Saturday, May 26, 2007

Looney Tunes

A few blogs ago, I tried to coax you into reading the excerpt in Time magazine from Al Gore’s new book, The Assault on Reason. If you had (read it) you would have read this.

“In describing the empty chamber the way he did, Byrd invited a specific version of the same general question millions of us have been asking: "Why do reason, logic and truth seem to play a sharply diminished role in the way America now makes important decisions?" The persistent and sustained reliance on falsehoods as the basis of policy, even in the face of massive and well-understood evidence to the contrary, seems to many Americans to have reached levels that were previously unimaginable.”

(emphasis added)

Keeping that quote in mind, I want you to go over to the Air Transport Association’s (ATA) carnival show and watch this cartoon. That’s right. A cartoon. The airlines have taken your money (tickets or taxpayer subsidies, take your pick) and produced a cartoon.

Have you finished watching it ? Good. Now read this -- also from Al Gore’s book.

“The potential for manipulating mass opinions and feelings initially discovered by commercial advertisers is now being even more aggressively exploited by a new generation of media Machiavellis. The combination of ever more sophisticated public opinion sampling techniques and the increasing use of powerful computers to parse and subdivide the American people according to "psychographic" categories that identify their susceptibility to individually tailored appeals has further magnified the power of propagandistic electronic messaging that has created a harsh new reality for the functioning of our democracy.”

Do you remember this quote from the original blog entry ?

”The "well-informed citizenry" is in danger of becoming the "well-amused audience."”

Well ? Were you “well-amused” by the cartoon? I sincerely hope not. I know most of my audience has some connection with aviation and will recognize all the “falsehoods” in the cartoon. For those of you that don’t, let me point out just one, and how manipulative it is. Remember the snooty little (evil) corporate jet that cut in front of all the airliners ? We all know that they don’t get to cut in line. And the ATA didn’t say they get to cut in line. But the message was loud and clear nonetheless wasn’t it ?

Right now you’re saying, “But we’re more sophisticated than that. We’re not going to fall for something that simplistic.” True. The ATA also knows it’s true. So, unless you think the ATA is stupid (and they’re not), you’ve got to ask yourself a question. Who’s the target audience ? And the answer is, people that aren’t as sophisticated as you. I mean, it is a cartoon.

These “media Machiavellis” have targeted a group of voters. An “individually tailored appeal [that] has further magnified the power of propagandistic electronic messaging.” Oh, and by the way, it’s running on TV, where it will find an audience.

And just in case you don’t think you’ve been targeted, think again. I bet you’ll find a video on that page that you will identify with. And I bet it’ll be a lot harder for you to see through the “falsehoods.” These people want your National Airspace System. The only thing that is stopping them is the “target audience”, aka the citizens, aka the voters, aka the taxpayers that own it.

Don Brown
May 26, 2007

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