Mine is a very personal blog. I started writing it simply as an exercise to discipline myself to write frequently. Not necessarily well, just frequently. I’m taking an extended time-out from work and would like to write a book. What is sorely lacking is a compelling central theme for that book that would hold my interest long enough to complete it. So, in the meantime, I blog. A few friends, real and virtual, call by and all is as it should be. Sometimes I write in a reasonably interesting way about reasonably interesting subjects, more often I don’t.
I grew up and live in central London. Even by the usual standards of London, this has been an eventful week; Live 8, the Olympic Bid and, most recently, the bombings. And I’ve made reference to these events in this blog. This has led to my blog being considerably more verbose and ‘heavier’ than usual lately. Unsurprisingly to those who know me, my personal interpretation of these events has been at odds with the mainstream.
I’ll get to the point soon.
One of my virtual buddies disagrees with my take on the circumstances behind the train bombings yesterday. That’s cool. We’re both old enough and hairy enough to respect different points of view and not fall out over it. But that got me to thinking about why we don’t agree. As a general question, how can two people be presented with broadly the same information, I won’t say facts, and process that information to come up with two completely different conclusions?
It’s all about paradigms.
A paradigm is a mental model that you use to interpret your world. Every new piece of information you acquire has to be slotted into that paradigm. Paradigms are an unavoidable consequence of having a human brain. They're necessary.
Most of us use second hand paradigms. They are given to us by parents, teachers, priests, politicians, newspapers, whoever.
Paradigms have all sorts of interesting qualities:
- Groups of people believing mutually exclusive paradigms genuinely cannot understand where the other guys are coming from. Belief in Biblical Creation or Evolution are examples of two competing paradigms. You could listen to advocates for each point of view talking at, rather than to, each other for hours, each never ever comprehending what the other guy is actaully saying.
- Paradigms explain everything they need to explain. This is achieved by the simple expedient of ignoring any anomalous information that comes their way; pretending it doesn’t exist or just not listening. It happens all the time.
- At any one point there are only a small number of thought models that are socially acceptable. Individuals have the option of choosing one model from that narrow selection or creating one of their own. Those people who create their own individual explanatory models are what is commonly referred to as being mad.
- Paradigms only die when their believers die. People find it awfully difficult to change a paradigm once they’ve taken it on board. Generally they don’t. Most of us live our lives using the belief systems that we settled on by our late teens. That’s why it’s so important to embed thought models in people when they’re young and why McDonalds builds so many kiddies playgrounds.
Maybe it’s because I had too much time on my hands but I rejected two major life paradigms well into my thirties. I decided that there is evidence for a creative force in our universe and I also realised that this world is managed by a small group of bastards who would stop at nothing to dominate us all. It was quite a strange feeling having to re-categorise half a lifetime’s worth of experiences and opinions I can tell you.
And so we get back onto the subject of yesterday’s bombing.
By and large, there’s only one paradigm available in the UK to explain the War on Terror. The notion that a shadowy group of international fundamentalist terrorists is bombing us for no other reason than they hate us.
It’s genius, really. People in the UK have to believe this because no other model into which they can slot the facts has been made available to them. Even people who disagree with Bush and Blair are still basically playing their game using their rules. Blair and Bush opponents acknowledge the Al Qaeda threat but maintain that erosion of civil liberties is no way to deal with it.
But what if there is no threat? What if the bombs are being planted by a group seeking to generate anti-Muslim behaviour and start wars in far off lands?
I can think of one government that has benefited enormously from what is being done to Iraq, Iran and Syria. I can think of another government that is in desperate need for new resources and new markets and political distractions at home. Both governments have a well-documented, and indisputed, track record of ruthless 'false flag' operations. Why is it so hard to at least experiment with the thought that these two governments are covertly involved in what was done to London yesterday?
If you look at events in that frame of mind all the facts still make sense. I would argue a lot more sense.
That’s what I believe. The major chunk of the Muslim world believes the same thing. It doesn’t get a mention in the UK. Of course it doesn’t, people might look at the world in a very different light. Besides, Muslims are insane nut cases who’ll believe any old crap. Only Muslims are insane enough to commit horrible acts. Our leaders, our civilised, white leaders would never dream of doing such things. Our paradigm tells us so.
The Catholic Church opposed the Theory of Evolution not because it brought any new information to the table but because it enabled people to interpret existing information in an entirely different way. Permitting people only one way of thinking is by far and away the easiest way to control their thoughts and manipulate their actions. Get them thinking the right way, your way, and they’ll do the censoring for you.
Now I could support my doubts about the War on Terror by quoting reams of references, point out the self-evident lies and contradictions in the words of our leaders. I could objectively demonstrate the obvious and widespread deceit and bias in our media. I’m a moderately intelligent man. I’m quite well read. I’m not particularly insane. I pursue no discernable ideology. My point of view can be supported rather well.
But there’s no point is there? If someone’s brain isn’t wired to process this information it’s a futile exercise isn’t it?
This is particularly upsetting as, if you believe what I do, you feel a strong compulsion to try and warn people what’s going on out there.
I’ll close with a small example of what I’m talking about.
A few days after 9/11, a widely-circulated story appeared that a couple of the hijackers had spent their last night in a titty bar in Florida. They were flashing lots of money about, drinking heavily, bragging about ‘something big’ and feeling-up strippers. Different versions of the story had them leaving copies of the Qur’an in the bar or shagging the strippers. I remember joking about the story with a couple of people I was working with, both true believers in The War on Terror myth. Neither of them could understand why I was laughing.
Muppet: What’s so funny? Those men killed thousands of people:
Stef: They’re supposed to be devout Muslims ready to sacrifice themselves, yet the night before they’re getting drunk and shagging whores. This story’s nonsense. Who’s going to be daft enough to believe it?
Muppet: But these men were westernised. They were under instructions to blend in
Stef: By committing two mortal sins the day before martyrdom? How can you possibly believe that?
Muppet (to me): Some people have eyes but don’t see..
Well, Mr Muppet was right about one thing at least…