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Friday, April 22, 2022

Fake News - Flapdoodle In A World Of Uncertainty, Probability, And Fantasy

Much has been made of so-called ‘fake news’, a term never really defined but generally considered to  be news that someone doesn’t like.  

For Trump haters everything the President said was fake news – lies, hyperbole, distortion, and misrepresentation – and everything the haters leveled at him was no different.  There might have been a scintilla of truth in what both said, but it was so hidden in magnificent confabulations that no one even tried to find it.  To be honest, no one really cared.  No one was interested in some Cartesian conclusion.  Logic is irrelevant to subjective political reality.  Spreadsheets, graphs, and technical minutia about air pressure, ocean currents, atmospheric events, and sunspots are tedious.  Why bother to unearth when you know that global warming is a fact, undeniable, and settled?  Why fuss with social equations about demographics, mobility, indicators of social dysfunction, opportunity margins, and marginal cost-benefit when you know that the inner city is a product of white privilege, a persistent legacy of slavery, and a racist gulag?

Image result for images donald trump fake news

The elaborate quilt of fake news is colorful, intricate and appealing.  Every new bit of news about hurricanes, rainfall, and water temperature adds a thread; each dire warning is fancy embroidery.  A footnoted, peer-reviewed, objectively-argued paper on heat differentials and Artic ocean currents is grey, featureless, and boring.  Will global warming be the apocalyptic Armageddon environmentalists predict? Doubtful; but the possibility is enticing.  In fact the images of a burnt, blackened, and scarred landscape still smoldering amidst the ruins of civilization are important to the movement.  Without such dire and frightening prophecies, few people would join up.

Image result for images of environmental armageddon

The fake news surrounding racism is even more distorted by popular opinion.  Either black people are still in the inner city ghetto because of racism, white oppression, and the persistent, lingering effects of slavery; or they are victims of liberal entitlements and the progressive meme of ‘identity’, encouraged to value anti-social street behavior, language, and attitude, all of which are firewalls against economic and social integration. 

Either as slaves they brought little from Africa other than shamanism, tribal ritual, idolatry, and music; or they are Rousseau’s ‘noble savages’, a more pure, evolved race closer to nature, the earth, and encompassing belief.

Image result for images jj rousseau

The twain will never meet, and all conclusions are little based on history, anthropology, and economics, and a lot on foregone conclusions, presumptions, and moral eagerness.  Progressives have staked their reputation on the moral, ethical, and philosophical nature of the black man, and nothing will ever change that foundational principle.  

Conservatives look more objectively at African tribalism, the African slave trade and read the journals of Rene du Chaillu's and Mungo Park's first-hand accounts of the stone age cultures from which slaves bound for the Americas were taken.  They study social anthropology and the well-documented accommodation of remote Amazon tribes to modern life; but they too stop their investigation when they have had enough, and when their original presumptions have been proven and justified.

Image result for images mungo park

It matters not to gender spectrum advocates that human history is one of heterosexuality with only a consistent but small homosexual departure.  There is no evidence whatsoever that there are such things as multiple sexualities, infinite points on the gender spectrum; nor does anything point to an original, genetic sexual flux which necessitates choice.  Yet every bit of American society – from kindergartens to boardrooms – is being filled with gender absolutism, the need to encourage the final outing of sexual identities, and the option to change course if the sexual shoe doesn’t fit.

Not only is procreation the obvious, central reason for traditional sexuality; but Christianity suggests a spiritual link.  It is no accident that Paul saw marriage as an extension of the Holy Family and the family-based (Father and Son) Trinity.  Edward Albee, modernist 20th century playwright and gay man saw heterosexual marriage as ‘the crucible of maturity’.  D.H. Lawrence understood that only the sexual bonding of men and woman could produce existential epiphanies.  Shakespeare, no fan of marriage, knew that it was at the heart of family, court, and empire.

Image result for images dh lawrence

Behavioral scientists have shown that individual perceptions of the same incident vary significantly.  In a famous and well-documented court case, the three eyewitnesses who said they observed a drive-by shooting each saw different things.  One said it was two black men, others two whites.  Two said the car was a blue sports model, the third said it was a four-door sedan.  The writers Kurosawa, Durrell, and Browning all wrote about the fallibility of human perceptions and the differing interpretations of the same event.

Psychologists readily agree.  Someone with an abused background cannot possibly judge troubled sexual relations objectively.  A man sees women’s affairs differently from women.

Memory has been shown to be predominantly additive.  Something may be actually remembered and stored correctly about an event that took place in the past; but the memory of that event will always be conditioned, modified, and changed by the telling of the same story by different family members.  What we remember might not have happened at all, but might be the concoction of a hundred impressions and made ours.

Despite the claim that current scientific opinion on everything from climate change to sexuality is ‘settled’ science, there has never been such a thing.  If there were, we would still believe that the sun revolves around the earth, that disease is caused by bad air, and that personality is determined by humors.  Einstein could not have devised his theory of relativity without the enabling culture of a dramatically evolving rejection of cultural absolutism.   Darwin could never have formulated his Origin of Species without some enabling culture which suggested the very same rejection of one-to-one calculable cause-and-effect.

Image result for images einstein

Heisenberg, the father of quantum physics, stated that while one could pinpoint the location of a subatomic particle, its speed would always be indeterminate; and if one could measure the speed of the particle, its precise location could never be determined.  He could not have even contemplated such a revolutionary conclusion unless the society around him was beginning to accept the probabilistic nature of events and dismiss former beliefs in absolute objectivity.

All of which goes to show that the current flapdoodle over fake news is itself a concocted, self-centered affair.  There is no such thing as ‘real’ news and never has been.  Nothing is settled, absolute, purely objective.  Objectivity is only an illusion perpetuated by those who cannot deal with uncertainty.

Given this impossibly undecipherable state of affairs, the fantasy option seems the most logical.  If the truth can never be revealed; if perceptions are fallible; if the world is governed by random events only understood as probable; and if human nature demands simplicity and recognizable, easily understood configurations, then why not live completely in a world of fantasy?

Is the world of Shakespeare, Blake, Tolstoy, Dickens, Moliere, and Goethe any less reliable than faulty interpretations of ‘fact’?  Aren’t the images of Picasso, Braque, Kiefer, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, Homer, and Daumier just as faithful to an incomprehensible  world as reams of facts and figures

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