Posts Tagged ‘faith’

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People who use science like a faith are often fooled by trivial scientific looking gibberish. You see this all the time, pseudo-intellectualism, particularly on controversial matters.

Blinded by non-science: Trivial scientific information increases trust in products

“Your faith in science may actually make you more likely to trust information that appears scientific but really doesn’t tell you much,” said lead author Aner Tal, post-doctoral researcher at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab. “Anything that looks scientific can make information you read a lot more convincing.”

4921470721_20e35ff6c7_zAlyson_H Flickr Stream by (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

 

Published at OpEdNews
by Joe Giambrone

Ideology is the modern plague, because ideologues have all the answers already.  Every event, every situation fits the mold of their beliefs, and contrary evidence is discarded in the service of bolstering said ideology.  This is easily seen in the people one disagrees with on a regular basis, but nearly never acknowledged in one’s own determinations.

I have been wrong (as has the NY Times), and have occasionally written based on assumptions rather than on cold hard analysis.  That is the obvious danger of having partial information.  I’ve also corrected these assertions and moved on.  I have no problem being mistaken if I am proved wrong – the key word being proved.

Many people simply do not understand the concept of unproved or unknown issues.  This occurs when several competing explanations can hold true, but the actual truth is unknown, as in the case of classified state secrets, or hidden criminal conspiracies (often the same thing).  The public simply cannot know based on available information.  In that case multiple explanations may exist, but it is impossible to determine which – if any – is the correct one.  What we have are ever growing bodies of evidence to analyze.

These are Donald Rumsfeld’s “known unknowns.”  It is a perfectly valid analysis and probably more fitting much of the time than many of the snap rushed judgments of ideologues on the left, right and particularly the centrists, who are a breed unto themselves.  Unknowns are unthinkable to the ideologue, quite literally; these cannot be thought of in that manner.  Ideologues know, just like Tom Cruise “knows.”  They know.  Their leaders know, and usually the factions fall in line without a second thought.  A different reality would crush them, or would force them to think, rather than to place events into easily managed ideological boxes.

“Everybody’s talkin’ about Bagism, Shagism, dragism, Madism, Ragism, Tagism, This-ism, That-ism, ism, ism, ism.” – John Lennon , Give Peace a Chance

This psychological reality motivates those with the power to classify events as secret.  Withholding information from citizens is a very useful strategy indeed.  If the truth cannot be determined, then the people will continue to scramble to make sense of the events, usually by contorting the few known facts into an acceptable ideological narrative.  Secrecy prompts the common people to stay busy.  By following false leads and misinformation people waste valuable time and resources attempting to comprehend the secret event and resolve the conflicting evidence.  Even insider whistleblowers with partial knowledge of the actual event are sidelined, as they usually cannot explain the full extent of the hidden state secret, nor name the names, dates, contacts and all the related evidence required to fully expose the wrongdoing.  This is the “compartmentalization” organizational model, which is the gold standard in covert operations, and is well known and employed by intelligence services.  Whistleblowers are also routinely censored by the mainstream news, and most citizens simply never hear what they have to say.

The next option, if one’s strategy is to distract the population, is disinformation.  Deliberately false information, those “conspiracy theories” we hear so much about in the corporate media, are valuable to those seeking to keep secrets hidden.  As more false leads are provided for people to pursue, less time and effort is spent pursuing the true leads.  The more outlandish the disinformation, the better it can discredit those who choose to investigate it.  By simply discrediting people and discouraging them from investigating secret events, those who create the secrets are empowered and shielded from public accounting.  That is the game.  How have you been playing it?

Needless to say, this has not been an academic discussion.  These observations are the result of firsthand observations over many years.  The events in question are easily named, but this paper concerns the strategies behind the flows of information.  A strategy can apply to many events.  A strategy is employed because it works.  This strategy is proven, and it has a long track record.

