There were 3 major terrorist incidents in England in 2017. Morally despicable acts of cruelty designed to spread panic & to inflict suffering on innocent people, & by enlarge, to terrify the country into a constant state of anxiety. The crimes were committed by a minority sample of Muslims who were radicalized because they listened to the propaganda of another minority sample of Muslims.
This has aggravated the schism in British public opinion: people who once defended their dislike of Muslims under a belief in each country taking care of their own, has become unadorned racism.
There are non-Muslims in England, organized bodies of them, who from this, deduce that the population of around 2 1/2 million Muslims in England are all sleeping terrorists. i know at least 10 people (my own aunty being one, along with her clique of equestrians) personally who believe this & have harvested the information from a wider organization of people who accept this as fact. Britain First propaganda informs them. An organization that went to refugee camps, asked Syrian refugees who could hardly speak English, where they wanted to go, when they replied England they forcibly told them not to go, then when they noted the smart phones in the refugees’ hands, quizzed them, as if they’d caught them red handed as frauds, on where they got them. It never occurred to this Britain First supporters that Syria did once have economic structures in place or that these refugees came from relatively wealthy families that could afford such objects. Nor, whether there might be an industry of used phones sold on the cheap, despite the war.
What is more absurd is how they’d fix this problem: “just send them back.” How many times i’ve asked these Britain First supporters what they’d do & received this answer is astonishing.
An insignificant amount of critical thinking exposes the immense complexity of doing this. A great many Muslims have lived in England for generations. How do you determine where “back” is for young Muslims who never visited the countries their grandfathers came from? Young people who identify as Brits. The extreme right often forget that Muslim isn’t a country. Let’s say you do have a system to decide, which is unlikely; who will pay for the transportation to return 2 1/2 million Muslims, or even half that amount? If no one, then do they expect them to be herded by force to Dover & forced onto boats? What then of European countries where they will perhaps land? Will they pick a single country to drop them all, or send vessels to the multitude of countries where Muslims live? What boats will be used & who will pay?
The logistics to successfully carry out such a ludicrous solution is fraught with difficulties; considering that there will never be a clear majority that believe this a morally just course of action; in that case, there would never be a majority vote to shoulder the pecuniary responsibility for something they find morally reprehensible.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, has become the apothegm of some, Darren Osbourne, for example, who took his ideology to the point of mowing down Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque, killing one & maiming several others. He transmuted his nationalistic anger & anxiety to protect his country into belligerent action, as if there were a holy war we’d all agreed on.
The truth is that people living inside the borders of England just go about their busy, their ideologies or opinions, remaining dormant until they are provoked into use. People don’t tend to think about, or to correlate information, if they do, it is from sources similar in scope to each other. This means the dialectic in society is largely passive, then a slanging match.
i’m with Northrop Frye on the value of argument:
“I detest arguments because you’re going to lose any argument with an ideologue because you can only argue on the basis of a counter ideology, and I’m not doing that. I think that the ideologue addresses his public and wants to make a kinetic effect on it. He wants people to get out there and do something.” He goes on to say “The actual technique of argumentative writing is something I avoid as far as possible because when you argue, you are selecting points to emphasize and there can never be anything definitively right or wrong about an emphasis. It’s simply a choice among possibilities, and consequently argument is always a half truth.”
Guillaume Chaslot, a computer engineer who worked on the Youtube algorithm, discovered during the 3 years he worked on & with it, that how the algorithm decides the Up Next videos in the Youtube side bar, are dangerously skewed. Search terms often lead people down a rabbit hole of conspiracy videos. His website Algotransparency, gives the likelihood of Up Next videos when we search a term such as “Global Warming”. If we do search this in Youtube we are 5.6× more likely to have a video on the predictions of Nostradamus appear in the Up Next side bar. Can you imagine what sort of effect this has on elections? How this affects learning?
A lot of people watch Youtube videos & Google is the leading search engine—Google owns Youtube, so the algorithm is probably similar. What might begin as an effort to inform yourself on an important topic, can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole of questionable authorities. Someone with poor critical faculties can be led into a belief system filled with irregularities; without defense, without critical habits, we are open to suggestion & manipulation.
i don’t believe Google is evil. i don’t think Larry Page is a bad bloke, but i do think the technology is flawed in regards to the freedom it must maintain to be what it is. In this case, we must take measures ourselves rather than place the blame on the engineers of these tools, which can be utilized for as much good as the bad habits they induce.
