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neural link

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Everything posted by neural link

  1. Disregarding how crazy wrong these predictions will turn out being, how did you come to them?
  2. This is the only reason that I haven't deleted this thread.
  3. Top Five: American Beauty Dr. Strangelove: or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb Yojimbo Das Boot Black Swan Honorable mentions for: Metropolis (The Anime) The Dark Knight Inception
  4. You wonderful Cross-xians have elected me to a ???? term as the Current Events mod so I will carry on as before. Here are the rules, as they have been since the dawn of antiquity. My goals/rules. I will try to keep this forum as respectful as possible. I welcome all intelligent discussion. Please have your facts right, I won't mess with you for being ignorant, but try to have your shit straight. Swear if you want, but I will not tolerate hate speech, as amusng as you may think you are. I don't like trolling, so please keep it off of my forum. If you want to talk to me, feel offended by anyone, have a complaint, or a request... PM me or start a thread, and I will do what I can. Don't post crap where there should be intelligent discussion. Play nice kids. I'm not going to nitpick about it but I would appreciate people using good spelling and grammar. I will try to keep this forum interesting and up to date, I would appreciate if you would all help me. When you start a thread with a news article, please do us the favor of copying and pasting the text of the article to your post, rather than just leaving a link to a website that could be members-only, blocked by school filters, expire, etc. I had a thread for comments before and I will continue that tradition here.
  5. neural link

    Rep Bars!

    Checking in as well.
  6. Anamanaguchi scratches my chip-tune itch whenever it arises.
  7. I was very hopeful about the new format change. The old VB needed some updating. But the new design is just not pleasant. The colors are drab, as a mod, I either have less power or I don't know how to exercise it. I miss Rep, some of the forums that never existed, and a stronger and more useful forum design.
  8. neural link

    The Stage

    Where did it go?
  9. I also miss my rep bar.
  10. Inside the GOP's Fact-Free Nation From Nixon's plumbers to James O'Keefe's video smears: How political lying became normal. By Rick Perlstein | May/June 2011 Issue [1] Illustration: Steve Brodner. Click here for a larger version of this illustration [1]. IT TAKES TWO THINGS to make a political lie work: a powerful person or institution willing to utter it, and another set of powerful institutions to amplify it. The former has always been with us: Kings, corporate executives, politicians, and ideologues from both sides of the aisle have been entirely willing to bend the truth when they felt it necessary or convenient. So why does it seem as if we're living in a time of overwhelmingly brazen deception? What's changed? Today's marquee fibs almost always evolve the same way: A tree falls in the forest—say, the claim that Saddam Hussein has "weapons of mass destruction," or that Barack Obama has an infernal scheme to parade our nation's senior citizens before death panels. But then a network of media enablers helps it to make a sound—until enough people believe the untruth to make the lie an operative part of our political discourse. For the past 15 years, I've spent much of my time deeply researching three historic periods—the birth of the modern conservative movement around the Barry Goldwater campaign, the Nixon era, and the Reagan years—that together have shaped the modern political lie. Here's how we got to where we are. PROLOGUE Just Making Stuff Up WHEN AN EXPLOSION sunk the USS Maine [2] off the coast of Havana on February 15, 1898, the New York Journal claimed two days later, "Maine Destroyed By Spanish: This Proved Absolutely By Discovery of the Torpedo Hole." There was no torpedo hole [3]. The Journal had already claimed that a Spanish armored cruiser, "capable, naval men say, of demolishing the great part of New York in less than two hours," was on its way. "WAR! SURE!" a banner headline announced. The instigator was a politically ambitious publisher, William Randolph Hearst [4]. Kicked out of Harvard for partying, and eager to make a name for himself outside the shadow of his mining-magnate father, he made his way to New York, where he led the way in a sensationalist new style of newspaper publication—"yellow journalism." In a fearsome rivalry with Joseph Pulitzer [5], he chose as his vehicle the sort of manly imperialism to which the Washington elites of the day were certainly sympathetic—although far too cautiously for Hearst's taste. "You furnish the pictures," he supposedly telegraphed a reporter, "and I'll furnish the war." The tail wagged the dog. At a time when the only way to communicate rapidly across long distances was via telegraph, it proved easy to make up physical facts. More than six decades later, that still seemed to be the case. "Some of our boys are floating around in the water," Lyndon Johnson told congressmen to goad them into passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution [6] authorizing war in 1964, after a supposed attack on an American PT boat. "Hell, those dumb stupid sailors were just shooting at flying fish," LBJ observed later, after the deed was done. That resolution inaugurated a decade of official American military activities in Southeast Asia (unofficially, we had been carrying out secret acts of war for years). A full-scale air war began the following February, after the enemy shelled the barracks of 23,000 American "advisers" [7] in a South Vietnamese town called Pleiku. But that was just a pretext. "Pleikus are like streetcars," LBJ's national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, said—if you miss one, you can always just hop on another. The bombing targets had been in the can for months, even as LBJ was telling voters on the campaign trail [8], "We are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves." It would have been possible all along for some intrepid soul to drop the dime on the whole thing. There were many who knew or suspected the truth, but with a villain as universally feared as communism was during the Cold War years, denying the facts felt like the only patriotic thing to do. Then everything changed. The '70s Question Authority WALTER CRONKITE traveled to Saigon after the Tet Offensive in 1968, saw things with his own eyes, and told the truth: The Vietnam War was stuck in a disastrous stalemate, no matter what the government said. That was a watershed. By 1969, none other than former Marine Commandant David M. Shoup endorsed a book on the war called Truth Is the First Casualty [9]. In 1971, Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers [10], the Department of Defense study that plainly revealed that just about everything Americans had been told about Southeast Asia was flat-out untrue. When the Nixon administration ordered the newspapers not to publish the Papers, Supreme Court Justice Hugo* Black thundered back [11] that "for the first time in the 182 