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Forget Cricket Talk about anything [within Board Rules, of course :) ]

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  #1  
Old August 9, 2004, 06:05 AM
Tintin Tintin is offline
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Default Media and the masses

This is from an article in the August 7 edition of 'Sportstar' where Geet Sethi, a former world amateur billiards champion, wrote about India's chances in the olympics. He goes on describe the role media plays in the other sports getting ignored in favour of cricket :

"I will digress just a bit but it is to make the point that the media can influence public perception and viewpoints. Noam Chomsky is a rare breed of political thinker, and he is one of the few American political analysts who are severe of American foreign policy. In his book 'Understanding power' he has observed how media brainwashes people to assume certain premises, which are sometimes complete lies. He refers to the American invasion of countries like Vietnam, Nicaragua amongst others and mentions that the phrase coined by the media to refer to these attacks on foreign countries is always 'containment'.

He says that ever since the US started the offensive against these hapless these third world countries, the media has always given the impression to the unsuspecting public in the US that these were defensive strikes done for containing certain countries. The public has never questioned this assumption despite the fact that the strikes on these countries were done with pre-meditated agression and always against those countries whose rules/governments failed to follow American policy and direction.

Much in the same way, I find that in India the public never questions what is being given to it by the media.

Chomsky says 'After all, what are the media ? Who are they ? Are they "us" ? Actually they are amongst the major corporations in the country; they are not "us". They are no more "us" than General motors are "us". The question is : are the media like a sample of public opinion ? Is it that the public has a certain set of beliefs and the media are just a sample of it ? If that were the case, the media would be very democratic in fact'

They do not consciously dissect and analyse nor do they have ideological beliefs in any conscious manner. Like a flock of sheep they take the path that the shepherd wants them to. And the shepherd is media. Why cannot the media romanticise the achievements of Dhanraj Pillay, Gagan Ajit Singh, Anju Bobby George, Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Anjali Bhagwat and Viswanathan Anand, in the same manner in which they build brands out of our cricketers, whose only claim to fame is one world cup triumph in 1983? The answer is not straightforward and requires some soul searching not only in the media but also by the common man.

The common man in India just like the rest of the world has stopped thinking. The public wants the media to think for them, to influence their beliefs and help them to decide what is right, what is wrong; what is acceptable, what is not and what is entertainment. The youth today blindly believe what they hear or read in the media. Sometimes what is said by a newspaper, magazine or tv channel has more authenticity than what their teachers or parents may think or want them to think. Such is the power and such is the influence of the media today that a citizen's viewpoint on a particular viewpoint will be determined not by what he thinks is right or wrong but by the opinion expressed by the particular channel that he watches regularly or by the newspaper which he glances through while having the morning tea."
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  #2  
Old August 9, 2004, 07:31 AM
chinaman chinaman is offline
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Ahh media! Its another Govt. And the worst part is it doesn't require voting to stay on its never ending power.

Somebody created that monster but forgot to write the manual.
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  #3  
Old August 9, 2004, 07:46 AM
PoorFan PoorFan is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by chinaman
Ahh media! Its another Govt. And the worst part is it doesn't require voting to stay on its never ending power.

Somebody created that monster but forgot to write the manual.
Nicely quoted.
Most dark part of the media vision & journalism.
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  #4  
Old August 9, 2004, 08:44 AM
ZunaidH ZunaidH is offline
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Tintin;

Good post. Even better to see a Noam Chomsky reader.

I personally think that the Indians are less vulnerable than Americans in terms of media influence. One testament to that statement is the last election the country has thwarted. Point to ponder is that I believe democracy in India is much more developed than democracy in the U.S. at least. I wish you guys did not stop at that and had given Sonya Gandhi a chance. That would have created an ever exemplary record of political achievement barring race, color and country of birth.

In my opinion, crciket is more glorified because it is a team sport and average people can aspire to relate to that. The folks you have listed are all individual performers. Do you agree?
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  #5  
Old August 9, 2004, 08:53 AM
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Sonia Gandhi is ruling the country by proxy. Manmohan Singh is a rubber stamp Prime Minister and everyone, including he himself knows it.
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  #6  
Old August 9, 2004, 09:03 AM
ZunaidH ZunaidH is offline
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Cricketfan;

I am aware about the "proxy power". I had given the fair share of compliment for what you guys have achieved. I wish you could drop the "rubber stamp". Even if it was for a few months, it would have been icing on the cake that is already quite rich with democracy
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  #7  
Old August 9, 2004, 09:16 AM
Ibrahim Ibrahim is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by chinaman
Ahh media! Its another Govt. And the worst part is it doesn't require voting to stay on its never ending power.

