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Intellectual Prostitution and the Myth of Objectivity

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Posted on Apr 3, 2011
fotologic (CC-BY)

By Christopher Ketcham

In this rotten business of freelance magazine writing there’s almost no assignment in which the issue of objectivity fails to rise up like the miasma it is. Any writer who puts his mind on the matter knows that no human being is objective, which is the reason writers sit down at the page in the first place. The writer, an inherently subjective force, will not be divorced from the writing, though God knows there are quacks in the news business who are trying. Computers might achieve this end. Also, certain types of house cats are objective: They know exactly what the truth is, and it is them.


So whence the delusional obsession with “objectivity” in the journalism schools and the pages of the Gray Lady et al.? The pretense and veneer of objectivity is the goal. This renders idiot mistakes and outright falsities so much easier to sell to the public. After all, the marketer of the junk is presented as the all-seeing eye, an authority no less unerring than the babblers at Delphi, no less the product of superstition. Whether we like it or not—whether we recognize it or not—the culture credits “objectivity” in the journalistic establishment as the product of powers greater than known. The news-clown jabbers on screen, says this or that is so ... and, lo, it is so. More likely it’s “All the News That’s Shit to Print.”


Let’s not forget that this sleight of hand gets innocent people killed and maimed—see The New York Times’ “objective coverage” of the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. If there’s a lesson here, it’s that whenever you hear of governments and organizations fomenting, preparing for or making war, be prejudiced on the side of peace; this is un-American, I know. Whenever you hear a government spokesman speak, your objective assessment should be that he’s lying—this is only logical consistency. Be prejudiced, in fact, against persons associated with organizations large or small, be they members of government, private industry or a block association. Be biased in favor of the lone man against whatever or whoever colludes against men acting alone. For my part, I’ll take the word of the skankiest street hustler over the police commissioner, the buzzing of the gnat over the scream of the 10 gorillas. 


Perhaps the most poisonous delusion that today blinds the magazine business in particular is the notion of the so-called news peg, which is the Trojan horse for beating out the competitors and selling ads while attempting to inform the public (this last not a necessity, perhaps even an afterthought). Ron Rosenbaum, in his collection of magazine work “The Secret Parts of Fortune,” sums up the problem. “The peg—for those blessedly unfamiliar with this innocent looking but insidious little magazine-jargon word—is shorthand for the topical rationale for assigning or running a piece,” writes Rosenbaum. “Most often, lately anyway, shorthand for what about-to-be released movie does this story tie into, and can we get the piece before the movie’s release date because we won’t care about it afterward. The peg is, I believe, the bane, the self-destruction of magazine journalism.” Why? Because magazine articles, like good books, are supposed to make news, bring out into the open the unheard of, the strange, the new. Rosenbaum continues: “I’m just against the doctrine [that] defines topical in the most obvious way—the way most attached to the timetables of the publicity-industrial complex. I prefer things that become topical because some obsessed writer cares about it enough to compel attention to it.”


Not possible these days, Ron. More than ever, the marketplace is skewed against, conspires against, crushes and spits out this sort of creativity and seriousness in aspiration for the new. The glossy-magazine industry, with few exceptions, is designed to run as a front for the tired old travesties of the admen, they who determine the page count and the “feature well” and thus the space that can be dedicated to things of substance (or things mostly inane but pretending toward substance—the glossies are especially adept at this).

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In this regard, John Swinton, who worked at The New York Times and The New York Sun and in various writing gigs from the 1860s to the eve of the 20th century, reminds us that it’s always been about selling copies, that this business of news is just that. Swinton, on a night of drinking with his colleagues in 1880, was asked to make a toast to the “independent press.” He stood up and famously answered: “There is no such thing, at this date of the world’s history, in America, as an independent press. You know it and I know it. There is not one of you who dares to write your honest opinions, and if you did, you know beforehand that it would never appear in print. I am paid weekly for keeping my honest opinion out of the paper I am connected with. Others of you are paid similar salaries for similar things, and any of you who would be so foolish as to write honest opinions would be out on the streets looking for another job. The business of the journalist is to destroy the truth, to lie outright, to pervert, to vilify, to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell his country and his race for his daily bread. You know it and I know it, and what folly is this toasting an independent press? We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”


Christopher Ketcham, a freelance journalist in New York City, writes for Harper’s, Vanity Fair, GQ and many other magazines. Find more of his work at www.christopherketcham.com or contact him at cketcham99@mindspring.com.


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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

Wow MarthaA now seven times with that fetish of yours. Can’t you drop it? But you can’t ignore me can you? OCD at work here. Get over it.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 10, 2011 at 8:22 pm Link to this comment

BTW, Night Gaunt’s problem IS all subjective, and I
recommend therapy for his subjective problem, because according to
Night Gaunt his subjective problem with the dung beetle is
all in his mind, and I agree that it is and that Night Gaunt needs
objective therapy for his subjective problem.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm Link to this comment

blah to sophist Night-Gaunt and his dung beetle experience.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm Link to this comment

That’s what I get for responding with intelligence to the likes of a propagandist like MarthaA.

Be careful Samosamo say the wrong thing and she will turn on you and anyone else here too. Just a word to the wise.

Report this

By samosamo, April 10, 2011 at 2:24 am Link to this comment

****************


I agree martha, these comments have run past their life time.

Report this
MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 10, 2011 at 1:49 am Link to this comment

blah to dung beetle man.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 10, 2011 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

In case you don’t know, when MarthaA says “blah” it means she’s exhausted all her resources and lost.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 10, 2011 at 12:24 am Link to this comment

samosamo, April 9 at 4:37 am

blah.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 10, 2011 at 12:20 am Link to this comment

-

Report this

By samosamo, April 9, 2011 at 12:37 am Link to this comment

****************


By Anarcissie, April 8 at 2:46 pm

““On the contrary, my views are completely clear.  To me,
anyway.  Ontology is a bottomless pit (as it should be) and you’d
do well to stay away from it.’‘
*****************

As good an answer there is. As powerful ‘objectivity’ is, it is ‘ad
infinitum’, which to me means, you can keep looking and finding
bifurcations of objections into infinity to find the perfect point.

On the lucky side, if the subjected information substantiates the
point, the point, for good or bad, is proved or not quite proved
faster. Either one relies on a sort of ‘Hobson’s choice(s)’, where
one keeps looking or tries to find a ‘quick’ point and Anarcissie
is right on it ‘being well to stay away from it’.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 8, 2011 at 11:51 pm Link to this comment

Noted.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 8, 2011 at 11:02 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, April 9 at 1:06 am,

This is my last time to talk to you directly.  You are
the one who brought up the dung beetle—not me.

You are an obfuscator and not worthy for me to
waste my time talking to.

Report this
Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm Link to this comment

True but you brought up the smell of shit and beetles I just found the link to the two. So essentially you brought it up as well.

Times you spoke of it
April 8 at 1:32 am
April 7 at 9:39 pm
April 7, 9:49 pm
Now me
April 7 at 10:05 pm
April 6 at 9:09 pm

BTW, Are you talking about a dung beetle that rolls its ball around,or the Egyptian scarabaeus sacer held sacred by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of resurrection and fertility? April 7, 9:49 Then I answered you on it. So you are in thrall as much as I by your reckoning. Not mine.

You were limiting it to the human, I was seeing the real subject is perception. But then perception is a subjective thing isn’t it? Or is it because we have personality (cerebro cortex) to alter it? If it is then such creatures as the beetle might actually see the world in an objective way because they have no prejudices other than what is hard wired into them.