years since the founding of the Republic, the federal courts are asked to hold that the First Amendment does not mean what it says." The searing melodrama of the Watergate investigation exposed new Nixon lies every day. America, it seemed, had had enough. In the mid-'70s, the investigating committees of Sen. Frank Church and Rep. Otis Pike revealed to a riveted public [12] that the CIA had secretly assassinated foreign leaders and the FBI had spied on citizens. Ralph Nader became a celebrity by exposing corporate lies. The mood of the Cold War had been steeped in American exceptionalism: The things America did were noble because they were done by America. Now, it appeared that America just might be susceptible to the same cruel compromises and corruptions as every other empire the world has known. Truth-telling became patriotic—and the more highly placed the liar, the more heroic the whistleblower. The investigative reporter became a sexy new kind of hero—a shaggy-haired loner, too inquisitive for his own good, played by Warren Beatty [13] and Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman [14]. Jimmy Carter, the peanut farmer from Plains, swooped in from nowhere to take the White House on the strength of the modest slogan "I'll never lie to you." And during his presidency, one of the grand, founding lies of western civilization itself—that there need be no limits to humans' domination of the Earth—was questioned as never before. The truth hurt, but the incredible thing was that the citizenry seemed willing to bear the pain. All sorts of American institutions—Congress, municipal governments, even the intelligence community (the daring honesty of CIA Director William Colby [15] about past agency sins was what helped fuel the Church and Pike investigations)—launched searching reconstructions of their normal ways of doing business. Alongside all the disco, the kidnapped heiresses, and the macramé [16], another keynote of 1970s culture was something quite more mature: a willingness to acknowledge that America might no longer be invincible, and that any realistic assessment of how we could prosper and thrive in the future had to reckon with that hard-won lesson. Then along came Reagan. * Correction: Due to an editing error, an earlier version of this article included the wrong first name for Justice Black. The '80s Don't Worry, Be Happy IN RESEARCHING this period, I've been surprised to discover the extent to which Ronald Reagan explicitly built his appeal around the notion that it was time to stop challenging the powerful. A new sort of lie took over: that the villains were not those deceiving the nation, but those exposing the deceit—those, as Reagan put it in his 1980 acceptance speech [17], who "say that the United States has had its day in the sun, that our nation has passed its zenith." They were just so, so negative. According to the argument Reagan consistently made, Watergate revealed nothing essential about American politicians and institutions—the conspirators "were not criminals at heart [18]." In 1975, upon the humiliating fall of Saigon, he paraphrased Pope Pius XII [19] to make the point that Vietnam had in fact been a noble cause: "America has a genius for great and unselfish deeds. Into the hands of America, God has placed the destiny of an afflicted mankind." The Gipper's inauguration ushered in the "Don't Worry, Be Happy" era of political lying. But it took a deeper trend to accelerate the cultural shift away from truth-telling-as-patriotism to a full-scale epistemological implosion. Reagan rode into office accompanied by a generation of conservative professional janissaries convinced they were defending civilization against the forces of barbarism. And like many revolutionaries, they possessed an instrumental relationship to the truth: Lies could be necessary and proper, so long as they served the right side of history. "We ought to see clearly that the end does justify the means," wrote evangelist C. Peter Wagner in 1981. "If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method." This virulent strain of political utilitarianism was already well apparent by the time the Plumbers were breaking into the Democratic National Committee: "Although I was aware they were illegal," White House staffer Jeb Stuart Magruder [20] told the Watergate investigating committee, "we had become somewhat inured to using some activities that would help us in accomplishing what we thought was a legitimate cause." Even conservatives who were not allied with the White House had learned to think like Watergate conspirators. To them, the takeaway from the scandal was that Nixon had been willing to bend the rules for the cause. The New Right pioneer M. Stanton Evans once told me [21], "I didn't like Nixon until Watergate." Though many in the New Right proclaimed their contempt for Richard Nixon, a number of its key operatives and spokesmen in fact came directly from the Watergate milieu. Two minor Watergate figures, bagman Kenneth Rietz (who ran Fred Thompson's 2008 presidential campaign [22]) and saboteur Roger Stone [23] (last seen promoting a gubernatorial bid by the woman who claimed to have been Eliot Spitzer's madam) were rehabilitated into politics through staff positions in Ronald Reagan's 1976 presidential campaign. G. Gordon Liddy became a right-wing radio superstar. "We ought to see clearly that the end does justify the means," wrote evangelist C. Peter Wagner [24] in 1981. "If the method I am using accomplishes the goal I am aiming at, it is for that reason a good method." Jerry Falwell once said his goal was to destroy the public schools. In 1998, confronted with the quote, he denied making it [25] by claiming he'd had nothing to do with the book in which it appeared. The author of the book was Jerry Falwell. Direct-mail guru Richard Viguerie made a fortune bombarding grassroots activists with letters shrieking things like "Babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood." As Richard Nixon told his chief of staff on Easter Sunday [26], 1973, "Remember, you're doing the right thing. That's what I used to think when I killed some innocent children in Hanoi." 