Conspiracy Theories are probably the most peculiar form of questionable authority. i say authority, because they have a lot of reach these days: Alex Jones as millions of listeners & David Icke sold out Wembley.
Although, in the opinion of a locked in conspiracy theorist, due to the non-conformist (& often bizarre) restructuring of what they accept as the status quo, they are in fact, hyper-critical. They are able to read symbols planted in plain view, within society; usually in advertising, Hollywood movies, subliminal messaging in popular music & the geomancy of monuments or architecture. To them, a logo may be a code that interpreted correctly, reveals clues to the agenda of the puppet masters pulling the strings. They are warring against shadowy government agencies, a global cabal with infinite resources to silence its opponents. Conspiracy theorists, interpret a wholly other narrative from the news reel of the day, because they understand reality in the context of secrecy. Their efforts to expose this puts them at daily risk, they do what they do for liberty & democracy, just like those who accuse the shamed.
One of the major anxieties of the conspiracy theorists is mass de-population. David Icke & Alex Jones frequently raise this topic. Their evidence comes mostly from the Georgia Guidestones, an admittedly peculiar monument in Elbert County, Georgia. On it are written 10 instructions, in 8 modern & 4 ancient languages. The 10 instructions are:
I. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
II. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
III. Unite humanity with a living new language.
IV. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
V. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
VI. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
VII. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
VIII. Balance personal rights with social duties.
IX. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
X. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.
i’ll just say something about number 1. There are 7,000,000,000 people on the planet. The extermination of 6,500,000,000 human beings is a messy business. The logistics of it, would mean, that of the 500,000,000, a reasonable percentage would need to be responsible for this. A conspiracy theorist might say the trade of labour for life, is one we already make & a work force could be selected with this promise. No doubt. However, would they have to kill us or be party to it? That’s a different conundrum. Cleaning up the already dead corpses of the entire planet is one thing but having to kill them, you have to be desensitized, propagandized and manipulated. They might say this is already being done. However the slow pile up of our bodies littering the planet & decomposing will cause famine if the select to deal with this don’t work constantly. In which case, we have an example at our disposal to illustrate the monumental strain this has on a power: the Nazi’s worked diligently to exterminate 6,000,000 over a period of a few years & it was fraught with logistical problems. & we are talking a number of much greater magnitude. How are even a million people going to clean up this? Moreover, the architects of this depopulation are supposed to be men who run businesses, whose interests are vested in manufacture & thus need a work force, on top of that, someone to buy their products. Why decimate the population of consumers? Isn’t the consumer supposed to be always right?
These are questions that are never raised by conspiracy theorists, because they want to believe. It gives them an advantage over the uninitiated, makes them feel they figured out a mystery.
Their anxieties are founded on an insanely improbable act of cruelty. But what knowledge can we harvest from merely denouncing them as crazy? It seems more profitable to be critical, then if they cannot answer us, they are forced to search themselves for a reply, from that we can put them in a position where they must interrogate their belief. That is what true criticism does: if the question cannot be answered, then there must be an attempt to uncover one.
Moral obligation in public life should not begin & end with accusation, the act of the accused needs to be corrected; disciplinary action should follow. To explain what someone did wrong takes more effort than pointing a finger. The accused must be guided to understand the mechanisms & triggering of the act.
We have never been more informed, it is no excuse to blame over abundance for ignorance; that doesn’t sit well with me. Quality may be more difficult to obtain & even maintain. But if that is the state we find ourselves in, an open mind to the changing tides of information that inform a problem, should keep us alert to questioning & being questioned.
Why is critical thinking difficult for people? People are often confused about what it really is to criticize something. It is not an act of negation, it is an act of analysis, a practice of reasoning to evaluate & even classify information in order to better understand. It is not an opinion that needs to be defended with the best efforts of the ego. It is not something that shames, blames, points or belittles. It is the power of understanding. It is a device for regulating society’s behavior; for keeping an informed eye on ourselves.