Somebody created that monster but forgot to write the manual.
Excellent comments.
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  #8  
Old August 9, 2004, 10:58 AM
oracle oracle is offline
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Outlook, an indian magazine , has a lot of Chomsky articles, if you are interested in these issues.
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  #9  
Old August 9, 2004, 02:49 PM
sageX sageX is offline
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There is a proverb:

King rule the world, Wise man rule the king.

This proverb can be modified in modern context:

King rule the world, Media make the king.
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  #10  
Old August 9, 2004, 10:29 PM
fab fab is offline
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Nice article. It is quite alarming how the masses (even educated ones) can be so easily brainwashed by the media/government. But, I think that as individuals we read what we *want* to read, i.e. we lean towards a certain political spectrum, and believe everything that the media outlet with similar ideologies to our own spew forth. E.g in the UK you have the leftists reading Guardian and rightwing (nutters) reading Telegraph/Mail, in BD you have the pro AL and the pro BNP papers etc.. You'd seldom see an AL supporter reading a BNP paper for their daily news feed since it won't have the slant they are looking for..
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  #11  
Old August 10, 2004, 09:47 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
But, I think that as individuals we read what we *want* to read, i.e. we lean towards a certain political spectrum, and believe everything that the media outlet with similar ideologies to our own spew forth.
I don't necessarily think "we read what we want to read" is a thing to avoid. If you know how logical reasoning works and like reading authors who base their arguments on reason and facts, you should by all means continue reading them.

And the political "spectrum" is bs. Whoever came up with the idea of right and left should be shot. It creates unnecessary, almost religion-like, faith-based polarization.
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  #12  
Old August 11, 2004, 06:19 PM
fab fab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arnab
I don't necessarily think "we read what we want to read" is a thing to avoid. If you know how logical reasoning works and like reading authors who base their arguments on reason and facts, you should by all means continue reading them.
"If you know how logical reasoning works" is very subjective. Everyone thinks of themselves as logical people. Hands up anyone here who thinks they are illogical?

Would you say the writings of John Pilger and Robert Fisk are logical? To me I think most of their arguments and conclusions are legitimate as they are arrived at logically, yet I know many who think they are not.

Quote:
And the political "spectrum" is bs. Whoever came up with the idea of right and left should be shot. It creates unnecessary, almost religion-like, faith-based polarization.
That's true. But that polarisation is inevitable considering that a given social problem can always be broken down into a liberal solution and a conservative one..
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  #13  
Old August 11, 2004, 07:01 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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fab: Would you say the writings of John Pilger and Robert Fisk are logical?

Yes, Robert Fisk and John Pilger's commentaries are mostly logical. They are my two most favorite journalists because of that.

fab: "yet I know many who think they are not."

Yes, that's true. Hey, 45% of the US population believe in the devil and NOT in evolution. Are they logical? Hey, 65% of the American people believed the terrorists of 9/11 were Iraqis. So?

Face it, MOST people REALLY "don't know how logical reasoning works."

MOST (more than 95%) people haven't had formal training in thinking crtitically or applying propositional logic.

What's MORE disturbing is that a considerable number of people are actually "anti-intellectual"! They don't want to think critically.

And about the "inevitability" of the "polarization": I don't think so. Look, the words "conservative" and "liberal" meant something only in the United States during the FDR era. What we have now masquarading as "liberal" or "conservative" is hogwash. You can say, there's the policy of the GOP, then there are Democrats who essentially are GOP-lite.

