Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Odd Bits - The Willfully Ignorant Edition

I read a disturbing article on the web this week, courtesy of the Boston Globe.  It seems there was a recent study about the effect that facts have on preformed opinions.  The results were not pretty:

“In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.”

Opposing, verifiable facts harden people’s beliefs in the opposing point of view.  Well, you know whom I blame for that…

I blame Fox “News” and their brethren on AM talk radio.  When faced with opposing facts, the pundits on these outlets deny, discredit or misconstrue this information, or question the source as biased.  When that doesn’t work, they can always fall back on outlandish conspiracy theories.

The millions of people that consume this media are simply doing what they observe every day.  We are a nation whose motto seems to be “Monkey see, monkey do.”

Behold another quote from the article:

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong,” says political scientist Brendan Nyhan, the lead researcher on the Michigan study. The phenomenon — known as “backfire” — is “a natural defense mechanism to avoid that cognitive dissonance.”

That explains the famous Bush answer to the debate question, when he claimed he’s never done anything in office that he would consider a mistake.  And it also explains the fuss this week over Sarah Palin’s inadvertent wordsmithing, when on two separate occasions she used the word “refudiate”.  Obviously she was combining the words “repudiate” and “refute.” 

But when confronted with the error, did she say, “Oops, that was a slip of the tongue.  My bad”?  Or for when she used it on Twitter, did she say, “Sorry, that was a typo.  I fired Bristol as my Social Media Director”?

Hell no.  She claimed the English language was ever-changing and upheld her right to create new words, pointing out that Shakespeare created words all the time.

Shakespeare.

What the fuck does this pinhead know about Shakespeare?  As far as she’s concerned, “Shakespeare” is something you do to scare off wolfs after your hunting plane crashes and you’re out of ammo.

She was obviously trying to use words that were out of her realm, mixed them up, and got busted for it.  And rather than cop to it, we get that she’s the second coming of Shakespeare.

I’ve got some Shakespeare to lay on Sarah Palin:  “Out damn’d twat!  Out, I say.”

Patriotic Hijacking
This morning I read an intriguing editorial piece decrying how patriotism has been commandeered by the radical right

In what liberal rag did I find this nugget?  NY Times?  Huffington Post?  Salon?

No.  The Christian Science Monitor.  (I’m surprised they even let me in.)

This isn’t really news… it’s been going on since I can remember.  The Republicans have staked a claim on “patriotism” and all things “American” since at least the Reagan years.  Family values...  Religion...  National defense… Flag lapel pins... all of it co-opted by the right, as if they’re the only ones worthy of the ideals.

Of course, it’s only the IDEA of all those things that they actually cling to.  If you read the news, it seems it‘s the most outwardly religious and family-bosom-centric that get caught in the most salacious scandals, sex, financial and otherwise.  So it’s not like these platitudes are really sinking in; that’s just what is getting used to sway a malleable public into voting against their own self-interest.

What else can they use to get Middle America to vote for a party whose primary tenet is slashing taxes on the highest earners?  All they can to is appeal to the sappy emotions of people that don’t know any better.  And if they can’t do that, they can serve up the demons of gay marriages and black murderers and Mexican drug cartels living 20 to a house up the road.  Either way, they drive people to vote for them; people that will never EVER see the financial benefit of their precious vote.

As we’ve seen clearly during this decade, the rich and the company owners whose tax cuts took up 98% of the entire tax cut, did NOT plunge their savings back into jobs, production and construction.  They moved more jobs offshore and pocketed the obscene profits for themselves and their shareholders. 

So Mr. and Mrs. Red-Stater may not be any better off financially, but at least those two dudes down the street can’t get married.  (And pay even MORE taxes than if they remained single.)

Anyway, the editorial piece decried the lack of civility in the political process, back when you could disagree with someone without being labeled as Anti-American Godless scum.  You should check out the link.

Yes, I’m fully aware of the irony of placing that statement at the end of a long demonizing rant.  I’m all for political civility.  And as soon as it seems like an actual possibility, I’m all in.  Until then, I’m sick of Democrats laying down and taking it from these hypocritical prigs.

OK, I’ve released the valve on my built up political pool of gushing venom.  Now it’s time to put the cap back on, re-tighten the valve and get back to the goofy shit for which I am known and tolerated.

