Logical Biases: Preserving Fact from Perception

Today, we’re going to be talking about biases our brains have when processing information. This is important to know about because of the political and social environment we’re currently in. We have to know why some people think the way they do and how they manage to maintain irrational beliefs despite overwhelming evidence that their beliefs run contrary to facts. In fact, these logical shortcomings are so prevalent that even scientific professionals have to guard against them. However, when ordinary people fall victim to them, it’s much harder for us to self-diagnose and control for these subconscious biases and it often ends up in misunderstanding and misinformation. I tell you, our subconcious’s fear of cognitive dissonance is something to be feared (and rightly so).

However, it is not only an individual’s fault for falling into the trap but what we’re being exposed to in the media, in the social circles we’re part of and what authority figures tell us to think can also perpetuate these widening ripples of falsehood.

1. Confirmation Bias

In science, when they conduct experiments, researchers try not to let their own predictions on the outcome of the experiment affect the actual outcome of said experiment. When you seek out information that specifically confirms your own beliefs and pass over or completely ignore information that goes against your beliefs, that bias is called confirmation bias. This clip from a CH video explains this quite well and it also helps explain the vaccine = autism mindset some people have nowadays.

For researchers, they attempt to avoid this bias by either developing an objective way of measuring results or by performing blind or double-blind studies where the participants of experiments and the researchers that are directly observing the results of an experiment don’t know what sort of result is expected and therefore doesn’t skew the actual results of the experiment.

Then, there have been researchers who knowingly skewed the results of an experiment to confirm a result beneficial to their agenda. For example, back when obesity first showed its advance on modern society in the form of heart disease, a theretofore uncommon condition, people were trying to find something to blame. Fat became the victim while the sugar industry got a free pass. When people found out, a man by the name of Ancel Keys got most of the blame.

Here’s a (slightly biased) video about the whole incident…

 

…. and a more objective review of the whole affair outlined here from a fellow denizen of WordPress:

The Truth:

  • Ancel Keys did not drop any countries from the Seven Countries Study. His most famous graph—the first one up above—is from a different paper he presented at a World Health Organization (WHO) conference in 1955. The Seven Countries Study didn’t even launch until 1958, and entailed much more than just plopping numbers into a pretty curve. (That said, the Seven Countries Study had plenty of problems too; some are mentioned on this site.)
  • Contrary to popular belief, the cherry-picked graph didn’t convince everyone that fat was evil. In fact, Keys was pretty much ridiculed for the weakness of his fat/heart disease theory by other scientists at the WHO meeting, and whenever his graph was cited in medical journals later on, it was usually paired with some criticism. Although Keys’ work definitely shaped our current beliefs about fat, this graph didn’t exactly take the world by storm. (More on this later.)
  • When all 22 countries were analyzed, the association between fat and heart disease did not go away. It actually remained statistically significant (meaning it probably wasn’t due to chance). And to make matters worse, the paper frequently cited as a “rebuttal” to Keys shows pretty clearly that animal protein had an even stronger association with heart disease than total fat did. The China Study was right all along! Time to go vegan, you guys. (Just kidding. But this part is the most interesting of all, and we’ll examine it in excruciating depth in a moment.)

Although some of his saga has been misconstrued, Keys was still far from perfect—and his eventual role in demonizing saturated fats (while glorifying polyunsaturated fats) has led us down an unfortunate road.

Click here to see the whole article. (Kudos to the author for such thorough research.)

The fact that Keys’ own bias could have gotten in the way of objective research is something that everyone can learn from and avoid. So just be careful to know the whole story when looking at an issue or an event and don’t surround yourself with only sources or people who agree with you.

Here’s a good source to learn more about this bias.

2. False Consensus Effect

You know a person who is clearly wrong but is so sure that they’re right that they assume that everyone else thinks they’re right too? This is called the false consensus effect. This is especially crucial if you’re in a position of power. A person with decision-making powers over other people may make decisions for other people and assume that their subordinates (or constituents, for that matter) agree with them. This makes people less likely to actually seek out the opinion of others and it also leads them to create a bubble of “yes” people around them, furthering the delusion.

See here to learn more about this effect.

The false consensus effect is also tied to another logical fallacy which we will expand on next…

3. Availability Heuristic

This is our brain’s tendency to look for information that is easiest to get. This is why news and other media outlets aren’t the most reliable sources when it comes to forming conclusions about the world. Since what the news covers is limited and focuses on certain stories by nature, what we do hear about will seem bigger and more prevalent than the stories that we don’t hear about. For example, shark attacks are often sensationalised and when it does happen, the news outlets report on it. However, as the popular comparison goes, more people die from incidents relating to vending machines than shark attacks (see here for far more likelier ways you’ll die). But people are still more paranoid about being attacked by sharks than dying from vending machines. This is because there is more information and instances available to draw upon since you were more exposed to it.

This is especially important when it comes to making decisions and other social phenomena like mass hysteria. This is also why propaganda works. When given lots of examples to hate and fear the Japanese and the Chinese (each at different times in US history), the public ate it up and adopted the hate with posters like this:

US_propaganda_Japanese_enemy

15-exploding-brain-meme.w710.h473.2x

images.jpg
Titled The Yellow Terror in all his Glory

And this was before television became popular. So… you can imagine the impact of television now.