[Edited on 12-8-2004 by Arnab]
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  #14  
Old August 11, 2004, 09:29 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Wow, I just saw the first relevant google ad on this site. Check it out, it's an ad about Fahrenheit 9/11, pertinent to the thread topic.
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  #15  
Old August 11, 2004, 09:44 PM
fab fab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arnab
Yes, Robert Fisk and John Pilger's commentaries are mostly logical. They are my two most favorite journalists because of that.
As much as I do respect and enjoy reading most of Pilger and Fisk's articles, I do admit that they write with a humanitarian and leftwing slant which is why their writing appeals to me. Surely you cannot deny these two belong to a certain political category that is part of a wider 'spectrum'?
Quote:
Hey, 65% of the American people believed the terrorists of 9/11 were Iraqis. So?
That would be ignorance in addition to being irrational.
Quote:
MOST (more than 95%) people haven't had formal training in thinking crtitically or applying propositional logic.
That may be true to a certain extent, although I do hold a slightly more optimistic view of humanity and think that a large portion of the educated population is logical despite not having formal training on the mathematics of logic. The success of humanity overall is a testatment..
Quote:
What's MORE disturbing is that a considerable number of people are actually "anti-intellectual"! They don't want to think critically.
I think that's the crux of the problem. Majority of people don't think critically, especially of information given by 'authorities'. They assume that whatever is given to them by 'authorities' is true.

A false argument can be presented and be logically backed up with lies. The public believe these lies, not JUST because they are illogical, but primarily because they are not critical enough and/or too ignorant. Being illogical is a secondary and subsequent factor.
Quote:
And about the "inevitability" of the "polarization": I don't think so. Look, the words "conservative" and "liberal" meant something only in the United States during the FDR era.
Look, 'liberal/conservative', 'left/right' are just labels for the same thing. But the concept and indeed the two forms of thinking has been around for a while. Heck, even the 18th and 19th Century British literati could be lumped into democrat or tory and that was long before Roosevelt was even in nappies.

Anyhow my basic point is that you can have logical arguments on BOTH sides of an issue because life is not simply black and white, right or wrong (e.g. of this is how two sides can be presented in logical form in debates). Which side appeals to you more, is generally based on your inherent political leaning, which is why you read what you want to read.
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Old August 11, 2004, 09:47 PM
fab fab is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Arnab
Wow, I just saw the first relevant google ad on this site. Check it out, it's an ad about Fahrenheit 9/11, pertinent to the thread topic.
hmmm.. I get American Foreign Policy and Noam Chomsky

How does the google ad thing work? It must use words in the thread and then decide an appropriate advert.
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  #17  
Old August 12, 2004, 09:43 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
Anyhow my basic point is that you can have logical arguments on BOTH sides of an issue because life is not simply black and white, right or wrong (e.g. of this is how two sides can be presented in logical form in debates). Which side appeals to you more, is generally based on your inherent political leaning, which is why you read what you want to read.
I disagree. I have had this same "debate" with a so called "centrist" recently. It turned out that he didn't even know how logical reasoning works. I am not saying you don't. After all, you read Fisk and Pilger at least.

If you want to, we can continue this discussion. But before that, let's establish what we really want to discuss.
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  #18  
Old August 12, 2004, 10:52 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Ok, before we start any formal discussion, here are some of my thoughts on your reply:

About Pilger and Fisk: Yes, they do write with a humanitarian and left-wing slant. Yes, they do belong to a "certain political category that is part of a wider spectrum". But that is what conventional political thinking, i.e., thinking fed to us by the media (who else?), "teaches" us. My point is that this whole "political spectrum" thing is really a sham. It intentionally, NOT unintentionally, inhibits reasoning, discourages critical thinking and puts you in boxes and categories.

[1] What we ALWAYS have to do and encourage others to do is to analyze every pieces of information that we have, ascertain their validity as best as we can, apply critical reasoning on the valid premises, and come to some conclusions that, to the best of our knowledge, are rational.

I don't like Pilger and Fisk becasue they are from the "left-wing", but because they seem to be the kind of people who exercises the kind of actions that I just described in the previous paragraph [1]. "leftists", "rightists", etc. are pretty much useless epithets. They are labels that you sling at somebody if you don't like his views. And he throws something back at you, too. It's unproductive and mires the population into endless infighting while the real problems remain unsolved.

About American people's absurd logic:

Yes, Americans thinking that the 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis seems to be both "ignorant" and "irrational". Only that it is almost entirely "irrational." The media did not lie to the Americans. The media showed the passport photos of the terrorists, mentioned which country they came from, again and again. Any four year old kid would have got that idea from watching the TV, exercising minimal reasoning. But the Americans are so "irrational" that the administration's repeated mentioning of "9/11 and Iraq" in the same sentence actually worked on them. They didn't even exercise the minimal reasoning.

About humans mostly not being critical thinkers

First of all, I stand by my point which is MOST people haven't had formal training in thinking critically or applying propositional logic. I disagree with your "slightly optimistic" view that "a large portion" of the "educated population" is logical. In fact, you contradicted yourself by saying just the opposite a few lines later: "I think that's the crux of the problem. Majority of the people don't think critically."

