How to Eliminate Racism


Eliminating racism article here is part one of series but makes an interesting point.  I had not thought of racism in terms of elements besides race.  Racism is a common phenomenon worldwide and manifests itself uniquely based on the local culture.  I have always thought prejudice in general is a fascinating subject.  People have strong emotional reactions the general notion of being prejudice but I still find it very interesting.  Humans are animals and animals are terrible creatures.  One can picture humans in sublime state but humans are vicious beats in general.  A wild animal can tear and eat alive another animals without drawing any criticism because that is its nature.  Humans may not eat that way any longer but still operate mentally in a similar way.  Inside most human heads, evil roams 24 hours and our reaction thoughts are no different than a beast tearing another being.  I like the point of the article as far as racism in terms of elements besides race.  That is the exact nature of thought in humans and race is not the only element engaging this terrible thought process.


Can psychology help us fight prejudice?

stophateNo doubt, racism is one of the most important evils in our pluralistic, open societies need to confront. And various programs are meant to do so. But what are the odds that these programs will work? Psychology can help us answer this question.

There are roughly two distinct ways to fight against racism. One can attempt to weaken people’s disposition to classify themselves and others into races. The thought goes as follows. Suppose people treat race as they treat eye color—viz. as an irrelevant, superficial, psychologically and morally meaningless physical character. Then, people would not despise, hate, envy, be afraid of, etc., others because of their race. After all, we do not despise, hate, envy, etc., others on the basis of the color of their eyes. 

Alternatively, one can leave people’s disposition to classify themselves and others into races as it is, and attempt to eliminate people’s negative attitudes (such as their negative emotions) toward members of other races. If this approach were to work, people would still view themselves as Black, White, and so on, but they would have no negative attitude toward other individuals qua members of specific races. 

Now, will the attempts of fighting racism that are inspired by these two approaches work? What can psychology tell us about their chances of success? It is fair to say that lawmakers and social activists have ignored the potential contributions of psychology to answering these questions. In this post, I want to make a case for the relevance of psychology with respect to the design of anti-racistprograms. I will first focus on the first way to fight racism, leaving the second one for another occasion. 

So, what does psychology tell us about the attempts to fight against racism by eliminating or weakening our disposition to classify into races? To answer this question, we need to turn toward the research on the nature and evolution of the cognitive mechanisms underlying racial categorization. This is what I will do in the remainder of this post. In my next post (in a week or so), I will explain why it matters to anti-racist programs.

The literature on racial classification is too vast to be reviewed here (see, e.g., Machery and Faucher, 2005b for an overview of what evolutionary have to say on the topic). I will merely present what I take to be the best hypothesis (Machery and Faucher, 2005a). 

Following anthropologist Francisco Gil-White, I have proposed that we evolved a capacity to determine to which cultural group people belong to. We pay attention to cues or markers that indicate people’s affiliation to specific groups. These markers include accents, clothes, behaviors, and maybe subtle physical features; many cultures physically shape the body of their members: think, e.g., about the Padaung Giraffe women, about the split and cut penises in Papua New Guinea, about our own tattoos. 

Why did this system evolve? Well, the idea is that it is important to know whether people belongs to one’s own or to another culture when one undertakes some cooperative ventures with them. In the latter case, they might comply with different norms, have different expectations, etc., which might prevent success.

Now where does racial classification come in? The idea is that our disposition to identify cultural markers and to infer cultural membership misfires. We take various racial properties (skin color, etc.) to be cultural markers and as a result, we draw distinctions between races. Racial classification is thus some kind of accident. We have not evolved to classify into races, but, rather, into cultural groups. And we mistake races for cultural groups.


Region is Not Important; Wine Drinkers Say


This article is of great benefit to people in the wine business.  The most important thing about wine is what the consumers consider it to be not what the marketers wish it to be.  The people involved in the wine business would like to define wine by whatever helps to sell the bottles.  The shape of the bottle? The price? The varietal? The region? The label? The winemaker? The producer? And the list goes on and on.  The consumer has a great deal more than what is accepted by the industry.  The industry pretends to listen to the consumer but also complains without-an-end of how bad the business.  If one would listen to the consumer, the chances are great to find angles helping market the product and move the bottles.  The common wine is to consumer a liquid of some color in a bottle getting transferred to a glass before being drunk.  The consumer cares a great deal less about the details of that liquid than we would like to.  Traditionally and historically that is how the wine has been.  In the Old World, people drank wine of local origins and the current vintage as customary.  A great deal of mediocre and even terrible wine can be drank without any objection.  The modern consumer is not much different.  The wine is only one of the items in a meal and not as incredibly important as the wine business would like to.  The wine business is not about quality wine drinking.  They are most interested in whatever raises the bottle price and the frequency of purchase.  The consumer is about whatever drinks well at the right price.  It should be very easy to understand the few requirements truly attached to the wine by the consumer.  Region is not important should not be a surprise.

