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Are you listening? I didn't think so. - The Fucking Bluebird of Goddamn Happiness [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Zoethe

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Are you listening? I didn't think so. [Apr. 27th, 2004|11:11 am]
Zoethe
[Current Mood |contemplativecontemplative]

Ferrett's public service announcement about Americans who still believe we found WMDs in Iraq reminded me of a conversation I had with Amy on the last day she was here. We were talking about the war and she just...went off:

"My friends are so stupid! On the bus they were talking about the weapons of mass destruction we found in Iraq and I told them that we didn't find any weapons of mass destruction and they said, 'Yu-huh, don't you watch the news?' and I said, 'Yeah, but not Fox News!'"

Oh, it does a Mommy proud. 12 years old. And she's got it figured out. Yet something close to 20% of adults polled still believe not just that there may still be WMDs in Iraq, but that we have already found them.

Some of that just has to be willful.

I think there is a certain percentage of any population group that will persist in a belief against all proof to the contrary. Kennedy conspirists, Holocaust deny-ers, apocalyptics, yes. Ultra-conservatives and ultra-liberals, when presented with absolute evidence that their worldview is not sensible, will insist on bending the data, either to discredit it or to revise it to fit their needs.

People who continue in the face of all evidence contrary to believe in what they believe are frequently on the horns of a dilemma. They cannot accept that the rest of their belief system can withstand the muddying of the waters resulting from accepting the bald facts of this situation. Their position is too fragile or rigid to countenance contradictory ideas. Bible fundamentalists who believe that every word was dictated by God, when confronted with contradictory statements in the Bible, will either try to deny the contradiction or will attack the questioner as a sinful unbeliever. It's completely irrational, potentially dangerous, and certainly out of touch with reality.

We all do it about at least one thing.

Everyone (at least damned near everyone) has at least one unshakable yet completely illogical belief. For some people it is that the stars control their every decision, for others it is that God does. Some people are certain, despite any test you might administer, that they have ESP and that no coincidence is involved when that "feeling" they had was right (nevermind the other dozens of times that they have had that "feeling" and were wrong). Or that the earth was created in seven days. Believing that one leads a blessed life, or a cursed one, believing that all development for any reason is wrong (despite not living in a cave without any modern amenities), believing that preservation of species is a waste of effort, refusing to believe that the ozone layer is depleting. People of every political stripe or religious persuasion, it matters not, cling to that which comforts them even in the face of a veritable tidal wave of negation.

And the bastion against fact that you hear? "Well, you can't actually prove that it doesn't exist." That is the sanctuary of the persistent believer. Actual, completely incontrovertible proof of anything much more complicated that simple math is tough, particularly when one is faced with someone more than willing to baldly deny any evidence you present. The Holocaust was a Jewish conspiracy, therefore the camps, the gas chambers, any pictures of it were created for that conspiracy. The earth was created in seven days, therefore carbon dating is a flawed method of determining how old things are.

The weapons of mass destruction must be there, therefore we simply have't found them. Or Iraq knew we were coming and sent them all to Syria (apparently in underground tunnels since such an evacuation on the surface would have been noted, but nevermind). In other words, we could mine every inch of Iraq down 100 feet, find nothing, and some people will still believe the weapons exist. We didn't mine deep enough to find the secret tunnels. Syria is sitting on them.

Elvis has them. He and Hitler.

Resign yourself to the fact that there are some heads too hard to be beaten into belief. Whether they believe unquestioningly in the Loch Ness Monster or faith healing, you will never be able to convince them otherwise. They have too much invested. Just factor them into the equation, and remember that you are probably one of them in some way, that you have your own blind spot.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: hugh_mannity
2004-04-27 03:18 pm (UTC)
Yay for Amy! Yay for her parents, step-parents and other parental-unit-type influences.

I hope she never forgets how to see truth and understand what's going on.

