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tv   Washington Journal  CSPAN  April 15, 2016 9:05pm-10:00pm EDT

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[applause] >> senator ted cruz, a principled conservative and a fighter for our liberties and constitutional rights. let's give him another hand! [applause] >> on sunday c-span's road to the white house coverage continues with a campaign rally in brooklyn, new york for the credit presidential candidate senator bernie sanders of firman. also, hawaiian representative tulsi gabbard, actors danny to veto and the rock band grizzly bear. live coverage at 4 p.m. on c-span.
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next, the discussion about the criteria u.s. voters are using to pick a presidential candidate. from washington journal, this is just under one hour. rick shenkman is the history news network founder and author of " political animals: how our stone-age brain gets in the way of smart politics." henkman, do shark attacks affect elections? guest: 100 years ago in 1916, the worst fear of shark attacks struck southern new jersey. that everyones" had seen was based on the story of what happened then. weeks, four people were killed in shark attacks. what does that have to do with politics?
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woodrow wilson was up for reelection. but in thejersey, small beach towns devastated by the shark attacks, people heard "shark" and everyone went home. he was a devastating economic development for that area. , the peoplee vote in those towns voted against woodrow wilson in overwhelming numbers. in the same proportion that those people voted against herbert hoover at the height of the great depression. why? woodrow wilson could not have done anything to help those people solve their shark problem . that was beyond the powers of the president. people are irrational when they vote. particularly, political scientists have found, when bad things happen to them they take angst on the incumbent
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party whether they are responsible or not. the book is about how our brain works. 40 years ago we did not have an idea of how the brain works. today we do because of nero silence -- numeral science -- neuroscience, anthropology, and that changes how we think our brain operates on politics. host: what do you mean by stone age brain? a lesser for 2.5 million years. the human brain mainly involved. it evolved to help hunter problems address the that they faced as hunter gatherers. evolve to help us in the 21st century address problems that we are facing. our problems are different. and you live in a small
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community of 150 people, you know and work with everyone. you know your leaders. you are living with them. today, there are millions and billions of people. we do not meet our leaders. we see them on tv. we often read them wrong and do not understand when they are lying or manipulating. the book is about how you have to protect your self against your own brain. it will trick you into thinking you're living in a small community and you know these people. you don't. host: in the introduction you write that i'm going to tell you the stories of people that have been paid in ways that seem absurd. beingcus on behavior disengaged from politics and apathetic. not correctly sizing up our leaders, punishing politicians that tell us hard truths, and not showing empathy in
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circumstances that cry out for it. , is there a general impression that you can give of what voters are like in america? guest: i don't know what to do with that question. give me more. host: are voters curious? guest: good. voters are curious about what is happening in their immediate circumstances. that is what the human brain is designed to do, be curious about things that you can see. half of the brain is devoted to visual tasks. we are responsive to what we can see and what we can feel. when you're in a group of people, you can size them up, read their body language, get a sense of who they are. the ability to have an assess that of who they are and what they are like. you cannot do it in the modern
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political world, because most of the time you see them on tv. not coming system is into play and you are not focused. if you cannot see someone's eyes and how they are really looking at you, it is hard to read them. in any case, our brain is playing a trick on us. in the stone age, when we read people's emotions -- if you are going on a hunt and you wanted to look toward the leader, you could tell in a particular moment if he was feeling courageous or frozen by fear. you could read that a motion. you had a deeper understanding of that person because you lived and worked with them. in the modern world, we do not have that personal experience with our leaders, but our brain makes us think that we know them. are we curious?
