September 14, 2012

Orwell: "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."

In reaction to Michael Lewis's puff piece of access journalism on Obama, Glenn Greenwald dredges up an Orwell quote: "Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."

For example, here's an exercise in public relations I engaged in as a reporter: "Genes of History's Greatest Lover Found?" Nobody was actively resisting my printing this. I got lots of cooperation from the geneticist at Oxford who had led a team that identified Genghis Khan's Y-chromosome in a huge percentage of Asian steppe-dwellers. 

On the other hand, there's a certain matter of tone or edge. I wrote the article to be as close as I could make it to what I would have liked to read when I was 14, so it's crammed with all sorts of non-genteel stuff: Buried treasure! Forty virgins sacrificed! Clone army? Hereditary differences! Tolstoy and Marx wrong about the Great Man theory of history!

But, how much of a market is there for smart stuff that is non-genteel? The Daily Mail does monster business by having an old-fashioned Front Page attitude. Whose side is The Daily Mail on? It's on the side of its readers, who want to read stuff that they will find interesting. 

In contrast, more respectable publications are on the side of their readers, too. Their readers want their social status validated and their worldviews to remain placidly undisturbed by anything too interesting.

And even if interesting facts are conveyed, but in the genteel style, does anybody notice except the handful of people with close reading skills and a critical attitude? More disturbingly, when the facts merely appear in genteel surroundings, they are often assumed to confirm the conventional wisdom.

As I've often pointed out, the New York Times' genetics reporter Nicholas Wade spent a decade comprehensively trashing the conventional wisdom about race and genetics, and almost nobody noticed. As far as I can tell, 99% of New York Times readers took away the message they'd come in with: "Why, yes, we are ever so much more sophisticated than those mouth-breathing Creationists who don't realize that Science has proven that race is just a Social Construct."

Or, consider poor Jodi Kantor, the NYT's White House correspondent, who has been dog-whistling for half a decade that there are some things that aren't quite right about Barack Obama. (Here's her 2007 article on Obama and Rev. Wright that came out a full year before Wright briefly became an issue in the 2008 campaign. And here's her recent article about Obama's egomania.) Has anybody noticed?

We shouldn't, however, get carried away by the appealing notion that journalists in the past were all disreputable ne'er-do-wells whose chief loyalty was to getting an interesting story for the unwashed masses. There have always been newspapers whose first loyalty was to validating the gentility of their readers. T.S. Eliot lampooned one eminently respectable post-Puritan newspaper about a century ago:
The readers of the Boston Evening TranscriptSway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.
When evening quickens faintly in the street,
Wakening the appetites of life in some
And to others bringing the Boston Evening Transcript,
I mount the steps and ring the bell, turning
Wearily, as one would turn to nod good-bye to Rochefoucauld,
If the street were time and he at the end of the street,
And I say, "Cousin Harriet, here is the Boston Evening Transcript."

67 comments:

anony-mouse said...

Well it is called the 'Vanity Fair'.

Anonymous said...

Taleban launched a full assault on camp bastion...

Anonymous said...

Prince Harry better GTFO of A-stan before more people get killed because of his presence.

slumber_j said...

anony-mouse said...
"Well it is called the 'Vanity Fair'."

Vanity Fair--the magazine, I mean, and I guess I really mean its editor Graydon Carter--has a pretty extreme dose of the access-journalism clap and never gets called out on it. Carter's latter-day position in media-land is the result of the journalistic equivalent of the occasional reversal of Earth's magnetic poles.

Think of Spy Magazine, where Carter made his name and won his fame. It was the diametric opposite of what he does at VF, and he's become the very type he excoriated so brutally in those days.

If Donald Trump was it back in the day, then who's the Thick-Fingered Vulgarian now, Graydon? I mean, you've got the egregiously goofy hair and the sycophancy and *everything*.

Why doesn't anyone ever ask that in print? I guess they're looking forward to his Oscar party.

Anonymous said...

"Taleban launched a full assault on camp bastion..."

I'm guessing that will turn out to be a mistake.

as said...

"non-genteel stuff that's smart"

Those are my favorite posts of yours! I also like your gossip columns.

