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Thread: Change in media reporting

  1. #61
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Where did you get that picture of Newman-Oldman???

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    Council Member Featherock's Avatar
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    When I said the result of the media's lack of critical analysis leading up to the war in Iraq resulted in mainly jingoistic stories, I meant that, largely, the stories the media did publish supported the war in one way or another, either through benign neglect of the facts (there were no WMD), through breathless reports from "embeds" on the rush of combat (embeds: I give the DoD an A+ in marketing for that policy); or through outright advocacy in the guise of journalism. It all added up to one big beat of the war drum.

    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. The Daily Show does that nearly every night through satire, and they skewer any and all media, not just Fox, with no agenda other than anti-ignorance. The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone. Freedom fries anyone?

  3. #63
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I think you may be a little unfair to the media.

    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    When I said the result of the media's lack of critical analysis leading up to the war in Iraq resulted in mainly jingoistic stories, I meant that, largely, the stories the media did publish supported the war in one way or another, either through benign neglect of the facts (there were no WMD)...
    They reported what the Guvmint said -- which as anyone who was paying any attention at all should have known then and as most hopefully know now -- was designed to get them on side, it had little to do with the real reasons for going to Iraq. It was, simply, mostly a lot of patently unbelievable BS. That the media types fell for it is a lick on them. That they did is true partly due to their ignorance (i.e. lack of relevant knowledge) but they had little else to go on because they had all gutted their overseas reporting capability during the 90s. I think that's at least partly what the British call an 'own goal.' Maybe a couple.
    through breathless reports from "embeds" on the rush of combat (embeds: I give the DoD an A+ in marketing for that policy)...
    Aside from marketing give DoD and the guys and gals who went an attaboy for allowing that much coverage (not in a lack of censorship but in the sense of offering the media a ride, some food and some protection from the vagaries of combat) and for basically doing a good and fair job on the part of the reporters. They mostly got far better stories that way than they would have had with other methods. Did some units do better by the reporters than others, sure, just as some reporters did better than others -- people and units are not all equal.
    ...or through outright advocacy in the guise of journalism. It all added up to one big beat of the war drum.
    Amazing. An operator (the Admin) tries to sell its program to a possibly skeptical audience with some spin through the mass media. What a novel idea...

    As for the war drum; the Rule of Thirds and the Two Year Rule always apply. That's as American as Peach Cobbler.
    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. The Daily Show does that nearly every night through satire, and they skewer any and all media, not just Fox, with no agenda other than anti-ignorance.
    Your prerogative. Dunno about the Daily Show, don't waste my time with TV.
    The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone. Freedom fries anyone?
    I could make a smart comment about that paragraph of yours I just quoted being propaganda in its own right but I'll forego that to point out that many who work in the media are mildly left leaning compared to, say, me. That's cool, nothing wrong with it, a lot of my friends and relatives are left leaning, some a lot further than most of the media but I still listen to them. So for me to say the media is 'left leaning' is perhaps true whereas for you and many others, that would not be the case. In any event, I do not see that tilt as a problem -- nor would I suggest it leads to dishonesty.

    As for bias, some yes, some no -- we ALL have our biases. All anyone has to do is filter for it.

    Some of the media is in fact Francophone -- I think that mostly relates to location and local language attributes. Quebec has some Francophone broadsheets, for example. Most US media is Anglophone. Good thing, my French is limited to about six words.

    I'm unsure what Freedom Fries are, don't think I've ever had any...
    Last edited by Ken White; 07-08-2008 at 03:07 AM.

  4. #64
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rank amateur View Post
    The fact that the war was sold on sound bites like weapons of mass destruction, liberation, flowers at our feet, dead enders and mission accomplished may have something to do with it too.
    Only to those who weren't paying attention and did not realize that:

    - There was no WMD problem; absolutely no way Iraq was a threat in that arena.

    - Liberation? Perhaps -- but war is never that simple, even my sixteen year old granddaughter knew that.

    - Flowers at our feet -- never going to happen in any meaningful sense; if it did happen it would be fleeting and irrelevant.

    - Dead enders are ALWAYS a problem (they were when we got there and they still are). Heck, they're a problem in this country today.

    - Mission accomplished -- paying attention to what politicians of any stripe say is not terribly bright.

