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Combatting the Crippled Epistemolgy Philosophy

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posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 07:04 AM
After reading the thread about Cass Sunstein's ideas about crippled epistemology and how it wreaked of Orwellian irony, and anti liberty sentiments.

I felt a little threatened and depressed and how, in that moment, I thought what it would be like to have this and other critical theory sites overtly attacked, or basically shut down, and be subject to legal backlash from TPTB. I know it may be over exaggerated but I feel strongly about the concept of "idea generation" and how these and other anti democratic control ideas are now circulating out there, just waiting for the right time or waiting to germinate (pun intended). Kinda like how 9-11 opened the door for the patriot act. Now that the crippled epistemology idea is out there TPTB could stage an event to back their case and presto...... well you get it.

I thought it would be a worth while endeavor to gather and share some favorite writings and philosophies that address the dangers of such an idea. Obviously George Orwell's 1984 comes to mind.

I guess the purpose of this thread to to demonstrate why Sunstein's beliefs are crippled in and of themselves. So please share other writings or writers that leave room for a "wise questioning minority" in their societies.

I am no authority on the subject, but one of my favorite writers that have always justified my critical questioning eye, and a healthy skepticism for government has been the Civil Disobedience Writings of one of the first conspiracy theorists of his time Henry David Thoreau.

I found a nice site that has his writings on Civil Disobedience which I feel correlates with much of ATS's philosophy of denying ignorance:

I HEARTILY ACCEPT the motto, — "That government is best which governs least";(1) and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe, — "That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient. The objections which have been brought against a standing army, and they are many and weighty, and deserve to prevail, may also at last be brought against a standing government. The standing army is only an arm of the standing government. The government itself, which is only the mode which the people have chosen to execute their will, is equally liable to be abused and perverted before the people can act through it. Witness the present Mexican war,(2) the work of comparatively a few individuals using the standing government as their tool; for, in the outset, the people would not have consented to this measure........

I don't post often so apologies if I anger the Mods.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 07:27 AM
Good response man. I've always generally agreed with Thoreau and Orwell. If you haven't, read Orwell's "Politics and the English Language." It's a short read but well worth it. Thanks.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 07:54 AM
reply to post by Mr Headshot

The term crippled epistemology seems to fit into Orwell's dying metaphor explanation. Certainly used without knowledge of it's meaning.


posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 07:59 AM
Here's a nice quote for you...

...a well-functioning democracy depends on far more than restraints on official censorship of controversial ideas and opinions. It also depends on some kind of public sphere, in which a wide range of speakers have access to a diverse public—and also to particular institutions, and practices, against which they seek to launch objections.

Emerging technologies, including the Internet, are hardly an enemy here. They hold out far more promise than risk, especially because they allow people to widen their horizons.


posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 08:37 AM
reply to post by melatonin

Hillarious, What is this guy's angle?? Talk about speaking with a forked tongue.
Great find melatonin!!

That is priceless, thank you for this nugget. What a hypocrite.
Funny no mention of crippled epistemology there, at least not that I saw.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 08:58 AM
reply to post by sparrowstail

tbh, sparrowstail, I think a lot of people are misinterpreting some of what he says.

He is pretty consistent that restricting exposure to ideas leads to crippled epistemology. A way to combat this is to widen exposure to ideas.

What some don't like is his categorising conspiracy theorists as one group suffering from a degree of crippled epistemology. One of his ideas in an academic paper reviewing the issue was for 'cognitive infiltration' - which simply means exposing groups considered restricted in their epistemology to other ideas. I'm not a fan of his official mechanism, but the paper is just a review of this issue anyway (not policy).

Whether you agree with his categorisation is debatable. For example, here at ATS there is already a somewhat wide perspective, IMO. So the site is actually fitting for what Sunstein supports (but see later).

The notion of crippled epistemology actually comes from work studying religious groups and extremists (Hardin). The idea is that people who feel outside mainstream politics and/or society become isolated, and flock together - the group polarises and over time ejects moderate thinkers. Thus, the group also hardens in its position. The groups also tend to limit their exposure to ideas that conform to their 'philosophy' and view other forms of information as 'tainted', aided by a developing paranoid cognition. A sort of ingroup/outgroup process, where the outgroup is viewed very negatively and inherently untrustworthy. Obviously, once this is embedded a 'crippled epistemology' results (as other sources are readily rejected).

However, I do think some of the response here to his academic article was actually indicative of exactly what he was talking about, lol.

