Saturday, July 1, 2017

Seeking a replacement ethical analysis of support for a replacement healthcare plan

After years of asserting that they intend to strike down or replace President Obama's Affordable Care Act, Republicans are struggling to come up with a replacement plan that can be passed. However, they cannot get consensus among their own party to vote for the replacement plan in the Senate. Why? Largely because the replacement plan is bad. It's unethical and Americans are uncomfortable with it.

If Americans eventually do get a replacement healthcare plan that resembles the current proposals, we will have a psychological need to rationalize it to ourselves. This means we'll need a replacement ethical analysis.

Here's the current analysis I've been seeing. It's not direct criticism of the details of the replacement plan but rather criticism of the character of people who would support such a policy approach. With strong words (and strong headlines) the Republicans are criticized:

"The fact that such detached cruelty is so normalized in a certain party’s political discourse is at once infuriating and terrifying."
(Kayla Chadwick, "I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People," Huffington Post, June 26)

"Republicans...have repeatedly broken their promises and defied public opinion in order to release health care bills that cut spending on the poorest Americans to fund massive tax cuts for the richest Americans....at some point, we need to take them at their word: This is what they believe...I want to see a better, more decent conservatism drive the Republican Party. I don’t want to believe that this is the bottom line of GOP policy thinking. But this is clearly the bottom line of GOP policy thinking."
(Ezra Klein, It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct," Vox, June 29)

"Whether it passes or not, however, remember this moment. For this is what modern Republicans do; this is who they are."
(Paul Krugman, "Understanding Republican cruelty," New York Times, June 30)

I do not want to believe this ethical analysis either but I do not have a replacement analysis.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Dear Readers: Should you buy Week One of Covfefe?

Within one week of the infamous covfefe tweet, a dozen e-books were published for Amazon Kindle with the neologism in the title.

I Can Has Covfefe? by Bruno Zogma

This guy has prepared a piece of literature that simultaneously is and isn't about covfefe. The word is used here simply to mean "nonsense." This e-book is a monologue by a character who is yelling at a friend. It's pretty original, and not only in its use of a word inadvertently coined by the president six days ago. I mean that it is original in its utter strangeness.

Covfefe: A Collection of Unrelated Short Stories by C. L. Mann

A normal, properly book-length collection of short stories with a sense of humor, despite some distracting formatting problems with incorrect paragraph indentations and random line breaks.

Toward the end, the mood goes somber. One paragraph contains bright blue links to Wikipedia which opens up the most plausible explanation that the author was doing research for historical accuracy and then did not reread his or her own book to notice and remove the links. From this last part of the book, there are nine intentional citations of URLs (no titles/authors). Such references are a little odd for a short story collection.

The magic word appears nowhere in the book. I have no idea where the title came from.

Covfefe Bigly: An Erotic Wonderland by Biff Bowen

Fake erotica using a fake word. This is an actual story, though a silly parody. Not bad.

Donald Trump's Best covfefe Moments: Quotes By Donald 'Covfefe' Trump by John Citizen

Replaces the nouns in familiar Trump quotes with the word 'covfefe.' The quotes make just as much nonsense with the replacement as without. Point taken! The man never made sense to begin with. This is really quite funny.

Covfefe: A word by any other name... by Sage Smith

Similar to the effort of John Citizen, this book replaces the nouns in familiar movie quotes and aphorisms, but this works somewhat less well than Citizen's take. No reader will recognize all of the quotes, especially with the keywords blotted out. Moreover, the lesson seems to be simply that these quotes are flattened by taking out the most powerful words, which is not at all surprising. The collection sells at the stiff price of $5 which leads one to conclude that this special formatting of one small quote per page was planned to milk the Kindle Unlimited per-page pricing structure. The formatting was not executed well, seemingly with carriage returns instead of page breaks, causing the user to see arbitrarily centered text depending on their device. You might profit from this collection if you want to select a quote or two to start your own line of meme merchandise.

Covfefe: Prince of Words: A History of the Most Important Lexical Advance of Our Time by Breaking Burgh

Like a blog post. A couple of the quotes are shared with Sage Smith's version. Rather funny. $2.99 seems a bit overpriced.

