Showing posts with label Devil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Devil. Show all posts

September 23, 2023

Wash. Post exposed Jim Jordan as the Disinformation Devil

Background:
Hieronymus Bosch/The Last Judgment
If it's on Amazon and Red Bubble does this mean it's true?


By Hal Brown

There's a good lead article in The Washington Post (which unfortunately you need a subscription to read) which I posted a comment to.

An escalating campaign, led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans, has cast a pall over programs that study political disinformation and the quality of medical information online

This morning this was the main story on the website:

The Post uses the term misinformation while I use disinformation mostly because it sounds better with Devil. There is a subtle diffeence between the two. Misinformation is defined as false or inaccurate information, especially that which is deliberately intended to deceive while disinformation is defined as false information which is intended to mislead, especially propaganda issued by a government organization to a rival power or the media.

Here's my comment:

Critical thinking should be taught early in primary school. Children are exposed at an early age to lies and distortions in television advertising so when they become consumers themselves they will believe commercials which sell products with exaggerated or bogus claims. The tendency for people to believe what they want to believe, at its most benign is exploited by companies that want to sell their new improved product when hasn't really changed for 50 years. Societally the way this human characteristic is taken advantage of by people who want not only your money (which they do want) but your votes is far from harmless.  

In the Bible Jesus says about Satan, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

The Devil is in the details and when the details are distorted, twisted, turned upside-down and inside-out the Devil wins and truth and, dare I say, humankind is harmed.

(Full disclosure: I am an atheist so this is meant to be a metaphor, though if the Devil existed I think Jim Jordan would have made a deal with him.)

The three comments that preceded mine:

The Post article begins:

Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.


The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.


It includes a photo of Jim Jordan surrounded by reporterswith the caption: Academics, universities and government agencies are overhauling or ending research programs designed to counter the spread of online misinformation amid a legal campaign from conservative politicians and activists who accuse them of colluding with tech companies to censor right-wing views.

The escalating campaign — led by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other Republicans in Congress and state government — has cast a pall over programs that study not just political falsehoods but also the quality of medical information online.



The authors of the article interviewed more than two dozen professors, government officials, physicians, nonprofits and research funders. Many of them spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss their internal deliberations freely, describe an escalating campaign emerging as online propaganda is rising.

They note that "public health officials are grappling with medical misinformation, as the United States heads into the fall and winter virus season."

If you think it's hyperbole for me to call Rep. Jordan the Devil of Disinformation consider this:

In recent weeks, Jordan has sent a new round of record requests to at least two recipients of grants from the National Science Foundation’s Convergence Accelerator program, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The program, one of many run by the independent agency to promote research, awards funding to groups creating tools or techniques to mitigate misinformation, such as software for journalists to identify misinformation trending online.


The article concludes with the following:

Many academics, independent scholars and philanthropic funders are discussing how to collectively defend the disinformation research field. One proposal would create a group to gather donations into a central fund to pay for crisis communications and — most critically — legal support if one of them gets sued or subpoenaed in a private case or by Congress. The money could also fund cybersecurity counseling to ward off hackers and stalkers and perhaps physical security as well.

“There is this growing sense that there need to be resources to allow for freedom of thought and academic independence,” said one longtime philanthropy grant maker who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters.

University academics are also mulling ways to rebrand their work to attract less controversy. One leader in a university disinformation research center said scholars have discussed using more generic terms to describe their work such as “information integrity” or “civic participation online.” Those terms “have less of a bite to them,” said a person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to speak on the private discussions. Similar conversations are occurring within public health agencies, another person said.

“This whole area of research has become radioactive,” the person said.

Literal radioactivity can kill whether it is gamma radiation from a bomb, lingering radioactive dust, nuclear plant meltdown like occured after the Chernobyl disaster, or polonium-210 which was used as an assassination weapon against Alexander Litvinenko. 

The kind of radioactivty described in the article can not only kill research it can also kill people whether it comes from convincing people they don't need to get Covid and other vaccinations or from thwarting climate and medical research and sharing factual information and stopping the promulgation of lies about science.

Addendum:

Apparently a MAGA troll has a subscription to the Post and posted this. Note the two replies.
The commenter "Lecrtius do good" in a somewhat different way said what I said:

When everyone decided "liberal arts" was useless and education just became a worker job factory to learn "skills" and "earning power" then the path was set.

Whoever thought philosophy in high school and university was useless, well this is what we got. Usually this was pumped by the Right because (according to them) money is a value in and of itself and truth isn't a value. The Left jumped in the fray promoting postmodernism at the expense of thoughts of objectivity.
Afterword:

When people learn to engage in critical thinking from an early age they are less likely to be taken in by the propaganda promulgated by pros whether they work in government or for advertising agencies. When children pester their parents to buy sugary treats it may seem harmless for them to give in, but as adults they will waste their money buying useless products like Prevagen which is selling well enough so they can afford to pay for commercials on MSNBC where I'd hope viewers are more adept at critical thinking than those who watch Fox News.

For more on this read my blog:

Gullible people who believe Donald Trump may also believe anti-vaxxers like RFK Jr. and Dr. Zach Bush, and snake oil salespeople pushing products like Prevagen


Related: This was my New Yorker daily calendar cartoon yesterday:




April 29, 2023

This weekend the Satanists troll the Christians Bigly in Boston

 

By Hal Brown

Click image above to enlarge. Note Lucifer is devouring a child.