Wet Dream
This song came over my MP-3 player this week and made me wonder if there was ever a video made for it.  If there wasn’t, I was going to do one so I could post it.  Luckily, it seems the artist made one himself.  That worked out well for me, because if I had to make one, it would have taken me several hours that I could have spent productively watching TV and drinking beer.

If you’re a 40-something, you may remember this from the early 80’s.  This is a song by comic Kip Addotta, and one I should have written myself.

30 comments:

  1. bluzdude you frickin rock! I've been saying this for years. You're just a better writer than me. You are my hero! And don't forget to use "the google" on the "internets" to check out your facts. We really can't misunderstimate those Republicans. Ok enough. Hasn't he been gone for a while? I know, not long enough.

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  2. I never admit when I'm wrong. Even when I KNOW I'm wrong... I will blow smoke out my ass for DAYS until you agree with me or shut the fuck up! LMAO!

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  3. Christy,
    No, he hasn't been gone long enough for the damage to be undone yet.

    Where the fuck where all these Teabagging jagoffs when the Shrub was running up the deficit? Bastards only want to cry about it when it's not their guy at the helm.

    CB,
    You have a promising career in politics, with that attitude. Yours is a campaign I would love to manage... the living, breathing face of the Shut the Fuck Up Party. You'd be "a big fuckin' deal."

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  4. I think the aliens have put a device in Sarah Palin that sucks all of the intellect out of any space she occupies. Where are the Margaret Thatcher's of this generation? Madeline Albright's? Can you even imagine that conversation?

    Wet Dream video was very funny. Not that I've ever heard the song before....

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  5. Good questions, all, DG.

    Why is it that we celebrate shallow people and simplistic answers and demonize intelligence complex solutions for complex problems?

    Oh wait, I know... because we've dumbed down the education process to the point that the scientific process is merely a suggestion.

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  6. *applause*

    Um, you - hero - mine - now.

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  7. Chillax Bluz!

    This language thing is just a malfunctionality in the catastrophic perverter.

    Or, in the famous words of William Shakespeare, "Thou canst not say I did it. Never shake thy gory locks at me!"

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  8. You are awesome. I work almost exclusively with rednecked bigots. Mostly I ignore them, but one of the few times I called one of them on it he bombarded my email with the most ridiculous conspiracy theories supporting his anti-Obama/Gay/Liberal bullshit. Did you know the gays are trying to take over the world?? Ugh. People amaze me.

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  9. "Wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross"...Here come the fascists, fanatics, zealots and zanies.
    You are absolutely right about allegiance to an ideal without any clue of its meaning or how one lives up to its demands.
    Here in northwest Florida, bigots prevail. Smiling, complacent and ignorant of any facts, except those that support their bias, they belong to lily clean do good groups, attend church weekly, manicure, ferililize, fumigate their lawns and houses and vote down any candidate, proposition or legislation that benefits anyone but themselves. They scream for less government bureaucracy while collecting Social Security, using Medicare and saluting the Blue Angels Navy flight show team.
    Yes, dear BluzDude, along with bigotry and stupidity, our greatest flaw is hypocrisy in pretending the first two do not exist.

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  10. "Where are the Margaret Thatchers and Madeline Albrights of this generation?" Are we insinuating that there are no worthy women in politics right now? Hillary Clinton comes to mind pretty easily for me. But I'm hoping DG was trying to say something else up there.

    I almost hope we do continue to allow people like Palin in politics so the country can fall apart to the point people HAVE to wake up.

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  11. Goldey,
    That was the aftereffects of a massive sugar-rush from those cookies.

    Dog,
    What, is that your alter ego, “Stillabard”?

    Forsooth!

    Jennifer Juniper,
    (for some reason, I always want to type “Jupiter”.)

    Well of course… you’re in Texas…isn’t that the mother-lode of anti-Obama/Gay/Liberalism?

    I’ve said it before but if they really want to “protect” the institution of marriage, they should prevent heterosexuals from marrying. They’re the ones with the 50% divorce rate. I say, if gays want to get married, they have every right to be as miserable as the rest of us*. (*Not you, of course.)

    I used to get a lot of those ridiculous emails. First I started sending debunking links (usually Snopes) to the sender. When they persisted, I began copying the distribution list. I don’t get so many any more.

    In fact, I wish I did, so I could post about them!

    Mary Ann,
    It’s funny you mentioned the flag and cross thing… I had intended to work that in, as the bumper sticker I saw this summer, but I guess I got off on a tangent. (Big surprise!)