Then, to tie it back to the false consensus effect, when people make a conclusion based only on information they’re exposed to and are unaware of any other information, then it lends itself to false confidence in their beliefs and when they expouse* these beliefs to a group of people who are less sure, this belief then spreads into the misinformation epidemic we face today.

For a full list of all biases, see here.

Well, that was all for today. Don’t forget to like and follow! We’d love to hear what you think of this topic.

This is Lieutenant out.

*Expouse is a word coined by me. The official definition is:

Ex•pouse /ik•spous/

Verb

  • (usually of a political or religious belief) to spew with great conviction

APUSH Discussion Groups: Did Yellow Journalism cause the Spanish-American War? (Yes)

Stance: Yes (how the media blew up what was happening in Cuba in order to sell more papers)

Synthesis & Thesis: The Spanish-American War wasn’t the first time the Americans were whipped into a frenzy of mass hysteria: the earliest and most famous example of which was the Salem Witch Trials. Over two hundred people were accused between February 1692 to May 1693 and twenty were executed. They were accused of practicing witchcraft and people believed that they were agents of the devil and could bring curses upon those they didn’t like. It turned out that there was a strong correspondence between the wealth and status of the accused and the accusers. The economic hardships of the time as well as their deep-seated superstitions and resentment caused the Trials and their beliefs spurred on by rumors and fear, spiralled out of control and resulted in very real consequences, much like the baselessness of the Spanish-American War. With the press actively working to encourage war, public opinion soon became putty to be molded according to the news headline of the day. With news stories so completely false and separate from the facts and yet having a massive following with eye-catching headlines, the US and Spanish government was soon backed into a corner where one had to fight to save face or risk rebellion and the other had to fight to relieve the bloodlust of its people. Yellow journalism caused the War by putting forth false and sensationalist news that fuelled public outrage and then forced the hand of the government through the pressure of public opinion.

Points:

  • Background-
    • Main players involved Hearst & Pulitzer, together had millions of readers
    • Penny newspaper means customers who are mid-lower class = less interested in mundane news = a lucrative business selling sensational headlines
    • Pulitzer and Hearst were rivals in the business
      • Pulitzer was against war but printed pro-war to increase circulation
  •  Incidents and Effects
    • De Lome’s Letter- construed as “the worse insult in American history”
    • He had to resign and it wasn’t much of a big deal if not for…
  •  Maine in Cuba
    • Was in Cuba on the pretense of being “a friendly act of courtesy”, the Vizcaya was sent to the US in return
    • Was hailed as the first “offensive” of the United States into Cuba by media
    • Was blown up, media blamed it on Spanish gov’t and spread the news that the Maine was blown up by mines planted by the Spanish government
  •  Vizcaya
    • Vizcaya arrived just after the Maine explosion
      • Front-page news for weeks, all spewing pro-war headlines of course
      • Suspected Vizcaya of ulterior motives– offended, Spanish officials barred Hearst’s men from boarding which caused more suspicious rumors
      • moon w/ two rings = sign from heaven
      • testimonials of wretched mothers (even made up a quote from Roosevelt), people volunteering to fight and condemned peace attempts as twaddle, whipping people up to a war-ready frenzy — revenge

What ISIS Is Really Trying To Accomplish

 

Islamophobia is a growing fear in our world today.

Politicians today are starting to waver, as more and more people are growing fearful of potential attacks coming upon them. The number of anti-Islamic attacks have grown significantly. In a study conducted by California State University, it was found that there were over 196 hate crimes against Muslims in 2015 alone, a 78 percent increase from 2014. [15] And in another study by CAIR found that there was another 44 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. [15] And some countries, such as the U.S., have implemented policies to slow the flow of Muslim refugees crossing their borders. [24]

But what would ISIS gain from Muslim refugees not being allowed to enter any Western countries? The Muslims that are forced to stay in these nations where ISIS have taken over have but two options at that point; to stay opposed and be killed, or to join the movement. ISIS is trying to expand their jihadist-extremist ideology, and with these anti-refugee policies that may be enacted, it is a golden opportunity for them, that they WILL take advantage of. Not only would it allow the organization to grow, but it could incite more hatred for the Western countries, as they would be seen as “turning away” the Islamic religion.

Background of ISIS

To describe ISIS in a few words, it is an organization based in Syria and Iraq that consists of far-right, Jihad extremists. But their background is much larger than that.

The tender beginnings of ISIS are said to have started in the early 2000s. [2] The forager of the group was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian with an unimpressive past. He grew up near a Palestinian refugee camp, and was a petty criminal in his youth. [1] Surely no one would’ve suspected he would create such a large movement, where his legacy lives on today.

