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20160625 – Cure- Mind and Body

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea of this book is to demonstrate close connection between mind and body, show its power in defining health and overall wellbeing of the person, and review some probable mechanisms of these connections.

DETAILS:

INTRODUCTION

It starts with reference to homeopathy to illustrate science/non-science duopoly and then goes to author’s qualifications as scientist. After that it goes to the purpose of this book: to review mind-body connections and healing power represented by placebo and similar well-documented phenomenon.

  1. FAKING IT: WHY NOTHING WORKS

This retells the story of non-working medicine for autism: secretin and how despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness parents did everything to get it for their children. Another story is about false surgery that nevertheless successfully healed some individuals from back pain. Then it discusses overall effect of placebo and how it clearly demonstrates connection between mind and body including self-healing.

  1. A DEVIANT IDEA WHEN MEANING IS EVERYTHING

This is about another disease – IBS (Irritable bowels syndrome), which despite impacting physiological functions seemingly outside of conscious control nevertheless was cured by placebo. This chapter also discusses negative placebo or nocebo effect such as cases of mass poisoning when no real poison was found. It also provides illustration of similar effect with voodoo curse when individual’s believe in it causes very real physiological effects.

  1. PAVLOV’S POWER HOW TO TRAIN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

This chapter looks in more detail on physiological effect of though starting with simple example of looking at lemon and feeling sour. From here author goes into discussion of training conditional reflexes and how they allow substitute at least partially a very strong and negative impact of some medicines used in extreme cases like chemotherapy. Moreover conditional reflexes training via connections between nervous and immune systems allow training immune system to become more resistant to various illnesses.

  1. HGHTING FATIGUE THE ULTIMATE PRISON BREAK

This is about unbelievable physiological achievements of top-level athletes obtained via mind’s conditioning. It includes human ability to claim Everest without oxygen, swim across ocean and similar feats. Author also reviews sleep disorders and a couple of therapies that handle it via mind-body connection: Graded Exercise Therapy (GET) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

  1. IN A TRANCE: IMAGINE YOUR GUT AS A RIVER

This is about the use of hypnotherapy and how it demonstrates once again strong link between mind and body, regardless of whether bodily functions in question are normally under conscious control or not.

 

  1. RETHINKING PAIN INTO THE ICE CANYON

This is a look at application of mind – body technics to the chronic pain. As in other cases use of powerful drugs causes negative consequences that could be alleviated by use of computer generated virtual reality. It also presents other experiments including “rubber hand” and mirror treatment of phantom pain.

  1. TALK TO ME: WHY CARING MATTERS

Here author reviews pain problems with childbirth including her own experience. From there she pivots to impact of not only individual’s mind, but also of people who take care about this individual. In short personalized approach produce much better results in healthcare than assembly line approach.

  1. FIGHT OR FLIGHT THOUGHTS THAT KILL

This chapter about impact of various stress situations on health is another demonstration of influence of mind on body. It looks at stress caused by emergency events, but also on the long term continuing stress as result of family problem or poverty and inequality. Interesting physiological result of stress presented such as reshaping of brain after 9/11 in otherwise healthy adults leaving nearby World Trade Center. Stress also causes unhealthy behavior such as smoking or overeating.

  1. ENJOY THE MOMENT HOW TO CHANGE YOUR BRAIN

This chapter is about validity of meditation as a method of improving functioning of the brain with demonstrable positive impact on the body. It also discusses mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) technic and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). An interesting research with Buddhist monks with high level of meditative experience demonstrated that they have physiological difference: higher thickness of cerebral cortex.

  1. FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH THE SECRET POWER OF FRIENDS

This is a review of another powerful technic of improving condition of body via mind: impact of close friendly relations with other people. Research review provided that demonstrated impact of loneliness on expression of genes with result confirming negative implication for health if person is lonely. However when it comes to formal research results are mixed. The final part of the chapter is about early intervention for families to alleviate stress for poor children.

