Friday, September 19, 2008

The Big Lie

The New York Times has an article claiming that people often believe things that are demonstrably false. I expect the timing has to do with the fact (probably even a true fact) that the McCain campaign has been telling more lies recently than the Obama campaign (tho neither side is blameless, and the picture isn't black and white, if you'll pardon the pun). Anyway, the NYT informs us that there are all sorts of mechanisms at work here, and wonders if fact checking has any practical value. (I.e. will it help against McCain...).

One of the people it has interviewed notes that even fact checkers can have biases. Huh. Or should I say, Humphh?

There's nothing much new about all this, of course. The Church spent most of its first 1,500 years systematically lying about the Jews and just about everyone went along with it; even once there was a growing group of, shall we call them fact checkers, the Church mostly kept at it for another few centuries; in some corners it still does. In the previous century Goebbels may have been the world's top expert at demonstrating that if you say something often enough and stridently enough millions will believe you no matter how ridiculous you're being, but he had many competitors and companions in evil. But why reach so far as Goebbels: Have you ever listened to the BBC reporting on Israel? Not too much truth there, is there, especially when you get into body language of reporters and commentators. Regular readers of this blog are regularly exposed to my ire at the Guardian, but that will never make the Guardian any more committed to truth.

Lest you think, as the NYT article subtly suggests, that susceptibility to lies is greater with less educated people or whatever: Bah! The most committed believers (and creators, and disseminators) of the Nazi lies were an identifiable social-economic group that was far more intelligent and educated than the masses of German citizenry. This is probably equally true of the Communists, though I have fewer of the facts at my fingertips. The readership of the Guardian, in any case, is definitely more educated than the average Briton, so apparently the case can be made that more education means more susceptibility to lies.

Just switch on your TV, or reach for a magazine and let your eye flit by the first advertisements you see: if they were really true you wouldn't buy their products. Me, I've had enough contact with marketers to know that telling the truth is never on their agenda, though admittedly, getting caught blatantly lying isn't either. Have you ever noticed how fundraisers never use the word 'problems', for example, always preferring the term 'challenges'? Yep. Of course, that's but a small subset of the nexus between marketing jargon on the one hand, and the pernicious phenomenon of Political Correctness, a theology of lies if ever there was one, invented, mostly, not by McCain's side of the American cultural wars, even if it is grounded by deep roots in Calvinism and Puritanism.

It's vastly better to tell and hear the truth. But don't lets pretend our side is necessarily better at it, unless we can back up this claim with.... facts.


Morey Altman said...

Speaking of Big Lies, I'm sure you have some thoughts on Kadima's leadership race.

Shabbat Shalom.

Anonymous said...


There comes a time that REALITY shows its face. Even when you get wall-to-wall lying by the media; and a few elite politicians.

It turns out that IF you keep a language tucked among a small tribe of users; that the language gets very complicated. (Heck, in Africa, where this has been seen, there are tribes who make clicking noises ... beyond anything that can be duplicated by outsiders.)


So there's virtually no benefits IF you can't GROW.

A very long time ago, the ancient Greeks (who also believed an elite corp of celebates "could" rule the people. But not leave progeny to inherit this. Got laid to rest by America's Founding Fathers.)

America's Founding Fathers bet that politics works BEST when you spread it out over more and more territory.

Guess who won?

Well, you can choose your own opinion.

One of the nicest things about the English language is how accommodating it is! How it picks up words from other tongues; and melds them into whole sentences. While, if you went to look, you'd see how "being small" hurts. Being limited to "splitting hairs" using ancient texts, is not something in your favor.

And, Israel, right now has sufficient rope to go and hang itself. Just because the elites, and their system, stinks to the high heavens.

You think Livni holds on? Let me explain something to ya. Livni is the dog that went after Olmert; because she saw her place on top.

She's the one who (working with Ehud Barak), caused all the alarm you're currently feeling. OR, your being subjected to. Nobody forced her to do this.

As to the media? You woke up to their lies. Mofaz was NOT losing by 20% ... or even 12%. And, Livni eeked out a win, only because she was able to "hold the polls open" for a few more votes; while the media announced "an open and shut case."

Let me tell ya, when a surgeon finds "an open a shut case," you're dealing with end-stage disease.

And, up ahead? You can add the chaos of Lehmann Bros. FAILURE. Given that Israeli banks have their own "exposure" tzuris. It's not just Arik Sharon on life supports, anymore.

I have nothing against religion. All of it runs on ancient texts. And, all of it gathers in "true believers." But that's still not the whole universe.

While, for Israel, the saddest thing is that Israel is stuck with leftist-liberal punditry. Swinging through it's propaganda branches. You don't get it? Let me help. Liberalism is nothing more than communism; one stinking drink at a time. And, people pay through their noses.

Anonymous said...

Ya, speaking of one drink at a time.

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