I think it's fair to say that much of the media manipulation we are
subjected to is not aimed at reason at all, but at the lower brain
functions--- the 'lizard brain' as Phil Agre terms it in the following
love & light,
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RRE readers wrote to scorn Wired News and its false assertion that
Al Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. These readers were
especially scornful of the article's petty conclusion:
High-visibility events can be prone to embarrassing slip-ups.
At one recent White House event, Gore introduced Cisco Systems
CEO John Chambers, who he had met with privately earlier that day.
Gore told the audience how much he valued Chambers and one of
the products Cisco produced. But he mispronounced "routers" as
Paul Hoffman of the Internet Mail Consortium, for example, wrote from
the IETF meeting in Australia to say that:
I believe that at least 10% of the people in the IETF pronounce
it as rooter. That percentage goes up when you talk to people who
actually develop routing protocols.
This is certainly my experience, and others said much the same.
Besides, it can't be easy to say "rowter" with a Tennessee accent.
Give the man a break, or at least know what you're talking about.
There's also this passage:
Gore has taken credit for popularizing the term "information
superhighway" and around 1991 penned related articles for
publications such as Byte magazine. But the term "data highway"
has been used as far back as 1975, before Gore entered Congress.
Notice the sleight of hand. I'm not sure how one could have been
alive in 1994 and deny that Gore popularized the term "information
superhighway". But Wired News doesn't actually deny Gore's claim.
Yes, similar phrases were "used" earlier, but by no stretch had
those phrases been popularized. Here we see a relatively new
pattern: scoffing at a statement that is true, giving the impression
that it is false without actually denying it.
This business about Gore supposedly claiming to have invented the
Internet would be trivial, comparable to the question of whether Dan
Quayle really misspelled the word "potato", if it were not part of
such a pattern. The media by now has gone through numerous episodes
of echo-chamber hysteria, accusing time Gore of lying, exaggerating,
shading the truth, and even being mentally ill, based on stories
that were simply false. And not just arguably false or somewhat
false, but just plain factually-not-true false. You've heard them:
Al Gore falsely claimed to have inspired the novel "Love Story",
the author vehemently denied that what Gore said was true, and Gore
admitted that he had been making it up. Gore falsely claimed to
have worked on a farm as a child. Gore claimed to have discovered
Love Canal. And Gore claimed to have invented the Internet. These
stories are by far the most common examples adduced in support of
the idea that Gore exaggerates, and they are all false. Every last
one of them. Completely wrong. Yet the pattern goes on and on and
on without anybody but a few nuts on the Internet pointing it out.
And unlike the 1990s fabrications about Bill Clinton that made a
roundabout journey from right-wing chat rooms to the Daily Telegraph
to conservative op-ed columns to Congressional inquiries to the
front pages of serious newspapers, most of these fabrications have
originated with political reporters from the Washington Post, the
New York Times, and other serious publications. (In this sense,
the Wired News case is an exception -- a throwback to the old model
of scandalizing bottom-feeders.) Few of these howling falsehoods
has ever been retracted in any serious way -- in contrast, say, to
the time that the New York Times retracted a perfectly true story
about the anti-Semitic sources of Pat Robertson's writing. And many
of them continue to be repeated with impunity long after they have
Isn't anybody else alarmed at this pattern? What is perhaps most
disturbed about it is its lizard-brain logic: the media stars who
exaggerate and lie by falsely accusing Al Gore of exaggerating and
lying are not just hypocrites; they are very compactly projecting
their own wrongdoing into the object of their abuse. This kind of
projection is the most primitive and the most dangerous of lizard-
brain thought processes. If you stand back and look at it logically
-- something that the strong emotions and cognitive fragmentation
of the lizard brain conspire to make difficult -- then you see
something scary. The people who issue whole reams of false and
exaggerated accusations against various supposed enemies of society
are in fact everything that they claim the objects of their abuse
to be. It's not just that they are making a horrible caricature
of their enemies; they are, right before our eyes and yet somehow
almost invisibly, making themselves into something just exactly
that horrible. In their minds they are confronting the devil, but
in their hearts they are becoming him.
I therefore found it particularly distressing when a small number
of actual readers of this mailing list wrote to explain that, really,
Al Gore *did* claim to have invented the Internet. In each case
their reasoning proceeded by taking Gore's words out of context and
saying something like, "'creating' does sort of mean 'inventing',
doesn't it?". What's distressing is the unhappy sense that I am
not talking to a human being. Anybody could look at Gore's words
and see perfectly well what they meant. Their most straightforward
interpretation was not modest, to be sure, but it was entirely true.
The Internet pioneers who spoken on the matter haven't bothered to
play word games about it, but their statements provide considerably
more support for Gore's claim than anything the solitaire-playing
governor of Texas has provided for *any* of his claimed "reform"
Yet these people, having persuaded themselves that Al Gore is an
exaggerator, claim to be able to discern extra meanings hidden in
his words. They twist them and bend them and place interpretations
on them that are completely arbitrary, and yet in their minds it is
not they who are twisting language. Rather, it was Gore who twisted
the language, and they are untwisting it. This is more projection.
In working themselves around to this position, they have checked
themselves out of the community of normal speakers of English --
the one whose members, regardless of their politics, can listen
to a phrase of the shared language and take for granted a grown-up
agreement on what elements of meaning it does and does not contain.