  1. GOING ELECTRIC: NERVES THAT CURE

This is about biofeedback when individuals can see electronic representation of some uncontrollable physiological function of their body like heart rate and learn to control it. It also discusses a bit chemical/electrical mechanism of this phenomenon.

  1. LOOKING FOR GOD THE REAL MIRACLE OF LOURDES

The final chapter looks at religion as somewhat conduit between mind and body allowing mind to influence body via preying and strong believe regardless whether these believes are true or not.

MY TAKE ON IT:

There is no doubt in mine mind that human body is highly interconnected system and any part of it has at least some influence on overall wellbeing of the whole. I believe that our brain is just a small part of controlling information system distributed throughout the body. Therefore as long as something is within technical capability of biological system to control itself via production of proteins, or electrical signals, or muscle movements; it will use these tools to achieve improvement from whatever condition the system is into whatever condition the system prefer to be. However such functionality is limited, otherwise we would not need medicine or any other external intervention. For example I believe that if one has appendix, the surgery is much better bet than meditation, even for Buddhist monks.

 

20160618 – A Foot in the Riverine

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea here is to look at the change as cultural and historical process and what direction it leads to. The causes of change are closely linked to human nature and come naturally to humanity, therefore explanation should be found in cultural development. There is strong push here against attempts to explain cultural change and development via evolutionary processes, which however only weakly supported by alternative explanation: cultural and social learning. Author also believes that change will slow down, but does not provide strong support of this believe.

DETAILS:

Introduction: The weird planet

This book is a look at culture as set of patterns of mental behavior acquired by learners from teachers and modeled on examples, which is part of nature not necessarily limited to humans, but rather typical for nearly all creatures. The book is specifically looking at change and how it happens. The book is informally divided into 3 parts Chapters 1-3 are about history of Western philosophical analysis of change chapter 4: review of game changing methodological research; chapters 5-6 are presentation of author’s theory of change; chapter 7 is an explanation why such theory is critical for understanding of current situation; finally chapter 8 is a speculation on how change itself could change producing wide variety of possible futures.

  1. Challenging Change

Author dates the first attempts to understand change to Stone Age paintings found in caves. He seems to believe that this art was designed to stop time and stay unchangeable forever. After that he looks at Greek and Roman ancient world with initial philosophical approach to this issues from Zeno’s paradoxes to Augustine at the times of falling Rome. The review goes all the way to our times when change become a subject of historical science, the process driven by two main factors: raise of nation-state and formation of history departments in universities and their population by lawyers, theologians, and classicist.

  1. The Frustration of Science

This is an interesting take on nature vs. culture in contexts of “doing what comes naturally”. Author tries to identify what in the world of emotions, gestures, traditions, and such comes naturally and therefore is consistent across different populations, and countries. It is not an easy task, especially if one takes into account ability of culture to have impact on bodies: a good example is variance in digestibility of lactose. Somehow author managed include here wide variety of phenomenon from slavery to skin color, to Darwinism, and to Marxism. The final point here is that ideas of evolution provide a very good tool for understanding just about everything, but should be used carefully always keeping in mind such deviations as eugenics and Nazism.

  1. The Great Reconvergence

This is description of late XX century ideological development when mountains of evidence forced significant numbers of intellectuals to overcome primitive eversion to biological explanations of sociological phenomenon and begin the process of reconvergence of history and biology, including development of understanding of interconnectedness of the world via environmental studies. The final and most important note here is that neither memetics nor sociobiology succeeded in explaining the culture.

  1. The Chimpanzees’ Tea Party

This chapter is about the most resent research that convincingly demonstrated existence of non-human cultures as among chimps, which for all purposes do not really differentiate from cultures of human societies. Moreover not only cultures, but non-human individuals also possess what is considered purely human characteristics: individuality, inventiveness, and capacity to discover new technics.

