here. Thanks to edwinrutsch3.)
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- Washington Post Settles Lawsuit With Student in Viral Protest Video – A $250 million defamation suit over coverage of an encounter with a Native American elder came to a confidential end. By Edmund Lee | NYTIMES.COM | July 24, 2020, 8:02 p.m. ET
- The Washington Post settled a defamation lawsuit filed by the parents of a Kentucky teenager over the paper’s coverage of his encounter with a Native American protester in Washington last year, an event that set off a national debate.
- The newspaper said on Friday that it had reached the settlement, but did not disclose the terms. “We are pleased that we have been able to reach a mutually agreeable resolution of the remaining claims in this lawsuit,” said Kristine Coratti Kelly, a spokeswoman for The Post. …
- The Sandmanns settled a separate suit with CNN this year, with neither the family nor the cable network providing any details. The family has active cases against several other media outlets, including The New York Times.
- Mike: I HATE NDAs!!
- Racial disparities seen in how doctors treat pain, even among children, By Haider J. Warraich | WASHINGTONPOST.COM | July 11, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. CDT
- As many doctors, nurses and other health workers have joined protests against systemic racism, research has shown that racial bias is pervasive in health care, perhaps most apparent in the assessment and treatment of pain.
- The strongest evidence of this comes from a clinical setting commonly requiring surgery — acute appendicitis. Not only are there clear racial disparities in pain relief provided even in this acute condition, but they are found even for treatment of children.
- In a national study that included almost a million emergency room visits, black children in severe pain from acute appendicitis had just one-fifth the odds of receiving opioid painkillers compared with white children, even after adjusting for other factors.
- The disparity may reflect that doctors were less likely to trust their black patients, particularly because the study also showed no difference in the prescription of non-opioid painkillers by race. Another study confirmed that racial disparities in opioid prescription are greater in conditions with fewer objective findings, such as migraine or back pain, which depend on a patient’s own assessment, as opposed to say a bone fracture, which shows up on an X-ray. …
- Because the appraisal of pain remains entirely subjective, confined exclusively to the eye of the beholder, a doctor or nurse’s ability to accurately assess and respond to a patient’s suffering is heavily dependent on empathy, the process that allows us to understand and share another person’s emotional state. Empathy is seen as an evolutionarily promoted phenomenon: Watching someone else wince in pain after, say, they grab a hot pan, may help us not make the same mistake. Being sensitive to others’ feelings allows us to form cohesive societies. In fact, brain imaging studies show that there is considerable overlap in the brain circuits that feel one’s own pain and those that react to the pain of others. …
- This racial intergroup bias in empathy is ubiquitous, but researchers have performed small, carefully planned experiments showing that it is not insurmountable. Overcoming racial intergroup bias in empathy could be central not just to achieving equity in pain management, but throughout medical care and society at large.
- Simply living together and interacting with people of other races is associated with increases in empathy. …
- Calls for racial justice gained steam with empathy, By Jamil Zaki | WASHINGTONPOST.COM | June 20, 2020 at 1:00 p.m. CDT
- Countless people who sat on the sidelines of this struggle have now joined in. We can ask, as many have, why now? But we might also ask, why not earlier? What kept people — especially those with relative privilege — from supporting previous movements, such as the protests in Ferguson, Mo., following the death of Michael Brown?
- One key to this comes from research on the perverse relationship between power and empathy. We often think of empathy — people’s ability to share and understand each other’s experiences — as a hard-wired trait, but it’s actually more like a skill. The right experiences, habits and practices can increase our empathic capacity, the same way we can get stronger by going to the gym. There’s a dark side to this idea: Other experiences can cause our empathy to atrophy, like a muscle we don’t use.
- Power and privilege, in particular, sap our ability to understand others. In one series of studies, the psychologist Michael Kraus and his colleagues measured people’s socio-economic status, as well as their ability to decipher emotions in pictures and in-person interactions. People higher in status were less accurate about other people’s feelings. More recent work has replicated these results and also found that high-status individuals make more errors when trying to take other people’s perspective.
- Kraus and his colleagues have documented other empathic failures that come with privilege. Higher-status individuals display less interest when talking with strangers, and report less concern for the suffering of others. These gaps play out in racial contexts as well. In another study, Kraus found that high-income white Americans overestimate racial economic equality more than black Americans or low-income white Americans.
- These findings were bleak enough to make one journalist conclude, “power causes brain damage.” But powerful people are not incapable of empathy and should not be let off the hook from working at it. Like other skills, empathy takes practice, and people practice it when they are motivated to do so. Individuals who are relatively underprivileged realize they need others to succeed, whereas people with power often decide they can go it alone. Consistent with this idea, lower-status individuals pay more attention to faces, people and social cues than those with high status.
