Once upon a time, there was a young shepherd boy who became very bored, so he grabbed his lap top and began furiously typing in a frantic manner;
"Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!"
Several of the loyal users of a respected site came to the young shepherd boys aid, entering into his thread of desperate pleas for help, but once
entering the thread they discovered that there was no wolf.
Many of the users admonished the young shepherd boy and posted their grumbles and complaints telling the young shepherd boy that he shouldn't cry
wolf when there is no wolf.
But the little shepherd boy, being a bright illuminaughty, naughty, naughty boy couldn't resist a few hours later after reaching boredom again, and
once again furiously typed; "Wolf! Wolf! There is a wolf chasing the sheep!"
Once again the users of the popular site came running to the naughty boys aid, only to discover they'd been had once again. Sternly, many of the
members, even some of the moderators warned the naughty, naughty little boy to only cry wolf when there actually was a wolf.
The bright naughty, illiminaughty, naughty boy only grinned, feeling comfortably safe and sound behind his avatar and user name, and snidely smirked
as the older users left his thread grumbling all the way.
However, while many of the users suspected that this shepherd boy was really just a government plant, a disinfo agent whose aim was to unbalance the
unity among serious villagers of the world wide web whose aim was that of the greater good, this naughty, naughty little boy was not any disinfo
agent, not even an MK Ultra sleeper, and certainly not a government agent, he was just a silly, naughty little boy who thought it funny to cry wolf
when there was no wolf...until...
A few hours later some government agents came knocking at the door of this naughty, naughty, little shepherd boy who was possibly downloading
undownloadables, or maybe hacking into to highly classified sites, or possibly just shepherding all the lonely sheeple. For whatever reasons, this
silly little shepherd boy had attracted the attention of big bad government agents who demanded to be let in or they would huff and puff and blow the
little shepherd boys house down.
In a total panic, and understandably so, the naughty little shepherd boy posted in his thread and screamed for help, telling whomever would listen
that there was a big bad wolf at his door and about to yank him out of his house by his chinny, chin, chin. (Beyond crying wolf, this little shepherd
boy was fond of mixing metaphors).
Sadly, the members of the site in which he kept his thread ignored him this time, because these were seasoned users, and well aware of the axiom;
"fool me once shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me", and all ready being fooled twice, there was no way they were willing to go for thrice.
So, the big bad government agents yanked the naughty, naughty, illiminaughty shepherd boy from his home by the hairs of his chinny, chin, chin, and
took him away.
As days went by, the users of the popular site began to notice that the precocious little shepherd boy had not been around lately and wondered where
he was. Of course, they would never know, because he had been carted off - under the provisions of the Patriot Act - and held indifinitely as a
prisoner without any right to any due process of law.
What is the moral to this story? One might say that the moral to the story is that no one believes a liar, even when they tell the truth, and indeed,
that would be a good moral..a good lesson. But, in this so called "age of information" how are we to actually know what is a lie, and what is the
truth? Some would call it the age of information, but wiser souls tend to see it as the age of disinformation.
Perhaps it is best we see this age as the age of data overload. We are bombarded with data, and among this data is an ideological war for the minds
of all the lonely sheeple. Academics will study this and while virtually wringing their hands declare that we have gained "too much freedom" in our
ability to choose the data we digest. Well respected credentialed academics with political appointments to highly respected alphabet agencies come up
with theories about all of this, and one has even coined a phrase "egocasting" to describe this "too much freedom" in digesting data.
Do we have "too much freedom" when it comes to the data we choose to rely upon to form our decision making? Do we have a responsibility to look
beyond our own biases and read and watch viewpoints not in agreement with our own? Does taking the time to read, listen and watch viewpoints not in
agreement with our own actually expand our consciousness, or does it simply just clutter it with pointless rhetoric?