During his years in prison from 1992-1999 [7], he began to grow a Jihadist mentality [2] (Jihad meaning “holy war”, but in this sense, it is being used to encourage violence against “the enemies of Islam” [8]). He grew a following while in prison, and once he was released, he was regarded as a leader of Jihad, deemed a “holy warrior”. [2] Out of prison, he also caught the attention of Bin Laden, and traveled all the way to Kandahar in hopes of meeting with him, but was dismissed as being too brutish. [2] Bin Laden initially thought of him as a poor recruit, but nonetheless, he gave him funds to start running a camp and by 2002, Zarqawi was training more “warriors”. [2]

Bin Laden and Zarqawi disagreed fundamentally on how they wanted to organize the group. Zarqawi wanted to focus on areas such as Jordan and Maliki government, while Bin Laden wanted to go straight for the U.S.. [1] Zarqawi also had a strong resentment for Shia Muslims, which Bin Laden didn’t agree with. [1]

Zarqawi’s group, known as Jama’at al-Tawhid wa’al-Jahad (JTJ), conducted their first attack in Jordan killing Laurence Foley, a USAid manager. [9] At the time, the events of 9/11 were still fresh in people’s minds, so President Bush was desperate to gain more intel on Al Qaeda. [10] Secretary of State Colin Powell presented an intel report to the American people, and used Zarqawi as a link between Hussein and Bin Laden. [2] This statement was refuted by foreign analysts, and it was said he “went off script”. [2] They believe he inflated the importance and role of Zarqawi at this time and that it was “counterproductive”. [10] This gave Zarqawi some notoriety [12], and led to more recruits.

This led to the U.S. occupation of Iraq, but by then, JTJ conducted 40 explosions in Baghdad alone. [2] Hussein’s Sunni soldiers were disgruntled and out of work, so Zarqawi saw this as the perfect opportunity. [2] Zarqawi took them under his wing, and they soon became his loyal followers.

In 2003, there was a massive bombing at the UN headquarters, and it was a defining moment. It only led the U.S. troops to be more determined. [13] Another notable incident was the beheading of Nick Berg. [2] It was the first instance Zarqawi was on video, and created more sentiment among Muslims with similar ideologies. Some found it admirable that he carried out the beheading himself. [2]

maxresdefault
A snapshot of the video with Nick Berg, just moments before the beheading. Source: http://ken-welch.com/Berg/the_beheading_of_nicholas_berg/

However, a majority of the Muslim population found the group’s actions to be deplorable, and they turned off a lot of possible recruits. [4] The group despised Shiite Muslims, and carried out numerous assassinations against them. Even Bin Laden argued that the attacks on fellow Muslims were not required, and much too barbaric. [2]

The beginning of the insurgency in Iraq was prompted by the bombing of an important Shiite shrine on February 22, 2006. [2] This resulted in 27 retaliatory attacks on the Sunnis in Baghdad, creating a Muslim civil war. [1]

Prior to the attack, Zarqawi revealed his intention to create an “Islamic State”, a caliphate. [1] However, on June 7, 2006, Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. airstrike. There was a surge of U.S. soldiers, and the local population began to resent Al Qaeda. [2] The group saw a decline, and a majority of the members went into hiding. [1]

From 2006 to 2008, the members of the group and other Islamic extremists were wound up and put into Camp Bucca, a crucial part of the group’s resurgence. [17] Here, several of the prisoners made contacts with one another, including Haji Bakr with future leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. [3][17] Bakr was a former soldier of Hussein, and was looking to join the Jihad movement. In this environment, it was the perfect place for them to plan, as the American soldiers couldn’t speak Arabic, so they took advantage of the situation. [17]

A man by the name of Masri held control of the group for a time, but in 2010 he was killed in an air raid. [1] Bakr, a then high-ranking official, made his move in finding a new leader. [3] The new leader is Baghdadi, and he was looking for an area to be their new target. The group looked to Damascus, the capital of Syria, where there was political unrest. The Syrian president, Assad, was met with protests that resulted in violence against the citizens, something the group could capitalize on. [2] They fought against the Assad regime [1] and by 2012, they had successfully overtaken Damascus. [1] Afterwards, there were two different terror campaigns; “Breaking Walls” of 2012, in which they released the group’s incarcerated members, and “Soldier’s Harvest” of 2013, in which they targeted Iraqi security forces. [1]

In April 2013, after the expansion into Syria, the group changed the name to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). [1] Intelligence analysts encouraged the then-president, Barack Obama, to interfere, but he was reluctant. Once he finally decided to help, however, it was too late. [2] ISIS continued their slaughters, however, they wanted to move back into Iraq. They saw an opportunity after seeing the unrest in Iraq, due to the Shiite prime minister cracking down on the Sunnis. In this, ISIS successfully took over Fallujah, Ramadi, and Mosul. [2]

Somewhere around late June of 2014, Baghdadi declared himself Caliph of the “Islamic State”, and was seen in public conducting a sermon for the first time. He succeeded in what Zarqawi couldn’t. [2]

IMG_1996
The first instance of Baghdadi on video, in which he declared the Caliphate. Source: http://www.cnn.com/2014/07/10/world/meast/iraq-baghdadi-watch/index.html


Strategies

The group initially targeted American and Coalition forces, but they then began to aim for Maliki government. [1] During the Iraqi insurgency, the group also attempted to slow the transition of American troops, by attacking U.S. oil companies, humanitarian aid groups, and other Sunni opposition groups. [1]

Another thing high on the group’s agenda was killing Shiite Muslims, as they viewed them as apostates (those that renounce a religion), simply from the fact their branch of Islam has different beliefs. [16] They also successfully pinned Sunni and Shiite Muslims against one another, to the point of commencing civil wars (such as in Damascus and Baghdad). [2]

The group also utilized IEDs (improvised explosive devices), and had their members conduct suicide bombings. [1] The group also used chlorine gas. [1]

Their beheading videos gave the group publicity, especially when news outlets began to report on the events. The group relished in this fact, especially Zarqawi.

