Tag Archives: propaganda

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Resolve to begin the reform of America in 2017!

Summary: Make 2017 a big year in American history, the year its engines of reform roared into action. Here are some suggestions about ways you can help.

“Nietzsche said the newspaper had replaced the prayer in the life of the modern bourgeois, meaning that the busy, the cheap, the ephemeral, had usurped all that remained of the eternal in his daily life.”
— Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind (1988).

During the past decade I’ve written over 300 articles describing the tide of propaganda rising over America, now called “fake news” (links to some of the best appear at the end of the post). But the attention to the issue is misdirection in both senses.

Whining about our elites’ lies misrepresents the guilty parties. We consume information as entertainment (watching rather than acting), and have become gullible (more interested in entertaining stories that flatter our beliefs than their accuracy). The combination makes us weak. Of course our elites exploit this. It’s the Great Circle of Life at work. We will be prey so long as we are weak. Our leaders treat us like dogs because we are like dogs. We are the weak link in America.

When we again become skeptical of what we’re told, when again we organize, when we again become strong — then our leaders again will respect us. Here are some easy first steps you can do in 2017.

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The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.

Summary: Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations. It is a secret that explains much of modern American history. We have become gullible, seeing the false beliefs of others but credulously believing what our tribal leaders tell us. The avalanche of “fake news” is the logical response by our ruling elites.

“in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
— A saying for our time, although not by Orwell.
Logical contradiction

We caused the rising tide of fake news

After WWII our ruling elites have grown increasingly bold in their lies (see the Big List of lies by our government). They have seen how we credulously believe even the most implausible stories, and that we inflict little or no penalty when their lies are discover (even Bill Clinton’s conviction of contempt of court and disbarment for lying under oath didn’t dent his popularity among Democrats).

The rising tide of fake news naturally results as awareness of our gullibility spread among our ruling elites. We see the lies of our foes but remain delusionally ignorant about the lies of our tribe. This is comically obvious on comment threads, where attacks on tribal truths are brutally repulsed, but politically pleasing and outrageous lies go without contradiction or protest.

The Right muttered about Obama’s missing birth certificate while describing Obama as a radical leftist anarchist commie Muslim Nazi. They believe that cutting income taxes usually increases tax revenue, that torture produces reliable answers (it doesn’t), and that foreign armies usually defeat local insurgents (they don’t). Their websites overflow with lies about gun rights, about economics, about history, and scores other subjects.

The Left is no better. The IPCC was the “gold standard” description of climate science research — the most reliable statement of climate scientists’ consensus. By 2011 activists were saying it was “too conservative”, which became a widespread response to the release of AR5 in 2013 (e.g., see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360). Propagandists like Phil Plait misrepresent or even hide the science.

For fifty years Leftists doomsters arouse the faithful with fake stories, and still the Left eagerly believes the next one. For years their articles and comments casually mentioned destruction of humanity or even the biosphere. They believed that 30,000 species go extinct every years. Now they casually discuss the imminent collapse of the Republic, with gulags and no election in 2020. They look at Team Trump’s collection of right-wing politicians, CEOs, and billionaires but seeing fascist revolutionaries.

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See the Left’s mad response to Team Trump (they’re plutocrats, not fascists)

Summary:  How much Trump accomplishes will depend in part by how effectively the Left opposes him. A few on the Left have seen the essential element for success, but overall their early responses suggest that the Left will remain dysfunctional. Perhaps a few years in the political wilderness will bring new insights to them. But they are some hopeful signs out there…

The Left’s response to Trump is fantasy, making effective resistance impossible.

Trump as Hitler

To see the Left’s (broadly speaking) response to Trump, look at the social scientists writing at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. It suggests that the Left will be incapable of mounting an effective defense. For a start, there is refusal to accept the election result (as they predicted Trump would if he lost).

“In other words, by taking full advantage of various combinations of judicial skullduggery, journalistic malpractice, and foreign intrigue the GOP has pretty much flat-out stolen two of the last five presidential elections …”
— “The fraud against America” by Paul Campos (Prof of Law, U Co – Boulder).