- People without power often have to understand the perspective of high-power groups, which is the default in media, culture and work. …
- In some cases, powerful individuals have incentives not to understand. Genuinely peering into others’ worlds might force them into ugly realizations that they contribute to and benefit from injustice. To avoid that discomfort, they might turn down their empathy even further. In one troubling series of studies, psychologists reminded members of high-power groups — such as white Americans — of their group’s responsibility for past violence — for instance, against Native Americans. Participants responded by dehumanizing victims to avoid guilt.
- This is one irony of power: It expands the change a person could make while narrowing the aperture of who they truly see. But this is not inevitable. When powerful people choose to empathize, they become more cooperative and more invested in justice. In one particularly relevant series of studies, Emile Bruneau and his colleagues asked members of low-power groups to “perspective give,” sharing their stories, and high-power individuals to perspective take, paraphrasing what they’d heard. These dialogues increased connection and positive regard between groups — not by ignoring existing power structures, but by reversing them.
- In the past few weeks, many people have opened their eyes to suffering they had previously ignored. Much credit for this should go to the activists and organizers who have made it harder to look away. Can an increase in concern about racial injustice last? Empathy is a powerful psychological spark, but it often extinguishes quickly to support long-term change. As emotional stories leave our collective consciousness, people move on. Suffering continues, but those in power no longer see it.
- Rather than depending on empathy to last, another strategy would be to leverage the intense care and energy of this moment into structural change — for instance, commitments to diversify leadership in education, business and government. Rather than depending on people in power to listen more intently, change might come when we ensure that people who have previously been kept out of power have more chances to speak and be heard.
- MIKE: These kinds of studies continue to be the best argument for early racial integration in schools and communities, and affirmative action programs for racial integration in schools and work places.
- Weekend Read: Confederate symbols have no place in public spaces. Stone Mountain is no exception. The Southern Poverty Law Center |July 17, 2020
- Georgia’s Stone Mountain is marred by a massive carving that sanitizes the dangerous and hateful legacy of the Confederacy.
- Stone Mountain is the world’s largest monument to white supremacy. The enormous landform – the centerpiece of a state park that draws more than 4 million visitors a year, some 15 miles northeast of Atlanta – is marred by a massive carving commemorating the hateful legacy of the Confederacy.
- The carved surface depicts Confederate leaders Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson in a reverent light across three acres. The men sit on horseback, hats over their hearts, in a tableau that cannot be interpreted as anything other than a celebration of the Confederacy and the values – white supremacy and the enslavement of Black people – for which it stood.
- Moreover, the history of the mountain and the Confederate memorial is intimately tied to hate groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the racist response to desegregation efforts in the 20th century. Work did not begin on the carving until 1923, long after the Civil War ended, and required three attempts and almost 50 years to complete. The final effort was launched in 1964 as a backlash to Brown v. Board of Education and the civil rights movement. The park’s official grand opening was pointedly celebrated on April 14, 1965 – 100 years to the day that President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre – but the carving was not completed until 1972.
- There’s no question that Stone Mountain is a relic of an ugly past – a past that very much continues to haunt us to this day, as this year’s mass protests over the murders of Black people by police and vigilantes have made painfully clear. Across the country, statues and other pieces of Confederate iconography are gradually being removed from public display, a long overdue – and still incomplete – step forward after years of inaction. …
- Even as support for the removal of the Stone Mountain monument grows, a large hurdle remains: The monument is currently protected by Georgia law. As part of a 2001 compromise that retired a segregation-era state flag that prominently featured the Confederate battle flag, lawmakers adopted a statute that singles out the Stone Mountain carving for preservation:
- “Any other provision of law notwithstanding, the memorial to the heroes of the Confederate States of America graven upon the face of Stone Mountain shall never be altered, removed, concealed, or obscured in any fashion and shall be preserved and protected for all time as a tribute to the bravery and heroism of the citizens of this state who suffered and died in their cause.” …
- In recent years, legislation has been introduced that would strip Stone Mountain of its special protection, but none of those attempts have yet succeeded. That may change, as public opinion continues to shift on the removal of Confederate monuments.
- In the meantime, creative solutions have been proposed to circumvent the state law. The law does not mandate maintenance of the Stone Mountain carving, for example, and if all cleaning work on the monument were to stop, natural vegetation would soon grow over and eventually obscure the relief.
- Writing for The Guardian, Atlanta-based urban designer Ryan Gravel endorsed the “let nature take its course” approach …
- Facebook: Trump posts misleading ad using Ukraine photo, By Christopher Giles | BBC.COM | 22-JULY-2020
- A post by Donald Trump’s official Facebook account purports to show violence in the US but is in fact of an event in another country.
