Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Will the Fight Against Censorship Ever End?

It been less than a week since the internet went on strike against SOPA and congress decided to back down for the time being. Within days there was already a new scheme to attack free speech. The author offers two plans as alternatives to Cass Sunstein's cognitive infiltration strategy to stop the spread of "fringe beliefs". Sustein's scheme is reminiscent of COINTELPRO, the illegal program that was denounced by the Church Commttee.

Sunstein is Obama's head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, (which might as well be called the ministry of truth) and a co-author of the hideous Nudge: Improving decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. Here's how a "nudge" works. When the TSA wanted to implement body scanners they gave passengers the false choice of the scanner or an even more invasive pat down. Sunstein is one of Obama's trusted confidants and his proposals should not be disregarded.

The alternatives given in the Slate article are: 1) Stop search engines from indexing such information. 2) Red flag the sites instead of removing them and link to the "proper" information as decided by "consensus". The first provision was actually part of SOPA which, demonstrably, millions of people found egregious. The second is even more pernicious. Sunstein admits that some conspiracy theories turn out to be true. Again from Slate:
He acknowledges that some “conspiracy theories” previously dismissed as insane and fringe have turned out to be entirely true (his examples:  the CIA really did secretly administer LSD in “mind control” experiments; the DOD really did plot the commission of terrorist acts inside the U.S. with the intent to blame Castro; the Nixon White House really did bug the DNC headquarters). 
So in fact what he is really advocating is the Noble Lie for the greater good, a favorite tactic of the neocons, but the author of the Slate article is much more cunning in his framing of the argument by focusing on "fringe beliefs" and "consensus" science, including such topics as global warming, Darwinian evolution, HIV and AIDS, and 9/11. He also discusses the possibility of a link between vaccines and autism at length. From Slate:
As scientists debunked the link between autism and mercury (once present in some childhood inoculations but now found mainly in certain flu vaccines), most activists dropped their mercury theory and point instead to aluminum or said that kids received “too many too soon.”
He cites this as evidence that the "deniers" are too indoctrinated to ever be "discredited" because they just "move the goal post" so their ideas must be censored to keep them from spreading. I personally believe that vaccines have done some wonderful things. Polio has been virtually eradicated, but I can attest to the fact that my daughter gets many more vaccinations than I did. Why is this not a proper subject for discussion?

Science depends on open discussion. Einstein challenged the "consensus" that light traveled through a luminiferous ether so now we study relativity. Copernicus and Newton also challenged the consensus. This is a necessary part of the process.

Regarding Darwin and evolution, Charles Forte wrote:

"Darwinism of course was never proved: The fittest survive. What is meant by the fittest? Not the strongest; not the cleverest – Weakness and stupidity everywhere survive. There is no way of determining fitness except in that a thing does survive. "Fitness," then, is only another name for "survival." Darwinism: That survivors survive." (The Book of the Damned, pp. 23-24)
This clearly shows the circular logic inherent at the core of Darwinism. Circular logic is usually tolerated in religion, but it has no place in science. Yet since Forte published this book in 1919 there has been no change in Darwinism significant enough to repair the fatal flaw that he pointed out 93 years ago. Maybe if supporters of Darwinism spent less time trying to crush dissent and more time in discussion of such flaws their theory would have been improved by now.

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