Thursday, December 27, 2007
Below is an excerpt:
Asch's Conformity Experiment
Solomon Asch, with experiments originally carried out in the 1950s and well-replicated since, highlighted a phenomenon now known as "conformity". In the classic experiment, a subject sees a puzzle like the one in the nearby diagram: Which of the lines A, B, and C is the same size as the line X? Take a moment to determine your own answer...
The gotcha is that the subject is seated alongside a number of other people looking at the diagram - seemingly other subjects, actually confederates of the experimenter. The other "subjects" in the experiment, one after the other, say that line C seems to be the same size as X. The real subject is seated next-to-last. How many people, placed in this situation, would say "C" - giving an obviously incorrect answer that agrees with the unanimous answer of the other subjects? What do you think the percentage would be?
Three-quarters of the subjects in Asch's experiment gave a "conforming" answer at least once. A third of the subjects conformed more than half the time.
Interviews after the experiment showed that while most subjects claimed to have not really believed their conforming answers, some said they'd really thought that the conforming option was the correct one.
Asch was disturbed by these results:
"That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong... is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct."
Conformity increases strongly up to 3 confederates, but doesn't increase further up to 10-15 confederates. If people are conforming rationally, then the opinion of 15 other subjects should be substantially stronger evidence than the opinion of 3 other subjects.
Adding a single dissenter - just one other person who gives the correct answer, or even an incorrect answer that's different from the group's incorrect answer - reduces conformity very sharply, down to 5-10%. ....
When the single dissenter suddenly switched to conforming to the group, subjects' conformity rates went back up to just as high as in the no-dissenter condition. Being the first dissenter is a valuable (and costly!) social service, but you've got to keep it up.
This reminds me of a quote from Goebbels:
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
This is why a dissenting voice, or someone playing Devil's Advocate, is so important.
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I've written about knee jerk reactions before, and how people seem to be conditioned to react in certain ways to anything that's "outside the mainstream".
Here's an interesting psychological experiment. I'm not sure if it's real or if it's an urban legend, but it makes sense.
Start with a cage containing five monkeys.
Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a stepladder under
it. Before long, one of the monkeys will spot the banana and start to
climb the ladder. As soon as he does, spray the other four monkeys with
Replace the banana.
After a while another of the monkeys will go for the banana. Again,
spray the other four monkeys with cold water. Monkeys are fairly smart,
so pretty soon whenever one of the monkeys tries to climb the ladder
all the other monkeys will try and prevent him doing it. When this
happens, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and
replace it with a new one. Then put another banana at the top of the
The new monkey will spot the banana and make for the ladder. To his
surprise all of the other monkeys will attack him! After a couple more
attempts result in beatings, the new monkey will not make any further
attempt to go for the banana.
Remove another of the original monkeys and replace it with another new
one. Then replace the banana. As before, the newest monkey will make a
grab for it. Like his predecessor he will be amazed to find that all
the other monkeys attack him. (The previous newcomer is likely to take
part in this punishment with great enthusiasm.)
One at a time, gradually replace all of the original monkeys with new
ones. Each of the newcomers will go for the banana. Each one will be
attacked by the other four, although none of the newer monkeys will
have any idea why they are not allowed to climb the ladder, or why they
are participating in the assault on the newest monkey.
When all of the original monkeys have been replaced, none of the
remaining monkeys will ever have been sprayed with cold water.
Nevertheless no monkey ever approaches the ladder.
Monday, December 17, 2007
"Best-selling author and Bilderberg sleuth Daniel Estulin says he has received information from sources inside the U.S. intelligence community which suggests that people from the highest levels of the U.S. government are considering an assassination attempt against Congressman Ron Paul because they are threatened by his burgeoning popularity."Here is the MP3 of the Estunil interview. They discuss more interesting topics, such as Bush being told to back down from Iraq.
The most common method for "removing" dissenters is with a small plane crash. This is what may have happened to Paul Wellstone, and to Jaime Roldos, and Omar Torrijos.
