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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Cognitive Psychologist Slams Cass "Cognitive Diversity" Sunstein

I thought this bit of dialogue from the comments on Cognitively Infiltrating Cass Sunstein deserved its own blog entry.  My response to the psychologist draws on Shadia Drury's reading of neocon cult founder Leo Strauss, as well as my own readings of Strauss. Speaking of which, I will be giving a talk entitled ""Islam, Neoconservatism, and the Unwarranted 'War on Terror'" at the upcoming London symposium Debunking the War on Terror on July 14th. -KB
Anonymous says: I'm retired from a private practice in psychology. Not 'psychotherapy' but teaching Cognitive Psych. At points it sounds like somebody is using the word Cognitive in inappropriate ways. Is there really a professor who has written a book asking if one has "Cognitive Diversity"?? Hmmm....all sounds a little suspect to me. too much of this whole article is not ringing true for me. But then I've been wrong before. This story is for real?



Kevin Barrett said...
My dear anonymous retired professor, I wish it WERE a joke. But unfortunately it is real. Cut and paste this link into your browser: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1084585

Anonymous said...
Thanks for the link to the original paper. The term "cognitive diversity" only appears half-way through the paper, and then in the context of "beneficial cognitive diversity". The question is, beneficial to whom, i.e. the classic "who benefits". The answer provided is of course "the public" in being relieved of the cognitive dissonance-making distortions of those darned conspiracy theorist-nuts. It is hard to tell when the author is being satirical or when he is being patronizing, as in characterizing the Santa Claus myth held by children to be the result of a conspiracy by authorities (parents) and then seemingly straight-facedly applying that illustration to real conspiracy theorists. The author also arbitrarily concedes that some 'conspiracy theories' turn out to be true, but he has reasons for why that is, all about democratic open societies meaning that governments and other powerful entities can't hide their malfeasance for long. He cites Karl Popper to support this view. Popper would roll over in his grave, as the United States in its current propaganda-soaked media-concentrated state would not qualify as a true open society. Popper towards the end of his life woke up to the corrosive possibilities of mass media, even in a putatively 'open' society, as expressed in his interview in an Italian paper called (from memory) Popper Contra Televisiono (in Italian). Even for someone who was scrupulously open-minded and non-partisan, the paper ought to be seen as an embarrassment to the reputation of Harvard, where Sunstein taught. Oh, on the issue of terminology, Sunstein is wont to use the term "epistemology" in a very un-philosophical manner, where he really means essentially "belief system". Epistemology may entail beliefs about the appropriate stance to take in an inquiry, but it does not refer to the beliefs themselves, only the level of analysis that best explicates a thesis one is exploring. In other words, Sunstein is a glib idiot whose obfuscations are convenient for a compromised administration.



Kevin Barrett said...
Neocons/Straussians speak with forked tongue. One tongue-tine speaks to the masses (in this case the academic masses, who are foolish enough to believe in the rule of reason), while the other speaks to the neocon/Straussian elite. Straussians like Sunstein have such a low opinion of the (academic) masses that they don't expect to be called on the violations of reason and logic that appear in the first-level, superficial reading. Those violations of logic are both (a) the result of the imposition of the second-level, elitist reading, which contradicts the first-level reading, and (b) intentionally strewn about to confuse non-neocon readers and make them underestimate and thus overlook the neocon project: the overthrow of the Enlightenment and the establishment of an Orwellian dictatorship, in which the Party is invisible and made up of the neocons themselves. Let's look at a key example from Sunstein's paper: the Santa Claus analogy. If Sunstein really believed that the 9/11 "conspiracy theory" was false, would he use belief in Santa Claus as an example of a conspiracy theory? This example invites the careful, discerning reader (especially the reader who has read Strauss, who advocates precisely this kind of dissembling) to compare children who suspect that Santa Claus is an illusion foisted on them by their parents, to "conspiracy theorists" who believe that the official story of 9/11 is an illusion foisted on them by their government. This textual maneuver is not satirical, but it certainly is patronizing. Sunstein thinks non-Straussian readers are too stupid to realize that he is saying that both conspiracies are real, and both are benign. Parents deceive children about Santa Claus for their own good, and because humans are mythologizing creatures; likewise the neocon elite creates myths like 9/11 for the good of the nation (in this case mainly the nation of Israel, but that's another story). Nobody who has read Strauss could fail to see Sunstein's Santa Claus metaphor as a confession to involvement in the Straussian project of the creation and maintenance of the 9/11 myth.

1 comment:

  1. Salaam,

    Talk to you soon then in London insha Allah

    ReplyDelete