How will they follow-up? By doubling-down on the tactics that failed in the election. Such as accusing Trump of being another Hitler (as was Bush Jr. and Obama). See “Do Something” by Erik Loomis (asst prof of history, U RI).

“We have two choices in the Trump era. You can fight back. Or you can live your everyday life and acquiesce. People have long wondered how the German people let Hitler take over their nation. We are living how it happened. Too many people just decided to put their heads down and go on with their daily lives. You must not do that.”

I respect Professor Loomis and his work, but this comparison of Trump with Hitler is absurd for two reasons. First, Hitler did not just walk into Berlin. He took power in 1932 after 12 years of development. The Nazi party was founded in 1920. Hitler staged the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 and published Mein Kampf in 1925. This is unlike anything in Trump’s history.

Second, there is little basis for these claims. Experts have debunked claims that Trump is like Hitler and that he is a fascist. Trump’s appointees are neither revolutionaries nor fascists. They have standard conventional backgrounds and typical conservative (often right-wing) views; most are either rich, CEOs, generals, or elected or appointed officials of the Federal government. They look nothing like the experienced revolutionaries that Hitler brought with him into the Chancellor’s office.

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Ways to deal with those guilty of causing the fake news epidemic

Summary: The surge of talk about fake news highlights this important problem. We have an increasingly tribal view of the world, each tribe with its own lies — and contempt for those who disagree (especially experts). Our gullibility makes us easy to rule. But censorship will not fix the problem because it addresses the effects, not the causes. This post points to the guilty parties.

Unless we see & remember, news is the 21st C's opiate of the masses.

“There’s none so blind as they that won’t see.”
— Jonathan Swift’s Polite Conversation (c. 1738).

Content

  1. Making ourselves dumber.
  2. Causes of fake news?
  3. Reforming America.
  4. Distinguishing good from bad sources.
  5. For More Information.

 

(1) Making ourselves dumber

For ten years the FM website has reported the rise of “fake news” (I wish I had thought of that name). Now journalists have discovered this social disease, from a Buzzfeed study showing that “Fake Election News Stories Outperformed Real News On Facebook“. Both Left and Right see it only in their foes, insisting that their tribal truths are factual.

Comments on the FM website show this dynamic in action. Its diverse readership is ideologically diverse. Readers squeal with rage when their biases are peeled off like scabs and exposed to daylight. It is equally clear on Twitter, as unfollows surge following tweets of facts that disturb the sleep of ideologues on the Left or Right.

Propaganda magnifies the power of our elites. It recruits people to useful causes, prevents people from finding common ground against the 1%, and mints money (fake news sites are baskets of linkbait for advertisers). Zero Hedge is a classic example. Fox News is the ur-example (the Right is more successfully commercial at this game).

Fake news websites institutionalize this process, and profit from it. These engines of disinformation produce slanted streams of over-simplified information and exaggerated conclusions, mockery of those (especially experts) with different viewpoints, and outright lies. These induce and boost tribalism, closing their audience off from other viewpoints, other knowledge, awareness of uncertainties, and the ability to form balanced viewpoints. These websites are, I fear, increasingly becoming one of the major sources of news to Americans. No matter how intelligent and well-educated the readers, relying on these websites makes them dumber.

No wonder we have become polarized as a nation, when we cannot agree on simple facts. How can we find a common future, when we cannot begin discussions about values and trade-offs because each side considers the other — correctly — deluded about simple things.

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A new survey reveals American’s top fears, showing our true selves

Summary: The Chapman University Survey reveals American’s top fears. Many of them are exaggerated; some are delusional, most are influenced by the sea of propaganda that blankets America. Here we see one reason why the reform of America is so difficult.

Fearful faces in the dark

For the third year, the Chapman University Survey of American Fears asked 1,500+ adult Americans about their fears (details here). The slide show presentation of their results appears below, with a video at the end of the post. The top 10 things we fear the most are…fearful woman

  1. Corruption of government officials (also #1 in 2015).
  2. Terrorist attacks.
  3. Not having enough money for the future.
  4. Being a victim of terror. {Twice on the list!}
  5. Government restrictions on firearms and ammunition.
  6. People I love dying.
  7. Economic or financial collapse.
  8. Identity theft.
  9. People I love becoming seriously ill.
  10. The Affordable Health Care Act/”Obamacare”.

