Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

August 3, 2007

Noam Chomsky: Concision

Filed under: culture, media, politics — codesmithy @ 6:57 am

A few times in my life, I’ve had a huge intellectual puzzle piece that seems to fall into place.  Today was one of those days. It happened when I came across Noam Chomsky talking about concision in the U.S. media on YouTube.

Concision is the property of being concise or terse.  This structural constraint keeps debate within the stream of conventional thought.  It is my view, that the conventional thought as displayed in the mainstream media has a poor basis in reality and actual history.

We have a society where children are systematically hampered by patriotism and religion induced by the institutions of state and church respectively.  Richard Dawkins explains in “The God Delusion” that children are particularly susceptible to these viral memes at an early age, for the biological and psychological reasons of survival.  Children need to unquestionably believe that snakes are dangerous when others tell them so.  A child that is overly questioning of these edicts is unlikely to survive given their vulnerable stage of development.

This utter gullibility fades with time, but it is difficult to undo the damage.  For the same reasons people don’t watch static on their television sets, people tend to watch programming that makes sense.  Depending on how ingrained the religious and patriotic sentiments are, gives your relative news outlet source.  Those news outlets give a constant, unthinking reinforcement, which is the basis of long-term continued television watching.

Television pundits understand this, even if it is at a subconscious or empirical level.  Notice how O’Reilly sets the mayor up with “far-left frenzy,” he calls him “kooky” and then tries to bait him to say anything outside the mainstream.

The fact of the matter is that O’Reilly and Fox News have a daily jingoistic catharsis.  They give their own ideas plenty of time to cover and give systematically shortened segments regulated by concision to their opponents.  People from the other side are just the spectacle of the day, the equivalent of Christians fed to the lions during the Roman era.  I’m sure that the guests are not completely aware of how rigged O’Reilly’s show is, and it hardly furthers their cause to engage in it, as Bill has numerous advantages: he can set agenda, can interrupt, cut-off your mic, completely set the tone of the interview beforehand and has daily practice.  Going on the show is a strategic and tactical mistake from the outset, any victory is likely to be Pyhrric and short-lived as O’Reilly will unsay, apologize and/or ignore the topic in the future and just continue as always.  O’Reilly will not self-destruct on his show because there is no need to, he is always in control.

Simply put, to have true debate, one needs to move away from the cesspool of O’Reilly and television to a medium where complex thoughts can be adequately explained.  I believe the best hope for that medium is the Internet; which it should be of no surprise that it is under attack the existing media pillars.


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