Satanic Temple
You may have missed the news about their planned 10th anniversary celebration in Boston this weekend and that several Christian groups are going to “ambush” the event.

Click above to go to webpage

From the Wikipedia entry.

The Satanic Temple has seven fundamental tenets:

  1. One should strive to act with compassion and empathy toward all creatures in accordance with reason.
  2. The struggle for justice is an ongoing and necessary pursuit that should prevail over laws and institutions.
  3. One's body is inviolable, subject to one's own will alone.
  4. The freedoms of others should be respected, including the freedom to offend. To willfully and unjustly encroach upon the freedoms of another is to forgo one's own.
  5. Beliefs should conform to one's best scientific understanding of the world. One should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit one's beliefs.
  6. People are fallible. If one makes a mistake, one should do one's best to rectify it and resolve any harm that might have been caused.
  7. Every tenet is a guiding principle designed to inspire nobility in action and thought. The spirit of compassion, wisdom, and justice should always prevail over the written or spoken word.

Newsweek reports the following:

Click above to read article

Excerpt:

The Satanic Temple's 10-year anniversary celebration in Boston, Massachusetts, this weekend is facing counter-events from several Christian groups, including revivalist demonstrations designed to "ambush" the group's SatanCon convention.

The temple, unlike the Church of Satan, does not worship the biblical Satan as a deity, but instead has historically used its religious association to "reject tyrannical authority," according to the organization's website. Friday kicked off the group's second annual SatanCon at the Boston Marriott Copley Place, roughly 25 miles south of the organization's symbolic home in Salem, Massachusetts.

The group's organizers have dubbed the three-day event as the "largest Satanic gathering in history," and the convention will include presentations, rituals and a "Satanic Marketplace."

Raw Story covered this (here). Many of those who commented (300 as I write this) included images. Below is a sample:


What grabbed my attention as I looked at the website of The Satanic Temple (or TST as they sometimes call themselves) is that while they say they don't profess belief in an entity called Satan they use images of him on their website and at their conventions. 

Satan is used as a metaphor and symbol: 

  • No, nor do we believe in the existence of Satan or the supernatural. The Satanic Temple believes that religion can, and should, be divorced from superstition. As such, we do not promote a belief in a personal Satan. To embrace the name Satan is to embrace rational inquiry removed from supernaturalism and archaic tradition-based superstitions. Satanists should actively work to hone critical thinking and exercise reasonable agnosticism in all things. Our beliefs must be malleable to the best current scientific understandings of the material world — never the reverse.

    • Satan is a symbol of the Eternal Rebel in opposition to arbitrary authority, forever defending personal sovereignty even in the face of insurmountable odds. Satan is an icon for the unbowed will of the unsilenced inquirer – the heretic who questions sacred laws and rejects all tyrannical impositions. Our metaphoric representation is the literary Satan best exemplified by Milton and the Romantic Satanists from Blake to Shelley to Anatole France. From the website FAQ .

    • If you read the various positions of TST and compare them to those of The Freedom From Religion Foundation you will find they overlap. This is the foundation promoted in TV ads by President Reagan's son Ron:

Herein lies the difference between the two groups: The Satanic Temple  without paying for advertising gets attention from the media for free by being attached to the Devil who they say they don't believe in.

I'm about as far from being a religious scholar as one could be. In fact, growing up as a Jew I never even went to Hebrew school or got bar mitzvahed. Despite my ignorance about Biblical texts it seems to be a no-brainer to draw the conclusion that if someone believes in Satan they also have to believe in God. (See "Do Jews believe in Satan?) I'd suggest that claiming to be a godless Satanist is an oxymoron.

The Satanic Temple using the mantle of religion is nothing short of brilliant marketing. They even have a way one can become a minister so they can officiate at weddings which is much more involved than just becoming a Universalist Life Church minister with a few clicks. 

The Satanists may be as successful in getting media coverage as some of the non-religious organizations and religious groups who promote progressive positions.

They do so by trolling the Christians. Their trolling actually has a troll of sorts, in fact their troll is far more terrifying than trolls who are kind of cute, he is the ultimate horror, the Devil himself.
Troll from Wiki Commons, Devil from Facebook

If the members of TST really believed in the Devil incarnate they'd be just a version of the QAnon believers who are certifiably insane, albeit they'd be crazy people that have beliefs consistent with democracy, equal justice for all, and tolerance of all people. 

My impression (as someone who was a psychotherapist for 40 years) is that most members of TST who are active in the temple/organization are no different in their mental health status than, for example, people who go to ComicCon or Trekkies who go to Star Trek conventions. 

You can rest assured there isn't a MAGA cultist member of The Satanic Temple.


Thanks for reading. If you are reading this on halbrown.org scroll down to make comments and share on social media. The archives and tags are on the bottom of the main page. If you are reading on Booksie,Substack, or Medium click below to go to the blog web page. 

Click to go to main blog

Amazing! Trump just got some bigots pissed off. By Hal Brown, MSW

  I had to read the RawStory article shown above three times to figure out what happened. Trump was showing his supposed support for law enf...