Rebecca Gibb

Less than half of UK wine drinkers think region is important when they buy wine, a new report says. 

In the Wine and Spirit Trade Association's latest Consumer Intelligence survey, 48% of respondents said that region or origin is important, while 59% said country is important when making the buying decision. 

This will come as no surprise to major producers such as Lindeman's, Blossom Hill and Echo Falls. All are now producing wine in a number of countries under the same brand. 

Clare Griffiths, VP European Consumer Marketing for Constellation Europe said country of origin and regionality were low on the list for Echo Falls consumers. 

'What is important to these consumers is the right taste profile, a recognisable grape variety and an easy drinking wine at the right price,' she added 

The survey also shows promotions are more important than ever. 77% of respondents said discounts like three for £10, or money off deals were very important to their buying decision. This is compared to 61% three years ago. 

The report also showed Pinot Grigio has overtaken Sauvignon Blanc as the UK's second most popular white grape variety. 

Pinot Grigio is experiencing a surge in popularity with 54% of the UK's regular wine drinkers consuming it in the past six months. While Chardonnay maintains its leadership of the UK white wine market, it has lost fans in the past three years. 

Sergio de Luca, director of buying for Italian specialist Enotria, told, 'The strength of Pinot Grigio sales, despite euro exchange rate problems and duty increases, demonstrates the flexibility of the grape variety. 

'It shows that the neutrality of this wine makes it easier for consumers to choose it'. 

Wine Intelligence, for the WSTA, surveyed 3,059 regular UK wine drinkers between March and April 2009. 

Rest assured that Obama is no socialist

World’s Largest Wine Appellation


The appellation is 50 times the size of Bordeaux.  I know a wine person named Tom Abruzzini.  He has been in the business forever and once many centuries ago visited every wine region in Italy professionally and studied all the wines around.  He also claims to be the inventor of the Single Vineyard concept.  He claims his idea was copied by the French from the Italians.  I personally do not care much to follow up with the claim but find the point interesting to bottle the produce of a single vineyard by itself for the sake of quality.  The making of quality wine by nature makes the geographical area under the bottle small and even smaller when we refer to blocks or rows of a vineyard.  The world's largest appellation is a great idea commercially but what does it accomplish?  American concept of an appellation is very loose compared to the Old World which is justified because the industry needs to experiment and find what plants best in what soil and weather until someday becomes established enough the laws of the land have to protect the status.  The existing appellation system is too loose to identify wine except for the marketing value attached to a name of a place.  A very large appellation means a very large land of many soils, a huge number of changing climates and other unfriendly elements.  The idea of making a very large appellation is impressive in the news but acts as an oxymoron.  The worlds large and appellation should not be together unless one makes up own definitions for terms as we routinely do here in the US.  The whole benefit of an appellation is in the consistency of specific quality within limits:  Small is the word.

David Furer

The USA will soon have the world's largest wine appellation – the 4m hectare Upper Mississippi River Valley AVA. 

Covering 48,142km sq (4.8m ha or 29,914 square miles) over four states, the AVA averages 193km (120 miles) from east to west, 362km (225 miles) from north to south. 

It encompasses some or all of ten counties in Minnesota, nine in Illinois, 18 in Iowa, and 23 in Wisconsin. The northern boundary begins near St Paul, Minnesota in the north to Moline, Illinois in the south. 

The AVA is more than double the size of Wales (20,779km sq), and fifty times greater than Bordeaux (100,000ha or 1000km sq). 

Representatives of the four states involved filed the petition in 2006. It will take effect 22 July 2009. 

Lake Wisconsin, established in 1994, is the only AVA which currently lies within the new UMRV AVA. 

It contains producers of some repute. The Wollersheim Winery of Prairie du Sac, for example, works with a range of grapes including Sangiovese and Bonarda, and has earned some 267 medals over the past 20 years. 

