In the last note, I was thinking about the Black Swan effect concept, of some surprise, some apparent anomaly coming along, that has some major disruptive effect of things, and comes as a total surprise to many people, and quite possibly still isn’t really understood, even after it comes blasting into the scene.
The black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
You know the old common line about “if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s a duck”. If a black swan appears, and this just doesn’t mesh well with what somebody thinks and believes or understands, do they end up going through some mental contortions to convince themselves it’s a duck, because then they can convince themselves that it’s something they know and understand, and not be bothered any more about it?
Sorry if this seems like a little session of really stretched and tortured metaphor, but I think there’s something to this.
It seems more and more apparent that we have a lot of people stumbling around essentially, getting all metaphorical about this, saying “look at that, what a funny looking duck!”. They understand a duck, or maybe at least they think they do (there’s another subject!), and, so, presto! It’s a duck! Done!
Yes, I guess I’m rambling about an old theme, the epidemic of people not seeing things as they are, sometimes because it’s just easier to think it’s something else, for whatever reasons.
The hits just keep coming in the public feeding of nonsense and outright lying. Last night I happened to catch at least part of a public radio program called On Point. The episode in question (December 2, if you want to go listen, which is a waste of time) was presented as a general review, assessment, and grading of President Obama on foreign policy. It was a terrible example of something that is normal now, something that seems on the surface to be a very serious, earnest, informed discussion among serious informed people speaking with authority, even including a former US ambassador, and it was packed with chatter about the international picture that was practically all completely fucking wrong. Saying this, of course, will only get some people reacting by thinking “what arrogant fool is this, he thinks he knows better than these authorities and experts on national and world affairs!”, even though all the facts regarding the matters discussed there are all available, if you look for them, and I’ve been pointing to piles of the stuff reporting the facts about the events and circumstances, from people actually finding facts and telling the truth.
The general content was pretty much full of the nonsense you get from the US government officialdom and the lame substitute for a functioning free press that passes it all along obediently.
One element was the same meme about Syria, Obama, Obama’s “red line” declaration, and the chatter that held Obama as being all kinds of inadequate and deficient for failing to “take action” after Assad using chemical weapons. This is neglecting all the reports that regarded the claim that Assad had used chemical weapons as seriously questionable and suspicious, and that what happened in the incident in question was that other parties, who wished Assad to be overthrown, and staged a “false flag” attack to try to drag the US military in, using Obama’s threat as a commitment. In fact, Obama deciding to not do something egregiously wrong, and just plain stupid, was something that should have gotten him some credit for having some ethics and sense. Instead, we still hear people talking about this in terms of “Assad used chemical weapons, and Obama failed to act”.
The whole program was full of this kind of thing, like I said, virtually all of the chatter was based on premises of falsehoods. As you might expect, if you already know about what’s happening in that part of the world, everything about Russia and Ukraine was wrong. In this alternate reality world that repeats what much of the American public thinks they know, it’s all about “Russian aggression”, and a key clue to things was people repeating standard lines about “the Ukraine-Russia war”, even though there is not such a war. What has been happening is that the coup government in Kiev that overthrew a democratically elected government has been engaged in a civil war with people in the eastern parts of the country who refused to accept the overthrow of their government, and these people, mainly people who are most simply described as Russian-Ukrainians, have been under attack almost continuously ever since.
There was nothing about the coup in Ukraine, or that the new gang in power is dominated by honest to god Nazis, literal Nazis (this isn’t hyperbole), that the whole mess seems to be pretty much just a rotation of corrupt oligarchs and gangsters from one bunch to a different bunch, and, worst of all, that the US government supported this, and still does, while claiming the whole ugly farce is about “Ukrainian sovereignty versus Russian aggression” and “freedom and democracy in Ukraine”.
The recent interview with Russian-American engineer and writer Dmitry Orlov is definitely worth the time to listen to it, as he basically manages to concisely sort out an awful lot in terms of truth and reality versus the narratives of blatant massive falsehoods being fed to us. One of the grotesque elements in all this is that the nonsense and lying comes from officialdom and supposedly credible experts on world affairs, and all that matches, people toe the line in the official fabrications, and so a lot of people, if they ever hear or read anything from Orlov, or others who know what’s going on and tell the truth, will think Orlov and the others are the liars, when they’re the only ones not lying (or maybe genuinely sincerely believing the falsehoods that have been fabricated and propagated so relentlessly).
In this radio discussion, everybody involved kept chattering about things like Obama being rated on “foreign policy and national security”, and subtopic items like the resignation and time in the job of Secretary of Defense Hagel, in terms of “dealing with Russian aggression” and “the Russian threat” and “the Russian seizure of Crimea”, all of it just fiction.
For reference, in case you haven’t been filled in on all this, the “Russian seizure of Crimea” or “the Russians grabbing Crimea” and so on was an actual democratic process where the Crimean parliament put it to a vote and something like 8 or 9 out of 10 Crimean voters (with a reported huge turnout) voting for a resolution to reject the coup d’etat in Kiev, and formally ask to rejoin Russia (as Crimea had been until some Soviet politics in 1954), basically saying “get us the hell away from those goons, we want to be Russian”. And the supposed “invasion” was the Russian military being in Crimea all along, within the limits of the agreement with Ukraine ever since the dissolution of the USSR, about the Russian naval base there on the Black Sea coast where the Russians have had a naval base for a couple hundred years.
[My apologies to everybody who already knows all this and find it terribly repetitive. I do too. Yet, it’s still made necessary by the kind of thing I’m talking about.]
The following morning, I was listening to Morning Edition on NPR, and people talking about the recent slide downward in crude oil prices went straight into yapping about how this was bad for the Russian economy (with Russia being the highest volume oil producing country in the world lately, and an exporter), and from there into the Russian economy in general. From there it went into “western sanctions against Russia” and how this is supposed to be making things problematic for the Russian economy, and the host said to the person reporting something like “oh, so you’re talking about the sanctions to punish Russia for grabbing Crimea”. Right. Just slide that in there casually, and keep the meme planted in people’s heads… “Russia invaded and seized Crimea”, despite this being complete fiction.
While they were busy obsessing with how things might be bad for Russia and continuing the propagation of memes of “mean old Russia and Bond movie villain Vladimir Putin bullies the world” nonsense, these people completely neglected what the slide in crude selling prices will do to what they like to call by labels like “the fracking miracle” or “shale oil boom”, what people like Charles Hugh Smith, Steve Ludlum, Gail Tverberg, and many others have been trying to point out to people, that the economic effects will be interesting, especially as a kind of Black Swan bursting bubbles of financial trickery built on presumptions of large oil prices.