Sunday, February 04, 2007

Protecting oneself from idiots.

First of all, my thanks to Mr. Al for introducing to me this absolutely excellent speech by Michael Crichton.  He ripped out the best quote on the MSM I've seen in ages.  Upon discovering that the "disaster" of Chernobyl was in fact 99.5% hogwash (!), he went looking to see what else might be.
Now, Chernobyl started me on a new path. As I researched these old fears, to find out what had been said in the past, I made several important discoveries.  The first is that there is nothing more sobering than a 30 year old newspaper. You can’t figure out what the headlines mean. You don’t know who the people are. Theodore Green, John Sparkman, George Reedy, Jack Watson, Kenneth Duberstein. You thumb through page after page of vanished concerns—issues that apparently were vitally important at the time, and now don’t matter at all. It’s amazing how many pressing concerns are literally of the moment. They won’t matter in six months, and certainly not in six years. And if they won’t matter then, are they really worth our attention now?
Well, yes and no.  No, they aren't worth our attention because they are not True, capital "T".  That is, they do not reflect actual reality.  Unfortunately yes, they demand attention because these fake issues and the wall to wall discussion of them in the media mobilize human effort and money just as much or even more than actual real problems.

Case in point A), Canada.  Here we have a whole country that's been living in a friggin' fantasy since the 1970's.  The fantasy even has a name, coined by Mark Steyn:  Trudeaupia.  Here's a book review of the cost this Trudeaupian fantasy has had for us poor residents of Canada.  Peter Worthington:

What makes history professor Jack Granatstein's new book, Whose War Is It?, riveting, is that it's as timely as tomorrow and underlines where Canada has gone wrong, where it needs correcting, and dares challenge conventional dogma.

For those who think Canada is doing everything right, and needs no correcting, consider that our influence on the world stage has steadily diminished since World War II, that we've developed something of a reputation for self-satisfaction, of not pulling our weight on global issues, and -- until Afghanistan -- we were freeloaders in collective defence.

It goes on in the same vein, but for the purpose of my point it illustrates the way 20 million Canadians have been taken for a sleigh ride by idiots who can't tell Truth from fiction.  I managed to see the snow job for what it is after I had lived in the USA for a few years, but I get met with blank stares a lot here when I talk about it.

Case in point B), global warming.  This particular crock is starting to boil over, to the point where we have MSM guys out there seriously suggesting violence be visited on its critics.  And its a CROCK.  It is no less a total crock than fundamentalist Islam, and heading in the same direction.  People are really going to get killed over this crap if we aren't careful.

Case in point C), gun control.  An idea whose time has come and gone already.  High profile politicians have moved on, dedicated gun controllers still riding the train are treated like has-been entertainers.  Nobody cares when Tony Orlando releases a new album, nor do they care when Sarah Brady makes another speech.  But this was the issue that pushed George W. over the top and sank Algore.  Total bullshit, but changed American history.

Case in point D), the North American electrical grid.  It's old, it's crunchy, it's on the ragged edge of catastrophic failure every goddamn day.  What do we hear about this Real, True, actual problem that could leave millions without heat in the winter, pretty much any day?  We hear NOTHING.  Not one thing.  A fire this week in a Toronto capacitor bank caused a major voltage drop across Ontario and New York, re-booted servers all over the place.  Hear about it?  Nuh uh.

Taken together, I'd say we have a serious idiot problem.  As Crighton says,

But most troubling of all, according to the UN report in 2005, is that "the largest public health problem created by the accident" is the "damaging psychological impact [due] to a lack of accurate information…[manifesting] as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state."


In other words, the greatest damage to the people of Chernobyl was caused by bad information. These people weren’t blighted by radiation so much as by terrifying but false information.  We ought to ponder, for a minute, exactly what that implies. We demand strict controls on radiation because it is such a health hazard.  But Chernobyl suggests that false information can be a health hazard as damaging as radiation. I am not saying radiation is not a threat. I am not saying Chernobyl was not a genuinely serious event.


But thousands of Ukrainians who didn’t die were made invalids out of fear. They were told to be afraid. They were told they were going to die when they weren’t. They were told their children would be deformed when they weren’t. They were told they couldn’t have children when they could. They were authoritatively promised a future of cancer, deformities, pain and decay. It’s no wonder they responded as they did.


In fact, we need to recognize that this kind of human response is well-documented. Authoritatively telling people they are going to die can in itself be fatal.
We live in an increasingly powerful society.  There is getting to be very little outside the grasp of the Western nations should we collectively decide we want something.  Wanna go to the moon?  No problem.  Mars?  No problem.  Jupiter?  We'll work on it. 

Currently much of that power is being wasted with these tail-chasing exercises, to the point where it is actually becoming dangerous to us as individuals.  Something like this global warming fuss could seriously damage The West and leave us easy meat for the likes of the Chicoms or some other bunch of friendly totalitarians.

We need to defend ourselves, and in this instance guns are useless.  What's needed is a method for sorting out these useful idiot campaigns and distinguishing them from Reality, Capital "R", then defeating them in the arena of free speech.  I think the Blogosphere is a start on something like that, but far from a whole solution.  Witness who's US House Speaker today if you doubt me.

Suggestions are welcome.

The Phantom

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