Advertisements

Obama Denounces ‘Special Interests’ At The University of Chicago . . . And Then Quietly Accepts $400,000 For First Speech From Wall Street Special Interests

JONATHAN TURLEY

President Barack Obama was at my alma mater yesterday and used his first public statements to decry how  “special interests dominate the debates in Washington.” Then will now be setting off for his first speech . . . to Wall Street special interests at Cantor Fitzgerald, which will pay him $400,000.  This is the same politician who called such banks “fat cats” who exercise undue influence over our leaders.

View original post 293 more words

Advertisements

George Will: ‘Alternative Facts’ & Safe Spaces Come from Similar Intellectual Problems

Demotivated students sitting in a lecture hall with one girl napping in college

Myriad intellectual viruses are thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.

George Will writes: In 2013, a college student assigned to research a deadly substance sought help via Twitter: “I can’t find the chemical and physical properties of sarin gas someone please help me.” An expert at a security consulting firm tried to be helpful, telling her that sarin is not gas. She replied, “yes the [expletive] it is a gas you ignorant [expletive]. sarin is a liquid & can evaporate … shut the [expletive] up.”

“College, in an earlier time, was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge.”

— Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School

Tom Nichols, professor at the U.S. Naval War College and the Harvard Extension School, writing in The Chronicle Review, says such a “storm of outraged ego” is an increasingly common phenomenon among students who, having been taught to regard themselves as peers of their teachers, “take correction as an insult.” Nichols relates this to myriad intellectual viruses thriving in academia. Carried by undereducated graduates, these viruses infect the nation’s civic culture.

“Unearned praise and hollow successes build a fragile arrogance in students that can lead them to lash out at the first teacher or employer who dispels that illusion, a habit that carries over into a resistance to believe anything inconvenient or challenging in adulthood.”

— Tom Nichols

Soon the results include the presidential megaphone being used to amplify facially preposterous assertions, e.g., that upward of 5 million illegal votes were cast in 2016. A presidential minion thinks this assertion is justified because it is the president’s “long-standing belief.”

[Read the full story here, at National Review]

“College, in an earlier time,” Nichols writes, “was supposed to be an uncomfortable experience because growth is always a challenge,” replacing youthful simplicities with adult complexities. Today, college involves the “pampering of students as customers,” particularly by grade inflation in a context of declining academic rigor: A recent study showed “A” to be the most commonly awarded grade, 30 percent more frequent than in 1960.

am-u-students

“Rather than disabuse students of their intellectual solipsism,” Nichols says, “the modern university reinforces it.”

— Tom Nichols

And a 2011 University of Chicago study found that 45 percent of students said that in the previous semester none of their courses required more than 20 pages of writing and 32 percent had no class that required more than 40 pages of reading in a week. Read the rest of this entry »


Ex Top Cop: We Need a New Model of Policing 

The horrific deaths of Philando Castillo in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, give us an updated and up-close glimpse of police encounters gone bad—but they are rooted in decades of problematic policing in America. “Historically in this country, the police have never really been the friends of the black community,” says Neill Franklin, a former officer with the Baltimore Police Department and current executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (L.E.A.P).

LA-cop-car

Franklin talked with Reason TV Editor-in-Chief Nick Gillespie at this year’s Freedom Fest in Las Vegas, Nevada, pointing out that slavery may have ended officially in the late 1800s, but a lot of policing was born out of that era and the one that followed, when police deliberately enforced laws in ways that targeted black citizens. Even today, police are tasked with enforcing laws—from driving without a license to missing a court date—that tend to target poor communities and communities of color.

“You know a $250 fine doesn’t mean much to people who have money,” says Franklin. “But when you enforce these policies in poor communities, a hundred dollar fine can devastate a family.” Read the rest of this entry »


The Real Cause Of Campus Racism 

University of Missouri Turmoil

The champions of “diversity” treat students of color differently and encourage them to self-segregate.

James Huffman writes: Like the 1812 earthquake that rumbled from its epicenter at New Madrid, Missouri, to New England, Georgia and other distant locations, this fall’s protests at the University of Missouri spread to colleges in every corner of the country.

