Dr. Taylor’s (Mis)perception
Today I was reading something that caught my attention: An opinion piece written by Dr. Jim Taylor, a psychologist with all the imagined (and well deserved, I suppose) credentials, but with a flawed criterion. I really took my time reading it and then I began to write my rebuttal and hesitated because, according to his website, Dr. Taylor is:
A former alpine ski racer who competed internationally, Dr. Taylor is also a 2nd degree black belt and certified instructor in karate, a marathon runner, and an Ironman triathlete.
Then I thought, what the heck! You’re already messing with the Huffington Post! Go ahead and keep tilting at another windmill, too!
In a nutshell, this is what Dr. Taylor wrote:
1. There is a climate of of mistrust, anger, and polarization that made the last decade one of the most tumultuous and divisive ones in U.S. history. It wasn’t only what happened in this decade, which was grim enough, there was something else aggravating everything.
2. Looking for clues, he found that the
culprit common denominator was information, i.e., biased information, or just plain misinformation.
3. That means there is no more reliable news sources to be found. In his own words “These days, you can’t find “fair and balanced” news anywhere. Too much information these days is tainted with an agenda, whether political, religious, economic, or some other.”
4. To solve this, Dr. Taylor wishes for “the U.S. federal government creating a Department of Information whose responsibility would be to determine the facts behind any decision that confronts [America].”
As a matter of fact, I can easily agree with points nr. 1 and 3, somewhat agree with the oversimplificating point nr. 2, but I could never agree with his proposal expressed almost verbatim in point nr. 4. As a further matter of fact, Dr. Taylor later states that “[He] know[s] what [we are] thinking: This sounds like something that belongs in a totalitarian regime.”
In my case, he’s completely right. For starters, Nazi Germany had the pompous named “Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda“, lead by none other than Joseph Göbbels. But wait, there’s more! The former Soviet Union had its information flow strictly controlled by the state, with
creepy tragicomical results. Is this what Dr. Taylor is yearning for? Apparently yes, because he promptly elaborates
“But the reality is that someone has to decide on what is factual and what is not. So who can we trust to give us the most accurate information available? Big Business? Traditional media? The blogosphere? I certainly wouldn’t trust any of them. Though our government is far from perfect, it does exist, at least in theory, to serve the best interests of the American people.”
Again, sorry Dr. Taylor, but you’re deadly wrong. Don’t you see that giving the state the control of the information ends with the state trying (and achieving) the very thing you’re trying to avoid? History is too full of examples to ignore this, your ironic tone is no justification for your ill-conceived proposal.
And still there’s more! Reading your article closely, anybody can realize your bias: according to you, anybody with a conservative leaning simply can’t face reality, and isn’t facing reality for sure. For instance, the tea party may have never realized that the healthcare reform financial projections might be flawed. No, that can’t be true. Maybe conservatism is a mental disorder, you might add. I’m sure it was really so in the Soviet Union. “The facts of life are conservative”, said Margaret Thatcher. No wonder she and the very conservative Ronald Reagan suffered from Alzheimer (note: please don’t miss my sarcastic tone).
Because of this, I will never buy your good intentions when you stated that:
This post is directed toward to everyone else, those who, whether a Republican or Democrat, Christian, Jew, Muslim, or atheist, environmentalist or industrialist, socialist or capitalist, are reasonable people who believe that truth should trump ideology, who are interested in separating fact from fiction, and want to know both sides of an issue before forming thoughtful and well-supported opinions.
Well, there is just one more thing: maybe the solution you are looking for comes from the very freedom of expression right. The problem is that you wrote in a very patronizing mode, you think that the rest of the people is gullible and can’t figure out the truth by reading all the lies. It is amazing to find the parallels between Don Quixotte and 1984. In both works the main characters defend the truth but are found insane by their societies. Their respective supporting characters are down-to-earth persons, better adjusted to “the reality”, but incapable and unwilling of comprehending the “big picture.” Your curriculum vitae might be impressive, I’m only Paul Maršić, but I will nevertheless keep tilting at windmills.