...people are wondering why there is no rebellion. I think there is no rebellion, not because kids are stupid or slothful, or whatever, but because the dark side of America is now in charge.
-Hunter S. Thompson
MALAYSIA, which strictly censors foreign movies and books, has decided to ban tomes with "ghostly" tales and those touching on the supernatural, reports said today.
Deputy Home Minister Chor Chee Heung was quoted by The Star as saying that the Government would no longer approve permits to import and publish reading material containing elements "calculated to entertain by frightening."
These include books within the categories of mystery, mysticism, fantasy, occultism and superstition, he said.
"These materials will create an unhealthy picture in the minds of the readers and influence them by such far-fetched ghostly stories," he said.
Arthur C Clark once rated ghosts as being the most likely of all the paranormal topics possibly because it's absurd to believe that aliens would travel the vast distances of space to probe the most podunk portions of the population. What if aliens actually were trying to study stupidity in order to spread it? It may undermine our faith in democracy!
It would seem that forces are at work to demonize those with doctorates. Karl Rove intends to continue the Republican slide started by Nixon away from science to religion.
The split between the GOP and the scientific community began during the administration of Richard Nixon. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, protests against the Vietnam War captured the sympathy of the liberal academic community, including many scientists, whose opposition to the war turned them against Nixon. The president characteristically lashed back and, in 1973, abolished the entire White House science advisory team by executive order, fuming that they were all Democrats. Later, he was caught ranting on one of his tapes about a push, led by his science adviser, to spend more money on scientific research in the crucial electoral state of California. Nixon complained, "Their only argument is that we're going to lose the support of the scientific community. We will never have their support." The GOP further alienated scientists with its "Southern strategy," an effort to broaden the party's appeal to white conservative Southerners. Many scientists were turned off by the increasing evangelical slant of Republicans and what many saw as coded appeals to white racists.
-Nicholas Thompson, Science Friction
Rove wants a GOP party like it was 1899 and the country to go with it. With the tide of anti-intellectualism rising he just might get it. Boosted by the growing corporate monopoly in radio that broadcasts right-wing views, Fox News, and various neocon publishers they are getting the biased coverage they have longer for. But the unexpected feather in their cap has come from an ironic source.
The Internet's most powerful effect has been to expand vastly the range of opinion—especially conservative opinion—at everyone's fingertips. "The Internet helps break up the traditional cultural gatekeepers' power to determine a) what's important and b) the range of acceptable opinion," says former Reason editor and libertarian blogger Virginia Postrel. InstaPundit's Glenn Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Tennessee, agrees: "The main role of the Internet and blogosphere is to call the judgment of elites about what is news into question."
-Brian C. Anderson, We're Not Losing the Culture Wars Anymore
Just as feminism struggles to avoid adopting the techniques that have oppressed them, conservatives are faced with news that lies to them in their favor or at least claims to be in their favor. Full disclosure is not always apparent as in the case when they point out that "Bill O'Reilly, was recently dubbed "the new king of cable news" by TV Guide" and fail to inform us that Mr. Murdoch owns them both. It should be interesting to those regular TV Guide readers to compare what they wrote about CBS canceling The Reagans and what they wrote in June of 1982 about Ed Asner after Lou Grant was canceled.
"Ed Asner, the outspoken actor who stars as tough -talking editor Lou Grant, recently denounced, with soapbox bombast, CBS's cancellation of his series. '...I find it shallow that the network wouldn't have exerted itself on behalf of the show, especially so that the yahoos of the world couldn't claim another victory in their attempt to abridge free speech.' Whoa, let's back up their a minute, Ed...Lou Grant, good as it once was...in 45th place is where you where likely to find Asner's series...As for the 'yahoos,' Asner obviously meant those poor, misguided souls who had the temerity to object to, among other things, his pledge to raise $1 million to buy medical supplies for leftist guerillas in El Salvador.
"More recently, Asner has even accused the White House of putting political pressure on CBS to cancel his series. Asner must be suffering delusions of grandeur if he thinks this Nation's leaders have no more important matters to worry about than a foundering series or its egotistical star...This, Ed, makes you the biggest yahoo of them all."