Daniel Estulin is the author of a very recently published book on the Bilderbergers:
Here is a bit about the Bilderberg group:
And a BBC article:
The chairman in the above article is quoted as saying:
"I don't think (we are) a global ruling class because I don't think a global ruling class exists. I simply think it's people who have influence interested to speak to other people who have influence," Viscount Davignon says.The members may or may not agree on all issues, but then on those that they agree on, then they would have huge influence, and thus act as a virtual global ruling class on said issues. The other possibility is of course, that they agree to disagree on most issues and agree to implement their concensus, in which case they ARE a virtual global ruling class and Davignon is downplaying it.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
While I was there I read John Perkins's book "Secret History of the American Empire", which is a follow up to his bestseller "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man". Reading his book while in a 3rd world country, seeing all the poverty, makes it very in-your-face. That was the reason for my realization.
Economic Hitmen are international consultants whose main job is to convince the corrupt elite of LDCs (less developed countries) around the world to accept multibillion-dollar loans for infrastructure projects and to see to it that most of this money ends up at Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root, and other United States engineering and construction companies.
The loans, which come from the IMF/World Bank, are designed so that the poor nations will never be able to repay them, but will forever be enslaved by only being able to pay interest on the loan. (This is a lot like the US middle class, and the Federal government's debts - ultimately unpayable - because of the Federal Reserve and the fundamentally corrupt monetary system. The root is the Compound Interest Paradox, aka the "Debt Virus". Here's an excellent summary.) Indeed the IMF and WB are simply a part of, and controlled by, the central banks, most especially the Federal Reserve. Many, many poor nations spend more on paying interest on their foreign debt, than they do on education, basic medical care, micro-loans, and other grassroots programs for the poor.
John Perkins goes on to say that this system relies on corrupting the elite in these poor nations. These elites benefit directly by siphoning a small portion of these multibillion dollar loans, and by remaining in power. This is the carrot.
The system is driven by the corporatocracy - a term coined by Perkins to mean the collective of the transnational corporations. Wall Street benefits directly from the enslavement of the 3rd world, as they are able to tap the natural resources of these 3rd world nations at low cost. Carrol Quigley had written in his book, "Tragedy and Hope", that the world's elite keeps the 3rd world poor in order to keep the prices of natural resources low.
“The system is set up such that the countries are so deep in debt that they can’t repay their debt,” Perkins said. “When the U.S. government wants favors from them, like votes in the United Nations or troops in Iraq, or in many, many cases, their resources – their oil, their canal, in the case of Panama, we go to them and say – look, you can’t pay off your debts, therefore sell your oil at a very low price to our oil companies. Today, tremendous pressure is being put on Ecuador, for example, to sell off its Amazonian rainforest -– very precious, very fragile places, inhabited by indigenous people whose cultures are being destroyed by the oil companies.”
John Perkins goes on to say that if the elite of a 3rd world country begins to resist or go nationalistic, the stick comes out - the CIA jackals are sent in. This is the fate that befell Jaime Roldos in Ecuador, Omar Torrijos in Panama ,and Allende in Chile. They were assassinated. Note that the CIA and Wall Street are intertwined. The jackals then install a new puppet government.
If the jackals fail, the US Military is sent in to finish the job. Young men and women are sent in to die "for their country", to kill people who "hate us for our freedoms", and to "spread democracy". This is what happened to Saddam Hussein, who, ironically, was trained by the CIA to assassinate his predecessor Qasim who was anti-corporatist, and to be a counter balance against Iran. And don't forget that in 1953, Iran's popular democratically elected Mossadegh was ousted, and the Shah put in power, by the CIA, at the behest of British Petroleum, because Mossadegh wanted his people to get a larger share of BP's oil income.
The US Military as Wall Street's attack dog has been written about back in the 1930's. Smedley Butler, perhaps the most decorated major general in the Marine Corps, wrote a book, "War is a Racket".
Such activities are those of an empire. Of all the characteristics of an empire, only one doesn't describe the USA - the presence of an emperor. However, Perkins points out that the corporatocracy acts as a virtual emperor. The root is that corporations have been conferred the rights of an individual, and none of the responsibilities. As an entity, they always look out for the bottom line. If the bottom line is helped by oppressing people in other nations, and transparency is not required, they will do it. The result is that the American Empire is hated by many people in the world.