And the success of humanity is testament to that fact that most of the humanity is logical? That's simply not true. We could have been wiped out by an asteroid, or some cold war era miscalculations by a very few individuals (in fact we were VERY close to a nuclear holocaust during the Bay of Pigs; humanity was saved from
that because a Russian submarine commander thought firing nuclear tipped torpedos wouldn't be a good idea).

The "success of humanity" is a vague, loaded term that has very little to do how much of the human population are critical thinkers. Slavery was a very efficient, successful economic system, but none of its mechanisms was rational in the light of human rights. You just made a "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy yourself.

Some more thoughts:

Fab: A false argument can be presented and be logically backed up with lies. The public believe these lies, not JUST because they are illogical, but primarily because they are not critical enough and/or too ignorant. Being illogical is a secondary and subsequent factor.

The conclusion of an argument can be false in two ways:

(a) The premises (or the facts) underlying the argument can be false (lies),
or (b) the mechanism of the argument itself can be wrong (a logical fallacy).

Now as far as critically analyzing the conclusions presented by the media, the public, in my opinion, fails in BOTH counts in varying ways. Well, there are three possible ways to botch up:

1. The premise is false but the logical mechanism is right. The public don't know whether the premise is false.

2. The premise is right but the logical mechanism is false. The public don't know whether the logical mechanism is right.

3. The premise and logical mechanism are both false. The public don't know whether eiither of them is true.

There are countless examples of each of these happening with the public and I am not so sure that the possibilty of (1) is greater than the other two, which is what you seem to suggest. In fact, my opinion is that they are all equally likely.

Critical thinking DEMANDS that you are AWARE of these three ways you can screw up and carefully analyze the conclusions given to you and ensure that they don't fall in any of those three categories. Being aware of false premises AND faulty logical mechanisms are both necessary prerequisites in critical thinking. Neither is "secondary" or "subsequent".

*****

And I don't want to get into the whole history of "liberal/conservative", "democrat/tory" thing because I find it useless to this discussion.

And while I acknowledge "life is not black or white", I do believe in some moral "truisms" (as Chomsky calls them) that should be upheld by humans. Think of them like axioms of geometry or algebra. When these basic rules are violated, I do feel the need to delienate between right and wrong, based on my "truisms". As a critical thinker, it IS my duty.

******

ADDENDUM:

On the Political Spectrum:

I totally agree with the following, something I found on the internet:

It is customary to refer to political/economic systems as being on a spectrum, with communism on the far left, liberalism in the centre and fascism on the far right. The political spectrum is a powerful metaphor, and we are all deep in the habit of using it, but there are problems with its use as a model for reality. For one thing, it tends to encourage the idea of a 'slippery slope' of political structures; hence, today we introduce 'socialist' health care, tomorrow we line up to apply for a Lada.

This is because of the human tendency to mistake descriptive metaphors for predictive models. Yes, politics can be understood as being like a spectrum, in the sense that you can 'line up' the different political positions such that each one represents an incremental change from the one next to it, but this is where the similarity ends. Unfortunately, as soon as public policy is perceived as shifting in a certain direction along the continuum, people whose views lie in the opposite direction may feel that the movement is the beginning of a trend. Sometimes, this perception is quite correct; it is unquestionable that politics moves in trends, swinging slowly this way and that, as if tugged between the two ideologies on either end of the spectrum. However, the important phrase in the last sentence is 'as if'. A pragmatic government which raises the minimum wage and helps fund community projects is not being secretly run by a bunch of communists looking for a back door to world domination. But when politics is understood as a spectrum, then every step to the left is a step towards the Great Communist Scourge waiting out at the edge. Similarly, every step to the right is one step closer to Nazi Germany.

Needless to say, this kind of thinking does not encourage sensible discourse.



[Edited on 12-8-2004 by Arnab]
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  #19  
Old August 13, 2004, 12:25 AM
fab fab is offline
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Quote:
My point is that this whole "political spectrum" thing is really a sham. It intentionally, NOT unintentionally, inhibits reasoning, discourages critical thinking and puts you in boxes and categories.
I agree. A side effect of such categorising inhibits reasoning and critical thinking amongst the general populace, as we usually end up toeing our party line on any given issue. But putting things into nice little categories makes it easier to manage society as a whole. If there weren't these categories of thought, how would political parties in a democracy be formed? What are these political parties anyway? They are basically groups of people with SIMILAR ideologies on how they think their communities should be managed. We vote for these people, because we think they will run society in a way which we favour.