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there has never been an example of hunter gatherers not curious about who was leading them. what the human beings do all day? we gossip. who'sps us to understand up, down, if someone has made a mistake. motives.ng about their we are engaged as human beings in our local politics. in the multicultural world that we live in with millions of people, we do not have that natural nervous system reaction to people that live far away from us. you are in washington the c, -- washington, d.c. i live in seattle. that is far away from washington. and things happen there, it is hard for me in seattle to get
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excited. do he hadandidates out in a political debate, i can get excited momentarily, but that feeling quickly evaporates. i am a political junkie, so i am paying attention. most americans are not paying that much attention. they seem to display in difference and a lack of curiosity. that is because of the way the human brain works. it is an indictment of human beings. our brain was not devised for television politics. it was devised for small intimate groups. we are good at those politics, not so good about things happening a long way away. host: should we trust our instincts when it comes to politics? caller: no. that is the main part of the book. in our daily lives we trust our
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instincts because they prove they are good. if you are walking on the tireslk and you hear screech, your instinct is to look around and pull back to make sure you are not about to get run over. that is the same as if you were a hunter gatherer 100,000 years ago and you heard a tiger in the woods. he would have a flight or flight response. in our personal lives, often, our instincts work. argue, you can almost never unquestionably go with your instincts, because they are not suited to the problems that we face in the modern world. host: you look at the work of psychologist drew weston. you write about some of his work . here is his explanation of what goes on in our brain when we turn a blind eye toward
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explanation we find objectionable. when confronted with potentially troubling political information, a network of neuron's becomes active that registers the conflict between data and desire and searches for ways to shirt off this big it of unpleasant emotion. notice what we do not do. we do not expend cognitive energy to digest the information . we immediately try to reconcile partisanur preferences. can you give an example? guest: let's take the example of what drew weston was talking about. in 2000 four, john kerry versus george w. bush. he put kerry voters in an mri and told them information about john kerry that was not laddering. -- was not flattering. what happened?
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they briefly registered a reaction that was shock and disfavor with what they were hearing. immediately, their brain shut off that information and the neurons went quiet. the same thing happened when you mri.ush voters in the they had an initial reaction then went quiet. scientistst social refer to as our immune system. we do not like to find out that a belief that we hold about someone that we like -- it turns out that here is contrary information to what we believe. .hat creates dissonant it makes us feel anxious and bad. it quickly tries to figure out a way to get rid of the information.
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it does it by closing the door on the information so that the .eurons go quiet our psychological immune system improves and we restore our feeling of well-being. when you're talking about trump voters, donald trump has been called out by politico and all of these other fact checking organizations for telling one lie after another. like, when he debuted his campaign and started talking about how thousands of muslims were dancing on the rooftops of apartment buildings in new jersey as they watched the twin towers fall. that was not true. what did trump voters make of that? their brain, just like other voters -- it is true of all of us, we do not want to hear bad information.
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they ignored it. their brain shut off the information. this is how the human brain works. that is what drew weston's research shows. host: " political animals: how our stone-age brain gets in the " is themart politics book. the numbers are on the screen. democrats, (202) 748-8000, republicans (202) 748-8001, independents (202) 748-8002. you can dial in and we will take your calls. you can participate on social on twitter.panwj let's begin with robert from massachusetts. he is on the democrats line. caller: i do not know at this guys talking about, but the average person does not know. politicians know that the average person is almost
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ignorant. tide commercial on tv, and it says it will take the ring off of your husband's neck, the next day that same woman will buy that because of that powerful commercial. people are not voting with their heart. they are voting with their head. you have to put them together. you have to have a head and heart. when you let the politicians speak on the pulpit, that is the sentence. never let a politician walk into your church and speak on the pulpit. this is for all of you black people from down south. host: let's get a response. rick shenkman waited to hear? guest: the cholerae is right that the american people do not know a lot of fat -- the caller