  1. The Limits of Evolution

This is an interesting and kind of non-conformist approach to history as the area where evolutionary thinking is not applicable. Author claims that we witness development knowledge that stresses non-selective forces in history and even genetics. Author specifically applies this to cultural development strongly rejecting ideas of memetics. Overall in the battle between evolutionary and non-evolutionary explanations of culture author seems to be in non-evolutionary camp, even if he claims to see opportunity for reconciliation between two views. A very interesting part of this is that author somehow believes that uniqueness of a group or culture and random character of path to the present somehow denies evolutionary approach. In support of his view author points to what he calls 4 fallacies:

  1. Humans are animals as others
  2. Cultures and populations are interchangeable units of study
  3. Omission of cultural and social learning from development
  4. Final fallacy: that evolution is only true if it explains everything.

I guess author does not deny evolution; he just against mixing evolution with change that in his opinion is a very different process. The most important point here is that cultural development in author’s opinion does not comply with evolutionary model. Author brings about a number of examples from war to farming that he believes lead to destruction of society either through mutual annihilation or environmental catastrophe, somehow believing that it denies survival of the fittest thesis.

  1. The Imaginative Animal

This chapter is about the dynamism of culture. It starts with discussion of constructive collective memory that usually has little to do with realities of the past, pretty much similarly to how it happens with individual memory. The chapter includes review of research of human and non-human memory coming to conclusion that non-human memory often factually more effective than human. After that author turns vector of imagination from past (memory) to the future when it generate ideas, hopes, and eventually planning with consequent actions directed to achieving desirable future state. As illustration author reviews history of trade, navigation, and exploration that over relatively short few centuries brought humanity together into one communication rich and interconnected entity.

  1. Facing Acceleration

Here author is looking at current acceleration of change and reasons for it. He looks at dramatic changes in language and cultural attitudes that he observed in one specific population – Englishmen over his own live: from queen English and stiff upper lip to mess of a language and highly sensitive weeping men. Among causes he lists environmental change, multiplication of population, climate change, deregulation, capitalist greed, and multiple other horrors. As attempt to explain this acceleration author brings ideas of Rene Girard who attributed massive change in culture to human tendency to mimic other humans so looking at somebody doing something individual tends do the same, consequently creating consumerism, economic bubbles, political movements, cultural fashions and such.

  1. Towards the Planet of the Apes

The final chapter presents the idea that not only change happens all the time, but also even nature of change itself could change removing such features as scientific certainty (substituted by sequence of paradigms), factual analysis being pushed out by postmodernist sensibility responses, dramatically changing meaning of history, orderly and susceptible to calculation and planning predictable world substituted by chaos theory when nobody can predict which butterfly’s wing flop could cause hurricane. Despite this entire narrative author believes that there is a chance to break barrier between science and other cultural phenomenon on the basis of equality, so evolutionism and culturalism could coexist. At the end author speculates about future concluding that “planet of apes” outcome is within realm of possibilities, but he believes more in slowing of the change and arriving to some relatively constant condition.

MY TAKE ON IT:

I think that change always happened, but at very glacial pace because human groups were isolated and too busy surviving in straggle against environment and each other. Only during last few thousand years when agriculture provided enough resources to allocate significant number of men-hours to ideological, technological, and cultural development we could observe process of conversion of multitude of small human societies into one entity via processes of wars, trade, and cultural interaction selecting the most viable patterns of behavior. Contrary to author I think that evolutionary methods are fully applicable to cultural development and should be effective tool for understanding why some features thrive, while others parish. I would agree however that eventually speed of cultural change will slow down, but only because expansion of individual freedom would make culture so diverse and tolerant that it would cover just about any conceivable variation of individual behavior providing that it is strongly supported by absolute intolerance of intolerance and completely suppress violent attempts to influence other people’s behavior.

 

20160611 Republic of Spin

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea of this book is to review history of organized political public relations operations, their methodology, and results. The main conclusion is that politically skewed distortion of events, facts, and statements was increased continuously and achieved such high levels that it become practically impossible do derive picture of reality consistent with real facts based on flow if (dis) information produced by political campaigns and affiliated media.