Covfefe: A "Coffee Table" Book by Anon

Again, like blog post interspersed with clip art, but shorter than most blog posts and making less sense. $2.99 is not a good price for it.

Donald Trump and the Mystery of Covfefe by Doctor Conservative

Ditto. Very poor formatting. The clip art is cut into quadrants and displays in random places.

Covfefe by Liv Augusta and Jay Kistler

A collection of a dozen acrostics, one word for each of the seven letters in the holy name. That would be 84 words in the entire book; there is no introduction. It is a fool's errand to place a value on poetry based on word count, but the enduring quibble is that the book description does not exactly indicate that you are buying only 84 words of anything when you pay 99 cents for it. The book description is: "A short digital booklet of acrostic poems exploring the meaning of the word 'covfefe.'" That it is, and now we know.

Various Things That Are NOT COVFEFE by D. D. C. Books

Compelling photographs of wildlife, plus still life with waffles and vegetables in the kitchen, plus swimming pools and Earth orbit. This is obviously the work of professional photographers. Photo credit is not given. There are no words of any kind.

Mein Covfefe by Courtney Driver

Based on the book description, this looks like it would be the most politically substantial. Unfortunately, the content is technically corrupted and will not download.

Covfefe! Donald Trump's Craziest Tweets compiled by Al Freedman

These are screenshots of Trump tweets. Only four are visible. It appears that the author intended to include another half-dozen, but they do not display. There is no commentary. $2.99 is a very bad price for this. The President will tweet at you all day for free. You can even follow him on Twitter.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

'This is Pride Month': So simple, even a burrito can do it

Making a statement in favor of LGBTQ rights and dignity is easy. Today in the United States, it isn't even politically risky, since a clear majority of Americans say they believe that same-sex relations are morally acceptable, should be legal, and should be permitted the rights of marriage.

A football team can make a statement. Two Los Angeles football teams, the Rams and the Chargers, are sponsoring June 2017 Venice Pride in Venice, Calif. Spokespeople for the teams mentioned motivations like "acceptance and equality" and "equity, diversity and inclusion."

A fast-food chain can make a statement. In Massachusetts, the burrito restaurant Chipotle will donate 50% of the proceeds of each sale on Sunday, June 4 to Boston Pride if the customer mentions the promotion, according to an email sent by Boston Pride.

The president can make a statement, but he will not. On June 1, the White House issued proclamations to celebrate June as "National Homeownership Month," "National Ocean Month," "African-American Music Appreciation Month," and "Great Outdoors Month," according to Nick Duffy, who added that the president "maintains a hardcore base of gay Republican supporters. They mainly point to that time he waved an upside-down rainbow flag." (The event in question was one week before the election; the flag was hand-lettered with his own name. Note its literal message "LGBTs for Trump," not "Trump for LGBTs.")

(Update: As of June 30, the White House still would not comment on CNN's question about the neglect of Pride Month.)


Photo by Carlo Allegri for Reuters | Huffington Post

In the past, then-Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama issued proclamations supporting Pride Month. Obama also hosted receptions for leaders in the movement. Zack Ford wrote that the current president, "who has long claimed to be an LGBTQ ally, could have become the first Republican president to acknowledge Pride Month with a proclamation, but he didn't — and the silence is deafening." Furthermore, Ford wrote,

"he hasn’t taken a single pro-LGBTQ action in office. Instead, he’s withdrawn guidance protecting transgender and gender-nonconforming students, dropped out of several court cases related to LGBTQ rights, and appointed countless personnel with viciously anti-LGBTQ records."

LGBTQ issues were mentioned during his campaign only "when he was trying to convince the queer community to embrace Islamophobia."

As candidate, on June 13, 2016, he implied that supportive words may not be necessary because he was going to demonstrate his commitment with actions. What kind of actions? Cracking down on immigration. He was blaming immigrants for holding anti-LGBT values and, by making this comment, he tried to shift attention away from his own values.

"Why does Hillary Clinton want to bring people in in vast numbers who reject our values? Why? Explain. Ask yourself who is really the friend of women and the LGBT community, Donald Trump with actions or Hillary Clinton with her words?"

Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, stated:

"LGBT Americans face an assault on their rights from the White House and House Republicans, who are gutting HIV prevention and treatment initiatives, dismantling protections for transgender children in public schools and conspiring to render LGBT Americans invisible in the census."