1990-Present False Equivalencies CONSERVATIVES hardly have a monopoly on dissembling, of course—consider "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." Progressives' response has always been that right-wing mendacity—cover-ups of constitutional violations like Iran-Contra; institutionalized truth-corroding tactics like when the Republican National Committee circulates fliers claiming that Democrats seek to outlaw the Bible [27]—is more systematic. But the deeper problem is a fundamental redefinition of the morality involved: Rather than being celebrated, calling out a lie is now classified as "uncivil." How did that happen? Back in the days when network news was the only game in town, grave-faced, gravelly voiced commentators like David Brinkley and Eric Sevareid—and on extraordinary occasions anchors like Walter Cronkite [28]—told people what to think about the passing events of the day. Much of the time, these privileged men unquestioningly passed on the government's distortions. At their best, however, they used their moral authority to call out lies with a kind of Old Testament authority—think Cronkite reporting from Saigon. It drove Johnson out of office, and it drove the right berserk. On November 3, 1969, Richard Nixon gave a speech claiming he had a plan to wind down the war. The commentators went on the air immediately afterward and told the truth as they saw it: that he had said nothing new. Ten days later, the White House announced that Vice President Spiro Agnew was about to give a speech that it expected all three networks to cover—live. The speech was an excoriation of those very networks and their Stern White Men [29]—"this little group of men who not only enjoy a right of instant rebuttal to every presidential address, but more importantly, wield a free hand in selecting, presenting, and interpreting the great issues of our nation.... The American people would rightly not tolerate this kind of concentration of power in government. Is it not fair and relevant to question its concentration in the hands of a tiny and closed fraternity of privileged men, elected by no one, and enjoying a monopoly sanctioned and licensed by government?" Those in the habit of exposing the sins of the powerful were no longer independent arbiters—they were liberals. Such was the bias, Agnew argued, of "commentators and producers [who] live and work in the geographical and intellectual confines of Washington, DC, or New York City," who "bask in their own provincialism, their own parochialism." Foreshadowing Reagan's framing of reform-minded truth-telling as a brand of elitist meddling, Agnew singled out for opprobrium the kind of reporting that "made 'hunger' and 'black lung' disease national issues overnight" (quotation marks his). TV reporting from Vietnam had done "what no other medium could have done in terms of dramatizing the horrors of war"—and that, too, was evidence of liberal bias. Agnew's remarks reinforced a mood that had been building since at least the 1968 Democratic National Convention, when many viewers complained about the media images of police beating protesters. By the 1980s the trend was fully apparent: News became fluffier, hosts became airier—less assured of their own moral authority. (Around this same time, TV news lost its exceptional status within the networks—once accepted as a "loss leader" intended to burnish their prestige, it was increasingly subject to bottom-line pressures.) There evolved a new media definition of civility that privileged "balance" over truth-telling—even when one side was lying. It's a real and profound change—one stunningly obvious when you review a 1973 PBS news panel hosted by Bill Moyers and featuring National Review editor George Will, both excoriating the administration's "Watergate morality." Such a panel today on, say, global warming would not be complete without a complement of conservatives, one of them probably George Will [30], lambasting the "liberal" contention that scientific facts are facts—and anyone daring to call them out for lying would be instantly censured. It's happened to me more than once—on public radio, no less. In the same vein, when the Obama administration accused Fox News [31] of not being a legitimate news source, the DC journalism elite rushed to admonish the White House. Granted, they were partly defending Major Garrett, the network's since-departed White House correspondent and a solid journalist—but in the process, few acknowledged that under Roger Ailes, another Nixon veteran, management has enforced an ideological line top to bottom. The protective bubble of the "civility" mandate also seems to extend to the propagandists whose absurdly doctored stories and videos continue to fool the mainstream media. From blogger Pamela Geller [32], originator of the "Ground Zero mosque" falsehood, to Andrew Breitbart's video attack on Shirley Sherrod [33]—who lost her job after her anti-discrimination speech was deceptively edited to make her sound like a racist—to James O'Keefe's fraudulent sting [34]against National Public Radio, right-wing ideologues "lie without consequence," as a desperate Vincent Foster put it in his suicide note [35] nearly two decades ago. But they only succeed because they are amplified by "balanced" outlets that frame each smear as just another he-said-she-said "controversy." And here, in the end, is the difference between the untruths told by William Randolph Hearst and Lyndon Baines Johnson, and the ones inundating us now: Today, it's not just the most powerful men who can lie and get away with it. It's just about anyone—a congressional back-bencher, an ideology-driven hack, a guy with a video camera—who can inject deception into the news cycle and the political discourse on a grand scale. Sure, there will always be liars in positions of influence—that's stipulated, as the lawyers say. And the media, God knows, have never been ideal watchdogs—the battleships that crossed the seas to avenge the sinking of the Maine attest to that. What's new is the way the liars and their enablers now work hand in glove. That I call a mendocracy, and it is the regime that governs us now. Source URL: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/04/history-political-lying Links: [1] http://assets.motherjones.com/politics/2011/pantsonfire.jpg [2] http://www.pbs.org/crucible/tl10.html [3] http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq71-1.htm [4] http://www.zpub.com/sf/history/willh.html [5] http://www.pulitzer.org/biography [6] http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/249172/Gulf-of-Tonkin-Resolution [7] http://books.google.com/books?id=KUEEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA32&lpg=PA32&dq=pleiku+attack&source=bl&ots=UW2LWGBinB&sig=MYXAjdHf_shPcy8qPqXz831-aEQ&hl=en&ei=4_yVTbafAYT2swP_3IHbBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CFcQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=pleiku%20attack&f=false [8] http://millercenter.org/president/lbjohnson/essays/biography/5 [9] http://www.amazon.com/Truth-first-casualty-illusion-reality/dp/B0006C04GW [10] http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h1871.html [11] http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0403_0713_ZC.html [12] http://www.archive.org/details/militarysurveill00unit [13] http://parallax-view.org/2009/08/14/the-parallax-view-an-introduction/ [14] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/features/dcmovies/allthepresidentsmen.htm [15] http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/wcolby.htm [16] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macram%C3%A9 [17] http://usa.usembassy.de/etexts/speeches/rhetoric/rraccept.htm [18] http://books.google.com/books?id=5crGrqD4W-sC&pg=PA385&dq=were+not+criminals+at+heart,+reagan&hl=en&ei=Iv-VTe-NIZCssAOJi6nIBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=were%20not%20criminals%20at%20heart%2C%20reagan&f=false [19] http://books.google.com/books?id=CExclJtH1qYC&pg=PT55&dq=America+has+a+genius+for+great+and+unselfish+deeds.+Into+the+hands+of+America,+God+has+placed+the+destiny+of+an+afflicted+mankind&hl=en&ei=Sv-VTeHUBpDksQOMkoTTBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=America%20has%20a%20genius%20for%20great%20and%20unselfish%20deeds.