But then you said it yourself’

And, here you go again obfuscating that “we are all subjective beings” which is bull crap.  All people are objective beings.  Subjective is only within the mind, even yours.

You agree with me even as you think you are not! So unless you don’t have a brain, with a mind attached, then you are part of all that we perceive as subjective from our minds.

Pain a pleasure may have a reductive mean but not all beings react the same way to it.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 8, 2011 at 5:38 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, April 8 at 8:32 pm,

NOT. Are you slipping?  YOU brought up the dung beetle, I ignored,
but you persisted that I answer your obsession with the dung
beetle, so I did, now you’re trying to turn that around, but no dice.
Date and time when YOU 1st brought up the dung beetle as
follows:

************

By Night-Gaunt, April 6 at 9:09 pm

“Would the dung beetle agree with your assessment of shit’s
smell?”

*************

Here is my statement, which has nothing whatsoever to do with
YOUR dung beetle:

By MarthaA, April 6 at 1:12 am

Yeah, sure, Night-Gaunt, and if objective sh_t didn’t
have objective stench, it wouldn’t stink, but it does,
because you can’t make the objective stench
subjective.  You can subjectify sh_t, but the problem
is it still stinks, much the same as the fascist
political conditions here in the United States.


And, here you go again obfuscating that “we are all subjective
beings” which is bull crap.  All people are objective
beings.
  Subjective is only within the mind, even
yours.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 8, 2011 at 4:32 pm Link to this comment

Curious you should ascribe my answer to your query in relation to the dung beetle to be “enthralled by” which translates as being a slave to. From the Old Norse for a thrall. You brought it up, I answered your question then you turn it around and try to impugn me as if I brought it up to you and harped on it! It is just a beetle. When it was you you are the one “enthralled” in it in all your meaning.

Are you sure you haven’t been reading and using “Mein Kampf” here today and yesterday? (I recall Ozark Michael was the one putting your and your brother-in-arms to the test and thumb screws over your attitudes.) You seemed to want to act that way in turning around and using your arguments on your opponent by saying they had brought it up and then distorting it into something bad. A poor way to debate here or anywhere.

Please don’t be so eager to jump fences just because its easy. It ruins your attempt at consistency.

Since it is all up to perception and we all have both physiological, morphological and psychological limits so we won’t have sensory overload we are all subjective beings. It can’t be helped. But we can widen our field of vision on matters and it has been done. So we have approached your conception of objectivity. But that is all MarthaA.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 8, 2011 at 4:15 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 8 at 2:46 pm,

Wow, and that is almost a yes or no question, so you choose to
leave your type of chaos on this blog to the imagination and try to
act like my question was about the classification of plants and
animals, instead of about what type of anarchist you are; and if
anarchy isn’t interesting to you, why would you represent
yourself as Anarcissie

You’re the one wandering into the bottomless pit of subjectivity,
not me, I’m only defending the fact that objectivity is not a myth.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 8, 2011 at 10:46 am Link to this comment

On the contrary, my views are completely clear.  To me, anyway.  Ontology is a bottomless pit (as it should be) and you’d do well to stay away from it.

I didn’t answer your taxonomic question because, like most loaded questions, it isn’t interesting.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 8, 2011 at 10:02 am Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 8 at 4:39 am

Obfuscating.  There is nothing dubious about
objective, what is outrageous is any claim that
the objective is only subjective or even can be
subjective.

How come you didn’t answer my question April 7
at 5:46 pm on this thread? Do you not want
people to know, or what?  Here is a reiteration of
the major part of the question that wasn’t
answered and needs to be answered:


“with regard
to your self styled title Anarcissie, is
Anarcissie a statement of the disorder
of anarchy? And, if so, what kind of
disorder is Anarcissie representative
of? —— Creative disorder that builds and
rebuilds the world, or destructive disorder that
tears down the world as it is created without
creative intent?  The latter is what is generally
referred to as an anarchist.  What type
of anarchist are you?”

I will be looking for your answer.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 8, 2011 at 12:39 am Link to this comment

Weak objectivity avoids making dubious ontological claims.  There is little doubt that most of us observe the trajectories of the satellites of Jupiter similarly; there is a great deal of doubt as to what they really, really are.  Why, physicists are not even sure how many spatial dimensions there are.  And we might be brains in vats, etc.  But if it’s just calculating the phases of the satellites of Jupiter that we’re interested in, we can skip all that philosophical blather and start measuring.

See Wittgenstein’s ‘On Certainty’.  (I could recommend The Critique Of Pure Reason, but I’m being nice this evening.)

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 9:56 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 8 at 12:56 am,

Jupiter is not weakly objective, it is humongously objective.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 9:32 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, April 7 at 10:05 pm,

You seem to be enthralled with the dung beetle
whose sum total
of perception is to eat shit, but it is objective shit
and it has to be
eaten objectively instead of subjectively; from
your description it
appears your beetle is the same beetle that was
held sacred by
the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of resurrection
and fertility; do
you think your dung beetle has that much
subjective perception?

Differences in perception are moot, as all
perception within the mind is subjective.  Pain is
objective, not subjective. You can take pain
medicine to get rid of the objective pain.  Did you
try the hammer experiment?  If so, you are
aware of the objective.

Sinus headaches are objective because an
aspirin or pain medication will help with the pain.

You are re-asking , but not answering.  Different
animals have different metabolisms within their
body’s thermostat settings to heat and cold,
which has nothing whatsoever to do with
subjective perception, it is how they are
programed, like geese flying south for the winter.

As for your question about A Sadist and a
Masochist concerning pain, both derive
enjoyment from either their own pain or others
pain because the subjective perceptions of both
are abnormal and warped to the point they hurt
themselves or others and both need psychiatric
help. 

Are you aware from where and from whom the
word sadist derived?—a man named Donatien
Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade (2 June 1740
– 2 December 1814) who was a French
aristocrat, revolutionary, politician and writer
famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle.  He
is best known for his erotic works, which
combined philosophical discourse with
pornography, depicting bizarre sexual fantasies
with an emphasis on violence, criminality, and
blasphemy against the Catholic Church. He was a
proponent of extreme freedom, unrestrained by
morality, religion or law and was incarcerated in
various prisons and in an insane asylum for
about 32 years of his life.  There is no doubt that
this man failed to control the subjective
perceptions of his mind and took joy from
watching people suffer.  Many of Sade’s
subjective perceptions were evil and he brought
forth objective evil in every sense of the word,
so his fate was well deserved.

masochism is “sexual pleasure in being
hurt or abused,” 1893, from Ger. Masochismus,
coined 1883 by Ger. neurologist Richard von
Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902), from name of Leopold
von Sacher- Masoch (1836-95), Austrian novelist
who enshrined his submissive sexuality in “Venus
in Furs.”
1.    psychiatry an abnormal condition in which
pleasure, esp sexual pleasure, is derived from
pain or from humiliation, domination, etc, by
another person.

Your point of wanting me to check these wacko
perceptions out escapes me, because pain is not
subjective, but objective.  These types of
people’s subjective perception is totally off the
wall, and should not even be considered in
comparison with the normal subjective
perception.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 7, 2011 at 8:56 pm Link to this comment

The idea of an ‘objective’, mindless world or pieces of the world is a religious belief.  I’m not sure what the attraction is, but there is no evidence for it—obviously.

Some phenomena are apparently very regular, like the trajectories of the satellites of Jupiter, say, so we can gin up a sort of weak objectivity by mentally turning them into supposedly mindless objects which are pretty much the same for most observers.  But of course our minds are present, observing the scene, and God knows what else is going on.  Not everything is going to fit into our little monkey brains.

