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Feeling informed

I’m currently reading a biography of Roger Ailes, titled The Loudest Voice in the Room, that includes this quote:

Viewers don’t want to be informed; they want to feel informed.

– Chet Collier
– Co-developer of Fox News Network

That fits so much that I see every day in the birther business. I get these chain emails that sound so authoritative and so knowing, but are actually junk. I read on Birther Report that “everybody knows” or “every expert says” that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, when that’s actually nonsense. They feel so very knowing and superior, but it only takes a minute engaging them with details to expose the fact that they are not informed at all.

Feeling informed feels good. How do you take that away from folks?

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30 Responses to Feeling informed

  1. avatar
    Keith February 15, 2014 at 11:57 pm #

    I am reading ‘On Offense’ by Richard king. I think there is a tie in here. I’ll comment further when I return from my camping trip in a couple of days if I can make sense of it.

    I recommend the book by the way.

  2. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 12:21 am #

    Doc,

    People seek out that which provides them what they want and need. The truth is that most people in America seek out real news and real information because they understand that’s what they need to make rational decisions about their lives.

    So….off the top of my head here are some figures to ponder along with a question:

    Barely 1% of the population – about 3-million people – frequents Fox News Channel during prime time.

    The three major network newscasts gather in about 30-million viewers a week.

    The top 25 newspapers total circulation is around 15-million a day.

    So to me the real question is why are so many people paying so much attention to a “news” source utilized by so few people?

  3. avatar
    RanTalbott February 16, 2014 at 1:45 am #

    CarlOrcas: People seek out that which provides them what they want and need.

    They seek out that which provides what they want and they think they need.

    And a steady diet of TV news, from any source (with PBS being somewhat an exception) is definitely not “what they need”.

    I’ll recommend a different book: Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death”. It’s over 30 years old, but still timely in its discussion of why our reliance/dependence on TV may be even worse for us than the early nay-sayers claimed.

    And it’s particlularly relevant to the phenomenon of birtherism and similar lunacies, because it discusses the way TV conditions people to passive, uncritical acceptance of “information” that often turns out to be unmitigated BS (The same applies to talk radio, which wasn’t a significant presence when the book was written).

    It’s not a coincidence that birthers tend to communicate via youtube, while anti-birthers tend to communicate in writing: there’s a qualitative difference between the ways “readers” and “viewers” think, and how perceive the world.

  4. avatar
    aarrgghh February 16, 2014 at 2:05 am #

    fox news viewers aren’t the only ones living lives of blissful self-delusion:

    bill o’reilly: “I’m going to predict that that interview that I did is going to go down in journalistic history as what should be done … It takes a certain skill to pose questions in a factual way and be persistent without being disrespectful … Anybody annoyed by that interview is annoyed because of ideology.”

    bill o’reilly: “… my hand-written interview notes signed by me and president obama are being auctioned off: nice, unique, historical items … this is the original, obviously one-of-a-kind and we’re auctioning it off for an opening bid of $10,000 …”

    fox news anchors keep the wingnut echo chamber hermetically sealed so that everyone inside can feel smart, validated, self-important and — most crucially — safe from exposure to the harsh light of reality.

  5. avatar
    The European February 16, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    ….. and disregard the rest, la la ley

  6. avatar
    Yoda February 16, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Two things always come to mind whenever I see a birther say “everyone knows” . First that the statement is either a direct lie, as the speaker knows that we do not agree with their position or it assumes that we “know” the truth and are lying ourselves, such is the arrogance of their absolute belief system.

    The second is inability to separate fact from opinion. Clearly they believe what they believe, but none of it makes it fact. Therefore, they do not know anything.

    As to Fox, I believe that people want to be provided with “information” that already conforms to their world view. It reinforces their feelings about themselves. It is akin to my belief that people never really want advice. They want to be told that they are right.

  7. avatar
    Curious George February 16, 2014 at 8:57 am #

    Dr. C,

    “I read on Birther Report that “everybody knows” or “every expert says” that Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery, when that’s actually nonsense.”

    These are the same “experts” who are the foundation for the Zullo Files Investimagination. “Nonsense” is far too polite a word.

  8. avatar
    Hermitian February 16, 2014 at 9:45 am #

    Obama should read Roger Ailes’ book — because right now most of the “folks” feel uninformed.

