The Cultural Factors Driving America's Departure From Reality

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Red, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    I had been thinking of starting this thread as food for thought for those interested in the growth of fake news and alternative facts. A comment by babe, in the Houston thread, that, with regard to his opinions on climate change, "I get to think what i want to think", decided me in favor of posting this. Kurt Andersen is a novelist and journalist who has written a book, "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History", which purports to trace the historical roots leading to the point where the truth becomes whatever one feels like the truth is. Each of these video clips is progressively longer, with the Charlie Rose interview being 17 minutes. Food for though I hope, and not reason for shouting matches.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15ovRt5IW6Q

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMnLS0RZ-HM&app=desktop

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJsyFUoMA1A&app=desktop
     
  2. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    Here is the essay, and it's a long one, which Andersen wrote for The Atlantic, and which is adopted from his recent book, "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500 Year History". It's the part of his book that focuses on developments and influences from the 60's and early 70's. It's clear to me, in reading the negative light in which Andersen casts many of those developments, that he is a scientific materialist, and I am clearly not. The generation of the 60's was the generation in which I came of age, and I do not view many of the trends from that era as Andersen does. But, it's valuable, I believe, to try and understand how we got to the point where the truth is now whatever we feel the truth is, whatever we want it to be, and how Donald Trump may be a culmination of sorts for that trend. Here is the link, followed by an excerpt to convey the flavor of it:


    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/how-america-lost-its-mind/534231/

    Today, each of us is freer than ever to custom-make reality, to believe whatever and pretend to be whoever we wish. Which makes all the lines between actual and fictional blur and disappear more easily. Truth in general becomes flexible, personal, subjective. And we like this new ultra-freedom, insist on it, even as we fear and loathe the ways so many of our wrongheaded fellow Americans use it.

    Treating real life as fantasy and vice versa, and taking preposterous ideas seriously, is not unique to Americans. But we are the global crucible and epicenter. We invented the fantasy-industrial complex; almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people. This is American exceptionalism in the 21st century. The country has always been a one-of-a-kind place. But our singularity is different now. We’re still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.

    People see our shocking Trump moment—this post-truth, “alternative facts” moment—as some inexplicable and crazy new American phenomenon. But what’s happening is just the ultimate extrapolation and expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional for its entire history.
     
  3. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    Academia is also beginning to take a closer look at fake news and alternative facts. Here, an academic from the University of Washington takes a closer look at one specie of false narrative: that which develops in the wake of mass shootings. Many of us will be aware of the most famous instance, promoted by conspiracist Alex Jones. Namely, that the Sandy Hook massacre of school children never actually happened.

    http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle...e-information-war-is-real-and-were-losing-it/

    "Starbird’s insight was to map the digital connections between all this buzzing on Twitter with a conglomeration of websites. Then she analyzed the content of each site to try to answer the question: Just what is this alternative media ecosystem saying?

    It isn’t a traditional left-right political axis, she found. There are right-wing sites like Danger & Play and left-wing sensationalizers such as The Free Thought Project. Some appear to be just trying to make money, while others are aggressively pushing political agendas.

    The true common denominator, she found, is anti-globalism — deep suspicion of free trade, multinational business and global institutions.

    “To be antiglobalist often included being anti-mainstream media, anti-immigration, anti-science, anti-U.S. government, and anti-European Union,” Starbird says.

    So it was like the mind of Stephen Bannon, chief adviser to Trump, spilled across the back channels of the web.

    Much of it was strangely pro-Russian, too — perhaps due to Russian twitter bots that bombarded social channels during the presidential campaign (a phenomenon that’s now part of the FBI investigation into the election."

    And here is the actual study:

    http://faculty.washington.edu/kstarbi/Alt_Narratives_ICWSM17-CameraReady.pdf
     
  4. DutchJazzer

    DutchJazzer Banned

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    marxism always departs from reality, marxism is on the rise



    /thread!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    lock thread please
     
  5. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    An example of far right "news" outlets promoting fake news stories, which was then compounded by actions taken by Russian actors:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/exclus...to-organize-anti-immigrant-rallies-on-us-soil

    "Far-right, pro-Trump firehoses Breitbart, InfoWars, and WorldNetDaily had pushed a series of stories implying immigrants were taking over Twin Falls since the beginning of 2016. The stories reached a fever pitch in the month before SecuredBorders’ event."