Say we banished this thought of liberalism and conservatism, how do you propose political groups be formed? Should we have referendums on every single issue and apply our critical and logical thinking on a case by case basis? Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, there will have to be SOME form of generalisation, otherwise it would be impossible to manage a democracy. It's all very well to discredit an establishment, but unless you can provide an alternative (workable) solution, it's moot.
Quote:
I don't like Pilger and Fisk becasue they are from the "left-wing", but because they seem to be the kind of people who exercises the kind of actions that I just described in the previous paragraph [1].
I'm sure there are people on the 'right-wing' who excercise similar actions to [1]. Can you name any that you admire?
Quote:
Yes, Americans thinking that the 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis seems to be both "ignorant" and "irrational". Only that it is almost entirely "irrational." The media did not lie to the Americans.
I beg to differ. I think it had more to do with their ignorance. Before 9/11 the average American did not know the difference between a muslim, a saudi arabian, a taliban, and an iraqi and Islam. All this mumbo jumbo, genuinely confused the hell out of them, and hence it was easy to mislead them. After all how can one be critical of something when one has no prior knowledge or understanding of it in the first place?
Quote:
First of all, I stand by my point which is MOST people haven't had formal training in thinking critically or applying propositional logic. I disagree with your "slightly optimistic" view that "a large portion" of the "educated population" is logical. In fact, you contradicted yourself by saying just the opposite a few lines later: "I think that's the crux of the problem. Majority of the people don't think critically."
So now thinking logically is the same as thinking critically? Personally, I think there is a subtle difference, (in fact you have already outlined that difference below, but have neglected it in your argument above), but let me elaborate with a simple example:

Given the following basic propositions
if (A and B) then C.
if (C or D) then E

Being logical would be working out 'if I have A and B then E, or if I have D then E, or even if I have all A and B and D then E'. I genuinely think most people can deduce that. If they couldn't, then they couldn't function properly in our complex society. In this simple example, being critical on the other hand, would be imo, asking if the proposition was true to begin with. Is it true to assume that (A and B) implies C? Are we certain that A and B are true? This is where people are failing because they have no idea about A, B or C! The authorities and media give us the definitions of A, B and C and we assume that they are true/accurate..
Quote:
And the success of humanity is testament to that fact that most of the humanity is logical? That's simply not true.
By success of humanity I mean, humanity's progress in changing their environment and improving their quality of life and longevity and ADAPTING to those improvements. Without the collective intelligence, logic and rationality of the average human, society couldn't function as it does. Otherwise we would be in a state of total anarchy. So, how is this a post hoc fallacy?
Quote:
Critical thinking DEMANDS that you are AWARE of these three ways you can screw up and carefully analyze the conclusions given to you and ensure that they don't fall in any of those three categories. Being aware of false premises AND faulty logical mechanisms are both necessary prerequisites in critical thinking. Neither is "secondary" or "subsequent".
Critical thinking demands AWARENESS. And what is awareness? The opposite of ignorance! And so I reiterate, if one is to be a critical thinker, one CANNOT be ignorant. You just cannot be critical about something you don't understand. Therefore, knowledge is a PRIMARY requirement of being critical. Being logical is secondary because it would be impossible to work out the logical validity of a statement without prior KNOWLEDGE of the statement's components.

To end, let me give you a real life example. Last semester I wrote a paper about optical character recognition (OCR)/text detection with regards to its application to an information security mechanism. My prof is a security expert but he had NO idea about OCR. He could not critique my paper and deduce if it was logical because of his ignorance of that subject. Therefore proving, that knowledge, not logic, is the primary requirement of being a critical thinker.
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  #20  
Old August 13, 2004, 11:33 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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Quote:
A side effect of such categorising inhibits reasoning and critical thinking amongst the general populace, as we usually end up toeing our party line on any given issue. But putting things into nice little categories makes it easier to manage society as a whole.
Thank you. It kind of relates to the subsequent point I was going to raise regarding political spectrum. Such political categories do make things easier to "manage society". But your average Joe or Jen doesn't "manage society." The ruling class manages society. It is to their benefit to divide people into categories, friends and enemies, kind of like intra-tribal power wars.

