Belief systems are fairly complicated things to get a grasp on. Each person’s beliefs contain many assumptions, some (more or less) information from factual sources, some emotional reactions, and some peer pressures to conform to some type of system.
I like mind maps as a tool for studying belief systems. I decided that I would map my beliefs about a number of issues I debate with others weekly on Twitter. Putting a number of beliefs on the same map lets both the map creator and others see how consistent some beliefs are (or are not) with one another. Are data shared between beliefs? Are there core values that underlie many beliefs? What can be predicted about the map creator’s beliefs in related areas.
Without too much further explanation, here is what I think I believe about some relatively contentious issues in American society (abortion, organized religion, health care reform, the US Congress, and others). This is Part 1. Sequels will appear regularly.
[Click the graphics on this page to expand them. The same is true throughout this web site.]
[This is the well known sentence telegraph operators used in the 1800 to test lines since it has all letters of the English alphabet. It was later used with manual typewriters. Yes, I learned to type on one in the seventh grade (required course then and in the eighth grade). As you can guess, in the early 1960s, all of us male chauvinist pigs (that was every boy in junior high school) were quite vocal that WE did not need to know how to type because we would have secretaries. I now formally apologize for the error of my ways.]
The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.
[Graphic created in Tagul, a newer alternative to Wordle. In the top example I varied the size of the words randomly. In the bottom example, the size of the word is proportional to its frequency of occurrence in the text.]
On the other hand, this map of the words in the US-edition CNN news site on Dec 5 2012, is better done as a visual. The size of the words is proportional to its relative frequency on the web site. You can immediately see that the site mentions Piers more than Obama. AAaahhh…. cable news. At least “fiscal” and “cliff” are quite prominent as we see if Congress will let the US economy tank further because of their desire to get face time over on the Fox Network. And Dr Gupta has a lot of references which is good, but of course does not exactly make up for Piers.