    All this taking place in relative plain sight. There is simply no mistaking from which side of the political spectrum America's fake news industry is emanating.
     
  6. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    I love it, lol. Here we see the fundamental phoniness of the libertarianism claimed by this mental midget. On the one hand, he is constantly reminding us of how his individual rights must never be trampled, must never be suppressed. And, at the same time, he is the first to demand that the freedom of speech of others be curtailed at his insistence. Not only is he as dumb as dirt, but he is the ultimate hypocrite....
     
  7. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the make believe libertarian can explain what a discussion of the rise of fake news and alternative facts in modern America has to do with the rise of Marxism? Nah, never mind, of course he can't. And I'm not supposed to encourage our resident trolls anyway, yet here I am, lol...
     
  8. NAOS

    NAOS Banned

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    your threads would be better if you didn't personally derail them by engaging with trolls.
     
  9. NAOS

    NAOS Banned

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    just read this. Good idea.
     
  10. franklin

    franklin Well-Known Member

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    Are you handicapped?
     
  11. NAOS

    NAOS Banned

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    This is probably the most problematic piece I've encountered from the Atlantic. There's a huge literature out there on the development of the Epistemological Crisis we find ourselves in, and I will save this particular piece in the subfile titled "really bad reiterations of the subjective-objective dichotomy: how much of this **** will we now have to suffer through?"

    I disagree with much of his historicizing; he doesn't bother to outline a theory of truth; he identifies the wrong bogeymen on pretty much every scale; he totally butchers several lines of thought emerging from the 60s; etc. A truly bad moment for the Atlantic.
     
  12. NAOS

    NAOS Banned

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    Sup dude?
     
  13. Siro

    Siro Well-Known Member Contributor

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    He's upset Boris and Dutch are being attacked because they're "thought provokers". And he doesn't like Red.
     
  14. Scat

    Scat Well-Known Member

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    When the prominent poster in a thread is the OP... :confused:
     
  15. DutchJazzer

    DutchJazzer Banned

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    i am no thought provoker, i am a ***** magnet!
     
  16. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    There's a great deal I take exception to in Andersen's Atlantic piece, and much of it does revolve around his interpretation of influences, trends, and ideas born in the 60's and early 70's. That said, I've always thought Truth was a standard to aim for. And we seem to be in a period where alternative facts are being set up as somehow equally valid as truths. Not that truth, in any subject or situation is that easy to discern. There is history as it happened, and history as it's written, and as it's written can introduce relativism. But, shall we get to the point that the alternate fact supported by the Flat Earth Society is equally as valid as believing the Earth is a globe?
     
  17. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure you're right, but I could not resist pointing out how Dutch's comment identified him as a fake libertarian.
     
  18. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    To post the thread with the information I wanted to post required 3 comments to start, or else one gigantic comment. I went with the former. The third posting dealt with one example of the overall topic, the rise of fake news and alternative media narratives in 21st century America. That article showed the close parallels between the Alt Right and Alt Left, both are essentially anti-globalist for example, and had a balance that might make it of value to anyone, regardless of where a person fell on the political spectrum.

    I never expected that the thread would get dozens or hundreds of comments. But, we are living in an age where fake news, alternative facts, and alternative media outlets vie with mainstream media outlets, and these trends are important in the history we are living through
     
  19. Red

    Red Well-Known Member

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    My thanks to whichever mod corrected the spelling error in the subject line....
     
  20. NAOS

    NAOS Banned

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    I don't disagree with the problem; I've consistently wrung my hands over epistemological problem and rampant relativism as soon as I understood the forces in play and their apparent intractability. We've been accelerating within those orbits, no doubt. But one thing I definitely won't settle for is some facile or wistful view about the past and its easier relationship to truth. Nor will I be around while the mass culture takes 10 full steps back on the subjectivity-objectivity problem -- and where the "left" is pounding the streets on the side of rationality and objectivity in way Andersen does here. Especially if that means largely misidentifying the bogeymen and butchering the huge breakthroughs toward truth that emerged from the 20th century.

    Andersen has identified a problem that many cultural critics have identified. Good for him? He then proceeds to botch just about every other aspect of the project (I'll give him a pass on the contemporary stuff that fills his piece, but, again, most of that is far from the cutting edge of cultural criticism).
     

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