- The advert shows one image of Mr Trump in a calm setting talking to police officers beside another [image] of a security official being surrounded by protesters, saying: “Public safety vs chaos and violence”.
- However, the image is a photo from a pro-democracy protest in Ukraine in 2014.
- Facebook have told the BBC they won’t be taking any action against the post but gave no further comment. …
- Using a reverse image search shows that the image is actually from Ukraine and was first posted in 2014, during the revolution that overthrew the government.
- The security official pictured is in fact not a US police officer. That badge was worn by members of the “Internal Troops of Ukraine”, a now disbanded section of the national military that also assisted with policing.
- The image is also on the Wikipedia page about the 2014 Ukrainian Revolution, and says it shows events in February 2014 when security officials clashed with anti-government protesters. …
- The imagery appears to have been made by campaign group “Evangelicals for Trump” and has mostly reached users in Florida and Texas who are older than 55, according to Facebook’s estimates. …
- Facebook has begun labelling posts on the pages of both the president and Joe Biden – the Democratic Party’s nominee for president in November’s election – with links to official information. …
- Sinclair says it will postpone and ‘rework’ segment featuring conspiracy theory about Fauci – How a coronavirus ‘infodemic’ is infecting the internet, By Oliver Darcy | CNN Business | Updated 4:39 PM ET, Sat July 25, 2020
- The Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) said Saturday it will postpone and rework a segment it planned to air this weekend that suggested Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, was responsible for the creation of the coronavirus.
- The baseless conspiracy theory was set to air on stations across the country in a segment during the program “America This Week” hosted by Eric Bolling. The show, which is posted online before it is broadcast over the weekend, is distributed to Sinclair’s network of local television stations, one of the largest in the country.
- In a memo sent to its local television stations on Saturday, Sinclair instructed news directors to avoid airing for now the most recent episode of Bolling’s show, which was supposed to include the conspiracy theory.
- “After further review of this week’s originally planned episode, it’s clear that we need to provide additional context to the highly controversial segment regarding the COVID pandemic and Dr. Fauci,” Scott Livingston, Sinclair’s senior vice president of news, wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNN Business.
- “In order to meet our standard of providing an open and honest marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial,” Livingston added, “we will need to rework the segment to ensure viewers get the best information available.” …
- [T]he company had defended airing the segment in a series of tweets, saying it did not endorse the conspiracy theory but was committed to providing its audience diverse viewpoints.
- Bolling had also previously stood by the segment, telling CNN Business that he also did not endorse the conspiracy theory, but that he was comfortable airing it because in a segment after the interview with Mikovits he spoke to a doctor who dismissed the idea Fauci was responsible for the virus. …
- Nuclear Gulf: Is Saudi Arabia pushing itself into a nuclear trap? – MBS is prepared to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets them. But could he end up making the kingdom a nuclear pawn? by Patricia Sabga | ALJAZEERA.COM | 21 Jul 2020
- When countries start dabbling in nuclear energy, eyebrows raise. … So when atom-splitting initiatives surface in a region with a history of nuclear secrecy and where whacking missiles into one’s enemies is relatively common, it is not just eyebrows that are hoisted, but red flags.
- Right now, warning banners are waving above the Arabian Peninsula, where the United Arab Emirates has loaded fuel rods into the first of four reactors at Barakah – the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant.
- Roughly 620 kilometres (388 miles) west, Saudi Arabia is constructing its first research reactor at the King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology. …
- Like the UAE, Saudi Arabia insists its nuclear ambitions extend no further than civilian energy projects. But unlike its neighbour and regional ally, Riyadh has not officially sworn off developing nuclear weapons.
- The kingdom’s de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), has publicly declared his intention to pursue nuclear weapons if Iran gets them first.
- The spectre of the Saudi-Iran Cold War escalating into a nuclear arms race is not beyond the realm of possibility. There are growing concerns over the nuclearisation of the Arabian Peninsula and where it could lead the Gulf and the Middle East – [it’s] a volatile region that experts warn could be opening itself up to superpower proxy fights on a nuclear scale. …
- Nuclear energy, the kingdom argues, would allow it to export crude it currently consumes for domestic energy needs, generating more income for state coffers while developing a new high-tech industry to create jobs for its youthful workforce.
- But if a bountiful economic harvest is the goal, nuclear energy is a poor industry to seed compared with renewables like solar and wind.
- “Every state has the right to determine its energy mix. The problem is this: nuclear costs are enormous,” Paul Dorfman, honorary senior research fellow at the Energy Institute, University College London and founder and chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group, told Al Jazeera. “Renewables are maybe between one-fifth and one-seventh the cost of nuclear.”
- Utility-scale, average unsubsidised lifetime costs for solar photovoltaic were about $40 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in 2019, compared with $155 per MWh for nuclear energy, according to an analysis by financial advisory and asset manager Lazard.