“The core of the problem is that the vast majority of our colleges and universities have made race and racial differences central to almost everything they do. And to make matters worse, those who accredit our universities make attention to race in admissions and programming a condition of accreditation.”

At Harvard, a group of law students launched a campaign to remove the school’s seal because it contains the coat of arms of a slave owner. At Dartmouth, students and faculty marched in solidarity with black students at the University of Missouri in what was called a “black out” (the marchers all wore black). After days of protects at Yale, the university president announced plans for more academic study of race and ethnicity and for improvements in the experiences of people of color. At Princeton a debate inspired by objections to the university’s use of the name of former university president (and president of the United States) Woodrow Wilson is ongoing. Everywhere, university administrators are scrambling to assure their students of color that their schools really do care.

“Do students of color hang out together because they feel disrespected and discriminated against—because they are excluded? Or is it a matter of choice rooted in racial pride, perceived cultural difference, and a desire to preserve and protect that difference from the dominant white culture?”

In response to the continuing protests, much has been written and spoken about how universities can best serve the interests of their students of color. Those who sympathize with the protesters argue that students of color, in particular, should be nurtured and protected from uncomfortable experiences that distract from their education. Others insist that true education depends on students experiencing discomfort so they are better prepared to cope with the discomforts they will inevitably face in the future. No doubt there are good points to be considered on both sides of the question. Every campus has its boors and jerks whose bad behaviors might warrant chastisement from university officials, although peer disapproval is almost always a more effective remedy.

“Are colleges and universities responsible for the isolation and exclusion the protesters claim to experience, and for the de facto segregation that exists on most campuses? In significant ways they are, but not, for the most part, for the reasons said to justify the protests at the University of Missouri and elsewhere.”

Whether and when offensive speech should be prohibited are more difficult questions. The boundary between gratuitous verbal assault and the free expression essential to the academy is not always easily drawn, although a few institutions have followed the example of the University of Chicago in making clear that their default position is free speech.

“Sadly, Americans seem to lose any capacity for reasoned discussion when alleged personal assaults are said to stem from racial animus. Disagreements deteriorate into verbal and often physical violence, with an almost conclusive presumption of racism whenever racism is alleged. In this climate, college administrators see only two options.”

Sadly, Americans seem to lose any capacity for reasoned discussion when alleged personal assaults are said to stem from racial animus. Disagreements deteriorate into verbal and often physical violence, with an almost conclusive presumption of racism whenever racism is alleged. In this climate, college administrators see only two options. The can resign, as did the University of Missouri president and the dean of students at Claremont McKenna (after writing an email to which students of color took offense). Or they can accede to protesters’ demands for safe spaces, sensitivity training, trigger warnings, expanded diversity offices, and rapid response to allegations of discrimination and hurt.

safe-space

“The can resign, as did the University of Missouri president and the dean of students at Claremont McKenna (after writing an email to which students of color took offense). Or they can accede to protesters’ demands for safe spaces, sensitivity training, trigger warnings, expanded diversity offices, and rapid response to allegations of discrimination and hurt.”

But there is a third way. Colleges and universities should examine how their own policies and programs encourage racial division.

“But there is a third way. Colleges and universities should examine how their own policies and programs encourage racial division.”

At the time of the University of Missouri protests, a story in the New York Times reported that students of color at the university felt isolated and disrespected. They, particularly the black students, tend to hang out together. According to a student quoted in the Times story, an area in the student center where blacks sit is called “the black hole.” There is little real integration, say both white and black students. Visit the cafeteria of almost any campus with even a small population of black students and you will see the equivalent of the University of Missouri’s black hole. Read the rest of this entry »


Student Charged with University of Chicago Threat Released to Mother’s Custody 

sketch-dean-chicago

The 21-year-old charged with posting threats to kill white students or staff members at the University of Chicago and was motivated by the police shooting of a black teenager was released from jail Tuesday and put under house arrest.

Authorities said Jabari Dean was responsible for a mass shooting threat that forced the University of Chicago to cancel classes Monday at the prestigious college to avenge the shooting death of a black teenager at the hands of a Chicago police officer last year. Read the rest of this entry »


Why College Kids Can’t Take a Joke

seinfeld

Kyle Smith writes: What’s the deal with young people today? “They just want to use these words: ‘That’s racist,’ ‘That’s sexist,’ ‘That’s prejudice,’” Jerry Seinfeld told ESPN’s Colin Cowherd this week. “They don’t know what the f­—k they’re talking about.”