DETAILS:

PART I: THE AGE OF PUBLICITY: 1.Theodore Roosevelt and the Public Presidency; 2.William McKinley and the Passing of the Old Order; 3.The Rise of Public Opinion; 4.”The Fair-Haired”; 5.Muckraking and Its Critics; 6.The Passion of Upton Sinclair

  1. The Dawn of Public Relations; 8.Wilson Speaks; 9.Pitiless Publicity; 10.The Press Agents’ War; 11.The Journey of George Creel; 12. Disillusionment

This is review of initial formation of political spin that was really born quite non-incidentally with the first public presidency of Teddy Roosevelt. Author reviews Teddy’s publicity operation that started well before achieving presidency and hit high mark during his tenure allowing him to overcome low level of support from GOP establishment by connecting directly with masses. This part also includes review of McKinley’s use of publicity especially new media of movie documentary that provided visual access to masses. It coincided with dramatic increase in numbers of correspondents in DC that tripled from 58 to 171 from 1868 to 1900. However McKinley operation was relatively low scale with limited objectives appropriate for small federal government that had little impact on lives of regular people. However it was changing fast and author traces personalities and methods of public relation operations that allowed massive government expansion into businesses driven by muckraking journalism exposing “evils” and demanding bureaucratic intervention to protect consumers, small businesses, and everything else they could come up with in order to obtain more power. Needless to say that implementing draft, going into war, and drastically limiting American freedoms that occurred during this period would not be possible without massive successful brainwashing operation conducted by “progressive” intelligentsia. Finally a significant share of discussion here is the story of formal government public relation organizations, relevant personalities, quite fascinating semantic struggle to differentiate government spin effort from propaganda (that carried very negative connotation), and, finally, initial planting of healthy seeds of mass cynicism as result of all above.

PART II: THE AGE OF BALLYH00 13. Return to Normalcy; 14.Walter Lippmann and the Problem of the Majority; 15.The Likes and Dislikes of H. L. Mencken; 16.Bruce Barton and the Soul of the 1920s; 17.”Silent Cal”; 18.The Overt Acts of Edward Bernays; 19.Master of Emergencies;

This part covers relatively short period of temporary return to more or less traditional American values of small federal government, minimization of permanent military establishment, and consequently minimization of government intervention into economy and everyday lives of Americans. However the process of information spin to assure support of population to agenda of political class was continued unabated: Harding brought in professional speech writing, Coolidge expanded press conferences and radio talks, and Hoover established permanent White House press office and started continuous production of movies and other propaganda materials to keep public support. As it could be expected at this point public relations operation extensively used individuals with advertisement background who widely implemented advertisement methods to sell political ideas.

PART HI: THE AGE OF COMMUNICATION: 20.Tuned to Roosevelt; 21.Nazism and Propaganda; 22.The Dark Side of Radio; 23.Campaigns, Inc.; 24.The Wizard of Washington; 25.The Road to War; 26.The Facts and Figures of Archibald MacLeish; 27.Propaganda and the “Good War”;

This is about highly effective use of radio for propaganda by all sides during 1930s and 40s. Obviously in USA it was FDR with his fireside chats that in reality were highly sophisticated performances with planning, speechwriters, and thorough rehearsals. It also somewhat touched on continuing philosophical development of ideas of public relations and mass communications as necessary tools for democracy. On totalitarian side it reviews Hitler’s masterful use of mass communications to promote ideas of National Socialism and anti-Semitism. It also reviews in quite interesting details ideological support for war in America from earliest moments when population was fully isolationist to propagandist support for continuing war effort.

PART IV: THE AGE OF NEWS MANAGEMENT: 28.The Underestimation of Harry Truman; 29.George Gallup’s Democracy; 30.Psychological Warfare; 31.Eisenhower Answers America; 32.Salesmanship and Secrecy; 33.The TV President; 34.”Atoms for Peace”; 35.Vance Packard and the Anxiety of Persuasion

This part covers initial after war period, specifically reviewing Truman’s ideological activity in mass communications, it is quite convincingly demonstrated here that Truman was far more effective than he usually gets credit for. This demonstrated by using both Truman internal and external communications directed at winning propaganda war against Soviet Union. The second half of this part looks at Eisenhower administration and its various initiatives in this war with stress on the new media of TV, development of polling methodology that assured improved feedback from population, and glossy magazines that provided both education and propagandist food for public consumption.

