The purpose of this post is, first and foremost, to elaborate on principles for the creation of information. This post is also about pointing out
implicit assumptions which generalize to a lot of other tv shows. The method being used is an analysis of the first episode of “Conspiracy Theory
with Jesse Ventura”. The episode is about the investigation of the possibility that the government is using one of its research installations
(HAARP) to control the weather and for mind control.
The first of these principles has been called Hanlon’s Razor. Simply stated, the principle is to “never attribute to malice what can adequately be
explained by stupidity”. This principle is violated in innumerable instances, for the most part because Hanlon's razor is for simplifying complexity
(reducing the amount of information) rather than increasing the complexity of simple information.
Another principle is that of narrative. One of the main characters on the show is the military. There are several characteristics imputed upon the
military. One of these characteristics is that the military is a singular entity motivated solely to do military things. Another is that it is
apparently unable to make mistakes (or, more correctly, unable to be seen to make mistakes). Narrative is also a simplifying principle.
There are several other narratives that exist within the episode. The most obvious is the show itself. It follows the main characters on a journey to
discover the truth about the evil government and the military, which are conspiring to keep the information from him at all costs. Luckily for Jesse
Ventura, there is no limit to the number of other people who each share their own perspective on the story, which inevitably ends with Jesse finding
out the truth (which consists of finding out that the government was lying).
Two more principles used are the appeal to science and the appeal to large numbers. The appeal to science is the use of technical sounding jargon to
make it sound as if it is true. It works primarily because it is not disprovable. Without the technical details of what actually went on or the
scientific background to understand it, most people cease all critical thinking. There simply is no other way of responding, short of going out to
obtain the details. If the details are undiscoverable, there really is no other option.
The appeal to large numbers, similarly, is something which can not adequately be understood by the audience. One particular instance of these two
principles combined is when Jesse is observing the cloud chamber. 100 watts in comparison to 1 billion watts sounds impressive. The technical
procedure for operating HAARP is simply assumed to be exactly the same as the one in the cloud chamber without any in-depth discussion as to why this
is the case.
Another principle, touched upon above, is that some of the ideas are not disprovable. It is simply assumed that the government has the capability of
knocking satellites out of the sky, despite never having witnessed any such event or explaining how the government would explain the discharge of
their installation at the exact moment a satellite goes down.
One of the key assumptions made in the show is that each individual who was interviewed has an experience that was a) relevant and b) true. The fact
that someone has feelings regarding whether or not the government is completely forthcoming in their motivations for the installation is, in the end,
not technically relevant if one is aiming for the truth of the matter.
The relevance implication is important. One of the ways relevance is implied is by the use of the expert. If, for example, geography is the sole
requirement for an expert, someone close to the location in question is used. Another generalizes to all of television: it is assumed that the cost of
putting information onto a television broadcast means everything is completely relevant. Why, after all, would they put it on there if it isn't?
The last tool is that of analysis itself; even this paper has tools for the creation of information which would be altogether different in some ways
and similar in some respects even from the show it was based on. Any analysis can be analyzed, and in the end, that reduces all of it to information.
edit on 21/2/2015 by zackli because: simplification and organization