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Monday, April 27, 2009

The Conservative Movement As A Study In Agnotology

Robert Proctor, historian of science at Stanford, has developed a word inspired by what he sees as an increase in ignorance when people view a variety of "contentious" subjects.

Via Wired

As Proctor argues, when society doesn't know something, it's often because special interests work hard to create confusion. Anti-Obama groups likely spent millions insisting he's a Muslim; church groups have shelled out even more pushing creationism. The oil and auto industries carefully seed doubt about the causes of global warming. And when the dust settles, society knows less than it did before.

"People always assume that if someone doesn't know something, it's because they haven't paid attention or haven't yet figured it out," Proctor says. "But ignorance also comes from people literally suppressing truth—or drowning it out—or trying to make it so confusing that people stop caring about what's true and what's not."

After years of celebrating the information revolution, we need to focus on the countervailing force: The disinformation revolution. The ur-example of what Proctor calls an agnotological campaign is the funding of bogus studies by cigarette companies trying to link lung cancer to baldness, viruses—anything but their product

When viewing the Republican party, and the conservative movement in particular, you begin to see that Protor's thesis statement is quite equitable.

Conservativism, by its very nature, focuses on "self" rather than the needs of the "community". A perfect example of this is the conservative Right's diefication of Ayn Rand and her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged.

The "Going Galt" movement within the party is intended to show those within the opposition that they are going to remove the "wealth" that they produce as a form of punishment. To that, I would as what it is that they produce that the remainder of America would even want.

The latching on to the fictional John Galt character - his actions, and their intended results - remind me of Texas Governor Rick Perry and his threats of secession. As stated in a previous post, where I discussed the very real fact that conservatives love to say things that "sound good", Perry and his ever eager compatriots tout removing Texas from the union simply because it is nothing more than a talking-point that is top-of-the-list at the moment.

What would happen, should Texas become it's own country? They would lose any and all federal dollars that come into Texas, for a start. Any and all representatives of Texas would be removed from both houses of Congress. And that's two big points for a start. It was, perhaps, the ignorance of Governor Rick Perry that caused him to make these threats of secession during the recent teabaggery in his state.

The rapid and consistant discemination of misinformation by the conservative movement has contributed to the pervasive ignorance that weaves itself into the Republican party as a whole. The advent of Fox"News", as well as the internet, has increased the level of ignorance to near stratospheric proportions.

The way in which Fox"News" presents information to their audience is not only consistant with right-wing, conservative ideals, but further feeds the ignorance within their target demographic. A recent example can be seen in he following video excerpt:

Had you not seen the original footage of Obama speaking about healthcare, you would then be laboring under the assumption that what Wendell Goler and his Fox"News" producers were presenting you was the complete story.

We can see the distribution of ignorance directed at the Republican demographic in other areas such as The Employee Free Choice Act, Obama has made he country less safe, and a gaggle of other prattling nonsense.

The primary inclination of conservative bloggers, pundits, and the media that employ them, is that their target audience will disregard their own ability - and need - to investigate any and all topics that are presented to them in favor of absorbing and regurgitating what they are told.

The very real epidemic of ignorance within the conservative movement, from my perspective, has been and will continually be their ultimate downfall.

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