Media censorship is a critical factor in keeping the population misinformed and distracted.  This may sound counterintuitive to some, as the media, your TV news, newspapers and magazines, present themselves as the informers of public awareness, the leaders of investigation.  But what aren’t they telling you?  What is not permitted to appear in these sources?

It’s not hard to find that out, actually.  Media censorship is a well-studied phenomenon in the United States.  The Project Censored group is perhaps the best known clearinghouse of censored critical information here.  Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) is also a notable media watchdog, as is PR Watch, Medialens and others.  To understand what is not permissible on public airwaves is to understand the reality of our governing system.  Washington, with its financiers from Wall Street, its Military-Industrial-Complex and its multinational corporate sector, rule through deception and not through honesty and full disclosure.  Deception is the default position, not an anomaly.

Case in point, when the United States military drops bombs in one of its many war theaters, the initial story told by the military is almost always that the enemy was killed; those killed are described as “militants” or “terrorists” or “high value targets” or some other euphemism for bad guys.  When independent sources investigate these incidents later the truth tends to come out.  Children, innocent families, weddings, funerals, first responders, these are the actual victims of many US bombings.  But the US public has already been told that they were “enemy combatants.”  The likelihood that the domestic public will ever hear about the correction from the US wall of media noise is very slim indeed.  Thus a false overall impression of US military operations is maintained and believed by a large percentage of the population.  This is a mechanism for promoting a global empire to the common people.

Occam, The Misunderstood

When someone mentions “Occam’s Razor,” it is usually a telltale sign that they wish to avoid actual investigation and settle for the obvious or simple explanation.  Thus all complicated crimes are rejected outright as many cling to this false faith-based argument instead of investigating the facts fully.  Highly complicated crimes are therefore abandoned to “the experts” perhaps rightly so considering the labor commitment required to understand them.  But one cannot simply trust the experts, particularly when these experts are challenged by factual, evidence-based refutation.

The scientific method relies upon disproving the impossible: if x, then y cannot be true.  As new evidence emerges, old assumptions are tossed out.  Occam’s full meaning aligns with this search for evidence and with the elimination of assumptions.

Whenever anyone makes a claim, be they the President of the United States, the Deputy Director of the CIA, or your mother, but they are unable or unwilling to prove the truth of their claim with evidence, then the choice to believe what they say is clearly an assumption.  Governments rely upon this tendency of the majority to assume that leaders are telling the truth.

Ronald Reagan went on television to tell glaring falsehoods to the nation during the Iran Contra Scandal revelations in the press, but he was soon forced to return to the airwaves and to apologize for it.

“A few months ago I told the American people ‘I did not trade arms for hostages.’  My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”
–President Ronald Reagan, March 4, 1987

So what is an investigator to do?

Personally, I follow leads and weigh their veracity against known patterns.  It’s a natural process.  Most people lack the time and knowledge to investigate more fully.  Professionals dig far more deeply than I could, leaving me somewhere in the middle.  It’s telling to note which incontrovertible facts are censored by the self-aggrandizing “free press.”  Censorship is like a bright flashing beacon that lures us to pick up the slack.  While it takes no coordination or collusion to investigate an obvious lead, the practice of censoring the truth across a wide swath of the media, numerous entities, numerous newsrooms, numerous channels, must be more deliberate and intentional.  Pay attention to the verboten.  Pay close scrutiny to what those who are handsomely paid to inform the public will never admit to “on the record.”  To manipulate a society as large and as varied as ours is a feat indeed.  But it’s happening, every single day 24/7.  The publicly accepted term for this is “spin.”  Spinning the news works because only 5 or 6 media oligarchies control what the overwhelming majority of the public exposes themselves to daily.  Be aware.