All of this empire building is completely unbeknownst to the vast majority of the American public. This is because the mass media is controlled by the same corporations that run the corporatocracy, by the same people that run the government. This is a crucial point to understand. America is not hated for her people, who are misled by the so called free press. America is hated because of her government's foreign policy and covert operations; her government that is run by the corporatocracy; a government that does not represent "we the people".
Reading Perkins's book while visiting a 3rd world county gave me a new perspective. It doubled the intensity of my feeling that needless human suffering is very, very offensive. As a technologist, I feel there is no good reason that anybody on this planet should not have access to food, clean water, shelter, and basic medical care. The poverty in this world is a man-made, artificial creation of the people in power. They believe in materialism - that in order to have a bigger piece of the pie for themselves, they have to steal someone else's. They believe that life and economics is a zero-sum game.
I believe that wealth comes from knowledge, as Plato said. If we need more wealth, we can make the pie bigger for everyone. Almost all the wealth we have today comes from technology - medicine, transportation, communications, mass production of goods, and so on. Keeping huge swaths of the world poor, results in tremendous swaths of untapped human potential. Human potential that could have been generating more wealth for everyone.
If parts of Asia and Africa were not desperately poor and had access to higher education for the past 40 years, then technology, which is accelerating, would probably be 20 years ahead today - we'd probably have had the Internet boom in the 80's, and have the technology of the 2020's here today. The world's power elite are killing the goose that lays the golden egg, so to speak. Keeping the 3rd world poor is counter-productive. Even though natural resources would be more expensive, technological advancements continually make use of smaller and smaller amounts of natural resources to make the same product, offsetting the increased prices of resources. Ironically, by now some bright young scientist in Asia or Africa may have discovered the cure for a fatal cancer that one of the elite in the first world may be dying of today.
During my trip, an incident struck me. We had just come from a 4 day boat cruise where our group had had a discussion about how much to leave as a tip for the crew. We had settled on $8 from each of us for 4 days. This was a very paltry sum given the wonderful service we got from the crew, and the local culture's very warm-hearted manner.
The next day, while our group was hailing a taxi, some rejected a taxi because the driver wanted to charge $0.50 more than what was considered to be a good price. Our destination was Hard Rock Cafe, because 2 women in our group had wanted to purchase a Hard Rock cafe shirt or blouse with the name of the city we were vacationing in. When we got there, I was shocked at the price of the blouse - $60, in a 3rd world country. It struck me that these same women had haggled our taxi fare for 4 of us down by $0.50, and had only wanted to give $8 total tip for 4 days on a boat cruise. This was money for people who were working to feed their families. And yet, they readily coughed up $60 for a blouse made by a wealthy corporation, for a product that probably cost them $1 to make.
It was offensive to watch. I asked them about wasting time haggling $0.50 for a cab ride - they said they "don't want to be ripped off". Yet they didn't feel ripped off paying $60 for a $1 blouse.
I understand that they are exercising their own freedom and that was their free choice. However it struck me just how pervasive consumerism is. The constant barrage of "buy buy buy", and the brainwashing and instilling in consumers the idea that acquisitiveness is a good thing, is disgusting. I have posted about this before, that the educational system and the media turn people into good little consumers.
I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to have high quality stuff to enjoy per se - but making what-you-have a substitute for who-I-am is creepy. "Me, me, me", "Look at me in my enormous 4,000-lb SUV, which I bought on credit, for carrying my 30-lb child", while soldiers die for the gas that runs it. "Look at my fancy $1,000 signature purse which I bought with my credit card, because I have been brainwashed into thinking that having some Italian fashion guru's name on my bag makes me feel good about myself", all the while a big chunk of the world lives on less than $1 a day. And all this consumerism is the result of brainwashing, to enrich the loan and credit card companies and the corporatocracy.
I'm not saying you should live the life of a pauper and be happy you don't have to walk 10 miles a day to fetch water. All I'm saying is you should see through the consumerism and think twice about useless "feel-good" purchases. Especially if you have to borrow money to "afford" it.
John Perkins' proposal to end the oppression by the corporatocracy, is to effect a legal change in corporations' charters, basically requiring them to have the same responsibilities as a person, to go with their rights. Another is to greatly increase corporate transparency, so that consumers are aware of their activities, and can vote appropriately with their wallets. I have a proposal to add, that managers and members of boards of directors have reduced liability protection for a corporation's actions which are a direct consequence of their decisions.
