(News & Editorial/ Maintaining group optimism bias)
A. Concepts of propaganda:
Be it thy course to busy giddy minds
With foreign quarrels, that action, hence borne out,
May waste the memory of the former days.
………Shakespeare (Henry IV play, ca. 1596 AD)
Diversionary tactic: a means to achieve a goal of distraction for the mind that relaxes or entertains.
- The act or an instance of diverting or turning aside; deviation.
- Something that distracts the mind and relaxes or entertains.
- An amusing activity that distracts one’s attention
- A maneuver that draws the attention of an opponent away from a planned point of action, especially as part of military strategy.
- A form of informal fallacy known as a general irrelevancy, a violation of sound reasoning
A change made in a prescribed route for operational or tactical reasons.
“The power of speech has the same effect on the condition of the soul as the application of drugs to the state of bodies; for just as different drugs dispel different fluids from the body, and some bring an end to disease but others end life, so also some speeches cause pain, some pleasure, some fear; some instill courage, some drug and bewitch the soul with a kind of evil persuasion.”
………. Gorgias, Greek Sophist, 414 BC
Rhetoric is the art of speaking or writing to the public–and not always a friendly or familiar public. Rhetoric is the art of persuading others that our course of action is a correct course of action. The art is in knowing our audience, in shaping our voice, audible or written, so that our audience clearly understands our message and is persuaded–maybe not always persuaded to act, but at least persuaded to acknowledge that another point of view is possible. Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations
B. Optimism Bias: What Keeps Us Alive Today Will Kill Us Tomorrow
18 Nov 2012, The Automatic Earth, Raul Ilargi Meijer
[Definition of a lie: any not entirely accurate representation of the world as we perceive it; what’s not spoken can be as crucial as what is. ]
So yeah, people lie. They, we, all do. Some of us understand the extent to which this is true better than others, but that’s probably just because we haven’t all spent equal time wondering when it was we first started doing it. Let alone why. Interesting questions. After the fact, it’s blindingly obvious why we would want to lie: accomplished liars get to mate faster and more often. Which still is the purpose of life, even though it may not be terribly fashionable to phrase it that way these days.
But we couldn’t have known that before we began lying, so that’s not what got us started. Another interesting question is who we first lied to, ourselves or others. I personally lean to the former option lately, since we couldn’t have known the advantages of lying to others beforehand. Whereas fooling ourselves could potentially have developed as a much more insidious, secretive, step by step feature.
Likely purely as a survival mechanism, after extremely traumatic experiences. To have such experiences, you need awareness, consciousness, either/or. Probably a sense of belonging to a group, a family, as well as a sense of what’s right and what’s not. If, in that state, you see your friends and family get killed off by a natural disaster or the cruelty of other humans, you need some sort of selective memory, some kind of denial mechanism, in order to survive both mentally and physically, and to find meaning in your life, a pre-requisite for who has awareness and is not a full-fledged psychopath.
The ability to lie to ourselves, and make ourselves think our lives are better than they really are, and that our own place in the world looks better than it does, has endowed us with a propensity for good tidings. We want the world around us to skew our picture of who and how we are in the same way that we ourselves do. Turns out, that’s not a hard thing to find.
If only because the other kind of lying, that from one human being to another, the one that developed quite naturally modeled after our “internal” one, comes with one major caveat. Our ability to detect lies told by others is highly compromised by our ability to lie to ourselves, since the latter only works if it remains somewhere in our unconscious. We obviously don’t consciously believe our own lies, and therefore neither the lies of others.
It all takes place outside of, beyond, our awareness. That’s where the second hand car salesman operates, and any other charmer and grafter, the ad executive, the junkie and the politician. Sigmund Freud may not have been the first to realize this, but he was the first to frame it in rational terms. If you make commercials that tell people what a car or a perfume or a burger really is, they won’t bite. If a junkie tells you what he really wants the money for, you don’t give it to him.
And if a politician tells you what the real state of the economy (and hence your future) is, you’re not going to vote for him. So (s)he tells you want you would like to hear. Without you even knowing it. There’s a world full of things out there that you want without knowing it, and as many that you don’t want. Why we don’t teach Freud throughout all our school systems, all the time, is a far deeper mystery than any of us alive today care to ponder. Unless we bow to the notion that we – unconsciously (?!)- don’t want to know that either. We don’t want to know why we don’t want to know, because when the dominoes start falling that would shatter our carefully crafted and polished self-portraits.
All this to lead into what I really wanted to talk about. The optimism bias. Which plays havoc with everybody’s understanding of the financial crisis like there’s no tomorrow. Pun both intended and unconscious. And, in true character, nobody seems to notice much. Nobody wants to. Not unconsciously.
Extra, Extra, read all about it! the EU is falling apart so desperately now that Greece calls on the Arab world for loans, and Spain turns to South America. The crisis and the austerity it bred start to bite the European core. And will continue on their inevitable course towards swallowing it whole.
As you all would have seen long ago, if not for your optimism bias playing head games. Most of you still won’t, and possibly for quite some time to come, depending on how much longer it takes until the walls start to truly crumble. Because it’s not until the truth stares them straight in the face that people will see it for what it is. And even then.