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is right here that the american people do not know a lot of facts. we have 100now that u.s. senators. the majority of the american people do not know that we have .hree branches of government a lot of them believe on the eve of the iraq war that saddam hussein was behind 9/11. that the reason we were invading iraq was to take revenge for him having destroyed the world trade center and attacking the pentagon. are a low information voter, which is unfortunately the majority of the american voters low information are more easily manipulated because they do not know enough. if a politician is articulate, enthusiastic, can make a case and connect with you as one person to another person looking through a tv camera -- if i'm
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excited, passionate, and you are impressed with my passionate enthusiasm, and what i'm saying makes sense, you do not have the toependent basis evaluate my argument and information. you are going with your gut. that is what i argue in my book is a mistake. host: tweeting to you that i respectfully disagree. you cannot read politicians from watching them on tv body language is all telling. guest: body language is important. no question. how fast do we make evaluations of candidates? eyesight in the book -- i site in the book that we make up our minds about politicians and anyone we encounter in 167 milliseconds. faster than you can blink your
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eyes. if you give people more time to make an evaluation, they double initialtheir impression. your brain is playing a trick on you. in the stone age, when we were making superfast evaluations, it was important. if you encountered a stranger you had to quickly size them up. most of the time, that meant this was a person that was a hostile threat to your life. that you should probably run or kill they guy. for a hunter gatherers and their communities sizing people up, it was not on the basis of body language or facial expression -- it was on the basis of deep knowledge. you are living and working with them. you have an overreliance on body language and you think you
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can tell if someone is lying to you or telling the truth based on body language, you are deceiving yourself. i may go one step further. when a politician is telling you something, and they believe it you -- you're cheater that connecting system doesn't work. it only works if those telling the lie think they are buying. politicians are like used car salesman. there good at telling you something. in that moment they can convince themselves that they believe it. you cannot rely on body language. if they are sincere, and politicians are always sincere, your detection system doesn't work. democrat,ara,
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martha's vineyard. caller: thank you. this is the best news ever. the first day of the new era, which i am christening paleo politics. there's is our brain on the drugs of politics we don't understand how the brain works. i have a home rigged assignment. -- a homework assignment. you need to assemble evolutionary biology and psychology, get them together with richard, and you assemble them at a book fair somewhere. .his is the story the other thing to do, i want to look back at an e-mail i sent her democrats only in the last segment. it has no text, only visuals. the subject line is "just vote
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blue." this is my message to how the democrats have to unify. it has a visual pun that i want to see if richard config throughout. this man is walking the walk and talking the talk. last thing, keep using the emphasis you are using. just like i'm deliberately using it now. there is a penetrative quality .o assertion we are not thinking or hypothesizing, this is the dawn of the new age. host: thank you. rick shenkman, in a response to barbara? caller: well. she was very complimentary and i will not disagree. let's talk about another aspect of how our brain works. neuroscience we have
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learned that we have two ways of digesting information. system one and system to areas with system one you are taking in information. your matching it with other information that you already have. if there is a close match, your brain doesn't think hard, it just thinks the new information is like the old information and is treated the same way. system to is higher-order cognitive thinking. guess what we want to do with politics. politicians do not want you to use system to, higher order cognitive thinking. wordsill use red meat that will get your system one juices flowing, so you are not thinking just reacting. republican audience, they will see they -- they will say things like "scary muslim terrorists." orn you are acting fearful
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angry. you're not thinking, just reacting. democrats do the same thing. story to tell a sob get you to feel empathetic to go with their program. you are not thinking about it. you are reacting. what i am arguing in the book is that the only way to safeguard yourself against manipulation by politicians is to always second-guessed your automatic reaction. you have to second-guess your automatic reaction. do not trust yourself in politics. that goes against what we learned in the 1960's when it yourself." and personal life, trust yourself. in politics, and don't. connecticut on our democrats line.
