In 2008, I ran for federal office in Illinois. I had the opportunity of spending every day speaking to voters. It was an affluent and well-educated district, the most affluent and well-educated in all of Illinois. Favorite places to campaign in the mornings were the commuter rail stations. Everyone there had a minute or two to spare as they waited for the train. I observed a phenomenon that I wouldn’t have believed had I not observed it. Every day of the week, including Thursday mornings, I would hear what was on the minds of the people I saw. By Thursday night, the weekend news cycle would start. A story would break, an idea would get disseminated. Friday, it would catch on a little more. Saturday and Sunday, it would be all
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In 2008, I ran for federal office in Illinois. I had the opportunity of spending every day speaking to voters.
It was an affluent and well-educated district, the most affluent and well-educated in all of Illinois.
Favorite places to campaign in the mornings were the commuter rail stations. Everyone there had a minute or two to spare as they waited for the train.
I observed a phenomenon that I wouldn’t have believed had I not observed it.
Every day of the week, including Thursday mornings, I would hear what was on the minds of the people I saw. By Thursday night, the weekend news cycle would start. A story would break, an idea would get disseminated. Friday, it would catch on a little more. Saturday and Sunday, it would be all over the networks. And by Monday, people would be radical and opinionated supporters of some idea that they literally didn’t know a thing about four days earlier.
Weekend-after-weekend, this would occur, like clockwork. And again, these weren’t grade school dropouts I was talking to.
There’s an aspect of confirmation bias that marketers have long understood as significant: the more education you have, the more successful you’ve been inside a system, the less likely you are to see contradictory information from unfamiliar sources as valid. Also, the less likely you are to approach the ideas presented to you by a trusted source in a circumspect fashion.
Basically, if you’ve got a PhD, you eat most of what’s fed to you, as long as it’s fed to you by the right people.
And the news doesn’t just have a way of getting people opinionated, it has a way of making one feel educated, almost expert on a topic.
Gary Johnson, bless his heart, appeared on TV during the 2016 election not knowing, gawd forbid, what Aleppo, Syria was. Few Americans know what Aleppo is. Many who are honest with themselves only remember the name of the city because of Gary Johnson. The great gaffe though was that he didn’t know Aleppo during a media educational blitz on Syria. Every well-heeled and educated person in America was quickly learning all the most important three to five talking points about Syria that the echo chamber media deemed important, allowing them to feel educated enough on the topic, but as anyone who actually knows the topic would realize: actually quite ignorant of it all.
Nearly all Americans were ignorant. Some were self-certain in their great knowledge, despite their ignorance. Gary Johnson made the mistake of being openly ignorant and unaware of the latest propaganda being used to manufacture consent.
He could hardly have done a better job proving himself an outsider worthy of derision. If you aren’t up to date on all the latest propaganda then you are clearly not in the know. And Gary Johnson, barely notable to more than 1 or 2% of voters, became known immediately by every know-it-all New York Times, New Yorker, and Weekly Standard reader.
How dare he not be able to recite the most important three to five talking points like it were the Gospel. How dare he!
The three to five talking points of every important topic is distributed weekly in the technocrat’s bible – The Economist. The Economist appears to have tremendous breadth and depth of knowledge. But that appearance has serious limitations. I’ve never once been impressed by The Economist’s coverage of a topic I knew intimately, and have long disliked the pretentious title of a publication that is practically anti-economics. But reliably, the technocrat learns everything he or she needs to know in its pages in order to sound smart to those who don’t know any better and to be able to uphold the status quo with certainty while actually knowing very little.
That is The Economist: not only the anti-economist but also propagandistic anti-thought snippets for the people who have had some of society’s most costly resources poured into developing their minds.
Having witnessed years of propaganda every weekend since 2008, after which people suddenly care with passion on Monday morning about things they knew nothing about the previous Thursday, the appearance of experts on the coronavirus is no surprise.
Virtually no one knows anything about this topic that they didn’t get from a sensationalized media source, and 75% of that, at the very least, is second- or third-hand information from the least reliable, least independent, most biased of sources: a government. Not just any government, the Chinese government.
SARS (2002) is still being figured out. MERS (2012) is still early in the process of being figured out. It’s possible it will never be fully understood. Yet three months into the WuFlu/Wuhan Corona/Covid-19 outbreak every know-it-all in my life is suddenly a corona expert?
Give me a break.
It’s all the same nonsense.
Some stuff we just don’t know. That means live your life as best you can, hope for the best, prep for the worst, love the people close to you, be mindful of them, and don’t let some know-it-all con you into their grand schemes. Chances are, they know as little as you do, but while your mistakes might impact the few loved ones around you, their mistakes may impact billions.
Medically, the establishment helped encouraged ideas that didn’t pass the sniff test: like unwashed hands being used by doctors to birth babies, lobotomies, X-rays to treat ringworm of the scalp, the Tuskegee patients thinking they were receiving medical care and being allowed to develop advanced syphilis in the name of research, thalidomide, standard episiotomies, standard hysterectomies, using nasty, dirty amalgams in dentistry and then topping it off with mercury, the swine flu vaccination debacle of 1976, asbestos in talcum powder. This list can be much longer. Every example on the list received the affirmation of lots of experts and caused harm to lots of overly trusting people.
Being able to make a mistake that may impact billions: That’s a power no one deserves. The more they claim to know, the less likely they are to know. The more they need to insist to people that they know, the less likely they are to actually know. Most of us have pretty good BS detectors. Trust your BS detector.
Now, more than ever, as more people get fearful, as the media stokes that fear, as the grocery store shelves get more empty, as the government steps in to say they are here to help, the more vital it is than ever to trust your BS detector.
When it comes down to it, you’re probably the only one who is actually motivated to protect your own interest. No matter how bad it gets, and no matter how much anyone claims expert status about a topic, you’re the only one who deserves credit for being the expert on you, and the only one who deserves permission to be “the decider” for you.