“I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”

— Chris Rock

Comics are afraid to work on college campuses, Seinfeld said. To give an idea of how young people think, he cited a bizarre response his 14-year-old daughter made when his wife noted that the girl might want to go to New York City from the suburbs more often “So you can see boys.” The girl replied that the remark was “sexist,” her father said.

“There is a word…That word is illiberal; there is nothing ‘conservative’ about it.”

— Kyle Smith

The determination of the identity-politics obsessed to shut down speech on campus inspired a couple of hilarious one-liners in the past year. One was from The Onion“College Encourages Lively Exchange of Idea: Students, Faculty Invited to Freely Express Single Viewpoint.” The other, though unintentionally funny, was equally amusing, and came from Chris Rock: “I stopped playing colleges, and the reason is because they’re way too conservative.”

There is a word for the move to ban a screening of 2014’s most popular movie, American Sniper (and replace it with Paddington), to hound a major university into rescinding its honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali,  to punish someone with a Title IX investigation for the crime of questioning the wisdom of certain Title IX investigations, and designating a “safe space” to which to flee after failing to prevent a speech by Christina Hoff Sommers from taking place. Read the rest of this entry »


Firearms, an Equalizer for Women

pam-grier-with-gun-700x4001

In Hollywood, and Real Life

Speaking of Girl Power…

For Daily SurgeTrish Willams writes:

Once upon a time, when I was a young teenager, I wanted to have a career in law enforcement.

Specifically, I wanted to be a Vice cop. Even more specifically, my mother freaked out telling me such things as, “Women shouldn’t be cops! What if you get shot? Why do you play those shooting video games so much?”

My desire to be a cop took a backseat to becoming an engineer but the image of what a firearm in the hands of a woman meant to me never went away.

[Order John Lott’s essential book More Guns, Less Crime” from Amazon]

pam-grierGrowing up as a kid in the late 70′s, I got a steady dose of such Blaxploitation films as Shaft, Dolemite, and the movie that would change my life forever: Foxy Brown. Pam Grier’s character in Foxy Brown instilled in me, at a young age, that while violence against women was not inevitable, a firearm proved to be an equalizer when the brute strength of a male perpetrator was used against you.

[Miami Vice: The Complete Series at Amazon]

It also proved to be quite the crime deterrent. Fast forward to the slick ’80s. The female cop duo of Trudy Valentine and Gina Calabrese in Miami Vice further impressed on me that whether in the bright lights of the “normal” world or the grittiness of the underworld of drugs and prostitution, a firearm is the difference between protecting oneself and wearing a toe tag on a coroner’s table.

Read the rest of this entry »


Why Are Liberal Men Unhappy?

imagesDavid French writes:  Last weekend AEI’s Arthur Brooks published an interesting piece on happiness in the New York Times’ Sunday Review. I’d encourage you to read the whole thing, but this observation (taken from the comprehensive work of the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey) was particularly interesting and runs counter to perceptions fostered by pop culture:

For many years, researchers found that women were happier than men, although recent studies contend that the gap has narrowed or may even have been reversed. Political junkies might be interested to learn that conservative women are particularly blissful: about 40 percent say they are very happy. That makes them slightly happier than conservative men and significantly happier than liberal women. The unhappiest of all are liberal men; only about a fifth consider themselves very happy.

Fascinating. While I’ll let others comment on the happiness of conservatives, let’s address liberal men. Why are they so much less happy?

A core component of modern leftism is its comprehensive attack (and accompanying redefinition) of masculinity. This attack poisons how men experience their own nature, relationships, and purpose.

Read the rest of this entry »


Boy Trouble

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

DE AGOSTINI PICTURE LIBRARY/A. DAGLI ORTI/THE BRIDGEMAN ART LIBRARY
Boys have less self-control, say neuroscientists (and parents).