Their thought processes are out of control: whatever constraint
an ordinary person might feel from the demands of logic or meaning,
these people have liberated themselves from. Their enemies are
totally evil, they've decided, and capable of anything, and so
their reasoning about those enemies does not require any rational
constraint or scruple either.
But this is not a matter of individual psychopathology. I don't
know whether these people are clinically disturbed or not. But I do
know that they are cultivating a dangerous set of thought-patterns
whose origins lie in the black arts of public relations. Here is
the basic formula, which is repeated innumerable times every day:
(1) Start with a "message", call it M. (Political people such as
Newt Gingrich use the term "strategy".) The message has to be vague
enough that small handfuls of facts cannot refute it but forceful
enough that people who don't like it will feel obliged to refute it.
Messages typically take the form of primitive associations, such as
an association between "Gore" and "exaggeration". It should ideally
be epitomized in a simple adjective-noun phrase such as "tenured
radicals", "environmental wackos", "liberal media", or "Al Gore's
(2) Research a set of "facts" that, taken in whatever context you
choose to present them, seem to provide support for M. "Facts" is
the PR term of art, as in "liberals ignore facts!". These "facts"
might be examples -- the outrageous left-wing college professor
of the week, the latest wacky proposal from environmentalists, the
latest fragment of news reporting that does not hew closely to the
conservative party line, Gore's latest outrageous story. It doesn't
matter whether these "facts" are true, or how trivial they might
be, or how representative, or whether any numbers they contain are
based on any rational methodology. Just have a lot of them.
(3) Start feeding the message through various media outlets. Talk
radio hosts are always starving for material. Syndicated columnists
often get their research predigested from interest groups that they
support. Members of Congress can gain politically by getting out
in front of new issues that are likely to have organized campaigns
behind them. In each case, the finished product will consist of a
batch of invective that hypergeneralizes from a few facts to support
the chosen message.
(4) Keep it up. Repetition counts. You haven't succeeded until
you get the media echo-chamber effect going, and that requires your
message to be ingrained in the media discourse. So produce more
facts in the same series. Get them out there. Because about now,
a few questioning voices, having conducted research of their own,
will start pointing out that your "facts" are either misleading or
false. The correct answer is, "that doesn't matter -- what matters
is M" or "the reason that people find that claim so plausible is M"
or "there's something wrong with you for defending those lowlifes --
given the overwhelming evidence for M, nobody could sanely disagree
with it". Once you get to this point, you've won.
(5) Start weaving messages together. Your goal is to ingrain your
message, M, into the mental equipment of everyone in the society,
or at least everyone in your electoral coalition. You want them
to start seeing the world that way, to notice supporting evidence
for your message (and not to notice contrary evidence), to get snide
or outraged or whatever in each case, and to mock and browbeat your
enemies. Once your enemies have internalized this abuse, they will
respond with helplessness and despair. With time, you will be able
to say things that are just completely false, and nobody of any
significance will challenge you.
This strategy obviously requires massive access to the media. It
does not require that one literally control the media. But it does
require a professional understanding of the dynamics of the media,
which is why so many former reporters have gone to work -- at higher
salaries -- in the public relations business. You might think that
it requires that one's opponents *not* have massive access to the
media, inasmuch as a sufficiently mobilized opponent will be able
to call you on your distortions in real time. But in recent years
we have seen this whole strategy executed at its pathological worst
to tear down a sitting President, and now a sitting Vice President
and leading presidential candidate. When the media said something
bad about Newt Gingrich -- instigated in many cases, no doubt
about it, by liberals using these same methods -- Gingrich could
count on massive air cover from the conservative media. Clinton
and Gore do have a few defenders in the media, but the sheer amount
of slime they have confronted, and the sheer amount of complicity
in the slime that the New York Times especially has displayed, has
routinely overwhelmed the vast media-control resources of the White
House. If the White House doesn't have a dozen supportive op-ed
columnists shooting down every incoming round, then White House
officials have to do the shooting themselves, and this doesn't work
nearly as well.
At the end of the day, the major victims of these sorts of campaigns
are not the people they denounce. Yes, a lot of people working for
the Clintons have had their reputations and bank accounts ruined
by reckless accusations, abusive investigations, talk-radio slander,
and all of the rest. But those people know that they are ultimately
in the right, and they will retain their sanity and get over it.
The real victims are the rank-and-file of the screamers, the people
who go around snidely thanking Al Gore for his fine inventions and
sarcastically chortling, "I guess I'm not being politically correct
here, haw haw haw". That's right, those people are the real victims.
In the course of abusing others, they cultivate and internalize a
disturbed set of thought-patterns that may or may not be clinical,
but that will certainly condemn them to great oppression one day.
These are the mental chains of conservatism. These chains are not
pretty things. They are made of rage and dissociation, projection
and irrationality. Their ultimate object of abuse is not Al Gore,
or liberals, but rather the healthy and sane parts of the abuser's
own mind, which unless rescued will sink into corruption and terror
so profound that only God can really understand it.
--- "Danny F." <premabrahma@...
> The actual pattern and tendency in the media is actually as follow:
> To see = understanding
> To be there = to know
> Repeating = confirming (circular circulation of the information)
> I there's no image = no event
> This really point to a self-sufficient sense activity no?
> When the senses come to bear what does not belong to them
> they become instruments of the evil. If the medium is the message,
> then the senses must become 'Reason' in itself no? Totally
> "Anthroposophy does not want to impart knowledge.
> It seeks to awaken life."
> --Rudolf Steiner
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