Friday, July 08, 2005

Paradigms

Patriotism

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.

Anyway

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?

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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.

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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…

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that you're Stef (patent pending) and I'm andy (serial killer to the stars) :P...or to put it more sanely,...I never agree with anyone, it's not personal mate. I think we are far too close to these events to even take in their importance or lack of it. Give it 20 or 30 years and it might be obvious...I might be doing my Homer impression...D'oh!!!!. But...just because you can see connections with things it doesn't make it the truth, the same way as I'm perhaps too stupid to see them doesn't make it the truth either (btw neither do I swallow everything I read or watch on various media...well i used to believe in John Peel, but he's gone ;)).

Like most complex things, and political motives and history in general is certainly complex the only fixed points are dates, the rest is opinion, intelligent maybe..but just opinion.

Anyway mate, I'm not saying you're wrong, we just see things differently...hell you probably like prog rock ;)

andy

Stef said...

Andy

Even though we've never physically met I think you've picked up on the fact that I'm just one bit cuddly bunny of a human being. I always want to hear and understand why people think what they think without being judgmental, unless they're wicked.

Of course what you're saying makes sense. And I could launch off into a huge discourse about 'what is truth' but I'll spare you that.

What I'm trying to say is that there are often more than one set of connections (paradigms) of equal strength for any event. Right now, here in the UK, we are being presented with only one to explain what happened yesterday. And that's 100% deliberate

and no, my crude attempts at broadminded, unrestricted thinking do not extend to prog rock - nasty, very, very nasty ...

Anonymous said...

jesus thank god for that...um hang on..."Oi turn that Yes LP down!" ;).

Btw...I think I'll be donating some money to the people who were hurt yesterday, I think we can both agree that they are the true innocents in this.

Have a good weekend mate, all the best to you and yours

Stef said...

can't disagree with that

I'll been listening to the progressive sounds on offer at Southwark Park ...

http://www.bermondseybeat.com/

cheers

S.

Anonymous said...

Gertcha!

;)

andy

Stef said...

Half of Squeeze, Darts and the Proclaimer all at one venue for free. How can a man say no?

and Chas' and Dave next month!

BTW this post wasn't written specifically with you in mind. I've just reread it and realised that it might seem like that. It was more general than that. You? We'll you're obviously just a contrary so and so ;-)

greatwhitebear said...

i guess the paradigm thing explains like why there are two kinds of americans, the ones who want to know the truth about the acts of Bush, and the ones who cover their ears and hum loudly so they won't.

great post, btw

Stef said...

@gwb: I remember having a similar problem as teenager years ago with my Italian grandmother. She was a devout church goer and rabidly right wing. One time, I tried pointing out to her that Jesus' teachings were pretty communist, as he preached giving everything to the needy. I didn't get to finish as she very literally put her hands to her ears and repeated 'I'm not listening to this blasphemy. I'm not listening to this blasphemy'. She later had a row with my mother about the quality of education I was receiving. Honestly. I was about fourteen, she was about sixty five ...

Ian said...

A number of commentators, including Robert Fisk, have now come out and said Blair, as you suggested, should stop saying "the terrorists want to destroy what we hold dear / destroy 'our way of life' ", and point to the fact that they are more pissed off about Blair and Bush.
It will be interesting to see if Blair now shuts the f**k up about this 'way of life' approach or whether he will continue to be a pr*ck.

zenyenta said...

"A number of commentators, including Robert Fisk, have now come out and said Blair, as you suggested, should stop saying "the terrorists want to destroy what we hold dear / destroy 'our way of life' ", and point to the fact that they are more pissed off about Blair and Bush.
It will be interesting to see if Blair now shuts the f**k up about this 'way of life' approach or whether he will continue to be a pr*ck."


It depends on whether the British people are as gullible as we Americans and whether the British media has degraded into purveyors of press releases the way the US media has. I suspect that neither is the case in your country. Blair, is a pretty good politician, though. They seem to get away with a lot.

Peter said...

I think we believe Muslims are stupid too. Attacking London is just going to personalise the issue for people who may have been sympathetic to the anti-imperialist cause and increase support for the everlasting war (as the powers that be well know).

It would be stupidly counter-productive, yet we all just swallow it, believing them to be pure evil and prepared to sacrifice themselves for no end other than destruction of our infidelist society.

Oh yeah, and how long 'till we hear how ID cards would have helped prevent such attacks.

Geek's Girl said...

You always write the most interesting stuff. One of the reasons I read your blog is that I always come away from it with something to think about. You'll notice that I hardly ever comment but this is because I usually don't have much to add to the discussion. I do quote you fairly often though :-)

Btw, blog is back up, there was a technical problem with the server (so I'm told).