PART V: THE AGE OF IMAGE MAKING: 36.The Unmaking of Presidential Mystique; 37.The Great Debates; 38.The Politics of Image; 39.The Kennedy Moment; 40.News Management in Camelot; 41.Crisis 42.”Let Us Continue”; 43.The Credibility Gap; 44.The New Politics;

The new era come in 1960s with Kennedy presidency when ideas were moved somewhat into background and substituted by images. This new environment opened unheard of possibilities of selling to the public packaging in lieu of substance. This part reviews multiple crises of Kennedy administration and its eventual failure to manage the news that led to increasing credibility gap between public and administration filled by news providers.

PART VI: THE AGE OF SPIN: 45.The Permanent Campaign Arrives; 46.The Reagan Apotheosis; 47.Spinning Out of Control; 48.George W. Bush and the “Truthiness” Problem; 49. Barack Obama and the Spin of No Spin.

The final part traces final development of contemporary spin through the last 5 administrations from Reagan to Obama when it is characterized by increasing sophistication in wordsmithing with decreasing effectiveness of results. In short not only credibility of consecutive administrations declined dramatically, but also credibility of news provided went the same way: down the drain.

MY TAKE ON IT:

This is an interesting historical review of public relations tracing continuing and seems to be unstoppable decrease in elite’s ability to convince population to support elite’s ideas and endeavors. I believe that it is a very natural process with people getting practically unlimited access to all conceivable information with nationalization and even globalization of individual live when individual’s well being depends not only and even not that much on local circumstances, as it used to be in times past, but more and more on global circumstances of international political, economic, and even psychological and ideological environment. It remains to be seen how well elite would be able to managed dramatic increase in ability to access information, time to digest it, and level of dependency of individual well being on general political and economical situation in the country and even in the world. My guess would be that elite will fail and subsequent development will lead to severe decrease in elite’s influence and quite possible increase of individual freedom, but not before a sequence of serious political battles between elite and populist movement significantly impact environment in the country.

 

20160604 – Equality

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea of this book is that equality is the relatively new notion, which was initially created in Greek city-states in extremely limited form, but really grew into maturity over the last 4 centuries in the Western world. The review of recent attempts to achieve equality either in form of equality before god, nation, or supreme leadership for all or equality for specifically defined group of people mainly ended in bloody mess. The same probably await contemporary political correctness and minority special rights movement, albeit there is hope that the mess will be a bit less bloody and wasteful.

DETAILS:

Introduction

The introduction presents this book as discussion of relationship between liberty, justice and equality. The first two are widely discussed since time of Plato, but the last one is somewhat new addition and this book designed to trace its formation, maturity, and domination of political and philosophical discourse at the early part of XXI century.

  1. Whence Inequality?

Author begins discussion of equality from animal levels, specifically our close relatives – primates, then moves to hunter-gatherers. He looks at different types of inequality: sex, age, skills, and so on and comes to the very reasonable conclusion that not even in chimpanzee’s society, leaving alone all known human societies any two individuals where equal to each other, so generally speaking inequality is the norm and deviation from this norm is recently invented new notion specific to human development.

  1. The Greek Mirage

This chapter is pretty detailed look at invention of this notion in ancient Greece and contemporary interpretation of Greek history through lenses of equality. Especially demonstrative is comparative application of this notion in Sparta and Athens.

  1. The Proud Tower

This chapter continues discussion of equality into the next development: Rome, its colonies and then European feudal states. It also briefly mentions China and Muslim countries. This brings us to discussion of equality in societies based on monotheism with their notion of equality of all before God.