  9. avatar
    aarrgghh February 16, 2014 at 9:53 am #

    Yoda: As to Fox, I believe that people want to be provided with “information” that already conforms to their world view. It reinforces their feelings about themselves. It is akin to my belief that people never really want advice.They want to be told that they are right.

    exactamundo. i wrote as much back in 2009:

    “few things made the unpleasant bush years so characteristically unpleasant than the wingnut wurlitzer, which helped enable the looniest of right-wing loons, from strangelovian neocons michael “faster, please” ledeen and “william the bloody” kristol to doomsaying theocons pat robertson and jerry falwell to muckraking plutocons rupert murdoch and richard mellon scaife. the noise machine provided a reassuring red teat for the densest of dittoheads, no matter how infantile their misconceptions, and well-funded wingnut welfare spawned numberless well-dressed zombie spokespeople from numberless impressive-sounding organizations, like the american enterprise institute and the heritage foundation, to validate their nonsense, and at the top of this red-meat-only food chain sat their chickenhawk “decider”, whose cheerleading sent their self-righteousness and sense of entitlement to heights not attained since movement uberlord rush limbaugh’s last heavenly hit of oxycontin.

    ah, the bush years: what a glorious time to be a selfish belligerent idiot.”

  10. avatar
    scott erlandson February 16, 2014 at 10:21 am #

    it’s as if you are describing global warming kevin.

  11. avatar
    Andrew Vrba, PmG February 16, 2014 at 10:30 am #

    Once again, you hit the nail on the head!
    Birthers don’t want THE truth, they want THEIR truth.

    And what’s the best way to make sure you only hear your version of the truth? The Birther Report approach. Build an echo chamber, and ban any dissenting thoughts.

  12. avatar
    Curious George February 16, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Andrew Vrba, PmG

    “And what’s the best way to make sure you only hear your version of the truth? The Birther Report approach. Build an echo chamber, and ban any dissenting thoughts.”

    That used to be called “brainwashing.”

  13. avatar
    Bob February 16, 2014 at 11:07 am #

    When the Bush Administration’s failures became undeniable I noticed that my middle-of-the-road Republican sister and brother-in-law start clinging to Fox News. They started leaving it on pretty much all the time and they have turned into foaming-at-the-mouth Obama/Dem/Progressive/Liberal-haters. I more easily envisioned my sister and brother-in-law liking the Centrist technocrat Obama — they’re not “social” Conservatives by any means, their hatred of him is so weird — so artificial.

    IMO Fox’s formula is to combine mind-numbing repetitiveness with specific visual imagery. In the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings the same 20-second clip of horror would play over and over and over and over and the chyron underneath would be Obama’s itinerary for the day interspersed with some old, unrelated clips of him smiling and laughing as if he was blithely unconcerned about the shootings.

    Then when the repetition gets boring you have glamorous blond women to think about — “Is that anchor wearing panties? How can she concentrate on what she’s saying with the camera pointing up her skirt? Doesn’t she get tired of clamping her legs together?”

  14. avatar
    Nancy R Owens February 16, 2014 at 11:59 am #

    Too much?

    http://WWW.IFORGEDOBAMASBIRTHCERTIFICATES.COM

  15. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    Nancy R Owens:
    Too much?

    http://WWW.IFORGEDOBAMASBIRTHCERTIFICATES.COM

    Did you also help start Fox News?

  16. avatar
    Majority Will February 16, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    Bob:
    When the Bush Administration’s failures became undeniable I noticed that my middle-of-the-road Republican sister and brother-in-law start clinging to Fox News.They started leaving it on pretty much all the time and they have turned into foaming-at-the-mouth Obama/Dem/Progressive/Liberal-haters.I more easily envisioned my sister and brother-in-law liking the Centrist technocrat Obama — they’re not “social” Conservatives by any means, their hatred of him is so weird — so artificial.

    IMO Fox’s formula is to combine mind-numbing repetitiveness with specific visual imagery.In the wake of the Newtown, CT shootings the same 20-second clip of horror would play over and over and over and over and the chyron underneath would be Obama’s itinerary for the day interspersed with some old, unrelated clips of him smiling and laughing as if he was blithely unconcerned about the shootings.

    Then when the repetition gets boring you have glamorous blond women to think about — “Is that anchor wearing panties?How can she concentrate on what she’s saying with the camera pointing up her skirt?Doesn’t she get tired of clamping her legs together?”

    Very carefully orchestrated. They know what Ailes you.

  17. avatar
    Notorial Dissent February 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm #

    Must be why I never watched Fox, never felt informed, and I don’t like being pandered at by some one with a smug attitude of we know better than you do.

  18. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 16, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    But in fact the folks are informed. That’s the frustrating thing about birtherism.