A Central Intelligence Agency honcho named Frank Wisner once bragged that he could play the American media like a “Mighty Wurlitzer,” one of those ghastly carnival organs.  The CIA’s Operation Mockingbird had already infiltrated “friendly” US media sources, the owners and the talking heads entrusted to inform the nation.  An historical track record of what the CIA did exists and reveals what they wanted to accomplish.  Within 6 years of the CIA’s founding, already President Eisenhower was setting up a “Special Group” (5412) to keep the rogue CIA covert operations in check.  How can anyone assume that things have somehow changed in the bowels of secret state power?  If anything it has gotten more sophisticated with the advent of computers and globalization, not less.  The advantage is clearly with those who understand these matters, and not with the primarily ignorant worker class.

Crucial information about the state of the world today flows from top to bottom, and that is by design.  An air of distrust surrounds all grassroots journalism, those “bloggers” and worse whom the public is fearmongered into rejecting.  Without official blessing, be it governmental or corporate, the public mind is by and large not free to think for itself.  As unreliable as both government and corporate media have proven to be, countless times in the past, it is these sources that maintain a strict hold on the public information channels.  If it didn’t happen on shiny corporate TV News then it didn’t happen.

“Information is Power”

So what is the rational response to selective censorship?  Clearly what we have is not total censorship, as some facts slip through from time to time.  Not all newsrooms are so easily intimidated, particularly at the local level.  Foreign desks often report what the entire United States media self-censors across the nation.  Some alternative websites collate these news stories, but their reliability and thoroughness are spotty.  A variety of sources is recommended, a hedging of bets, a diversification of the information portfolio.

Paul Thompson noted this treasure trove of foreign reporting and uncensored local reports, and so he founded the History Commons website to keep track of the many thousands of reports streaming in concerning this alleged “War on Terrorism.”  His approach was to use only actual newspaper reports, dated, verified and summarized for ease of research.  Slogging through the History Commons site is like diving down Alice’s rabbit hole, and can consume a reader for hours.  Topics are searchable by names as well as by specific dates.

And so we research, we learn and we use what we have learned to try and understand the things that the current military empire does not want us to know.  This can be an ideological affair, or it can be evidence-based, but it can’t be both.  The ideologue tosses out all contrary facts, no matter how true they may be, as they are inconvenient to maintaining the integrity of his ideology.  Thus, ideology is the enemy of truth, the enemy of understanding, and the enemy of reality.  That is why I call it a modern plague, for fundamentalist ideology lies at the root of most world problems.  The other major underlying root problem is apathy, mass apathy and ignorance.

Beside the smug ideologist and the somnambulant apathetic couch potato is the realist, the evidence-based thinker.  In my view that is the only tenable position.

Joe Giambrone edits Politcal Film Blog (@polfilmblog), and here’s a Hell of a Deal.

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(A response to Steve Rendell at Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog organization.)

Steve Rendell (FAIR.ORG),

Re: “The Self-Defense Self-Delusion: Owning Guns Doesn’t Stop Gun Violence

Your faith is that the several allegedly scientific tests and studies mentioned on gun violence and training have relevance to the real world, that they model actual situations as occur regularly. On faith you believe they are valid and true and beyond question.

But it appears as though you decided the conclusion and then cherry picked pseudo-science to support that conclusion. Real incidents are not able to be reduced to statistics. The actual actions, motivations, causes, participants, outcomes and reporting methods really do matter. Self-defense across the entire population is not a simple issue to put on a data chart. That’s asinine.

The roots of America’s gun violence stem primarily from something you don’t even mention at all. The drug war. Forty plus years ago the federal government declared war on the citizens of the United States over prohibition. The extreme wealth disparity, lack of job prospects for large swaths of the largely minority populations, is also central, crucial, intrinsic, fundamental to this violence. You have previously heard of gang wars and the competition for turf in the cities? That this doesn’t even warrant a mention in your slanted piece is quite telling.

As for your bogus college classroom shooting setup… if the shooter fires shots in a different location, such as another classroom first, thus alerting the students all over the campus, it’s obviously a different scenario than having a trained marksman bust in and surprise people sitting at their desks. Oh, but far more likely.

