Friday, November 7, 2014

MeanMesa's Mid-Term Autopsy

What Actually Happened?
Political psychology from the non-psychologist
Mathematicians think they can do practically anything...

More than a little unusual...[cartoon source]

Decades ago, infamous Australian fascist, Rupert Murdoch, had one of his rather sinister "moments of clarity." The conclusion that he drew from this "flash of light" was lethal for the democracy, but sadly, quite straight forward and obvious.

The decisions Americans make while filling out their ballots are based very directly on the "ideative product" which is currently in their minds at that moment. [An "ideative product" is something more than simply an "idea." It is a structure of ideas -- and memories -- formed from the complex activity in the cortical thought creating process in a brain. The term "ideative product" is useful because the usual words we use to describe this process -- such as "thinking" -- and its results -- such as "ideas" -- are confusingly over-general.

Theoretically, sensations of all sorts carry "facts" -- which are actually simply sensations which enjoy high credibility -- into the process to form "ideative products" which, thanks to their origins, generally enjoy roughly the same degree of credibility. When we have finished with the current collection of "ideative products," they become memories while we move on to process the next bunch.

There really is a "standard model" which can be used as a sort of "baseline" when we look at Murdoch's information twisting strategy. In that "standard model" a voter seeks out and selects certain "facts." These are usually quite specific when compared to what Murdoch's efforts want to create.

For example, a voter might look at the Federal Budget, see that it results in a deficit, and decide ["idea"] that spending should be reduced. This inquiry might very reasonably continue into areas such as "which spending should be reduced" and "what might be the consequences of reducing it." 

Of course such a line of inquiry will, in practically no time, "travel" through all manner of questions, the answer of one leading to the next. At the end of the process, a conclusion will emerge, and that conclusion will -- according to the "standard model" -- become the foundation for the decisions made on the ballot.

This is what we could quite reasonably consider to be an "ideative product." A very healthy mixture of curiosity, information, memories and probably a little emotion provided this "thinker" with a rational track to confidently formulate his decision.

Right here we should add one additional "ingredient" to the mix. The mental action that this "thinker" took to reach that decision was not a passive one. He wanted that decision, and he wanted to be reassured that he had reached that decision by using a "trustworthy" collection of his mental processes. Otherwise, he would not have done all these things, and, as a consequence, he would not have formed any decision at all.

When Murdoch was looking for a "window of opportunity" to gain useful control of precisely what would be forming that "ideative product" in the mind of a voter, this is the "window" he saw.

A single issue, or even a nice collection of issues, winding their way through the "standard model" would produce a traditional American voter. But, although this was the form the process had taken traditionally, the results had always been somewhat unpredictable. After all, only the structure of the "standard model" process is common to the mass of voters. The conclusions never were.

A proposition forming one of those issues could be "decided" any number of ways depending on what information was added, what memories were present and which type of emotions might be driving the process. This meant that, under more or less normal circumstances, a voter could "change his mind" at some point before pulling the lever.

This was the obstacle Murdoch would have to over come if he intended to be able to "count on" a voter with a large, poorly formed, contradictory "ideative product" -- which he was determined to establish -- to realize his ambitions. An "ideative product" comprised of thousands of minor supporting propositions which were, in turn, supported by thousands more minor supporting propositions and so on, would form a "sub logical" cloud of minor, dependent conclusions which might do the trick!

The word "minor" is emphasized for a reason. These "little" propositions were designed to be intentionally inconsequential. If one or two of them "faltered" just a little, the change in credibility would not "take down" a huge tree of other useful "little" propositions which were, perhaps very weakly, logically connected to it.

Think of an acquaintance whom you might describe as "85% red neck." The "85%" part comes from a few -- just a few -- positions which were not usually branded as "red neck" positions. You might comment on the apparent contradiction in "some" of your acquaintance's thinking, but you would let it go at that.

The propositions in the "ideative product" Murdoch dreamed of introducing into the electorate had to be only "loosely" counter dependent. Rather than the "big, definite ideas" normally formed in the "standard model," these "ideative products" would have to more resemble, say, a "cloud of sparrows." A few sparrows might flit off to look for worms, but the vast majority of the "cloud" would dutifully continue to fly with their fellows.

The "loosely counter dependent" connections guaranteed that most of the sparrows would remain with the flock. By hosting thousands of "minor" connections, Murdoch's voter could essentially be unable to change his mind. This is what is meant by the idea of "sub-logical" connections.

There was no "big lie" driving the mindless electorate a few days ago -- no massive deception patiently turning in the minds of voters like a stainless steel gear in a Swiss watch. A "big lie" faces the perpetual danger of "falling apart" once contradictory information becomes available.

The "Murdoch mechanism," on the other hand, amounted to thousands of little lies and represented poorly machined gears which were barely turning at all. If the teeth were ground off one or two of them here and there, the extremely low octane "logic" generated by the entire confused system hardly "took a noticeable hit."

The quite awkward, yet painfully constant repetition of Murdoch's propaganda was not enough to drive the thing to any really concrete conclusions, but it was enough to keep the tangled gears in motion in a convincing way -- so long as the questionable productivity of the entire machine was never questioned.

If the Democrats imitate their competitors and find the gumption to perform their own "post election autopsy," they will realize that the campaign should have focused on the entire "ideative product" that powered the mid term election to its disastrous consummation.

This "revelation" is not something new which can only be encountered exclusively by visiting MeanMesa, either. Practically every progressive pundit commentator was repeatedly expressing exactly the same idea for months. The campaign had to be run on the "big picture" of what the Democratic Party represents and the rather remarkable successes it has accomplished, but, thanks to owning the media, the narrative was dominated by talking points constantly reinforcing the confusing, indeterminate, cloudy "ideative product."

Unhappily, the current, less than notable, crop of Democratic candidates largely "took the bait." These shockingly uncreative campaigns were still playing as if it were 1960. The precise, devastating political error arose from their obsolete expectation that their opponents were riding on a wave of specific "bad ideas" which could be "corrected."

They kept throwing punches at the oatmeal, but it never went down.

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