David said...

Stef, your paradigm explanation has just solved one of my ongoing struggles to work out. The bottom line is that there is only one truth for each event, but paradigms are used by gullible or brainwashed people to fill in the gaps where the truth is hard to discover. And those who see through most paradigms are called all sorts of names by the masses who still are ruled by them.

As for the sources of this and other acts of terrorism, though I believe most are done by the usual suspects (the IRA were never anonymous and hiding in shadows like al qaeda, they were real), there's every chance there have always been parallel acts committed to reshape history the way those in power want it. David Icke reports it comprehensively in each of his books and the fact the US government were supposed to have tested chemical weapons on its own citizens is no surprise ot me. Our politicians do not work for us and are not our friends, they're in it for themselves in most cases.

Spo said...

love the muppet story

Stef said...

ooh, lots of comments pt1

@spo: if you enjoyed that story why not also read the 'Islamic Fundamentalist terrorists might be white' story I refer to in my next post...

http://tinyurl.com/8peaj

@zenyenta: believe me, our media is as tightly controlled as Fox is in the States. Only they have to be more subtle about it. They're trying to hit us with exactly the same message. Touch wood, it won't work for a couple of reasons ...

1. We saw what happened after 911. That has rammed home to many people here that simply hitting out doesn't solve anything
2. There are a lot more Muslims here and the whole antimuslim agenda is harder to swallow, not impossible, just harder

I'll be knocking up a post on this whole subject in the next day or so

Stef said...

ooh, lots of comments pt2

@peter: That's why the media plays up the suggestion that these people are mad. What they are supposedly doing defies logic or commonsense.

There are two logical explanations for what is going on:

1. A non Muslim group is doing it to whip up support to shit on Muslims and to reduce civil liberties

2. Muslims are doing it to to whip up support to shit on Muslims. That way all the Muslims get pissed off fight back and we really do have a war on our hands

Interestingly, the solution to both scenarios is to not shit on any Muslims and not reduce civil liberties at home. Yet that's exactly what our leaders are doing.

This means, scary as it sounds, that are leaders are deliberately doing wrong. Forget all this crap about Tony Blair being basically a decent, sincere bloke, whether you agree with him or not. What's going on now is seriously fucking scary and, for the life of me, I don't know what we can do about it.

@gg: awwwwww shucks. The posts are getting way too long at the moment though but there really has been an awful lot going on round here lately. Will catch up on your blog when, please God, things die down ;-)

Stef said...

@david: I'd agree with both your points but I'd stay clear of referring to the Icke-y one.

Even though he does include much that is 'hard' and supported in his works he mixes it in with stuff that is considerably less objective and well-founded. Mention his name and people's eyes glaze. Mixing up issues such as globalisation with all-conquering space lizards probably has something to do with that. Icke is not a good brand as far as Joe Public is concerned.

Have you ever thought that he might be *part* of a rather clever disinformation campaign?

David said...

"Have you ever thought that he might be *part* of a rather clever disinformation campaign? "

Well, I hadn't, but of course with infinite wheels within wheels it is a possibility.

But since then Charles Clarke has now announced his plan to tap all our calls and read all our emails.

Scene: Government wants to tap all phone calls and read all emails. No one would ever vote for it.

'Someone' bombs London seriously. People want action to be taken.

Solution: Government introduces phone tapping and email reading laws. No one would have accepted it before the bombing, now it's almost essential.

David Icke's early books represent 'Problem, reaction, solution' as a regular way governments pass way-out laws like the patriot act that would never be voted in under sane conditions. So what could they do? (no proof of course) Create the problem and then offer the solution they were dying to introduce anyway. Who would know?

Looks like a perfect fit today at least. (I've copied this comment onto my blog as well).

Stef said...

@David: I may regret saying this one day but Icke does express some views that I personally have sympathy with. If he were to restrict himself to the kind of activities that are in the here and now, the kind of issues that concerned people can relate to I would be very happy. But then he goes and conflates issues relating to lies and control with the Illuminati, mind control and God knows what else. There's also an implied anti-Semitic subtext to his work. Personally, I have strong concerns about the influence Israel has as a country on World events but my concern is with the country not the religion or race of the people who live in it.

This is why suggest that there's a risk of disinformation - tarring issues of obvious concern through association with ideas that people will find just too difficult to swallow.

Whatever Icke is all about, you're right, malevolent forces are at work right now trying to twist the nature of this country. It's blatant and its frightening and it seems to be working