Now I have to run -- gotta get a lottery ticket. Tonight's the night my numbers will come up :)
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[User Picture]From: naath
2004-04-27 03:22 pm (UTC)
well, it is fairly imposible to prove the non-existance of anything (proving it exists is easy - find it) but the fact that we *haven't found any WoMD* yet means that we haven't found any, you can possibly say 'wellll, they might be hiding' but you can't say 'we found them'. It is most probably (given the effort put into looking) that there are none, but I can't prove that.
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[User Picture]From: gythiawulfie
2004-04-27 03:33 pm (UTC)

Most excellent post

Kudos to your daughter for standing up for good journalism.

I only have questions about WMD's. And they are valid questions.

1) There were WMD's found and tagged by previous inspections that are now missing and were missing when he did eventually let the inspectors back in. No one is sure what happened to them. That bothers me, and yes there is speculation that he either destroyed them like he was supposed to, and didn't document it, or he got rid of them elsewhere and didn't document it.

2) It has become evident that his own scientists lied to him. By him claiming he had X,Y and Z and the majority of the world (not just us) believed he had X,Y and Z but we had no proof of it, also fell for this series of bluffs.

3) There has been speculation he was pulling a "Russia". Back in the days of the cold war, Russia often boosted and boasted it had alot more of an arsenal that it did. It wasn't until we majorly trumped up on some of ours that the truth came out. They really didn't have all that fire power. This speculation came that Sadam was trying to "bluff" his way in not getting attacked by stating this and that in order to make him seem a real threat. And, I honestly do not believe he had anything to do directly with 9/11 other than a few cells may have resided in his country. (Just like there are cells in Saudi Arabia).

So, were ther WMD's. Yes, at one point, documented by the international committee of inspectors long ago.. back in the late 80's I believe. Are there still WMD's now? Not sure, as they haven't found what happened to the old aresenal and the fact that alot of the new stuff wasn't really what it appeared to be.

He did a good job at fooling the vast majority of the international community in thinking he "might have" WMD's. Our government took it for "granted" to make it a purpose for invading and finishing what "Dad" should have done. That I am not happy about. The man was a danger, but we should have finished Afghanistan long before going in and cleaning house in Iraq.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2004-04-27 03:38 pm (UTC)

Re: Most excellent post

As for #1, it has been documented fairly extensively that the weapons people didn't keep good notes. After all, we think in terms of bureaucracy, but their instructions were pretty much "Saddam says get rid of it." Many fairly reliable sources (i.e., those who have no good reason to lie, and good reasons to tell the US that there were WMD at the time of the invasion) have said essentially that they got the word and burned the fuckers. Which did cause problems later.

The man was a danger, but we should have finished Afghanistan long before going in and cleaning house in Iraq.

That's my main complaint.
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[User Picture]From: gythiawulfie
2004-04-27 04:03 pm (UTC)

Re: Most excellent post

Very true, but unless there is a definate.

Sadam Burned them or sold them or whatever, the whole thing about WMD's is never going to go away, and we are going to be the ones left with egg on our faces.

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[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2004-04-27 04:17 pm (UTC)

Re: Most excellent post

Actually, my thought was that North Korea was a greater threat.

I was, and still am, all for getting rid of people like Saddam, but with Korea, we KNOW they have weapons, not like we "knew" Saddam did, but Korea has started TESTING them. Also, they're a lot closer to us than Iraq. They might actually be able to get them across the ocean.
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[User Picture]From: corwinok
2004-04-27 03:40 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear!

I have to wonder, though, what my blind spot is. I can't think of any totally unreasoning belief I cling to, but there's got to be something.
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[User Picture]From: branwynrillia
2004-04-27 03:43 pm (UTC)
Excellent. Yay for Amy!
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[User Picture]From: call_me_harmony
2004-04-27 03:49 pm (UTC)
Kudos to Amy, good to hear that not only does she think for herself but she isn't afraid to speak up either. You must be really proud of her.
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From: ex_nyxluna594
2004-04-27 03:49 pm (UTC)
thank you both so much for posting this... it is something everyone, IMO, needs to wake up to, pronto.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 03:56 pm (UTC)
And the dominant species did not survive and everything evolved.