Despite all the horror stories, Perkins is positive. He says we can turn the empire into a good thing. When an empire collapses a new one takes its place - he says we can instead turn the corporations into good corporate citizens. Corporations have many strengths - such as efficiently turning scarce resources into products that consumers want.
Today, Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate that has called a spade, a spade. He said the USA cannot afford to continue empire building. All Empires end. The ancient civilization of the country I was visiting ended, and today they are a 3rd world country. Empires end because they go bankrupt, from printing too much fiat money, and forgetting the principles that made their pre-empire nation great to begin with. In the USA, these are the principles of Individual Freedom, limited government, and the free market. Ron Paul has always voted against meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. He voted against the Iraqi Freedom Act, signed by Bill Clinton in 1998, which paved the way for the Iraq invasion. He has consistently voted against the Patriot Act, the spying powers act, and all the other acts that increase the power and spending of the government and all acts that reduce our freedoms; all of this while Hillary and Obama and most of the Democrats voted the opposite.
I believe that if Ron Paul gets elected, and if John Perkins's suggestions come to fruition, that America, followed by the rest of the world, will enter a new golden age. America can again become the shining beacon she once was, leading by example.
Before I end this post I need to say a caveat - Perkins seems to confuse capitalism and corporatism. There is a pervasive myth that capitalism always leads to corporatism. Corporatism happens when big business and government collude so that government writes laws and regulations that favor certain corporations, or favor large corporations, over small business. This leads to cartelization, which is the goal of any "regulation" that is pushed by corporations. This could either happen by government being misled, or bribed, by lobbyists. Government meddling in the free market is almost always corporatist. Many industries in the USA are heavily regulated, thus, the free market does not truly exist.
Here is a good book review that says exactly this:
Perkins's primary problem is in assuming that all global capitalism is sinister in the sense described in his book. Any creation of wealth that depends on coercion can hardly be considered market capitalism. It truly is sinister when a US firm, funded indirectly by taxpayer dollars, forces indigenous people offs their land in South America because geological tests suggest that oil deposits there surpass those of the Middle East. It is sinister because it violates the property rights of both the taxpayers who fund the politically well-connected firms and of the displaced peoples and cultures whose property rights are violated when they are removed from their land (often with much suffering).
But Perkins's anticapitalism really shows when he equates such activity with (say) the opening of a Nike plant a third world country. No one dies, and no cultures are killed off, when a factory opens and workers living near it can voluntarily sell their labor for wages that (economic theory tells us) exceed their next-best opportunity for work.
In developing countries, a new Nike plant is a godsend, not only because it increases capital flows to a region, but because it means that families can become autonomous, or that daughters do not have to resort to prostitution to put food on the table.
In this sense, it is perverse to assume that a Wal-Mart in China or a McDonald's in South Korea is analogous to a Bechtel in India or a Halliburton in Iraq.
Perkins's biases also show when he assumes that the West stays rich because poor countries are kept poor. This zero-sum thinking ignores those factors that cause wealth to become created in the first place. The America of the Founding Fathers — whose anti-imperial instincts Perkins rightly lauds throughout Confessions — didn't depend on international development loans or the expansion of social welfare programs to fuel the industrial revolution, but on the protection of property rights, which then rewarded saving and attracted capital. For that reason, it is no coincidence that poor countries that eschewed such loans and nurtured property rights institutions 20 years ago are those that are quickly joining the wealthy countries of today.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
It seems the media is guilty of ignoring any candidate that isn't in their owner's pocket, like say Ron Paul.
But they are ignoring others even more, Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Alan Keyes, Mike Huckabee, etc...
However, you do the same thing! You have the candidates you want to bring down because they are in the pocket so to speak, but you mention only Ron Paul. He isn't the only other candidate. Perhaps you should be including the data for or at least mentioning the other candidates so we can see the whole picture instead of a "media" prepared "sound bite".
What are the contributions for the other candidates? To be truly concerned with our having the whole story, shouldn't you have included them? Your choice to only include Ron Paul, begs you bias toward him, which in itself is fine. I have a problem with you not including ALL the candidates.