What difference does it make, anyway?  I don’t really understand the fascination of the mindless, clockwork universe.  Ain’t no such thing.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 7 at 8:56 pm,

The physical world is ONLY objective, all objective objects were at
one time subjectively perceived in someone’s mind, but when the
information from that mental perception within that mind(s) is
converted to paper, the subjective thought is no longer subjective,
but instantly becomes objective, and the owner(s) of the
objective work could have a claim, and will have to protect the
objective claim, if the objective work was either his/her/their
subjective perception that brought the objective work to pass, and
if the owner(s) have enough money will be able to obtain a
patent, if it is a useful objective work or an improvement on a
useful objective work. 

Everything is subjective ONLY while it is within the mind. 

Trying to contend that everything is subjective after departing the
mind is ridiculous.  The cyclical nature of culture can not be denied,
for to deny culture is to deny history and history exists, it you
don’t think so, check out the Smithsonian.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 7, 2011 at 6:05 pm Link to this comment

BTW, Are you talking about a dung beetle that rolls its ball around, or the Egyptian scarabaeus sacer held sacred by the ancient Egyptians as a symbol of resurrection and fertility?MarthaA

“Dung beetles are beetles that feed partly or exclusively on feces. All of these species belong to the superfamily Scarabaeoidea; most of them to the subfamilies Scarabaeinae and Aphodiinae of the family Scarabaeidae. This beetle can also be referred to as the scarab beetle. As most species of Scarabaeinae feed exclusively on feces, that subfamily is often dubbed true dung beetles. There are dung-feeding beetles which belong to other families, such as the Geotrupidae (the earth-boring dung beetle). The Scarabaeinae alone comprises more than 5,000 species.[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dung_beetle

I was showing you the difference in perceptions of not just people but animals. The concept of cold and hot aren’t the same for a Pacific Islander and an Inuit. A Sadist and a Masochist concerning pain. Care to show me they view pain the same way?

And also for pain it depends on if your pain receptors work. Why did you choose pain over pleasure MarthaA? You seem to like that. As for Ayn Rand you suggested it with your writing style. That and “Mein Kampf,” the writer of which considered himself objective in all things too. Just as certain, just as adamant, just as violence prone in his writings against those who disagreed with him and his views.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 5:39 pm Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, April 7 at 7:49 pm and Night-Gaunt, April 6 at 9:09 pm,

Forgive me, Night-Gaunt, we ARE talking about humans
here, I thought, and there is no relative significant comparison of
the mental subjectivity of humans to the antenna of a dung beetle
and the metabolism of the polar bears; the nervous system in humans isn’t
the same as the human mind in any way, and the poor as compared to
the wealthy relative to their mental subjectivity is also insignificant
in anything other than deprivation and unworthy of an answer; 
your dreamy, schemie, emotional way of subjectifying objectivity out
of objective existence applies to the elimination of objective
transmission of the cyclical values of culture, as opposed to
empowering the subjective nature of culture at the zero point.

You apparently follow Ayn Rand’s philosophy of representing the
triumph of individualism over collectivism and have been sucking
up water at the fountainhead, because you continually talk about
her.

Right-Wingers and conservatives like to cling to subjectivity
because it enables that which does not have weight and occupy
space to have value with regard to the cyclical transmission of
culture; that fact is important to a sophist propagandist that is
trying to present a false sense of advantage to others in order to
lead them against their best interest.

For the reasons given, it is important, therefore, to refer those
who deny the difference between the subjective and objective
nature of existence to the hammer applied to the foot; a liberal
use of the hammer on your own foot will resolve all of your
subjective doubts and delusions and render your argument for
subjectivity moot. 

I suggest that you use the hammer as indicated and report back
with your objective conclusions.  I have yet to hear any of your
conclusions from the experiment, but in case you forgot, get a
heavy hammer and whack your foot until you get objective
understanding of the difference of the vivacity of the impulse
between subjective and objective existence and possibly conclude
that it may be better not to continue to whack your foot.

I have addressed all you talked about, even though you failed to
answer my questions, therefore, I continue looking forward to
hearing the objective results of the experiment you are suppose
to be doing.  I need to know if there was any difference in the
feeling from when you thought about hitting your foot and when
the hammer actually hit your foot—the difference is the vivacity of
the impulse.  I think you will agree that the difference is lesser
subjectively and greater objectively.  It would be nice if you would
let me know the outcome of your experiment,
instead of totally ignoring my questions?

BTW, Are you talking about a dung beetle that rolls its ball around,
or the Egyptian scarabaeus sacer held sacred by the ancient
Egyptians as a symbol of resurrection and fertility?

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, April 7, 2011 at 4:56 pm Link to this comment

The physical world requires subjectivity.  Someone or something has to create it, and someone or something has to perceive it.  Hence, the peculiar facts of QM.  I suppose it’s possible to conceive of a universe without any mind whatever in it, but that’s not what we observe—obviously.

I don’t know what the proposition ‘All knowledge is subjective’ means to you, so I can’t tell you whether I believe it or not.  For instance, the computer on which I’m typing this message ‘knows’ what time it is, in a manner of speaking, but I have no evidence as to its consciousness, which is what people often mean by subjectivity.

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Night-Gaunt's avatar

By Night-Gaunt, April 7, 2011 at 3:49 pm Link to this comment

Neurobiology is an area you are blind in MarthaA and refuse to learn from because it would put to the lie your idea of objectivism or maybe Objectivism as Ayn Rand spoke of as her philosophy. Is it yours?

You failed to address any of my examples because they contradicted and showed the flaws in you mind set. And on top of that you accuse me of helping the “enemy” which is something any propagandist would do. NO answers, just accusations and twaddle.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm Link to this comment

Anarcissie, April 7 at 2:34 pm,

“Nothing can exist without the subjective.” — Anarcissie, April
7 at 2:34 pm


MarthaA’s answer:  Definitely NOT propaganda. 

Propaganda only exists through the subjective control of the mind
through emotional binary rhetoric where there can be only two
choices, for example; either right or wrong, good or bad, a benefit
or not a benefit, etc.  It is imperative that in this age of
propaganda people refrain from glorifying propaganda and helping
the conservative propagandists seduce the population.

Are you talking about the carnal world or the spiritual world? 
Thoughts and the spiritual are subjective in the carnal world; to
my knowledge we have NOT been talking about the spiritual world
of miracles, which deals with subjective faith.  Faith being the
substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,
which brings forth miracles.

In the carnal world that we live in, objectivity deals with a person,
place, thing, quality, event, matter, objective reality, and nothing
but the facts, as Sgt. Joe Friday said in the “Dragnet” television
show.

Subjectivity by definition deals with existence in the mind only;
belonging to the person thinking, rather than to the object
thought of; thoughts; feelings; absorption in one’s own mental
states or processes; originating within or dependent upon the
mind of the individual, rather than an external object;
introspective; tendency to view things through the medium of
one’s own individuality; subjectivism.  Philosophy: of or
relating to reality as perceived by the mind, as distinct from reality
as independent of the mind; influenced by an individual’s state of
mind.

Apparently you believe in subjectivism, the theory that all
knowledge is subjective; the ethical theory that an individual’s
feelings are a criterion of values, and it is true in that knowledge
within the mind is subjective, like a book, dictionary or encyclopedia;
knowledge has to be
brought forth objectively, the subjective mental
has to be objectively animated.  Even the Bible
says above all get understanding of knowledge,
because knowledge means nothing if one can’t
objectively do something with that knowledge, it
will remain subjective, remember the “vivacity or
animation of the impulse” brings forth objectivity.

