Thursday, May 05, 2005

New PBS Anchors: Louis XVI, Cesare Borghia and Cardinal Savonarola

There was a show this morning on NPR about the changing face of PBS, framed as a question: "Is PBS too liberal". Holy Cow! They have sold out to conservatives, what with Gigot, and Tucker Carlson, and ditching NOW. What are they talking about?

They kept talking about the dreaded "balance". Balance implies presentation of two or more equaly plausible and valid points of view. But conservative ideology is not a plausible and valid point of view. It is a point of view that has been discredited at least a century ago.

As I have been harping here for a long time, conservatism is a worldview that is internally logical and rational but is based on disproved notions about the world. Everything conservatives believe is based on erroneous notions about human nature, human development, human behavior, behavior of complex systems (including eocnomic systems, and interactions between countries on the world scene), and even a wrong notion of the passage of time.

Sure, you can build an internally logical system out of incorrect axioms, but internal logic is not sufficient for the real world. And it shows in practice - whenever conservatives were in power, since ancient times through today, the result was an economic collapse, environmental destruction, huge suffering and loss of a lot of human life.

Furthermore, conservative ideology is profoundly un-American: it is essentially hierarchical, aristocratic, undemocratic, based on exercise of power and on strict obedience. Speaking of obedience, there was a caller on an NPR show about the Pope a couple of weeks ago: she stressed several times the word "obedience" and she used it as if it was - gasp - a good thing! Obedience, for her, was the ultimate in human morality! If she was right we would still be living under the whip of pharaohs. It is disobedience that is the engine of progress. Questioning authority, leaving behind your parents' silly beliefs - that is how a society moves forward.

So, should conservative voices be heard on PBS? Hell no! It is bad enough that FoxNews is allowed to present itself as "fair and balanced". It is bad enough that CNN and MSNBC have become soapboxes for regressivist shills. But PBS? PUBLIC broadcasting? No way! As I said repeatedly before, having a conservative view presented on a show is exactly the same as having a Flat Earth Society member be invited to comment on every geology story, or a Creationist on every biology story (I first stated that in a last year's post about Creationism in Serbia, but Mike Munger has heard another person say the same thing several months before - this is so obvious that independent arrival at this conclusion is to be expected, not something to be surprised about). Having a Conservative comment on every economic or political story is just as ridiculous. Treating conservative views as valid just dumbs down even further the widespread inability of American viewers to think critically.

As social science, economics and neuroscience research debunks, one by one, all the pillars on which conservative ideology rests, it is to be expected that conservatives would get more and more unhappy with science. On defensive until recently, they have started, in last few years, an all-out offensive on science, reason and rationality.

Their goal is to erase the Enlightment. The Age of Reason has, predictably, undermined the old irrational understanding of the world, and they would like to turn back the clock. They may do a lot of damage, but I believe that cat's been out of the bag for too long now for them to ultimately win.

They even feel the need to use reason-like tactics to attack reason, in effect lying, because non-reason-like tactics will not work in current society. We live in post-Darwinian world. We look for empirical proofs. Apart from the totally wacko fundamentalists, most people expect statements to be backed up by data. So, if your statements are not based in reality, you feel compelled to invent data out of the blue. That is the favourite tactic of Creationists, as well as all other conservatives - just repeat the lie as many times as needed for it to become the truth.

But 200 years ago such a tactic was not neccessary - people unquestioningly swallowed arguments from authority. The Enlightement has made people skeptical of arguments from authority. They ask for empirical proofs. So, if your ideology is not based on empirical data, you know that, in order to sell your ideology, you need to PRETEND that you have empirical backing for your statments. You speak "scientese" (and with great conviction, too) and trust that most people are not educated enough to know you are lying. If someone who actually knows something calls you on your lying, you can always scream, attack the person (communist atheist Christ-hater elitist liberal you!) and hope that your targeted audience sides with you and your self-righteous indignation.

Thus, in order for PBS to fulfill its role as a prime source of public information and education, what it needs to do is not to have douchebag Tucker spew his hateful ignorance on TV, but to have someone publically dissect, disprove and, yes, mockingly denigrate, the conservative nonsense. If PBS does not do it, how is this country ever going to join the 20th century, i.e., to be ONLY 100 years behind the rest of the world?

posted by Bora Zivkovic @ 10:21 PM | permalink | (1 comments) | Post a Comment | permalink