The website of the Log Cabin Republicans, a group that self-describes as "the nation’s largest Republican organization dedicated to representing LGBT conservatives and allies," does not publicly challenge the current administration on the subject of Pride Month. In fact, their website does not mention Pride Month at all. It is not clear if they celebrate it.

My burrito will make a small statement, but the president will not.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

With headlines like these, it is normal to feel anxious

Apart from my four newspaper subscriptions, TV, and radio, here are some articles about the current U.S. government that I've stumbled across online over the past month, most of which I haven't had time to read or digest in full. The headlines alone are intense. Mostly what I am learning is that it is normal to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and worn out. If you feel the same way, you are not alone.


Artwork: "Collaboration between Scarlett Raven and Mind," The Mental Health Charity, April 4, 2016. Wikimedia Commons.

"A display of unbelievable ignorance: In a real country with a real president, Trump’s AP interview would destroy him." Our president thinks the Pentagon is a company, terrorism was a recent invention and 9/11 was a ratings coup. Bob Cesca, Salon, April 25, 2017.

"Trump’s Ignorance Is Radicalizing U.S. Historians," Graham Vyse, New Republic, May 3, 2017.

"Trump's Fitness To Serve Is 'Officially Part Of The Discussion In Congress'," New Yorker writer Evan Osnos with NPR's Fresh Air hosted by Terry Gross, May 4, 2017.

"One Of America’s Largest Cities Just Voted To Impeach Trump," Brian Tyler Cohen, Occupy Democrats, May 6, 2017.

"Why the Sally Yates Hearing Was Very Bad News for the Trump White House," David Corn, Mother Jones, May 8, 2017.

"Days Before Firing, Comey Asked for More Resources for Russia Inquiry," Matthew Rosenberg and Matt Apuzzo, New York Times, May 10, 2017.

"Experts on authoritarianism are absolutely terrified by the Comey firing," Zack Beauchamp, Vox, May 11, 2017.

"Trump Has Batted A Hornet’s Nest And The Sh*t Is About To Hit The Fan," Ann Werner, Liberals Unite, May 11, 2017.

"Trump admitted he obstructed justice. Now he needs to go," Michael A. Cohen, Boston Globe, May 12, 2017.

"The End of Trump," Robert Reich, RobertReich.org, May 14, 2017.
"The law is reasonably clear. If Trump removed Comey to avoid being investigated, that’s an impeachable offense."

"NATO asks world leaders to play dumb so Trump will understand them," Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair, May 15, 2017. (See also previous article from before the election: "Trump stuns U.S. allies with terrifying comments about NATO," Abigail Tracy, Vanity Fair, July 21, 2016.)

"Why the FBI might wage “war” on Trump — and how they would actually do it," Zack Beauchamp, Vox, May 16, 2017.

"Michael Moore promises secret film will end Trump presidency," Joey Nolfi, Entertainment Weekly, May 16, 2017.

"Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation," Michael S. Schmidt, New York Times, May 16, 2017.

"Don’t Impeach: The Liberal Case for Not Removing Trump," Cliston Brown, Observer, May 16, 2017.

"James Comey and the Revenge of Washington's Professional Class," Benjamin Wallace-Wells, New Yorker, May 17, 2017.

"Trump Team Knew Flynn Was Under Investigation Before He Came to White House," Matthew Rosenberg and Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, May 17, 2017.

"Former Israeli spymasters rip into Trump, say Israel must reassess intel sharing," Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, May 17, 2017.

"Senate Moves Forward With Bipartisan Bill to Rein in Jeff Sessions," Tana Ganeva, Rolling Stone, May 18, 2017.

"Chaffetz to resign, raising doubts about Trump probe," Michelle L. Price and Brady McCombs, Associated Press, May 19, 2017.

"Here Comes the GOP Bloodbath," Erick Erickson, Washington Post, May 19, 2017.
Quote: "Trump is increasingly disliked, and the Republicans who enable him are increasingly distrusted....Unless Republican leaders stage an intervention, I expect them to experience a deserved electoral blood bath in November 2018."

"Sources: White House lawyers research impeachment," Evan Perez, CNN, May 19, 2017.