What Sunstein has been saying for a few years is that isolated thinkers and ideas should be given public airtime to enable the groups to become/feel less isolated. But it's also two-way process, no?

[edit on 16-1-2010 by melatonin]

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 09:17 AM
reply to post by melatonin

Ok I am starting to see the point a little more clearly, but I can't help but wonder who will ultimately decide if a view point is tainted or developmentally paranoid? I guess this is paranoid itself but it seems the interpretation of said groups of information is and would be subjective when in the hands of TPTB.

Thanks for your insights, and yes, I may be reading into his crippled epistemology paradigm a bit to deep but I feel there are no bad questions when it comes to securing and ensuring a free and open forum for discussion and exchanging opposing ideas even if they oppose the gov. If it starts with fringe conspiracy groups or ideas will that not open the flood gates towards the more noble conspiracists?? I don't know

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 09:34 AM
He actively supports the airing of dissenting views. Perhaps read his book 'Why societies need dissent'. I haven't read it, so can't say whether it's any good. But I'm sure he'll outline in detail his perspective.

If you're interested in the concept of 'crippled epistemology', Russell Hardin's article might be worth a read:

The Crippled Epistemology of Extremism

This is where Sunstein originally gets the idea. I think it has some validity.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 10:38 AM

Originally posted by melatonin
He is pretty consistent that restricting exposure to ideas leads to crippled epistemology. A way to combat this is to widen exposure to ideas.

But how on earth does he come to the conclusion that conspiracy theorists have a restricted exposure to ideas?
I would think that conspiracy theorists have a much larger exposure to ideas than the average person, because they always read multiple sources & question their sources (Example: pretty much any news thread on ATS)

And I do believe that his core idea is extremely Orwellian: That people who think differently do so because of a lack of "education" or "proper information"
It brings to mind the "re-education camps" of the Communist regimes...

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 10:43 AM
I'd also like to add one of my favorite George Orwell quotes, it's from a proposed preface to Animal Farm

“The British press is extremely centralized, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books & periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is “not done” to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was not “not done” to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 10:46 AM
reply to post by MrVertigo

Since joining ATS I have indeed been exposed to some of the most well read and best researchers I have ever seen.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 11:31 AM

Originally posted by MrVertigo
But how on earth does he come to the conclusion that conspiracy theorists have a restricted exposure to ideas?
I would think that conspiracy theorists have a much larger exposure to ideas than the average person, because they always read multiple sources & question their sources (Example: pretty much any news thread on ATS)

Well, if you read his article I posed above, he does say it is becoming common in general society. People just can't be bothered/don't have time/don't care and now have the tools to limit their exposure.

I do think responses to the article in the news thread sort of show the issue. I'm busy at the moment (have mouths to feed) but have a read and see if you can see what I mean. I'll post again laterz.

posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 11:53 AM
I can agree with what he is saying to an extent. My mother for example, has a eorld view shes carried and believed since a teenager and will shake her head and get upset if I present an argument that challenges her perception. Her truth is the CBC, BBC etc. Her views come almost soley from reuters and the associated press. I believe it could be argued that those who follow mainstream news without delving into alternative sources or differing acounts on a particular news item are equally suffering from crippled epistemology in the same way certain conspiracy theorists reject sources or ideas that challnege their particular world view.

I think the author of the report (while disagreeing with his ideas about libel and legal action) presents a good argument that is attributable to society at large. How many of us know people, or have oursevles been guilty, ignoring or rejecting out of hand, information that challneges our current understanding of things? I can admit I have many times. When I first started delving into the world of conspiracy and the larger role economics has on controlling countries, I was very steadfast in what I thought I knew and would refuse quite adamantly, any source or argument that contradicted what I believed to be true.

Its an interesting discussion and while I don't agree with everything the man says I can admit that he has a point. My contention is that what he argues is equally true of mainstream media adherents as well as extremists, though extremists present a more concrete platform for his thesis.


posted on Jan, 16 2010 @ 12:18 PM
reply to post by thebulldog

Interesting take on the concept. My father would suffer from the same thing as well. I mentioned in an earlier post that networks like fox news must be damn near in a comma with their epistemology.

To carry your argument further, I guess we the people would stand to lose the most if the mainstream prevalent view point suffers in this way. The extremists don't have the controlling reigns of society in their hands and the military at their disposal. Once again, I am faced with the question of who will decide a conspiracy theory is too extreme or not and will this be the case if one gets too close to the truth?? More questions then answers.

I guess I should have named the thread Crippled Epistemology: The Good the Bad and the Ugly.


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