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11 Dimensional Chess 101

Damon's picture
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For a good two years, now, Time Magazine has been putting out meta puff pieces on Obama on a reliable, weekly basis. The one I'm going to discuss from last weeks edition by Michael Grunwald is not much different. But, this part caught my attention:

Moffo then passed along guidelines and a sample script from the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists, a secret advisory group of 29 of the nation's leading behaviorists. The key guideline was a simple message: "A Record Turnout Is Expected." That's because studies by psychologist Robert Cialdini and other group members had found that the most powerful motivator for hotel guests to reuse towels, national-park visitors to stay on marked trails and citizens to vote is the suggestion that everyone is doing it. "People want to do what they think others will do," says Cialdini, author of the best seller Influence. "The Obama campaign really got that." (See pictures of Obama taken by everyday Americans.)

The existence of this behavioral dream team — which also included best-selling authors Dan Ariely of MIT (Predictably Irrational) and Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein of the University of Chicago (Nudge) as well as Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman of Princeton — has never been publicly disclosed, even though its members gave Obama white papers on messaging, fundraising and rumor control as well as voter mobilization. All their proposals — among them the famous online fundraising lotteries that gave small donors a chance to win face time with Obama — came with footnotes to peer-reviewed academic research. "It was amazing to have these bullet points telling us what to do and the science behind it," Moffo tells TIME. "These guys really know what makes people tick."

President Obama is still relying on behavioral science. But now his Administration is using it to try to transform the country. Because when you know what makes people tick, it's a lot easier to help them change.

The piece goes on, in detail, to sell President Obama as the most awesomest and capable change agent evah, but that's not what interested me. What interested me, in particular, was the last bolded line.

"To help them change" in the context of this article, to me, is at its very best mass manipulation by this leader for undetermined but hopefully decent motives, and at its worst something an administration shouldn't even delve into because of the obvious dangers of giving one person or group the power to do the mass manipulation.

Either way, I find this idea unsettling because of all the things that it implies. First, it implies that a national consituency isn't up to the task of, and can't/shouldn't be trusted with, handling the truth. It implies an unintelligent and undiscerning populace, one that must be tricked, from the highest level of government, into doing what the leader sees is best for it. It's a very dim and cynical view of government.

Most importantly, it ascribes near total and sole ownership of our nation's problems onto the populace. It implies, without any proof, that this administration is measurably more benevolent than the nation it oversees. Making no mention of Congress and its role and compact with the American people, an only implying that the that the "president knows what's best," it implies an innately righteous unitary authority, and utlimately and more personally, that Barack Obama is that authority.

We all know Obama won the election because he looked like change, sounded like change and never stopped campaigning for change. But he didn't call for just change in Washington — or even just change in America. From his declarations that "change comes from the bottom up" to his admonitions about "an era of profound irresponsibility," Obama called for change in Americans. And not just in bankers or insurers — in all of us. His Zen koan, "We are the change we've been waiting for," may sound like New Age gibberish, but it's at the core of his agenda.

Intuitively, for me, this kind of writing goes something beyond hero worship towards a road we don't wish to travel down. It feels like pure and utter mind-fucking, insulting, debasing, and disempowering.

The problem, as anyone with a sweet tooth, an alcoholic relative or a maxed-out Visa card knows, is that old habits die hard. Temptation is strong. We are weak. We've got plenty of gurus, talk-show hosts and celebrity spokespeople badgering us to save energy, lose weight and live within our means, but we're still addicted to oil, junk food and debt. It's fair to ask whether we're even capable of changing.

You know, it's one thing to indentify social ills and sicknesses. In fact, I think it is absolutely necessary so that we know what ill to treat and then decide on how to properly treat it. However, I think it's entirely another thing, and irresponsible and a dangerous thing, even, to identify a single individual and particularly a politician and president as the cure. It is even more irresponsible to believe or accept that we have to be tricked into healing with all sorts of chicanery, sophistry and all-around general mind-fuckery.

If even we entertain the idea that President Obama knows best, and that we have to trust that his motives are pure and free of guile, something he is far from having proven to us, the means still wouldn't justify the potential positive ends.

This all comes back full circle: Do Americans need to be tricked into good social health by its president, and is this even the president's job, to begin with? Or, can we be spoken to and reasoned with, collectively, as equal adults and trusted with the truth, thus empowering and subsequently enabling each and every one of us to become partners in positive change?