I am also interested to so the armed forces as some of the biggest contributors to Paul as well as technology companies. Those both concern me.
Finally, I am curious how popular each candidate is compared to their spending and compared to their receipts especially the average and median size of their receipts.
It takes an incredible amount of time to write a blog when one strives for accuracy and strives to show sources. And, in that post, I had to do a screen capture of the contributors of each of the candidates I showed, and convert each to GIF, because the content may disappear in the future due to its contentious nature. (I've seen this happen). So, to save time, I decided to do a cross section of the "media anointed", rather than present a comprehensive list.
Yes I have a bias towards Ron Paul. My objective in this blog is to educate, and to make people take the red pill. Ron Paul is a ray of hope - he is the only candidate in decades who wants to phase out the Federal Reserve, eliminate the federal income tax on wages, eliminate inflation, restore true freedom, reduce government regulation, reduce the size of the government, and truly fix the health care system. I have written about each and every one of these topics before. And being a blog, I can write my opinion, instead of striving to be neutral as a news source should be. I do my best not to lie or mislead. The corporate-owned mass media on the other hand, is not only not neutral, but consistently shows an Establishment bias which serves to further enrich the wealthy to the detriment of the middle class and the poor.
As for Ron Paul's contributions from the military and technology companies, take note of the disclaimer from the opensecrets.org website that I included in my post. The contributions reflect the employers of the sum of individual contributors. A law requires contributors to identify their employers when contributing more than $200. People will contribute to a candidate that they feel will best improve their future well-being. The "media-anointed" are a favorite among the financial institutions, which as I've posted before, effectively run this country, and which receive a huge subsidy from the corrupt monetary system starting with the Federal Reserve. As for the military, Ron Paul is the #1 candidate among enlisted men and women. Perhaps they like Ron Paul because he will get them out of fighting needless wars of aggression that only the power elite want. Regarding technology companies, Google has a simple explanation. Google has invited several presidential candidates, including Ron Paul, to their campus to do lengthy interviews. Ron Paul is very popular among people who have heard his message. Google has several thousand well paid employees. So it stands to reason that a lot of Google employees gave a lot of money.
Leah has left a new comment on your post "The Campaign Contributors of the Media Anointed":
What about Dennis Kucinich?I like a lot of what Dennis Kucinich stands for. His donor profile on opensecrets.org is also anti-establishment. However, there is one basic thing about Kucinich I don't like - he is pro-socialism. I have posted about this before. I don't like the idea of "giving a man a fish", especially if forced by government. I like the idea of "teaching a man to fish". A fair economic system will do far more for the poor than socialism or welfare will. The free market system has generated wealth for mankind, more than any other system. Do not confuse corporatism (collusion between corporations and government, so that laws are written to benefit corporations), with capitalism (the free market system). The free market allows us to "make the pie bigger" for everyone. Technology and knowledge is wealth. The so called "evils" of capitalism is actually corporatism, and not an indictment of capitalism. I wrote about this before too. The free market does not necessarily devolve into corporatism aka fascism - bloated government breeds corruption. In a capitalist system, corruption leads to corporatism, in a socialist system, corruption leads to how life was in the former Soviet Union. Both are forms of tyranny, which the Founding Fathers warned us against.
Michael Blomquist has left a new comment on your post "The Campaign Contributors of the Media Anointed":
This is really a sad testament to captalism and democracy. One could argue that it is treason, given the hundreds of billions if not trillions in damages these companies have inflicted upon our country during a time of war.
Create money out of thin air and then enslave the citizens in debt. If in the process you destroy the dream of homeownership and the currency...no problem!
The citizens should have known better. The government maintains a balanced budget and so should the people.
Wake up people!
Indict and convict white collar criminals; don't waste our time and resources on steroids or related perjury!!!
Again do not confuse capitalism and corporatism.
I agree that some white collar crimes (e.g. Enron) are heinous in the total amount of human suffering they cause. Thousands of employees losing their future. A much worse crime than say, beating up one person.
(Note that the exact numbers may change over time.)
And her supporters probably think that she won't kowtow to lobbyists, due to the mass media's propaganda. What a lie.
For a look at the corporate donations of the media anointed, click here.