Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Hanson Meets Shaw Meets Pinker

I recently found a copy of a booklet I made just before I started this blog. It compiled cartoons and articles I had in my clipping file. I gave it to family members for Christmas in 2007. (Lots of copyright violations to accompany the admiration.)

The very first cartoon is a "You Don't Say" one-panel by the Star Tribune's L.K. Hanson.

Cartoon with Geo. B. Shaw quote, The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. Cartoon features G.W. Bush as the Emperor with no clothes

Seeing it now, I'm reminded of one of my many favorite points from Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature:

" the attempt to understand harm-doing, the viewpoint of the scientist or scholar overlaps with the viewpoint of the perpetrator. Both take a detached, amoral stance toward the harmful act. Both are contextualizers, always attentive to the complexities of the situation and how they contributed to the causation of the harm. And both believe the harm is ultimately explicable. The viewpoint of the moralist, in contrast, is the the viewpoint of the victim. The harm is treated with reverence and awe. It continues to evoke sadness and anger long after it was perpetrated" (pp. 495-496).

Therefore, as Pinker continues, scientists are "bound to be seen as 'making excuses' or 'blaming the victim'" (p. 496).

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