Before I take you to the very next page of that issue of Tv Guide to tie the paralogical knot, let us examine the suppositions presented as fact in that little snippet of editorial. First, the yahoos of whom Asner spoke are clearly and obviously the minions of Falwell, Wildmon and the other cadres of the Repressive Fundamentalist Right. The Moral Majority yahoos who've been so busy attenuating freedom of speech all across the board, from pushing creationism to pulling books from public libraries to having schoolteachers fired for dissenting views. Second, the souls who objected to Asner's humanitarian efforts are neither poor nor misguided. They are powerful corporations like Kimberly-Clark, the Kleenex sponsor that withdrew its spots from Lou Grant, one can properly conjecture, because it operates a large factory in El Salvador. And third, how outrageously paranoid is it for stupid, uninformed, egotistical Ed Asner to suspect that "this Nation's leaders" spend their spare time harassing those who speak out. How foolish of him to think that the chivvying of Jane Fonda, Shirley MacLaine, Arthur Miller, Lillian Hellman or Marlon Brando might preshadow what's happened to him. How egomanical of him to think that the government's smear campaign of Jean Seberg, that drove her to suicide, might indicate a capacity for malice on the part of this Nation's leaders. How self-centered of him to remember all the people blacklisted during the HUAC and Joe McCarthy eras. How shallow of him to think that this Nation's leaders, knowing of J Edgar Hoover's endless harassment of Martin Luther King, Jr., no doubt creating a climate in which the likes of a James Earl Ray would pull the trigger, and doing nothing to stop it, might suggest a Nation's leaders who are capable of sicking the dogs on an actor who has the temerity to exercise his First Amendment right to speak out. Yeah, what a paranoid, ego-crazed yahoo Ed Asner is.
-Harlan Ellison, An Edge in My Voice (June 7, 1982. Collected in Edgeworks volume 1. p210-211)At the time, TV Guide was owned by (as well as quoted by Ellison above) Walter H.Annenburg. But according to Ellison, "if we thought TV Guide was a model of disposable journalism under old Walter Annenburg, little did we suspect that is was The Canterbury Tales compared to what Murdoch hath wrought." And wouldn't you know it, yellow journalism has flourished under his reign. Going back to Lakoff's theory that the Republicans have seriously invested in figuring out how to frame their ideas and considering that those ideas are sliding towards fundamentalist religious views which are divorced scientific reason and logic and recognizing how popular they have become leads some to suggest Man is not the rational animal we would hope it to be.
Imagine that you are confronted with four cards. Each has a letter of the alphabet on one side and a number on the other. You are also told this rule: If there is a vowel on one side, there must be an even number on the other. Your job is to determine which (if any) of the cards must be turned over in order to determine whether the rule is being followed. However, you must only turn over those cards that require turning over. Let's say that the four cards are as follows:
T 6 E 9
Which ones should you turn over?
Most people realize that they don't have to inspect the other side of card T. However, a large proportion respond that the 6 should be inspected. They are wrong: The rule says that if one side is a vowel, the other must be an even number, but nothing about whether an even number must be accompanied by a vowel. (The side opposite a 6 could be a vowel or a consonant; either way, the rule is not violated.) Most people also agree that the E must be turned over, since if the other side is not an even number, the rule would be violated. But many people do not realize that the 9 must also be inspected: If its flip side is a vowel, then the rule is violated. So, the correct answer to the above Wason Test is that T and 6 should not be turned over, but E and 9 should be. Fewer than 20 percent of respondents get it right.
Next, consider this puzzle. You are a bartender at a nightclub where the legal drinking age is 21. Your job is to make sure that this rule is followed: People younger than 21 must not be drinking alcohol. Toward that end, you can ask individuals their age, or check what they are drinking, but you are required not to be any more intrusive than is absolutely necessary. You are confronted with four different situations, as shown below. In which case (if any) should you ask a patron his or her age, or find out what beverage is being consumed?
#1 #2 #3 #4 Drinking Water Over 21 Drinking Beer Under 21
Nearly everyone finds this problem easy. You needn't check the age of person 1, the water drinker. Similarly, there is no reason to examine the beverage of person 2, who is over 21. But obviously, you had better check the age of person 3, who is drinking beer, just as you need to check the beverage of person 4, who is underage. The point is that this problem set, which is nearly always answered correctly, is logically identical to the earlier set, the one that causes considerable head scratching, not to mention incorrect answers.
