School for Scamdal category archive
The Disinformation Superhighway 0
At Psychology Today Blogs, Susan A. Nolan and Michael Kimball discuss a recent study that indicates some stuff is best left unsaid. Here’s their statement of the issue; follow the link for the rest (and, yes, I read the whole thing).
In a series of seven studies, the researchers demonstrated that sharing content increased a person’s “subjective knowledge,” which is the belief that they know certain information rather than actually (objectively) knowing that information. Why would people believe something that is so obviously not true (if they think about it for just a minute)?
One more time, “social” media isn’t.
All the News that Fits, Seussing It Out Dept. 0
David takes a look about the phony Dr. Seuss “cancellation” scamdal and tries to separate the truth from the right-wing gibberish. (Warning: Short ad stars at about the eight-and-a-half minute mark.)
As an aside, Dr. Seuss stories were not a part of my childhood, but they were certainly part of my kids’.
The Scandal Mill 0
The Meme Chance 0
At Psychology Today Blogs, Ira Hyman muses on the attractions and dangers of internet memes, particularly those that combine a picture with some text. Among other thoughts, he suggests that they make falsehoods digestible.
Here’s an excerpt:
First, adding a picture to a statement, research suggests, can make people more likely to believe the statement, even when the picture is completely unrelated to the idea. . . .
I’ve read a very nice statement about being stardust that was attributed to Einstein and placed with a picture of the physicist. But Einstein never made the statement. Or consider this Socrates meme. Again, a lovely quote attributed to a famous thinker. And there’s no evidence that Socrates ever said anything like that. These fake quotes attach one idea to a well-known person and give the quote more validity. Nonetheless, these memes remain out there and I’ve seen several similar fake quotes in my social media feed.
I commend the entire piece to your attention.
Unknown Number, Unknown Name 0
At Psychology Today Blogs (you may have guessed by now that I like the site; I’m also a long-time subscriber to Psychology Today, as I found it immensely useful back when I was doing management training and organization development), GLenn Geher muses on the danger of a culture of anonymity, or, as he calls it, “deindividuation,” that is, the separation of an individual from his or her actions and the consequences thereof.
In the modern world, of course, we communicate with others in a deindividuated manner all the time. Deindividuated behavior (see Diener, 1976) exists when someone’s identity is downplayed or hidden during communication. These days, there are many forms of deindividuated communication. Consider the following examples:
- You are on the phone with someone who refuses to reveal her name to you.
- You are playing a video game with someone virtually and that person’s screen name is HackerJacker2003.
- You get an email from someone and you have no idea who the author is.
- You get a Facebook message from someone whose Facebook name is clearly fake.
- You get a comment on your blog post by Anonymous.
… and so forth. Deindividuated communication is nothing short of rampant in this day and age.
That wouldn’t be so bad if there were no problems with the nature of deindividuated communication. But, as it turns out, there are lots of problems with deindividuated communication (see Zimbardo, 2007). When people’s identities are hidden, they are more likely to engage in anti-social behavior. They are more likely to bully. They are more likely to steal. They are more likely to kill. And so forth.
A Philadelphia school teacher calls out a Republican for accusing him on “indoctrinating” his students. A snippet:
Two weeks ago, this paper reported that Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, accused me, a civics teacher at Central High School, of distributing partisan campaign flyers to my students during school hours. He personally called Superintendent Hite, ensuring that I would be muzzled while the school investigated this claim. DiGiorgio repeated this claim on talk radio, claiming that Philadelphia teachers were using our positions for “liberal indoctrination” of public-school students. The story was soon picked up by Breitbart Media, where readers across the country called for my firing — or worse, violence against my students and me.
And it was all untrue.
Follow the link for the rest of the story.
Tales of the Comeyuppance 0
Shaun Mullen takes a look at what was missing from the report by the Inspector General of the Justice Department regarding James Comey’s “But the emails” moment.
As is usual with Shaun’s reports, it probes deeply into detail and nuance; I’m not going to try to excerpt of summarize it. Just read it.
Little Drips Cause Big Erosions 0
After disparaging the content of the Nunes Nothingburger, Cynthia Dill considers the larger implications of the many memogates. A snippet–follow the link for the rest.
Remember the Comey Memo? And the Rosenstein Memo? And the fussy-named dossier?
All these are compilations and placement of words by wordsmiths of the highest caliber. Thrown into the public discourse and bandied about by pundits as if memos are smoking guns, these documents take on the air of fact or reality. In politics, memos and dossiers are catnip for ravenous media content whores trying to make a living. Memos get quoted and retweeted and “analyzed” to death.
The cumulative effect of all these ginned up scamdals is, I think, far more corrosive than many realize or others are willing to confront. They erode the foundations of the polity and undermine the social contract, all in a short-term quest for power.