If a murder is committed, the murderer 1st had to think a
subjective thought, that he did not have to act on objectively. 
Einstein had to think a subjective thought before the Theory of
Relativity was invented.  Thoughts can be used for good or evil,
objectivity is the deciding factor as to anything subjective that has
been acted upon, hence Sgt. Joe Friday’s statement, “Nothing but
the facts.”  If a murderer acts on his subjective thought to kill,
someone will be objectively fighting for their life.  Einstein acted on
subjective thought and objectively wrote out an objective theory
that caused all the objective bombs.

BTW, an aside from our discussion—with regard
to your self styled title Anarcissie, is
Anarcissie a statement of the disorder
of anarchy? And, if so, what kind of
disorder is Anarcissie representative
of? —— Creative disorder that builds and
rebuilds the world, or destructive disorder that
tears down the world as it is created without
creative intent?  The latter is what is generally
referred to as an anarchist.  What type
of anarchist are you?

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By Arion, April 7, 2011 at 10:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Of course every human assertion is ultimately only an opinion; even those put forth in scientific laboratories. At the same time the journalist ought to strive for thorough balanced reporting.

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By Anarcissie, April 7, 2011 at 10:34 am Link to this comment

Nothing can exist without the subjective.

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MarthaA's avatar

By MarthaA, April 7, 2011 at 2:45 am Link to this comment

Propaganda can’t survive without the subjective;
therefore Night-Gaunt is Hell bent on protecting the
subjective as being real for propaganda to be
maintained.

The maintenance of propaganda is not my main
concern, I prefer to stick with objective facts.

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By Night-Gaunt, April 6, 2011 at 5:09 pm Link to this comment

Would the dung beetle agree with your assessment of shit’s smell? (Either say or use a different word, half way is ludicrous in this adult forum.) I can’t wait to meet the first fully naturally objective human. It would be an oddity but interesting. The rest of us work as we can to recognize our prejudicial views and accommodate other points.

It all depends on what sensory apparatus you have and where you were born and how you were raised and your life experiences. However most of ours overlap enough so that we have a general view point on things. But even then the interpretations can differ once they are found out. That is why pain to a Sadist is different from a Masochist which is different for you and me MarthaA. Cold isn’t the same to a polar bear as is to a macaw or us if we lived there in the tropics or in the trans-polar wastes.You must recognize these things or you will miss the finer points of perception.

No need to get angry MarthaA, unless I am some how stepping on your toes by disagreeing the way I do. You must accept that the way I do with aplomb and be courteous. Its hard some times but it is better than getting angry.

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By JDmysticDJ, April 6, 2011 at 8:47 am Link to this comment

It’s very hard to be objective about such heady issues as spirituality. Contemplating one’s spiritual growth is very subjective to say the least, and achieving spiritual perfection is a long and arduous road for most, but not for me. Of course my spiritual growth had some minor pitfalls, and maturing to perfection was, and is, difficult. As a lady friend once said to me during a brief period of personal spiritual confliction, “Being perfect is hard, isn’t it?”

My memories of early childhood are memories of the purest innocence, but as my mother pointed out to me, after I became an adult, and much to my chagrin and amazement, as a small child, I once hit my little brother in the head with a spoon. Clearly such wickedness contradicts my memory of being pure and innocent, and being purely objective, I must admit that this wickedness has not been cleansed entirely from my spirit. For example, I’m tempted by the thought of hitting Lafayette in the head with a spoon.

The subject of this forum has to do with the virtue, or lack of virtue, in journalistic subjectivity versus journalistic objectivity. The consensus here seems to be that journalists forced into objectivity, by the economic concerns of their employers, are guilty of a kind of prostitution; selling the body of their subjectivity for economic gain and financial security. Journalist Christopher Ketchum describes himself as being a “Freelancer,” which of course is merely a semantic obfuscation of the true nature of his activities. I, on the other hand, being perfect, am not at all, or in any way guilty of prostituting myself to the reprobation of objectivity, and I would feel no compunction whatsoever in stoning the hell out of him.

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By Lafayette, April 6, 2011 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

THE BELIEF-CRUTCH

N-G: It is my contention that humans, by-and-large are evolved to believe in some kind of deity(ies).

And it is mine that man attributed to an omnipotence that which he did not understand in the vicissitudes of Mother Nature. Nature is of a highly variable and often violent behaviour.

It was therefore necessary to concoct a Superior Being, or Superior Beings, that somehow controlled our lives. These Beings must be appeased for us to live comfortably on earth, we thought.

Modern man needs no such crutch. We understand rather easily how a tsunami in Japan could take 25,000 lives and emit its Toxic Waste that would be carried around the world in minute quantities within a week.

We might pray for the plight of the poor Japanese left homeless and without families. But we no longer pray to appease the gods.

WHAT’S HAPPENED?

We have developed to a point of understanding of science and nature such that we no longer need the “omnipotent deity” belief-crutch.

POST SCRIPTUM: Escape Clauses

If we want to believe in a God, we need another underpinning of faith. For instance, that justice on earth is so inept that we must believe it will be administered in another world, by God.

Our Judeo-Christian culture held that the Ten Commandments were the Ten Commandments. We built a model of behavioural morality around them and a belief in an afterlife.

Then, in the 1980s, some reckless brains decided to offer us Eve’s Apple in the form of tantalizing gains taxed at ridiculously low rates. The ends then began to justify the means and morality was blown to the wind. Some us corrupted ourselves wickedly in order to become rich beyond imagination.)

We decided to concoct, for our own pleasure and self-delusion, some nifty Escape Clauses from the Ten Commandments -  especially the 7th/8th Commandment. (Though shalt not steal.)

We have met the enemy and he is us.

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By Lafayette, April 6, 2011 at 12:53 am Link to this comment

REALPOLITIK

Gerard: Why isn’t ... Krugman making suggestions that would at least get kicked partway up the stairs, since he has the cred necessary? 

Why should he? What cred?

Stiglitz is also a Nobel Laureate and, to my mind, even further to the Left than Krugman. Plenty of cred. Robert Reich is even further to the Left than Stiglitz. But so what?

Being a media pundit is NOT the same as being a member of an administration; one can literally say whatever one wants. Being responsible for economic policy (as Larry Summers was until recently) is no great job in any administration. Never has and probably never will be.

Krugman, Stiglitz and Reich (all renowned economists) have proposed from the beginning full-speed ahead on Keynesian stimulus spending. Which is what the administration did at first. But after the mid-terms, spending became anathema in the House (where all spending bills must originate).

An economist counts GDP numbers, whereas a politician (first and foremost) must count heads in Congress. The votes are not there for further spending. In fact, “deficit control” is the flavor of the moment amongst the KnowNothings who control the House. Just as it was before and after the crash of 1929 - which is why Keynes wrote his book in 1933 explaining the government’s duty, in recession, to spend its way out. 

MY POINT

Once again, we are making again the same mistake in thinking the PotUS is omnipotent. That is not the way the branches of government were conceived. In fact, they were designed just the opposite - in the Balance of Power between Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches.

BO & Co are playing by the rules imposed, not by some arcane gaming with which journalists attempt to paint them.

We, the sheeple, voted for a Replicant House; so now we should sit back and accept the consequences of that idiocy.

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By MarthaA, April 5, 2011 at 9:12 pm Link to this comment

Yeah, sure, Night-Gaunt, and if objective sh_t didn’t
have objective stench, it wouldn’t stink, but it does,
because you can’t make the objective stench
subjective.  You can subjectify sh_t, but the problem
is it still stinks, much the same as the fascist
political conditions here in the United States.