"Press advocates appalled by Trump’s reported call to jail journalists," Joe Strupp, Media Matters, May 20, 2017.

"Trump’s budget is so cruel a Russian propaganda outfit set the White House straight," Dana Milbank, Washington Post, May 22, 2017.

"Watch Netanyahu's face while Trump says he never mentioned “Israel” to the Russians," Sarah Wildman, Vox, May 22, 2017.

"President Trump's Budget Proposal Calls For Deep Cuts To Education," Anya Kamenetz, NPR, May 22, 2017.

"Donald Trump’s Budget Breaks These 7 Campaign Promises," Jane C. Timm, NBC, May 23, 2017.

"Trump releases budget that slashes government programs," Niv Elis, The Hill, May 23, 2017.

"Former CIA Director Brennan: “With every last ounce of devotion to this country, resist," Kaili Joy Gray, ShareBlue, May 23, 2017.

"Obama’s CIA chief just offered a Trump-Russia quote for the ages," Yochi Dreazen, Vox, May 23, 2017.

"Trump Budget Based on $2 Trillion Math Error," Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine Daily Intelligencer, May 23, 2017.

At the NATO conference in Brussels on May 25, 2017, Trump shoved his way in front of Montenegro's Prime Minister Dusko Markovic (VIDEO) and publicly lectured the allies that they were not paying enough into defense (CNN VIDEO).

"GOP strategist admits he colluded with Russian hackers to hurt Hillary Clinton, Democrats," Sophia Tesfaye, Salon, May 25, 2017.

"Researchers say they’ve uncovered a disinformation campaign with apparent Russian link," David Filipov, Washington Post, May 25, 2017.

"Zombie Trumpcare at a glance, from the CBO," Joan McCarter, Daily Kos, May 25, 2017.
"By 2026, 51 million people will be uninsured...the [cost] increase would be disproportionately larger among older people with lower income...premiums for people buying comprehensive plans would be unaffordable...It would cut $834 billion from Medicaid in the next ten years, and cut 14 million people out of Medicaid coverage."

"German news magazine rips Trump, calling him 'unfit' and 'a danger to the world'," Jen Hayden, Daily Kos, May 26, 2017.

"Big-time backlash: When all polling on Donald Trump is dismissed as fake," Howard Kurtz, Fox News, May 26, 2017.

"No, White Friend—You Weren’t “Embarrassed” by Barack Obama," John Pavlovitz, JohnPavlovitz.com, May 26, 2017.

"Coal Miners Crushed As White House Admits Trump Lied About Bringing Back Coal Jobs," Jason Easley, PoliticusUSA.com, May 26, 2017.

"Republicans continue to lie about cutting Medicaid." U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders shared a video on May 26, 2017. Republican Joe Scarborough has a message for his own party: Stop lying about cutting Medicaid by $850 billion.

"Sources: Comey acted on Russian intelligence he knew was fake," Dana Bash, Shimon Prokupecz and Gloria Borger, CNN, May 26, 2017.

"Boehner: Trump's presidency so far is mostly 'a complete disaster'," Deirdre Shesgreen, USA Today, May 26, 2017.
"The Ohio Republican [and former House Speaker] said Trump has handled national security and foreign policy issues well, but added: “Everything else he’s done (in office) has been a complete disaster...He’s still learning how to be president."

"Intelligence expert: Kushner's security clearance must be pulled 'right now'," Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos, May 26, 2017.

"Two top Trump advisers dodge Kushner questions," Jeremy Diamond and Jeff Zeleny, CNN, May 27, 2017.

"Malcolm Nance's Stunning Analysis of the Kushner Scandal," NedSparks, Daily Kos, May 27, 2017.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Use bipartisan energy to rein in power

Sci-fi author David Brin suggests that both U.S. political parties seize the general opportunity of the moment to institute more checks and balances on the president. Why use up political capital merely exchanging the 45th president for his vice president, Mike Pence?

Specifically, in his Facebook post, Brin proposes enabling a way to delay military orders and send them for congressional committee review; allowing for “the other party” to make the president's appointments for one afternoon a week; and creating a bipartisan "Fact Checking Institute."