Now to answer your questions:

Quote:
If there weren't these categories of thought, how would political parties in a democracy be formed? What are these political parties anyway? They are basically groups of people with SIMILAR ideologies on how they think their communities should be managed. We
vote for these people, because we think they will run society in a way which we
favour.
My point is just because there are categories of thoughts and ideologies doesn't mean that all the thoughts/ideas of one thought system is more favorable than all the thoughts/ideas of another thought system. And a functional democracy doesn't have to choose just one winner who gets the sole custody of managing society. A society should be run by people with the best ideas. And history teaches us that there was never a party all whose ideas were the best all the time.

The form of democarcy prevalent today in America is not the only kind of democracy we can possibly have.

Now let's see where you take me from here:

Quote:
Say we banished this thought of liberalism and conservatism, how do you propose political groups be formed? Should we have referendums on every single issue and apply our critical and logical thinking on a case by case basis? Unfortunately, whether we like it or not, there will have to be SOME form of generalisation, otherwise it would be impossible to manage a democracy. It's all very well to discredit an establishment, but unless you can provide an alternative (workable) solution, it's moot.
Ah, here's some subtelty for you: I don't want to outright banish the thought of liberalism and conservatism. As an individual I can't. Even as a society we can't do that at the drop of a hat. Even as a society we cannot just propose something new and assume people will
follow the new doctrine with metronomic accuracy. But, that is NOT my point. My discrediting of the "political spectrum" has come from my reasoning of how the current system works. If the number of people like myself grows in proportions, the idea of "providing an alternative, workable solution" would be moot itself. For example, you, fab, kind of understand what I am talking about, but you still want to cling to the status quo, maybe because all your life you have known nothing beyond it and formed some kind of post hoc reasoning to justify it. But if you were not so apprehensive of a life beyond status quo and were patient like me about a gradual change out of the status quo, there would be one more people like me. And if people like us started to grow, there won't be any need to ram an explicit, "workable" "solution" down people's throat. People, most of whom will be critical thinkers, will figure it out themselves. It will work becauseall the ingredients to make it work will exist by then.

Quote:
I'm sure there are people on the 'right-wing' who excercise similar actions to [1]. Can you name any that you admire?
I am not sure about the context of this question. But no, I have not found any right-wing journalist yet who fully exercises actions described in [1]. For that matter, I haven't yet seen a "left-wing" journalist yet who fully exercises those actions as well, but they seem to do it more consistently than their "right-wing" counterparts. In fact, I don't even CARE too much about whether a journalistic interpretation is called "leftist" or "right-wing", other than the convenience that those labels initially, but not ultimately offer.

Quote:
I beg to differ. I think it had more to do with their ignorance. Before 9/11 the average American did not know the difference between a muslim, a saudi arabian, a taliban, and an iraqi and Islam. All this mumbo jumbo, genuinely confused the hell out of them, and hence it was easy to mislead them. After all how can one be critical of something when one has no prior knowledge or understanding of it in the first place?
You are resorting to over-generalizations. The "mumbo-jumbo"s "confused the hell out of them" (them being those 65% Americans who thought the terrorists were Iraqis) precisely BECAUSE they lacked the minimal critical thiking ability, which is my point. If they had the MINIMAL critical thinking ability, they HAD to smell something foul about it. Subsequently, they could have checked the internet, or read the paper. My point is this thing callled "prior knowledge" or "awareness" isn't mana from heaven. "Awareness" HAS to be formed AND updated proactively. And one can only be proactive in updating his awareness ONLY IF he constantly applies critical thiking to the awareness he already has and finds some area in it to update.

You are being overly sympathetic to these Americans and not seeing the actual problem. Their actual problem lies in their inability to think critically, which is needed to update their "awareness" so that they can't be misled. It's a chicken-and-egg thing. It seems as if awareness comes first. But this awareness (the latest updated version of it) actually comes from applying critical thinking to the prior version of "awareness".

The proof of my argument lies with the 35% people who DID NOT believe that the terrorists were Iraqis. If you talk with any of these people, you will find out that they are, on some level, critical thinkers, and THEREFORE couldn't be "confused the hell out of".