After Zarqawi’s death, however, they took up new, more refined techniques.

They first targeted government and opposition groups, but then moved on to taking over territory. [1] They often took areas that were fragile and with high Sunni populations.

Once Baghdadi took control, the group began initiating campaigns and using more sophisticated propaganda. Their “Breaking Walls” and “Soldier’s Harvest” proved to be fruitful endeavors [1], and the group even publishes their own magazine called Dabiq. [1] The magazine looks surprisingly sleek, and is even published in English, Russian, French, German, etc. [16] This produced a spike in foreign fighters.

IMG_1997
From the “Breaking Walls Campaign” in Mosul, in which they released up to 1,000 prisoners. Source: http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/06/26/the-great-iraqi-jail-break

The group also grew a massive following on Twitter, employing hashtags for the group. The tool was useful for recruitment, and keeping contact with ISIS followers from around the world. [16] The group is very effective at inspiring international attacks, even if they experience setbacks of their own. [11]

A large leader of the group by the name of Haji Bakr (as mentioned earlier) used intelligence to his advantage. [3] He went about sending his henchmen into villages getting information and answer to questions such as:

  • Who are the powerful families?
  • Who are the most powerful individuals in these families?
  • What is their source of income?
  • List names, and sizes of any possible rebel groups.
  • Find out who the leaders are.

He conducted these tasks to use for blackmail later on. They would also gain information on things such as who may be homosexual, who may be in an affair, etc. [3] They were told to find info that could fragment and compromise the local population. The group also used “spy cells” [1] in areas that they intended to take over later. [3]

The Ultimate Goal

The main strategy of the group is completely dependent on the West. [4] The group, because of its tactics and the reputation they give, are hated by Muslim countries, so not a lot of the citizens actually join willingly. So the group must create a narrative of a global conflict, and further prove that these countries are not only turning against ISIS, but against Islam. [4]

The group has proven itself to be a well-grounded force, as foreign troops often come and leave, and never stay to fight. [34] This can give the impression to some Muslims that they may not care, and that ISIS is much more determined. It could also be the reason for foreign fighters joining at such an alarming rate.

Their intimidation also through their murders of groups that oppose them is also enough motivation for them to join. [34]

The group also strains relations between predominantly Islamic nations and Western society. [6] Every time after the U.S. withdrew their troops, the group saw a higher member rate, and it was easier for them to carry out their attacks. [2]

Seeing as how the group follows the Sunni branch of Islam, the fact that that the prime minister of Iraq, a Shii, had persecuted Sunnis was all the more reason to join, with the Sunnis seeing it as an act of resistance. [1]

These actions are knocking politicians off their feet, and making them initiate policies against refugees.

Growing Islamophobia Around The Globe

There are a number of anti-Islamic groups that have risen from 34 to 101 in 2016. [6] In a Gallup poll from 2011, 52 percent of Americans believe that Western society doesn’t respect Muslims. [14] This is a significant number, seeing as how at this time, ISIS hadn’t had their resurgence. One in four people believe that Muslims in the U.S., Britain, France, and China are treated unfairly. [14] There have been various other hate crimes in the U.S., such as graffiti on mosques, protests, people burning the Quran, and many others. [28] In Canada on January 29, there was an attack on a mosque in Quebec that left six dead and eight injured. [31] In Israel on June 13, a father killed his daughter after discovering she was dating a Muslim, saying that it disgraced the family. [30] On June 21, there was an acid attack on two cousins in the UK, and was treated as a hate crime, and showed the surge of Islamophobia. [29] In India on July 12, a Muslim family of 10 were assaulted with iron rods on a train, with the attackers saying “Kill them, they are Muslims”. [32] There are incidents happening all over the globe, and these are just to name a few in 2017.

IMG_1998
From a demonstration outside a mosque in Phoenix, AZ. Source: https://en.trend.az/world/other/2400543.html