So, I implore Michael Grunwald and all the rest that if they really want to help, I advice that they can keep their 11-dimensional chess boards and other instruments of mass mind-fuckery to themselves.

I want off this not-so-merry-go-round. Allow us as equal individual American citizens our dignity by showing us that you respect our intelligence. You can do that by portraying us as equal partners in change. If you to continue to portray us as mindless, animal-like drones incapable of intelligent reasoning and thus needing to be tricked and train like a common dog, please, just get out of the way. I hope that's not too much to ask.

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basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

was a choice. A lot of people think it was all a natural evolution of who these people were - as if, it's a foregone conclusion that Democratic men are going call Hillary the names they called Hillary. Personally, I think it was a thought out strategy. Intentionally introduced into the populace.

I doubt that this commission was anymore near as wholesome as this article would like us to believe. I bet these are some of the ugliest people around. I think what's not being said is that what these people said is that bigotry makes people tick. It's fun to look down your nose at someone and the more sincere the target is, the better the fun.

"Someone needs to point out that elephants produce infinitely more shit than donkeys." Brad Mays

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Did you post this in the incorrect thread? I'm confused.

But, we've always been at war with Eastasia...

Submitted by jawbone on

The ideas for the sexism and misogny, plus racism on the part of the female canidate in the Dem primary, were deliberately injected into the Obama supporters' thinking and the MCM in order to help defeat Hillary. At least, I'm pretty sure that's what was meant.

And that fits into the whole premise of the Time article and your analysis, that certain ideas were deliberately planted into the electorate's thinking to achieve a goal. In this case, ugly and untrue ideas.

Very Rovian, actually. But that's not a new idea.

That will continue to be the Team Obama approach: manipulation. Think of the ideas planted that Speaker Pelosi "corrupted" the stimulus bill by including things Obama didn't want, but turned out to be Obama's ideas to have in the bill. Think of Dodd being accused of coddling AIG regarding bonuses, when it was Team Obama which wanted kid glove, open ended treatment.

But I'll await basement angel's reaction. This, of course, is just mine.

basement angel's picture
Submitted by basement angel on

I think this group knew they could use misogyny to fire up the troops. The accusations against Clinton almost seemed focus group tested to me. I agree the misogyny is latent in a lot of lefties, but most of them know better. Plus, they understand why it's wrong even if it lingers in them, and they usually try to avoid engaging it. As far as I can tell, there was no misogyny to gross for the Obama campaiign and camp. I was shocked when Josh Marshall first posted the 1984 video that portrayed Clinton as a fascist and described it as "clever". That's the kind of thing he normally would have never gone near in a Democratic primary. There was nothing clever about it - it slickly produced, hamfisted exhibition of misogyny. When is that ever clever?

It was fascinating to me how sure-footed Obama was around the misogyny. After the Rhodes diatribe, at a fundraiser held by his supporters, for his supporters, that was advertised only on his site, where she repeatedly called Clinton and Ferraro - the first woman on the presidential ticket of the Democratic platform - "Fucking whores" over and overe again, Obama totally ignored what transpired. That's weird. Most pols, right and left, would have been beating it to the nearest television crew to denounce that routine. Not Obama. The clear message was that he accepted that as legitimate political rhetoric. I just don't think any of that is coincidence. I think the entire thing was manufactured.

This is the first thing I've read which actually puts this campaign in some kind of context that makes sense. I just don't believe the misogyny was accidental. I think these behavioralits told him the bigotry would work, how to make it work and walked him through every step of it.

"Someone needs to point out that elephants produce infinitely more shit than donkeys." Brad Mays

zuzu's picture
Submitted by zuzu on

You should see the comments that *don't* make it onto feminist blogs, if you think the ones that are there are bad. Or the huffing and puffing and twisting that goes on when you as a bunch of liberal white dudes to maybe not refer to Ann Coulter, say, as a cunt. And these are mostly good lefties, right?

All it takes is permission to release the hounds.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I was having a total brain-fart yesterday in the very early morning and see exactly what you mean.