    So, yeah, since the media struck out on all those, they got their feelings hurt and retaliated by being unhelpful. Not a problem. Nor does it address what I said which was: ""I do know that I have seen so little truly thoughtful analysis and comment on either Afghanistan or Iraq that I'm unsure how jingoism can develop other than as a dumb knee jerk reaction to sloppy reporting."" Point being that negative reporting or failing to accentuate the positive is not at all the same thing I said; those things are due, IMO, to a net lack of competence, not to bias or a sense of being taken.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    When I said the result of the media's lack of critical analysis leading up to the war in Iraq resulted in mainly jingoistic stories, I meant that, largely, the stories the media did publish supported the war in one way or another, either through benign neglect of the facts (there were no WMD), through breathless reports from "embeds" on the rush of combat (embeds: I give the DoD an A+ in marketing for that policy); or through outright advocacy in the guise of journalism. It all added up to one big beat of the war drum.

    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. The Daily Show does that nearly every night through satire, and they skewer any and all media, not just Fox, with no agenda other than anti-ignorance. The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone. Freedom fries anyone?
    You're using a rather wide brush to paint your obvious bias that is moot as far as the topic is concerned. So, your spam filter is objective and freedom of expression and for that matter freedom of the press are conditionally subjective in your opinion? I'm not translating something correctly. Maybe you just have a [philosophical] nihilistic approach from a certain angle on the topic of journalism and war in our times because the way I'm reading your writing you seem to be offended by the written word that just happens to not fit your mold of something. Who ever wrote that slant on today's press had every right to write it. It is in the Constitution. I don't understand why that is propaganda. If it was propaganda it would be an effort to stymie the war effort. Unless, you erroneously believe it is an effort to bolster the war effort. It certainly isn't going to change anyone's mind on the topic. Anyway, its freedom of expression. Not propaganda. Again, does your spam filter include words like "Al Franken", or "Nancy Peloesi"? Because otherwise I would swear you have an agenda. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I used to have an agenda. But I've become about eight years older since that started and have since grown out of it. Due in large part by patient and wiser minds telling me enough times that perhaps I was full of it. And I was. Ten years ago I would have thought what was posted at the beginning of this thread was propaganda. About eight to two years ago I would have stated, "Right on!" Today, I just look at that piece as freedom of expression. Something we fight for and just move on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. ... The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone.
    The satire was highlighting the perceived tendency for the media to selectively report only those tidbits of information that cast our operations in a negative light and to deliberately spin facts in such a way as to create controversy. That speaks more to irresponsibility than to a bias or leaning (not sure what the French thing is about). It was intended to entertain people who hold that perception. For those who do not hold that perception, it will put them on the defensive. Propaganda is meant to propagate support for an idea, not to solidify disagreement or simply entertain people who already wholeheartedly buy into the idea.

    My observation is that when someone hears a joke and calls it propaganda, then that person lacks a sense of humor. As someone who prides himself on having a sense of humor, I will assume that you played the "neocon" card in an attempt to entertain and amuse, rather than to push propaganda of your own.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. The Daily Show does that nearly every night through satire, and they skewer any and all media, not just Fox, with no agenda other than anti-ignorance.
    Personally, I love the Daily Show - it's a toss up between CTV evening news and the DS when 11pm rolls around. Although, I have to disagree with you on whether or not they have any other agendas...

    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone. Freedom fries anyone?
    Quote Originally Posted by Culpeper View Post
    Who ever wrote that slant on today's press had every right to write it. It is in the Constitution. I don't understand why that is propaganda. If it was propaganda it would be an effort to stymie the war effort. Unless, you erroneously believe it is an effort to bolster the war effort. It certainly isn't going to change anyone's mind on the topic. Anyway, its freedom of expression. Not propaganda.
    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Propaganda is meant to propagate support for an idea, not to solidify disagreement or simply entertain people who already wholeheartedly buy into the idea.
    I'm really wondering if we are using the word "propaganda" in the same, or even similar, manner! Personally, my definition is closer to Schmedlaps's, although I would have said "propagate a perception" rather than an "idea". This may be worth pulling out...

    Can we come up with an objective definition of propaganda as distinguished from, say, bias?

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    My observation is that when someone hears a joke and calls it propaganda, then that person lacks a sense of humor. As someone who prides himself on having a sense of humor, I will assume that you played the "neocon" card in an attempt to entertain and amuse, rather than to push propaganda of your own.
    Well, I suspect that I could probably come up with a joke that anyone on the board would find offensive and/or propaganda. Jokes deal with structural disjunctures (amongst other things) and, after a while, they stop being funny to certain groups. Jokes are also used to create perceptions in a population so, in that sense, they can definitely be propaganda... at least using my definition .