Kay S. Hymowitz writes:  When I started following the research on child well-being about two decades ago, the focus was almost always girls’ problems—their low self-esteem, lax ambitions, eating disorders, and, most alarming, high rates of teen pregnancy. Now, though, with teen births down more than 50 percent from their 1991 peak and girls dominating classrooms and graduation ceremonies, boys and men are increasingly the ones under examination. Their high school grades and college attendance rates have remained stalled for decades. Among poor and working-class boys, the chances of climbing out of the low-end labor market—and of becoming reliable husbands and fathers—are looking worse and worse.

Economists have scratched their heads. “The greatest, most astonishing fact that I am aware of in social science right now is that women have been able to hear the labor market screaming out ‘You need more education’ and have been able to respond to that, and men have not,” MIT’s Michael Greenstone told the New York Times. If boys were as rational as their sisters, he implied, they would be staying in school, getting degrees, and going on to buff their Florsheim shoes on weekdays at 7:30 AM. Instead, the rational sex, the proto-homo economicus, is shrugging off school and resigning itself to a life of shelf stocking. Why would that be?

This spring, another MIT economist, David Autor, and coauthor Melanie Wasserman, proposed an answer. The reason for boys’ dismal school performance, they argued, was the growing number of fatherless homes. Boys and young men weren’t behaving rationally, the theory suggested, because their family background left them without the necessary attitudes and skills to adapt to changing social and economic conditions. The paper generated a brief buzz but then vanished. That’s too bad, for the claim that family breakdown has had an especially harsh impact on boys, and therefore men, has considerable psychological and biological research behind it. Anyone interested in the plight of poor and working-class men—and, more broadly, mobility and the American dream—should keep it front and center in public debate.

Read the rest of this entry »


Is Income Inequality the New Climate Change?

shutterstock_7995877

Jim Pethokoukis writes: If you dare question the alarming claims about income inequality made by progressives and Democrats, including President Obama, does that make you a “denier” — akin to climate change “deniers” — whose arguments should no longer be taken seriously?

In a recent post, “Yes, Rising Inequality is a Problem,” excellent economics blogger Ashok Rao is sharply critical of Manhattan Institute scholar Scott Winship. Rao describes Winship as “a representative agent of those making the best arguments that progressives overstate the costs of inequality.” I myself have frequently quoted Winship or used his careful research in my blog posts and columns. It’s also worth noting that Winship’s profile has risen dramatically recently due to his role advising House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, who may run for president in 2016.

Rao has a number of problems with Winship’s arguments, but his core criticism is that Winship sets an unnecessarily high bar for evaluating the “mountain of evidence” that rising inequality is a real phenomenon deserving of redistributive policy action. Rao:

Winship’s argument against inequality being a problem is a value judgement–a value judgement that those of us with a strong theoretical ex antecase must amass an enormous amount of high-quality, expensive, detailed evidence that rising inequality has in fact had the obvious consequences before we are allowed to even have a conversation about the subject, let alone make the case for policy changes. This does strike me as similar to some of the most sophisticated forms of climate-change denialism, which also focus not on reading the evidence we have differently but rather setting up a very different prior from the rest of us, and so redistributing the burden of proof. … Let us hope the future debate about inequality and its consequences does not mirror that on climate change.

Income inequality is an important issue deserving of honest and open debate. But if you’re worried about the issue becoming politicized and hopelessly muddied, Winship is hardly a concern. Unlike many center-right folks, he had conceded that high-end inequality likely has risen dramatically in recent decades. Winship, however, is highly skeptical of the supposed deleterious economic impact and disagrees with claims that middle-class incomes have stagnated since the 1970s.

Read the rest of this entry »


Father of Modern Finance Warns US, Europe: ‘None of Their Debt Is Credible,’ Recession in 2014

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Eugene Fama, whoe “shared the economics prize for research into market prices and asset bubbles” with Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansentold Reuters on Saturday that the markets may not find the debts of European nations and the United States to be credible.

“There may come a point where the financial markets say none of their debt is credible anymore and they can’t finance themselves,” he said. “If there is another recession, it is going to be worldwide.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Low-Information Leadership

Testing..testing..anyone home? Hello? Mr President...are you there..?

Peggy Noonan writes:  The president’s problem right now is that people think he’s smart. They think he’s in command, aware of pitfalls and complexities. That’s his reputation: He’s risen far on his brains. They think he is sophisticated.

