Why are some people so radical and others so moderate? Is it parenting? Life history? Hard- wiring? Regional? The question can be asked two ways. One is, what predicts whether a certain

person will be radical or moderate? The other is why is there even a spread? The spread comes with the territory of tough judgment calls.

Imagine that you live in a mysterious land where at random intervals the ground rotates 180 degrees suddenly. East becomes West and West becomes East. You can’t tell when it’s going to happen. You can’t even tell for sure if it has happened.

Mind Readers Dictionary: The Podfast : Play in Popup

Mind Readers Dictionary : Play in Popup


Now suppose you have got to go East. There are express trains and there are locals. You’re visiting your aunt and uncle before you leave and they give you advice about how to make the trip.

Uncle Joe says you should definitely take the express train. ‘It’s the fast track East.’

Aunt Jane says, ‘Sure Joe, so long as he doesn’t happen to be on it when the land rotates East to West. If he is, it will take him due West toward Outer Wrongolia.’

Uncle Joe rolls his eyes. ‘Jane, that’s all the more reason to take the express—get East as fast as possible, before the land has a chance to change.’

Aunt Jane says, ‘No he’s much better off taking the local. That way he can stop at each station and try to guess whether the land has shifted. If he guesses that it has, he can hop off and take a return train.’

Joe says ‘Jane, that is just wrong. It will take forever and he’ll get nowhere. He’ll just keep compensating, guessing wrong, going backward and forward never getting anywhere.

‘Well then he should just stay put,’ says Aunt Jane

‘Oh great,’ says Uncle Joe, ‘is that your solution? He should just sit here in Inner Wrongolia?’

In a world as complex as ours, there’s always the potential that some new factor, will change everything, turning our advances toward our goals into retreats away from them. Aunt Jane and Uncle Joe are both right. And wrong.