THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2021
We'll post this afternoon: Very frankly, we're taking a "Heart Attack Thursday" this morning. Our written excuse would be this:
Early this morning, it seemed that our computer system had died. Miraculously, we managed to bring it back to life—but at least three hours of preparation had been lost.
Eventually, we got "the joy of rediscovering" our connection to the wider world. But our heart had been in our throat for three hours, and all that time had been lost.
(On the brighter side, a bit of housecleaning got done.)
As we prepare to take our partial sick day, we'll offer a few basic points:
Yesterday morning, we took a look at a conversation reported by Barton Gellman at The Atlantic. For people who want to understand the breakdown in our failing society, Gellman's text is potentially quite instructive.
Yesterday, we adumbrated a basic point, courtesy of a group of despondent future logicians. That basic point was this:
There is no assertion of fact or logic which can force some other person to comply with your own point of view.
When powerful disagreements exist, Person B can (and will) always find a way to reject some claim by Person A. This points us toward a basic fact, agreed to by future logicians and future anthropologists alike:
In the end, successful societies must always function by means of a type of consent. In the end, there must be a sense, on the part of the society's members, that they're all part of a single "people"—that there aren't lots of Others around.
Once competing tribal groups have descended into Otherization, there's no easy way back. More specifically, there is no way to form agreement on any particular question.
In the end, each group will cite its own preferred facts. Each group will disappear other unwanted facts.
Each group will invent inaccurate "facts." Members will recite the cartoonized versions of reality which result from this ancient process.
Our failing society has currently entered these possible death throes. Over here in our own liberal tribe, we show little sign of understanding the nature of this existential problem.
Regarding Gellman, we'll offer this:
Gellman performed a major service by publishing his lengthy account of that conversation. Here's why:
Under current arrangements, we almost never see conversations between people from competing tribes.
Our "cable news" channels are now completely segregated. On CNN and MSNBC, "talking-point blue tribe voters" speak only to other such voters. On Fox, "talking-point red tribe voters" speak only to their own kind.
The disagreement-based Crossfire model is gone. It's all repetition now.
People watching these corporate profit centers have little exposure to the reactions, observations and viewpoints which may exist on the other side. Accurate facts which one group of people hear will routinely be withheld from those in the other tribe.
Often, viewers will be exposed only to the least intelligent reactions and viewpoints found on the other side—and even then, those points of view may be presented in embellished form.
This afternoon, we'll offer a classic example of this ancient syndrome—a classic example (good God!) from last night's Maddow Show. For now, we'll only say this:
The conversation posted by Gellman was perhaps a bit one-sided. As presented, it matched a thoroughly competent major journalist—Barton Gellman himself—with a highly credulous person from what seems to be the deepest fringe of the red state tribe.
Blue tribe voters may form an unwise generalization from that presentation. In fact, we have highly credulous people in our blue tribe too!
Adults believe the darnedest things! That's especially true at times like these—at times of societal breakdown.
At times like these, the credulity tends to be general over afflicted nations. In the process, traditional claims about "the rational animal" may tend to become exposed.
Under the guidance of leading experts, we may be able to see ourselves, at times like these, for who and what we actually are. We may be able to see ourselves as a highly tribal species, whose individuals are given to saying—and to believing—the darnedest things.
At times like these, adults say the darnedest things—and other adults believe them! Our human wars have always begun this way, including the internal wars which tear nations apart.
As long as the sense of separation exists, there is no way to fix this. This is the actual state of the (human) race, skilled major experts all say.
As we continue with these reports, we'll look at Lara Logan, who recently said one of the darnedest things. In our view, we need to give a lot more thought to the possible reasons for such statements because, as times like these, many adults will believe them.
That said, our own tribe is full of people who say the darnedest things too! (According to the aforementioned experts, it isn't helpful when we rush to say that the other tribe is worse.)
Our own tribe's corporate TV stars say the darnedest things too! Please come back this afternoon for Maddow's latest (world-class) example.
In the end, there is no way to force agreement based on logic or fact. There is only the sense that "a people" exists—and many in our own self-impressed tribe don't want an outcome like that!
Tomorrow: Logan says the darnedest thing. Why would someone say that?