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    Council Member Culpeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    The satire was highlighting the perceived tendency for the media to selectively report only those tidbits of information that cast our operations in a negative light and to deliberately spin facts in such a way as to create controversy.
    That is another quote of the day!

    Well said! I wish I posted that. Well, we've hit rock bottom by having to explain the obvious and ruin the whole thing. Now, it really is Spring Time for Hitler and Germany.

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  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Featherock View Post
    Also, I still think the satire that started the thread was propaganda. It didn't simply send up bad reporting. The Daily Show does that nearly every night through satire, and they skewer any and all media, not just Fox, with no agenda other than anti-ignorance. The joke was propaganda because it was pushing a very familiar neocon criticism of the sort that gets caught in my spam filter on a daily basis: the media is biased, left leaning, and possibly Francophone. Freedom fries anyone?
    Um...actually there was a study done that determined that the majority of mainstream media does tilt to the left. Link to a story on the study is here and a quote from the story follows:
    While the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal is conservative, the newspaper's news pages are liberal, even more liberal than The New York Times. The Drudge Report may have a right-wing reputation, but it leans left. Coverage by public television and radio is conservative compared to the rest of the mainstream media. Meanwhile, almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.

    These are just a few of the surprising findings from a UCLA-led study, which is believed to be the first successful attempt at objectively quantifying bias in a range of media outlets and ranking them accordingly.
    The study was quickly attacked by some who may not want any findings of bias to leak out...or simply can't stand the idea that bias might exist in their own ranks. For an example, see here.

    What I find funny about this is that everyone has a bias to some degree or another. Your personal experiences, leanings, interests, and the like are going to determine how you view many events. A wise person acknowledges said bias and tries to understand how it impacts his or her view of events. Others deny their bias, or claim that based on their political or social beliefs it is impossible for them to be biased, while anyone who disagrees with them is clearly biased. And given the time constraints that most media members operate under, it's not very likely that they'd have the time to go back through and remove every trace of their own biases from a story.

    American media has also been an interesting case in itself: at times a group of crusaders mixed with businessmen and used by political machines to accomplish their goals with a minimum of attention. Up until perhaps the early 1900s they were certainly not often known for their objective reporting or apolitical stances on anything (with the usual few exceptions). Interesting how some things change (or at least seem to change).
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    Given our discussion about then media, I thought this would be a good place to post this story from CBC.ca

    No doubt it's torture, says U.S. journalist after trying waterboarding
    Last Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 1:01 PM ET
    CBC News

    Christopher Hitchens, a Washington-based journalist known for his support of the Iraq war and the U.S. war on terror, has subjected himself to waterboarding.

    The experiment was done in answer to critics who challenged him to try it after he defended U.S. treatment of Muslim prisoners.

    The controversial interrogation technique, which simulates drowning, is the focus of an intense debate in U.S. political circles.

    Washington has been divided over whether or not waterboarding can be called torture since it was learned the technique was used by the CIA on at least three detainees, one of them being Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who is accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks.

    The experience left Hitchens with no doubts. The August issue of Vanity Fair will carry his article titled "Believe Me, It's Torture."

    More...
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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The public preparation for the Iraq invasion still confuses me. It seemed to me as if rationalism was completely shut off at that time.
    I argued with some about the topic, and the discussions clearly showed that there was no rational thinking left among my discussion partners. We burned through one pro argument (crushing it) after another, and when all were done, they simply began anew.

    The chemical weapons argument, for example (IIRC people thought more about chemical agents than about nukes at that time).

    What's the silliest action if you want to prevent chemical weapons use by a dictator who hasn't used those agents in twelve years?
    - It's of course an invasion that threatens his rule and leaves him no way out.
    What's the silliest action if you want to protect your people against it?
    - Do the invasion yourself.

    There was absolutely no rational thinking involved. I asked sometime in 2004/2005 people whether this question was ever mentioned in public discussion; whether an invasion is really a logical answer to the supposed problem.
    They said "No."
    Unbelievable.

    And well, it's quite the same today. Nobody really asks himself or others whether fighting in Afghanistan is really a useful method to combat AQ.
    Nobody seems to question the following assumptions:
    - Taleban will have a comeback without our forces there (although they're just one of many civil war parties and we're fighting instead and not in addition to the other parties)
    - They will invite AQ back and provide a safe harbour
    - AQ is still an organization that depends on bases (and not just on access to internet)
    - Having one more safe harbour (in addition to Pakistan's mountains) increases the threat that AQ poses
    - fighting in Afghanistan hurts us less than just accepting occasional acts of terror (despite hundreds of KIA and billions USD spent annually)

    I believe that the failure to actually discuss our ways is still rampant.
    It's just not recognizable as an outrageous failure as was the Iraq invasion thing.

