I have a friend who started lending an ear to the conservative ideology. She was introduced to this body of so-called ideas, by supporting Ron Paul. In the past she was an avid Liberal (before Paul) and we gave each other great support during the last 7 years of insanity. Now her emails reflect the "thinking" of the non-thinkers who reject everything if they believe it will go near their pocketbooks or power. Sadly, there are too many who want to hide from the fact that we do live in dangerous times. Not dangers from Bush's "Evil-Doers" that the NEOCONS keep waving in our faces to keep power but dangers from being on a fragile celestial body revolving around a star. Dangers from greed which is the main cause of fouling up our planet to the point of no return. thinkingblue

Please read this recent article: Global warming is melting our children’s chances! Go to this link:
Watch Limbaugh In Action


A new book explores the ironic consequences of all-access information

Apr 20, 2008 04:30 AM
Patricia Hluchy
Toronto Star

There's a paradox at the heart of Farhad Manjoo's new book. In True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, Manjoo, a Salon.com writer who also manages the site's technology-news blog, shows how we have more information more readily at our disposal than ever before, yet we're more likely to latch on to untruths, rigidly partisan positions, and what Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness."

"When we strung up the planet in fiber-optic cable," Manjoo writes, "when we dissolved the mainstream media into prickly niches, and when each of us began to create and transmit our own pictures and sounds, we eased the path through which propaganda infects the culture."

Last week the Star spoke with Manjoo. Here is an edited version of the conversation.

You write that, increasingly, each of us is living in a singular world "built out of our own facts." How has the media explosion contributed to that?

Human beings have this propensity for seeing things in a way that accords with their preconceived beliefs. These biases, these cognitive traps, I call them, they're inbuilt and part of being human. But I argue that new technology has amplified these psychological biases. So now it's easier than ever before to see facts on the Internet and cable news and in all these many media sources in a way that supports your views. We've gone from the world of what we used to call the mainstream media; now we get our news from everywhere, thousands of websites, many channels on TV, talk radio, all these different sources. And now, because there are so many sources and they all cater to sort of specific niches, we can go to them rather than getting a more objective picture of the world.

So, the greater variety of information is making truth more rather than less elusive?

I think that's one of the fascinating things about this phenomenon. If you want to know what's going on with the American presidential election or global warming or any other topic of debate, you can go online and get facts about it extremely easily, much more easily than you could in the past.. But the other thing that the Internet and the new media allow is that you have greater freedom not to look at stuff, not to investigate a situation, because you can also just kind of indulge in a specific area of a controversy that already interests you and you don't have to look at facts that are contradictory to what you believe. In many situations in the news, the partisan niche interest is winning out.

This can have consequences, such as derailing John Kerry's candidacy in the 2004 U.S. presidential election. How did the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, who claimed Kerry had lied about an illustrious record in the Vietnam War, pull that off?

The early message from the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth came out on talk radio in America and then right-wing blogs on the Internet... That media got the attention of cable news, and that really started them off.

That was a pretty clear view of what can happen in this media environment even when you don't have any facts at all. There was an interesting quote from one of the organizers who said that early on in that campaign, they tried to go to the newspapers and wire services and network news broadcasts and tried to give the mainstream media the story. And no one listened to them. So this organizer said they needed what he called a "tap code," an alternative way to get into the news. And they managed to get out their story without the help of mainstream news.

Do I detect almost a nostalgia for the way the mainstream media used to dominate public discourse?

I think there's a way that it could come off that way, but I don't think that I'm expressing any nostalgia or preference for the old ways. Because I think that the idea of more information and greater accessibility of information is a good one. I think it's inarguable that it's better that we have more choice in where we get our news.

There were many flaws with the old media. Undoubtedly, many felt that their stories and their points of view weren't being covered, because the mainstream media had a mainstream way of looking at things. So people who were partisans on either side felt that their ideas weren't resonating with that.

But I'm saying that the changes in the media aren't all automatically and necessarily positive and beneficial. Any time we talk about the Internet, new information and greater access to information, there's this kind of euphoria about it. Ever since Bill Clinton and Al Gore were talking about the information superhighway, and people were talking about people around the world getting access to information and that information overturning repressive regimes and things like that, it's always been kind of positive. And there's a way to look at it that says it's not necessarily going to be positive, and there might be changes that we need to adjust to.

What about the proliferation of still photography and video of events. How do they also lead to multiple interpretations of events?