Anti-Islamic Policies & Views in Politics

  • The U.S. government is allowed to profile. They can document high risk minorities who they believe can have “malintent”. The government also encourages law-enforcement and even citizens to report those who they believe may be up to suspicious activity, but could subject Muslims to unjust harassment by authorities. [5]
  • Governors have even tried to stop the flow of Syrian and Iraqi refugees after the Paris attacks, and the House of Representatives passed a bill to make it harder for these refugees to settle and have to go through more difficult screenings than refugees from low-Muslim population countries. [5]
  • Technology companies are also being subject to the government, and constantly being pressed to reveal any information on any potential “terrorist activity”. Often times they cooperate, but it is thought that it is asking too much for such companies to keep track of all of this activity, especially on larger platforms (i.e., Twitter). This allows for censorship. [5]
  • The federal government set up an initiative known as Countering Extreme Terrorism (CVE). The program encourages people of all occupations to report any individuals who they believe may have radical views. Again, this could allow for unwarranted discrimination, seeing as how it is even being perpetrated by the government. It hasn’t proven to be successful. [5]
  • The U.S. has a watchlist system that has proven to have certain groups, such as Muslims, be subject to being accused as being a terrorist, and not be allowed to fly into the U.S. The watchlist is often ”riddled with errors” that can deter innocent people based off of broad standards, and once on the list, it is hard to get yourself off. [5]
  • In February 2017, Trump attempted to create a travel ban for refugees from “high-risk” countries, those that also happen to have high Muslim populations. [19]
  • In Xinjiang Province in China, they banned burqas, veils and certain beards as a way to combat extremism. [18]
  • In the Netherlands, a parliament member created a political party called the “Freedom Party”, that holds strong anti-Islamic views. [20]
  • In Australia, two parliamentary members called for an immigration ban on countries where violent extremism is rife. [21]
  • In Denmark, a bill was passed in hopes of discouraging immigration to the country. This includes a reduction of government benefits for refugees, people must wait 3 years before they can apply to have their family members join them, and the Danish government can seize any belongings worth over $1,450. And this bill is coming at a time in which immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries are trying to seek refuge. [22]
  • In Israel, the country bans people from numerous countries with high Arab and Muslim populations from becoming citizens. [23]
  • After the 2015 Paris attacks, France and Belgium had temporarily closed their borders. [24]
  • In Poland, the minister of European affairs stated that they would ‘not respect” the decision of the EU to relocate refugees and immigrants to all of the countries in the EU. They stated that they want to “retain full control of their border”. [25]
  • In Hungary, the mayor of a small village declared “a war on Muslim immigration”. [26]

Conclusion

In conclusion, ISIS has more to gain from these policies than to lose. They are a radical group with very clear intentions. They want to create an “Islamic State”, and they know exactly the means to getting there. Banning our allies along with our enemies will fail to yield a good result, and it could cause thousands more of innocent lives to be lost, more than there already have been. There have been numerous other countries, such as Canada and Sweden, that have decided to keep their borders “open” [27], because they realize that a majority of people in these countries don’t have bad intentions. Even a study from Pew Research Center has concluded that views from Muslims on ISIS are overwhelmingly negative, being an average figure of 74%, with only a mere 3% of Muslims viewing them positively. [33]

ISIS wants to get rid of the “gray zone”, which is the area in which Muslims live in peace with other populations. [2][4] They want us to be afraid, and make irrational, selfish decisions because of our fear.

We need to snap out of this anti-Muslim sentiment, as isolating these groups is going to do nothing but help them grow. We need to realize that we and these refugees have a common enemy: ISIS. Although we cannot alter the strategy of ISIS, we can control how we react to it.

 

Note: Hi, this is Adriana. This is my very first article, and I would LOVE some feedback. This is a quite heavy topic, and is somewhat relevant at the moment. I wrote this in late July, but I still thought it’s a noteworthy article. So what do you guys think? Do you agree with my stance or think that something else may be at hand…? 

 

Source of the Featured Image: 

http://time.com/4717319/mosul-iraq-offensive-civilians-human-shields/

Bibliography

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[2] Frontline. Accessed July 22, 2017.
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[4] Gude, Ken. “Anti-Muslim Sentiment Is a Serious Threat to American Security.”
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[10] DeYoung, Karen, and Walter Pincus. “Zarqawi Helped U.S. Argument That
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[11] Mansour, Muhammad. “Islamophobia: What the Islamic State Really Wants.” The
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[14] “Islamophobia: Understanding Anti-Muslim Sentiment in the West.” Gallup.
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[15] Pitter, Laura. “Hate Crimes Against Muslims in US Continue to Rise in 2016.”
Human Rights Watch. May 14, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2017. https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/11/hate-crimes-against-muslims-us-continue-rise-2016
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[17] Parks, Brad. “How a US prison camp helped create ISIS.” New York Post. May 31,
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[18] Luqiu, Rose, and Fan Yang. “Anti-Muslim sentiment is on the rise in China. We
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[19] “Trump travel ban: Questions about the revised executive order.” BBC News. July
14, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-39044403.
[20] Bawer, Bruce. “The Dutch Elections: Last Chance for the Netherlands?” National
Review. March 13, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.nationalreview.com/article/445717/dutch-elections-muslim-immigration-policies-might-spark-voter-backlash.
[21] Yaxley, Louise. “George Christensen calls for restricting immigration from countries
that do not share ‘Australian values’.” ABC News. September 15, 2016. Accessed July 22, 2017. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-16/christensen-against-immigrants-without-australian-values/7850426.
[22] Delman, Edward. “How Not to Welcome Refugees.” The Atlantic. January 27, 2016.
Accessed July 20, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/01/denmark-refugees-immigration-law/431520/.
[23] “The Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law (temporary provision) 5763 – 2003.” The
Knesset. 2003. Accessed July 16, 2017. http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/citizenship_law.htm.
[24] Bertrand, Natasha. “‘We are not terrorists’ – Europe’s ‘open door’ refugee policy is
already coming under assault.” Business Insider. November 15, 2015. Accessed July 21, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/how-paris-attacks-affect-refugee-policy-2015-11.
[25] Moore, Jack. “Poland Will Not Take Refugees Under EU Scheme After Paris
Attacks, Minister Says.” Newsweek. May 01, 2016. Accessed July 23, 2017. http://www.newsweek.com/poland-will-not-take-refugees-under-eu-scheme-after-paris-attacks-minister-394490.
[26] Noack, Rick. “A Hungarian village declared ‘war’ on Muslim immigration. Few
objected.” The Washington Post. February 14, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/02/14/a-hungarian-village-declared-war-on-muslim-immigration-few-objected/?utm_term=.7fbb0d559f6e.
[27] Line, Brett, and Linda Poon. “How Other Countries Handle Immigration.” National
Geographic. June 23, 2013. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2013/06/130630-immigration-reform-world-refugees-asylum-canada-japan-australia-sweden-denmark-united-kingdom-undocumented-immigrants/.
[28] Mathias, Christopher. “A Running List Of Shameful Islamophobic Acts Since The
Paris Attacks.” The Huffington Post. December 16, 2015. Accessed July 23, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/all-the-islamophobic-acts-in-us-canada-since-paris_us_564cee09e4b031745cef9dda.
[29] McKee, Ruth, and Haroon Siddique. “Acid attack on two Muslim cousins in London
being treated as hate crime.” The Guardian. June 30, 2017. Accessed July 26, https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jun/30/acid-attack-victim-says-he-and-cousin-targeted-because-they-are-muslim-beckton-london.
[30] Hovel, Revital. “Israeli Christian charged with murdering his teen daughter over
relationship with Muslim.” Haaretz. July 17, 2017. Accessed July 22, 2017. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.801555.
[31] “Quebec City mosque attack: Six dead and eight injured.” Al Jazeera. January 30,
2017. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/01/quebec-mosque-attack-170130031548892.html
[32] “Muslim family attacked with iron rods, robbed by 30-35 men on a train in UP.”
TimesNow. July 14, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2017. http://www.timesnownews.com/india/video/muslim-family-attacked-with-iron-rods-robbed-by-30-35-men-on-a-train-in-up/65923.
[33] Lipka, Michael. “Muslims and Islam: Key findings in the U.S. and around the world.”
Pew Research Center. May 26, 2017. Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/26/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/.
[34] Jabour, Nabeel. “10 Reasons Muslims are Eager to Join ISIS.” Zwemer Center.
Accessed July 26, 2017. http://www.zwemercenter.com/sample-post-with-a-title/.

