Dodging, Artfully

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?


I’m not really sure. Too busy noticing the bubbles.

Which is a fairly typical reaction for me – dodging the big question at hand to focus on a largely irrelevant one. It’s one of those rare traits I share with politicians.

Whether the dodge is based on fear, apathy or classic avoidance, it’s gotta be mighty frustrating to the person who just wants a straight answer.

Not necessarily…

I discovered a Harvard Business School research paper that explores what happens when people try to dodge a certain question by answering a different question. Two experiments demonstrated “conversational blindness” (listeners’ failure to notice such dodges). Listeners actually viewed successful question-dodgers as positively as speakers who actually answered the question they are asked. In fact, listeners actually preferred speakers who answered the wrong question well over those who answered the right question poorly.

Unfortunately, that’s just fuel for honing my dodging skills.

So, I repeat: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

Actually, I think it’s just right.

Maybe a career in politics isn’t out of the question.

Read the full paper:
The Artful Dodger: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way.















My Life as a Flip-Flopping News Junkie


I’ve recently come to terms with an undeniable reality about myself. Like it or not, I have some flip-flopping tendencies…at least in the political realm.

This trait is most apparent on weeknights from 9-10 p.m. EDT / 8 -9 p.m. CDT. That’s when the cable news cornucopia includes Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar (on the left-hand side of the dial), Bill O’Reilly (on the right side of the spectrum) and Larry King (trying hard to straddle that non-offensive middle ground). 

Each night, I join with my U-Verse remote control in slicing through a cluttered landscape that epitomizes the divisiveness (and plain-old immaturity) of political discourse in America. While Rachel is skewering a Republican Senator du jour, Bill is demanding the resignation of some lunatic liberal, and Joy is taking every opportunity to bash former President(s) Bush – whether it has any real relevance to the topic at hand or not. These pundits seem to take great joy in attacking each other with the fervor and misguided angst of teenage hooligans.

Sometimes I’m drawn in by the logic and sincerity of their points of view; other times, they just strike me as over-the-top grandstanders existing primarily to serve a particular ideology.

One thing I’m convinced of, however, is that hyperbole and hysteria exists on all sides of the political table. And increasingly, that I think I might prefer to sit at a different table altogether.

Maybe I’m naive, but I happen to believe the real Obama resides somewhere between “Savior” and “Anti-Christ.” Conversely, I think Sarah Palin belongs between the poles of “backwater Barbie” and “power-hungry maniac.” Unfortunately, such middle-of-the-road characterizations don’t seem to fuel compelling news programs.

Since it’s apparently too much to ask for a cable news channel that’s TRULY fair and balanced, I guess I will continue my nightly news-roulette ritual…and always keep a fresh set of batteries handy.