David Eagleman--What Makes Us Empathetic, Intelligence Squared Lectures I had a interesting discussion following the debates with a conservative friend of my late in-laws. He began the discussion with the familiar right wing tropes you hear on
October 7, 2012

David Eagleman--What Makes Us Empathetic, Intelligence Squared Lectures

I had a interesting discussion following the debates with a conservative friend of my late in-laws. He began the discussion with the familiar right wing tropes you hear on Fox News and I initially started in good faith, thinking that this friend was a reasonable conservative, willing to re-evaluate based on new information. Initially, he started with what a disaster for the economy the Obama presidency was, and when I debunked it with charts showing job growth, Dow Jones growth, foreclosures down, he moved the goalposts and started ranting about the costs of Obamacare. When I showed him figures from other countries that proved that we spend more per capita for worse outcomes than any other western nation, he moved the goalpost again to voter fraud. So when I provided proof that this was an extreme solution for an almost non-existent problem, he remained unmoved, pointing to the fact that Viviette Applewhite got her voter ID in a matter of 20 minutes (court cases and bad press notwithstanding), so it shouldn't be a problem for anyone to get one. At this point, I realized that it was a hopeless case to try to reason with this friend (call me an incurable optimist), but it similarly occurred to me that this guy appeared to be missing an empathy gene.

And then I started to look more closely at the links he would provide to bolster his case. To a one, they all dehumanized and demonized anyone that did not agree with them politically. This man didn't care if there were tens of thousands more Viviette Applewhites who weren't going to be able to vote (a study used by the ACLU estimates that as many as 11 percent of Americans may be affected by these voter ID law), because they didn't deserve to vote as far as he was concerned, because they didn't see the world as he did.

Then I thought about this woman, who gently but unapologetically, stood up for herself after some guy decided to post her picture on Reddit, because she has a lot of facial hair that as a faithful Sikh, she refused to remove.

[M]y impact and legacy will remain: and, by not focusing on the physical beauty, I have time to cultivate those inner virtues and hopefully, focus my life on creating change and progress for this world in any way I can. So, to me, my face isn't important but the smile and the happiness that lie behind the face are.

That is the beauty of being a liberal. To be empathetic to others, to focus on the inner beauty and strength. There's not nearly enough of that going on in this country, and it's time we change that. Rather than be like this friend of the family, who sees nothing but separation and divisiveness, let us all try to work together to focus on the inner values and our commonalities.

ABC's "This Week" -- Robert Gibbs, adviser to President Barack Obama's re-election campaign; Ed Gillespie, adviser to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign; Fox News anchor Bill O'Reilly. Panel: Democratic strategist James Carville; Republican strategist Mary Matalin; Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; and ABC News senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl.

NBC's "Meet the Press" -- Panel: Senior Adviser to the Obama campaign, Robert Gibbs; former Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich; Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen; Republican strategist Mike Murphy; and NBC’s Political Director Chuck Todd. Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif.

NBC's "The Chris Matthews Show" -- S.E. Cupp, MSNBC; Joe Klein, Time; Andrea Mitchell, NBC; Sam Donaldson, ABC

CBS' "Face the Nation" -- David Axelrod, adviser to the Obama campaign. Baseball panel: Tony LaRussa, the manager of the Cardinals, Tommy Lasorda, former Dodgers manager, author Jane Leavy. Political panel: The Washington Post's MIichael Gerson, The American Spectator's John Fund, and our own CBS News' Norah O'Donnell and John Dickerson.

MSNBC's "Up with Chris Hayes" -- Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Lizz Winstead, Jose Antonio Vargas, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and founder of the Define American campaign. Rebecca Traister, the New York Times Magazine and Salon.com, Brooke Gladstone, co-host and managing editor of WNYC's "On the Media", JJ Ramberg, host of MSNBC's "Your Business", Ro Khanna, former deputy assistant secretary at the Department of Commerce, Chris Rabb adjunct professor for the Fox School of Business at Temple University, Maria Hinojosa, anchor and executive producer of NPR's "Latino USA," John McWhorter, professor of linguistics and American studies at Columbia University,

MSNBC's "Melissa Harris-Perry" -- Guest list not released.

CNN's "State of the Union" -- Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine; former Gov. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio; Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Panel: Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi, Former Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Holtz-Eakin, The New York Times' White House Correspondent Jackie Calmes and CNN's Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" -- Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs; Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical; John Chambers, Cisco; Salman Rushdie; former CIA Director Michael Hayden.

CNN's "Reliable Sources with Howard Kurtz" -- Julie Mason, Sirius XM radiohost; David Drucker, Roll Call; Dana Milbank, Washington Post; Patrick Gavin, Politico; Amy Holmes, The Blaze

"Fox News Sunday" -- Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Gov. Martin O'Malley, D-Md. Panel: Brit Hume, Fox News Senior Political Analyst, Mara Liasson, National Public Radio/Fox News Contributor, Kimberly Strassel, The Wall Street Journal, Kirsten Powers, Daily Beast Columnist/Fox News Contributor.

So what's catching your eye this morning?

Can you help us out?

For nearly 20 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.