 

[A Reblog] Psychology on Beating a Dead Horse

Another name to something that was previously just an observed behavior! In this case, the tendency of people to not give up even after it has been shown that further effort will not change the outcome. The continued effort might even be detrimental to yourself in some significant way too which makes this behavior all the more baffling and illogical. Well, the name for it is the sunk cost effect and here’s the article on it and an excerpt:

https://thelastbehaviorist.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-sunk-cost-effect.html

“Ah, the Concorde; the joint development program of the British and French governments that pushed ahead even when the economic benefits of the project were no longer possible. It was designed to be a passenger aircraft capable of supersonic flight but its lasting legacy resides mostly in game theory, where it has been adopted as a description of irrational behavior – the Concorde fallacy. More generally, the process behind the fallacy is known as the sunk cost effect.”

Featured Image also from the same article

The Ultimate Logical Loophole: The Devil’s Proof

Out of all the potential fallacies and blind corners that logical systems of thought often make, the most frustrating is the occurrence of what is called The Devil’s Proof. With this, anyone can claim the outrageous and lay waste to scientific research and logic.

To put it simply, the Devil’s Proof is the fact that non-evidence cannot disprove something’s existence. While evidence can help prove something, the lack of evidence cannot prove that something is untrue. While scientists have ample evidence that autism is not connected to vaccines, however, because of the Devil’s Proof, they cannot confirm 100% that autism is not linked to vaccines. As one scientist put it:

“[While I can’t disprove the link between autism and vaccines,] I am as certain that autism is related to vaccines as I am that I will fly if I step off the roof of this building.”

Using this logical loophole, people can claim anything because unless it has been proved to be something else, anything could be everything and vice versa. That might sound confusing and hard to swallow because our brains like to think that what we know to be true is definite. However, since we need affirmative proof to officially say something exists or exhaust every method possible to prove that there is no proof, everything that does not have evidence proving its existence can also be true because maybe the reason why we don’t have proof yet is just because we haven’t discovered it.

Here’s another example: If your friend shows up with a candy bar that you just lost, can you know that their candy bar was stolen from you? In a legal scenario, the lack of evidence that she took your candy bar means that you technically can’t indict her for the crime. However, due to the Devil’s Proof or what lawyers call probatio diabolica, she has to then prove she didn’t take your candy bar by showing where she got it from etc. So in a court, when faced with proving something impossible to prove, the burden is then reversed onto the other person to prove their innocence.

This may be contrary to “innocent ’til proven guilty” but there is no choice when you don’t can’t definitively say that this person was the one who committed the crime but is instead just the most likely one. While the example above was somewhat simplified from what you see in real life, the Devil’s Proof, when applied elsewhere, isn’t so easily remedied.

You can see that in the belief that America has millions of the dead and “illegals” that voted in the last election. While there were four cases of documented voter fraud (three of which came from Trump voters trying to prove that there is voter fraud and got caught), the Devil’s Proof states that just because there is no further evidence doesn’t mean that it did not occur. Therefore, people have taken advantage of that and that’s how we ended up with this debate nowadays.