ATBOTL said...

Vanity Fair does better journalism than National Review.

Anonymous said...

Well, I found Lewis' article very informative, especially if you read all of it. Especially this quote from one of the meetings about moving into Libya: “Everyone was doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing. Gates was right to insist that we had no core national-security issue. Biden was right to say it was politically stupid. He’d be putting his presidency on the line.”

Biden may have been more correct than anyone could have understood...at the time.

unironic man said...

That's your problem right there, Steve, you're just too good for the MSM.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone gotten this joke?

Jews support Obama against conservatives. Conservatives worship Jews. Conservatives go to fight Wars for Israel while Jews in America push 'gay marriage', open borders, interracism, radical anti-white-male feminism, anti-white-gentile affirmative action. Has any conservative gotten the joke already?

And what were conservatives thinking when they went with Dubya and Palin? Anyone get the joke?

Anonymous said...

A liberal who believes in evolution but rejects race is still a lot closer to truth to a conservative who believes in creationism and believes all people were created equal in the eyes of God--and opposes abortion in the notion that all those black fetuses will grow up to be wonderful fellow Christians.

Btw, while dumb liberals didn't get Nicholas Wade, plenty of smart ones did get him. IN a way, it was a way of having the cake and eating it too. The implications of Wade's reporting was politically incorrect, but he was never impolite to spell it out. So, liberals could enjoy the true science while appreciating the public silence. Wade, after all, never CONCLUDED 'race is real'.
Similarly, there are polite means of discussing Jewish power, and such may be okay as long as one doesn't spell it out as 'Jews own this country'.

A lot of Jews, indeed even many Jews, know the truth about race.
I had a Jewish friend who agreed with just about everything I believed about race, but he was still a liberal because he grew up fearing white goyim. He told me his dad would often say, 'blacks cause 80% of all the problem in America' but still always voted Democratic.
Jews see the world as a game of power, and they see white gentiles as the main power, and so they do their best to silence any ideas that may rouse up whites. But they know the truth. It's like most Jews know they are smarter but they'll never say it. Jared Diamond even say New Guinea folks were smarter than him. I mean...

Lucius said...

I agree Kantor's material is quite useful-- but everytime I see her talking without the isteve decoder ring in effect, she sounds, or else is very craftily trying to sound-- like a true believer.

Maybe she's just so unself-conscious, she lets these things through without being cognizant of the implications herself?

sunbeam said...

"The whole world's a bit queer except for thee and me, and sometimes I wonder about thee."

Here is a list of people who have recently been President that I think I could make a case for being unbalanced in some way:

Obama
Bush II
Clinton
Bush I
Nixon
Johnson
Kennedy

Notable for absence from this list are Reagan, Carter, and Ford.

It's just my opinion of course, but I could write lots and lots of words on the whole subject.

In general it seems to me you have to be screwed up to want the job.

And on another subject, I take it you believe in the great theory of history? I suppose I should feel ashamed that I don't know what Tolstoy and Marx thought about this. I presume both didn't favor it?

That is my position anyway. When it is steam engine time, it's steam engine time. You have to be Napoleon, Alexander, Genghis Khan to make a case any other way.

Or maybe a great mathematician. That has historically been a big bottleneck for the human race.

Anonymous said...

Disturbing how much Obama is protected by the media...

Maharaja Mac said...

In a just world Sailer and Greenwald would replace Dowd and Friedman at the New York Times.

Kylie said...

"In a just world Sailer and Greenwald would replace Dowd and Friedman at the New York Times."

In a just world, there would be no New York Times.

Tom Regan said...

At least PR flacks are unvarnished mercenaries who will say anything if you pay them enough. The problems with armies of bourgeois leftist sycophants that currently infest the media is that they genuinely are in the tank, have drunk the Kool-Aid, add metaphor of choice..
Why has this come about? Consider who, in the US, becomes a journalist. Who can afford to be huge prices for a journalism degree, which qualifies you solely for a job in a relatively low-wage field? Answer - the children of rich parents. There's been a huge demographic change in journalists from working-class men to wealthy men and women.
Journalists once had an antagonistic relationship toward the rich folks in the house on the hill, and their political allies. Now they ARE the rich folks from that house on the hill, and feel a sympatico with their peers in politics, business etc.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone gotten this joke?