For the exact same reason, there was never a chance that Obama would lose the recent election. Because of the relatively acceptable economic numbers, multiplied by the optimism bias. Anyone who didn’t see that coming in the run-up to the election should get themselves an education. Yeah, like, read Freud. That should go a long way towards figuring out who’s saying what and why they say it. And towards explaining why you didn’t know.
But, before this all becomes too winding a tale, let me explain that I got back to thinking of this topic of lies and self deceit and Freud because of a pretty simple graph I picked up from the website of a Dutch TV channel named RTL-Z. And I’d like to stress that this graph, and what it depicts, by no means constitute an exception in any way shape or form; the graph is merely an example of how economic and financial data are treated, and have been for years, by the media we frequent and trust. Thing is, we do that because they tell us what we want to hear and see and believe, because they provide that version of the story which we prefer to the real one, which doesn’t fit our optimism bias.
…all those stories too about the US economy recovering, enough already. The US isn’t going forward without Europe, and Europe is moving backwards if at all. Economic growth at unemployment rates of 25% in Greece and Spain and what is it, 14-15% stateside (?!), is not a viable thing. Our optimism plays games with us, and so do our politicians, to the extent that we come to think it’s actually possible, though we know we should know better, to pay off our debts with more debt. Blinded by the light inside.
This graph tells the story (one of an endless number) of what, over the past four years, the EU predicted would be Greek GDP numbers, through five consecutive rounds of predictions, and what eventually actual numbers turned out to be. Pretty graphic(al). Being off by 6-7-8% was no exception, it was the rule. And this whole procedure is no exception either, it’s all the rule. Which all politicians, pundits and forecasters get away with breeding because the stories they tell are the stories you want to hear. And then the stories inevitably turn south.
And they’ll continue to do that for a long time, until we demand to know what happened to the debt. We don’t really want to know that, though, do we? We have this unconscious itch that tells us exactly what happened to it. And we don’t like that. We’d much rather believe anyone who tells us it’ll be fine, that we can either borrow our way out of too much borrowing, or budget cut our way out of our budget deficits. Either way we fancy we’ll have a little bit of pain, just a twitch, and then we can restart the party and make it bigger better than it’s ever been.
I’ve said it many times before: we are the most tragic species. We not only destroy all of the world around us, we are aware of doing it but unable to stop ourselves. We have faith and hope that things will get better, that we can turn around at the last second what we’ve screwed up over years and decades. Which of course is nothing but an excuse to keep on screwing up. All courtesy of our optimism bias.
The thing about this graph and its consequences is that the policies for what happens at the final stages shown in the graph are defined by the predictions at the early stages. Once reality sinks in, it’s too late, the damage has been done. The difference is then made up for by firing an additional million people here and there, cut pensions and benefits for a few million more, and keep talking about a recovery just around the corner. Beyond the horizon, more like it.
This is how all those who have a public voice you care to listen to treat their audiences. Because they are well aware that if they spread a message that fits in with the prevalent optimism bias, they will be more popular, sell better, get more votes, get elected into office. When Jack Nicholson said you don’t want the truth because you can’t handle the truth, he was talking to a much wider audience than we would like to acknowledge.
And so we get what we get. Still, you can’t always get what you want. In the end, all that’s left is what you need. And we know that, unconsciously. It’s just that in the meantime we like to be sitting pretty. And not think about the fact that this very attitude of ours will hasten and worsen the end. We’re creatures bent on instant gratification. Which is, come to think of it, precisely why we have our optimism bias in the first place.
Whatever it is that’s going wrong, and there’s more of that than we can summarize right here and now, the tragedies we create rival those of the ancient Greeks, which in and of itself shows that we never learned much. Voltaire in his 1759 Candide told us to replace “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds” with “we must cultivate our garden”. Never took that to heart either.
Like all those before us, we’ll walk right into our tragic futures thinking everything will be alright. ‘Cause that’s who we are. Our tragedies will be as over the top bloody and deadly too as the Greeks’ were.
Meanwhile, being the modern people we are, we can’t help but wait for Godot, and we’ll die waiting, because our optimism bias tells us he will come.
No, this is certainly no time for easy optimism, but tragically, that’s all we got.
We’re only static on the radio, picking up speed.
C. Who Can Best Advise You?
2013, InternationalMan.com, by Jeff Thomas
Pasted from: https://www.internationalman.com/78-global-perspectives/990-who-can-best-advise-you
The media—whether it be print, internet, or television—is, today, a wealth of information. Unfortunately, it is also a wealth of misinformation. This is particularly true with regard to occurrences that surround the governments of the world. Governments are notoriously deceitful and circumspect, and the media can often be more than “helpful” in presenting a government’s desired perception.
In addition to the conventional media providing a great deal of misinformation, it also has the chronic failing that it “reports the news.”
But isn’t this what they are supposed to do? Yes, but unfortunately, that approach to reporting simply provides after-the-fact information. For those who are working on creating and shaping their future, the need exists to anticipate events, so that they might take steps to assure that the future will not simply roll over them like a steamroller. Advance warning provides them with the opportunity to step aside before the steamroller arrives.
