Monday, December 08, 2003

The Greatest Wall

Information Use and Information Seeking Behavior of Neo Conservatives



"This is truly a great Wall."

~Richard M. Nixon



It should come as no surprise to anyone by now that George W. Bush is intellectually incurious. We even joke about it. Some seem to think it adds to his down home, awe shucks image as a red- blooded commie terrorist hatiní American. He's even gone so far as to admit publicly that he does not read newspapers, nor watch news programs on television but instead relies upon his aids to deliver to him all pertinent information.

Think about this for a moment. Let it sink in.

It isn't just that he prefers to gather his news from the Internet as many of us do (I admit that I prefer Internet sources to print sources myself) but that he receives all of his information second hand. Now we assume that the Leader of the Free World has some smart cookies roaming around the halls of the White House. We shouldn't but we do. And there inlays our problem: We assume too much and let Bush get away, literally with murder, while he pretends he just didnít know any better.

The Bush administration, like all administrations before them, is full of people who have made it their careers to get into a position of power. I will not speculate here about their motives for wanting this power but we've all seen their faces on television and every one of them, from Wolfowitz on down to Condi Rice has that Lean and Hungry Look about them. What separates this administration form others, however is not that they are career politicians with desires for power but that they are, almost every one of them, career business people with extensive experience in the corporate world, complete with the bottom dollar mindset that seems almost genetic in Capitalists. This creates an almost tangible disconnect from reality. They are all overwhelmingly preoccupied with furthering their own agendas that they will do whatever it takes, including misinforming (or in popular parlance "spinning") data when delivering it to the President. All so long as they create the appearance of competitive competence rather than actual integrity.

Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson, in their book Illuminatus! call this the SNAFU principle. The SNAFU principle asserts that accurate communication can only take place among equals, that in corporate or governmental hierarchies where equality is secondary (if it exists at all) there is always a subordinate reporting to a superior. And as we all know from our own experiences in hierarchical oriented situations, subordinates do not always report facts accurately to their superiors, especially when the situation is deemed important or there is seen an opening for advancement.

The ramifications of this disinformation bubble are all too apparent on the geopolitical stage. All we have to do is look at the recent Niger Yellowcake scandal to see how voluble and important accurate, authoritative Information really is.

As if this dithering about with false information wasn't bad enough for the President there is also his faulty decision making behavior which creates the real dire situations (See: iraq, illegal war in).

I'm speaking of the Slippery Slope Argument.

This is a classic Neocon philologistic game wherein a Reduction by Inference is made by falsely associating unrelated ideas and building sloppy syllogisms to then back up the asserted conclusions; conclusions that were not reached by logic but were made using ìFaith Based Intelligenceî or according to ideological wish fulfillment. A clear example of the Slippery Slope Argument was made back in April when Senator Rick Santorum (R. Penn) asserted that if homosexual unions were acknowledged by the state, this would lead, somehow, to an escalation in the occurrence of man on dog sex.

The first problem with this sort of thinking is that it is not based on credible logic at all. It isn't even comparing apples to oranges. It's painting the apples orange, dusting them with Tang and then complaining that they diminish the overall Orangeness of all oranges.

The second problem with this sort of thinking is that it occurs all too frequently in the Oval Office and on the Senate Floor.

Truly, this is a great wall indeed.

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