%20Into%20the%20hands%20of%20America%2C%20God%20has%20placed%20the%20destiny%20of%20an%20afflicted%20mankind&f=false [20] http://www.amazon.com/American-Life-Mans-Road-Watergate/dp/0689106033 [21] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rick-perlstein/i-didnt-like-nixon-until-_b_11735.html [22] http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/12/AR2007111202007.html [23] http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/02/080602fa_fact_toobin [24] http://www.amazon.com/Your-Church-Grow-Peter-Wagner/dp/1579105890 [25] http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Missing+book+mystery%3A+solved%3A+Pennsylvania+sleuth+helps+Americans...-a0108267238 [26] http://books.google.com/books?id=ajLBlZwwB0IC&pg=PA594&lpg=PA594&dq=Remember,+you%27re+doing+the+right+thing.+That%27s+what+I+used+to+think+when+I+killed+some+innocent+children+in+Hanoi&source=bl&ots=6mS-kaKp16&sig=wdYabimj6yGr2G4LZL5QTVVmYcY&hl=en&ei=1wGWTcGuNYv2tgPmmdjZBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBQQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=Remember%2C%20you%27re%20doing%20the%20right%20thing.%20That%27s%20what%20I%20used%20to%20think%20when%20I%20killed%20some%20innocent%20children%20in%20Hanoi&f=false [27] http://www.nytimes.com/2004/09/24/politics/campaign/24bible.html?pagewanted=print&position= [28] http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/07/17/eveningnews/main5170556.shtml [29] http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/spiroagnewtvnewscoverage.htm [30] http://climateprogress.org/2009/02/15/george-will-global-cooling-warming-debunked/ [31] http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/14/white-house-vs-fox-news-not-just-fox-opinion/ [32] http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/ [33] http://www.slate.com/id/2261552/ [34] http://motherjones.com/media/2011/03/james-okeefe-investigative-journalism [35] http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://i.cdn.turner.com/trutv/trutv.com/graphics/photos/notorious_murders/celebrity/vincent_foster/torn-note.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/notorious_murders/celebrity/vincent_foster/7.html&usg=__Z0cPXO2891PC9TAeInEOhROgQZs=&h=439&w=410&sz=67&hl=en&start=0&sig2=kBBnUa8GdqXFygMwvW0veA&zoom=1&tbnid=VGTO_WY8FWbowM:&tbnh=123&tbnw=116&ei=JQWWTdytG5S4sAP01qXrBQ&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dfoster%2Bsuicide%2Bnote%26hl%3Den%26prmdo%3D1%26biw%3D1920%26bih%3D890%26tbm%3Disch&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=118&vpy=68&dur=1684&hovh=232&hovw=217&tx=114&ty=107&oei=JQWWTdytG5S4sAP01qXrBQ&page=1&ndsp=82&ved=1t:429,r:0,s:0
  11. WEDNESDAY, APR 27, 2011 11:15 ET The birther's guide to staying relevant in a post-"long form" world Yes but what about his dual-British citizenship? Or his academic records? BY ALEX PAREENE Barack Obama So you've spent the last few years constantly asking "where's the birth certificate," and now you have an answer. Do you give up? Do you stop constantly emailing journalists and bloggers accusing them of being part of the cover-up? Do you quit commenting on FreeRepublic? Return your WorldNetDaily survival seed bank unopened? No! Of course not! Professional Birthers have expanded their investigations beyond the question of "where was the president born," because even before today it was quite obvious that he was born in Hawaii. True birtherism -- not the lazy, low-information "I heard he was born in Kenya or something" birtherism of amateurs -- has already gone baroque, asserting that Barack Obama never had or possibly lost his American citizenship for reasons that go far beyond the simple fact of his "birthplace." As Justin Elliott already reported, the conspiracists have other conspiracies developed and ready to explore. And that is how birtherism and its associated theories will live on. The certificate is a forgery Ahem. Some FreeRepublic commenters are already on the case: "Look at the document...it is superimposed on a different background that contains Onaka’s signature (hint: look at the curling on the left-hand margin of the text fields)." "In 1961, blacks were called negro, colored, darkie, and several other less accepted names, but they were NEVER called 'African' as Urkel’s father was in this document. An American adult in 1961 would no more have called a negro 'African' than they would have called a homosexual 'gay'. That alone is enough to raise huge questions about this document." "The Security Paper is a Photoshop. If you look at the full form, the 'Security Paper' is a background, the 'Certificate of Live Birth' appears like it was scanned from a book, the paper made to be transparent - and the ink and borders were then laid on a backdrop with the "Security Paper" background." His "African" father disqualifies him One popular theory has it that "natural born citizen" does not mean what you think it means. Apparently, a "natural born citizen" has to have two American parents. So while Barack Obama has definitively proven that he's a "native-born citizen," he is still not a "natural born citizen," thanks to his father being African. (This would also disqualify a number of past presidents, including Woodrow Wilson, Andrew Jackson, and Chester Arthur, but no one would miss them.) Something about British citizenship and the Kenyan constitution I dunno, I don't really get this one. Barack Obama had dual U.S./British citizenship which became U.S./Kenyan citizenship which then became Kenyan citizenship because he never renounced it. He lost his citizenship As WND has written: "Several court cases challenging Obama's presidential eligibility have argued he gave up his U.S. citizenship in Indonesia and used an Indonesian passport to travel to Pakistan in the early 1980s. Indonesia does not allow dual citizenship. Still a secret Muslim One big hope of the long-form birthers was that Obama's birth certificate would finally reveal that he is a secret Muslim. It does not reveal that, but there's no reason they can't still say it. How did he get into Columbia? Donald Trump already brought this one up, but the new frontier in questioning the president's legitimacy is asking about his college years. Because, in their minds, there is simply no way a black man gets into a good school without receiving special favors or somehow cheating, the Schoolers are developing weird, complex theories about how Barack Obama transfered from Occidental to Columbia (and then got accepted into Harvard Law). The new rallying cry will be "release the transcripts." This will probably be the most popular of the new avenues of birtherism, though may not bleed into the mainstream discourse with as much ease as the birth certificate stuff, because it has no bearing whatsoever on the president's qualifications to be president. Schoolerism is simply about proving that the president's a phony who duped the world with his hoodoo, "the biggest affirmative action baby in history" in the detestable words of Mickey Kaus. In the imaginings of the crowd desperately searching for evidence that Barack Obama is who they wish he was, the president was obviously, transparently unqualified to go to an elite university, because just look at him. So birtherism will survive. It will mutate and adapt. There's no satisfying some people.