Maybe it's because I don't want to believe that these guys would be so insidious, but it was always my view that the sexism and misogyny started off very organically, and that it wasn't really until late in 2008 that the Obama campaign realized that it was something they could direct and use against the Clinton campaign. Then, again, the election was a very eye-opening experience to me having not paid much attention to misogyny and sexism in the past. The campaign was a thorough schooling on it. So, maybe, I simply missed the signs of it being contrived and introduced by the Obama campaign.

But, we've always been at war with Eastasia...

zuzu's picture
Submitted by zuzu on

It was a pump that needed very little priming.

Submitted by cg.eye on

What good is having a carrot to follow, if you don't have a stick behind you, as threat?

The easiest way to create that stick with Democratic voters is to dramatize what happens when someone thought to be in favor, goes out of it, then back in. From Frontrunner, to Shillary, to Mme. Secretary -- that's the power bestowed, withdrawn and rebestowed by the Democratic side of the Village. That is concrete proof of what demonization can do. When only Obama knew he had that power -- when the banksters gave him the cash to wield his strategy -- he was audacious, brutal and uncompromising with those who'd deny him more power.

Because of him, banksters got to define Eastasia, Oceania, and how many grams of chocolate we ought to have. If that isn't prodding us to change, what is?

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Obviously, no society needs to be tricked. That is what tyrants want us, need us to believe. There's a rather good Alternet article on the Milgram experiment and it focuses on what makes resistance against authority work: seeing your peers do the same.

Writing about war resisters in The Nation in 1970, Milgram noted, "Americans who are unwilling to kill for their country are thrown into jail. And our generation learns, as every generation has, that society rewards and punishes its members not in the degree to which each fulfills the dictates of individual conscience but in the degree to which the actions are perceived by authority to serve the needs of the larger social system. It has always been so."

But while Milgram so effectively demonstrated the challenge of defying authority, he also showed that subjects were far more likely to do it when they saw other people doing it. He wrote in The Perils of Obedience, "The rebellious action of others severely undermines authority."

snip

Put in a political context, this is perhaps the most important lesson Milgram has to teach us. The best hope people have of resisting an oppressive system is to validate their experiences alongside other people. There is no more basic antidote to authoritarianism than support, solidarity and community.

Something to keep in mind. We must continue to question openly, not only here but offline as well.

george's picture
Submitted by george on

Excellent comment. Thank you.

Submitted by hipparchia on

thanks for the analysis.

i joined one of his obama for america organizing groups some time back [don't worry, i don't actually participate]. it's very top-down, emotional manipulation, and a few other shady conflations of alinsky-style organizing and axelrove-style marketing. scary.

i've been reading the behavioral economists quite a bit over the past couple of years, they are some scary people, thinking they really do understand the psychology of it all and that they can, and should, apply that pseudo-knowledge to us.

cf fdl's recent book salon with richard thaler, author, with cass sunstein, of nudge. i just love the lephants on the cover.

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

I mean, I knew this kind of mass manipulation goes on. What I wasn't aware of was how many high-level administration officials are adherents (or nominal admirers) of this offensive philosophy:

- Cass Sustein: Regulator Czar nominee
- Peter Orzag: Budget Director
- Austan Goolsbee: White House economic aide
- Jeff Liebman: Executive associate budget director
- Alan Krueger: Assistant Treasurer
- Larry Summers: Director of White House National Economic Council

That's quite a cadre of adherents of, and admirers of, mind-fucking, no? It really kind of into better perspective some of the tactis Geithner has been using, and it's more obvious now that he's been influenced by this.

Their work is essentially finding out how to trick most of the people, most of the time. That's not to say that this behavioral economics can't produce positive results. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. But, I don't believe the good that can result from this outweighs the bad that does simply by dealing in it. This is the stuff I'd imagine and expect of Republicans, to be honest.

But, we've always been at war with Eastasia...

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I found all the emphasis on Lakoff very irritating once upon a time...

This all comes back full circle: Do Americans need to be tricked into good social health by its president, and is this even the president's job, to begin with? Or, can we be spoken to and reasoned with, collectively, as equal adults and trusted with the truth, thus empowering and subsequently enabling each and every one of us to become partners in positive change?

...but the fundamental problem is that poll after poll shows that if you actually break out the issues into a list, then issue-by-issue the American public wants a progressive agenda, but when it comes to voting at the ballot box, it doesn't translate nearly as well into results.