The same goes for conspiracy theories like the fact that the global elite might be lizard people from the Illuminati. There is absolutely no proof of that but, once again, the lack of proof doesn’t mean a seal of innocence.

While this sounds quite grim for those who are logical-minded, remember that while this phenomenon can be used to support whack theories, it also means that things like extraterrestrial life are very possible and so are some of the more tentative theories in quantum physics and the possibility of parallel universes etc. So don’t lose hope and remember that although this logical loophole can be dangerous in the stupid hands, it also opens up the world of possibilities.

While I’m sure most of you are already aware of the Devil’s Proof, you just didn’t have a name for it. Well, here it is. Hope you guys enjoyed this article and leave a like if you did. Follow for more of this sort of thing and comment any topics you would like us to cover.

This is Lieutenant and I’ll see you next time.

P.S. School starts next week so I’ll have to rebalance my schedule between school, work, fencing club and writing for Outlet. Expect a rough patch in the coming weeks. I don’t think I’ll have any major problems but who know… Well, I wish anyone going back to school this fall luck and godspeed to you all.

[A Reblog] All Play and No Work: A Response

Despite my habit of regularly consuming video games, it has not stopped me from being an honor roll student with a schedule full of AP classes planned for the next school year or from working around twenty hours a week in addition to sports and other extracurricular activities.

With the older generation saying that millennials are too privileged and that we are lazy and conceited, I constantly feel the need to parade my achievements just to show them that we’re not the way they think. However, I am aware that this also throws a lot of my peers under the bus if they don’t manage to somehow fill in every hour of every day. We shouldn’t have to prove ourselves like this.

Furthermore, while this sort of attitude does affect me and people my age, the millennials who are older are getting it in a larger dose every day. While struggling with rent and student debt and the problems everyone has with first moving out, they are constantly being told that they are not good enough and that their troubles are of their own making because they were too coddled and naive. If people in the older generation are so eager to see millenials find their way in the world and be productive (which they really are not because they would have to find something else to criticise) then why would they make it so that the people they were supposed to be motivating are instead getting beaten down?

This is a post another millennial has written in response to one such attack on our work ethic and on what we decide to spend our leisure time on. She explains it much better than I did. Check it out.

AmbiGaming

Recently, the New York Timespublished an article about how today’s youth are opting to play video games instead of working. A (non-gaming) friend of mine commented to me that she thought it was interesting, after hearing about video games from my perspective, and after perusing some of the articles here. Maybe video games aren’t the rosy picture I make them out to be? she seemed to tentatively offer.

Well of course they’re not. They are no more rosy than any other storytelling or entertainment medium. Like any entertainment, or any leisure tool, they are helpful or harmfulbased on how you use them. Yes, you heard it here first and all that.

But what of this news article?

The Gist of It

I encourage you to read the above article for yourselves, but the theme of the article is that young people (read: millenials) are opting to play video…

View original post 2,185 more words

Politics, Entitlement and Narcissism: I Want This and I Don’t Want Them to Have It

What I feel like is understated in the political environment today is the fact that the people advocating for legislation that is harmful to the planet and to the common people can’t be swayed by logic or any measure of compassion. This sort of unsympathetic, elitist attitude shown by those in power right now can be illustrated in these two quotes from online posts:

“[Referring to the potential repeal of the Affordable Care Act] I don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”

-posted by Lauren Morrill

 

“The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of whom will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.”

-posted by Davis X. Machina

On the first point, it is a question of compassion and the urge to capitalise on an opportunity to better your own situation while worsening the condition of those you believe will be hurt by your actions and on the second point, it is a question of your status compared to those who you think are subpar to you and your desire to maintain your place at the top of the food chain.

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The underlying idea to these attitudes is the fact that as long as nothing bad happens to themselves, then they’re fine with anything as long as they are better able to improve or maintain their own status. For example, there are many members of the Republican party who have deviated from the main agenda of the party because of their personal circumstances. Without naming any names, there is a congressperson that has an immigrant Hispanic wife and therefore opposes the proposed blanket deportation of all supposed illegals, there is a congressperson who has since said, quote “I will support whatever decision she makes,” when asked if he would still be adamantly pro-life if his daughter became pregnant and another congressperson dropped his prejudices against gay marriage because his daughter was a lesbian. These are only some of the examples where people had flip-flopped on issues because they know they are personally affected by the outcome.

So it’s clearly not a question about morality or what’s best for the values and traditions of the country. This is to make as miserable as possible the existence of people that aren’t you and your family. It is an attempt to hold onto an old status quo that should have been discarded and redefined long ago. They don’t want new rules. They want to impose theirs on everyone else not fortunate enough to be them.

So why do these people hold so much power when they clearly aren’t acting in the favour of their constituents? Because, you see, this sort of thought process isn’t only limited to those in power. The second quote illustrates the nature of entitlement and narcissism in this country. This attitude is widespread among the denizens of the United States, playing a big role in the systemic oppression and marginalisation of many racial and ethnic groups and that is also why it’s so dangerous.