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what is the name of your town? connecticut.ic, i wanted to call and say that i called the debate. i don't think that there should be any more debates. i hate to see things deteriorate to the level of a gop side. i was very proud of her performance. i think senator sanders did very well also. i hate to see them hurt each primary.the i'm disappointed in senator sanders. i think that him running as a
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continues tohe criticize hillary to the extent, or each other, that it could hurt us in the long run in a general election. host: let's leave it there. rick shenkman, given that there was a debate last night, i don't know if you watched it but i know that you have watched some, how would your book guest: let me tell you what i recommend in the book, which is when you are sitting and watching a political debate, basically you are in the same role as somebody who goes and attends a broadway show. what you wind up doing is evaluating the performance of the candidates who are arguing with each other. i do not think that is terribly helpful. what is helpful -- even if you are not a political junkie like
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most americans, you do other things so you're not really following politics all that closely. you can still gain tremendous, real insight into what is going on in these candidates's campaigns by monitoring your own emotional reaction. pull out a pen and paper when you are about to sit down and watch one of these debates. every time you feel a strong emotion of some kind -- fear, anger, enthusiasm, patriotism, whatever you are feeling. jot it down next to the candidates name. the debate,f instead of evaluating their performances, look at how you emotionally reacted to what they were saying and you will now have a roadmap to these candidates's campaigns. you will understand how they are trying to manipulate you by the emotional buttons they were trying to push during the debate. it is no accident when they take a certain line at the debate.
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they have a lot of advisors ahead of that debate telling them that if you say this, the voters will have this reaction. if you say this, the voters will have this reaction. study yourself and you will have a very keen understanding of what the politician's campaigns are about. it is much more helpful than sitting back like you are at a broadway show and saying this person did well in this person didn't. we play the game, but it is not very helpful. this approach that i'm outlining is more helpful. host: springfield on the republican line, go ahead with your question or comment calle.: caller: i have a comment the guest something made about donald trump saying he saw muslims dancing in the street after 9/11. he is not lying. i have seen this with my own eyes. host: mr. shankman?
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guest: you did see it with your own wise, because in the middle east, they were dancing and there is videotaped. after 9/11 muslims in the middle east and other parts of the world, people were happy to see the united states, the big, bad superpower, as it is viewed in some parts of the world, getting knocked down a little bit. people were dancing in the streets, but it was not muslims in america and it was not american muslims doing this, but our brain confuses visual information that it is taking in. at that time, you are seeing this, a registered powerfully on your brain. one of the big shocks on 9/11 besides the attacks themselves, the other big shock was that people hate us to the point where they are happy to see us killed by the thousands.
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impression powerful on your mind, but you do not see american muslims dancing in the streets. that did not happen. host: pardon me. the next call for rick shenkman comes from suzanne on the independent line. go ahead, suzanne. caller: hey, rick. what you just said about the politicians'advisors telling them how to go ahead and say what they are supposed to say instead of really answering the question -- that sort of not really in the stone age. everybody is in the reality tv age. what the advisers are telling them to do is how to get the out of theesponse viewers.
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aboutd of really thinking what the politicians are saying on all these different programs, we are being taken to the reality tv world where everybody kind of floats along and we don't care about real stuff. we just care about what we think is happening. i don't think the stone ages here. we have progressed a lot from the stone age because we are at the state where we can sit there with a completely empty mind. host: all right, let us get a response from mr. shenkman. guest: we are not living in the stone age. we do have the stone age brain on our shoulders. really very good at helping us understand the problems that we are facing. daily, onee, almost
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of the political problems that we will face involves the faith of millions of people, whether we are talking about tax policy or whether we should go to war against terrorism. it is always a policy involving millions of people. designed brain was not to address the problems of millions of people have i. it was designed to address the problems of a small number of people. that is why we have difficulty when we hear, for instance, that we are going to drop bombs in syria on a bunch of towns. we have a very great difficulty imagining the human beings who may be at the other end of the bomb site, who maybe are innocent civilians who areoing to get killed. we see that as abstractions
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because the human brain is only capable of really seeing people as humans when they are standing in front of us. then we get them as human beings. the thought of, wow, this mother walking with a child is going to be blown up by a bomb -- we find that horrifying as human beings. talk about bombing people who dress differently than us, look differently than us, who live in a part of the world that we cannot even find on a map, than they are not human beings at all at that point. they are just abstractions. it is far easier inapplicable debate to say like ted cruz saying, just carpet bomb them. that is being careless with other people's lives. it is not being sensitive to the fact that some human beings who are innocent might get killed. but our brain does not work that way. we do not think that way and that is a problem. host: wild and wonderful tweets
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into you, mr. shenkman. " basically you're saying we are pavlov's ho have lost dogs. just ring the bells and we salivate." guest: i'm not saying that at all. i am saying that if you stimulate acts, there will get a white response. human beings with higher order of cognitive thinking. this is a story that i tell when i go on the road and give talks because i did this this past week on a couple of occasions. i tell the story of jesse washington. 100 years ago in 1916, the same year as the shark attack that we start of the program talking about, in 1916, jesse washington was a black man accused of a crime down in waco, texas.
