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Belmont Club

Information Cancer

May 3rd, 2013 - 4:51 pm

One of the most puzzling things about ordinary life is the question of where all lost ballpens and drug store sunglasses go. Some eventually turn up under the cushions of the sofa or reappear under the refrigerator. Yet when compared to the sheer numbers that are bought they are never enough; and it is hard not to think there does not really exist some mysterious dimension into which they disappear.

Those who imagine that we find eventually find each other’s lost  items should consider that we must come into the possession of the total number of objects aggregately purchased which would mean we would all be the proud possessors of about 135 ballpoint pens, 15 pairs of drugstore sunglasses and 17 baseball caps all of each other’s.

The same question can be asked of all the information we throw away. Where does it go?

Victor Davis Hanson has an piece in the National Review describing the systematic misplacement of what we know. Hanson argues that by a Borg-like process, the collective American brain was made to throw away whatever it knew about the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Jihad, or Nidal Hassan, and pretty well everything the Russians communicated to the security forces about the Boston Bombers.

He might have added we’d taken the trouble to forget a whole bunch of other stuff as well. Such as forgetting that Afghanistan was a “war of necessity” or that the Guantanamo prison was supposed to be shut. That there was once a promise to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed somewhere, someplace.  Maybe that memory runs together with the announcement — faded now — that the Arab Spring was going to bring freedom to the Middle East. Can we be mistaken in recalling that once we knew that Iran was never going to get a nuclear weapon?

Now we no longer knew that we even knew that.  And speaking of ballpens, isn’t there somewhere in our recollection the faint trace of the vow that the attackers of the US Consulate in Benghazi would be brought to justice? Jay Carney when reminded of it thoughtfully replied that was “a long time ago” as if the passage of a few months was enough to consign something to permanent oblivion. Indeed the Benghazi vow is now older perhaps than even the stirring “red line” drawn by President against the use of chemical weapons in Syria, now itself forgotten.  Who can say? The dates all run together, disappearing in a point ‘a hundred years ago when white males wrote something’.

And yet, like the ballpens and sunglasses that we knew — they must be somewhere. Victor Davis Hanson has a conjecture. He metaphorically suggests they’ve been burned, like the trash in which our lost junk probably finished up and have gone up in smoke.  For surely knowledge like that must be burned on one of the numerous altars with which our secular and atheistic world abounds because it is too dangerous to leave such things lying around. Hanson describes one altar:

After the Fort Hood shootings, the Defense Department characterized the murders as “workplace violence,” despite the known fact that Major Hasan had been interviewed by the FBI because of his correspondence with the radical imam Anwar al-Awlaki, and even though he yelled “Allahu Akbar!” as he killed twelve soldiers and one civilian and wounded more than 30 others. The military was absorbed into the non-Islamic groupthink to such a degree that Army Chief of Staff George Casey editorialized of the mass murder of his soldiers: “Our diversity, not only in our Army, but in our country, is a strength. And as horrific as this tragedy was, if our diversity becomes a casualty, I think that’s worse.” Dismantling the “diversity program” would be worse than the slaughter at Fort Hood? These days our martyrs are to die not on the altar of freedom, but on the altar of diversity?

And there are many altars from which smoke rises daily. The altar of the Safety of Children, Gay Marriage, Global Warming, Affordable Health Care, Choice, Nuclear Zero to name a few. And on them we destroy everything we know hoping to never see it again.

Never let it be said that we live in a profane age.  There are more shibboleths and altars today than in any sacred grove that ever existed. To illustrate this take the current lineup of the FBI’s Most Wanted For Terrorism. Apart from the first two, the first being a member of an animal rights extremist group and the second  a member of the Black Liberation Army hiding as a fugitive in Cuba, what would you make of the list?

DANIEL ANDREAS SAN DIEGO
JOANNE DEBORAH CHESIMARD
ABD AL AZIZ AWDA
HAKIMULLAH MEHSUD
IBRAHIM SALIH MOHAMMED AL-YACOUB
FAOUZI MOHAMAD AYOUB
OMAR SHAFIK HAMMAMI
JEHAD SERWAN MOSTAFA
ADAM YAHIYE GADAHN
ABDUL RAHMAN YASIN
ALI ATWA
JABER A. ELBANEH
HUSAYN MUHAMMAD AL-UMARI
ADNAN G. EL SHUKRIJUMAH
MUHAMMAD AHMED AL-MUNAWAR
JAMEL AHMED MOHAMMED ALI AL-BADAWI
AYMAN AL-ZAWAHIRI
ALI SAED BIN ALI EL-HOORIE
ABDULLAH AHMED ABDULLAH
ISNILON TOTONI HAPILON
RAMADAN ABDULLAH MOHAMMAD SHALLAH
HASAN IZZ-AL-DIN
MOHAMMED ALI HAMADEI
ABDELKARIM HUSSEIN MOHAMED AL-NASSER
AHMAD IBRAHIM AL-MUGHASSIL
SAIF AL-ADEL
ANAS AL-LIBY
WADOUD MUHAMMAD HAFIZ AL-TURKI
MUHAMMAD ABDULLAH KHALIL HUSSAIN AR-RAHAYYAL
JAMAL SAEED ABDUL RAHIM
ZULKIFLI ABDHIR
RADDULAN SAHIRON

Clearly what any right-thinking individual should conclude is that the list proves that we as a society have a long way evolve. That the FBI is not paying enough attention to the real danger facing the nation: the white Christian extremists. As Victor Hanson impudently asks, ‘why if so many white Christian extremists are out there have so few been droned?’