To me this is a function of how the American political system is structured, how is it structured economically, and by dint of this how it's information-dissemination systems are structured. This means that any successful campaign will have to make use of psychology and indirect means to get around it.

The Usual Suspects around here have already had the opportunity to widen their eyes at the Orwellianness of it all. It is to yawn. But it is extremely unclear that, with the system structured very hierarchically, you can ever realize Damon's dream, even if everyone was actually prepared to take on the truth. We'd have just finished the second term of President Nader or something if you could win without symbolic mind games, even with the best policies and the best of intentions.

So yeah, this is stuff that you'd expect of Republicans. Who were winning! A considerable effort went into imagining, in various venues, and certainly in public too, how to outfox the Republicans. Hence the technical obsession in some quarters with "framing".

Submitted by lambert on

... I'd be yawning, too.

NOTE Now, one might wish to change "were" to "believed I were" then, fine. The proof will be in the pudding .....

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

If there's anyone sitting in an armchair on this issue here it's the aforementioned Usual Suspects.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Now you are groping for troll status.

We have heard and read your circular arguments, and disagree and all you have left is ridicule and pettiness. If you can't convince with your argument, I guess that's all you have left?

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

OK, I can't believe this. Lambert accused me, in an irrelevant context, of being a mere armchair commentator (instead of...what exactly do people do on blogs?). I merely stated that it applied pretty much to anyone who had a methodological criticism. Which is what Damon's post is all about, after all---it's a methodological criticism. A criticism that happens to be Corrente's majority opinion (especially with BIO out of commission apparently), but no less armchair QBing for all that.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

"Usual Suspects" "widened eyes", "Is to yawn".

Now mock outrage.

Please.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...I used them more in exasperation rather than ridicule. Yes, I do reach for the mockery mallet very easily when I'm frustrated. Sorry.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

the conversation could have been more constructive and even used to advance your argument. Thanks for walking it back.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Submitted by lambert on

(IMNSHO) but when I pick it up, I don't put it down very quickly.

In this case, we have a proponent of metametametameta analysis who is busily rewriting the history of the primaries, has not labored to produce the analytical mountain they deem so necessary, let alone any project based on the meta, and yet ceaselessly complain that they're not taken seriously. No, I'm not going to invest the time in finding the links. Perhaps they're over there, under that bridge?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

That's what I find to be the most appalling. I don't mind the unsound arguments (the difference between a valid argument and a sound argument rests on the acceptance of the premises, which are generally shoddy but taken as truth), but I mind the rewriting of history such that the obvious lessons from the past 15 years (media manipulation, truthiness) are completely ignored. And people are ridiculed as naive or ineffective for pointing that out.

Only tyrants rig elections.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...is that until recently the Dems were incapable of adapting to a media climate that was weighted handily in favour of the Republicans, because they were unable to build narratives that competed with those of the Republicans, even though the majority of the population were more in agreement with (D) policy than with (R) policy.

Truthiness plays very little one way or another into this.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I never deemed any analytical mountain necessary. What I did deem was a particular analytical mountain---we'll call this Corrente Consensus---was incorrect on a certain few but crucial points, and I have given reasons why. To which I have periodically linked, but clearly none of the links I have given are followed, so I guess I shouldn't waste the effort.

Submitted by lambert on

Can't figure out if you don't have it in you, you're lazy, you're a troll, you haven't worked it out, or what. Do enlighten us, in your own good time...

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I don't even understand the context of this anymore. Let's say, whether you believe me or not, that I haven't worked it out. What exactly are you waiting for? If you can describe it, I'll try to give it to you. Give me a requirements list. I'll try to write it up, but I'm pretty sure I already have.

As far as I can tell, I'm doing what anyone else does on the political blogosphere, which is offer critiques of other people's ideas.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Although apparently that's exactly what they don't want happening.

Thanks for catching this and writing this Damon.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I think this is why I get so ticked off with the 11 dimensional chess apologists. They treat us as if we are idiots. And their tone almost always oozes with contempt for people who aren't willing to be apologists.

Interestingly, Davidsons's comment seems to counter the argument that Corrente is such a bad "model" of how to change the system. Giving others an example of doing what they probably think is right (speaking out) can give them the confidence to do so themselves. It also explains the intense WWTSBQ effort from the primary, that has morphed into the "Corrente is a bad model". Alienating and making critics feel stupid (she has no chance to win or you will never change a thing) is about psychological manipulation to prevent change from happening.