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the authorities put him in jail. came, broke them out of jail, put them on a tree, castrated him, cut off his fingers, set them on fire, and they killed him. we all heard about lynchings. this one took place before a crowd of not 10 or 15 people but of 15,000 people. there are pictures of this crowd and they are not horrified but what they are seeing -- by what they are seeing. they are cheering or pleased by what they are seeing. 100 years later, we find this horrific. repulsion findsle this hard to conceive. what is going on here? this is because our culture has changed. pavloviant have loft
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dogs. in politics most of the time, we are not thinking. we are simply reacting. we have the capacity to think. this is the wonderful thing about human beings. we are not slaves to our instinct. we can actually think our way thinkh our problems if we to take the active actually thinking. host: back to your book, "political animals," you write that in mainstream politics, anger undermines democracy. people who are angry cannot see others' points of view. angry people don't compromise. guest: this is the big problem facing the united states right now. look, when a small group of people want to create change in america, often there are people who are very, very angry and they want to see some change happen.
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so this was true, for instance, of the civil rights marchers in the 1950's and 1960's. when connor down in alabama let loose these dogs on crowds of civil rights protesters, you can be sure though civil rights protesters were really in a popping -- hiding hot angry mood. those groups need anger to achieve group cohesion and to get anything done. against them are so powerful that they need anger to keep them going every day and fight the good fight. when the majority of the american people turn angry, democracy stops. anger is like grit in the gears of democracy and those gears cannot grind properly if those people are angry. we know this from science.
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that is what my book is all about. it is learned from what science is telling us about our brains. what happens when we are angry? the insula in the brain is activated. when the insula is activated, we don't compromise. we become close minded and not open to fresh viewpoints. when the amygdala is activated in the human brain, that is the seat of emotional power. we can get anxious. while we do not like to feel anxious, anxious people have an open mind and are more likely to compromise. but angry people don't. we are in a situation today where a majority of people are angry. it is very bad for our democracy. we have to get the anger out of our politics or we will not couple's anything. host: alan in maryland, democrat. go ahead with your question or, comments. caller: good morning of thank
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you for taking my call. i want to ask your guests to questions -- guest two questions. you mentioned during the kerry scandal that certain parts of the brain fire off signals and then they shut down. what would you recommend for individuals who hear that false and that is a shocker for us and they shut down and do not believe it anymore? what recommendation do you have for them? belief in one is this our current elections that people are angry. they do not want to believe they are angry, but they are angry.
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what is your solution for that anger? you said it is hard to shut down an angry mob. i really would like to hear your comment on that solution. host: all right, thank you, sir. rick shenkman? guest: i struggle with this just like everybody does. we are human beings and we are going to have our instant reactions. i have a partisan brain just like everybody. when i hear favorable things about the candidates that i like , i really listen closely because of confirmation bias. that's a really good point. when i hear the information about somebody i like, i think that's not true. that cannot possibly be right. i just dismiss it. how do you get around that? how do you get around your own brain? if you become aware of how your brain can undermine your search for truth, and that is what i argue in the book,
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we are not really after the truth. we are after the truth that reinforces our version of reality. how can you get around that? there is no magic formula. you just have to be aware that this is how your brain works. you have to question everything. you constantly have got to subject your own opinions to a real, sober, honest assessment of why you believe what you believe. the caller was asking about anger. how do you get around anger? ,hen you are in an angry mood if you are married, every once in a while, you'll get angry at yourselves. at that moment, you really cannot think straight. you've got to wait until yukon down and then you reflect. that is when spouses decide they
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will make up. you have got to have that same approach in politics. not keep listening to the same sources that just qqq revved up and in an angry mute -- keep you revved up and in an angry mood. if you are watching a tv show or listening to some jockey on the radio who has got you all read done all the time, tune him out for a while. take a break from it. take a week or two weeks off. con down to the point where you can think a little bit more clearly. when you are in the grip of anger, you cannot think straight. that is just the way human beings are built. understanding how our brain is built is what the book is all about. host: in february on this program, we got a call from somebody named kino in lakeland, florida, who suggested that we have rick shenkman on the program.
