Sunday, January 25, 2004

WMD, Cognitive Dissonance, Rationalism, And Serious Analysis - Part II

Back over at Kevin Drum's place (blog) yesterday, I was musing on his discussion of pre-war Iraqi WMD beliefs, and, even more, his dismissal of Noam Chomsky as not a "serious" critic. Now, I have all the respect in the world for Kevin, but I have as much or more for a challenging critic like Noam Chomsky. As always, keep in mind these comments are on-the-fly, and not vetted, proofed, or multi-drafted.


Everyone acknowledges we live in a dangerous world. But most everyone does not know why. They don't know, or have even really examined, why their enemies hate them.

Our leaders just lie about it. Plain and simple. So they are no help.

And it's not just our enemies that make the world dangerous. We make it so for ourselves. Conventional wisdom doesn't pay attention to nonlinear disruptions caused by our environmental impact.

Noam Chomsky's latest book is a good place to start shattering illusions and start examining the world and challenges we face rationally.

Howard Zinn's book, Artists In A Time Of War, is also a great place to get a dose of cognitive dissonance, and commit yourself to engaging and absorbing it, rather than ignoring and rejecting it.

There are two ways to deal with cognitive dissonance. It is not a new concept. Mainly, it's the difference between deductive and inductive thinking (well, not exactly).

If information does not support your conclusions, i.e. belief and conventional wisdom, do you reject or ignore it for this reason? If so, welcome back to the Middle Ages.

Or, in the face of conflicting information, do your examine and adjust your conclusions? This is the scientific process, and thankfully because of it we have become a more rational creature and have won our freedom.

Don't give it away. And don't ever believe that Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn are not serious analysts or commentators.