Only tyrants rig elections.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Don't you understand? Our wide, naive, doe-like eyes are so tiring. We do nothing "meaningful". It's all about the "electoral effectiveness".

We are the Obstacle Wing of the Democratic Party.

We are to yawn*.

Update: *and some times, pitied. But always striven to be marginalized.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Submitted by lambert on

Great link, VL great catch and post, Damon. Thanks. Any other questions about why you should turn off your teebee?

The post isn't so bad, though. In fact, it's about our bete noire, rents, in this case, an ATM fee scam:

Imagine that it is the last day of the month and you have $20 in your checking account. Your $2,000 salary will be automatically deposited into your bank later today. You walk down the street and buy yourself a $2.95 ice cream cone. Later you also buy yourself a copy of Predictably Irrational for $25.95, and an hour later you treat yourself to a $2.50 cup of café latte. You pay for everything with debit card, and you feel good about the day - it is payday, after all.

That night, sometime after midnight, the bank settles your account for the day. Instead of first depositing your salary and then charging you for the three purchases, they do the opposite - qualifying you for an overdraft fee. You would think this would be enough punishment, but the banks are even more nefarious. They use an algorithm that charges you for the most expensive item (the book) first. Boom, you are over your available cash and charged a $35 overdraft fee. The ice cream and the latte come next, each with its own $35 overdraft fee. A split second later, your salary is deposited and you are back in the black - only $105 poorer.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

But turning to an expert on mind-fucks for help with campaign messaging might give one pause.

I mean, the question is, "Why do people vote against their interests?" I can't think of anyone more worth talking to as such than someone who is apparently an expert in why people vote against their interests...

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Having him help market hopium is not, IMHO, a socially valuable use of his gifts.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

In terms of electoral politics, what would have been a more globally optimal use of his gifts? I have difficulty imagining it.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

of the Republican variety.

Just a thought.

In hopium wars, the people lose (by design and definition).

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...I happen to love debunking. It's a fun pastime, though pretty time-consuming. It's not clear that debunking as such, however, has any real effect on the world. For instance, early on in my career at Corrente, I spent some time debunking the CRA=mortgage meltdown meme. I'm under no illusion that it actually did any significant good to do so. I did it because it was entertaining at the time.

If Ariely is able to give someone advice about how to overcome the relative tendency to choose a less optimal vote, that seems to be a more constructive act on his part.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

You seem to be arguing that dishonest, mind-fucking means can be used to advance a "good" agenda. I would counter that knowledge of how dishonest, mind-fucking means is a good thing only when it is used (not adopted) to counter those techniques. You have claimed that the use of those means proved successful last November. I would counter that there is no proof that your A==>B, let alone that it was a "success" for "our side". I would further counter that the mind-fucking is now being used to promote the mind-fucking, and the fucking over of you and me specifically in reality.

There is a whole cultural phenomenon whose entire premise rests on the contrary view that good ends cannot be achieved using evil tools.

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I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Submitted by lambert on

What you said, herb. Thanks. Why would I invest the time in trying to figure out whether I'm being mindfucked or not?

"Of all the works of Sauron, the only fair."

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

even the pure of heart.

Wow, that Tolkein guy was kind of on to something, huh?

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Yes and no. Tolkien himself didn't commit to an interpretation of what the One Ring symbolized, as I recall. The ring was what kept magic in the world, see. Even the good magic of the elves. After its destruction, the Three Rings lost their power, and to the Eldar the world was old and grey. So they all finally left for the Undying Lands.

The Ring and its destruction were about the need for renewal, and to make space for a new world.

Submitted by lambert on

... is all about keeping magic in the world? Yes and no. Feh.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

The Elven and other rings were forged first, and Sauron forged the One Ring to rule them all in secret after (or during, actually). LotR was all about removing the object of corruption from the world -- that the other rings lost their power was the unfortunate side effect. In other words, the intent and purpose -- dominion over free beings -- was the corruption itself. Nothing really to do with keeping the magic in the world, and everything to do with the evils brought about by the desire for dominion over others.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

What led the elves to even listen to Sauron? Why did he appear fair to them? Because even then they thought their days in Middle-Earth were numbered.