About YOUR subtle difference between "Critical" and "logical" thinking:

Potayto Potahto. Using your example, and going back to my previous argument, people do have SOME ideas of A, B, and C (given to them by the media/authority), but they don't "doublecheck" the accuracy of A,B,C BECAUSE they are not critical thinkers. Look, on American TV, NOBODY said 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis. In fact, passports of Saudi Arabia were shown on TV. Commentaries were given abut the identity of the terrorists. There is NO WAY a person with minimal critical thinking ability would confuse the two entities "Saudi Arabia" and "Iraq". If an average American can differentiate between the words "Toyota" and "Chevy", it is unfathomable why they can't differentiate between "Iraqi" and "Saudi Arabian". The only possible explanation is that they SELECTIVELY turned off their MINIMAL critical thinking ability, the ability that let's them simply distinguish between two different nationalities. They were not TOLD to do that by the media. Bush NEVER said that 9/11 terrorists were Iraqis. He just said, "9/11...Al Qaeda....Iraq....Saddam" and repeated ad nauseum. It's those nice little catch phrases that make the society so easy to "manage". Well, Bush was able to "manage" the society pretty well. Fooling 65% of the people is a pretty good success rate.

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By success of humanity I mean, humanity's progress in changing their environment and improving their quality of life and longevity and ADAPTING to those improvements. Without the collective intelligence, logic and rationality of the average human, society couldn't function as it does. Otherwise we would be in a state of total anarchy. So, how is this a post hoc fallacy?
Well, We have used different definitions of "the success of humanity". And there are too many flaws in your definition. Take slavery in America. The slaves were part of a very efficient economic system, a system that produced quality products, improved the quality of millions of people aroundthe world. Even the slaves themselves were very well fed. They were physically stronger and more productive than the average American. The slaves adapted to their lifestyle, too. They were, in some sense, better off than they were in the jungles of Africa. Considering a lot of factors, slavery was a "success". Hell, if it wasn't a success, how could it have lasted so long? If ALL the people in this slave system: owners, slaves, etc. were not collectively intelligent and didn't have the minimal logical requirements to run the system, the system wolud not have existed in the first place.

Do you see the flaws in your definition of "success of humanity"?

About Critical thinking and "Awareness":

Reiterating my previous point, thinking critically is needed to update "awareness". It's a chicken-and-egg thing. It seems as if awareness comes first. But this awareness (the latest updated version of it) actually comes from applying critical thinking to the prior version of "awareness".

Actually, to be even more subtle about it, you are lumping ALL kinds of awareness in one big thing, which is NOT the way people generally behave, as of now. Sure, people may be logical enough to be aware of various personal and societal duties they have to perform to live together in a society, but the "awareness" we are specifically talking about here is political awareness that demands somewhat more acute thinking than say, "What cerial am I going to have this morning?"

We actually agree on many of the basic ideas. But I disagree with you on some subtler distinctions. I insist on disagreeing because if not checked, these might lead to some slippery slope of logical fallacies/failures in critical thinking/whatever you want to call it, some of which I tried to point out in this reply.

[Edited on 13-8-2004 by Arnab]
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  #21  
Old August 14, 2004, 01:53 AM
fab fab is offline
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Quote:
your average Joe or Jen doesn't "manage society." The ruling class manages society. It is to their benefit to divide people into categories, friends and enemies, kind of like intra-tribal power wars.
I think you have arrived at these conclusion based on your observations of US and BD 'democracies' where there definitely exists a 'ruling class' consisting of politically elite families and wealthy businessmen. But I think you may find it is different in smaller democracies. In Australia, in the past 2 decades we've had prime ministers who were Rhodes scholars as well as ones from middle class backgrounds who did not even finish high school. Certainly there aren't as many barriers to become a politician here than there are in the US and BD, where without personal wealth it is virtually impossible. The difference here is, if one wishes to be amongst the ruling class, one can if he/she has the qualities.

But otherwise I do agree with you in principle. Most of the establishments in today's society is a mechanism to trap and enslave citizens for successive authorities to manage and control . Take the 'family unit' and the '(insert your country here) dream' for an example; 'marriage' and 'family' make it easier to control people as it lumps them into distinct controllable units. These units are then entrapped into massive debt by the societal requirement of owning a big house, big car, big dog and 2.4 children by the age of 30, for which they MUST work for the rest of their lives to repay. Try to change ANY facet of your life after achieving this societal requirement, and it is very difficult. If that is not a form of indirect slavery, then what is?

