Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

Lügenpresse

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

As mentioned here before, the term Lügenpresse refers to the lying press and the media seems to be of two minds about it:

  1. Reuters calls it a “Nazi-era term,” and then admits in the article that it was from WWI.
  2. Der Spiegel reveals that the term was used as far back as the 1840s.

The difference between these two is that the Der Spiegel article came out before Richard Spencer trolled the media with it, and the Reuters article came out afterwards. If Der Spiegel had run the piece after Spencer used the term, they would have realized that The Narrative demanded they do only one thing: emphasize that anyone other than a Leftist is a Nazi if possible, and so they might have less zealously researched the word.

In other words, the proof of the Lügenpresse is that one major news source is contradicted by another, and almost no one has noticed, and possibly the only reason this is so is that the second news source, which is a highly respected but Left-leaning paper, was not yet aware of the domain of The Narrative over the term.

The dirty secret here is that the press reflects back to us who we are, and this is why we trust it. Like a person at a social gathering, it just feels right because it says things that seem about appropriate and accurate to us, socially speaking. If it were standing before us with a PBR in one hand and an American Spirit in the other, we would be nodding along to whatever bland indie band was bleating in the background.

Our blindness to the lying of the press is caused by what Michael Crichton calls the Murray Gell-Mann amnesia effect:

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect works as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward-reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story-and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read with renewed interest as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about far-off Palestine than it was about the story you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I’d point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all.

But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn’t.

“Wet streets cause rain.” Another way to view that is the reversed causality: “wet streets mean that it rained,” where in actuality, many things can make the streets wet. This means that the Left can perpetually blame the rain for the conditions of society, and never consider other causes, such as Leftists spraying hoses on the street.

Take for example health care. Leftists demanded socialized medicine back in the 1960s; since that did not work, they partially socialized the system with Medicare and Medicaid, and left the rest up to private industry under heavy regulation. Now, they point to the disaster they created and claim it is inefficient and so the solution is… socialized medicine.

The press gets away with what it does because its message is popular. The secret to humans is that people prefer lies. That gives them the feeling of group sympathy, the sense that everyone else in the group is as wounded as they are and that a fiction shared between all takes away the pain. It at least gives them a way to separate from those who are not wounded, and a way to use guilt to pound those not-wounded people into the pavement.

When it comes time to write an interpretation of complex events, the press always chooses to side with the angry proles at the outskirts of society. Its goal is to sell newspapers, and this means that it must find an audience, preferably the easiest audience possible. If — for example — ten percent of the population buys newspapers, newspapers must find a ten percent who will buy it.

The point there is that the ten percent can vary. They can sell to the ten percent who have been in the military, or the ten percent who hate broccoli, or… all they need to do is get a certain number of warm bodies in the door, and it does not matter who they are. This is why consumer commerce is ultimately egalitarian. If one customer is too hard to satisfy, it finds another.

Under a sane society, there would be a fixed ten percent who make all the consumer decisions because this group tends toward wanting good things — truth, realism, sanity, health, value, long-term utility, low waste, efficiency — and therefore, if we put them in charge of the products, we all benefit.

However, products have been democratized, or expanded to the lowest common denominator, including news. They sell to whoever is buying, and since discerning and discriminating consumers are hard to tell to, they pitch it to morons. A moron is equal to a genius at the voting booth, in a crowd of people socializing, and when spending a few bucks (or a click and ten minutes) on the news.

Even worse, the news seeks out morons. People who have no other inclination in life make up the bulk of journalists: they had no direction, and/or are unhappy, and want control, so they become journalists. In former times they would have been priests, relishing the power to condemn or approve that was entrusted to them. Now they do the same, but with political morality instead of religious morality.

This is why the news reflects back to us what we are. They tell us not what is actual, but what their audience wants to believe is true. They do it by leaving out some facts, which enables them to commit the “wet streets cause rain” fallacy of inverted causality; they just fail to mention the firehose, overflowing river or other sources of water, and then mention the streets before the rain, and it seems as if they are correct.

That little sleight-of-hand allows the press to then commit its next sin: the broad conclusion. If wet streets cause rain, and rain is the source of inequality because it falls more on the houses of the rich, we must wage war against wet streets in order to achieve equality. This sets the useful idiots off to dry out streets, which obstructs any useful activity, resulting in more crises for the press to write about.

Make no mistake. They are the Lügenpresse: their goal is to sell you lies by telling you only part of the truth, and like any good con man would, play to your sympathies and desires instead of actual truth. They are entertainment and sympathy, not an actual depiction of reality. Smart people instinctively know this, but the knowledge is trickling down, and with that, the Lügenpresse is losing its grip on the collective mind.