    Hermitian: Obama should read Roger Ailes’ book — because right now most of the “folks” feel uninformed.

  19. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 16, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    When Fox says “fair and balanced” that means that cranks are treated as equally valid as recognized experts.

    Notorial Dissent: Must be why I never watched Fox, never felt informed, and I don’t like being pandered at by some one with a smug attitude of we know better than you do.

  20. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    But in fact the folks are informed. That’s the frustrating thing about birtherism.

    Let me fix that last sentence for you: That’s the frustrating thing for birthers.

  21. avatar
    Rickey February 16, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    A perfect example of Fox’s disinformation campaign happened yesterday, when Eric Bolling played part of Obama’s 12/4/13 speech about income equality. Bolling claimed that Obama wants everyone to have equal income and asked “Isnt that what Communism is all about?”

    But that is not what Obama said. This is what Obama actually said, and which Bolling omitted from the clip he played:

    Now, the premise that we’re all created equal is the opening line in the American story. And while we don’t promise equal outcomes, we’ve strived to deliver equal opportunity — the idea that success doesn’t depend on being born into wealth or privilege, it depends on effort and merit.

    How many Fox News viewers would have bothered to check on what Obama really said? Probably next to zero.

  22. avatar
    Dr. Conspiracy February 16, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

    I pay so much attention to it because if a news network is on in a restaurant or waiting room in this part of the country, 90% of the time it will be on Fox News (bless my local McDonalds for showing CNN).

    Fox is the big dog in cable news. Prime time for February 13, Fox News had 2.2 million viewers compared for 376,000 for CNN and 930,000 for MSNBC and 297,000 for CNBC. For comparison, the Colbert Report has about 979,000 viewers. And to put it all in context, National Public Radio’s drive-time news program, All Things Considered, was estimated to have 12 million weekly listeners.

    CarlOrcas: So to me the real question is why are so many people paying so much attention to a “news” source utilized by so few people?

  23. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 1:49 pm #

    RanTalbott: And it’s particlularly relevant to the phenomenon of birtherism and similar lunacies, because it discusses the way TV conditions people to passive, uncritical acceptance of “information” that often turns out to be unmitigated BS (The same applies to talk radio, which wasn’t a significant presence when the book was written).

    TV has been the cause of every social problem as long as I can remember and that goes back to when we watched the test pattern because that’s all that was on!

    If most people were really conditioned to passively and uncritically accept nonsense like birtherism it wouldn’t be the fringe movement it is.

    The foundation of birtherism is built on ignorance and, in the case of Obama, racism. Fox and talk radio feed on those but they certainly didn’t invent them.

  24. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I pay so much attention to it because if a news network is on in a restaurant or waiting room in this part of the country, 90% of the time it will be on Fox News (bless my local McDonalds for showing CNN).

    Fox is the big dog in cable news. Prime time for February 13, Fox News had 2.2 million viewers compared for 376,000 for CNN and 930,000 for MSNBC and 297,000 for CNBC. For comparison, the Colbert Report has about 979,000 viewers. And to put it all in context, National Public Radio’s drive-time news program, All Things Considered, was estimated to have 12 million weekly listeners.

    But in the real world Fox News is a chihuahua…..an irritatingly yippee quadruped but a little player nonetheless.

    It gets the attention it does because Roger Ailes is showman, not a newsman, and he has done a brilliant job learning from the work of folks like P.T. Barnum and Father Coughlin.

  25. avatar
    Woodrowfan February 16, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Dr. Conspiracy:
    I pay so much attention to it because if a news network is on in a restaurant or waiting room in this part of the country, 90% of the time it will be on Fox News (bless my local McDonalds for showing CNN).

    I have noticed that this seems to vary by region. Here in the DC area it’s usually CNN or ESPN. If I drive north on I95 it’s still CNN. If I go south more than a few miles it’s almost always Fox.

  26. avatar
    RanTalbott February 16, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    CarlOrcas: If most people were really conditioned to passively and uncritically accept nonsense like birtherism it wouldn’t be the fringe movement it is.

    Sorry, not so: the majority aren’t getting their “news” from sources that push that particular type of BS. As you can tell by the birfer screeching that “the complicit lapdog MSM is ignoring us”. The birthers are just more-extreme examples of a pervasive problem.

    Otoh, I can point to the real estate bubble of the last decade, the widespread belief that crime is going up dramatically when it’s actually going down, and the broad support for the Iraq War, where a majority made decisions based on uncritical acceptance of BS that was on TV, but was at least strongly disputed, if not outright refuted, by dissenting views and more-detailed information that appeared in print. And those are just a few major stories. There are lots of others.