It's only important in the effort to preserve the eco-balance that keeps us the dominant species, that is true. Nature will always bat last, the earth will adapt and recover, and some other life form will take our place. That's what we're fighting against in trying to preserve species. Our own fossilization.
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[User Picture]From: thewhitedragon
2004-04-27 03:55 pm (UTC)
Good job on keeping Amy from becoming herd!

What I think it comes down to is that people don't want to be bothered to think things through any longer -- they want to be told what to think, how to act, who their enemies are and who their allies are. The society, in general, has become nothing more than a bunch of couch potatoes who really do believe things that appear on the front page of the Enquirer (let alone everything that the President says).

In short: their lives are far too busy to be bothered by actually having to exercise their minds and form their own opinions.
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[User Picture]From: tevriel
2004-04-27 04:12 pm (UTC)
Go Amy! She is officially awesome.

As for the rest... curiously, I've just been involved in arguments much like that, myself. The one that's irritating me the most being "soldiers are morally reprehensible individuals by virtue of being soldiers". Around the point where they actually fight a war - you know, like the one the Allied forces fought to keep the Nazis from overrunning Europe and crushing it beneath the Aryan jackboot - they are the scum of the earth, and should only be spat on by decent people. The ones who just train and prepare for the eventuality of safeguarding the liberty of the citizens of their homes, well, they're reprehensible too, but not as much.

Needless to say, I've been taking issue with that.
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[User Picture]From: rhapsody_98
2004-04-27 04:15 pm (UTC)
I was under the impression that Saddam thought he had the weapons, and all the generals thought everyone but them had weapons, and only the scientists knew that there were none. Because they'd been taking the money and spending it on women and cars and pulling the wool over the Supreme Dictator for Life's eyes.

So, we didn't know any better than he did. heh.
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[User Picture]From: lothie
2004-04-27 04:33 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure what brought that on...but me, I'm glad that there are things I believe in, rational or not.

Though I might add that WMD in Iraq is not one of them.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 04:36 pm (UTC)
It's not that we shouldn't believe, just that it's good to remember that some beliefs are not rational and to be accepting that that is the case for other people as well.
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[User Picture]From: lothie
2004-04-27 05:15 pm (UTC)
Maybe it's me, but it sounded a little judgmental regarding beliefs. *shrug*
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 05:20 pm (UTC)
Wasn't meant to be. I was trying to encompass all sides of the spectrum, not any one specific set of beliefs, and just point out that we all have things that we cling to no matter what we are told. I know I certainly do. Sorry if it came off to you as bashing anybody.
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[User Picture]From: lothie
2004-04-27 05:31 pm (UTC)
Arrrrrrrrrr

I just thought about this. The "encompass all sides of the spectrum" part of your orginal post was probably what jerked my dimpled little knee.

Never mind me... *rolls eyes at self*

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 05:35 pm (UTC)
Teehee!!!
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[User Picture]From: happyghost
2004-04-27 04:46 pm (UTC)
Excellent point, but I think you're smearing the details a little. There's a big difference between moral judgements (believing that preservation of species is a waste of effort, believing that one leads a blessed life) and beliefs based upon wishful thinking (Hitler/Elvis/JFK/Gandhi are still alive). Moral judgements are inherently irrational, always. There is no logical basis upon which to found them. Wishful beliefs, though, can be proven or disproven to the limits of scientific certainty, but the people are just being idiots.

One has to be careful, too, of beliefs which are based upon the "majority" opinion of the "scientific community" as presented by the media. Simply because one does not believe the media's analysis of "scientific fact" does not mean that that belief, or lack thereof, is irrational. The media has a set of beliefs, too. (I simply bring that up because you skirt the edge of that with "preservation of species" and "ozone depletion".)
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From: genericrick
2004-04-27 05:17 pm (UTC)
I think theferrett wrote something about people who beg infinite proof before believing something, and how that practice is devoid of logic. This case follows a similar vein.

The world doesn't need me to detail the pointlessness of most conflicts concerning otherwise-benign ideologies- we see it every day without fail.