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    i pwnd ur ooda loop selil's Avatar
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    You know if the POTUS has said that we should consider the "Iraq" invasion as a magnet to terrorists and a sacrificial lamb for force projection. I might be a lot happier today. If they had said the GWOT needs a front for an asymmetric non-state enemy and we can make one where none exists it would have been a lot more honest.
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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    The public preparation for the Iraq invasion still confuses me. It seemed to me as if rationalism was completely shut off at that time.
    True on the public pronouncements, not necessarily so on the actual reasons.
    The chemical weapons argument, for example (IIRC people thought more about chemical agents than about nukes at that time).

    What's the silliest action if you want to prevent chemical weapons use by a dictator who hasn't used those agents in twelve years?
    - It's of course an invasion that threatens his rule and leaves him no way out.
    What's the silliest action if you want to protect your people against it?
    - Do the invasion yourself.

    There was absolutely no rational thinking involved. I asked sometime in 2004/2005 people whether this question was ever mentioned in public discussion; whether an invasion is really a logical answer to the supposed problem.
    They said "No."
    Unbelievable.
    True -- if you listened to and believed even part of the babble and political hype over the issue (most who were paying attention ignored all that foolishness). The actual reason was to tell the ME (Not Afghanistan * -- that's not in the ME) that we would no longer do nothing as four previous US Presidents from both parties and over 27 years had to a series of attacks against US interests (Not the US proper -- that was Afghanistan *) over that time; that and to get some bases there. There were a host of minor synergies and most of them have dribbled out over time but had Bush said all that upfront, he's not have gotten his resolution from Congress.
    And well, it's quite the same today. Nobody really asks himself or others whether fighting in Afghanistan is really a useful method to combat AQ.
    All valid questions IF one assumes the issue in Afghanistan is to combat AQ. Don't think that's a valid assumption.
    I believe that the failure to actually discuss our ways is still rampant.
    That's hard to do coherently today due to our rapid worldwide communication ability; it's too easy to telegraph what one intends and thus to alert ones opponents.
    It's just not recognizable as an outrageous failure as was the Iraq invasion thing.
    Why is it a failure? The ME doesn't question that Americans are nuts and will visit your country and break things if you make us mad; we have -- and will continue to have -- bases in the area. Actually, we could almost give up the bases today with little loss and we're still ahead. The whole world is a bit ahead even if most don't realize it yet.

    * To most westerners, the differentiation between attacks on the US emanating from Afghanistan and attacks on US interests worldwide emanating from the ME is nil, they're both the same thing. That is not true at all in the eyes of those from the ME. Afghanistan was the eye for the US eye; had nothing in the minds of the ME to do with the ME, Afghans areb abarians and ignored by ME people.

    Iraq, OTOH, had the misfortune to have an unloved dictator, be a military wreck and thus an easy target (even if the Army messed up for the first 18 months, it's still been relatively easy) and to be geographically central in the ME and thus it got to be the arm for the arm of the US worldwide interests. May confuse westerners but the Asians understood -- and, most importantly, those in the ME understood. Which is why we went...

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by selil View Post
    You know if the POTUS has said that we should consider the "Iraq" invasion as a magnet to terrorists and a sacrificial lamb for force projection. I might be a lot happier today. If they had said the GWOT needs a front for an asymmetric non-state enemy and we can make one where none exists it would have been a lot more honest.
    more problems than Blair did have and Bush probably would not have gotten the resolution through our Congress -- even though he earlier bought Democratic support with the Agriculture Bill and Steel Tariffs he did not like.

    Not to excuse the absolutely pathetic job the Admin did of 'selling' the war but their hands were sort of tied -- telling the harsh truth wouldn't have gotten the support to launch. Saying that "We've got to stand up to these minor league bullies or they'll nickel and dime us to death" wouldn't have resonated then any more than the WMD ploy does in retrospect. I think he understood that a line had to be drawn and was afraid his successor in '04 or '08 would not do what he thought needed to be done. He went early in case he missed reelection in '04 and that created problems of its own.