    With that crowd of locals, maybe you should have retired to Minnesota after all… No that you don’t have anywhere to go every day, you wouldn’t even have to shovel out your driveway, at least until Sunday when you have to go to Walgreens.

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  12. Mundane,
    I think we're more like the proverbial frog in the pot of slowly heating water, and we won't realize what's going on until we've been cooked.

    And with the way the planet is warming, that analogy may move from proverbial to literal.

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  13. Sherry,
    Yeah, they claim "fair and balanced," but they're nothing but the unpaid communications wing of the Republican National Committee.

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  14. Mundane:

    I was not trying to insinuate there are no worthy women in politics these days. It seems, though, that Palin's lack of knowledge reflects poorly on all women in politics, and she seems to be getting a lot of the press these days. Simply my perception, inartfully said.

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  15. Sarah Palin is a shrill, manipulative, wily demagogue who, unfortunately, attracts the ignorant, the fearful and the bigoted. Her unmistakable appeal speaks for an unintelligent, malleable, cowardly electorate who mistake misinformation and bad English for folksiness. As Kathleen Parker notes, the more Palin is challenged the "cuter" she becomes.

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  16. How dare you resort to silly "facts" and elite "reason".

    It was absolutely maddening to watch Fox News absolutely crucify Shirley Sherrod as racist on Tuesday, and then watch the VERY SAME PEOPLE on Fox criticize the Obama administration on Wednesday for jumping the gun and not waiting until all the facts were in. It was insanity!!!!

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  17. MacBeth. Good reference.

    But Bluz, Websters is always looking to add new words. I mean, how about whaddaya? It's new, hip and probably used by Bush and Palin at least 90 times a day, if not more.

    And are we sure that those two weren't secret lovers? I could only imagine if those two procreated...

    Oh! And can't wait for next Sunday!

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  18. I have noticed that the "uninformed" prefer to stay ignorant rather than face the fact that they might indeed be wrong about something.

    It used to be said that "ignorance is bliss," but today ignorance is very dangerous!!

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  19. "Out damn’d twat! Out, I say.”

    I DIED.

    DIED, I SAY!!

    You're hilarious, Bluz, and as is so often the case, right on the money.

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  20. Don't you just hate people who accidentally make up words? Or use malapropisms? A guy who used to work for Rod in Memphis once said of his daughter's pregnancy and tough labor, "They had to seduce her!" I think he was related to Bush.

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  21. Mary Ann,
    Tina Fey had that cold, during the 2008 election run-up. Whenever her Palin character would get into trouble with a tough question, she’d break out the finger guns… “pew pew”…

    Bagger,
    That’s why I love to watch Jon Stewart. That’s the stuff he points out on a regular basis.

    It’s such a shame we have to resort to the comedians to keep up with the shenanigans going on with the political media.

    I’m sure Fox “News” made no mention of their own hyper-reactive role in the whole affair. They’re basically saying, “You should have KNOWN better than to trust US!! Have you never seen one of our shows before?”

    Cassie,
    Funny about the MacBeth…

    I was looking online for the exact quote so I could be sure to get it right, but for some reason, I just couldn’t find it.

    It helped a great deal once I Googled the quote itself, rather than the play I thought it was from… which was Othello.

    Epic Shakespearean Fail!

    Bush and Palin procreating reminds me of the end of Ghostbusters, with the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster. Their spawn facilitates the end of the world.

    (And yes, I’m aware that you weren’t born when Ghostbusters came out, but I’m sure you must have seen it on cable…)

    Lastly, I, too, am totally ramped up for the D-fish Fry. I cannot wait to meet everyone! I plan on sending out one last email this weekend to distribute the list of attendees.

    Judie,
    That’s the God’s honest truth, and pretty much the point of that first article. We’d rather knowingly stay wrong than admit it by accepting facts.

    And politicians have known and used this for years. That’s why they have no problem in spouting things they KNOW to be incorrect, because they know that even if the facts come out later, no one will care or change their thinking.

    Bachelor Girl,
    At the risk of sounding immodest, I LOVED that I thought of that… best line I’ve written this year. I was hoping you guys would feel the same.

    And how about that Bluz-love over at the Sisters’ site? I love being quoted on other sites…

    And I completely wish you could be there for the D-fish Fry. You and The Guy would make perfect additions to the crew!

    (Doesn’t Southwest Airlines fly between NOLA and The Burgh? Gulfport, maybe?)