I suppose it's a matter of emotional proximity; how close one is to a given ideology. Yes, I believe in a Christian God. Does that make me totally unwilling to accept theological beliefs of others, as well as make me totally oblivious to the contradictions in the scripture and the occasional illogical edict handed down from the ancients? Hell, if I adhered to the laws offered in Leviticus to the word, I'd be currently condemned to hell for wearing fabric made out of more than one material. May I forever scream in the blazing abyss: "Damn you, Nylo-cotton blends!" :)

Honestly, though- I'd be contradicting myself in my doctrine of open-mindedness if I instantly dismissed those unwilling to accept proof for or against their cause as imbeciles; perhaps they're uninformed? If that's the case, is it my duty to inform them, or should that receive more authoritarian tutelage? *Shrug*

Excellent post. :)
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[User Picture]From: nuala
2004-04-27 05:32 pm (UTC)
agreed agreed agreed.

PS I have blind spot over my blind spot. I don't even know it's there. ;o)
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[User Picture]From: lysana
2004-04-27 06:03 pm (UTC)
Maybe I'm sleep-deprived, but this is coming across like you're lumping people with a belief in some form of divine being with conspiracy theorists. I find that distasteful. There is a gulf of difference between "my evidence is personal and thus meta-empirical" and "they made that up to continue the facade."
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 06:59 pm (UTC)
Having myself a deep belief in many things spiritual that cannot be proven and in fact have all emperical evidence available pointing to their being absolute hooey, yeah, I will cop to a certain amount of lumping - in that I think it's always good to be aware of the places in which we make assumptions, just in case those assumptions no longer serve a good purpose. Not a criticism, just an observation. I think we all absolutely need belief, but that it should be tempered with humility and recognized as not necessarily the One True Way.
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[User Picture]From: lordindra
2004-04-27 07:09 pm (UTC)
Its pretty sad... Even the CIA is saying Saddam didn't have anything during the runup to the war.
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[User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
2004-04-27 07:40 pm (UTC)
Can you clear up something that I'm confused about? Somewhat OT. I've read/heard several times that Clinton was impeached. Call me a silly twit but I thought that meant a president got his ass kicked out of office?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-27 07:45 pm (UTC)
No, impeached means that the House has determined to charge the President (or, for that matter, a presidential appointee) with an offense for which he can be removed from office. The Senate then holds hearings at which the President, if found guilty may be censured, punished, or removed from office.

Only a couple presidents have been impeached, none have been removed from office by the procedure. Nixon resigned, if I remember correctly, before the articles of impeachment were officially delivered.

This is all off the cuff, though, and I may not have it all straight, but impeachment is just the beginning of the process, of that I am certain.
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[User Picture]From: cosmicbandit
2004-04-27 08:09 pm (UTC)
Thank you for clearing that up for me. I think my notion about that came from an overly simplified definition during my primary education.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-28 02:47 am (UTC)
Bad civics lessons, combined with a shorthand approach to the word, are no doubt to blame. You are educated. Go forth and spread knowledge.

(A little punchy tonight? Me??? [g])
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From: jrtatsc
2004-04-27 08:37 pm (UTC)
That's right. President Nixon resigned before he was impeached.

President Clinton was impeached but not convicted.

Andrew Johnson was impeached but not convicted. This looks like a good reference site.
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[User Picture]From: camfangrrl
2004-04-27 09:18 pm (UTC)
Just stepping up here as a Fox News watcher to say when Amy put the concepts of there being no weapons of mass destruction and how she doesn't watch Fox News into the same thought, that was based on random invention on her part and not any empirical evidence. (And isn't that kind of what you don't want to be proud of her for doing?) Fox News reporters, the ones on the air covering the war as it was happening, never reported WMD were definitely found and the public should count on that knowledge as fact. Therefore, Amy's "stupid" friends did not acquire their beliefs based exclusively on what Fox News reporters said. At most, embedded reporters following the soldiers would report coming upon weaponry which appeared to be capable of being WMD, but those reporters would always be quick to subsequently report that the weapons weren't WMD the moment they had confirmation of that fact. It was the same process as, say, when on the morning of 9/11 reporters from all the news networks were briefly reporting a bomb had been found in a van near the WTC. It wasn't true, of course, but for a little while people thought it might be. The same thing happened when it was reported that Iraq's National Museum had been looted, everything of value was utterly destroyed, the country's cultural history had been ravaged beyond all possible repair, and it was all America's fault for not protecting it. Then we found out that wasn't especially true, either.