Institution Flailure 0
Josh Marshall steps back for a closer look at the Trump wiretapping scamdal. A snippet:
The real story here is that the President, by force of his office and audacity, was able to inject into the national conversation a preposterous claim which the country has spent two weeks debating. True, most people may not believe it. But virtually everyone has gone through the motions of probing the question as though they might be true. Intelligence communities have been briefed, statements have been made, a number of news conferences have been dominated by it. Perhaps most notably, members of his party have only been willing to say that there is as yet no evidence to back up the President’s claims – not that they are obviously false and represent a major problem in themselves.
I would say that this ability – both the President’s pathological lying and our institution’s inability to grapple with it – is the big, big story. The particulars of the accusation basically pale in comparison.
The Reality Show Presidency 0
Phillip Lopate argues that the election postmortems are missing the point. It’s not anger that was the primary motivation of Trump voters; it was the desire for entertainment and excitement. They became a willing audience to his reality show. He also makes some interesting points about what makes a phony scamdal a successful political scandal.
Here’s just a tiny little bit of his article.
The liberal-progressive commentators all blamed themselves afterward for failing to take into sufficient account the “anger” of the “forgotten, disenfranchised” white working-class voters who had turned the tide. Now, anger is a very sexy notion for commentators to latch onto, but I think it has been overstated. I am sure it may have factored into some rural or working-class pockets in their decision to vote as they did; but given that Obama has rescued the economy from its deep recession and that millions of jobs have been added in the past eight years, and given the record of businessman Trump in stiffing American workers or campaigning against raising the minimum wage, it would seem puzzling that anger should be seen as the motivating factor swaying them to vote against their economic interests. Rather, I would say what mattered more was the desire to have fun, to be entertained, to do mischief and see chaos break out—what the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin called the “carnivalesque” turn. Electing a rogue who had never put in a day of public service in his life, who admitted to not paying taxes, was rather like the time the normally staid Minnesota voters swept the clearly unprepared ex-wrestler Jesse Ventura into the governor’s mansion. Boredom and spite, more than righteous anger, were at the wheel. Dostoevsky’s Underground Man argues that sometimes the only way to feel free is to spite our best interests.
And there is also the excitement of hating.
My own take is this: In the phrase, “white working class” of which the punditocracy has become so fond, “working class” is not the operative. The operative word is “white.”
I have no patience with the nattering about whether more visits to this state or that state, different nuance on platform statements, and the like might have changed the results. This election was not a strategic failure on the part of a candidate or a campaign.
It was a moral failure on the part of the voters and, perhaps especially, of the non-voters.
Stray Thought 0
The Comey-Upance 0
Do You Want Fries with That Nothingburger? 0
I’ve said before why I think the Hillary Clinton email scamdal is rightwing con job fueled by hatred of all things Clinton mixed with ignorance of how email, computers (those magickal mystickal black boxes), and networks work, stirred with the Fox News Mixmaster, and baked in wingnut fever dreams.
Accordingly, I paid little attention to yesterday’s kerfuffle other than to form two opinions:
- It would eventually become clear that, once more, there was no there there.
- The FBI screwed the pooch.
Eventually seems to have come sooner than I expected.
BadTux, more patient than I, has dug into the details. I commend his analysis to your attention.
“Just the Facts, Ma’am” 0
In related news, the Inky endorsed Hillary Clinton. That is no surprise. I call your attention to the endorsement for the skillful way it skewered the Republicans’ Hillary Clinton scamdals (emphasis in the original).
What about Benghazi? After two years of Republican-led investigations, there were no findings of malfeasance by Clinton. That’s not to say mistakes weren’t made in how the military responded to the terrorist attacks on U.S. government facilities in Libya and how the incident was initially characterized as spontaneous by Obama administration officials. But the various investigations all concluded that Clinton wasn’t principally responsible.
What about the emails? An exhaustive investigation by the FBI concluded that Clinton had carelessly risked national security by using a private server at her home to read emails that at times included classified information — but that her actions were not criminal. That conclusion upset Republicans who had lavished praise on FBI Director James Comey, himself a registered Republican, before he announced his decision. Some continue to call for Clinton’s arrest each time more emails are released. But their tirades smell more like political gamesmanship than a genuine search for truth.
No one knows how many previous secretaries of state mishandled classified material. Colin Powell reportedly used an AOL account to correspond with foreign officials on his laptop. Who knows what John Foster Dulles, Cyrus Vance, Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, or James Baker did when they wanted to take their work home? Email didn’t exist. The point isn’t to excuse Clinton’s behavior, which she has admitted was a mistake, but to put it into perspective.
Follow the link for the complete editorial.
A Starr Turn 0
Ken Starr thinks he’s being railroaded in a witchhunt.
Bless his heart.