Traditional Advisors Are Seriously Lacking
Readers of this publication will most likely already be savvy enough to have discovered that the traditional advisors, i.e., those in positions of authority, are, at best, seriously lacking. As an example, the Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the most powerful economic overseer the world has ever seen, has had an astonishing record of being incorrect in nearly every one of his public projections for the future of his country’s economy.
So, those who twig on to the discovery that such “leaders” are not to be trusted in their forecasts and advice may decide to seek others who can better advise them as to what the future may hold.
This publication is frequently cited as a more reliable source than, say, Mister Bernanke. Readers check in (regularly or otherwise) to clear the air a bit and see if they might get their heads above the tree-line, the better to see the forest.
But what appears in these pages is not the stuff of crystal balls. Further, the advice given does come from the analysis of events as they occur, but not exclusively so. It comes, in large measure, from the comparison of these events to historical patterns.
For example, Spain was the world’s empire but crumbled, largely as a result of fighting expensive wars that it could not pay for. England was the world’s empire but crumbled, largely as a result of fighting expensive wars that it could not pay for. The US is now the world’s empire, and it has over one thousand military bases in over one hundred countries. It would be difficult to pin down exactly how many battle fronts the US is currently engaged in, they are so numerous. Hence, we might be inclined to project out that, as so many empires have crumbled, in part, from overly-ambitious aggression to other nations, it should come as no surprise if the current level of aggression may contribute in a major way to the undoing of the US empire as well.
But what of other events—those who affect us more personally, more directly? What scourges will the reader’s government visit upon him in the next month, in the next year, in the next five years?
Again, we can look at history and examine what previous empires have done in similar situations. However, we need not always look back to the distant past; to examine what happened in Rome or Napoleonic France or Nazi Germany. There are also more recent comparisons. In fact, there are comparisons that are unfolding in the present time. In order to find examples of governmental failure patterns, we can look at countries in the world that are on the same path of self-destruction as our own but happen to be further along in the pattern.
There are many. We can look at communism in Serbia in the 1990s or fascism in Zimbabwe in the 2000s and get some real eye-openers as to what may be in store for our own country, if our country is following a similar path. Both of those countries have gone through the “overreaching control to collapse” cycle and are now in the rubble stage of clearing up the mess and beginning to start over.
At any given time in history, there are countries that are at different stages in this development. After all, every nation-state possesses a government, and the nature of governments is to grow themselves, both in size and in power. At some point, the levels of both size and power create a top-heavy condition that ultimately sends it crashing down.
Our task, therefore, is in reading the signs along the way, understanding the pattern that so often repeats in one country after another as they approach the critical stage.
It is safe to suggest that your reading of this publication has a great deal to do with the possibility that the country in which you live is approaching that critical stage. Therefore, it may be in your interest to seek the counsel of those who, for whatever reason, have made a long-term study of historical patterns. It would also be beneficial to keep a close eye on those countries in the world that (as stated above) are on the same path of self-destruction as our own but happen to be further along in the pattern.
For this reason, the woman pictured above, Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, may be quite useful to you as an advisor. Argentina is further along in the “overreaching control to collapse” cycle in many respects than, say, the EU or the US. If the reader calls one of these latter locations his home (and he bothers to do a bit of regular study), he will find that the Kirchner government has arrived at the overreaching stage and is following the pattern that has been laid down by other countries in the past.
Argentina is now well enough into the stage in the pattern, that dramatic inflation is under way. This invariably leads to the citizenry doing what it can to exit the currency, which leads to the government imposing capital controls (limiting the exit of wealth from the country). Argentina has also begun the knee-jerk reaction of protective tariffs that are inevitable in the pattern.
If history continues to repeat, we shall soon see controls to limit Argentines from physically exiting the country. This is always one of the last stages—penning in the sheep when the sheep finally figure out that they are soon to be mutton at the government’s dining table.
But, again, this latter stage has not yet occurred.
If the reader resides in either Europe or North America, he may have noticed that governmental restrictions in his country appear to be on the increase and that, in fact, the velocity of that increase is itself increasing. He may have noted that, in spite of governmental reports to the contrary, inflation is on the increase. If he is really paying attention, he will have noted that capital controls are creeping in.
But, as yet, there has been no repeat of, say, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930. And although it is becoming more difficult to expatriate (or at least without paying an exit tax), a general confiscation of passports has not yet taken effect.
The reader then, has three choices. He may
1. Assume that the situation will not worsen.
2. Assume that it may very well may worsen, but fail to prepare for that eventuality.
3. Assume that it will worsen, and study the patterns laid down by so many governments in the past (and present). And then to create a plan to sidestep the steamroller that he feels is on the way.
If the reader chooses the latter, he may already be studying the projections offered by publications such as this one. But, in addition to seeking the counsel of these advisors, he may also wish to “consult” on a regular basis with such imminently qualified advisors as Mrs. Kirchner. She can provide ongoing warnings as to the pattern that is very likely to be followed in the reader’s own country.