  12. There was no reason to doubt where he was born, but in case you were wondering, here's the definitive proof BY PETER FINOCCHIARO White House The White House unexpectedly released President Barack Obama's long-form birth certificate this morning, potentially putting an end to years of speculation about his place of birth. Obama will deliver a statement to the press at 9:45 a.m. See it here ******************************************************* So can this stupid-ass birther shit be over forever now? Please.
  13. I wouldn't ask a stupid question. Impossible.
  14. How our brains fool us on climate, creationism, and the vaccine-autism link. By Chris Mooney | Mon Apr. 18, 2011 3:00 AM PDT Read also: Kate Sheppard on the smear campaign behind Climategate. [1] "A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point." So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger [2] (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study [3] in psychology. Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, "Sananda," who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing. Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin's followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft. Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the "boys upstairs" (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted? [1] Read also: the truth about Climategate [4]. At first, the group struggled for an explanation. But then rationalization set in. A new message arrived, announcing that they'd all been spared at the last minute. Festinger summarized the extraterrestrials' new pronouncement: "The little group, sitting all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction." Their willingness to believe in the prophecy had saved Earth from the prophecy! From that day forward, the Seekers, previously shy of the press and indifferent toward evangelizing, began to proselytize. "Their sense of urgency was enormous," wrote Festinger. The devastation of all they had believed had made them even more certain of their beliefs. In the annals of denial, it doesn't get much more extreme than the Seekers. They lost their jobs, the press mocked them, and there were efforts to keep them away from impressionable young minds. But while Martin's space cult might lie at on the far end of the spectrum of human self-delusion, there's plenty to go around. And since Festinger's day, an array of new discoveries in psychology and neuroscience has further demonstrated how our preexisting beliefs, far more than any new facts, can skew our thoughts and even color what we consider our most dispassionate and logical conclusions. This tendency toward so-called "motivated reasoning [5]" helps explain why we find groups so polarized over matters where the evidence is so unequivocal: climate change, vaccines, "death panels," the birthplace and religion of the president [6] (PDF), and much else. It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts. The theory of motivated reasoning builds on a key insight of modern neuroscience [7] (PDF): Reasoning is actually suffused with emotion (or what researchers often call "affect"). Not only are the two inseparable, but our positive or negative feelings about people, things, and ideas arise much more rapidly than our conscious thoughts, in a matter of milliseconds—fast enough to detect with an EEG device, but long before we're aware of it. That shouldn't be surprising: Evolution required us to react very quickly to stimuli in our environment. It's a "basic human survival skill," explains political scientist Arthur Lupia [8] of the University of Michigan. We push threatening information away; we pull friendly information close. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself. We apply fight-or-flight reflexes not only to predators, but to data itself. We're not driven only by emotions, of course—we also reason, deliberate. But reasoning comes later, works slower—and even then, it doesn't take place in an emotional vacuum. Rather, our quick-fire emotions can set us on a course of thinking that's highly biased, especially on topics we care a great deal about. Consider a person who has heard about a scientific discovery that deeply challenges her belief in divine creation—a new hominid, say, that confirms our evolutionary origins. What happens next, explains political scientist Charles Taber [9] of Stony Brook University, is a subconscious negative response to the new information—and that response, in turn, guides the type of memories and associations formed in the conscious mind. "They retrieve thoughts that are consistent with their previous beliefs," says Taber, "and that will lead them to build an argument and challenge what they're hearing." In other words, when we think we're reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt [10]: We may think we're being scientists, but we're actually being lawyers [11] (PDF). Our "reasoning" is a means to a predetermined end—winning our "case"—and is shot through with biases. They include "confirmation bias," in which we give greater heed to evidence and arguments that bolster our beliefs, and "disconfirmation bias," in which we expend disproportionate energy trying to debunk or refute views and arguments that we find uncongenial. That's a lot of jargon, but we all understand these mechanisms when it comes to interpersonal relationships. If I don't want to believe that my spouse is being unfaithful, or that my child is a bully, I can go to great lengths to explain away behavior that seems obvious to everybody else—everybody who isn't too emotionally invested to accept it, anyway. That's not to suggest that we aren't also motivated to perceive the world accurately—we are. Or that we never change our minds—we do. It's just that we have other important goals besides accuracy—including identity affirmation and protecting one's sense of self—and often those make us highly resistant to changing our beliefs when the facts say we should. Modern science originated from an attempt to weed out such subjective lapses—what that great 17th century theorist of the scientific method, Francis Bacon, dubbed the "idols of the mind." Even if individual researchers are prone to falling in love with their own theories, the broader processes of peer review and institutionalized skepticism are designed to ensure that, eventually, the best ideas prevail. Scientific evidence is highly susceptible to misinterpretation. Giving ideologues scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store. Our individual responses to the conclusions that science reaches, however, are quite another matter. Ironically, in part because researchers employ so much nuance and strive to disclose all remaining sources of uncertainty, scientific evidence is highly susceptible to selective reading and misinterpretation. Giving ideologues or partisans scientific data that's relevant to their beliefs is like unleashing them in the motivated-reasoning equivalent of a candy store. Sure enough, a large number of psychological studies have shown that people respond