Monday, August 9, 2010

Politics, Republicans Use Confirmation Bias Lies to Win Elections by Limiting Sources

Tags: Politics, Republicans Use Confirmation Bias Lies to Win Elections by Limiting Sources

Right Wing Smears Michelle Obama As A Modern ‘Marie Antoinette,’ Pushes Lies About Cost Of The Trip

With the Right Wing Internet websites and FOX News, it is possible to limit news available to the public by both by being first with the lie and denying that it is a lie. Americans have been lied to by the Corporate Press/Media so often that they lack credibility to a large segment of Americans.

Effective Propaganda succeeds by many repetitions of a lie many times as the Nazis and corporations do very effectively in ads for products and candidates. Trust Us We're Experts is a book all must read. Five Corporations largely control what we see, hear, and read. Even the more sophisticated Americans not swayed by so-called experts have difficulty fighting back. I am amazed at how easily all Americans are fooled by our press and media even though they know they often lie. That is why repetition of even something we know is a lie has an emotional effect to undermine our confidence that what we know is true.

Why don't the Democrats use the same techniques of lying and denying it is a lie by mentioning a source.

I don't always succeed in being skeptical of the news, but I try to ask myself, what is their angle? Yes, my dear, the New York Times lies more than the Wall Street Journal, and both lie a lot. More people now read their feature-entertainment pages instead of the news.

Jim Kawakami, August 9, 2010, 2010,

The Limits of Reason: Why evolution may favor irrationality.

Sharon Begley, Newsweek, August 5, 2010

… An idea sweeping through the ranks of philosophers and cognitive scientists suggests why this is so. The reason we succumb to confirmation bias, why we are blind to counterexamples, and why we fall short of Cartesian logic in so many other ways is that these lapses have a purpose: they help us “devise and evaluate arguments that are intended to persuade other people,” says psychologist Hugo Mercier of the University of Pennsylvania. Failures of logic, he and cognitive scientist Dan Sperber of the Institut Jean Nicod in Paris propose, are in fact effective ploys to win arguments. …

Women are bad drivers, Saddam plotted 9/11, Obama was not born in America, and Iraq had weapons of mass destruction: to believe any of these requires suspending some of our critical--thinking faculties and succumbing instead to the kind of irrationality that drives the logically minded crazy.

It helps, for instance, to use confirmation bias (seeing and recalling only evidence that supports your beliefs, so you can recount examples of women driving 40mph in the fast lane).

It also helps not to test your beliefs against empirical data (where, exactly, are the WMD, after seven years of U.S. forces crawling all over Iraq?); not to subject beliefs to the plausibility test (faking Obama’s birth certificate would require how widespread a conspiracy?); and to be guided by emotion (the loss of thousands of American lives in Iraq feels more justified if we are avenging 9/11).

The fact that humans are subject to all these failures of rational thought seems to make no sense. Reason is supposed to be the highest achievement of the human mind, and the route to knowledge and wise decisions. But as psychologists have been documenting since the 1960s, humans are really, really bad at reasoning.

It’s not just that we follow our emotions so often, in contexts from voting to ethics. No, even when we intend to deploy the full force of our rational faculties, we are often as ineffectual as eunuchs at an orgy. … In recent days, right-wing commentators have launched a series of attacks on First Lady Michelle Obama for going on vacation in Spain with her daughter Sasha and a small number of family friends. Some of the most vicious attacks:

– New York Daily News columnist Andrea Tantaros wrote that the “material girl” Michelle Obama is a “modern-day Marie Antoinette,” and that the Obamas “seem to fancy themselves more along the lines of international celebrities than actual leaders.”

– CNN’s Erick Erickson also wondered “How long before the Marie Antoinette comparisons start?”

– American Thinker’s Ralph Alter claimed that the “pampered” Michelle Obama has taken “maximum advantage” of her “unlimited expense account as first lady.”

– In a post titled “Michelle Obama Kicks It Euro-Style,” the blog Newsbusters called Michelle a “petty, selfish woman.”

– Mickey Kaus even speculated the trip could be the result of trouble in the Obama’s marriage.

Most of the attacks are based on the premise that the First Lady’s trip is costing American taxpayers money. Glenn Bleck told listeners that the trip “is costing you $75,000 a day,” and Tarantos claimed that Michelle Obama was bringing along “40 of her ‘closest friends.’”

Because the right wing has propagated so much misinformation about the size and cost of the First Lady’s trip, the Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet published an article setting the record straight today. First, Michelle Obama brought only Sasha (Malia is at summer camp) along with two close friends, each of whom also brought their daughters. Second, the entire group paid for their own lodging and personal expenses. The New York Times reported that Michelle even reimbursed the government for the equivalent of two first-class commercial tickets for the flight on Air Force Two. (Her friends flew separately, on commercial flights). Finally, most of the rooms booked at her hotel in Spain belonged to Secret Service agents, and as Sweet wrote, “No matter where she goes — domestic or international — any first lady gets protection and she does not decide how many agents are needed.”

These right-wing commentators were curiously silent when the Bush family took vacations. The New York Times noted that Laura Bush took a vacation every year of her husband’s presidency, with Secret Service agents and a government plane. Also, Media Matters calculated the cost of President Bush’s frequent trips to his ranch in Crawford, TX, Camp David, and the family compound in Kennebunkport — he took more vacation time than any president — and put the tab at $20 million for air travel only.

These facts have not stopped the right-wing commentators from going into overdrive on this story, however. Perhaps they need a vacation.

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