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By Night-Gaunt, April 5, 2011 at 7:21 pm Link to this comment

Our perceptions are based upon our biology, our neuro-biology. If our nerves to transmit pain are not functioning then that hammer will not “hurt” even though damage is being done. It all revolves around our brain, its neurological system and the organs used to transmit the impulses to be put into feelings by our brains.

Kim Peek was an unusual man and was the inspiration for “Rain Man” true. He had some extraordinary abilities, and accompanying disabilities too. Asperger‘s is different and is a spectrum disorder as I have studied it. (I think I might be one but am unable to find out.)

It is my contention that humans, by-and-large are evolved to believe in some kind of deity(ies). Only a few don’t have that capacity. A larger portion are on the edge of it and can go either way.

Our society has for the longest time been under the spell of mass mind manipulation based upon originally the studies of Freud and others. Over the long decades (since the 1910’s) has been used to sell products and to get us to go into wars all over the planet. Its still working now.

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By JDmysticDJ, April 5, 2011 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Supreme Injustice
How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000
Alan M. Dershowitz

“Dershowitz—himself a former Supreme Court clerk—argues that in this case for the first time, the court’s majority let its desire for a particular partisan outcome have priority over legal principles.”

“Digging deeply into their earlier writings and rulings, Dershowitz proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the justices who gave George W. Bush the presidency contradicted their previous positions to do so.”

Unlike me, Dershowitz is sometimes right, sometimes wrong. I’m always right, of course.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 5, 2011 at 4:51 pm Link to this comment

truedigger3, April 4 at 11:19 pm Link to this comment

Please everyone don’t throw the towel in dispair.!
Objectivity is hard to get and is rare but it is still possible under the following two conditions:
1) The writer is interested only in facts and the   truth and he is aware of his own biases and is confronting them.
2) The writer is not worried that what s/he is writing may threaten his/her job or career!!.

Alan (torture is okay) Dershowitz is a real low life scum bag. I am surprised that a college professor sinks that low and that prestigious reputable universities let him run amock like that??!!

************

Hey! What do you know? Three things TD3 and I can agree on! (yes, I think Alan Dershowitz is a scumbag too, because I think he’s intellectually dishonest.)

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By JDmysticDJ, April 5, 2011 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Martha

Oh! Now I get it. I wasn’t wrong mind you; I was just approaching the issue from a different perspective, the right one.

So here’s the truth, the tiny little truth, not the big truth. The Main Stream Media are all a bunch of Ho’s and Power Pimps, but everybody knows that. I think Christopher Ketcham was just wrong! Wasting so many words to tell us what we already know. My hunch is that he is sending a subliminal message to his pimps, and my hunches are never wrong. I don’t think his pimps will ever let him go, like I said, I’m never wrong.

Breaking it down to its root elements, what concerns me about this article, are the conservation and human trafficking aspects, and I’m never wrong.

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By gerard, April 5, 2011 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment

Typo again, Gerard! 
  Should be:  Why isn’t HE—that is, Krugman, making suggestions that would at least get kicked partway up the stairs, since he has the cred necessary?

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By question, April 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well, there’s much of truth, bitter & jaded perhaps, in what you write.  But the thing that kept me hoping (& many other crazy idealists) is that perhaps, if we were good enough, we could convince the editors & publishers that our particular story was vitally important to the public good.  What is quaintly known as “the commons”.  Many times our sales skills were more important than any writing skills.  And some of the greatest among us won, at least occasionally.  We have to keep trying & the only way we can do THAT is to support & inspire each other.  We don’t have to surrender. Writers & journalists, as other artists, strive to touch something greater than themselves & illuminate that something to our brothers & sisters.  At least until we end up like Dan Rather:)

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By MarthaA, April 5, 2011 at 2:16 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, April 5 at 5:40 pm,

It’s propaganda, binary emotional rhetoric—only
two emotional choices, which ever way you turn
unless you discard the propaganda, then choices
become dynamic as to whatever the mind can
conceive, but propaganda never has but two emotional
choices. The FOX News Network is the
propaganda network and, sadly, many of the other
networks use propaganda as well.

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By MarthaA, April 5, 2011 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, April 5 at 5:40 pm,

It’s propaganda, binary emotional rhetoric—only
two emotional choices, which ever way you turn
unless you discard the propaganda, then choices
become dynamic as to whatever the mind can
conceive, but propaganda never has but two
choices. The FOX News Network is the propaganda
network and, sadly, many of the other networks
use propaganda as well.

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By JDmysticDJ, April 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

Addendum to the objectivity vs. subjectivity controversy:

I’m wondering who came up with this right and wrong paradigm anyway; it seems kind of subjective to me. Delving into the realm of the metaphysical, in an alternate universe, wouldn’t wrong be right and right be wrong.

Back to realism, if a person truly wanted to be objective, the best thing would be never to have an opinion, that way the person would never be wrong, unless you’re me, I’ve got lots of opinions and I’ve never been wrong, well… once I thought I was wrong, but I found out later I was right, so I was wrong about being wrong.

Needless to say, I’ve never been a prostitute; that would just be wrong!

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By gerard, April 5, 2011 at 1:40 pm Link to this comment

Lafayette:  Interesting you bring up Krugman at this point.  I’ve been thinking a lot about him, and finally wrote him a letter—which he didn’t bother to answer. 
  He is a trained economist and writer on the problems of the economy, right?  He has more than average access to other economists?  And to a large number of non-economists, including the press?  He is interested in preventing economic meltdowns?  He sees where unbridled capitalism is going?
  Question:  Why isn’t me making some constructive suggestions about how to (at least) reform capitalism and prevent this perilous top-heavy risk-prone gambling that is destroying the country and (via war-mongering) increasing needless suffering throughout the world?
  It is hard to believe that people like him are sitting by doing nothing while those of us less qualified who nonetheless see the coming disaster seem confined to weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth on the sidelines, so to speak.
  And if not Krugman, there must be many like him. Why the abyssmal silence on possibilities in acting for change?

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By MarthaA, April 5, 2011 at 1:37 pm Link to this comment

JDmysticDJ, April 5 at 4:28 pm,

Both animate and inanimate objects are objective.
Objective is derived from object, which is the trait
of having weight and occupying space.  The human
body is objective, subjectivity comes from the mind
and is ruled by the mind only, it’s all mental.

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By JDmysticDJ, April 5, 2011 at 12:28 pm Link to this comment

Inanimate objects are objective. Living things are not. The claim of being objective (Fair and balanced) is the worst kind of deceit. Claiming objectivity is a ruse to mask subjectivity, and it only serves to obfuscate the crux of an issue. Call it like you see it, after all, the worst thing that can happen is that you will be proven wrong by the facts, unless you’re me, I’m objective, (In a subjective sense.)

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By Lafayette, April 5, 2011 at 10:32 am Link to this comment

WHERE’S THE BEEF?

CK: Because magazine articles, like good books, are supposed to make news, bring out into the open the unheard of, the strange, the new. 

Perhaps, but what’s News for you is Views for me - which leads inexorably to a debate, an exchange of opinion.

Krugman does it with his weekly column in the NYT. No, he does not respond to the challenge of each commenter. But, he defends himself.

Good for him. But, you see, Krugman is an economist who is used to dealing with “the facts”. So, he knows how to defend himself.

Just the facts, Ma’am. Just the facts. They are the meat in the journalistic sandwich we are asked to consume.

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By zonth_zonth, April 5, 2011 at 10:08 am Link to this comment

gerard said—“Judge everything you read and hear not only by the accuracy of its “facts” but also by asking “Who benefits from this interpretation of these facts?  Who loses from it?  Or is it relatively neutral”

Reminds me of Postmans criteria for technology. 