    As I've often said, I wouldn't have done it that way -- but I do quite strongly agree that something along that line needed to be done. I'm not a Bush fan but I'll give him credit for doing something that needed to be done; something that his four predecessors had sluffed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Given our discussion about then media, I thought this would be a good place to post this story from CBC.ca
    I saw an outtake of the "The Jackasses" where they were water boarding each other. They seemed to be having a good time. It must be the preparation that makes water boarding seem like torture. "The Jackasses" were obviously partying and in dark ops there are probably no festivities. Just the instruments, operatives, and prisoners. Also, unless applied by a professional I wouldn't test water boarding to make a story about water boarding as torture. You might shoot your eye out.

    EDIT: I was being waggishly facetious.
    Last edited by Culpeper; 07-09-2008 at 03:54 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Given our discussion about then media, I thought this would be a good place to post this story from CBC.ca

    Quote:
    No doubt it's torture, says U.S. journalist after trying waterboarding
    Last Updated: Tuesday, July 8, 2008 | 1:01 PM ET
    CBC News

    Christopher Hitchens, a Washington-based journalist known for his support of the Iraq war and the U.S. war on terror, has subjected himself to waterboarding.
    Sounds like a nice stunt for Hitchens to earn a little more cash.

    I want to make sure I'm clear on this. Our intel folks waterboarded 3 of the highest level terrorist operatives in our possession, about 6 or 7 years ago, in response to an unprecedented terrorist attack on our mainland and the realistic fear that another would occur. Do I have that about right? If so, why the concern about waterboarding? You'd think that it's something that we plan on doing again. It seems like we experienced the perfect storm there: high level operatives, unprecedented terrorist attack on mainland with thousands dead, country in panic, fear of a ticking-time-bomb scenario, and intel and nat'l security communities in general disarray. I don't think that happens more than about once every decade or generation or so. Given the hysteria, you'd think it occurs 3 times per day and that Dick Cheney personally turns on the water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    Given the hysteria, you'd think it occurs 3 times per day and that Dick Cheney personally turns on the water.
    What the Veep chooses to do in the privacy of his own home is not a subject of concern for us here.
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    Hi Schmedlap,

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I want to make sure I'm clear on this. Our intel folks waterboarded 3 of the highest level terrorist operatives in our possession, about 6 or 7 years ago, in response to an unprecedented terrorist attack on our mainland and the realistic fear that another would occur. Do I have that about right? If so, why the concern about waterboarding? You'd think that it's something that we plan on doing again.
    I'm honestly unsure of the total numbers and if anyone has them, it would be great to see.

    I think the concern has centered around waterboarding because that has become the symbol for "torture" and sidestepping the anti-torture conventions. As a symbol, any absolute reality of its use, scope and range is immaterial; it has become the focal point of a semantic web of meaning, hence the "concern".

    As a "debate", it results out of a perceptual breach. Hmmm, try this.

    • "torture" is "evil"
    • "evil" is the opposite of "good"
    • "We" are "good"
    • Therefore we don't commit "torture"

    However,

    • waterboarding has been used by "us"
    • but, since we are "good" and torture is "evil", that means that
    • waterboarding cannot be "torture"

    That's the old "official" logic that Hitchens used to support, at least passively. What he has done by putting waterboarding to the test is to realign the epistemological grounds somewhat for several of the points like this:

    • waterboarding has been used by "us"
    • but, since we [collectively] are "good" and torture is "evil", and
    • waterboarding is torture, that means that
    • someone amongst the collective "us" is forcing us to commit evil.

    It's definitely a semantic realignment .

    What I found fascinating about it was the epistemological premise underlying it all. First of all, he assumes, as many of us do, that we will be able to tell if X, Y or Z is "torture" if we experience it - sort of like the "I don't know art but I know what I like [and if I like it, it's "Art"]" model (i.e. Truth by personal experience). Now this is a completely different epistemological ground from the more common ideological one - e.g. "If X says it, it must be right" (truth by assertion).

    When we look at the valorization of the Press as a "watchdog", that Truth via experience model implicitly underlies our expectations.
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    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

  19. #79
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    What I found fascinating about it was the epistemological premise underlying it all. First of all, he assumes, as many of us do, that we will be able to tell if X, Y or Z is "torture" if we experience it - sort of like the "I don't know art but I know what I like [and if I like it, it's "Art"]" model (i.e. Truth by personal experience). Now this is a completely different epistemological ground from the more common ideological one - e.g. "If X says it, it must be right" (truth by assertion).

