25 June 2011

Buying Belief

But first I must acknowledge my own complicity: As a writer of fiction, my work contributes to the proliferation of the technology of falsehood, bullshit, delusion, scam, con, lie. Or at least the reification of same. My previous post Beyond Belief looked at religious (and other) beliefs as the sine qua non of traditional notions of Identity.

That being dispensed with, we read that no more than 5 of the 51 contestants for the crown of Miss USA believe that evolution should be taught in the public schools. Seductive. So, when Keats oded "'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know,'" he didn't quite anticipate this. Or, then again, maybe he did.

Al Gore (remember him?) asserts that the news media is a further tool in blocking the truth about the climate crisis our world and, more specifically, our species appears to be facing.
"[As referee of public discourse, it] appears not to notice that the Polluters and Ideologues are trampling all over the "rules" of democratic discourse. They are financing pseudoscientists whose job is to manufacture doubt about what is true and what is false; buying elected officials wholesale with bribes that the politicians themselves have made "legal" and can now be made in secret; spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year on misleading advertisements in the mass media; hiring four anti-climate lobbyists for every member of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives."
One way to influence the debate—and one which has no fealty to truth or public-spriritedness—is to buy it.
"Documents and interviews unearthed in recent months by Brave New Foundation researchers illustrate a $28.4 million Koch business that has manufactured 297 commentaries, 200 reports, 56 studies and six books distorting Social Security's effectiveness and purpose.

Together, the publications reveal a vast cottage industry comprised of Koch brothers' spokespeople, front groups, think tanks, academics and elected officials, which have built a self-sustaining echo chamber to transform fringe ideas into popular mainstream public policy arguments. ...

The Koch echo chamber begins with think tanks like the Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation and Mercatus Center at George Mason University and the Reason Foundation, which owe their founding and achievements to Koch backing. These think tanks take their $28.4 million in Koch funding and produce hundreds of position papers distorting the long-term health of Social Security.

The authors of these hundreds of self-described policy studies, newsletters, commentaries and books are then paraded through television, print and online news media. Their distorted message is amplified through shows like Hannity, with its 3.3 million viewers per episode, or CNBC's Kudlow Report and its roughly 300,000 viewers per episode night after night after night."
Buy it and Enforce it.

Structures of falsehood—fictions, ideologies, ideals, religions—and the creation and reinforcement thereof prey upon our existential insecurities. Our native gullibility. Our naiveté.


Randal Graves said...

You can't fool me, this is all part of your nefarious plan to get everyone to stop writing, thus stop publishing, thus getting your book in print so you can amass enough cash to survive the inevitable oil and water wars intact.

Would be ridiculous to speak for everyone, but I imagine some (most, who knows) of us who write, even when trying to be aware of the fiction of nearly all macro narratives public and private, willingly create our own micro ones as a refuge - whether *those* are micro or macro in hue is a separate issue.

Cognitive dissonance can be quite comfortable compared to the alternative of that damn reality.

Jim H. said...

I comfort myself by thinking of my fictions as models of reality—a reality which I control & manipulate by limiting the variables. I never think of them as "true" to anything other than themselves. If they prove instructional or otherwise utile, that is mere fortuity. If they allow of identification, then the work will've touched someone in ways I will've long since lost interest in.

Refuge, tho', is a good word. Delusion another.