That is his problem in the health insurance debacle.

People have seen their prices go up, their choices narrow. They have lost coverage. They have lost the comfort of keeping the doctor who knows them and knows they tend to downplay problems and not complain of pain, and so doing more tests might be in order, or tend to be hypochondriacal and probably don’t need an echocardiogram, or at least not a third one this year.

At the very least people have been inconvenienced; at the most they’ve been made more anxious in an already anxious world. In a month, at the worst they may be on a gurney in an ER not knowing the answer to the question “Do you have insurance?” and hoping they can get into an exam room before somebody runs the number on the little green plastic card they keep in the back of their wallet.

Everyone understands in their own rough way that ObamaCare is a big mess. And that it’s not the website, it’s the law itself. They have seen systems crash. In the past 20 years they’ve seen their own computers crash. They know systems and computers get fixed.

But they understand a conceptual botch when they see one. They understand this new program was so big and complex and had so many moving parts and was built on so many assumptions that may or may not hold true, and that deals with so many people with so many policies—and they know they themselves have not read their own policies, for who would when the policies, like the law that now controls the policies, are written in a way that is deliberately obscure so as to give maximum flexibility to administrators in offices far away. And that’s just your policy. What about 200 million other policies? The government can’t handle that. The government can barely put up road signs. Read the rest of this entry »


What Poker Teaches Us

Capture2-998x600

While other forms of gambling are useful, none offers the opportunity to develop real world skills like poker.

 writes:  Organizations that oppose gambling will often claim that gambling has no benefits.  This isn’t true.  Beyond the enjoyment we experience, many forms of gambling can teach useful skills.  Blackjack, for example, teaches us about odds, variance, and money management.  Placing bets on horse racing can also teach people an enormous amount on odds and probabilities, as betting on different horses offers different payouts for winning. Even those with limited mathematical backgrounds quickly learn that betting $5 on a horse with 14-1 odds will pay them back $70 for a win.  Similar skills can be learned with sports betting.

While these and some other forms of gambling can provide some skill development, none offers the opportunity to develop real world skills like poker.  It seems fitting that the most glamorous of all gambling games can teach us so much.  After all, Mark Twain spoke eloquently about poker and it’s been played regularly in the Oval Office by many presidents.  It is estimated that 70-80 million Americans play poker.  While some play for low stakes and some play for high stakes, Americans love this game that combines instinct, mathematical ability, psychology, and luck.

Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] High School Senior’s Epic Takedown of Common Core

Robby Soave reports:  A Tennessee high school senior is receiving widespread attention for an eloquent speech he made against Common Core at a school board meeting.

Ethan Young, a senior at Farragut High School in Knox County, Tenn., made an impassioned argument for dropping the new national education guidelines, which he called “a glowing conflict of interest … that illustrate a mistrust of teachers.”

Ethan-Young-Core

“Somewhere our Founding Fathers are turning in their graves,” he said.

Young reserved particularly harsh judgment for the nationwide standardized testing required by Common Core.

“If everything I learned in high school was a measurable objective: I haven’t learned anything,” he said.

Watch the [VIDEO], courtesy of The College Fix.

Read the rest of this entry »


Your Kids Aren’t Your Own

By Rich Lowry
The TV cable-news network MSNBC runs sermonettes from its anchors during commercial breaks. They are like public-service announcements illuminating the progressive mind, and perhaps none has ever been as revealing and remarkable as the one cut by weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry.

Harris-Perry set out to explain what is, by her lights, the failure to invest adequately in public education. She located the source of the problem in the insidious idea of parental responsibility for children.

“We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children,” she said, in the tone of an anthropologist explaining a strange practice she discovered when out doing far-flung fieldwork. “Your kid is yours and totally your responsibility.” So long as this retrograde conception prevails, according to Harris-Perry, we will never spend enough money on children. “We have to break through,” she urged, “our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes once wondered, “Why can’t somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says, and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks?” Harris-Perry’s contribution falls into the former category, at least within her orbit of left-wing academia (she teaches at Tulane University, after stops at Princeton and the University of Chicago) and journalism (she writes a column for The Nation as well as holding forth on MSNBC).