    Judie, (again)
    I don't mind if people make up words, (I do it all the time), but they have to cop to it, or do it with a wink and a smile. Sarah Pinhead had no idea she wasn't using a word... she only came up with the "living language" excuse in retrospect.

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  22. I CANNOT BELIEVE that AZ Gov. Jan Brewer had the GALL to announce that Mexicans were beheading people in Arizona! Just where the fuck did these ignorant politicians come from and how did they get elected????

    Sorry. You caught me at a bad time. I have been away from home far too long this summer and I need to stay in my nest with my pillows and dogs for a while. I am sorry, cowboy, that I will not be in Pittsburgh in August. I really need to stay sequestered for a few months so I can regain my sense of humor.

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  23. She knows that her followers, and the dittoheads at Fox will believe and repeat that indefinitely, until it becomes another case of something that "everyone knows" but no one has ever seen proof.

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  24. A delightful in-your-face-Fox moment:
    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/rachel-maddow-strikes-back-at-bill-oreilly-072310-tv-replay/2698324081

    (Hope the link works--if not, cut and paste it. It's well worth it.)

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  25. Sherry,
    That was freakin' brilliant! She totally catches O'Reilly and Fox doing what they do... when caught at something, change the subject to divert attention. An organization with any principles or sense of decency would apologize for their role in that debacle.

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  26. Bluz,
    This is a well written piece of prose and right on!!

    Not much more needs to be said. I truly believe we need a third party that can actually compete to put some order back in our government.

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  27. I don't know if it's a 3rd party, but something needs to happen so that people in charge will put the interests of the people... ALL the people... ahead of personal power and material gain.

    But I'm not holding my breath.

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  28. Okay, I apologize ahead of time that I'm going to take up a lot of space, but I absolutely loved and agreed w/so many things different people have said (and what you've said) here, so I need to quote some for reference. Here goes:

    bluz: "appeal to the sappy emotions of people that don’t know any better"

    God, that is so the case, isn't it? My dad is a perfect example. He's not, by definition, "sappy," but he's gotten so enraged by things like the pic circulating w/Obama not putting his hand over his heart that he falls into this category. So sad.

    bluz: "I’m all for political civility. And as soon as it seems like an actual possibility, I’m all in. Until then, I’m sick of Democrats laying down and taking it from these hypocritical prigs"

    You couldn't have said it any better than this. Great quote!

    bluz: "I say, if gays want to get married, they have every right to be as miserable as the rest of us*. (*Not you, of course.) {and not me :)}"

    Hee hee :)

    Mary Ann: "the more Palin is challenged the "cuter" she becomes"

    This genuinely scares the living sh*t out of me. It seems so illogical, but it's so TRUE.

    Judie: "It used to be said that "ignorance is bliss," but today ignorance is very dangerous!!"

    Man, isn't that the truth!! Quite literally in some cases.

    Sherry: "in-your-face-Fox moment"

    I LOVE Rachel! We watch her almost every night. She just makes so much SENSE, doesn't she?

    The heart, I think, of this war going on between the parties could be solved if people would pay attention to this quote from the end of that article:

    “It is unseemly to question the patriotism of Americans merely because you disagree with them.”

    And, one of my all-time favorite movies, "The American President," has so many good quotes along this line. A few of my favorites that relate:

    President Andrew Shepherd: "America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say 'You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.' You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the 'land of the free.'"

    President Andrew Shepherd: "He {in our current context, I'd say Republicans here} is interested in two things and two things only: making you afraid of it and telling you who's to blame for it. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how you win elections. You gather a group of middle-aged, middle-class, middle-income voters who remember with longing an easier time, and you talk to them about family and American values and character. And wave {anything Democrats or liberals have done} and you scream about patriotism and you tell them, {they're} to blame for their lot in life, and you go on television and you call {them un-American}... You want a character debate, {Republicans}? You better stick with {talking TO us instead of ABOUT us}, 'cause {the truth} is way out of your league.." (Okay, I fudged a few of those {} quotes, but they're my opinion of what could go there. :) )

    Sydney Ellen Wade: "How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can't stand Americans?"

    Leo Solomon: "Politics is perception."

    This was an AWESOME post. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this!

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  29. Cristy,
    At risk of being redundant by responding to the comments and responses about mine and other comments and responses, let me just say that you should feel free take up as much space as you wish when agreeing with me. (And The American President was a quality movie.)

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