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i believe this is kino calling and now. caller: good morning and praise be for c-span. most definitely i read mr. shenkman's book. let me make him aware that people have the bipartisan working group in congress. i recommended they take your book and have a book report for all of congress to be aware of your book. the other thing that you talk about where we dwell on anxieties that bring about cooperation, i recommend that this bipartisan working group, with the 10 most serious problems facing the united states before they try to seek solutions. they define what the problems are and what needs to be addressed. i want you to be aware i'm being a citizen advocate for that group and i'm using your book as one of the main thrust. i also want the presidential
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candidates to come up with the 10 most years problems they think are facing the country. the presidential candidates to go on book tv and recommend books people can read for a more intellectual approach rather than a emotional approach. i think c-span for what it does for our nation and i'm so glad they had you on today. theware that i've asked bipartisan congressional working group to come up with a definition of 10 most serious problems facing the nation. what might be your reaction? guest: well, first of all, thank viewerstelling c-span that they ought to read my book. an author always wants to hear that. i'm really delighted that c-span listen to you and that his wife sitting here today. that is really great. can we talk about anxiety for a moment? a lot of what i say sounds so
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negative. turns us into unthinking partisans. we get angry and we cannot evaluate politicians. we are subject to manipulation easily. i want to talk about something that is positive and what the color just mentioned -- anxiety is one of the positive things. when you are anxious as a human being, it is a very unpleasant feeling, isn't it? it is something that we do not want to feel anxious. anxiety is a wonderful thing. it is your brain telling you that you need to reevaluate your impression of something. if you have a view of the world and the way the world works, and you now have some evidence before you that says the world is not working the way i think it works, or i have a belief about a particular candidate and
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now i just got evidence that that candidate actually is behaving in a way that is contrary to what i thought about that candidate, i thought i understood them. maybe i did not really understand them. when we get that anxious feeling, we reevaluate our opinions. most of the time, we do not bother to reevaluate our opinions. the reason for that is that takes effort. that literally takes brain energy. your brain consumes 20% of your body's energy every single day. what that means is your brain is constantly looking for ways to not overwork because that requires more energy. back in the stone age, it was hard to get protein and a lot of energy. the brain evolved to be extremely prudent and looking for shortcuts all the time. that is why we do not do harder cognitive thinking and politics most of the time.
