I read Doug Belshaw’s article today on Lies and misinformation and it got me to musing on what could be termed the ‘necessary groundwork’ for people to fall prey to lies and misinformation. Namely, the ability to ignore.
#onthisday in 1799, the Rosetta Stone was discovered by French soldier Pierre-François Xavier Bouchard during the Napoleonic campaign in Egypt. It is one of the most important artefacts pertaining to ancient Egypt as it was the key to deciphering hieroglyphs, which has helped humanity unlock lost ancient knowledge.
I have been thinking on the myriad problems of several current movements (mostly the failures of logic being used by the adherents). Though it will take more research and thought before I am willing to publish something meaningful, I came across a kernel today which succinctly addresses one of the key problems:
Many years ago I was introduced to one of the most helpful rules of logic: to never say or write anything the opposite of which would only be uttered by a madman. So for instance, if you are an aspiring politician do not say “We must go forwards into a new bright future” because no sane person would publicly declare “We must go backwards into a dark past”.Douglas Murray
Though the works of René Descartes are seldom read, his phrase ‘cogito, ergo sum‘ has entered popular culture to the extent it is known even beyond those with little Latin and less Greek. Part of the reason for this is that Descartes was attuned to the realisation that Latin had a more limited audience than the vernacular and originally published his sentiment in French: ‘je pense, donc je suis.’ But be it Latin, French or the current lingua franca of English, ‘I think, therefore I am’ has achieved something akin to universal understanding.
If [journalists] have misled public opinion or the government by inaccurate information or wrong conclusions, do we know of any cases of public recognition and rectification of such mistakes by the same journalist or the same newspaper? It hardly ever happens because it would damage sales.Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Solzhenitsyn, a long standing critic of he Soviet Union and communism, knew much about the use and abuse of public opinion. After serving in the Soviet Army during World War II, he was sent to a labour camp for eight years after criticising Stalin’s policies in a private letter.
As I stirred the mince, a t-shirt on the television grabbed my attention. ‘6 May 1937’ was superimposed over an airship. Reflexively I recalled Herbert Morrison’s voice crying out with anguish: ‘Oh, the humanity!’ As my conscious thinking caught up, a newsreel flickered into life in my minds eye and I felt myself transported to an airfield in New Jersey as an airship burned.
In Michael Crichton’s novel Rising Sun, the character John Connor makes the observation:
The Japanese have a saying: ‘Fix the problem, not the blame.’ Find out what’s screwed up and fix it. Nobody gets blamed. We’re always after who screwed up. Their way is better.