Thursday, December 01, 2016

Culture Wars of a "Change Election"


2016 was a change election.  As often happens, after two terms of one party in the White House, many people vote for the other party, just for a change.

The exit polls show that the people who thought things were going well voted for Clinton, and the people who thought things were going poorly voted for Trump.

The Trump voters were not voting for issues - abortion, guns, immigration, even the economy - in any ordinary sense.

They were, though, mobilized by Trump's polarized, culture war framing of the real struggle: the  "politically correct" educated elite versus ordinary people.  This was a theme that Donald Trump and his surrogates pushed again and again.

The very vagueness of the supposed positions that the politically correct were supposed to embrace made this a useful slogan - globalization for economic nationalists, Muslim terrorism for Christian nationalists, immigration for which nationalists.

And Trump voters were not wrong that the educated elite do support free trade and pluralism.

Nationalism, though, tends to produce very bad consequences for minorities and for international peace.





Monday, November 28, 2016

Good News: Dementia Is Declining


The disease I fear most is dementia.  Like most academics, I suspect, I value my mind over most other aspects of my body.  Losing it is a most disturbing prospect.

Which is why it is so encouraging that the dementia rate has declined significantly since 2000.

Researchers don't know why dementia is declining, because they don't know what causes it in the first place.

They do note, though, two factors that correlate with a lower likelihood of dementia:  being highly educated, and being fat.

I've got this covered.