Jews support Obama against conservatives. Conservatives worship Jews. Conservatives go to fight Wars for Israel while Jews in America push 'gay marriage', open borders, interracism, radical anti-white-male feminism, anti-white-gentile affirmative action. Has any conservative gotten the joke already?

And what were conservatives thinking when they went with Dubya and Palin? Anyone get the joke?


The American conservative is the most thick-skinned creature on the Planet.

Anonymous said...

Nixon unbalanced?

Come on, he had a chip on both shoulders.

Anon.

Alan Stewart said...

Fake quote alert!

Devout Orwellians will note that this quote doesn't sound like Orwell, and recall no instance of his using the term "public relations".

Sure enough Wikiquote notes that the term floats around the Internet, alwats qithout attrinution and appears to be an adaptation of a quotation attributed to William randolph Hearst:“News is something somebody doesn't want printed; all else is advertising.”

eah said...

"Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations."

Perhaps topless fotos of Kate Middleton should be excluded here.

Anonymous said...

Jodi Kantor is not dog-whistling. She's like David Maraniss -- unaware that her reportage is capable of a secondary meaning.

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Carter seemed (and still seems) somewhat "unbalanced" - self righteous, huge ego, etc.

Johnson was a full blown loony, though. Doris Kearns Goodwin (you know, the plagiarist) said in an interview that when she worked for Johnson in the White House, he would be having a conversation with her and then casually open the bathroom door, pull his pants down and proceed to take a dump right in front of her while continuing to chat.

Truly the most disturbing presidential anecdote I've ever heard. What a sick, sick, man.

Anonymous said...

The American conservative is the most thick-skinned creature on the Planet.

And American liberals the most thick skulled?

aias said...

Looks like Kantor has had a access revoked since her book and now is being more and more truthful.

Anonymous said...

The thing with the vast majority of journalists is that they are not maths people. Not remotely. If they had the SAT-math scores to match their SAT-verbal scores, they'd do something with more pay and respect. Doctors, engineers, that sort of thing. I wonder why more don't go into law.

Sailer is different, obviously. He gets math. He gets statistics. He gets exponential growth. For someone to understand HBD, surrounding issues and why they are important, you really need to understand that the math doesn't lie, and it's not "just someone's opinion".

Anonymous said...

Vanity Fair does better journalism than National Review.

Revilo P. Oliver found that porn magazines had more honest journalism than the 'mainstream press'...

Jonathan Silber said...

That verse by Eliot is bad poetry: little or no rhythm or rhyme, unclear meaning, effete & academic tone.

I think he's overrated.

Otis McWrong said...

Anonymous said..."A liberal who believes in evolution but rejects race is still a lot closer to truth to a conservative who believes in creationism and believes all people were created equal in the eyes of God--and opposes abortion in the notion that all those black fetuses will grow up to be wonderful fellow Christians."

Conservatives don't oppose abortion because of the reason you view. They (we) oppose it because they view it as murder. Whether of whites or blacks is irrelevant. Further, while you view abortion as a net positive because it removes "all those black fetuses", I suspect you would never dare voice such an opinion publicly. Which makes you almost as much of a coward as you are immoral.

Anonymous said...

The Hive by Joe Sobran
http://www.sobran.com/hive/hive.shtml

Anonymous said...

"One cannot underestimate the importance of Jewish power in intellectual circles in New York at the time of Niebuhr's pronouncements (see The Culture of Critique). For example, Leslie Fiedler (1948, 873) noted that 'the writer drawn to New York from the provinces feels ... the Rube, attempts to conform; and the almost parody of Jewishness achieved by the gentile writer in New York is a strange and crucial testimony of our time.'

From a NY Mag article

Walls has plenty of vivid Graydon Carter stories. But one looms larger than most. The crew was eating some mysterious meat dish, "and Graydon said to me, 'This is good -- what is it?'

"And I said, 'It's pork.'