http://www.artnewsonline.com/currentarticle.cfm?art_id=1368

http://edition.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/11/11/sprj.nilaw.antiquities.returned/index.html

So, basically, sure, there's a lot of untruth to go around, and always will be. The next time some unfortunate LJer had some hard times, the majority of the comments are of the "I'll pray for you" kind, and the hard times pass, and the unfortunate LJer thanks everyone for their prayers because "they really helped," see if Amy is skeptical enough to post in reply, "Prayers did nothing. It was the efforts of real people applying their strategizing/financial/emotional-support resources to the problem which helped! Everyone who prayed did nothing more than make themselves feel good!" I'd be a proud mommy if my daughter said such a thing to her friends.
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2004-04-28 12:28 am (UTC)
Just stepping up here as a Fox News watcher to say when Amy put the concepts of there being no weapons of mass destruction and how she doesn't watch Fox News into the same thought, that was based on random invention on her part and not any empirical evidence.

Actually, she was referencing an old poll taken at the time of the Iraqi invasion that showed that people who watched Fox News were about 20% more likely than the average news-viewer to believe that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and a recent one showing that Fox News viewers are more likely to believe that WMD has been found.

So actually, yeah, she's way more empirical than you were, since I showed her the polls at the time. But being a Fox News viewer, of course you wouldn't know empiracle if it bit you. *g*
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[User Picture]From: zero_design
2004-04-27 10:24 pm (UTC)
One of the hardest tricks, of course, is to tell the difference between beliefs and facts. Because it's not a simple binary proposition most of the time - it's a freaking continuum obscured by the fact that you never know exactly what you can trust.

Fox News, CNN, the Local news, internet sources/magazines ... they all have their biases.

*shrugs* I know I have my own "mental rocks": things that I accept as true, even though some of them are patently illogical. But logic is not the be-all/end-all. Just being as open as I can is pretty much the only thing I think I can do.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-28 02:07 am (UTC)
That's the whole point. Discerning, and regonizing that we are not always capable of discerning because of our own belief systems.
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[User Picture]From: zero_design
2004-04-29 12:42 pm (UTC)
Add to this the fact that sometimes our inability to discern the difference between fact and belief has nothing to do with a belief system and everything to do with the difference itself is a fuzzy kind of thing. Makes for interesting problems of understanding, it does.
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From: ex_amayos553
2004-04-28 03:15 am (UTC)
My life at times is one giant blindspot.
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2004-04-28 03:18 am (UTC)
I just wanted to let you know that I referred to this post in my long and winding crisis-of-faith post.

Loveya!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-28 03:26 am (UTC)
Heya! Interesting, and I had to jump right in!

Now sleep!!!
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2004-04-28 03:30 am (UTC)
Thanks for jumping in.

I'm not sure if the "sleep!" part was for me or for you, but it's a dandy idea, and I'm on my way soon!

rest well.
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[User Picture]From: kid_lit_fan
2004-04-28 04:19 am (UTC)
Elvis has them. He and Hitler.

Even if you had never said another (or 10,000 other!) intelligent thing(or things) in your entire LJ life, I would friend you for using "He" correctly in that sentence.

Wow. I've got a serious grammar-woody, if females can be said to have woodies.

Oh, yeah, and the actual content of the post lived up to the usage! Blahblahblah I agree, blahblah me,too, blahblah slightly related personal anecdote.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2004-04-28 11:21 am (UTC)
Grammar-woody

Yeah, I tend to be a grammar Nazi myself: "It is I." "This is she." Misuse is like a toothache.

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