  1. Islands in the Sea

Here author suggest an interesting idea that equality was traditionally poorly understood so it did not generate lots of support, however oppression was well understood and caused resistance to flare up on more or less regular basis, albeit leading most often either to change of personality of oppressors or its form, but not to removal of oppression. In this chapter author briefly reviews history of revolts against oppression, pivoting then to phenomenon of monasteries as islands of equality in the sea of structured inequality in medieval Europe. Author also looks at ideological development of equality idea in various utopias around the world.

  1. Liberal Equality

This is discussion of Liberal equality of Western Enlightenment and its notion of independence and freedom for individuals, paradoxically derived from absolutist ideas of Hobbs with Leviathan oppressing everybody equally in order to prevent war of everybody against everybody. The pick of this movement was in late XIX century when despite formally autocratic and aristocratic forms of government people of Europe generally enjoyed unprecedented political and economic freedoms and equality before the law.

  1. Socialist Equality

It led to demand of even more freedom with new utopias with strong collectivistic ideology paradoxically leading to totalitarian socialism practically annihilating liberal democracy in XX century, until these utopias somewhat retreated as result of extreme suffering of people caused by disasters created by various forms of socialism ideology.

  1. The Rise and fall of Racism

This chapter looks at racism as another form of inequality from its beginning as typical for all tribal societies understanding of “us” as human and “them” as subhuman all the way to late XIX century’s ideological development of Social Darwinism and its culmination in Nazi ideology and practice of middle XX century. Despite formal rejection of this ideology by just about everybody, in reality race based massacres continued to our day with no sign of completely disappearing in Africa and Middle East where it is also supplanted by religious hate. Final somewhat touching note in this chapter is that at least these people have some equality on their lips and quite equal Kalashnikovs in their hands.

  1. Minorities Into Majorities

This chapter is an interesting look at contemporary society-wide equality movements such as feminism, homosexuality, and disability. After review of these movement author discusses multiple anti-discrimination measures, noting at the end that it seems to be going out of hand, making into the most discriminating against and suppressed group white able-bodied, heterosexual men. Author seems to hint, albeit very weakly, that it may not be such a good idea because these men after all are in control of violent powers of society and history shows that it is not necessarily a good idea to discriminate against people with overwhelming power.

  1. Brave New World

This is about contemporary world when idea of equality made some very strange turns. The centuries old idea of equality is being substituted by idea of equality with adjustments to compensate for whatever real or imaginative deficiencies inflicted some group of people. Typical examples are racial and sexual affirmative actions that kind of directed to achieve equal results by making opportunities unequal.

  1. Death and Beyond

This is about the death as being a great equalizer. However it clearly demonstrates that while non-existence is equal for everybody, the attitude of living to dead is as unequal as society itself. Moreover with contemporary technology it becoming conceivable that death itself could become avoidable providing for virtually permanent live for some who can afford it. Author ends this chapter with somewhat curious observation that monotheistic religions that put in foundation equality of everybody before god, nevertheless often preach after life where some people go to paradise and some to hell, turning it into as unequal situation as human imagination can achieve.

  1. The Promise and the Threat

The final chapter points out that nature provides for infinite variations of inequality and that the striving for equality is somewhat new notion that humanity came up with. So far this notion most often was used to remove old regime of inequality and substitute it with the new one where tyrants removed and revolutionaries become the new tyrants. This outcome is not a fluke. It is a necessity because equality has infinite amount of variations, often contradictory, so when one increases another correspondingly decreases. Finally dream of equality claimed huge price in blood and treasure when implemented by people like Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, and such. It does not look that if giving opportunity to do everything they want contemporary supporters of political correctness would be any better.

MY TAKE ON IT:

It is an interesting review of notion of equality, its history, and contemporary condition. I fully agree with the idea that equality is unnatural, but I believe it is necessary because it provides for at least some safeguard against individual alienation and humiliation that could lead to war against society. My solution is provide for equality of rights for natural resources that would provide everybody with ability to be compensated for use of his/her share of natural resources via the free market, assuring that everybody has resources to pursue happiness in his/her own way with huge inequality of outcomes fully compensated by relative equality of available inputs.