"And he said, 'Oh, my God, my mother would kill me!'

"And I said, 'Why?'

"And he said, 'Because I'm Jewish.' "

Walls lets the phrase hang.

"We never knew whether to tell Herbie, our foreman," he says. "He'd been a German POW and was purported to have S.S. tattoos on his body."

The story stands out in Walls's mind for a reason: He'd never met a Jew before. But to anyone who knows Carter now -- the bespoke suits from Anderson & Sheppard, the Connecticut country home, the Anglican bone structure, the Gray Goose martinis, the pilgrimages to London -- it stands out for a different reason: Carter isn't Jewish.

"I was reading a lot of Kerouac and a lot of Ginsberg," says Carter, sitting on a bench in Bryant Park 30 years later, struggling to explain it. He smiles sheepishly and jiggles one leg up and down. "And . . . and I thought, If you're going to be an intellectual in New York, you gotta be Jewish. It wasn't some experiment, like Gentleman's Agreement, or anything like that. It was just . . . I thought . . . I just found it . . ." He trails off. "I don't know. It was so much more exotic than what I really was."

Anonymous said...

I have a theory on the overwhelming dominance today of public-relations "journalism". I suspect it is related to fact that fewer and fewer schools actually teach formal logic and rhetorical analysis as distinct subjects (unlike the old "Trivium" and related systems, where Aristotelian logic was a basic building block like "the 3 Rs"). Readers and journalists today increasingly lack the fundamental tools and skills to analyze complex, interrelated arguments, so folks just judge causes based on how nice they look and sound, since they can't follow anything more complicated than that.

I notice this especially in the debate over same-sex "marriage". Almost nobody seems to have actually seriously thought about the implications of the various arguments and legal theories being bandied about to justify foisting SSM on the public. Casual peer-pressure liberals who support SSM are totally clueless about the slippery-slope implications of the arguments they throw out in favor of it, and while religious SSM opponents definitely have a gut feeling that SSM would eventually be used as a precursor to some kind of attack on them, they lack sufficient understanding to articulate exactly why this is so and what the logical progression from A to B to C would be. The only people who really understand the issue well are the hardcore homosexual activists leading the pro-SSM side of the fight, but they aren't about to explain it too clearly, lest the public balk.

SFG said...

"A lot of Jews, indeed even many Jews, know the truth about race.
I had a Jewish friend who agreed with just about everything I believed about race, but he was still a liberal because he grew up fearing white goyim. He told me his dad would often say, 'blacks cause 80% of all the problem in America' but still always voted Democratic.
Jews see the world as a game of power, and they see white gentiles as the main power, and so they do their best to silence any ideas that may rouse up whites. But they know the truth. It's like most Jews know they are smarter but they'll never say it. Jared Diamond even say New Guinea folks were smarter than him. I mean..."

And guys like you want to kill us, and almost did in Germany in the 30s. Growing up in pre-Giuliani NYC, I was pretty afraid of the NAMs, and wanted to join the Klan until I found out they hated Jews too! 'Taint so easy.

I think most powerful people see the world as a game of power. It's how they get that way. The old WASP establishment certainly had no problems playing dirty (overthrowing democratic governments in Latin America that were trending Communist, for example) to get their way. The Jewish Ivy Leaguers just happened to be a teensy bit better at it than the Episcopalians--and from what I've seen of the Northeast's upper echelons, the two groups aren't awfully separate anymore.

Ed said...

Steve is correct about the Daily Mail. I've regretted not reading more of the Daily Mail than I did. I gave up on the New York Times several years ago and haven't looked back since.

Anonymous said...

It is astonishing that Romney is behind Obama in the polls in the midst of a depression. Four years of black rule have given Americans a foretaste of what is in store for America if Obama is reelected. Detroit writ large is the American future.

Dutch Boy said...

Newspapers (for the most part) are published by the wealthy and powerful to serve the interests of the wealthy and powerful - it was ever thus.

ATBOTL said...

American conservatives' love for Jews and Israel is a form of Stockholm syndrome combined with vicarious ethnocentrism.

NOTA said...