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our brain does not want us to think hard because that means more new runs are literally firing and that will consume more energy. rather than think hard, it goes to the default position and we are just going to go with the flow and go with our normal reactions. with anxiety, our brain is telling us to stop. you cannot just go with the flow. you've got to really think hard. yup got to use higher order cognitive thinking. brain telling you, time to engage and think hard. when you are watching a political debate and you feel a little anxious, do not try to shut that anxiety down to pay attention to it. that is your brain telling you there is a mismatch between a belief and what the facts are. .ime to reevaluate saying he isller
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back in this bipartisan group in congress, that is wonderful. that is what is needed if we are ever going to get anything done. this is a democracy. it only works when people in both parties are at the very minimal talking to each other. betweenput up walls them and they only talk to their own supporters, democracy won't work. york.client is in new please go ahead, clyde. caller: what you are saying is fantastic. you need to get together with ted weiss and you need to go on a tour. journalismellow because i was a broadcast student. it might've been psychology. i like to use a different word than what you use. i like to call it probably
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troglodytes. amazing. racism -- it is amazing. that is why i said you need to go on a tour together. host: who is tim weiss? caller: i think you had them on last sunday. no, it was free speech tv. he wrote a book, "black like me." he speaks about white privilege, systematic racism, so forth and so on. with these guys both teaming up together, i think they can do a lot of constructive stuff in this country. host: all right, thank you, sir. rick shenkman, any reaction? wants to payebody to send me around the country
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and talk to audiences, i am all in favor of it. run thee a day job and history news network website where historians are putting the news into historical perspective , but i can take some time out to go on the road. host: helen in winthrop, maine, democrat. please go ahead with your question or comment. caller: good morning. i was struck by a comment that author michelle goldberg made the other day on chris hayes's show about policy currents and how generally speaking, the population is really a verse two people who are blatantly policy occurred. it is magnified when the power seeker is a woman. some ofhis to explain the antipathy people have toward candidate clinton, i'm wondering if your book addresses the whole issue of gender and how this
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plays into the current political field. and also, the role of religion, where we know that many subjugation ofe women has been part and parcel of our history. i hope you would care to address those. host: go ahead, rick shenkman. guest: i think those are great points. i chose not to focus on gender. was that a lot of books have been written about the importance of gender and politics. i do not want to throw another book on that pile. i wanted to draw attention to the four problems that i identify in the book, which is problems with curiosity, the problem with truth and our biases, the problem with empathy, and so forth. i do not really focus on that.
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i do agree with everything that you said. those are all very, very good points. host: rick shenkman, you quote thomas bailey. "every foreign-policy crisis in u.s. history was shaped decisively by public opinion." guest: thomas bailey was a stanford historian for 40 years. he was the author of the textbook that i and millions of others used in high school. it was called "the amazing touch pageant." he also wrote a book called streetn the : public opinion." "the course of human history, you'll find that politicians, congress, the president, they
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were creating policy around public opinion. it makes sense because we are a republic or a democracy, whatever you want to believe about our system of government. there is a big raging debate on the internet about that. public opinion is key. woodrow wilson said if you got the public behind you, you can accomplish anything. the problem is that if the public does not know that much, but the politicians are letting public opinion guide their foreign-policy, we wind up making blunders. the iraq war is just a classic example. a president was able to gin up support for this war by playing on people's fears about 9/11. he was able then to turn around and launched this war without even a congressional declaration of war. did get a resolution of support, but it was not a full-blown declaration of war. that is a problem.
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crisisany foreign-policy , you will see that is a problem. sometimes in world war ii, pearl harbor gets attacked. the public says we have got to take revenge and do something. that was the right policy. most of the time, the public does not have an independent basis grounded in fact upon which they are making their opinion. the politicians, whether it is basic fact or not, are usually following public opinion. they are usually slaves to public opinion. that is a problem. host: rene in houston, texas, we have 15 seconds. caller: thank you very much. i wanted to address spirituality. i do not think i heard you mention anything about that and what a person believes in their mind is right. you are speaking so much about public opinion and what is what
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and what is right and what is wrong. what is people feel right is based on their spirituality. host: rick shenkman, you 15 seconds to answer that question. guest: i believe along with social scientist jonathan hiatt from the university of virginia that our moral values are in nate and we believe what we believe about it. just subject your moral findings to rational, higher-order cognitive thinking. author of shenkman, "political animals." he is also the founder of the history news network. thanks for being on "washington journal." guest: thank you very much. people
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"washington journal" every day with issues that impact you. discussing the fracking debate ahead of next week's vote in new york. joining use blum from new york. she will preview this tuesday's key republican and democratic primaries in new york state and provide analysis of recent polling in those contests and talk about how the new york electorate in 2015 is different from 2012. -- 2016 is different from 2012. live at 7 a.m. saturday. join the discussion. at 10 p.m. night eastern, a look back at president's giving their last speeches at the white house correspondents dinner. one of the key events each year in washington. have not hadgan: i time to watch the oscars. i was

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