20160527 -Partisan Hearts and Minds

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MAIN IDEA:

The main idea is that party affiliation is a stable characteristic of individuals and significant part of their identity. It mainly remains stable over the live time with changes relatively easy occurring in young age and much more difficult albeit possible later in live, especially if party’s ideological structure changed. At the same time party affiliation only partially predict voting behavior leaving a lot in flux, enough to make stability of control over state power lower than it would be warranted by party affiliation.

DETAILS:

Preface

This book is about stability of partisan affiliations. The conception of such affiliation characterizes it as party identification as voter’s running tally of the parties’ competence and ideological appeal. In this party identification also serves as a perceptual screen. However it is more than party identification, it is also identification with social groups that linked to the party therefore it is quite stable condition of voter’s mind. However if party perceived as incompetent in achieving objectives of affiliated social groups it could be discarded or reinstated.

  1. Introduction,

Very important point here is that partisanship has low dependency on usual demographics, but high dependency on parental affiliation. However perceiving oneself as Democrat or Republican does not create automatic loyalty to the party’s current candidate, only some inclination. Consequently in just about any election some minority of Democrats votes for Republicans and visa versa. However there is high level of political significance of stability of partisan affiliation. Partisan attachment to the party is akin to religious identification. But it is not perfectly static. As it is with religious affiliation the change is possible including mass conversion as it happened during the Great Depression when Republican Party lost its partisan majority position and with it nearly all political influence. Different process seems to be happening after WWII when Democratic Party slowly loosing its dominant position, but not to Republicans but to Independents.

  1. Partisan Groups as Objects of Identification,

This is about partisan affiliation being an important part of personal identity and therefore is not easily changeable and it looks at definition and measurement of partisan identification. An interesting thing about it is that correlation between party identification and stand on issues traditionally was not as strong as one could expect. Authors provide data only until 1996 so it does not show current polarization, but it is still interesting to look at:

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Nevertheless despite cross party line voting is not unusual it still remains very limited with Party affiliation playing defining role in attitude to issues.

  1. A Closer Look at Partisan Stability

Author defines partisan stability as high level of correlation of party affiliation over time. Here they go into statistical details of their methods. This is traced not only through live of individual, but also across generations comparatively with religious affiliation:

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  1. Partisan Stability: Evidence from Aggregate Data,

This is about partisan balance of electorate overall and its slow change. Specifically it analyses cross party voting patterns:

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In summary authors stress high level of dependency on political events referring to high level of cross party attraction of Johnson in 1964 and Reagan and repelling of Nixon in1974 and Carter in 1980.

  1. Partisan Stability and Voter Learning

This is an analysis of what stable attachments mean for party identification. It is again detailed review of statistical models. The general inference that learning is not easy and mainly occurs thru generational change when young people relatively open to ideological influence different than one dominating their family.

  1. Party Realignment in the American South

This is a case study of partisan affiliation change of Southerners between Democrats and Republicans in America after WWII. Very interesting point here is that switch of southern voters from D to R did not occur at once due to civil rights laws, but rather had was a two step process with the second step being Reagan revolution completed from 1082 to 1992.

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  1. Partisan Stability outside the United States

This is case study of identification change in Italy after collapse of communism

  1. How Partisan Attachments Structure Politics

The final chapter is about impact that partisan affiliation has on electoral competition. Authors seem to estimate it at the level of 75% probability of person to vote for the party of his/her affiliation. However it leaves plenty of space for electoral variance, especially if one takes into account current 40% of unaffiliated voters. At the same time stability of party affiliation makes it very difficult to achieve electoral success for anybody outside existing two parties political system.

MY TAKE ON IT:

This is a nice analysis of party affiliation, its change over time, and its impact on voting. However I think that this analysis is somewhat outdated because party affiliation is artifact of old times and will decrease significantly in the future because the huge progress in communication and social network make party redundant and would allow people concentrate on issues they are concerned with at the expense of coherent and comprehensive ideology presented by parties. The voting behavior will depend a lot less on formal or even informal affiliation than on individual estimate which set of candidates would be most probable to deliver on issues of his/her concern.