It used to be that when you looked at a picture, you considered it as a mirror of truth. A photograph, more than any other kind of media, kind of proves that something happened. I think that's no longer the case for two reasons. One reason is we all know this idea of the Photoshop effect, which is that because pictures can be so easily manipulated, when people look at a photograph, they don't automaticallybelieve it's true – and in fact this doesn't happen when you present a photograph that disproves a 9/11 conspiracy theory to a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. The person will say inevitably that this picture has beendoctored.

There's the famous video of Osama bin Laden claiming responsibility for the attack. We all remember the video – it was broadcast everywhere – and many people took it to be the truth. But among 9/11 conspiracy theorists, it's a doctored CIA video or something.

Another thing that's happened is now it's possible to take thousands of images at any one event – for example, with 9/11, we have hundreds and hundreds of images of what happened that morning just because it's so much easier to take photographs.

If you think back to another tragedy of American history, the John F. Kennedy assassination, we have only a handful of images, and basically only one that most of us remember, which is the Zapruder film. And you would think that moving from a time of one image to thousands of images would increase the shared belief we have about (9/11). But in fact that hasn't occurred. There was controversy over what happened in the Kennedy assassination because they only had one image of it. There's controversy over 9/11 because we have hundreds of images of it and basically everyone is looking at the images that support their views.

So if you look at 9/11 conspiracy movies, for example, the famous movie called Loose Change, it claims that no plane hit the Pentagon and it was a missile that hit (it). But the movie shows you only photographs of the scene that support that view, that don't show any plane debris, and where the hole in the wall of the Pentagon looks like it could be a from a missile. In fact, if you go on the Net, there are lots of photographs of that scene that do show plane debris, but you won't find those photos in these movies.

What's a current example of people embracing an untruth? You wrote in The New York Times about the Barack-Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim rumour.

There is this persistent email rumour from anonymous people – it doesn't appear to have much organization behind it – going around to lots of people. The email says that Barack Obama basically has lied about his past, that he is not a Christian and that he's secretly a Muslim. There are a bunch of checking websites on the Internet and newspapers that have debunked this story and yet it persists. Psychologists have shown that debunking rumours sometimes helps them persist and can kind of amplify them.

One of the ideas here is that repetition helps us remember things, because when a fact is repeated to you, you become familiar with that fact, and over time you can even forget that you first heard the fact in the context of debunking. So, if someone tells you it's not true that Barack Obama Muslim, several days later you might not remember the "not" part of that.


The Way Things Aren't:
Rush Limbaugh Debates Reality
Most of us here in the media are what I consider infotainers.... Rush Limbaugh is what I call a disinfotainer. He entertains by spreading disinformation. - Al Franken at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Rush to Judgment
Attacking environmentalists as hippie-dip "wackos" who care more about spotted owls than people and use polar bears for propaganda, Rush Limbaugh has blinded millions of Americans to the climate crisis.
by James Wolcott May 2007 Rush Limbaugh, among the world's foremost global-warming scoffers. Illustration by Philip Burke.
Rush Limbaugh, he's got the life. His days flick through the slot like postcards from paradise. Where most gab-show hosts report for duty at radio studios where candy bars get stuck in the vending machine and the carpeting is a certain industrial shade of indifference, Limbaugh—a man, a mission, a mighty wind—has carved out his own principality in Florida's Palm Beach, a lion preserve where he can roam undisturbed. Drinking in the rays, puffing on those big-shot cigars, riding the range in a golf cart—he's got the complete Jackie Gleason how-sweet-it-is package deal. But just as the Great One suffered from melancholia aggravated by alcohol, Limbaugh's indulgence in his own creature comforts hasn't been able to insulate him from the demons within. An addiction to painkillers reduced this human boom box of self-sufficiency and strict enforcement—"If people are violating the law by doing drugs," he once lectured on his syndicated TV show, "they ought to be accused and they ought to be convicted and they ought to be sent up" (up the river, that is)—to the furtive, needy ploys of any other junkie who finds the medicine cabinet running dry. After he entered rehab, his third wife, Marta, reportedly vacated the luxury estate (they would later divorce), leaving Rush a Tarzan without his Jane in what the Palm Beach Post in 2004 called his "$24.2 million, 36,500-square-foot secluded monster at 1495 N. Ocean." Secluded for now, but perhaps after this god of the airwaves shucks his mound of flesh so that his soul can meet Reagan's in Republican Heaven (where all the angels look like June Allyson), his compound can be converted into a tourist attraction—a combination museum, shrine, gift shop, and spiritual mecca modeled on Elvis's Graceland, Dolly Parton's Dollywood. Aging dittoheads can make pilgrimages to pay their respects, rekindle fond memories, and gape reverently at the silenced TV where Rush watched the game he loved so much and understood so little, football.

