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Radically Inept
Monday, November 08, 2004
  In the end, I don't think it's about 'values'

Sort of continues the thinking in the as yet untitled thread, but well posted on topic with its link base currently aggregated here - All information is free

It took a few days to get past the election results. When I did, I had an angle I was going to post, but time escaped me. So, think of this post as started Thursday evening (and mentally it was), re-edited Friday morning (and mentally it was), and then upon a weekend's drinking, thinking and talking, re-edited yet again (and mentally it was).

I caught something on TV last night. At least I think it was on TV, and I think it was last night. It was someone discussing a book on 'Truth'. Since this sounds like something I would normally have caught on C-Span or C-Span 2, I checked their listings, but nothing struck a cord.

But, it was on topic. I remember last week when I saw some talking head speaking on the election, and why Baby Bush was re-elected. Whoever the commentator was (and since this same thread was picked up across the media, who he was - is totally irrelevant)made the point of America being divided by 'values' and culture. That those in the heartland, and hence the majority of the popular vote, voted based on 'values' or the concept of shared 'values'. And to a point, I think this case can be made, but it is totally irrelevant to the truth. The truth is not that America is divided by 'values', the truth is that America is divided by 'truth' - we cannot agree on what the truth is. It isn't a question of values - I don't expect that liberals or conservatives (to name but a few divisions) differ that much on basic values. I suspect the majority of individuals in both of these camps would come out against or for (as appropriate) murder, rape, theft, child molestation, clean drinking water, safe schools, strong economy and the worthlessness of most of what's on television (they might not agree on programming, but I think both groups would argue that the majority of TV programming sucks), etc.

No. The real divide is the 'truth'. If you can watch Anne Cunter or listen to Rush Limpbowell, and believe that they are speaking the truth, than you and I have a severe case of cultural dissonance. If you think every word that Kerry said on the campaign trail was a lie (you'd be mostly right), and if you think every word that Baby Bush said was the truth (you'd be mostly wrong), you'd would form a world view very different from the one I hold. And, that is the 'truth'.

The truth starts early on. If you are taught that the bible is the word of god, and that every word is literally the 'truth', well, we have a serious case of dissonance. I think it very similar to Cognitive dissonance, but on a cultural level. Our society recognizes diverse truths, and we are not able to assimilate these dissonant views (by definition) into a coherent whole.

And that, I believe, is the biggest problem facing us as a species today. We can't agree on the truth.

Lest I come across as part of another popular camp - please realize that I also do not accept the religion of science. Science too, appears to require a certain amount of 'faith' (Faith - the ability to accept something as the truth). I seem to lack the that particular ability.

I am capable of operating based on previous experience, and letting previous experience guide my actions to the degree that I believe previous experience has some validity, but I am also perfectly willing to accept the notion that "Past performance is no guarantee of future performance" (or whatever the standard disclaimer is). How the hell would I know? The fact that the sun has risen in the East, or that the globe has rotated in a westerly direction to reveal our nearby solar mass, does not necessarily mean it will happen tomorrow.

SCREEEECH...WHOP...WHOP...WHOP
For those that did not recognize it - that was the sound of the needle on a vinyl recording (yes, recordings used to be on a vinyl medium) being dragged across the rest of the record(ing), and then getting stuck in the grooves at the center.

I have a lot to write. Everytime I consider the subject, I find a new way to present it. In some respects, I wish blogging could reflect a stream of consciousness, but that might not be all that good for the reader.

I did want to state that when I refer to Rush Limpbowell as a liar I do mean it in a very particular sense. Unlike many other cases, Rush is a true liar in my mind. It happened when he started to cite the numbers of a government report that I had recently read (this happened a few years ago vis-a-vis accepted chronological dating). It is possible, that in his drug addled mind, that he interpreted 16% to be 60%, or 7.5% to be 75%, but I don't think so. Surely, someone on his staff could feed him correct numbers. If he is so impaired as to not to be able to cite a report, which is presumably sitting in front of him (at least he said it was), certainly his staff could correct him if so directed. So, Rush for me, falls into the special 'got-cha' case of liars. It wasn't that he disputed the findings of the report, he flat out said the report contained information it did not have.

The point here, is 'credibility'. I have no idea whether the report that I had read and that he was citing, had any inherent credibility (presumably it did, but...). But the point is, he lied about what it said.

In this instance, I like Rush. He provides, especially this particular incident provides, a clear example of lying. There was no hedging here. There was no intimating, or mis-whatever. This was a case of lying. It was a clear case of lying. So, thank you Rush.

So unlike the Baby Bush administration, which lies, but does so in veils. And when you pull back the veils, there is nothing there. There is no clear, concise reference to go back and check. A great, and early example of the Baby Bush administration's manipulation of the truth, may be best summed up in the National Energy Policy (Complete), headed by Dick Cheney. There is a lot of controversy around the report, but no one seems to mention the single best point ever presented on the subject. It was my buddy, Mohan (I really do promise to provide him a better citation should he request it), who pointed out that none of the information presented in the report was cited. Now, that is really 'good' lying. No one can dispute what you've argued (well, at least they can't argue the facts), if you provide no sources for the information. "There are 600 trillion barrels of oil lying off the coast of Florida." Well, how the fuck would I know?

One way would be for me to be able to go back to the source document; the original research. But if no citation is provided...

Point (and I'm missing The Daily Show as I write) is that this is the problem. Or at least part of the problem. If you read that report and accept its findings, but I read it and look for some sort of verification, we will come to two separate conclusions. You will believe that we can gain our independence on foreign oil, and become a self-sufficient energy consuming nation if we follow the guidance presented, and I think it's all smoke and mirrors. Based on just that, we might wind up voting differently.

SCREEEEEECH....WHOOOP...WHOOP...WHOOOP...

I read a book, Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private Life by SISSELA BOK, which I found to be two/several hundred pages of rationalization for lying. I was unimpressed. The fact that lying has worked to good effect in keeping politicians in power, or allowed these leaders to lead us into wars of dubious distinction, or were the foundation of selling worthless products, does not make lying 'good'. In fairness, I read it a few years ago, and she may not have specifically cited the economic portion of it, but in the end, Immanuel Kant would not be happy with her conclusions.

How does this relate to what I've been writing? Well, if 51% of America believes that what Baby Bush utters is true, well founded, representative of their values, etc. Well, than I either don't live in that same universe, or one of us believes a lie. Certainly, we can't both be correct.

So, I think of this past election as not one of values, culture, a vision of where the majority of Americans think the country should go, but as an election of credible sources for information. We have decided as a country that Pat Robertson speaks the truth; that Rush Limpbowell speaks the truth; that Ann Cuntall speaks the truth, that...Well, it's just not the same universe I live in.

But, that leaves me trying to explain, or justify the truth.

I'm going to cop-out for now. It's getting late.

But, I did want to leave you with something of value, so, Chocolate Morphine gave me this to read over the weekend: Cogprints - Subjective Perception of Time and a Progressive Present Moment: The Neurobiological Key to Unlocking Consciousness.

Some of you will find it a worthwhile read. And I'll wonder about the rest of you.

Anyway, I have two new products I'm trying to market: Redneck Campfire Art and Petrified Beer Bottle Droppings; as well as having (with pleasure) to edit a couple of stories for friends, and trying to edit Rick Eddy's pieces into some sort of co-herent whole. Oh. And trying to find gainful employment.

And, I know, I owe some science posts.

Oh, yeah...In the end, the election was about truths...How could you all be so wrong? How could you believe THEM? 
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