Very applicable regarding ‘truth’ in media and journalism.  It assumes an underlying bias or reason behind framing facts or omiting facts depending on motivating factors. 

Stories or news are thought news-worthy only within the context of ones culture and beliefs.

see Michel Montaigne on ‘Customs’

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By SoTexGuy, April 5, 2011 at 8:09 am Link to this comment

I like this article..

But look at the piece as a whole.. I mean the actual layout as it appears on-screen.

The Truthdig format itself is magazine page.. a frame of advertisements, links, offers and grinning, spinning monkeys of most every stripe… a hole in which has been left for this Report.

Using the authors own warnings we should treat his words with utmost suspicion! .. and instead focus on these comments.. which appear naked and exposed on a practically blank sheet.

Adios!

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By Lafayette, April 5, 2011 at 5:14 am Link to this comment

INTO THE ARENA

CK: More likely it’s “All the News That’s Shit to Print.”

This journalist lambastes the mediocrity of his profession, then indulges himself in that same mediocrity with a tirade. The article has little content beyond rant, which never makes for either good journalism or good debate.

But, is this journalist or any journalist seeking debate?

Frankly, the problem with today’s journalism is that it is playing by the old rules, whereby argument or opinion was a one-way street - Journalist-to-General Public. There was no reverse way, except for Letters to the Editor - and who read those?

As this forum shows, along with others that innovated the exchange-of-opinion process over the Internet, the practice of journalism has expanded, in fact, to a two-way street.

But how many of this Esteemed and even Venerated Class of professionals care to descend into the arena (like gladiators of long-ago) where their advice/opinion might be contested? How many are prepared to debate issues/questions, rather than announce ex-Cathedra their convictions?

Not many ...

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By D.R. Zing, April 5, 2011 at 2:25 am Link to this comment

Hey Night-Gaunt, I have Asperger’s Syndrome. Trust me. There’s plenty of emotion in it.  But no harm, no foul, no offense.  I have learned by observation how to interact with the humans.  They like the conversation to be about them or whatever they’re talking about. They’re not interested in whatever I’ve been reading the last few months. They sometimes like to hug me and I have to pretend I like it. They like to be touched lightly but not punched in the shoulder. They like steady eye contact but not glare sessions. They’re not impressed when someone recites square roots starting from 625 and ending at 4. You can’t call them idiots just because they don’t know the the denotative and connotative meaning of every word they speak. Now, for God’s sake, don’t tell anybody about my condition. People will think I’m some kind of freak or something. Rainman, by the way, is not a good example.  That’s someone with autism who was traumatized, locked up and isolated.  We do best when forced at an early age to go through the utter hell of learning to interact with the humans.

Back to the topic at hand. One of the problems with journalism is it pretends history does not exist and in televised debates or on talk shows, no one can cite books or science.  So, you know, if all you have is the present, there is no history, and science does not exist, then, yes, everything is subjective. But that’s bullshit. 

Objectivity is everywhere and it doesn’t just involve hammers and the Theory of Gravity.  People study things. They know things. For example, ask a journalist, do you believe in Zeus? He or she will say no, of course not. Now ask them: Do you believe in God? And they’ll say, well, that’s subjective. It’s not subjective at all. There may very well be universal laws that behave in a god-like omnipotent fashion, but as far as a personified deity as imagined by the ancients who hangs out and the clouds and get pissed off if you say “goddamnit,” well, have you flown in a jet lately?  Ain’t no gods up there, my friend, not Zeus, not Jehovah. 

The same logic can and must and will be applied to our political problems. There are indeed objective solutions.  We will have to solve them as a species. We will all live. Or we will we all die. That is a scientific fact.  There is no such thing as “survival of the fittest” within a species. That is total bullshit. It’s survival of the best adapted species, and we, my friends, are of the genus Homo and the species Sapien, a species that is in fact killing the very ecosystem that allows it to survive while at the same time in a state of perpetual war against other members of our own species.   

Objectivity is only a myth if you ignore the self-evident, if you ignore history, if you ignore science—all of which the corporate news media cynically does. But, if you take those things into account, there are solutions, there is truth, there is a path to lead us out of this mess we’re in. 

I have great faith there are many journalists out there, young and old, who understand these facts.  The corporate news media will eventually be broken up and journalism can once again publish the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain, and Thomas Paine.  Until then, well, “it’s been a long December but there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.”

Peace.

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By MarthaA, April 5, 2011 at 12:07 am Link to this comment

Night-Gaunt, April 4 at 10:36 pm,

Have you objectively hit your foot with a heavy
hammer yet?  Try it .....  How many times will you
have to hit your foot before you get understanding
of objectivity that what you are doing to your foot
isn’t all in your mind, subjective?  Once, twice
maybe,—perhaps, you’re tough—with a high pain
level or nerve damage, how many times will it take
for you to objectively strike your objective foot
before you get objective understanding?  Inquiring
minds want to know.

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By prosefights, April 4, 2011 at 10:22 pm Link to this comment

MSM tries to shape the news, not report it.

And support TPTB for financial reasons.

Our job to try to recover our stolen $22,036 is to try to defeat MSM and TPTB.

So we tweet

http://www.prosefights.org/comcastjoyce/seg6.mp3

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By Night-Gaunt, April 4, 2011 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

What is more surprising that he is still considered to have any veracity or moral weight. And by a very few to still be liberal in anything!

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By truedigger3, April 4, 2011 at 7:19 pm Link to this comment

Please everyone don’t throw the towel in dispair.!
Objectivity is hard to get and is rare but it is still possible under the following two conditions:
1) The writer is interested only in facts and the   truth and he is aware of his own biases and is confronting them.
2) The writer is not worried that what s/he is writing may threaten his/her job or career!!.

Alan (torture is okay) Dershowitz is a real low life scum bag. I am surprised that a college professor sinks that low and that prestigious reputable universities let him run amock like that??!!

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By Night-Gaunt, April 4, 2011 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vivacity

Vivacity is the state of being vivacious Synonyms: active, airy, animate, animated, bouncing, brisk, energetic, frisky, gay, jaunty, jazzy, kinetic, mettlesome, peppy, perky, pert, pizzazzy (or pizazzy), racy, snappy, spanking, sparky, spirited, sprightly, springy, vital, lively, zippy

So read it again only replace vivacity with sprightly and see how it reads.

Example; “Your scientific experiment could possibly be their last objective decision; it’s the sparkiness of the impulse.”

Sorry the word intrigued me and I wanted to experiment. Sorry for that MarthaA.

However we have had this disagreement before about Subjective vs Objective. It isn’t impossible to come close to objectivity. But it is very hard. No one seems to be objective unless you mean those who are with Asperger’s or even certain kinds of autism seem to be able to absorb information and regurgitate it without any thought or opinion.

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By MarthaA, April 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm Link to this comment

D.R. Zing, April 4 at 7:59 pm,

Your scientific experiment could possibly be their last objective
decision; it’s the vivacity of the impulse.

Words can subjectively deceive the imagination, but anyone can
determine, without committing suicide, whether objectivity is myth
by the vivacity of the impulse in an easier manner, if one will objectivity
hit their foot with a heavy hammer as many
times as it takes to gain objective understanding; the real objective
IQ of a person can only be determined by the
amount of times and the
force with which that person will hit their foot with a heavy hammer to
determine whether the vivacity of
the impulse is subjective myth that is all in their mind or is actual objective reality.

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By Night-Gaunt, April 4, 2011 at 5:21 pm Link to this comment

The problem is less bias than those who wish to hide the kind of bias they have behind a smoke screen of “objectivity” which like the president’s “pragmatism” is a cover for following the same corporate bias and militarism without comment or criticism.