The application for the UMRV AVA was based upon evidence of a glacial retreat 15,000 years ago. 

The resultant water flows combined with the St Croix River and what became Lake Superior to form this bedrock. 

As federal tobacco subsidies have diminished, and wine consumption has risen in the US, many tobacco farmers, especially in Wisconsin, have switched over to growing grapes. 

Due to the abundance of cold and humidity, French and other hybrids dominate the region. 

Protecting Social Security numbers online is a futile exercise


I once worked for a retail company in Los Angeles and anytime a person clocked in and out, the printed time slip had the social security printed at the top.  I reported it and eventually they disappeared from the printed report.  The underlying assumption at that time was the number had no value.  Anyone could know anybody's social security and it really amounted to nothing.  Today, the world has changed a lot but only a little in some areas.  The social security number is still worthless except on occasion and for the time being SS number is likely to cause more problems than do any good to the owner.  

News Tuesday that Social Security numbers may not be as random nor secure as believed is just one more security problem the ubiquitous identification number faces.

Last fall, the Government Accountability Office found that Social Security numbers are under attack and your personal records are more exposed than you’d like to think. At least that seems to be the observation in a frightening study that says among other things that 85% of large counties and 41% of small counties in the U.S. make records that may contain SSNs generally available in bulk or online.

On top of that, many record-keepers do not or cannot restrict the types of entities that can obtain public records and may not know how records are being used. Finish that observation off with the notion that some businesses are sending records with SSNs offshore, primarily to India and the Philippines, even though not much is known about how such data are protected overseas.

The dour Web-based GAO study looked at 247 counties across the U.S. responsible for recording documents — including the 97 largest counties by population and a random sample of 150 of the remaining counties. Records could include birth, death, and marriage records; criminal and civil court case files; and records that reflect property ownership, such as property liens. Some records contain personally identifiable information, such as SSNs, dates of birth, and credit card or bank account numbers.

Alaska, Connecticut, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont were not included in the study because the GAO said individual counties don’t collect personal data in those states.

So, if you have ever wondered how identity theft can be the number one consumer fraud problem seven years running, costing consumers more than $1.2 billion in 2007 alone, and showing no signs of letting up, perhaps we need only look to the results of studies such as this.

Read the rest

New $1 million wine book to launch in spring


The wine industry has improve greatly and now has outdone itself.  A $1,000,000 price tag and how does it benefit the purchaser? The luxury products fail to have equal intrinsic value to their price tag but justify by the contribution to the size of one's ego.  That is the principle beyond the marketing of such products and frankly nothing is wrong with having such niche and developing to benefit.  However, the normal wine enthusiast either is excited wine can be taken to such level or confused of what wine is supposed to be and appreciated.  

Stuart Peskett

A US$1m wine book weighing 30kg is set to be released next year.

The Wine Opus will list the world's top 100 wineries. 

As well as its US$1m (£600,000) price tag, at 30kg (66lbs) it will weigh as much as the average labrador dog (pictured), or a nine-year-old child. 

Related stories: 

  • Dom Perignon's cookbook: only £1000 each
  • Published by Kraken Opus, which has previously launched extravagant works on fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, Indian cricket ace Sachin Tendulkar and Argentine footballer Diego Maradona, it will be released in spring next year. 

    Every purchaser of the book will also receive a six-bottle case of wine from every one of the 100 wineries listed, as well an invitation to visit some of them. 

    Only 100 copies of the book will be made – 25 have already been pre-ordered, with a number of copies set aside for auction. 

    A spokeswoman for Kraken Opus told that a 'panel of experts' will draw up a shortlist of about 300 producers, and then a second panel, comprising 40 sommeliers, will make the final selection, based on a 'number of criteria' at a 'wine UN meeting' in London in 2010. 

    A third vote will then be taken to decide the top 10. 

    The list of sommeliers and wine experts has not been revealed, but the spokeswoman said that 'every wine-producing country' will be represented, and that chef Marco Pierre White will be involved in the launch. 