to scientific or technical evidence in ways that justify their preexisting beliefs. In a classic 1979 experiment [12] (PDF), pro- and anti-death penalty advocates were exposed to descriptions of two fake scientific studies: one supporting and one undermining the notion that capital punishment deters violent crime and, in particular, murder. They were also shown detailed methodological critiques of the fake studies—and in a scientific sense, neither study was stronger than the other. Yet in each case, advocates more heavily criticized the study whose conclusions disagreed with their own, while describing the study that was more ideologically congenial as more "convincing." Since then, similar results have been found for how people respond to "evidence" about affirmative action, gun control, the accuracy of gay stereotypes [13], and much else. Even when study subjects are explicitly instructed to be unbiased and even-handed about the evidence, they often fail. And it's not just that people twist or selectively read scientific evidence to support their preexisting views. According to research by Yale Law School professor Dan Kahan [14] and his colleagues, people's deep-seated views about morality, and about the way society should be ordered, strongly predict whom they consider to be a legitimate scientific expert in the first place—and thus where they consider "scientific consensus" to lie on contested issues. In Kahan's research [15] (PDF), individuals are classified, based on their cultural values, as either "individualists" or "communitarians," and as either "hierarchical" or "egalitarian" in outlook. (Somewhat oversimplifying, you can think of hierarchical individualists as akin to conservative Republicans, and egalitarian communitarians as liberal Democrats.) In one study, subjects in the different groups were asked to help a close friend determine the risks associated with climate change, sequestering nuclear waste, or concealed carry laws: "The friend tells you that he or she is planning to read a book about the issue but would like to get your opinion on whether the author seems like a knowledgeable and trustworthy expert." A subject was then presented with the résumé of a fake expert "depicted as a member of the National Academy of Sciences who had earned a Ph.D. in a pertinent field from one elite university and who was now on the faculty of another." The subject was then shown a book excerpt by that "expert," in which the risk of the issue at hand was portrayed as high or low, well-founded or speculative. The results were stark: When the scientist's position stated that global warming is real and human-caused, for instance, only 23 percent of hierarchical individualists agreed the person was a "trustworthy and knowledgeable expert." Yet 88 percent of egalitarian communitarians accepted the same scientist's expertise. Similar divides were observed on whether nuclear waste can be safely stored underground and whether letting people carry guns deters crime. (The alliances did not always hold. In another study [16] (PDF), hierarchs and communitarians were in favor of laws that would compel the mentally ill to accept treatment, whereas individualists and egalitarians were opposed.) Head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever. In other words, people rejected the validity of a scientific source because its conclusion contradicted their deeply held views—and thus the relative risks inherent in each scenario. A hierarchal individualist finds it difficult to believe that the things he prizes (commerce, industry, a man's freedom to possess a gun to defend his family [16]) (PDF) could lead to outcomes deleterious to society. Whereas egalitarian communitarians tend to think that the free market causes harm, that patriarchal families mess up kids, and that people can't handle their guns. The study subjects weren't "anti-science"—not in their own minds, anyway. It's just that "science" was whatever they wanted it to be. "We've come to a misadventure, a bad situation where diverse citizens, who rely on diverse systems of cultural certification, are in conflict," says Kahan [17]. And that undercuts the standard notion that the way to persuade people is via evidence and argument. In fact, head-on attempts to persuade can sometimes trigger a backfire effect, where people not only fail to change their minds when confronted with the facts—they may hold their wrong views more tenaciously than ever. Take, for instance, the question of whether Saddam Hussein possessed hidden weapons of mass destruction just before the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. When political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler showed subjects fake newspaper articles [18] (PDF) in which this was first suggested (in a 2004 quote from President Bush) and then refuted (with the findings of the Bush-commissioned Iraq Survey Group report, which found no evidence of active WMD programs in pre-invasion Iraq), they found that conservatives were more likely than before to believe the claim. (The researchers also tested how liberals responded when shown that Bush did not actually "ban" embryonic stem-cell research. Liberals weren't particularly amenable to persuasion, either, but no backfire effect was observed.) Another study gives some inkling of what may be going through people's minds when they resist persuasion. Northwestern University sociologist Monica Prasad [19] and her colleagues wanted to test whether they could dislodge the notion that Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda were secretly collaborating among those most likely to believe it—Republican partisans from highly GOP-friendly counties. So the researchers set up a study [20] (PDF) in which they discussed the topic with some of these Republicans in person. They would cite the findings of the 9/11 Commission, as well as a statement in which George W. Bush himself denied his administration had "said the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and Al Qaeda." One study showed that not even Bush's own words could change the minds of Bush voters who believed there was an Iraq-Al Qaeda link. As it turned out, not even Bush's own words could change the minds of these Bush voters—just 1 of the 49 partisans who originally believed the Iraq-Al Qaeda claim changed his or her mind. Far more common was resisting the correction in a variety of ways, either by coming up with counterarguments or by simply being unmovable: Interviewer: [T]he September 11 Commission found no link between Saddam and 9/11, and this is what President Bush said. Do you have any comments on either of those? Respondent: Well, I bet they say that the Commission didn't have any proof of it but I guess we still can have our opinions and feel that way even though they say that. The same types of responses are already being documented on divisive topics facing the current administration. Take the "Ground Zero mosque." Using information from the political myth-busting site FactCheck.org [21], a team at Ohio State presented subjects [22] (PDF) with