The theme is repeated again and again in the world-history. The Silmarils, as far as I could tell, didn't really do anything as such. In fact, they were lethal to Beren and Luthien when they had them in their keeping (they died of what appears to be magical radiation poisoning). But the entire conflict in Quenta Silmarillion is propelled by the Sons of Fëanor and their refusal to give up the quest for the SIlmarils. In the end, it turned out to be a useless/futile/quixotic quest that caused pointless death and suffering for millenia.

My fictional namesake tried to tell them that as the Sons of Fëanor and the rest of the Noldor leadership left the Blessed Realm.

Obviously, the temptation and corruption of evil were side effects of the Ring, but they stemmed from the refusal to change course.

Anyway, attempting to read interpretations into Tolkien is notoriously difficult. What we know is that he was in love with the dying pastoral/feudal existence of the English countryside, but it was an existence which he knew couldn't last.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

...is how much you think you could have gotten a better outcome than Obama. I started, in 2000 and 2004, from a glass-half-full position, now empty.

What this is really all a substitute for, actually, is the distinction between progress and salvage. For me, the issues that underlie the current problems are much deeper than bankster bailouts and accountability, etc., and the window to fix them has probably passed. In 1999, we still had an anti-globalization movement, but 2001 showed how easy it was to obliterate that.

So, salvage. And from a salvage perspective, figuring out how to get people to vote for the Least Worst Option seems to me to be a productive use of Ariely's time.

Of course, you could make the argument that Obama-as-presently-constituted wasn't the Least Worst Option. But then it's your job (not mine) to show what was the better option (even the Better Obama), and the probability of getting it. Lambert likes to accuse me of assigning work to other people, but actually I have largely been pointing out that I don't think that their own claims are well-substantiated, and it's not my job to substantiate it for them, except insofar as I have explained above.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

But you were very eager to assign work to Ariely. It's such an empty accusation.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Thank you for commenting, Mandos. Your comment is important to us. Please do not hesitate to comment again. -- Correntebot

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

Because obviously we are letting you down on spending the time it takes to show a Least Worst Option, or a "Better Obama".

Meanwhile, why don't just let the blog do the (meaningless) work on the bankster bailouts and accountability and single-payer, while you do the real heavy lifting on that whole meta thing.

Everybody happy.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I also post about the bailouts. The difference is, I don't spend time making claims about what the rest of the blogosphere should have been doing that I can't substantiate, and then getting angry when I'm criticized about it.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

much?

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I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Selling a country desperate for change the mythology of a post-partisanship love-in with the transformative Reaganites fits that description pretty well.

Submitted by jawbone on

bunkum
Also buncombe
noun

Something that does not have or make sense: balderdash, blather, claptrap, drivel, garbage, idiocy, nonsense, piffle, poppycock, rigmarole, rubbish, tomfoolery, trash, twaddle. Informal tommyrot. Slang applesauce, baloney, bilge, bull, bunk, crap, hooey, malarkey. See knowledge/ignorance.

Word Origin: bunkum > American Word Origins
Origin: 1819

A congressman from western North Carolina was so mindful of the voters in his home county that he inadvertently made its name a household word. It was the Honorable Felix Walker, Representative from the county that includes Asheville, North Carolina, who in 1819 (or perhaps 1820) justified his longwinded remarks on the nearly deserted House floor by saying that his constituents had elected him "to make a speech for Buncombe."

That was all it took. Evidently the country was in need of a word more colorful than nonsense for the rantings and ramblings of politicians and boosters. With the disrespectfully simplified spelling bunkum, the word soon established itself in the jargon of politics. "Talking to Bunkum!" exclaimed an article in 1828. "This is an old and common saying at Washington, when a member of congress is making one of those humdrum and unlistened to 'long talks' which have lately become so fashionable."

Meanwhile, there came into existence around the same time another bunkum meaning just the opposite: "excellent, outstanding." Starting in 1834, we find bunkum candy and cakes, a Buncombe fence, and a bunkum politician--supposedly a first-rate one. These two opposite meanings for one word made it exceptionally useful by allowing a speaker to damn with seeming praise.