Your false blanket statement about the people automatically being helpless in the face of the military ignores realities on how wars unfold and how people make decisions. According to you, “no sane person believes individuals armed with handguns and rifles would stand a chance against a trillion-dollar 21st century military backed by vast surveillance systems.”

An armed population, however Steve, is less likely to be occupied by their own military in the first place, because the costs of such occupation are much greater than rolling over an unarmed population. Ergo — it is less likely to happen, something that apparently never occurred to you. Your supposedly all-powerful techno military has been effectively defeated by the Taliban, who at one point numbered a couple of thousand guerrillas at most. The prospect of military occupation and civil war also implies multiple sides to the conflict, where military units would also face the choice of which side to throw in with. Any casual examination of modern conflicts should make that point clear.

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This issue of gun rights is simply not as you presented, and I find your biased appraisal dishonest in its smug self-assuredness. Would you declare null and void the right of people to defend themselves? In their own homes? Is that not a right you believe in?

Even the framing of your title is loaded. “Owning guns doesn’t stop gun violence,” but that’s a straw man. It doesn’t “stop” gun violence, but it would take a highly deluded person to assume that home firearm ownership cannot serve to defend individuals and their families — at all. You do seemingly acknowledge that a gun does not need to be fired to be used defensively. You do so by trying to dismiss the other side’s data however, without a convincing logic to support your own position.

Your piece attempts to present nearly half of the nation (the armed half) as inept buffoons only capable of shooting themselves and their loved ones, but never to use a gun responsibly as clearly you believe the police, military and security guards do. Far from “fair and accurate” this is one of the least fair or accurate assessments I’ve seen from your organization.

Your implied conclusion is disarmament. Your article leads to the idea that guns should be removed from private hands. This has happened before. The gun lobby likes to mention Nazi Germany, although I haven’t verified that claim. Other nations have done similarly, and these are always lauded as successes. But we don’t live in any of those countries.

I made a point about Rwanda once, as in the genocide of 1994. The weapon of choice, used to murder the bulk of the 700,000 victims, was the machete. Had that targeted population been armed, large numbers could have survived, and even more likely: the rampages wouldn’t have happened in the first place. You don’t charge a house with a machete when bullets can be returned.

The United States has its own social problems. The nation is a global military empire which has finally decided that the people are negligible and little more than subjects of the empire. The Constitution is actively being canceled out, and real tyranny accompanies the power grabs of the state. This state now claims the power to torture, indefinitely detain and murder whomever it decides to kill, all in the name of “national security.”

This is the very same state you want to entrust with absolute monopoly on force by disarming the entire population? These are large questions, and they need much more attention than blog posts or emails.

My final point on self-defense in the home is to simply quote a man named Nicholas Johnson, a law professor at Fordham University:

“For those who need a refresher, the state loses its monopoly on legitimate violence in that window of imminence where government cannot act and people must protect themselves… Surely most gun owners, but perhaps many others will acknowledge that when seconds count, government is minutes away. This means that in those critical moments when violence sparks, you are on your own.”

I’m afraid, Steve, that is just basic objective reality. If we can’t get down to physical reality, the real world where the rubber meets the road, then dialogue is pointless.
 

Life of Pi (2012)

Posted: November 24, 2012 in Kathleen Peine
Tags: , ,

An Exquisite Irrationality
by KATHLEEN PEINE

Looking at the movie poster and ads for the new movie “The Life of Pi” might give one the impression that this film is some sort of hokey, after-school adventure- a movie best left unseen, but to miss this luscious and original offering would be a tremendous mistake. It’s generally a safe bet to avoid films that are available in 3D- from what I’ve seen, this is generally a hype that attempts to transcend serious shortcomings in story. Again, in the case of this film, that assumption is challenged and discarded.

I would normally never have opted to see the 3D version of this movie, but it just happened to be the showing available at the time we arrived. It’s difficult to get a teenage daughter to see a movie with you, so you have to move quickly when the opportunity presents itself. I was rewarded with “You know, most of my friends wouldn’t be seen with their mother at the movies. They think their moms are losers.” I am a loser, but it’s always nice if someone thinks otherwise, even for a moment.