a detailed rebuttal to the claim that "Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Imam backing the proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque, is a terrorist-sympathizer." Yet among those who were aware of the rumor and believed it, fewer than a third changed their minds. A key question—and one that's difficult to answer—is how "irrational" all this is. On the one hand, it doesn't make sense to discard an entire belief system, built up over a lifetime, because of some new snippet of information. "It is quite possible to say, 'I reached this pro-capital-punishment decision based on real information that I arrived at over my life,'" explains Stanford social psychologist Jon Krosnick [23]. Indeed, there's a sense in which science denial could be considered keenly "rational." In certain conservative communities, explains Yale's Kahan, "People who say, 'I think there's something to climate change,' that's going to mark them out as a certain kind of person, and their life is going to go less well." This may help explain a curious pattern Nyhan and his colleagues found when they tried to test the fallacy [6] (PDF) that President Obama is a Muslim. When a nonwhite researcher was administering their study, research subjects were amenable to changing their minds about the president's religion and updating incorrect views. But when only white researchers were present, GOP survey subjects in particular were more likely to believe the Obama Muslim myth than before. The subjects were using "social desirabililty" to tailor their beliefs (or stated beliefs, anyway) to whoever was listening. Which leads us to the media. When people grow polarized over a body of evidence, or a resolvable matter of fact, the cause may be some form of biased reasoning, but they could also be receiving skewed information to begin with—or a complicated combination of both. In the Ground Zero mosque case, for instance, a follow-up study [24] (PDF) showed that survey respondents who watched Fox News were more likely to believe the Rauf rumor and three related ones—and they believed them more strongly than non-Fox watchers. Okay, so people gravitate toward information that confirms what they believe, and they select sources that deliver it. Same as it ever was, right? Maybe, but the problem is arguably growing more acute, given the way we now consume information—through the Facebook links of friends, or tweets that lack nuance or context, or "narrowcast [25]" and often highly ideological media that have relatively small, like-minded audiences. Those basic human survival skills of ours, says Michigan's Arthur Lupia, are "not well-adapted to our information age." A predictor of whether you accept the science of global warming? Whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. If you wanted to show how and why fact is ditched in favor of motivated reasoning, you could find no better test case than climate change. After all, it's an issue where you have highly technical information on one hand and very strong beliefs on the other. And sure enough, one key predictor of whether you accept the science of global warming is whether you're a Republican or a Democrat. The two groups have been growing more divided in their views about the topic, even as the science becomes more unequivocal. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that more education doesn't budge Republican views. On the contrary: In a 2008 Pew survey [26], for instance, only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college educated Republicans. In other words, a higher education correlated with an increased likelihood of denying the science on the issue. Meanwhile, among Democrats and independents, more education correlated with greater acceptance of the science. Other studies have shown a similar effect: Republicans who think they understand the global warming issue best are least concerned about it; and among Republicans and those with higher levels of distrust of science in general, learning more about the issue doesn't increase one's concern about it. What's going on here? Well, according to Charles Taber and Milton Lodge of Stony Brook, one insidious aspect of motivated reasoning is that political sophisticates are prone to be more biased than those who know less about the issues. "People who have a dislike of some policy—for example, abortion—if they're unsophisticated they can just reject it out of hand," says Lodge. "But if they're sophisticated, they can go one step further and start coming up with counterarguments." These individuals are just as emotionally driven and biased as the rest of us, but they're able to generate more and better reasons to explain why they're right—and so their minds become harder to change. That may be why the selectively quoted emails of Climategate were so quickly and easily seized upon by partisans as evidence of scandal. Cherry-picking is precisely the sort of behavior you would expect motivated reasoners to engage in to bolster their views—and whatever you may think about Climategate, the emails were a rich trove of new information upon which to impose one's ideology. Climategate had a substantial impact on public opinion, according to Anthony Leiserowitz [27], director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication [28]. It contributed to an overall drop in public concern about climate change and a significant loss of trust in scientists. But—as we should expect by now—these declines were concentrated among particular groups of Americans: Republicans, conservatives, and those with "individualistic" values. Liberals and those with "egalitarian" values didn't lose much trust in climate science or scientists at all. "In some ways, Climategate was like a Rorschach test," Leiserowitz says, "with different groups interpreting ambiguous facts in very different ways." Is there a case study of science denial that largely occupies the political left? Yes: the claim that childhood vaccines are causing an epidemic of autism. So is there a case study of science denial that largely occupies the political left? Yes: the claim that childhood vaccines are causing an epidemic of autism. Its most famous proponents are an environmentalist (Robert F. Kennedy Jr. [29]) and numerous Hollywood celebrities (most notably Jenny McCarthy [30] and Jim Carrey). The Huffington Post gives a very large megaphone to denialists. And Seth Mnookin [31], author of the new book The Panic Virus [32], notes that if you want to find vaccine deniers, all you need to do is go hang out at Whole Foods. Vaccine denial has all the hallmarks of a belief system that's not amenable to refutation. Over the past decade, the assertion that childhood vaccines are driving autism rates has been undermined [33] by multiple epidemiological studies—as well as the simple fact that autism rates continue to rise, even though the alleged offending agent in vaccines (a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal) has long since been removed. Yet the true believers persist—critiquing each new study that challenges their