Keeping our eye on the ball

Thoughts from Behind the Pressline

Last week on the CBS Sunday Morning show there was an interesting piece on human behavior with respect to perceived pleasure. The show went on to explain that pleasure goes well beyond basic needs. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom explained why we enjoy what we enjoy is a very complicated process.

Bloom noted: “Pleasure is a response not just to the physical makeup of something — what it looks like or tastes like, or smells like, or feels like — but rather to our beliefs of what it really IS. This is not true in the animal world but in the human sense of value.”

Bloom recounted one famous experiment with wine drinkers done by scientists at Stanford and Cal Tech, saying: “Half the people are told they’re drinking cheap plunk, the other half are told they’re drinking something out of a $100-$150 bottle. It tastes better to them, if they THINK they’re drinking from an expensive bottle. And it turns out that if they think they’re drinking expensive wine, parts of the brain that are associated with pleasure and reward light up like a Christmas tree.”

I think people today take the same approach to politics. Remove the political labels and a scandal is a scandal. Instead our brain overrides our common sense and we are willing to believe whatever our chosen side is serving up. One side’s scandal is another side’s unfortunate misstep.

We can’t continue down this road of believing whatever we are told simply because the label we voted for said so. We must not become blind to common sense, right from wrong and our gut instincts. Our founding fathers created a government that requires our constant attention. Our country won’t run on auto pilot and we must be ever vigilant to the needs of the people before the wishes of the politicians. The current fiasco with NYC mayoral candidate Weiner is a perfect example of his needs over those of the people. I fear we are the ones who have taken our eyes off the ball. It’s time for us to put our political labels and differences aside and demand accountability from those who hold office, regardless of their party affiliation.

Dan Alexander is associate publisher of New Market Press and publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at dan@newmarketpressvt.com or dan@denpubs.com.

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