Tom Regan:

One important part of the filter for journalism is the near requirement to take an unpaid internship for a year or so, in order to get a job. This nicely excludes anyone whose parents can't support them for a couple more years affer college.

Occam's razor said...

Anonymous said...
Has anyone gotten this joke?

Jews support Obama against conservatives. Conservatives worship Jews. Conservatives go to fight Wars for Israel while Jews in America push 'gay marriage', open borders, interracism, radical anti-white-male feminism, anti-white-gentile affirmative action. Has any conservative gotten the joke already?


The conservatives used to be pretty isolationist (think pat Buchanan) until a group of liberal Jews merged with republicans to create the neocon movement, while many of the rest of the liberal Jews pretended to be opposed to the neocons while promoting the neocon agenda in outlets like the NY Times and the New Republic.

Jews have always been brilliant enough to dominate any movement and adapt it to Israel's advantage. We're even starting to see that in the HBD blogosphere

Anonymous said...

"It is astonishing that Romney is behind Obama in the polls in the midst of a depression."

It's not a depression for the elites, and many of the middle classes--and especially upper middle classes are doing fine. Also, due to big government, even people without jobs are taken care of.

And remember FDR was re-elected three times during depression and war. When Romney is for ... wuh? Tax cuts for the rich and more wars for Israel--and when Americans have been brainwashed with gaytriarchy--, what do you expect?
And if Carter played on malaise, Obama stands for confidence and plays the lion king. Romney plays dumb hangdog.

Anonymous said...

Voters wanna see a man of strength. The only thing Romney is strong about is Israel but that is really a sign of weakness. He's a running dog of Zionists, and most Jews hate the GOP.

Anonymous said...

The GOP, the political machine of Wall Street Zionists and Southern rednecks dummies.
Zionists got the brains and money but not the numbers. Rednecks got the numbers but not the brains and money.

It might as well be called the
Neocon-federacy.

Anonymous said...

"The old WASP establishment certainly had no problems playing dirty (overthrowing democratic governments in Latin America that were trending Communist, for example) to get their way. The Jewish Ivy Leaguers just happened to be a teensy bit better..."

Wasps never hid their power, and they also took steps to reform their power. I don't see any such from Jews.

Anonymous said...

Sailer keeps on pointing to how stupid or delusional liberals are about race, but why is he--and others like him--so silent about the bigger stupidity among so many conservatives who reject evolution altogether or go for stuff like 'intelligent design'? If liberals cannot be smart about evolution, shouldn't conservatives be? But the vast majority of conservatives diehard morons of the evanjellical mold.
Is it okay to be stupid as long as one votes for the GOP? This is why American conservatism sucks. It's too political-centric, i.e. it's okay to be stupid about evolution as long as one goes for the GOP.

The way I see it, most Jews are actually glad that so many conservatives are creationists or IDers. If most conservatives accepted evolution, they will interpret and use it for 'right-wing' reasons, and that will terrify Jews. So, even though Jews mock and laugh at stuff like creationism--and pretend that they'd like to see everyone accept evolution--, they'd rather have all those white american gentiles with guns to believe in creationism--that says all races and peoples are equal in the eyes of God--than believe in something that can lead to ... RACE.

Anonymous said...

???

We're not allowed to link to HillBuzz?

???

David Davenport said...

and believes all people were created equal in the eyes of God

...

--that says all races and peoples are equal in the eyes of God...




No, the early Christian was view that all souls are equal in the eyes of God and have equal opprtunity in final judgment, but that there is no equality in this Earthly life. For example, the three different passages in the New testament approve of slavery.

As St. Paul, previously Rabbi Saul of Tarsus said, "Slaves, be faithful to youir masters."

elvisd said...

That verse by Eliot is bad poetry: little or no rhythm or rhyme, unclear meaning, effete & academic tone.

I think he's overrated.


You, me, and anyone else who didn't drink the New Criticism koolaid in college. No one did more damage to literature.

David Davenport said...

Slavery and the Bible

Anonymous said...

Anybody who seriously cares about I.D. Or Evolution or "Creationists" is an idiot.

Anonymous said...