During his campaign for office, the 45th president selected Mike Pence to be his vice president "as impeachment insurance," in Brin's analysis. In other words, Brin believes that Pence will also pose significant troubles for Democrats and their agenda, and that Trump "knew what he was doing" in picking Pence to discourage opponents from bringing down Trump.

Some of David Brin's popular books:

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The 2017 persecution of gay men in Chechnya

Čeština: Nebeská etapa, 2007. Art by Eugene Ivanov. Creative Commons license, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Eugene_Ivanov_800.jpg

Gay men in Chechnya already had to use assumed names to meet at cafes, but today Chechnyan police agents are leading sting operations in which they conduct online chats with gay men, arrange in-person meetings, then ambush, kidnap, and torture them and force them to inform on other gay men. A possible triggering event for the violence:

"The crackdown began after GayRussia, a rights group based in Moscow, applied for permits for gay pride parades in the Caucasus region, prompting counterprotests by religious groups, the men said. In Chechnya, it became something even worse — a mass 'prophylactic' cleansing of homosexuals, the security service agents told the gay men as they rounded them up."

The persecution was first reported on April 1, 2017 by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta as having resulted in over 100 arrests and three deaths up to that point.

In response to these reports, the press secretary for Chechnya's leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov essentially affirmed his support for the policy of killing gay men without directly admitting to it. "If there were such people in Chechnya," the press secretary said, "law-enforcement agencies wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning."

Of the three reported fatalities, one was due to torture and the other two were victims of so-called "honor killings" by family members after they were released. Tanya Lokshina, the Russia Program Director for Human Rights Watch said that, in Chechnya, "victims of torture and other horrific abuses refrain from seeking justice or withdraw their complaints as a result of threats, including death threats and threats of retaliation against family members."

On April 13, the Geneva-based office of the U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights said that Russia should "put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual." On April 15, former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said: "The United States must lead the way to demand an end to these egregious violations of human rights." On April 18, a CNN video interviewed one man whose face and voice were blurred to protect his identity. On April 19, Putin said the claim of the pogrom was "libelous," and the next day, Putin's spokesman maintained that Russia had found no evidence of arrests in Chechnya.

Andrew E. Kramer interviewed several men for his article "'They Starve You. They Shock You': Inside the Anti-Gay Pogrom in Chechnya." Published in the New York Times on April 21, it provides disturbing details. One man in his 20s reported that he was brought to an apartment where five other gay men had already been brought for the same reason and that his assailants "strapped him to a chair, attached electrical wires to his hands with alligator clips and began an interrogation." The men were held for up to several weeks.

On April 21, Sir Alan Duncan, Britain's deputy to Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, told the House of Commons that "sources have said that he [Kadyrov] wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan." Ramadan begins on May 26 this year. Duncan also said that he and British Embassy representatives had spoken to the Russian government about the persecution.

On May 2, Lewis Corner wrote for GayTimes that a man had told France 24 News: "They tell the parents to kill their child. They say ‘Either you do it, or we will.'" On May 3, Will Stroude wrote for Attitude "that the families of those imprisoned are eventually summoned to the prison, where they are tasked with carrying out their own relative’s execution" in the account of a victim who spoke to France 24. Stroude wrote that Novaya Gazeta had increased its fatality count to over 30 men "executed by the authorities or their own families".

Stroude wrote:

"Russia has faced increasingly loud calls from the international community to bring an end to the violence, and while a Russia Foreign Affairs minister confirmed to Yahoo News’s Katie Couric last week that an investigation into the situation was currently taking place, she was reluctant to comment on the matter further."

In a July interview with HBO's Real Sports, Kadyrov tried to evade a question abut the persecution of gay men and then said: "We don't have those kinds of people here... If there are there take them to Canada... Take them far from us so we don't have them at home... To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them." Of the reports of torture, he said, "They are devils. They are for sale. They are not people." And of the United States, he said, "Even if our government was completely destroyed, our nuclear missiles would be automatically deployed. We will put the whole world on its knees and screw it from behind."

