In addition to targeting Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, the US government is now throwing the book (well, actually, the Espionage Act) at Daniel Hale, former National Security Agency intelligence analyst turned whistleblower who leaked information about the US drone assassination program. Of course, I’m sure many of my American “progressive Democrat” friends will probably support this, as they have supported the US government’s attacks against Manning, Assange and Snowden, because, like the leaders of the Democratic party, their primary allegiance is to US imperialism above democracy and transparency.
The interesting thing I’ve been noting about the mainstream media coverage of the Hale charges is that some of them avoid talking about the information contained in his leak. For example, CNN just calls it “classified information”, “dozens of documents”, but go out of their way to mention that in his court appearance he wore “a black T-shirt that exposed tattoos on his forearms”, as if that is somehow relevant information. It’s an obvious attempt to make some kind of aspersions about his character, like he’s a member of the Bandidos or something. The New York Times at least mentions the documents were “about the military’s use of drones.” But they don’t make it clear, as The Intercept does, that the documents “detailed a secret, unaccountable process for targeting and killing people around the world, including U.S. citizens, through drone strikes.” The Guardian mentions drones, but also doesn’t mention killing citizens or civilians. Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo does mention them, by quoting The Intercept’s editor-in-chief, Betsy Reed, so full credit to him and that publication.
So ask yourself – why are some major media outlets, in a country that reveres freedom of the press, leaving out this critical bit of information regarding the Hale leak? In our recent Bullshit Filter series debunking Antivax claims, I pointed out that vetting your news sources is an important part of developing a news heuristic. Who do you trust? I’d suggest not trusting news sources that omit vital and relevant information from important stories.
On this week’s Cold War podcast – the Red Scare continues. In 1939, Martin Dies Jr claimed that the Justice Department was investigating 2,850 known communists in government and that FDR had ordered a purge of all those named. But it was all a disinformation campaign launched by Hoover. The President hadn’t ordered a purge – but he HAD secretly ordered Hoover to make a list. As it turned out, the list included Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox, Mrs. James Roosevelt (FDR’s mother), and other prominent figures close to the President were listed as financial contributors to two or more of the suspect groups. And then one member of the Dies Committee accused Eleanor Roosevelt of being part of the Communist Fifth Column.
On this week’s Tiberius Show: Tacitus seems to think Sejanus was the manipulator of Tiberius and that Sejanus wanted the power for himself. But of course he has things in his way. Drusus, the adult son of Tiberius, who is about 37. And Drusus also had sons of his own. Tiberius Gemellus and his twin brother, Tiberius Germanicus II Gemellus, are about 4 years old. And the real heir to Augustus is Nero Julius Caesar – Germanicus’ eldest son. So something has to be done about them.
Caught up with James Caffyn and his wife Chelsea last night for dinner. James has been working on this portrait of me, which he calls “The Podfather”, for a few years. Pretty damn good, particularly considering how little he has to work with. By day, James is Australia’s #1 tattoo artist. He originally was painting it to enter into the Archibald, but I’m not sure what his plans are for it now.
Our guest on the QAV podcast today is Tony’s friend Joe Barberis. Joe’s had a high powered corporate career, including stints as the MD of Officeworks and Coles Express, as well as running Shell Australia. Today he’s talking to us about his investment strategies, as well as his thoughts on the future of retail and energy markets in Australia… and corporate psychopaths.
We wrap up our antivax mini-series by looking at another antivax claim: “All vaccines contain a number of toxic poisons and chemicals that are linked to serious neurological damage”. We talk about Robert Kennedy Jr, thimerosal, and the difference between methyl vs ethyl mercury.
News Corp began its corporate life in 1922 as News Limited. It was a company that was secretly established by a mining company owned by the most powerful industrialists of the day, and it was created for the express purpose of disseminating “propaganda”.
The dissident view is not just another opinion among many. Its task is to contest the ruling ideology and broaden the boundaries of debate. The function of established opinion is just the opposite, to keep the parameters of debate as narrow as possible.
“The very efficacy of opinion manipulation rests on the fact that we do not know we are being manipulated. The most insidious forms of oppression are those that so insinuate themselves into our communication universe and the recesses of our minds that we do not even realize they are acting upon us. The most powerful ideologies are not those that prevail against all challengers but those that are never challenged because in their ubiquity they appear as nothing more than the unadorned truth.”
Great thoughts on dealing with science denialism from this article in Newsweek about flat earthers. I’ve discussed similar ideas in my recent Bullshit Filter series dealing with antivaxers.
A better way to respond is to stop talking about proof, certainty, and logic, and start talking more about scientific “values.” In my book The Scientific Attitude: Defending Science From Denial, Fraud, And Pseudosience, I defend the idea that what is most distinctive about science is not its method but its “attitude”: the idea that scientists care about evidence and are willing to change their views based on new evidence. This is what truly separates scientists from their deniers and imitators.
The problem with conspiracy theorists is that they hold themselves up as skeptics, but they are actually quite gullible. There is a rampant double standard for evidence: no evidence is good enough to convince them of something they do NOT want to believe, yet only the flimsiest evidence is required to get them to accept something they DO want to believe. Contrast this to the “scientific attitude,” which is a mindset of flexibility toward changing one’s beliefs based on new evidence.
Instead of saying “show me your evidence” (which they were only too happy to do) or “here’s my evidence” (which they wouldn’t believe anyway,) I asked “what would it take to convince you that you were wrong?” They seemed unprepared for this question.
For years I’ve used a similar approach with Christians. “What would it take you to stop believing?” They often say “nothing could stop me”. No amount of evidence? “Nothing.” Which demonstrates that they don’t care about facts, evidence or logic. They believe because they want to believe. But I haven’t tried the same approach with other forms of science denialism yet.