Today I happened to read a bit in National Geographic about slow journalism and was struck just how data is being used to bludgeon us.
This last Summer I undertook a course on Anti-Terrorism with the University of Leiden given by Prof Edwin Bakker. I read for this course because I was 75% convinced I was wrong in my assessment of the current state of the Middle East, and the other so-called hot spots. You see my assessment hinges on the geography of the region where the natural output in food is tiny relative to the current population. And that permeates the psyche of the people leaving them essentially unstable.
The region is not the same as Europe where the population also far exceeds its ability to feed itself, for Europe has tradable goods & services but the middle east has oil only.
What I had convinced myself was my filters were either dated or outright wrong. But by doing that course I had access and the current thinking and analysis. Both not a million miles from where I was myself.
We get an ongoing huge volume of dross that’s nudging us this way and that. It stops us from clear thought and allows us to be managed. It wouldn’t be going too far to say inundated. So much so that we’re even blocked from accessing our own memories allowing us to be nudged into a logic cul de sac.
UPDATE. The attackers on Charlie HebDo, at least those they were looking for anyway, were found cornered. The took hostages. Subsequently they ran out and attacked the police national and were killed. I’m worried. I hope they got the correct people. And for what it’s worth I believe they have. However, finding an ID Card of one of the men in the getaway car and then informing the media was fraught with dangers. It could so easily have been the wrong people. The card could’ve been a plant. Or totally unconnected people included, which happened. Miss-identification by the public could’ve led to one-sided shoot-outs.