Even if we do make the time to digest as much data as humanly possible, how do we possibly separate the truth from the lies. For those of you who
have come to know me in this site (as best as anyone can possibly come to know a guy who uses a bogus user name and writes as if he is wiser than he
truly is - or not, depending upon your point of view), some of you have come to know my genuine frustration with what I consider the misuse of the
word "myth". The myth of the the word myth is that a myth is simply a story, usually told to describe origins of the earth, or universe, and often
told to relay tales of reluctant heroes who face incredible odds and are either victorious in facing their demons, or felled by their own hubris, but
increasingly the word is used to be equated with falsehood. My frustration with this is that there is a power to the myth - especially the reluctant
hero myth - in that it serves as a source of inspiration and even a guide or life lesson. When myth becomes nothing more than a falsehood, then the
inspiration of genuine heroism - those actions where an individual accepts more than just responsibility for his own actions, but responsibility for
the many - becomes a falsehood as well.
Yet, the internet is filled with sites that diligently endeavor to battle disinformation by declaring that disinformation a myth. How ironic is that?
Equating the word myth with falsehood is disinformation in itself! What the hell would be so wrong with using the word lie instead? Instead of the
myths about "Obama care" why not just title it The Lies That are Being Told About "Obama Care"? Instead of the myths about AIDS, why not title it
the Lies We're Told About AIDS? Instead of the myths about 9/11 why not title it The Lies Told About 9/11? In my not so humble opinion, the word
lie seems to have more power than what strikes me as the much more gentile word myth as an equivalence to falsehood.
We face a lexicon that is filled with words that have become so bastardized, so diluted, and so strayed from their original meaning, it is no wonder
we argue with each other so much. How can we expect to effectively communicate when we can't even agree on what a goddamned word means? What is the
truth of a word? "Words, words, words" as Hamlet would answer to the question; "what is the matter?", and as Shakespeare would say; "A rose by
any other name would smell as sweet." Of course, a rose, with all its thorns does smell sweet, but what does the letter A smell like? It has no
smell, no texture to feel, only its visibility as an A, and as Aristotle would say; "A is A", which is really nothing more than rhetoric.
Admittedly damn good rhetoric, but what the hell does it really mean?
Of course, what Aristotle means is that this is this, and that is that, and whether it be by agreement that we call this this, and that that, or by
some other design, it does not good to pretend that this is that, and that is this. See what I mean? It's really just rhetoric. A table is a
table, even when we sit upon it, and it would be pointless to ask someone to set your dinner plate on the chair just because you always sit upon the
table, unless, of course, all have agreed that the table you sit upon is, for all intents and purposes a chair. The point in declaring A is A is an
attempt to be more objective about the world we live in, in spite of our own inherent subjectivity. We can never truly be objective, as we can never
know the table from all angles at all times, and yet, some will argue that we can be objective about certain things. Take the sun, for example, we
can reasonably know that the sun will rise each morning and set each night, and call this objectivity, even though the sun, objectively speaking does
not rise nor does it set, it doesn't even orbit, or if it does, it certainly doesn't orbit the earth, quite the contrary, the perception of a rising
and setting sun is caused by the earth orbiting the sun.
Even so, try we must, as Yoda might put it, objectively as we can be. This attempt at objectivity is a part of critical thinking we need to
increasingly rely on if we are ever to survive the plethora of data that is either information, or disinformation. We can "egocast" all we want,
and what the hell is wrong with that? Why is a remote control, and control of choice on the internet any different than the books and magazines we
choose in a a library or bookstore? How were we not egocasting when we only had three channels to choose from on television, and fewer movies to see?
We still always had the choice to not watch or read, and to choose what we read and saw.
Indeed, "egocasting" is some academic's - Cass Sunstein to be exact - idea of erudition, when all it truly is his own personal "egocasting" based
upon his choices of data digested and believed. How hard has Sunstein worked at his critical thinking skills? How objective is he being when he
argues that democracy faces great peril when we "allow" too much "consumer choice"? Some will read, or listen to Sunstein and nod their heads in
vigorous agreement and think that FOX News has to go, or that CNBC has to go, or that Alex Jones should be drug out into a dark alley with Glenn Beck
and both of them shot. Others will read, or listen to Sunstein and think that maybe he should be drug out into a dark alley and shot. Some will have
never even heard of Cass Sunstein and wonder what all the goddamn fuss is about.
