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.

Read more


A new year’s gift: two tools to help discover truth in the news

Summary: To give you a powerful start to the New Year, here are two brief passages I strongly recommend. They can be transformational for you. Both are excerpts from longer essays well worth reading, but even these excerpts will help you in the years to come.

Clear vision

Rapid change in every aspect of our complex ever-larger world — confusion and disorientation are natural results. Every day brings a bombardment of new information and insights, often mind-bending. Often revolutionary.  How do we decide which ones are accurate? How do we even decide which ones deserve attention?

I have asked this question hundreds of times on this website. Readers frequently give the “He-man solution”, saying they determine the truth about what they read by first principles — looking at raw data and reasoning from humanity’s core knowledge (e.g., basic principles of science and logic). Of course, they have mad hubris. Nobody has the time to research the major public policy issues of our time, or the knowledge to reason from first principles to answers about them.

Here Maciej Cegłowski gives us a better solution: rely on common sense to sort out ideas that don’t deserve your attention, supplemented by the advice of relevant experts. It’s not a perfect solution, but then perfection is rare in this world.

Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People

By Maciej Cegłowski (see Wikipedia). At his website, 29 October 2016.

…When you’re evaluating persuasive arguments about something strange, there are two perspectives you can choose, the inside one or the outside one.

“Say that some people show up at your front door one day wearing funny robes, asking you if you will join their movement. They believe that a UFO is going to visit Earth two years from now, and it is our task to prepare humanity for the Great Upbeaming.

“The inside view requires you to engage with these arguments on their merits. You ask your visitors how they learned about the UFO, why they think it’s coming to get us — all the normal questions a skeptic would ask in this situation.

“Imagine you talk to them for an hour, and come away utterly persuaded. They make an ironclad case that the UFO is coming, that humanity needs to be prepared, and you have never believed something as hard in your life as you now believe in the importance of preparing humanity for this great event.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Fact-checking: useful, until it becomes politically biased trivial pursuit

Summary: Monday’s debate shows the limit of fact-checking, even in those rare cases where it’s politically neutral. While useful in small doses, it boosts our obsession with the trivial aspects of the race and obscures the great issues at stake. Also, it’s seldom done with a neutral viewpoint — becoming glib defenses of the established narrative.

Truth, not Pravda, Will Make You Free


Fact-checking is useful but has become part of our dysfunctional political campaigns. They turn the debates into trivial pursuit, with fact-checking a fun, easy, cheap role for journalists. The product is entertaining and superficial — the hallmarks of modern election coverage. The deeper issues are lost in the chatter about sound bites and personalities. No surprise that only 55% of Americans vote for president. For example see Bloomberg’s Fact Checker’s summary of the debate

“The candidates spent a good deal of time on stop-and-frisk, racial issues, Obama birther matter, ISIS and nuclear weapons. Trump appeared to be rambling on a number of questions, especially on foreign policy. Clinton made points on the tax returns, with Trump not ending questions about whether he failed to pay any federal income taxes — and not offering a clear reason as to why he’s not releasing his tax returns.”

Where are the discussions of resurgent populism and progressivism, of long-suppressed issues such as mass immigration and globalization, and of vital questions such how to handle our failed wars since 9/11?

The major media’s fact checkers (see Bloomberg and the AP) caught some of Clinton’s whoppers (her flip-flopping about the Trans-Pacific Partnership), missed some (lying about Iran’s nuclear program; see tomorrow’s post), and displayed astonishing bias about others. Let’s look as examples of the bias.

Read more

We can learn much from the stories about Hillary’s health

Summary: The Campaign 2016 circus continues, each chapter weirder than the last. Trump’s caravan is weirdness on wings, with his bizarre stream of misinformation and fantasy. Also interesting (if less scary) are the stories about Hillary’s health. This is a follow-up to Important advice for us about the election from Obama’s doctor. Only by reviewing the full story — cutting through the lies, assembling the pieces from the daily news — can we see the full picture, identify the key questions, and draw useful conclusions. Update: see the new information in the last section.

Hillary Clinton
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

Recap of the story so far

As of Saturday concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health were deemed illegitimate by mainstream journalists and political gurus. For example, on Sept 6 WaPo reporter Chris Cillizza asked plaintively “Can we just stop talking about Hillary Clinton’s health now?“, referring to the “Clinton health conspiracy” (the all-purpose dismissive hand-wave). MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter dismissed NBC’s mild story about her coughing with “this ain’t news“. Then she was ill on Sunday at a 9/11 event. We can learn much about our America by careful review of what happened next.

Clinton left the Manhattan event at 9.36 am. Here is the first official story, from campaign spokesman Nick Merrill — released aprox. 90 minutes later.

“Secretary Clinton attended the September 11th Commemoration Ceremony for just an hour and thirty minutes this morning to pay her respects and greet some of the families of the fallen. During the ceremony, she felt overheated, so departed to go to her daughter’s apartment and is feeling much better.”

The NY Times told us what came next.

“About 90 minutes after arriving {at Chelsea’s apartment}, Mrs. Clinton emerged from the apartment in New York’s Flatiron district. She waved to onlookers and posed for pictures with a little girl on the sidewalk. ‘I’m feeling great,’ Mrs. Clinton said. ‘It’s a beautiful day in New York.’”

This story was greeted with derision. The temperature was in the low 80s. Sometime after 5 pm Dr. Lisa R Bardack gave us a second story — with new information.

Read more

Psychology explains Campaign 2016: the 8 tactics of manipulation & lying that win elections

Summary: We would understand this election better by consulting a wider range of experts than the usual journalists (experts on the election steeplechase) and political gurus (experts on the electoral games). This post looks at the psychology of the manipulator and the victim, which nicely describes the roles of elite and voter in America today.

Why do we fall for their lies and manipulations again and again?

Charlie Brown and Lucy: football madness

Essential reading for voters in Campaign 2016

8 Triangulating Tactics of the Pathological Liar

by Támara Hill (MS, Licensed Professional Counselor) at PsychCentral

“Do you know someone who engages in telling multiple lies, even when you or someone else has caught them? Do you know someone who seems to manipulate others with his or her lies? If so, this article is for you.

“…Sadly, mental health professionals are largely uninformed about this insidious and evil behavior. We lack research and knowledge about pathological lying and have been unable, for centuries, to explain why it happens and how it develops. As a result, society remains very uninformed about pathological lying and is often shocked when someone close begins sharing their lies and untruths.

“…Triangulation can be defined as any behavior that misleads, confuses, or damages the relationship between the communicator and more than one other person. In other words, triangulation is a tactic someone may use to control, manipulate, misinform, or deceive.”

This is interesting and well-written. Perhaps most interesting is that the author gives no sign that the subjects of manipulation have agency — a sense of control over their actions. Why do people so often respond so well to manipulators? As the adage goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a thousand times, shame on me.” The victim shares responsibility with the manipulator.

Read more