Saturday, April 2, 2016

you'd need a pretty big turbo-fan to clear the air

Appeals to authority are so instinctive to so many people.  Maybe it's because our incredible public school system doesn't know how to teach to inquisitive minds and only manages to require conformity as the best approximation of actual education.  But at least the teach... oops, I mean educators, are well paid and only work 9 mos year and 7 hrs/day during those 9 months.  And they have a great union that makes sure everyone follows the company line:  conformity!  Standards!  Memorizing trivia!  Multiple choice!  Composition is unnecessary in the computerized spellcheck era!

On and on it goes in the minds of the mushy thinkers.

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So you never learned how to discern shilling from earnest information sharing, and the best tool you know for managing that gap is the Appearance of Authority, eh?

Around these parts, we call that the White Lab Coat blunder.  Typical victims are people who never studied any science at any depth, and if they are presented with something scientific-ish and the presenter wears a White Lab Coat, it's probably true!  See, e.g., Nigel West Dickens and the entire topic of science, over which he assumes editorial authority at the Silent T.  Also see the past five years of slavish infotainment media devotion to Elon Musk and the largesse bestowed upon his business enterprises in the form of public money.  Look, he promised us the moon and free open source access to all the technology his businesses have developed when being funded by public money!  No way he's a con artist!

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In the world of the pseudo- or aspiring-intellectual, the poker tell for the pseudo- or aspiring status is the way in which the pseudo/aspirant consistently gets gulled by pompous or quasi-academic presentation.  The most famous practitioner has been ribbed several times by this blog's prior authors:  Noam Chomsky.

When reading people such as Chomsky, it helps to have handy a copy of Paul Fussell's book Class and opened to Chapter VII - "Speak, That I May See Thee" - where on pages 160-161 he says:

Rawson goes on to develop a nice pseudo-social-scientific "Fog or Pomposity Index," by which a euphemism's relation to the word or phrase it replaces can be quantified, high numbers indicating the greatest multiplication of syllables, or euphemistic success.  Rawson's arithmetical details need not concern us.  We can just note that the FOP index of prostitute in relation to whore is 2.4, and in relation to harlot, 1.4.  One of the highest FOP Indexes Rawson notes is earned by the designation Personal Assistant to the Secretary (Special Activities), given to his cook by a former cabinet member.  This euphemism registers an FOP number of 17.8, which must be close to an all-time record.

So terrified of being judged socially insignificant is your typical member of the middle class, so ambitious of earning a reputation as a judicious thinker, indeed, almost an "executive," that it's virtually impossible for him to resist the temptation constantly to multiply syllables. 

Fussell provides endless examples of this if you use the link I provided earlier and scroll down to pp 160-161.

What people like Mr Chomsky do is appeal to that terrified of being judged socially insignificant status, and that ambitio[n toward] earning a reputation as a judicious thinker, and gull you with fog and pomposity.  It might be said that reading Chomsky lends one to the fantastic conclusion that it's just like getting a genuine graduate degree level education at MIT, and actually getting admitted to MIT and taking a whole raft of u-grad and grad classes, that's for chumps!

That's not an interior conversation you're likely to admit having yourself, though.  Is it?

It's comforting to have such experts on whom you can rely unconditionally to deliver an accurate presentation of reality, or at least those parts you don't really know/understand yourself.

At least you're not some pentecostal Christian shackled to some reactionary religious beliefs, or anything like that.


--Harold Caidagh, who thinks you could learn a thing or two from the Stampers.

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