“We have to break through our kind of private idea that kids belong to their parents or kids belong to their families.”

Her statement wasn’t an aside on live television. She didn’t misspeak. The spot was shot, produced, and aired without, apparently, raising any alarm bells. No one with influence raised his or her hand and said, “Should we really broadcast something that sounds so outlandish?”

The foundation of the Harris-Perry view is that society is a large-scale kibbutz. The title of Hillary Clinton’s bestseller in the 1990s expressed the same point in comforting folk wisdom: “It Takes a Village.”

As the ultimate private institution, the family is a stubborn obstacle to the great collective effort. Insofar as people invest in their own families, they are holding out on the state and unacceptably privileging their own kids over the children of others. These parents are selfish, small-minded, and backward. “Once it’s everybody’s responsibility,” Harris-Perry said of child-rearing, “and not just the households, then we start making better investments.”

This impulse toward the state as über-parent is based on a profound fallacy and a profound truth. The fallacy is that anyone can care about someone else’s children as much as his own. The former Texas Republican senator Phil Gramm liked to illustrate the hollowness of professions to the contrary with a story. He told a woman, “My educational policies are based on the fact that I care more about my children than you do.” She said, “No, you don’t.” Gramm replied, “Okay: What are their names?”

The truth is that parents are one of society’s most incorrigible sources of inequality. If you have two of them who stay married and are invested in your upbringing, you have hit life’s lottery. You will reap untold benefits denied to children who aren’t so lucky. That the family is so essential to the well-being of children has to be a constant source of frustration to the egalitarian statist, a reminder of the limits of his power.

The socialist president of France, François Hollande, proposed a small corrective to its influence last year. He inveighed against homework for schoolchildren. Work, he said, “must be done in the [school] facility rather than in the home if we want to support the children and reestablish equality.” His education minister explained that the state should “support all students in their personal work, rather than abandon them to their private resources, including financial, as is too often the case today.”

The proposal went nowhere. If the Left wants to equalize the investments in children that matter most, it should promote intact families and engaged parents, even if it means embracing shockingly old-fashioned private child-rearing.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via e-mail: comments.lowry@nationalreview.com. © 2013 King Features Syndicate


Dr. Strangelaugh Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Iranian Bomb

“Rudeness is the weak mans imitation of strength,” the longshoreman cum philosopher Eric Hoffer once observed. Hoffer died in 1983, so he probably wasnt referring specifically to Joe Bidens performance in last nights debate. Still, the observation is fitting.

In addition to the vice presidents boorishness, a lot of observers noted that he frequently smiled and chuckled at inappropriate times–even during a discussion of Irans pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Republican National Committee quickly put out an ad consisting of nearly a minute of such clips followed by the caption: “Vice President Biden is laughing . . . Are you?” If Biden finds himself out of work in January, he may have a career ahead of him as a Fixodent pitchman.

So whats with Dr. Strangelaugh? Lets ask an evolutionary biologist. In “Games Primates Play: The Undercover Investigation of the Evolution and Economics of Human Relationships,” Dario Maestripieri of the University of Chicago writes:

When two rhesus macaques are trapped together in a small cage, they try everything they can to avoid a fight. . . . To avoid immediate aggression, and to reduce stress, an act of communication is needed to break the ice and make it clear to the other monkey that no harm is intended or expected. Macaque monkeys bare their teeth to communicate fear and friendly intentions. If this “bared-teeth display”–the evolutionary precursor to the human smile–is well received, it can function as a prelude to grooming. One monkey brushes and cleans the others fur, gently massaging the skin while picking and eating parasites. This act can both relax and appease the other monkey, virtually eliminating the chance of an attack.So, if you are a rhesus macaque and find yourself trapped in a small cage with another macaque, you know what to do: bare your teeth and start grooming. If you are a human and find yourself riding in an elevator with a stranger, in theory you could do the same thing or the human equivalent thereof: smile and make small talk.

A smile is an instinctive gesture of submission. Often the submission is mutual, as when two friends exchange smiles or when Maestripieris strangers break into small talk on the elevator. But when a man uncontrollably smiles at a potential or actual adversary, it is a show of weakness…

More >>  WSJ.com