Summary: Sometimes you find an insight that changes the way you see the world. Our ruling elites made such a discovery sometime after WW2, that they’ve used since — slowly probing its limits, which they have not yet found. I found it, and and as a result see the news differently. Today I attempt (again) to share that insight with you. We have become gullible, and easily believe lies. The bigger, the better. See the last section for links to more information about this vital subject.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. … Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.
— Edward Bernays, Propaganda (1928)
Today’s examples, from the endless flow
- Why do we believe the hawks?
- How many bubbles must pop before we learn?
- All big weather is anthropogenic global warming
- Gay marriage will destroy the US military
These stories do not show the Left or Right as deluded or stupid.
These stories show smart people in action. People who know how easily we are to manipulate, and do so routinely. Successfully. We must do better to remain a free people.
(1) Why do we believe the hawks?
They are wrong again and again. The Vietnam War fiasco. The very wrong predictions of Team B (released in 1976; see Wikipedia). The fiascoes in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Today they replay their ludicrous claims about arms control treaties, each a Munich-like betrayal certain to lead to disaster. They opposed the new START treaty in 2010 just as the they opposed even the earlier version negotiated by Ronald Reagan. Now they use similarly over-the-top language about the treaty with Iran negotiated by the P5+1. Here are two of the countless examples (source of these quotes):
“What just went down in Geneva is, in fact, a replay of the greatest diplomatic tragedy of the 20th century.”
“It doesn’t take Sigmund Freud to develop a working hypothesis that explains this behavior. The presumption should be that Obama and Kerry like to grant concessions to regime that don’t like America because they themselves don’t like America all that much.”
(2) How many bubbles must pop before we learn?
There are many signs we have blown the third bubble during the past 15 years (the first two were typical over-investment cycles; this one is a monetary expansion). Bubbles occur normally in free-market systems, going back to the great British railway bubble of the 1840s (see Wikipedia). But once a generation is normal. Twice is for slow learners. Three suggests deep dysfunctionality.
On the other hand, read this compelling speech by Janet Yellen — Professor UC Berkeley, Fed chairwomen-designate — explaining that there is no bubble, and if there is a bubble the Fed can successfully mitigate its popping. Quite reassuring. Except that she gave this in October 2005, discussing real estate.
Now she says the same thing. Quite reassuring.
(3) All big weather is anthropogenic global warming
Each big weather gets blamed on anthropogenic global warming, with warnings of much more to come. Eventually climate scientists produce reports, usually finding little or no connection. That’s the substance of the IPCC’s Special Report on extreme weather, and on the recently issued report. For excerpts and links see:
- Has global warming increased the frequency & virulence of extreme weather events?, 10 February 2013
- The IPCC gives us straight talk about Extreme Weather, 4 October 2013
- The IPCC rebukes the climate doomsters. Will we listen?, 15 October 2013
To see how this works, remember the dire predictions following Hurricane Katrina in 2005? It was the worst, and harbinger of many more to come, devastating the East Coast like never before, due to our CO2 emissions (see this mild example from ABC News). In fact NOAA’s analysis described it as a typical, albeit strong, hurricane (Camile in 1969 followed a similar path, but was far stronger).
In fact the US has seen remarkably few hurricanes since Katrina, and had the longest period on record (since 1900) without a major hurricane landfall. Both northern hemisphere and global Accumulated Cyclone Energy (a measure of storm intensity) are running near record lows (since 1972). See Roger Pielke’s website for details (Prof of Environmental Science, U CO-Boulder).
(4) Gay marriage will destroy the US military
When will we see apologies from those who so confidently predicted dire consequences from decriminalizing gay people in the US military? Don’t ask – don’t tell went into effect two decades ago (February 1994). All restrictions ended two years ago (September 2011). The clock is running.
A note from one of the major shapers of our world
There are deep reasons why Godwin’s Law is accurate, which we prefer not to know (see more about this here).
All this was inspired by the principle – which is quite true in itself – that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.
— Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf (1925)
For More Information
See all posts about Information and Disinformation
- Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations, 15 September 2010
- Our minds are addled, the result of skillful and expensive propaganda, 28 December 2011
- Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America, 1 December 2012
- Remembering is the first step to learning. Living in the now is ignorance., 29 October 2013
- Swear allegiance to the truth as a step to reforming America, 24 November 2013
Other posts about clear vision (neither Left or Right is “reality-based”):
- Does America have clear vision? Here’s an “eye chart” for our minds., 15 June 2009
- Successful propaganda as a characteristic of 21st century America, 1 February 2010
- A note about practical propaganda, 22 March 2010
- The easy way to rule: leading a weak people by feeding them disinformation, 13 April 2011
- Facts are an obstacle to the reform of America, 20 October 2011
- Examples of America’s broken vision. Here’s why we cannot clearly see our world., 21 October 2012
- What does a “broken OODA loop” look like?, 23 October 2012
- Who lies to us the most? Left or Right?, 25 February 2013
- Learning to see beyond the American Pravda, 24 May 2013
- The secret, simple tool that persuades Americans. That molds our opinions., 24 July 2013
- The Achilles heel of both political parties, waiting to be exploited by reformers, 7 November 2013