Later developments accentuated the negative implications of the word. In the 1870s, a San Francisco gambler introduced a new game with the Spanish name banco. When it was discovered that the banco dice were loaded, the first vowel was humorously changed to suggest an affinity with bunkum. Soon enough bunco came to stand for any kind of swindle.

By 1900 a further shortening had reduced bunkum to modern bunk, ready for application to the plentiful nonsense of the twentieth century, as in Henry Ford's famous "History is bunk." And in 1923 the author of a book about bunk felt the need to coin a word for getting rid of it: debunk.

So, VL, you made a verb of bunkum, just shortening to bunk....or what does it mean? Have no idea if the word history is correct, but seemed to fit today's pols.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

As the opposite of debunk, and a play on the bunk where the post-partisan bedfellows do the nasty.

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

That's MY job, and now I'm feeling bunked in the drive-through*.

*The noun "verb" was verbed, but no verbs were nouned in this comment.

-----------------------------

I'm not such a bad guy once you get to know me.

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

Instead of galvanizing public support for a progressive agenda, it's much better that the focus was on selling vaporous, post-partisan Ponyism. I don't know what I was thinking.

Submitted by jawbone on

one reason I told my credit union to issue me an ATM card only, not the combination ATM/debit card they came out with. There is protection of accounts with the ATM, but not with the debit, as I understand it. Good reason to have at least one credit card...harder for that banksters to play that gotcha game. Of course, they've come up with many more to make up for their stupid money-losing "brilliant" financial instruments. Grrrrrr.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Modeling the failures of the rational actor model is really important. His book is definitely going on the list of books I'd like to have read at some point.

Submitted by jawbone on

the author on The Brian Lehrer Show on Monday, second segment (audio available). The show's blurb:

Mind Over Matter
The cornerstone of the Obama campaign was change. But transforming the country begins one mind at a time. Time Magazine’s Michael Grunwald talks about the White House’s use of behavioral science.

Comments range from mostly skeptical, some angry, to gratitude that Obama is going to help people live their lives better. One commenter links to a series on YouTube about the use of behavioral science in the US:

ronald kaprov from riverdale, ny
April 06, 2009 - 01:20PM
Here's a link to where Behavior Science first appeared in the national discourse. The name of the 19-part video series, an extraordinary one, is called The Happiness Machine. It was first orchestrated by Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud. The clip mentioning Calvin Coolidge is part 3 of the series. It can be seen on YouTube

The following segment is about human's tendency to superstitions. Interesting juxtaposition.

I haven't looked at the videos yet.

(Thought I'd posted this, not there. Hope this isn't a dupe. What was that about copying every comment or post before hitting Save? Oh, yeah, I'll remember to do that! Riiiiight. I guess that means there is no auto save on blog posts?)

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

Thanks for all of the responses, guys.

I posted this because at least in this case, I thought this meta discussion was worth having. Actually, I thought it a necessity because it gets to the heart of the debate on 11 dimensional chess and mind-fucking.

I happen to believe that dealing in this deception in politics is not a slippery slope...it's a sheer cliff.

But, we've always been at war with Eastasia...

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

I'm not so sure what to think of it myself. I think we were talking past one another most of the time. Some people seemed to assume that I wanted them to do something, when in fact I want them not to do something, because it doesn't make any sense to me.

Some people are offended, apparently, that I say that it makes no sense to me, and that I think they shouldn't do it.

*shrug*

Damon's picture
Submitted by Damon on

You're still mind-fucking (i.e. the whole semantics of doing something and not doing something). I'm not much concerned with whether folks were debating with you or talking over you for the sole fact that you continue to deal out of intellectual dishonesty for the purpose of mind-fucking (read: control). The whole "they don't understand me" game is another run-around. Everyone understands you, and both you and I know it, and they fundamentally and flatly reject your condoning/apologism of mass mind-fucking. It's really as simple as that.

It's probably best, then, for their sanity and the discussion to talking around you, to be honest.

But, we've always been at war with Eastasia...

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

You're still mind-fucking (i.e. the whole semantics of doing something and not doing something).

I didn't come up with this distinction at all.

Believe what you want of me. I've said my peace; clearly you've seen enough.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

What you're saying is actually quite funny: you are, in fact, accusing me of practicing what (you think) I preach. Heh.

Submitted by hipparchia on

this was the first time i'd ever heard of him. can't remember what i was searching for when i found that.