I think slavery is a mandatory requirement for a successful civilisation. Can you think of a successful civilisation that did not employ the use of slaves? We may no longer have manual slavery, but instead we have its corporate equivalent. But (how's this for post hoc reasoning) this is the price we pay to live what we THINK is a decent lifestyle. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be beside a computer 8 hrs a day, than roaming around in the jungle trying to find my own food.
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My point is just because there are categories of thoughts and ideologies doesn't mean that all the thoughts/ideas of one thought system is more favorable than all the thoughts/ideas of another thought system.
Oh of course not. But that doesn't stop people PREFERRING a particular ideology and reading perspectives from that ideology. This is what my original argument was.

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People, most of whom will be critical thinkers, will figure it out themselves. It will work because all the ingredients to make it work will exist by then.
Now that is extraordinary optimism. But yes, how can the system improve if we just accept status quo and stop being critical..

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I am not sure about the context of this question. But no, I have not found any right-wing journalist yet who fully exercises actions described in [1].
Well, my point was that since neither you nor I have been able to name Fisk's and Pilger's equivalents from the 'other' side, it shows that we ourselves selectively read (what we want to read). Am I right to assume that you are somewhat left leaning?

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Do you see the flaws in your definition of "success of humanity"?
I think your analogy just proved my point for me. Logically, slavery is a success. But critically it is not. And therein lies the not-so-subtle distinction between being logical and being critical.

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but the "awareness" we are specifically talking about here is political awareness that demands somewhat more acute thinking than say, "What cerial am I going to have this morning?"
Well, in these days of rampant capitalism choosing what cereal you wish to have in the morning can itself be politically motivated. I refuse to eat food by Nestle or Kelloggs because they are evil corporations.

In a nutshell, I think propaganda and brainwashing is so easily achieved for a number of reasons: 1) Our inherent 'obedience to authority', 2) Lack of awareness/knowledge, 3) irrationality. But there's another factor that we've neglected in our discussion and that is public apathy and laziness. People are not only physically obese but mentally obese too. They have no desire to exercise their minds or their bodies. And so authorities have effortlessly turned their societies into nanny-states where citizens themselves expect to be told what and how to think. Add to that, the fact that people just can't be bothered to find out information that is of great importance. The average Joe would rather read about their leader's infidelity than his public policies.

I don't foresee a revolution happening any time soon..
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  #22  
Old August 14, 2004, 11:20 AM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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A few things.

I don't want to go around in circles about "critical vs logical" because apparently we are using different definitions, and it's useless.

I also don't want to go into the "slavery" thing because quite frankly, I don't think you understood my point at all. I am actually surprised that I actually made you believe that slavery was a suuccessful system. I thought you would understand the underlying irony. But you didn't. You actually went along with my description. I could give you some detailed explanations on WHY the slavery system is NOT deemed a successful venture, but I don't feel like it.

And, a "revolution" (I am sure you don't have some bloody guerilla war on your mind, but a gradual change from the status quo) won't happen BECAUSE majority of the people like you, a person capable of participating in it, don't see it happen.

Let's just say I don't want to have this same conversation with you ten years from now. I want to see some change in the status quo towards what we both think could be possible.

Edited on, August 14, 2004, 7:25 PM GMT, by Arnab.
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  #23  
Old August 15, 2004, 02:37 PM
Arnab Arnab is offline
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One more thing:

Quote:
Well, my point was that since neither you nor I have been able to name Fisk's and Pilger's equivalents from the 'other' side, it shows that we ourselves selectively read (what we want to read). Am I right to assume that you are somewhat left leaning?
Actually, no. I have read, heard and watched the "equivalents" (a misnomer) of Fisk's and Pilger from the other side. I have studied the Ayn Randian ultra-conservative loonies. I do watch FOX news from time to time. I keep a regular tab on what the Wall Street Journal editorial board has to say. I also follow all the publications of the right-wing "policy research" institutions like Hoover Institute, etc.
In fact, go here if you want to know what the American right is up to:
http://www.publiceye.org/study_right.html
Realistically, the center of the American political spectrum has sharply shifted to the right since Reagan. So even supposedly "moderate" publications like NYT and Washington Post can be said to be representing more of the right than the left. And be assured that these publications don't really exercise critical thinking all the time. They have been proven to purposefully mislead people (like the case of Judy Miller in NYT pre-Iraq invasion) and later apologized.

I still find Fisk and Pilger's commentaries outstanding. I don't HAVE TO name names of their equivalents in the right. Because there isn't any.
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