Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Knowing without finding out

Yesterday President Trump delivered his first state of the union address. A week earlier students at New York University were interviewed about his address, as though it had already happened. They all, with all the appearance of complete sincerity, responded to the questions as though they knew what Trump had said, and they all had formed judgements. Unfortunately, these students are anything but exceptional. Everyday people apparently convince themselves they know all about subjects, topics and issues without having any relevant knowledge whatsoever. As one can see from the video, the students simply substituted their biases and prejudices for knowledge of the facts.

This preference for biases and prejudices over actual facts is actually a normal, routine, everyday behaviour. One does not have to devote much attention to the news media, which boast of their commitment to facts and accuracy, to see how biases and prejudices predominate in the creation of narratives. A study of the BBC's coverage of the European Union and the British vote to leave demonstrates beyond any possibility of doubt that the BBC, notwithstanding its much vaunted claims to impartiality, is committed to propagandising in favour of the European Union, regardless of the facts.

One of the interesting side points to emerge from the study is how the BBC simply dismisses complaints about its bias on this issue as being false, no matter how detailed and persuasively made. Apparently, the BBC is so convinced by its self professed claim to be impartial that any criticism must be false and doubtless the result of bias and prejudice. Thus, complaints merely provoke projection.

This resort to projection as a way of countering any criticism or dissent has become the standard response of the political media elite. It is has been substantially reinforced as more and more people have come to the conclusion that neoliberalism is a threat. The election of Trump in 2016 gave a massive impetus to this propagandising by the unleashing of the Russia-gate scandal, which has resulted in hundreds of independent news sites and bloggers being labelled as Putin's agents, simply on the basis of their criticism of elite narratives.

The political media elite has decided that only its narratives are true. Any criticism is simply dismissed by mere name calling. Question Russia did it and you are an agent of Putin. Question the democratic record of the European Union and you are an ignorant racist. Question immigration and you are a fascist racist. Facts and logic have been dispensed with. In their stead, the corporate media impose opinion stated as fact, moralising stated as fact and demonising stated as fact. The corporate media repeatedly provide James Clapper with a platform to assert as fact that Russians are, as a result of their DNA, deceptive, deceitful cheats. This is presented as proof that Russia hacked the presidential election for Donald Trump. The holes in this narrative are so blatant that no criticism can be tolerated. This is why the political media elite are so determined to shut down freedom of speech.

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