The Age Of Bullshit

1 comment March 24th, 2008at 09:17pm Posted by Eli

Bonddad and Barry Ritholtz are disturbed by the “Post-Fact World” we are all now living in… as am I. Barry first:

Many of the stated economic gains have been a false ghost. Whether it was overstated job creation (NFP), understated inflation (CPI) or “inflated” growth (GDP), a shocking amount of the debate about the economic expansion has been primarily spin.

That’s what attracted me to this book by Farhad Manjoo: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society. That such a book is even necessary boggles the mind. Consider the myriads of benefits and standards of living improvements we have seen from the reality-based community — and by that, I mean Scientists (Physicists, Biologists, Medical Doctors) and Engineers (Technology, materials and mechanical)….

…Why have we as a nation been increasingly reluctant to confront objective reality? What is it about the present social mood, political leadership, and economic environment that has so totally led us to a world of denial? Up is down, black is white, good is bad — its all very Orwellian.

(…)

There were a parade of syncophants and cheerleaders who, despite knowing better, continued to cheerlead punk data. These pundits, politicos and pinheads are now confronting the ugly reality they can no longer ignore. Consider the progression the motley crew of fools and liars went through: First they denied what was happening, then we got the whole contained thingie, then they blamed da Bears. Now, they have unwittingly embraced Marx, and have successfully pled for the central planners to rescue them from their own stupidity.

~~~

Here’s my question: Are we stuck with these fantasists? Has Truthiness replaced Truth? Are we going to be saddled forever with these damaging, hallucinatory hacks?

And Bonddad’s response, after pointing out that the national debt is huge (>$9 Trillion) and growing, and jobs and wages… aren’t, and conjecturing that this is due to not seven, but twenty-seven years of conservative economic policies:

The Right Wing Noise Machine is well aware of these facts. They can read numbers just like us. Larry Kudlow (and other Republican economists) knows where the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s website is. But that doesn’t matter. They can’t believe that their wonderful policies actually created the current problems. So they engage in spin rather than analysis.

Compounding this problem is the Republican dominance of the AM radio dial. I live in Houston Texas and all be have on AM radio is Republican talk radio all day long. All day long. Once those folks get on theme, they all repeat it ad infinitum until it becomes fact. I swear to God, if Rush Limbaugh said “the sky is purple today” within four days there would be a discussion on all the Republican talk radio shows about how the Democrats caused the sky to turn purple.

The point I’m getting to is the right wing noise machine has a lock on certain types of “information” distribution. And they use it to maximum advantage. They have dumbed down the conversation in multiple ways and done incredible harm to this country’s political dialogue.

And I have no idea how to stop it.

See, the way to learn and grow from mistakes is to look at the problem and try to figure out where you went wrong so you can get it right next time. The conservative approach, however, is to either deny that there’s a problem (consider Bush and other conservatives assuring us that the economy is fundamentally sound and Iraq is going great), to explain why the problem isn’t their fault (“Sure, I supported the war, but I thought Bush was a competent, moral, truthful guy!  There was absolutely no evidence to the contrary!”), or possibly even both at the same time.

Which, of course, is a guaranteed recipe for repeating the same mistakes over and over again, because, well, they’re not actually mistakes.  And certainly not avoidable ones.

Like Bonddad, I don’t know how to get truth heard over spin, truthiness, and outright lies.  The blogs and alternative media have a very small voice compared to the cable and network news, the major newspapers, and – guh – talk radio.  We’re talking and shouting as best we can, but until we get some mainstream megaphones of our own it’s like we’re at a dance party with laryngitis.

Entry Filed under: Blogosphere,Economy,Iraq,Media,Politics,Republicans

1 Comment

  • 1. Cujo359  |  March 25th, 2008 at 2:13 am

    Actually, the conservative approach as I think of it is to do the same thing, or almost the same. Play it safe. Don’t take chances. It’s actually a thought process most engineers can appreciate. These “conservatives” can’t even do that right.

    A month or so ago someone at FDL pointed me at an interview of Susan Jacoby, who’s written a book called The Age Of American Unreason. Jacoby’s conclusions are pretty alarming, since they’re based on what many of us have observed in the last couple of decades.

    The last few months of campaign coverage at many blogs have convinced me that blogs themselves aren’t the answer, either. Everyone just congregates to the places they agree with. Blogs can become echo chambers, too. Post a contrarian view at FDL, DKos, or TM.com some time and see how it goes. Real learning requires exposure to other points of view, and to the reasoning behind those viewpoints. We can avoid that quite easily nowadays.


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