Shortly after assuming office as the head of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano associated the prior “war on terror” with a “politics of fear”: “In my speech, although I did not use the word ‘terrorism,’ I referred to ‘man-caused’ disasters. That is perhaps only a nuance, but it demonstrates that we want to move away from the politics of fear toward a policy of being prepared for all risks that can occur.” Again, one wishes to ask her how many Christians have been targeted by Obama-administration Predator drones.

A good question. Obviously we don’t have enough Mormons on the drone list. It’s not an absurd question, at least not in our existing cultural environment. Because the unanticipated effect of the apparent destruction of knowledge — the systematic effort to throw away whatever we know — does not result in forgetfulness. Rather it results rather in anti-knowledge, in anti-memory. It finishes up not with nothing,  but a very real something. To use a phrase beloved by the administration we wind up with a set of “back alley institutions” to deal with officially destroyed knowledge.

The job of these back alley institutions is simple. To make the denial of the real plausible.

This manifests itself in a lengthening list of duals of which the following are some examples. The policy of taking no prisoners for Guantanamo creates the expanded drone program. The impracticability of judicializing forces the creation of legal limbos. Limbos into which the Guantanamo detainees and Khalid Sheik Mohammed must eventually disappear, perhaps to be joined by Nidal Hassan and Johar Tsarnaev. The insistence on gun control requires the necessity increasingly paramilitarized police forces, for once you have made everyone defenseless you must make the Guardians all-powerful. The final cost of a Global Nuclear Zero is letting everyone — especially the rogue states — get the bomb since who will stop them when all are disarmed? The shadow payment for publicly funded choice is monotonically rising, government paid infanticide. And so forth and so on.

You have to hold the truth down the way a cinematic murderer has to hold his victim’s head underwater. And that requires energy.

The probable reason for the necessity of anti-knowledge is that the truth cannot actually be destroyed. The information content of the FBI’s Most Wanted List, for example, objectively exists and will always exist. To get around this problem of its indestructibility, the spin doctors simply create an overlay of Lies and blank out the underlying signal.

But there’s a price.

You can loosely characterize the PC Narrative maker’s dilemma as the political equivalent of the Black Hole Information Paradox. The Paradox tried to solve the problem of whether real information can truly be destroyed such that it allowed “many physical states to evolve into the same state.” That is the the consequence of information destruction: to make T unrelated to T-1.

This is controversial because it violates a commonly assumed tenet of science—that in principle complete information about a physical system at one point in time should determine its state at any other time … In quantum physics, unitarity is a restriction on the allowed evolution of quantum systems that ensures the sum of probabilities of all possible outcomes of any event is always one.” To destroy information utterly you have to create an inconsistent universe

But in the universe of anti-knowledge there is no consistent path from A to B since the paths always depends on the most recent political line. There is no truth. There is no is. That fatally undermines consistency and one can readily see that the most obvious property of anti-knowledge systems is inconsistency.

In the Borg Universe that Victor Davis Hanson observes, nothing makes sense. In fact, nothing can make sense. So when for example, the President says that violence in Mexico is due to the supply of US guns to that country — never mention that the Justice Department itself purveyed the guns.  If he argues that Americans should be disarmed while arguing that the Islamist government of Egypt should receive F16s, don’t point out the inconsistency. That’s baked in.

But the most important thing to observe is that even the President cannot navigate the resulting logical universe.  He’s trashed his own map. Shot down his own GPS satellites. And there is no way back to consistency since the sum of probabilities within the anti-knowledge universe never equal one. Should they equal one? Why yes if we are to square ourselves with reality. Otherwise we set up collision between knowledge, in which things make sense and anti-knowledge, where “it depends”.

When we are reminded that “the truth shall set you free” we arrive at the other end of the proposition that information requires freedom. It seems equally necessary to argue that freedom requires truth. If we want to be free we have to know the truth. If we want to know the truth we have to be free.

And it would appear that the penalty for lying wholesale, especially to ourselves, is more than theoretical. It destroys our information base. In system terms it destroys our minds and eventually our bodies too. Empires fall in part because they lose their grip on the truth. It is a subtlest crack in the facade and yet perhaps the most important one.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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