 

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Ignoring science to convince the public that we’re doomed by climate change

Summary: The news has become stranger since the climate policy debate has decoupled from the IPCC. Ludicrous claims of certain doom and nightmarish futures splash across the headlines, seldom with rebuttals (climate scientists are complicit in their silence). This one-sided flow of “news” will shape public opinion slowly but surely, creating support for bold measures by President Clinton. Activists are panicking the public for political gain.

“I think looking at grief is quite appropriate, as I believe we are facing human extinction”
— Comment by a reader on the FM website.

Earth as inferno

“The more immediate danger is runaway climate change. A rise in ocean temperatures will melt the ice caps and cause the release of large amounts of carbon dioxide from the ocean floor. Both effects could make our climate like that of Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees.”

— Nobel laureate physicist Stephen Hawking on “Good morning Britain on NBC News’ U.K. news partner, ITV News in May 2016.

This was reported as “Earth DOOMED by climate change which could burn us alive, warns Stephen Hawking” by Sean Martin in The Daily Express, 31 May 2016.

We have heard this story before. The BBC hinted at it last year; Hawking has said it before. There is no support for this in the IPCC’s reports and little (perhaps none) in the peer-reviewed literature. There are papers clearly saying the opposite, such as “Low simulated radiation limit for runaway greenhouse climates” by Colin Goldblatt el al, Nature Geoscience, August 2013 — Gated. See the press release here. Excerpt…

“The so-called `hothouse’ climate of the Eocene is the most useful constraint for anthropogenic change. With the solar constant 1% less than today and a few thousand ppmv CO2, the mean temperature was 10 K warmer than today. With CO2 and temperature both higher then than we expect in the foreseeable future, this implies that an anthropogenic runaway greenhouse is unlikely.

“…As the solar constant increases with time, Earth’s future is analogous to Venus’s past. We expect a runaway greenhouse on Earth 1.5 billion years hence if water is the only greenhouse gas, or sooner if there are others.”

While peer-reviewed analysis is good, it is obvious that Earth cannot become Venus in any policy-relevant time. See the NASA fact sheets for Venus and for Earth. They explain that…

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Five trillion is a red line. Cross it and the environment crashes.

Summary: Here are three stories about environmental destruction, all featuring “five trillion” as the horrific number. Scary stories. Are they accurate?

To understand a trillion, look at it in cash

What is a trillion dollars?

(1) Five trillion tons of ice has melted!

5 Trillion Tons of Ice Lost Since 2002” by climate propagandist Phil Plait at Slate.

“…land ice loss is perhaps most important as a political trigger; the sheer amount of land ice being lost every year is immediate, here, now. And the numbers are staggering … From 2002 to mid-November 2014 — less than 13 years — the combined land ice loss from Antarctica and Greenland is more than 5 trillion tons. Five. Trillion. Tons. That’s beyond staggering; that’s almost incomprehensible. It’s a volume of about 5,700 cubic kilometers, a cube of ice nearly 18 kilometers — more than 11 miles — on a side.”

This is vintage propaganda, giving big numbers with no context. Much as the Right does with the Federal deficit (which if converted into pennies could build a bridge to Mars!).

The total mass of Earth’s ice is roughly 33 thousand trillion metric tons (per table 2 of 2013 USGS; other estimates differ). Five trillion metric tons over 13 years is 0.112% per year.  At that rate the Earth’s ice will melt in 6,600 86,000 years. What level of technology will we have in a thousand years? Children in the year 3,000 will probably consider conflate burning oil and cow dung, both things done by primitive people in the dark ages.

Also, estimates of Antarctica’s ice loss differ widely. A December 2015 NASA study found that Antarctica gained ice mass from 1992-2008 (see the press release).

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