- “There are no economic or energy policy or industrial reasons to build a nuclear power plant,” Mycle Schneider, convening lead author and the publisher of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report, told Al Jazeera. “If countries decide to build a nuclear power plant anyway, then we have to discuss other issues that are actually the drivers for those projects.” …
- CORPORATE SOCIOPATHY: Not Just A Catchy Buzz Phrase, by Michael R. Honig (Originally written as a show commentary, August 9, 2010)
(Update, 4/4/2012: Some links added to article.) I’m actually surprised that I’ve never posted this on my blog before. It’s over a year old, but I still believe it’s true.
I’ve never been an extremist. I’ve never been a conspiracy nut. I’ve never been one who has particularly believed in the “evil corporate executive” stereotype that is at the center of so many plots on TV and in film.
I do think that more often than not, anyone who rises to a position of great power or authority must have a certain element of narcissism and ruthlessness in their nature in order to get there. And yet, I’ve still believed that generally speaking, corporate executives have some degree of moral compass to guide them in what they do.
But the last few years have really strained my basically trusting nature.
Executive over-compensation is not metaphorically a victimless crime. It restrains wages and raises prices. But there’s no visible guilt. Financial industry shenanigans came close to driving us into another Great Depression, and the jury is still out on whether we’re really in any sort of a recovery. Yet the financial gurus who brought us to this point have been and still are extremely well compensated. But there’s no apparent feeling of responsibility.
The health care insurance industry seems totally obsessed with the dollars, with no real thought to the actual health of their customers. It’s all a big game to them, finding which loophole they can create or invoke to increase their bottom line. But they’re only being responsible to their stockholders.
The key trait in all the examples I’ve given is “Remorselessness”.
Remorselessness is the reason that a corporate CEO can collect tens of millions of dollars in compensation while firing thousands or tens of thousands of employees earning a great deal less.
Remorselessness is why a health insurance company can drop a very sick woman from their plan because she underpaid her premium by literally 4/10 of a cent.
And then there’s BP.
If there was a philosophical tipping point for me, it came a few weeks ago with BP and the oil spill in the Gulf.
I don’t think I’ve ever in my life seen a clearer example of corporate lying, disinformation, misinformation, concealment, obfuscation, disingenuousness, outright fictionalization, and endangerment of human health by a single company in such a short period of time.
Remorselessness explains how BP could take safety shortcuts resulting in 360 serious safety violations since 2005, while the total for the whole industry was 361!
I’m certainly no psychologist, so this is only a layman’s opinion. I do believe, though, that there’s actually a psychological term for executives who can do all these things and not feel any qualms or remorse: It’s Corporate Sociopathy.
And this isn’t my term. There’s actually quite of bit of discussion on the internet about corporate sociopaths. You can look for yourself.
Do you think it’s a bit strong to call these kinds of executives sociopaths? So did I, until a few weeks ago. So let’s examine it.
According to the “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, three or more of the following behavior patterns could define a sociopath:
A. Repeated acts that could lead to arrest.
B. Conning people for pleasure or profit, or repeated lying, or the use of aliases.
C. Failure to plan ahead or being impulsive.
D. Repeated assaults on others.
E. Recklessness when it comes to the safety of themselves or others.
F. Poor work behavior or failure to honor financial obligations.
G. Rationalizing the pain they inflict on others.
So consistently lying, neglecting the safety of others, and rationalizing the pain they cause … All without remorse. (1)
Does any of this sound familiar?
There is something to the idea that giving a corporation ‘personhood’ without any actual human obligations is almost an invitation to sociopathic behavior.
Do I believe that every executive is a closet sociopath? No.
Do I believe that every corporation engages in sociopathic behavior? No. I hope not.
But the BP Disaster and their subsequent behavior has shaken my faith in Big Business more than ever.
As I’ve said in a previous commentary, Businesses have one main purpose: Profit.
Government has one main obligation: Protection of the national welfare.
They must balance each other, or the inmates will literally be running the asylum.
The next time someone tells you to that our government has no business regulating corporate behavior, tell them to look up the term “Corporate Sociopath”. Then have the discussion.
(1) “Did you know, beginning in the late 19th century, corporations were granted all the rights of the individual, but none of the annoying responsibilities. They lack, almost by design, any kind of moral compass, conscience, or compassion. Basically, corporations are a way to enact sociopathic behavior on a grand scale. In short, they’re what makes this country so damn great.” ~ The Devil (played by Ray Wise), TV Series “REAPER”, Episode 30: “Business Casualty”, Aired May 19, 2009
ARTICLE: “Sometimes, the boss really is a psycho”, 25-JULY-2013