Agnotology and Shibboleths

In the interest of raising everyone’s vocabulary level, I turn you to this fascinating read about the self-imposed ignorance phenomenon amongst political groups, primarily the GOP. It really describes the underlying philosophy of birtherism, trutherism and various other memes that are simply unbelievable to most reasonable people. I tend to agree that it is part and parcel of the fractured media environment. No longer are we bound to singular outlets of objectivity. Indeed, these days, we can find any number of pseudo-news sources that exist solely to confirm our own false beliefs.

The article argues this is undermining the long-term infrastructure of the Republican party by tarring it with a reputation for falsity. Perhaps that’s true. But I tend to think that as we continue further down a path of infinite information availability, there will come a time when truth no longer exists in the traditional sense. In many ways, to hear mainstream media debate an issue such as climate change, we are already there. The ratings chase forces an equivocation that has nothing to do with facts or science. Witness this masterful denial of reality or Arlen Spector’s rehashing of the ubiquitous “both sides do it” canard. There is no hunger for truth but instead a self-fulfilling proclamation that molds the truth simply by being uttered.

And in this way, the idea of ‘seriousness’ in our politics takes this bald equivocation as its own shibboleth. Standing astride the two ideologies, one can appear above the fray, bemoaning the loss of bipartisanship and civility, all the while acknowledging and legitimizing a side of the debate that is unflinchingly bat-shit insane. For proof, one need look no further than a so-called “serious” news outlet airing this fanatical gobbledy-gook.

Truth is malleable and gaining in plasticity. To admit this is to go along with it, to embrace it. Fighting against the tide is getting harder every day.


One Response to “Agnotology and Shibboleths”

  1. Glad to read this. I keep puzzling over willful ignorance. Your comments on the media’s muddying the waters make sense. I’ve read a bit from UK sites on the debate of equal representation of ideas, and how that devolves into having to allow quacks equal airtime. No wonder the public is so easily confused and persuaded. Am following your links now. Was thrilled to read that Canad has voted to insist on truth in media – no Fox news there!

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