    When we look at the valorization of the Press as a "watchdog", that Truth via experience model implicitly underlies our expectations.
    MarcT,

    I won't comment on all of the problems in the logical presentations of the stylized arguments in your post (the stuff I deleted from the above quotation). I'm more concerned with the last point anyway. I think the "Press as Watchdog" model of truth is an epistemological stance that accords validity based on position rather than on experience. It is subject to the informal fallacy of "appeal to (illegitimate) authority" (and I'm not talking about the marital status of the authority's parents ). Too often folks get snookered by "authorities" who either aren't experts or are operating well outside the scope of their expertise (Noam Chomsky being one of my favorite examples, but most of the CNN and Fox News military analysts have been known to overstep their "scope of practice" as well).

    What Hitchens may really have been up to was a corrective belief experience, a form of a posteriori testing of his beliefs about waterboarding. That does not "prove" that waterboarding is torture. A mismatch exists between being able to test whether a physical manifestation of a characteristic of a concept actually instantiates that characteristic (a rather subjective and at best, interpersonal activity) and being able to determining whether the a priori list of characteristics one has for "defining " a concept adequately defines that concept (again subjective and probably interpersonal due to the use of the normative term 'adequately'). What Hitchens did was decide that waterboarding was an instance of the concept 'torture' but he did not explain what about waterboarding had the conditions necessary to hang the name 'torture' on the action. (To use terms of art, he showed that an act of waterboarding was in his extension for torture, not that it was in anyone's intension for the term.) To summarize, he found that waterboarding scared the crap out of him, but he didn't demostrate that having the crap scared out of you is a form of torture. (BTW, if being scared to death were a form of torture, then Bram Stoker tortured me with his book Dracula.)
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  20. #80
    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi WM,

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I won't comment on all of the problems in the logical presentations of the stylized arguments in your post (the stuff I deleted from the above quotation).
    One of these days, we have to sit down and do a comparison between formal logic and semantic or emotional logic - preferably combined with a series of optics experiments .

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I'm more concerned with the last point anyway. I think the "Press as Watchdog" model of truth is an epistemological stance that accords validity based on position rather than on experience. It is subject to the informal fallacy of "appeal to (illegitimate) authority" (and I'm not talking about the marital status of the authority's parents ).
    It's a matter of stance, really. The assumption o the part of the audience is that the reporter is an "authority", as you noted (or, at least, that they have done their homework). But this hides another assumption which is that the reporter has an experiential grounding in the area of, at a minimum, the "ask the man who knows" type.

    Actually, this type of stance based authority is standard in any type of culture more complex than a simple Hunter-Gatherer group (cf Durkheim's Introduction to he 2nd edition of The Division of Labor in Society).

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    Too often folks get snookered by "authorities" who either aren't experts or are operating well outside the scope of their expertise (Noam Chomsky being one of my favorite examples, but most of the CNN and Fox News military analysts have been known to overstep their "scope of practice" as well).
    Agreed; happens all the time.

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    What Hitchens may really have been up to was a corrective belief experience, a form of a posteriori testing of his beliefs about waterboarding. That does not "prove" that waterboarding is torture. A mismatch exists between being able to test whether a physical manifestation of a characteristic of a concept actually instantiates that characteristic (a rather subjective and at best, interpersonal activity) and being able to determining whether the a priori list of characteristics one has for "defining " a concept adequately defines that concept (again subjective and probably interpersonal due to the use of the normative term 'adequately'). What Hitchens did was decide that waterboarding was an instance of the concept 'torture' but he did not explain what about waterboarding had the conditions necessary to hang the name 'torture' on the action. (To use terms of art, he showed that an act of waterboarding was in his extension for torture, not that it was in anyone's intension for the term.) To summarize, he found that waterboarding scared the crap out of him, but he didn't demostrate that having the crap scared out of you is a form of torture. (BTW, if being scared to death were a form of torture, then Bram Stoker tortured me with his book Dracula.)
    Actually, I don't disagree with you at all. As far as formal logic is concerned, and especially that based on crisp sets, his "experiment" is junk. The crucial point, and the reason why I tossed it up in his thread, was his use of an experimental / experiential test as a way to reinforce his "authority". Did it "prove" that waterboarding was "torture"? Not in any hypothetically objective sense. Then again, "torture" is not a thing that can be perceived as objectively existing in reality (for an analog, see all the problems with defining "abuse"). "Torture" (and "abuse") are socially constructed and negotiated conceptual constructs that have no objective and absolute existence (i.e. they are not crisp sets or objects existing outside of a socially constructed context).

    What I was noting that Hitchens was doing was invoking a particular epistemological stance (or ploy, take your pick ) in an ongoing debate.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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