views, and even rallying to the defense of vaccine-autism researcher Andrew Wakefield, after his 1998 Lancet paper [34]—which originated the current vaccine scare—was retracted and he subsequently lost his license [35] (PDF) to practice medicine. But then, why should we be surprised? Vaccine deniers created their own partisan media, such as the website Age of Autism, that instantly blast out critiques and counterarguments whenever any new development casts further doubt on anti-vaccine views. It all raises the question: Do left and right differ in any meaningful way when it comes to biases in processing information, or are we all equally susceptible? There are some clear differences. Science denial today is considerably more prominent on the political right—once you survey climate and related environmental issues, anti-evolutionism, attacks on reproductive health science by the Christian right, and stem-cell and biomedical matters. More tellingly, anti-vaccine positions are virtually nonexistent among Democratic officeholders today—whereas anti-climate-science views are becoming monolithic among Republican elected officials. Some researchers have suggested that there are psychological differences between the left and the right that might impact responses to new information—that conservatives are more rigid and authoritarian, and liberals more tolerant of ambiguity. Psychologist John Jost of New York University has further argued that conservatives are "system justifiers": They engage in motivated reasoning to defend the status quo. This is a contested area, however, because as soon as one tries to psychoanalyze inherent political differences, a battery of counterarguments emerges: What about dogmatic and militant communists? What about how the parties have differed through history? After all, the most canonical case of ideologically driven science denial is probably the rejection of genetics in the Soviet Union, where researchers disagreeing with the anti-Mendelian scientist (and Stalin stooge) Trofim Lysenko were executed, and genetics itself was denounced as a "bourgeois" science and officially banned. The upshot: All we can currently bank on is the fact that we all have blinders in some situations. The question then becomes: What can be done to counteract human nature itself? We all have blinders in some situations. The question then becomes: What can be done to counteract human nature? Given the power of our prior beliefs to skew how we respond to new information, one thing is becoming clear: If you want someone to accept new evidence, make sure to present it to them in a context that doesn't trigger a defensive, emotional reaction. This theory is gaining traction in part because of Kahan's work at Yale. In one study [36], he and his colleagues packaged the basic science of climate change into fake newspaper articles bearing two very different headlines—"Scientific Panel Recommends Anti-Pollution Solution to Global Warming" and "Scientific Panel Recommends Nuclear Solution to Global Warming"—and then tested how citizens with different values responded. Sure enough, the latter framing made hierarchical individualists much more open to accepting the fact that humans are causing global warming. Kahan infers that the effect occurred because the science had been written into an alternative narrative that appealed to their pro-industry worldview. You can follow the logic to its conclusion: Conservatives are more likely to embrace climate science if it comes to them via a business or religious leader, who can set the issue in the context of different values than those from which environmentalists or scientists often argue. Doing so is, effectively, to signal a détente in what Kahan has called a "culture war of fact." In other words, paradoxically, you don't lead with the facts in order to convince. You lead with the values—so as to give the facts a fighting chance. Source URL: http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/denial-science-chris-mooney Links: [1] http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/history-of-climategate [2] https://motherjones.com/files/lfestinger.pdf [3] http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9781617202803-1 [4] http://motherjones.com/environment/2011/04/field-guide-climate-change-skeptics [5] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2270237 [6] http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bnyhan/obama-muslim.pdf [7] https://motherjones.com/files/descartes.pdf [8] http://www-personal.umich.edu/~lupia/ [9] http://www.stonybrook.edu/polsci/ctaber/ [10] http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/ [11] https://motherjones.com/files/emotional_dog_and_rational_tail.pdf [12] http://synapse.princeton.edu/~sam/lord_ross_lepper79_JPSP_biased-assimilation-and-attitude-polarization.pdf [13] http://psp.sagepub.com/content/23/6/636.abstract [14] http://www.law.yale.edu/faculty/DKahan.htm [15] https://motherjones.com/files/kahan_paper_cultural_cognition_of_scientific_consesus.pdf [16] http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1095&context=fss_papers [17] http://seagrant.oregonstate.edu/blogs/communicatingclimate/transcripts/Episode_10b_Dan_Kahan.html [18] http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bnyhan/nyhan-reifler.pdf [19] http://www.sociology.northwestern.edu/faculty/prasad/home.html [20] http://sociology.buffalo.edu/documents/hoffmansocinquiryarticle_000.pdf [21] http://www.factcheck.org/ [22] http://www.comm.ohio-state.edu/kgarrett/FactcheckMosqueRumors.pdf [23] http://communication.stanford.edu/faculty/krosnick/ [24] http://www.comm.ohio-state.edu/kgarrett/MediaMosqueRumors.pdf [25] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrowcasting [26] http://people-press.org/report/417/a-deeper-partisan-divide-over-global-warming [27] http://environment.yale.edu/profile/leiserowitz/ [28] http://environment.yale.edu/climate/ [29] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr-and-david-kirby/vaccine-court-autism-deba_b_169673.html [30] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-mccarthy/vaccine-autism-debate_b_806857.html [31] http://sethmnookin.com/ [32] http://www.powells.com/biblio/1-9781439158647-0 [33] http://discovermagazine.com/2009/jun/06-why-does-vaccine-autism-controversy-live-on/article_print [34] http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673697110960/fulltext [35] http://www.gmc-uk.org/Wakefield_SPM_and_SANCTION.pdf_32595267.pdf [36] http://www.scribd.com/doc/3446682/The-Second-National-Risk-and-Culture-Study-Making-Sense-of-and-Making-Progress-In-The-American-Culture-War-of-Fact
  15. Ian, you always class up the joint with your presence. Thanks for that.
  16. I just started looking for work. No prospects as of yet. I just got married and my wife won't be graduating for another year, so I'm going to be in Wichita longer than expected.
  17. Got out of the Army. Graduate in May with a CS degree.
  18. I already saw this episode of the West Wing. Things work out pretty well for Bartlett.
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