    Yes, I Suck: Self-Help Through Negative Thinking


    The never-ending talk about how people behave when told things holds some interesting truths.  One is what I was once told and I have come to believe that whatever people are told they cannot do, they will automatically seek to do.  Human mind sucks.  If you tell people they ought not to stand in the middle of street for a while when crossing it, some people automatically begin doing it on occasion without even seeking a rationale.  The rebellion theory holds some truth but I think there is more to it.  I commented on a blog once when Foie Grae was being boycotted and was booed down for stating that drawing attention only makes the position stronger.  That is how all contraversial efforts have grown over the history.  The more they are opposed the stronger they get and eventually become more legitimate.  That is history of most religions and cults also.  Another thing which is closer to this article is I used to work in retail and when a customer would visit and was offered help the majority would decline automatically because they are programmed to ward off salespeople.  I changed my line instead and would say to a client entering after I had greeted them "You don't need any help, right?" and almost everyone would give me the automatic decline response but 95% of them would process the comment and a second later would say they actually needed help with such and such.  My approach implied they know what they are doing and would not need help now or later.  The ego was being boosted and they would have to lower themselves to admit they needed something or help.  Most people automatically stopped and used the help they needed and were being written off of.  The human mind does many things and a good many of them make no sense.

    In the past 50 years, people with mental problems have spent untold millions of hours in therapists' offices, and millions more reading self-help books, trying to turn negative thoughts like "I never do anything right" into positive ones like "I can succeed." For many people — including well-educated, highly trained therapists, for whom "cognitive restructuring" is a central goal — the very definition of psychotherapy is the process of changing self-defeating attitudes into constructive ones.

    But was Norman Vincent Peale right? Is there power in positive thinking? A study just published in the journalPsychological Science says trying to get people to think more positively can actually have the opposite effect: it can simply highlight how unhappy they are.(See pictures of people mourning the death of Michael Jackson.)

    The study's authors, Joanne Wood and John Lee of the University of Waterloo and Elaine Perunovic of the University of New Brunswick, begin with a common-sense proposition: when people hear something they don't believe, they are not only often skeptical but adhere even more strongly to their original position. A great deal of psychological research has shown this, but you need look no further than any late-night bar debate you've had with friends: when someone asserts that Sarah Palin is brilliant, or that the Yankees are the best team in baseball, or that Michael Jackson was not a freak, others not only argue the opposing position, but do so with more conviction than they actually hold. We are an argumentative species.

    And so we constantly argue with ourselves. Many of us are reluctant to revise our self-judgment, especially for the better. In 1994, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published a paper showing that when people get feedback that they believe is overly positive, they actually feel worse, not better. If you try to tell your dim friend that he has the potential of an Einstein, he won't think he's any smarter; he will probably just disbelieve your contradictory theory, hew more closely to his own self-assessment and, in the end, feel even dumber. In one fascinating 1990s experiment demonstrating this effect — called cognitive dissonance in official terms — a team including psychologist Joel Cooper of Princeton asked participants to write hard-hearted essays opposing funding for the disabled. When these participants were later told they were compassionate, they felt even worse about what they had written.(See how to prevent illness at any age.)

    For the new paper, Wood, Lee and Perunovic measured 68 students on their self-esteem. The students were then asked to write down their thoughts and feelings for four minutes. Every 15 seconds during those four minutes, one randomly assigned group of the students heard a bell. When they heard it, they were supposed to tell themselves, "I am a lovable person."

    Those with low self-esteem — precisely the kind of people who do not respond well to positive feedback but tend to read self-help books or attend therapy sessions encouraging positive thinking — didn't feel better after those 16 bursts of self-affirmation. In fact, their self-evaluations and moods were significantly more negative than those of the people not asked to remind themselves of their lovability.(See pictures of couples in love.)

    This effect can also occur when experiments are more open-ended. The authors cite a 1991 study in which participants were asked to recall either six or 12 examples of instances when they behaved assertively. "Paradoxically," the authors write, "those in the 12-example condition rated themselves as lessassertive than did those in the six-example condition. Participants apparently inferred from their difficulty retrieving 12 examples that they must not be very assertive after all."

    Wood, Lee and Perunovic conclude that unfavorable thoughts about ourselves intrude very easily, especially among those of us with low self-esteem — so easily and so persistently that even when a positive alternative is presented, it just underlines how awful we believe we are.

    The paper provides support for newer forms of psychotherapy that urge people to accept their negative thoughts and feelings rather than try to reject and fight them. In the fighting, we not only often fail but can also make things worse. Mindfulness and meditation techniques, in contrast, can teach people to put their shortcomings into a larger, more realistic perspective. Call it the power of negative thinking.,8599,1909019,00.html?xid=rss-topstories