Reagan had convictions, Clinton had slickness. Romney has neither.

Anonymous said...

"Anybody who seriously cares about I.D. Or Evolution or "Creationists" is an idiot."

Moron, this is a hbd blog.

Anonymous said...

Good piece by Andrew Ferguson on Lewis' butt-up-the-rear piece on Obama from the Weekly Standard.

My favorite line: "The White House staff, surely smitten, never suspects that the president is a windbag."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/obama-delusion-cont_652392.html?nopager=1

Mr. Anon said...

"Alan Stewart said...

Fake quote alert!

Devout Orwellians will note that this quote doesn't sound like Orwell, and recall no instance of his using the term "public relations"."

I thought that looked off. Thanks for pointing that out. "Public Relations" is an American term, I think. Orwell would have used the word "propaganda".

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1hqHo6lyUU&feature=related

Anonymous said...

"It is astonishing that Romney is behind Obama in the polls in the midst of a depression."

Everyone somehow connected to the banking system i.e. all the elite, is hugely wealthier since the banking crisis as they've all had a taste of the vast sums poured into the banks.

So there's no reason for the GOP to even consider changing their policies to represent the mass of their voter's rather than their donor's economic interests until after they are convinced they can no longer win using things like " the war against terror" and social issues to distract people from the economic betrayal.

Even then as long as they keep getting richer at the top tier they might have to lose multiple times before they consider changing policies.

A gradual replacement of the GOP from the bottom up is more likely than any change at the top.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

If you won't let us link to Hillbuzz or Ulsterman - because you think they're beneath the dignity of this forum - then doesn't that kinda serve to undercut the sincerity of the complaint you used to start this thread in the first place?

God forbid that a David Brooks or a Matt Yglesias should surf over here and see a link to a trailer-trash site like Hillbuzz or Ulsterman.





*COUGH* hypocrisy *COUGH*

Anonymous said...

That verse by Eliot is bad poetry: little or no rhythm or rhyme, unclear meaning, effete & academic tone.

I think he's overrated.


Eliot's verse was intellectually elitist but not academic. No-one who wrote 'Prufrock' can be considered over rated.

Eliot was perfectly capable of writing the kind of conventional poetry with rhythm and rhyme that pleases middle-brow Ogden Nash fans. He chose not to. His style was the consequence of a rigorous intellectual approach to his craft, combined with reading Spengler's ideas on culture transitioning to civilisation and, later, High Church beliefs.

You can not like Eliot's style and believe all poetry should be musical life lessons that appeal to the average person with the minimum amount of explanation. But you cannot say Eliot was a 'bad' poet. Unless you're an idiot.

Anonymous said...

SFG said "And guys like you want to kill us, and almost did in Germany in the 30s. Growing up in pre-Giuliani NYC, I was pretty afraid of the NAMs, and wanted to join the Klan until I found out they hated Jews too!"

SFG, thank you for your post. You perhaps inadvertently confess to what agitates so many of us non-Jews about you guys: The paranoia that you then use to justify your behavior. What shred of evidence do you have that "guys like you want to kill us"? Jews have been extremely well treated in the US, likely better treated here than any other Western nation. Yet you still remain convinced that there is a vast group of people waiting to kill you. So you (you in aggregate, not you personally) do everything you can to undermine institutions and foment racial strife. But heaven forbid any of "us guys" find that offensive or its "guilty of hate" and a file in the $PLC is opened.

Yeah, I'm posting this anonymously for a reason.

Anonymous said...

speaking of orwell the BBC declined to put a statue of him outside the offices, claiming they wanted to be 'fair' and not seem like they had a liberal bias...

... now, talk about Orwellian!

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

So there's no reason for the GOP to even consider changing their policies to represent the mass of their voter's rather than their donor's economic interests until after they are convinced they can no longer win using things like " the war against terror" and social issues to distract people from the economic betrayal."

It's not really the case that the GOP uses social issues, like gay marriage and the "culture war", to distract people from their economic betrayal, because the GOP betrays its constituents on those social issues as well as on the ecnomic ones.

Anonymous said...

"It is astonishing that Romney is behind Obama in the polls in the midst of a depression."


