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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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[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: 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: 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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