Assistance

Emergency legal and travel assistance is coordinated in Russia by the Moscow Community Center, the Russian LGBT Network, and by Canada-based Rainbow Railroad that says it is working with the Russian LGBT Network. The head of LGBT-Set-Russia has been quoted in the news regarding the need for such assistance. Amnesty International UK has petitions called "Chechnya: Stop Abducting and Killing Gay Men" with over 170,000 signatures and Protect Journalists Who Revealed Abuse of Gay Men in Chechnya with 30,000 signatures as of May 4.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Quotes on lying

Robert A. Burton:

"As a lifelong poker player, I have spent considerable time developing a winning strategy, yet I am not a great player. I have long suspected a variety of flaws, but haven't figured out a clear solution. With the recent popularity of televised poker tournaments where the viewers can see the players' hole cards at the start of each hand, the problem has become transparent. The players with the best overall results are those who aggressively make selective large bluffs, a style with which I have never been entirely comfortable.

* * *

Trying to figure out what the other players have turns out to be of less value than just making the large bluff periodically."

Thomas S. Szasz:

It [the term "lying"] comes into play only when the assumption is made that the communicants have pledged themselves to truthfulness. Thus, the term "lying" can be used meaningfully only in situations in which the rules of the game prescribe truthfulness. This is often assumed in everyday human relationships, and especially in those which are emotionally close, such as in marriage and friendship. Perjury is a special kind of lying, committed in a court of law by a person giving testimony. Here the rules of the game are explicitly formulated; lying (perjury) is punishable by legally enforced sanctions.”

Lisa Kogan:

"Honesty is a delightful policy, but I'm here to tell you that without at least a few lies, Thanksgiving with the family would be a thing of the past, first dates would end faster than you can dismiss your biological clock with a jaunty "Que sera, sera... ," every political figure who intentionally linked Iraq with Osama bin Laden would be forced to resign in disgrace, and any number of plastic surgeons throughout the greater Los Angeles area would end their lives in the gutter holding large cardboard signs that read WILL BOTOX FOR FOOD.

* * * 

To this day, Julia believes that Toys "R" Us is only open when my parents visit Manhattan; the shelves are stocked as Grandma and Grandpa's plane touches down and the doors to the store lock as soon as they head back to Detroit.

Here is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: My name is Lisa, and I am a liar, though a good marketing consultant could probably finesse the word into something a bit more palatable: "Reality Stylist" might be good, or "Pinocchiotologist" could work. My mother insists that, at the end of the day, what I am is a storyteller — and she might have a point.

Joan Didion says that "we tell ourselves stories in order to live." I think that's right. Forget what I tell cabdrivers for sport or dental hygienists for spin control or "Bambi" readers for peace of mind. It's the lies we tell ourselves that determine the particular arc of our stories."

M. Veera Pandiyan:

Liars, it seems, are wired differently from the rest of us. On the average they have between 22% and 26% more prefrontal white matter and 14% less grey matter.

The study by Dr Yaling Yang, from the psychology department of the USC, and psychology professor Dr Adrian Raine, who is now at University of Pennsylvania, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to explore differences in brains among pathological liars, anti-social disorder personalities and those who were normal.

According to Dr Raine, more white matter provided liars with the tools necessary to master the complex art of deceit.

“Pathological liars can’t always tell truth from falsehood and contradict themselves in interviews. They are very brazen in terms of their manner, but very cool when talking about this.”

“Lying takes a lot of effort. It’s almost mind reading. You have to be able to understand the mindset of the other person.

“You also have to suppress your emotions or regulate them because you don’t want to appear nervous. There’s quite a lot to do there. You’ve got to suppress the truth,” Dr Raine was quoted as saying in a USC article after the study was published.

He said the more “networking” there was in the prefrontal cortex, the more the person had an upper hand in lying, adding that their verbal skills were higher and that they had a natural advantage.

In normal people, the grey matter helps to keep the impulse to lie in check. With the surplus of white matter and a deficit of grey matter, liars have more tools to lie and fewer moral restraints than normal people.

Sources

Robert A. Burton. On Being Certain: Believing You Are Right Even When You're Not. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2008. pp. 112-113.

Thomas S. Szasz. The Myth of Mental Illness: Foundations of a Theory of Personal Conduct. New York: Delta, 1961. p. 246.

"Lies are good for family and friends." Lisa Kogan. Oprah.com.  Sept. 5, 2008.

 

"Inside the Lying Brain." M. Veera Pandiyan. The Star (Malaysia). Aug. 28, 2008.