What is all this fuss about? Just what the hell is so urgent, important and a must read that we feel compelled to tag the title of a thread with
these words? Are we all either just consumers or marketers? Is marketing all its cracked up to be, or is it just cracked? There are axioms in
business designed to maximize the profitability of a business. One of the axioms of business is location, location, location, and while using words
such as Urgent! and Important Must Read Thread!!, may be useful marketing terms designed to draw the maximum traffic to this thread, it is thread
written by a writer with a proclivity toward verbosity which is not all that marketable in a Tweet filled world wide web, and more importantly, there
is the axiom location, location, location. In terms of the internet, and this site, it is now 5:12 am on a Saturday and by the time I post this it
will probably be somewhere around 6am Pacific Standard Time. As far as time goes this is not the best location to open a thread in, or at least from
what I can gather, and all things considered, given the nature, verbosity and time frame of this thread, it is fairly predictable it will die a quick
death, and maybe find signs of life from some loyal friends who deem this thread worthy of a bump or two.
Have I lied to the members of ATS by screaming Urgent! This is an Important Must Read Thread!!, or am I being honest? I am, after all, American, and
we are increasingly becoming seen as a country of big ass liars. In this site we have a forum dedicated to the big ass liars Americans can be called
U.S. Political Madness, and we are a nation who generally file tax returns each year and sign those tax returns under penalty of perjury, that all the
above is true and correct, but it has been said that the income tax has made us a nation of liars...or actually, if I am to attribute the quote, and
quote it precisely, Will Rogers once said; "The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has. Even when you make a tax
form out on the level, you don't know when it's through if you are a crook or a martyr.", but here's the thing; it's not as if I heard Will
Rogers say that, nor have I read it from any of his notes, letters, or autobiography, and I got this quote off of an internet site, so am I quoting
Will Rogers, or am I quoting an internet site who has attributed this phrase to Will Rogers?
Herein lies one of the big ass problems in this day and age of "information". Time Magazine tells me that Rand Paul "Misquotes" Thomas Jefferson,
but then informs me that Rand Paul actually mis-attributed to Jefferson a quote actually written by Henry David Thoreau. The quote is; "That
government is best that governs least.", and all I can do is take Time's word for it that Rand Paul misattributed this quote to Jefferson, even
though in order to take Time's word for it I have to look past the fact that they titled this "news" item as being a "misquote". A misquote is
generally understood to mean that the quote itself has been inaccurately quoted, not misattributed, but apparently Rand got the quote right, just got
its author wrong.
The internet is rife with misattributed quotations, and even sites that pride themselves on being the go to source for quotations will attribute
quotes to people where no reference can be found to verify that that person was that actual author or speaker of the quote. Anyone who has ever taken
the time to actually verify the source or find a reference that might help to verify a quote knows full well what a pain in the ass that can be in
some areas, such as quotes attributed to the founding fathers, particularly quotes regarding divisive political issues. It may look impressive to
attribute a phrase that agrees with ones political bent to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson, but some of these quotes being attributed to them
don't even sound like them, in terms of the language of their times and their personal styles. Of course, one would actually have to be familiar
with their language and style in order to know that, and that is just a whole lot more work.
Then there is the problem of quotes that are not necessarily misquoted, nor are they misattributed to the author, just taken out of context so as to
render the quote a lie. These type of out of context quotes may as well be misquotes. Being a critical thinker is no easy gig, to say the least. It
is, however, a necessary skill in this day and age, perhaps in any age, but in this day in age, one might reasonably argue that it is not just
necessary, but that it is Urgent! Important and a Must!!