I want all kinds of bias, just so they are up front about it and I can more easily discern it as I accumulate data to make my own judgments. What we have is a bias in general to one aspect but many variations and intensities with Fox News (sic) and CNN etc whose bias is hidden everywhere but where they write.

Above all accuracy is needed. Fact checking as it is called in modern parlance. But it isn’t used that often in some circles. That includes publishing items that aren’t politically correct for the Reich wing. But they dominate here. So much for so long that most people believe they are “left wing” because the most extreme are common place. And usually leveling that charge!

Way back in the 1990’s a local right wing radio host was told so often he was “liberal” because in only a few ares he disagreed with the usual mantra he began to believe it even though callers, including my self, said otherwise.

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By frecklefever, April 4, 2011 at 4:11 pm Link to this comment

DERSHOWITZ IS THE PROTOTYPICAL DISHONEST
ACADEMIC…WRITER..ACTIVIST..INTELLECTUAL THAT CHAMPIONS
ZION…THE TRAGEDY IS HE HAS ACCESS TO YOUNG MINDS….OBJECTIVITY IS
HIS ENEMY..HE WANTS MIND CONTROL..HIM BEING THE
PUPPETEER…ALAN DERSHOWITZ NEEDS TO BE PROSECUTED FOR BEING AN
AGENT OF A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT…

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By D.R. Zing, April 4, 2011 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

Wow! Awesome column and great comments. 

James P. Levy nailed it.  Publishing a lie and calling it a point of view is bullshit. A lie is a lie. 

The only thing I would caution is not to bury oneself in the “everything is subjective” rabbit hole. Truth does exist in our little corner of the universe. 

Don’t believe me? Go jump off a skyscraper and let me know straight away if that sudden stop at the end doesn’t convince you that Newton got gravity right. 

If we are to survive as a species, we’ll need to start applying universal truths to economics, energy policy, restoration of the ecosystem and so forth.

Call it Einstein’s God if you will, but whatever you call it, any species that survives more than a few million years does not violate the laws of this universe. 

But I digress. This is an awesome article. Hopefully, it will take hold.

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By gerard, April 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm Link to this comment

One sour observation that hasn’t appeared yet:
  Judge everything you read and hear not only by the accuracy of its “facts” but also by asking “Who benefits from this interpretation of these facts?  Who loses from it?  Or is it relatively neutral?”
  Of course in the long run there is no such thing as absolute reliability and the only thing we can do is cope with the idea of relativism, of more or less, of better than… and worse than…
  This inevitability is a huge part of “the human condition” and baffles people longing for simple answers to complex questions.
  That longing is what “sells” religious and political fanaticisms of all sizes and shapes. People grasp the thinnest of straws if they are drowning. That’s one reason why power rules by making people believe they are drowning or will soon drown if they don’t believe this or that orthodox indoctrination. 
  It takes guts just to stay afloat and not hyper-ventilate.

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By John P., April 4, 2011 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Arabian Sinbad -

I hear you. We are out here. We may be the few, but we are here.

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By samosamo, April 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

****************


I for one have always gone for the written word and now more
than ever with the possibility of what you are reading or have
read can magically disappear in a blink. IF it returns, it may no be
what it was in that first incarnation. As bulky as holding on to the
‘written word’ is, at least you still retain the script. I know that
still doesn’t mean it is truly accurate. Meaning if someone goes
out to the barn to erase or add or alter the rules, you have a copy
to detect such shenanigans.

But in the world today, how is anything to be believed. Sources
are great to use, but how secure or reliable are they? Remember
that any 2 or more people witnessing some event all have their
‘realtive position to witness from at that time. That means we
have to check several sources and how tangled can that get.
Video is easily manipulated and radio is mostly memorable on
certain key ‘phrases or sound bites’.

This is why the u.s. mainstream media mesmerizes and
confounds its dumbstream garden so well, information by
branching the bifurcating obfuscations.

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By WriterOnTheStorm, April 4, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

Define objective.

As the recent NPR controversy makes clear, the right has an arbitrary definition
of the word. The idea of political neutrality in reporting is pure Kabuki. It has
been abandoned by modern 24/7 journalism in favor of a cheap stand-in:
equal time.

The result is a reporting style in which even the most plain facts must be seen
through the prisms of competing ideologies. Today’s editors and producers
don’t see this as a problem, but as an opportunity to dramatize the news: “And
in the right corner, weighing in at 20 million believers, the southern slugger,
Intelligent Design…”

The only truth to which journalism evinces fealty is market share. Why should
anyone in a hypercapitalist state expect anything else?

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By gerard, April 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm Link to this comment

Arabian Sinbad:  Smile ... and hang tough gently.

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By James P. Levy, April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think that the semantics here are important. To be objective may be impossible, but to be accurate is not, and I think that many people confuse the two terms and get angry when people attack objectivity, because they perceive it to mean that accuracy does not matter (or is, in its lumpen pomo formulation, also impossible or at best besides the point).

We must demand that the information presented in news articles or on TV is accurate, in that it is demonstrably as close to representing the situation as is possible for the writer/speaker can make it. The information must also NOT include anything the writer or speaker knows to be false. Thus, if a government official lies to you, it is imperative that the person who relates that lie make it plain that it is a lie. Glenn Greenwald has been hammering away at this point at Salon.com for some time, yet many in the mainstream media seem to think that it is not their job to point out obvious falsehoods—they are only responsible to accurately conveying the lies as they were spoken to them by the person in power; it is your job as the reader to find out if the statement is accurate or not. This bizarre evasion is what many journalists now think of as “objectivity”, as in, “hey, the President told me this, and Newt Gingrich told me that, and if I write them both down verbatim, I’m an objective reporter.” The fat that either one of them, or both, could be lying, is not my job to know or say, these clowns tell us.

So, I say “yes, absolutely” to accuracy and fact-checking, and “it would be nice, but probably impossible” to any pure form of objectivity.

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By Anarcissie, April 4, 2011 at 9:48 am Link to this comment

One has to have a sort of ideological framework in order to interpret and evaluate phenomena.  Unless one has godlike omniscience, this framework is going to be affected by the peculiarities of one’s experiences, understandings and values.  About the best one can do is make this framework explicit.  I don’t watch or read Fox News, so I don’t know what they do, but back in the days when I read the New York Times it was obvious to me that they were biased, while claiming the said godlike omniscience and objectivity.  It was in fact a particularly repulsive upper-class bias which came out most plainly in their local stories, for example their admiration for gentrification.  It is simply another kind of propaganda.

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By Inherit The Wind, April 4, 2011 at 9:11 am Link to this comment

So, according to this article, Fox Noise is the PERFECT “news” outlet.

We are human beings. We make choices.  Frequently those choices are sub-conscious and biased.

But that doesn’t mean we should embrace our bias. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for objectivity and to truly be fair.

We see that Fox Noise makes no pretense about being unbiased (despite the “fair and balanced” slogan). It is clear policy, well-documented, to write and publish/air stories that advances the extreme right-wing agenda.  Richard Ailes regularly issues directives to his staff exhorting them to that end.

IF this only applied to the “editorial” shows, the O’Reilly/Hannity type, I’d be OK with it.  It’s “opinion”.  But it is applied to “news” as well.

But do the other news outlets?  I don’t think even MSNBC crosses that line between the opinion and the news side.

Yet to embrace bias as “OK” is to engage in THE most dangerous challenge to intellectual honesty: Engaging in “reductionism”, which is the elimination of inconvenient facts that tend to disprove your thesis.