Why is the second problem set so easy, and the first so difficult? This question has been intensively studied by the evolutionary psychologist Leda Cosmides. Her answer is that the key isn't logic itself -- after all, the two problems are logically equivalent -- but how they are positioned in a world of social and biological reality. Thus, whereas the first is a matter of pure reason, disconnected from reality, the second plays into issues of truth telling and the detection of social cheaters. The human mind, Cosmides points out, is not adapted to solve rarified problems of logic, but is quite refined and powerful when it comes to dealing with matters of cheating and deception. In short, our rationality is bounded by what our brains were constructed -- that is, evolved -- to do.
-David P. Baresh, Unreason's Seductive Charms
So if we have a trend towards irrational thinking as a byproduct of cheat detection, could those that frame a debate use it against us? Thus, the often confusing and complex position of someone on an issue can be exploited by their opposition.
The Bush administration has already put in power many religious fundamentalists and a win in 2004 will surely be a signal to continue this process. Their influence will make more people afraid of science, which already has problems being accepted by many people.
The complexity and jargon are daunting, and the knowledge has been horribly misapplied. We have weapons of mass destruction because of our fledging knowledge of science. Furthermore, the Western religious tradition is based on a fear of knowledge. It goes right back to Prometheus and the Garden of Eden, to God's threat that if we partake in the tree of knowledge, we will know only misery and death. Se we keep one thing in our heads that says, yes, our cell phones work, our TVs work because of science, but we keep an infantile, geocentric view of the universe locked within our hearts.
How do you combat that? Number One: Do not lie to your children. Do not tell them things that a probably untrue, because in a way you doom them to a perpetual infancy. Number two: Invest in education so that science becomes a way of seeing and thinking that is natural to all of us and not something reserved for the lucky few. At Cosmos Studios we are working on a radical new approach to teaching science from kindergarten through high school. We see it as an act of citizenship. If only an elite minority understands science and technology, there is no hope of democracy, because then we, the people, cannot make informed decisions. We will always be manipulated.
-Ann Druyan, Discover (Nov 2003)
What a strange shape the claims that scientists are elitist take. Some are, but it's ironic that those calling them that tend to be of a religious leaning and they have historically been the ones most resembling the remark.
The people will always mock at things easy to be understood; it must needs have impostures..A spirit that loves Wisdom and contemplates Truth close at hand, is forced to disguise it, in order to induce the multitude to accept it...Fictions are necessary to the people, and Truth becomes deadly to those who are not strong enough to contemplate it in all its brilliance. If the sacerdotal laws allowed the reservation of judgements and the allegory of words, I would accept the proposed dignity on condition that I might be a philosopher at home, and abroad a narrator of apologues and parables...In fact, what can there be in common with the vile multitude and sublime wisdom? Truth must be kept secret, and the masses need a teaching proportioned to their imperfect reason.
-Synesius, Bishop of Ptolemais
They think you can't handle the truth. It might mean you'd develop second thoughts and maybe those thoughts won't fit their plans. The best thing is to keep us scared and divided along party lines. They equate difference of opinion with treason and prefer sentiment to reason. Like the unnamed literary cancer that's happening this month that sacrifices quality for quantity as if we're not already drowning in the WWW. I can handle the truth because I feel it.
...The Mask of Sanity, first published in 1941 and written by the late Dr. Hervey Cleckley, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the Medical College of Georgia.
Some people are born deaf, some are born blind or whatever, and this book is about congenitally defective human beings of a sort who are making this whole country and many other parts of the planet go completely haywire nowadays. These are people born without consciences. They know full well the pain their actions may cause others to feel but do not care. They cannot care. They came into this world with a screw loose, and now they're taking charge of everything. They appear to be great leaders because they are so decisive. Do this! Do that! What makes them so decisive is that they do not care and cannot care what happens next.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Knowing What's Nice
Not only do they not care they refuse to take responsibility. They pass the buck. They hope to have us too busy with our McJobs to notice the warnings from the scientists & academics that are all lumped as liberal and liberal, of course, as being bad.
The culture wars have more than one front and the horror is that simple reason may not be in our favor. Common sense is far from common and logic is relatively rare. A good number of them believe the end is near, but the end of what is not so clear.[Leave a comment]