Politics and Your Brain

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Check out this brief but fascinating post from Posit Science, an incredible company working to help “people be at their best throughout their lives by providing brain training software clinically proven to improve cognitive performance.”  (You can read more about them here: http://www.positscience.com/about.)  Consider how understandings like these can alter interactions, in a formal diplomatic session or in an encounter at the grocery store.  Get thinking! :]

By Marghi Merzenich on December 13, 2010

According to scientists at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, eye movement can teach you a lot more about politics than you might guess. These scientists studied how liberals and conservatives respond to “gaze cues,” and found dramatic differences. The short version: the liberals generally followed the cues, the conservatives did not. Read about the study here.

According to one of the authors, the study “basically provides one more piece of evidence that liberals and conservatives perceive the world, and process information taken in from that world, in different ways.”

Might such perceptual differences help explain the difficulty liberals and conservatives have in finding common ground, especially in Congress?

I welcome your thoughts!

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Possibly Related posts:

  1. A Brain that Keeps on Teaching: H.M.’s Story
  2. Men’s Brains vs. Women’s Brains: Social Implications of Neuroimaging (Part 1 of 2)
  3. When It Comes To The Brain, Size Doesn’t Matter
  4. Neanderthal Brains, Human Brains

The World on the World Wide Web

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Get a grasp on global with the fascinating World Clock from Poodwaddle!  It estimates ever-changing numbers for farming to bicycles production to diseases up to the second.  Check it out: http://www.poodwaddle.com/worldclock.swf.

Also, this wonderful page provides another look at our world, bending space, size, and time: http://primaxstudio.com/stuff/scale_of_universe/.


Definition of Decorum

Dear DECORUM! Readers,
Check out this short piece from Gideon O. Burton of Brigham Young University (original link: http://rhetoric.byu.edu/encompassing%20terms/decorum.htm).  They nailed it!


P.S. I’m so sorry for the absence of posts lately–we have been crazy busy preparing for MUN conferences (look for a play-by-play diary from one later this month) and thus off the blog!  Apologies again.

to prepon
A central rhetorical principle requiring one’s words and subject matter be aptly fit to each other, to the circumstances and occasion (kairos), the audience, and the speaker. Though initially just one of several virtues of style (“aptum”), decorum has become a governing concept for all of rhetoric. Essentially, if one’s ideas are appropriately embodied and presented (thereby observing decorum), then one’s speech will be effective. Conversely, rhetorical vices are breaches of some sort of decorum.Decorum invokes a range of social, linguistic, aesthetic, and ethical proprieties for both the creators and critics of speech or writing. Each of these must be balanced against each other strategically in order to be successful in understanding or creating discourse. Besides being an overarching principle of moderation and aptness, decorum has been a controlling principle in correlating certain rhetorical genres or strategies to certain circumstances. Aristotle describes each of the branches of oratory as being appropriate to judicial, legislative, or epideictic occasions and to specific time periods (past, future, and present, respectively). The concept of stasis included a procedure for discovering and developing arguments appropriate to given circumstances. Cicero followed the principle of decorum in assigning an appropriate level of style to distinct rhetorical purposes. Throughout rhetoric, decorum structures the pedagogy and procedures of this discipline as much as it governs the overall uses of language.
Sources: Aristotle, Rhet. 3.*; Cic. De Or. 3.208

A Belated Thanksgiving Note!

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Here’s a shout-out to great ideas!  We are all thankful for new innovations and advances that make the world better.  Celebrate this by visiting TED.com–with the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conferences–which holds countless videos of inspiring and informative talks on entertainment, science, business, global issues, and more from speakers like Steve Jobs and Dave Eggers.  One to start with: a funny and fascinating speech by Sugata Mitra on child-driven education.



Dear DECORUM! Readers,

The amazing Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last month!!!!  YAY!!!  What a great job those guys did.  The city went wild over it: I went to the homecoming rally downtown the Friday after the victory, and 2 million of us banded together to scream and shout for our team and for what’s now OUR CUP!

In honor of the Hawks’ achievement, let’s a bit about sports and diplomacy.

Sports are often used as diplomatic exercises.  They encourage teamwork, foster friendly competition, but most important of all in such a situation, they can bring people together around a common interest.  In other words, even if two nations are each rooting for their own separate teams, they are united for 3 periods, 9 innings, or minutes with the same interests.  Some examples include  cricket matches between India and Pakistan, Armenia and Turkey starting negotiations with a soccer game, and President Obama playing basketball with Russian students.  Of course, there is also the unfailingly awe-inspiring Olympics (http://www.olympic.org/en/).

Anyone have thoughts on or examples of this they’d like to share?  If so, please comment! :)

For internationally-themed sports links and stories, click here.


Emily Post

Dear DECORUM! Readers,

Please visit this great website: EmilyPost.com, home of the Emily Post Institute, which was founded by Emily Post in 1946 to continue her work in teaching etiquette (and many of the Institute’s  books and articles are still written by her lovely family members!).  You can’t go wrong following her guidelines!

Ladies: for more great manners scoop, check out this 1938 book Better Than Beauty: A Guide To Charm.  The writing in it is wonderfully articulate and strong, and though some of the scenarios discussed are dated or quaint, many of the examples and almost all of the principles remain the same today!