If a prosecutor buries exculpatory evidence, he/she is actually committing a crime, trying to convict what may be an innocent person.  That’s reductionism in its most evil.

But I don’t believe that bias is unavoidable.

Scientists are not immune to bias, and even reductionism.  But their peer review system and the requirement for independent verification—somebody else in another lab has to be able to get the same results—provides the acid test: Does it do what you claim it does predictably?

Without such confidence in it, there would be no transistors, no PCs, no Internet, etc.

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By Arabian Sinbad, April 4, 2011 at 8:13 am Link to this comment

“We are the tools and vassals of rich men behind the scenes. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives are all the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”
====================================================
How true and uniquely honest and courageous of Ketcham to address the sad affairs of the media and journalism in these sad United States of America!

The theme of this article is dear to my heart because I bluntly and courageously raised it against those who considered themselves big shots when I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the 1980’s. In one case, I was accused of so-called “insubordination;” a word that I heard for the first time, and I interpreted it to mean my refusal to submit to a fancy word for a new form of slavery.

Though this article focuses on intellectual prostitution and the myth of objectivity in the field of the media and journalism, I kept experiencing it time and again in the field of academia. For example, in the so-called prestigious Harvard University, there is in their law school a professor named Alan Dershowitz who has established for himself a small “CIA.-Police operation,” with funds and scholarships given to selective students who are sent to spy on certain faculty members who are deemed to be politically incorrect. This guy happened to be a hardcore Zionist whose victims are many faculty and doctorate students in several other universities. A Ph.D. student at Harvard has her academic career cut short because she wrote a thesis showing sympathy to the Palestinian cause. Among his other victims is Norman Finkestein, a fellow Jew of Dershowitz, formerly a professor of political science at De Paul University in Chicago who had the guts to criticize Israel. With the intervention of Dershowitz, he was denied tenure-ship and eventually lost his job, despite large demonstrations by the students in support of Finkestein.

A problem similar to what happened to others is happening to me right now at another so-called prestigious university of Johns Hopkins University in Maryland. In the department where I teach, a mole, mostly planted by the infamous Dershowitz’s organization, made unspecific complain about me, which they are using to scheme for terminating my job. Because I refuse to be a vassal of people intoxicated with power in corporate academia, and because I refuse to intellectually prostitute myself, the case is likely to end in court, though I realize that mine could be like the proverbial David going against Goliath.

America is not suffering only from economic crises and political-military arrogance, driven by greed, but it is suffering from mortal moral diseases that are eating at the fabric of the so-much- bragged- about freedom, democracy, human dignity and human rights.

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By zonth_zonth, April 4, 2011 at 8:04 am Link to this comment

“Objectivity is basically nothing more than intersubjective agreement”  Richard Rorty

A journalist ‘objectivity’ will be affected by his value system.  There is also a moral superiority in attempting to appear objective, that in the end corrupts ones judgment.

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By RayLan, April 4, 2011 at 5:57 am Link to this comment

Probably the only objective intellectual topic is mathematics - when you move from that to the real world of people and politics it gets subjectively messy.
In fact when objectivity itself becomes the topic, that discussion is usually rhetorical and biased.
I think a ruthless appetite for the facts, undeterred by political bribery, is as close as journalism can get to objectivity. Matt Taibbi is an excellent example of that kind of fearless hunting down of corruption, his vitriolic articles taking on monsters like Goldman Sachs, like a pack of yelping bloodhounds.

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By drbhelthi, April 4, 2011 at 5:50 am Link to this comment

It is refreshing to read accurate synopses and
comments. However, it is distressing to see a USGOV
“green card” advertisement planted on the edge of a
Truthdig article.

When one out of six (perhaps more) American adults is
out of work, the USGOV is begging foreigners to get a
green card and emigrate to the US?

Such planned stupidity pervades all areas of USGOV.

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By Tom E, April 4, 2011 at 4:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The news-clown jabbers” I like it.
Especially the A.M. TV “news”, frustratingly fatuous.

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By Psychobabbler, April 4, 2011 at 12:05 am Link to this comment

The way that propaganda is intentionally designed and implemented “blazingly” in this country disgusts me on a level that I can’t explain. The only right thing to do is to cease and desist immediately before another person is persuaded to act against there own best interests, as naturally determined by themselves without an outside influence. This kind of predatory outsourcing of aggression is far worse than child molestation and should be dealt with accordingly.

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By Anarcissie, April 4, 2011 at 12:04 am Link to this comment

The idea of setting up a veracious, verifiable system of news observation, reportage and publication is actually a rather interesting problem.  Wikipedia is a good example of the difficulties and the struggle.

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By Robert, April 3, 2011 at 10:26 pm Link to this comment

From Jerusalem to Washington, Myth Disguised as News

by Ira Chernus, March 29, 2011


We can’t expect the media to change its ways voluntarily in the foreseeable future. The myth of Israel’s insecurity will continue to be the official story in the U.S. mass media and thus the foundation of U.S. discourse and policy about Israel—unless proponents of peace and Palestinian independence, who are such persuasive critics of Israel’s actions, start training their verbal guns directly on that myth.

Otherwise, most Americans, no matter how much they know about Israeli violence and oppression, will forgive most of it as unfortunate but necessary for national security. If we protect our national security at all costs, by any means necessary, they’ll think, why shouldn’t the Israelis do the same?

We can take one big step toward a more sane and humane U.S. policy on the Israel-Palestine conflict—a policy that might some day actually lead toward peace—by reading the mass media carefully and demanding real journalism, not just the old familiar myth disguised as news.”


~~~~~~

Click on link for the rest:

http://original.antiwar.com/ira-chernus/2011/03/28/myth-disguised-as-news/

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By gerard, April 3, 2011 at 9:53 pm Link to this comment

Okay, Anarchissie, you tempted me, so it’s all your fault!
  The New York Times is nothing but a left-wing rag.
  Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky are socialists.
  Haaretz gives us a clear picture of what Israel is
  doing.
  You can depend on the Washington Post for accurate and timely political news because it’s located in D.C. right where the action is.
  Corporations are only interested in making money.
  Jim Lehrer’s News Hour is reliable. 
  AlJazeera is inaccurate because it’s from the Arabic point of view.
  Richard Murdoch has a right to slant Fox News because he owns it.
  If it’s on Truthdig, you can believe it because Robert Scheer is a well-known newspaperman.
  FOOT NOTE:  DON’T BELIEVE A WORD OF THIS. YOU CAN’T TRUST ANYBODY ANYMORE.

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By Cyberfarer, April 3, 2011 at 9:37 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, baby, can you turn this into a top ten list and maybe we can use it.

Cheers,
ed.

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By Anarcissie, April 3, 2011 at 9:16 pm Link to this comment

I thought the theory of media objectivity was long dead.  No?

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By gerard, April 3, 2011 at 7:47 pm Link to this comment

Consider yourself warned!  The “press” not only lies to you, but it tells you it is lying to you—and you still believe—everything? nothing? some of it?

Well, you gotta believe something!  What are the pole stars that directs your choice?  Name value? Reputation among friends you trust?  Whether the “story line” is consistent from one issue to another?  What party the editor or publisher is affiliated with?  Whether it agrees with you or not?  If it publishes “both” sides? Whether it offers any practical solutions to problems? Who supports it? How do you check on its accuracy? Tne tone of its political vocabulary?  Its moral intensions? None of the above?

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By TDoff, April 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm Link to this comment

Well, Christopher, now that you’ve dropped that load of crap on our heads just so you could get paid your salary….
Off the record, just between us, what are your real thoughts about ‘journalists’, and ‘writers’? And ‘hookers’?

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