July 8, 2007

"I know that the websites that speak of this problem are websites that have the highest number of visits ... "

"... And I tell myself that this expression of the masses and of the people cannot be without any truth." What's stupider: the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory or that Traffic = Truth Theory?

27 comments:

Ron said...

The former. It's far more comforting to say "Everything is explained," however evil that explanation may be, than to say "The world is a chaotic place, not always under our control."

P. Rich said...

Yes.

Bissage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim said...

Methinks I'm tempted to call it a tie, but I generally agree with Ron.

We too often, mistakenly, assign wisdom to the collective decision of the many; in a democratic society that error is understandable if only because of the underlying virtue of democratic decision making. But for folks to wilfully concoct conspiracy theories to validate their worldviews, or to advance their political agendas, and for others to enlist in the program because of willful suspension of disbelief, ignorance, or sheer inability to think is not only more stupid, it undermines the virtues of democratic decision making. After all, a demagogue with a "compelling" story only needs a majority.

Or were Germans inordinately more stupid in 1933 than they were in 1932?

Pissed Off Hillbilly said...

"After all, a demagogue with a "compelling" story only needs a majority."

Bill Clinton won with 43% of the vote.

Terri said...

"There is no nonsense so gross that society will not, at some time, make a doctrine of it and defend it with every weapon of communal stupidity."

(attributed to Robertson Davies)

halojones-fan said...

But wait, if collective wisdom is bunk, then where does that leave Wikipedia?

hdhouse said...

halojones-fan said...
.. if collective wisdom is bunk, then where does that leave Wikipedia?"

Not to believed and not to be used. Its not for nothing that "hitometers" on sites can be manipulated wildly and

even our benchmark google analytics is often fooled up to 50% of the time by referral pages and

there is no way to discern the truth about anything you read on the internet...no way...

the content and numbers of people who view it are up for grabs. this isn't the public library, wish that it were.

Tim said...

Pissed Off,

Yes, true enough. But that was, thanks to Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot, an anomalous election. Regardless, Clinton soon lost both houses of Congress, and, including NAFTA and welfare reform, didn't really accomplish all that much good other than what he either got dragged into by Republicans or the pressure for re-election. His demagoguery was relatively mild, all things considered, and soon tempered by political losses.

One's own results, of course, may differ.

Luckyoldson said...

Tim said: "Clinton soon lost both houses of Congress, and, including NAFTA and welfare reform, didn't really accomplish all that much good other than what he either got dragged into by Republicans or the pressure for re-election..."

And if he ran today he'd win by about 30%.

Internet Ronin said...

I've always known many people who were into oldies music. Until the advent of the internet, I had never met anyone into oldies detailed-election-recapping. ;-)

As for the subject at hand, mark me down as agreeing with P. Rich: "Yes."

SGT Ted said...

So, base on the assertion that since website hits are confirmations of "truth" we can conclude that most women have a great rack, like anonymous sex and most guys have large erm, members and routinely have sex with two or more women at a time.

Daryl said...

So lots of hits for web sites equals truth, but lots of listeners for talk radio equals mass brainwashing?

Theo Boehm said...

Gene--You're going to have a chance to vote for Clinton again soon enough.

And once she is President, I'm sure every national hangnail will be the subject of conspiracy theories spread all around the Internet.

But you can be sure those doing the theorizing will have changed.

This puts me in mind of the old aphorism, ars un specie mil, "art is one, its kinds a thousand." Yes, art is a defining human characteristic.

Our common humanity also should lead us to say, "Stupidity is one, its kinds, limitless."

At one time you might have put some poetic number on that, like a thousand or a million, but the Internet has raised stupidity to such a tremendous level that now we can only stand humbled before it.

PatCA said...

Perhaps she was responding in French and something was lost in translation?


Or...c'est la France. They love Jerry Lewis too.

Luckyoldson said...

Daryl said..."So lots of hits for web sites equals truth, but lots of listeners for talk radio equals mass brainwashing?"

are you implying that people who listen to rush, sean, bill, michael or laura...have brains?

doubt it.

LoafingOaf said...

According to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll carried out last July, more than one-third of Americans suspect U.S. officials helped in the September 11 attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could later go to war.

I'm not surprised. I run into people all the time who believe in the conspiracy theories and get mad at me that I don't. The percentage is probably rising, both in America and worldwide.

Heck, the conspiracy theories are taught right in the classrooms of our universities and conspiratorial movies are scheduled as in-flight movies on Virgin Airlines. Channels like the History Channel do not dare promote these conspiracy theories. Well, not in America, yet. The History Channel in the Australia is happily airing Loose Change 2.

In America, ABC puts a pig on the air to go on about how 9/11 was a conspiracy, and she is largely celebrated for being a "strong, opinionated woman," yet ABC never once put anyone on The View to counter her claims. This is the natural progression from the conspiratorial propaganda film, F 9/11, made by another ugly pig, which was embraced and celebrated by the NY Times and a majority of Democrats in Congress even though it encouraged people to think there was no good reason to go into Afghanistan and it was really just for a Unocal pipeline.

Well, congratulations to the media, our schools, and especially those institutions run by left wingers: Now one out of every three Americans has absolutely no idea what happened on 9/11 when thousands of their fellow citizens were mass-murdered.

If I were conspiratorial I'd think there's a lot of people who want the voters to be confused about 9/11 and who the enemies are because confusion about that will help keep them from voting for candidates who will wage the war more vigorously.

hdhouse said...