For us non-dittoheads (that is, the unconverted), a more fitting memorial to Mount Rushbo might be a diorama of the environmental destruction that he did so much to enable in his multi-decade reign of denigration. Global warming's most popular denialist, talk radio's most imitated showman, conservatism's minister of disinformation, he has injected millions of semi-vacant American skulls with a cream filling of complacency that has helped thrust this country into the forefront of backward leadership. He has given Republican lawmakers the rhetorical cover fire to do nothing but snicker as the crisis emerged and impressed itself on the rest of the world. He conscripted concern for nature as just another weapon in the Culture Wars. May the grasses of his favorite golf courses go forever yellow and dust storms whip from the sand traps.

From Teddy Roosevelt, who made wilderness protection a priority and created national parks, bird sanctuaries, big-game refuges, and national forests, to Richard Nixon, under whose bad-moon presidency the Environmental Protection Agency was formed and the Clean Air Act of 1970 was passed, the Republican Party carried a tradition of conservation that crumbled under Ronald Reagan, for whom nature was mostly a scenic backdrop whose resources could be exploited out of camera frame. Reagan's selections of James Watt for the Department of the Interior and Anne Gorsuch for the E.P.A. put bureaucratic vandals in positions of stewardship, and in 1987 he vetoed re-authorization of the Clean Water Act, a veto that fortunately was overridden. It is a measure of how awful the George W. Bush administration has been on the environment that some activists miss the old, upfront hostility of the Reagan era, when at least the political and corporate machinations took place in open daylight. "Unfortunately, now," lamented Daniel Weiss, an environmental activist (quoted by Amanda Griscom in her article for online's Grist), "our leaders are much more savvy—and far more insidious. They undo laws in the dead of night." Under Bush II, environmentalists no longer need to be engaged, because they've been so stridently marginalized and stigmatized as a pantheistic kook cult practicing socialism under the guise of Gaia worship. This was largely Limbaugh's doing, and now every right-wing pundit from Cal Thomas to Michael Savage croaks the same tune.

It was Limbaugh who inscribed the term "environmentalist wackos" into the political lexicon and hung the "loser" tag on them. He caricatured the fight for wildlife preservation—a broad-visioned tradition that spans from Henry David Thoreau to John Muir to Rachel Carson to Edward Abbey to David Brower—into something weedily hippie-dip. In his 1992 debut, The Way Things Ought to Be, Limbaugh fobbed himself off with a faux barefoot humility over how far he had come in his Horatio Alger saga, the book's cover photo presenting him as a chubby-cheeked cherub with a grinning hint of mischief—a "lovable little fuzzball," to use his own pet phrase. "I am in awe of the perfection of the earth," he proclaimed inside, a perfection crafted by the Creator who made us all, draping the stars in the firmament like the ultimate interior decorator. For all his wide-eyed wonderment, Limbaugh fashioned himself as less naïve than the stereotypical "long-haired maggot-infested FM-type environmentalist wacko" whom he professes to have reasoned with over the plight of the spotted owl, Rush's ineluctable train of logic leading to the final junction: "If the owl can't adapt to the superiority of humans, screw it." It was during this early, jaunty period of Rush's fame that the theme music for his "Animal Rights Update" was the title song from Andy Williams's Born Free punctuated by gunfire and animal sounds—the perfect soundtrack for Dick Cheney hunting porn. Limbaugh acknowledged in The Way Things Ought to Be that there were "some decent environmentalists" out there, they weren't all maggot-infested mulletheads, but portrayed even the sincere ones as socioeconomic parasites. "You and I and the vast majority of other people work for a living," he wrote. "Most of the people running environmental groups don't work." They simply pass around the collection plate to support their cushy lifestyles. As demonization goes, that's pretty mild.

Here are 3 good videos to watch:

Barack Obama For President 08

Barack Obama, STAND BY ME (the USA)

"YES WE CAN" Music Video



CAROLYNCONNETION - I've got a mind and I'm going to use it!

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