Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Propaganda, reductionism and intellectuals

This post from The Samovar on Propaganda, political reductionism, and Intellectuals, is food for thought. A snippit:

" ... there’s another aspect that I want to focus on, which is that intellectuals want to try to understand the world by simplifying it. They want to reduce complex ideas to simple models of them, and to understand them by doing so. This ties in with Ellul’s claim because if you have a simple model of the world that you think explains everything, it’s very hard to give it up. You end up reinterpreting events and facts to fit the theory rather than the much more onerous and difficult prospect of giving up the theory, which would require you to rethink the whole way you look at the world. One of Ellul’s points is that one of the two main functions of propaganda - what he calls integration propaganda - is to intensify currently existing ways of looking at the world and to turn them into actions. Integration propaganda must work better on someone who has a strong personal incentive not to give up his already existing simplified model of the world."


Jay@Soob said...

Munz, have you read Nassim Taleb's Black Swan?

G said...

No I haven't, I had read some of his views around the web which raise similar views the post i.e. relying on popperian falsificationism rather than the gathering of data that already fits the hypothesis (which would be a form of confirmation bias).

Is it a good book?

Adrian said...

It's a very good book.

Jay@Soob said...

As Adrian said, it's an excellent book. There aren't many books that I give away and say, "You've got to read this." My copy's in Texas at the moment otherwise I'd toss it on via UPS.

G said...

Thanks. I'll go and pick it up from Borders this week.