Posts Tagged ‘Denial’

Culture Of Denial

December 14, 2019

“Philosophical skepticism is a philosophical school of thought that questions the possibility of certainty in knowledge.” (Wiki) The classic academic example is usually that of the 18thcentury Philosopher David Hume who used it to analyze cause and effect certainty. The example of two billiard balls colliding can be used. Analysis after the fact can generate a mathematical trajectory for each of the balls. But prior to their colliding? Reason relies on probability, high or low. The skeptical outlook is that prior to their striking we can never really know, with certainty, what will occur. There’s a whole lot more to it than that, but this is a simple blog posting. Over a half century ago French Philosopher Jacques Derrida introduced the analytic approach entitled Deconstruction. “Derrida’s approach consisted of conducting readings of texts looking for things that run counter to the intended meaning or structural unity of a particular text. The purpose of deconstruction is to show that the usage of language in a given text, and language as a whole, are irreducibly complex, unstable, or impossible.” (Wiki) This blog posting could be considered a text. Close scrutiny of its content can be used to show inconsistencies, particularly in meanings and usages of words, phrases, and concepts that may differ in spoken language as well as in meanings agreed to with either (spoken or written). There’s more to it than that. “In philosophy, empiricism is a theory that states that knowledge comes only or primarily from sensory experience.” “Empiricism in the philosophy of science emphasizes evidence, especially as discovered in experiments. It is a fundamental part of the scientific method that all hypotheses and theories must be tested against observations of the natural world rather than resting solely on a priori reasoning, intuition, or revelation. Empiricism, often used by natural scientists, says that “knowledge is based on experience” and that “knowledge is tentative and probabilistic, subject to continued revision and falsification”. Empirical research, including experiments and validated measurement tools, guides the scientific method.” (Wiki) Deconstructing the just provided Wiki text on empiricism, one could easily inquire whether theories would need to be tested against observations of the unnatural world? Natural or unnatural observations? Except for Derrida’s, these philosophic insights, approaches, and methodologies are very old. Derrida’s deconstruction begs the question as to whether body cam and doorbell camera recordings are text? If not, then what are they? Likewise for audio recordings and digital records (more data!). Strange things occur when these various methodologies are mixed up in the everyday – deconstruction is used on empirical findings, skepticism is used to undermine inconvenient probabilities, etc. Video shows a young female reporter being touched on her behind by a passing charity fund run participant. He is arrested. Will his defense be that actual “cause and effect” cannot be proved from a deconstruction of the video since it doesn’t show her back side? Within hours of the abomination of the Sandy Hook massacre social media was already flooded with analysis skeptical of the veracity of the news reporting through deconstruction in the form of conspiracy theories. Journalistic accounts certainly are a kind of text. Is this a valid deconstruction? And what happens when reams of scientific research and study are treated as text and systematically deconstructed for commercial gain? We find this repeatedly with global warming, public health concerns such as addiction, gun violence, suicide, environmental conditions, etc. Now we find this fetid philosophic ratatouille en masse with the GOP’s defense of Dear Leader (no smoking gun with the Fifth Avenue doorbell cam video recording). And social/digital media, integral to the dissemination of knowledge with regards to all of these goings on, where is it? The ambiguity of being a “platform” helps it escape responsibility for any of it, virtual or real. Try deconstructing “platform.” Does something stand on it or hover? Can it be found anywhere or is it everywhere? What is the intended meaning? And what is the real meaning? What is not a “platform”? When complex, sophisticated philosophic methodologies are casually treated as internet “platforms”,  unchecked cross media intermingling mix ups occur. What are currently described as “conspiracy theories” grow and thrive in this philosophic incubator. Such a petri dish fosters and sustains the contemporary culture of denial.

What We Have Learned

September 22, 2017

The sports news usually runs a headline like “What we have learned after week two of the NFL (or NBA, etc.).” Analysis finds news of the last few weeks to be fast and furious, and all over the map. Indeed, much news focuses on one “event” while ongoing events simply are elided. So what have we learned in the last couple of weeks of news? One thing for sure is that Americans have learned that news coverage is a professional activity. No, not the high esteem for journalistic excellence that used to sell print productions, but at least that hurricanes and what they leave behind are not “fake news.” This implies that those reporting it are not a fake news service. All of which enabled not only Rand Paul but the AP to run a headline story like “Trump hits GOP foes of health bill, Sen. Paul calls it fake” (9-22-17). We have learned that Newark’s Jay Hottinger will speak at a FED UP! rally while sponsoring stand your ground legislation and House Representative Pat Tiberi will speak at the same rally while legislating to get rid of Medicaid (where’s the fake in all this?).  We have learned that even though (factually) over 40% of residential housing in Newark is non-owner occupant, the city council of Newark would prefer that those persons owning “real” property do the governing, whether they reside in Newark or are even flesh and blood people with a birthday (Special tax coming for downtown Newark after Newark City Council approval, The Advocate, Maria DeVito, 9-21-17). We’ve learned that local, state or national, we prefer our administrators to be wealthy.  We’ve learned that if the administration’s cabinet is made up of billionaire’s appointed on the sole qualification of being determined to undermine that office, well, it actually happens (be it with Devos, Sessions, Price, Perry, etc.). A curious thing we’ve been learning but continue to deny is the importance of branding. Anything of Obama origin is quickly dismissed, replaced by the self-same policy or directive only now with the apprentice president’s specific logo on it (like the apprentice president’s Houston visit ball caps). DACA, Korea, Syria, health care all roll on with the self same administration, only a different brand name. We’ve learned categorically that this is because there is no “plan”. There is no plan for DACA (limbo was never imagined as a “plan”), there is no plan for the Syrian imbroglio (still the same US involvement as before the change of administration), no plan to confront, contain or reduce rising healthcare costs (let alone create greater inclusion), no plan to deal with the Korean peninsula (unless one defines playground name calling as a strategy). And now, on a near nightly basis we are learning about pop culture’s definitive version of the Viet Nam War (The Vietnam War: A film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick – PBS). What we haven’t learned, yet, is that there is no definitive version of history – something the recent brouhaha over confederate monuments reinforces (that they were manufactured and installed for historically different reasons at historically different times). Much of what is now revelatory in Novick’s and Burns’s flick, was contemporary news at the time it happened. Then it wasn’t labeled “fake”, but rather dismissed as irrelevant or outright denied. What we have learned is that current climate change denial, racism in America denial, income gap disparity denial, health care denial, all parallel the historic denials of the Ike through tricky Dick era that the Burns Novick film covers. After all, isn’t that what we have learned?