So we land at the theater and grudgingly go with the 3D “experience”.

The film is about a young man named Piscine Patel- the unfortunate pronunciation of his first name (derived from a stunningly clear French swimming pool) sounds enough like pissing, that the boy adopts “Pi” as his first name. The movie is the descendant of a lovely book which was rejected about five times. Piis raised in a beautiful little enclave in India, an area that the French occupied for a time. His father is a zookeeper, and young Pi grows up in an idyllic environment. The garden-like atmosphere lends itself to retrospection, and Pi comically adopts all of the world’s large religions as he fumbles through the question of science versus the soul. It’s a fairly straight forward tale at this point, but after viewing the entire film, you will think back to the conversations and settings and realize that this film has layer upon layer of symbolism . It’s a richly crafted tale that never allows one to know a final truth, much like life.

Without spoiling the movie, I think I can say that that it moves into a beautiful and strange phase when Pi’s family sets off on a Japanese cargo ship to Canada. All of the animals are loaded up as well, as the family is sent towards a new life, deemed necessary by Pi’s scientific minded father. Disaster ensues when a horrific storm sends the cargo ship to the bottom of the sea; Pi is cast adrift in a lifeboat with unlikely companions, one of which is named Richard Parker. Richard Parker is not what you think he might be (on so many levels).

The film was directed by Ang Lee and due to this fact alone, you know that the film is going to be gorgeous. One of the most glorious filmed moments that I have ever witnessed was a moment of bio-luminescent grandeur.I had to rethink all my negative assumptions about the 3D technology as it made the scene tap into the wondrous parts of the brain which creates dreams and nightmares. Nighttime in the heart of the Pacific Ocean, the light from chemical reactions create a mystical world- but with a notable reminder that the beauty of nature comes with a terrifying and indifferent strength. I’ll admit, the film owned me after that bio-luminescent scene.

I’m struck with the fact that the light comes from a scientific chemical reaction, but the effect strikes the soul- magnifying the contrasting themes of the film and the impossibility of human ability to ever separate one from the other.

Pi’s mother represents the mystical, soulful pull and his father is about the analytical. The mixture produces something irrational, like “Pi”. You can never know the end of the number pi, yet it moves forward through time, forever.

So I’ve told you in a slight way (so as not to ruin anything) that this is a film about an Indian teenager who is thrust into the Pacific Ocean on a life raft. He is not alone, he has Richard Parker. And I’ve mentioned the sheer beauty of the film. I’ve never seen anything so mesmerizing. It’s a play of light on possibilities and holding conflicting realities in one’s mind at the same time. This is unlike any movie you’ve seen.

A middle aged Pi, played by Irfan Khan, tells his story to a dejected author who has purposefully sought him out because he has been told that Pi has a story that will make him believe in God. In the end, the author does come to believe in “God” or at least the version of events that God selects, as according to Pi. Oddly enough, this isn’t a study in deity worship because the ending is a subtle bombshell which will certainly roll around in your mind days later. What is real, what is irrational? Is simply believing enough? You can’t ever know, just as you’ll never reach the end of the number Pi. Don’t think that you have to believe in anything to find this film satisfying as it is not a religious polemic.

This ending is perhaps the only “irrational” denouement I’ve come across in a film, and for me it was absolutely transcendent.

In “Life of Pi” irrationality abounds, and it is exquisite.


Kathleen Peine is a writer who resides in the US Midwest. She can be reached for comment at kathypeine – at – gmail . com

Part 1:

Life of Brian kicked up quite a fuss back when it was released in 1979. The religious community took to the offensive, and they went all out to discredit the Python crew. This lengthy and quite heated debate is fascinating.

In more recent news, Life of Brian has since become an Opera, which is available streaming at Crackle right now:

He’s Not the Messiah, He’s a Very Naughty Boy!