    Look at the polls that compare how well-informed people are based on their primary news sources. The people watching MSM TV do better than those using partisan cable news and fringe outlets, but they still don’t do well.

    “TV news” is (again, with rare exceptions) an oxymoron. The people who disparage it as “infotainment” have been proven right, again and again.

  27. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 6:52 pm #

    RanTalbott: Sorry, not so: the majority aren’t getting their “news” from sources that push that particular type of BS.

    I think you misunderstood what I said.

    RanTalbott: “TV news” is (again, with rare exceptions) an oxymoron. The people who disparage it as “infotainment” have been proven right, again and again.

    You’re painting with way too broad a brush. ABC, CBS and NBC are a world apart from Fox News Channel. They appear on your TV but that’s it. Kind of like comparing The New York Times and National Enquirer because they put ink on paper.

    All that said I agree that the more sources people use the better informed they will be.

  28. avatar
    AC180 February 16, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    http://globalgrind.com/2014/02/13/michael-dunns-neighbor-reveals-his-true-character-violent-past-video/

    ^^ fascinating interview with Michael Dunn’s neighbor , talking about Dunn’s history and character (or lack thereof) . Just thought I’d share this as it reminds me so much of some of the birther bullies.

  29. avatar
    RanTalbott February 16, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

    CarlOrcas:

    I think you misunderstood what I said

    What I understood you to say was that the limited number of birthers is a counter to, or refutation of, the claim that TV makes people more passive and uncritical. And my response was that it doesn’t, because only a limited number of people are exposed to birther BS via TV. Actually, that example might even support my claim, if a study showed a very high rate of birtherism among Faux News viewers (or might not, since one would also have to demonstrate that birtherism was an effect, and not a cause, of watching it).

    CarlOrcas: ABC, CBS and NBC are a world apart from Fox News Channel

    More like “a continent apart”: yes, their content is significantly different, but the basic mechanism is still the same. They still push a stream of (mis)information, in inadequately-detailed bites, at a viewer that doesn’t have the ability to interrupt it for reflection, fact-checking, and/or getting more details (unless s/he has something like Tivo, but viewers are still conditioned by lifelong exposure to be passive. This may, or may not, change as more people grow up with Tivo-like systems, and consume more of their news on demand via the web).

    This is fundamentally different from print. Even more so in this day and age, when so much reading is done with devices that allow easy switching to another window to get additional info. The research Postman used showed some differences based merely on observation of externals. I think it’s very likely that modern tools like PET scans would show significant differences in brain activity.

    Adding more sources can help, but, if all you do is watch more networks, you’re just getting more flavors of fluff.

  30. avatar
    CarlOrcas February 16, 2014 at 8:38 pm #

    RanTalbott: What I understood you to say was that the limited number of birthers is a counter to, or refutation of, the claim that TV makes people more passive and uncritical.

    What I said is “The foundation of birtherism is built on ignorance and, in the case of Obama, racism. Fox and talk radio feed on those but they certainly didn’t invent them.”

    RanTalbott: And my response was that it doesn’t, because only a limited number of people are exposed to birther BS via TV.

    Birtherism doesn’t get much exposure these days because it ran its short course years ago and all we have left are the dead enders. They don’t make any more news today than the flat earthers.

    RanTalbott: More like “a continent apart”: yes, their content is significantly different, but the basic mechanism is still the same. They still push a stream of (mis)information, in inadequately-detailed bites, at a viewer that doesn’t have the ability to interrupt it for reflection, fact-checking, and/or getting more details (unless s/he has something like Tivo, but viewers are still conditioned by lifelong exposure to be passive. This may, or may not, change as more people grow up with Tivo-like systems, and consume more of their news on demand via the web).

    Broadcast – by any means – is by definition a one way process and thus passive. That will never change. What has changed dramatically is the ability of people to access unbelievable amounts of information from their desktop.

    That – the internet – is, in fact, erasing the difference between broadcast and print and throwing them into a boiling caldron. Talking about “watch(ing) more (news) networks” is pointless because the delivery mechanism is irrelevant.

    Take a look at the entertainment business, movies in particular, for a preview of what’s coming for the “networks”. Add in the changes they’ve had to make to calculate ratings (viewership) for broadcast (cable and over the air) and talking about “Tivo” and “networks” is like wondering how BetaMax is going to change things.

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