LoafingOaf said...
"Well, congratulations to the media, our schools, and especially those institutions run by left wingers: Now one out of every three Americans has absolutely no idea what happened on 9/11 when thousands of their fellow citizens were mass-murdered."

well this is the encapsulation of the entire "i've got shit for brains" mindset of the rightwing. right here. right now.

you are so dumb your mother is crying. get a brain asshole. use it. see what happens. take two aspirin and either drop dead or post tomorrow.

what a pile of crap.

Theo Boehm said...

One of the things I value about this site is the high level of discourse and the thoughtful, polite commenters.  Sometimes you can just feel the love.

NOT!

I wrote a little appreciation of Althouse commenting here.  (Yas, yas, I know.  It's a wingnut site, filled with slime-oozing dickheads.  That's all I can think of right now on a Sunday evening to pre-denounce it.   If that's not good enough for the insane misanthropes out there, please ***insert string of obscenities here***.  Thank you.)

In the linked comment, I make a World War I analogy that concludes with, "No one is going to 'win,' so why do it?  Why, when we could have a salon, we end up with the Somme, is beyond me."

I think I answered that question in my last comment upthread:

...the Internet has raised stupidity to such a tremendous level that now we can only stand humbled before it.

I know I'm awestruck.

Ann Althouse said...

Theo: Thanks. It was interesting to read that.

Revenant said...

And if [Clinton] ran today he'd win by about 30%.

Man, you've really got a hard-on for Clinton, don't you? It is hard to think of a more useless form of speculation than guessing the victory margins of elections that are Constitutionally forbidden from ever happening.

Theo Boehm said...

Professor A:  Thank you. We all have our own little narrow take on things, and that's my latest two cents.

I hope I'm not being too negative, either in that comment or here on this thread.  There always are excellent, logically-argued discussions on this blog such as this fascinating one that started on Friday. These, and Althouse's writing and photos keep me coming back.

It's just that comments so often turn into nutso name-calling for reasons that I don't understand.  For God's sake, if you disagree with someone, say so, and tell us the reasons why.  Simply insulting someone is the ultimate selfish act.  It may make you, the insult-writer, feel good, but it makes the rest of us feel rotten. Now, I have been known to insult Maxine. But 'Maxine' is a pretend character, and I pretend to insult her.  There's a difference between that and the slash-and-burn that wrecks comment threads and people's nerves around here.

I don't want to be a common scold, but wouldn't it be a good idea to behave as if you were in the same room with the other commenters, face-to-face?

It's good writing discipline to adopt a point-of-view and stick with it.  And the point-of-view that usually works best in chat rooms and comment threads is to imagine you're talking with everyone standing around at a party.  I don't know about you, but I've had plenty of interesting discussions in this way with people I disagree with.

There is a way of talking about and arguing things that can increase everyone's understanding, and there is a way that just bums people out.  The "More Sex is Safer Sex" thread linked above is an example of the former.  It's not Plato, but it is a good, substantive discussion of a depth and extent that is hard to find elsewhere on the blogosphere.

There are those who are into 9/11 conspiracies.  There are those who believe traffic=truth.  And there are those who like to hurl pointless insults.  I can't say which is the most stupid, but I do know which is the most futile.

Theo Boehm said...

One more thing about the "More Sex is Safer Sex" thread I just mentioned as an example of a good discussion:

It's funny as hell.

reader_iam said...

wouldn't it be a good idea to behave as if you were in the same room with the other commenters, face-to-face?

I'm basically coming to the conclusion that so many wouldn't **be** in the same room as many of the "others" in real life, as much by choice as anything else.

Which makes the online phenomenon so interesting but also, I now believe, not something that should promote much optimism with regard to bridge-building.

Sorry to be such a bummer, but there it is, by my lights.

Theo Boehm said...

reader_iam--You may, sadly, have a point.   I always like to promote the 'let's have a party' model, because it was a smashing success for the chat room I worked on.  Althouse has said there was no 'golden age' here, and that trolls were a problem from the beginning.  My own experience has been colored by having gone through what seemed like a golden age, so I may be too optimistic.

That experience also left me thoroughly intolerant of bad online behavior.  I have seen what the best can be and the good things that can result. That is one reason I was so enraged at the recent contretemps on amba's blog that upset so many.  And I have been meaning to apologize to you.  I'm sorry not to have left another comment or been in touch.  I really didn't intend to include you in any critical things I said.  I have a saved comment or two, which I hope might clear the air, if you could suggest a way to get them to you.   In any event, my basic reaction was, "Oh no! Not here, too!"  Yes, it can happen anywhere unless the online proprietor pulls the plug early and often.

It may well be that commenters on sites such as this will include a large percentage of those with no social skills, and who would be just as obnoxious if they turned up next to you on the patio near a Japanese lantern with a glass of pinot grigio in hand.

That thought is rather frightening, and it is getting late  So, bummed out as we might be, I'll say good night to you, reader, and hope to be in touch.

reneviht said...

It's part of the reason I usually avoid posting on current-events/political topics. Of course, there's also the fact that these usually get the most hits, or that I usually don't have enough knowledge of the subject to post anything.

My favorite forums do a pretty good job of being complimentary and avoiding trolls.

Pat said...

She's a housing minister in France. Which means she's probably running the public housing projects. Which have a lot of "youths" who like to burn Citroens....