Why so? Look how long Americans stuck with FDR. There's a very good chance all his programs did was prolong the Depression and as for his being a great war President? Just as likely to be myth as reality.

Anonymous said...

"I was reading a lot of Kerouac and a lot of Ginsberg....And . . . and I thought, If you're going to be an intellectual in New York, you gotta be Jewish."

Wasn't Kerouac of Breton ancestry?

Steve Sailer said...

When Eliot published a book of light verse, it wound up, decades later, running on Broadway for 15 years as "Cats."

Harry Baldwin said...

From Ferguson article recommended earlier:

It must be said that in addition to his tireless industry and gift as a teller of tales, Lewis is often played for a chump by the people he writes about. In the early 1990s, for a book called Pacific Rift, a group of Japanese and American capitalists convinced him of the Japanese economy’s indomitable strength, just as the Japanese economy began its long descent.

In Moneyball a baseball executive convinced Lewis that he had turned the sport into a “social science,” deploying statistics to assemble winning teams as no one had done before. It wasn’t true, as the subsequent failure of the teams showed. It made for a cracking good yarn, though, and a hugely popular book.

In the late 1990s, an entrepreneur named Jim Clark convinced Lewis that American capitalism, thanks to digital technology, was entering an unprecedented era of “pure possibility.” All that the era really was, was a tech bubble, which popped just as Lewis’s book about Clark was published. We could go on.


Sounds like Malcolm Gladwell as described by Steve. Enthusiasm, a graceful prose style, and above all gullibility: pillars of a stellar career in journalism.

Anonymous said...

"The old WASP establishment certainly had no problems playing dirty (overthrowing democratic governments in Latin America that were trending Communist, for example) to get their way. The Jewish Ivy Leaguers just happened to be a teensy bit better at it than the Episcopalians--and from what I've seen of the Northeast's upper echelons, the two groups aren't awfully separate anymore."

There's at least one other possibility. Perhaps the establishment (not completely WASP) actually believed in American Exceptionalism, the American Dream, American the Shining City on the Hill, America the Beacon of Liberty, and all that. This meant practicing sort of an Enlightenment utopia, where all was based on the individual and the individual, unfettered, owed allegiance to this proposition, and not to a mere tribal group. American really would let each individual rise as far as possible, get the best out of him. All could participate, it would be for the betterment of all mankind. Episcopalians, and others, didn't think of themselves as Episcopalians first, Americans second. They didn't think of the elite as being closed. All could be elite, the more the merrier. The world has so many problems, who could tie themselves down to thinking of themselves as just a member of a group? A much nobler calling was possible, all those old problems would dissolve away. But, as someone once said, if you really want to see if you can trust someone, trust them. This experiment tested whether old historical groups could rise above their old tribal allegiances. Putting people in power puts them under a microscope, you find out what they really are. It seems the result of the experiment is in, with the result largely negative, to little surprise of those attentive to HBD. It may seem hard for many to believe, but perhaps they really did think this way, insanely naive though it may seem. Lots of things people believe seem pretty odd from afar.

NOTA said...

Re Creationism:

According to this poll, 58% of Republicans and 41% of Democrats believe something like young-Earth creationism (humans were created by God in the last 10,000 years). This is a belief that absolutely cannot be squared with physical reality--you have to basically postulate that God set up a really elaborate practical joke to trick us all about pre-creation history. (He didn't just plant fossils, He made sure to get the isotope ratios right.)

This was easy to find. What I'm curious about is whether there's poll data which says how many Republicans vs Democrats think black/white differences in outcomes represent differences in innate ability. My impression is that this is a much more rare belief than young-Earth creationism. And that's ironic, because while that belief may be right or wrong, it's at least broadly consistent with observable reality.

My guess is that the ratio of Republican to Democrat hbd-believers is comparable to the ratio of Republican to Democrat young Earth creationists, but I'd love to see some data.

David said...

>That verse by Eliot is bad poetry: little or no rhythm or rhyme, unclear meaning, effete & academic tone.<

Here is a good poem for you.

Fleas

Adam
Had 'em.