It’s the same thing as saying, “I want all the comfort and rights any decent human being should have but more because I don’t want the people I think aren’t as good as I am to have those same rights.” So the rich that can afford costly medical treatment think it’s a waste of their money to help fund a program that provides relief to those who can’t afford treatment for life-endangering illnesses. The ones who grew up in complete families and loving parents disdain those in poverty and criticise them for the condition they were born into and ask why they couldn’t have just gotten a job and made things better for themselves and put their continual misery down to laziness(I could honestly write a whole article on why this is implausible but that’s a topic for another time.).

So how do you remedy this divide between human decency and their sense of what’s owed to them? Well, you can’t really unless circumstances somehow force their hand by threatening their comfort or status. Even if you can’t convert your next door neighbour by doing this, remember that you hold the power of the vote. If enough people make it known that they’re unhappy with how things are going in government and make it clear that it’s going to negatively impact these politician’s careers and reputations, then they’ll either have to step up or risk a painful decline in influence. The wrong side of history has always been so much more vocal than the right side and it takes a lot to drum up noise for support for progressive legislation so become organised and participate in the legal process.

Fulfill your duty as a person of common sense and serve on juries so cases of police brutality and rape among other crimes get the verdict they deserve. Those who live behind doors in their closed minds won’t change anything until the problem is right, quite literally, at their doorsteps.

That’s all for this time. As always, like and follow if you’ve enjoyed and tell us what you think of this topic in the comments or at our e-mail at whentheskyisovercast@gmail.com.

I’m Lieutenant and I’ll talk to you later.

 

A List of Stupid Things People Believe Part 1 [2017]

Warning: Rant incoming.

1) The Vaccine Debate – No, vaccines do not cause autism (see here) and the guy that first started this debate (Andrew Wakefield) has since been dishonourably discharged as a member of the medical community due to his studies being unethical and for intentionally altering data to support his claim. There have also been multiple big studies proving that his research, a study that “proved” the correlation between the MMR (Measles, Mumps and Rubella) vaccine and the incidence of autism, to be completely false (see here). Vaccines are lifesavers that have managed to render previously deadly diseases obsolete in the developed world. However, due to some parents not vaccinating their children, diseases like measles have since made a comeback in this country. Vaccines are small samples of dead or inactivated pathogens that are injected into the body to train your immune system to respond to them and destroy them if your body should ever be exposed to them in the future. See here for more vaccine myths debunked as well as more information on vaccines and their history.

If you want something less scholarly and want to have the issue broken down into bite-sized pieces with some comedy mixed in, here’s a video:

2) America’s Forgotten Roots – There’s a lot I can say about this topic. Since I’ve taken APUSH and have had other supplementary sources of education in US history, I’ve been seeing more and more inconsistencies in how Americans see themselves and in how they interpret things. For objectivity’s sake, I won’t try to defend or attack any positions; I will merely point out the inconsistencies. America is, and it’s no secret, a country of immigrants. If different ethnicities and what the influx of different cultures entails were to be seen from the point of view of the true natives of America, then the Native Americans would have good reason to fear the corruption of their youths from the introduction of beer and the development of the schooling system (which, by the way were both brought to America by Germans who, also by the way, contribute to about 16% of America’s ancestral genes and were the biggest ethnic group in America). Both of those fears would come true. Native Americans sport one of the highest incidences of drinking in general (and drinking heavily) within their population (see here) and they were forced to attend schools and camps in an effort by the American government to have them assimilate into “civilised culture” (those efforts, by the way, only ending in the early 1900s).

This is all. Hopefully, there will be more in the future. I know my posting schedule is in shambles right now and my writing quality has dropped so any sort of suggestions for new topics and the like are appreciated. My motivation in keeping this blog going has also dropped. That isn’t to say that my followers aren’t awesome (particular shoutout to aak fictionspawn). Thank you all and I hope I can pick up this site and start posting again like I did a couple months ago.

I’ll talk to you again.

A Rant: In the Light of Recent Events [June 2017]

Okay. Perhaps not everyone has studied the Cold War as I was extensively prompted to. One of the things pushed by the United States was human rights, coupled with economy and technology.

When Trump was campaigning, he insisted that all the trade deals that the United States was invested in were poor negotiations and alliances that ultimately took jobs and money from Americans. If one were to look at his stances from the 90’s, he did an interview where he decried that China was taking jobs from the US. I think the issue that people face with trying to discredit Trump is that Trump himself presented himself as an outsider so it would make sense that “someone of the people is disliked by the liberal elite.” Drumpf (they changed their name to Trump upon coming to America) tried to pull out of NATO- something Putin wants to sort of reverse the clock. Oh, I’m sorry. This is a paranoid leftist fever dream since you can’t prove it without stepping on toes. Except that you can because Trumpet Boy is literally only going over the things that any American historian points to as game-changers for the US in the Cold War. When he was largely ridiculed for his stance on trade agreements, he pulled back and started looking at things that he can decide personally “for the good of American people.”

The Paris Climate Accord was just withdrawn from by Trump alone despite all the scientists at his disposal that claim that it’s a bad idea. He doesn’t want to make an informed decision (like he floundered to create when he fired Comey) that people could stand behind because he isn’t doing things to better us. There was a recent interview in which Vladimir Putin told us to “Don’t worry, be happy.” We have a few more years left before the climate becomes a bigger concern, Putin claims. . . even though, he ratified the agreement for Russia. Putin is literally openly applauding Trump from the sidelines and in the face of white nationalism (they are more than happy to say that they are receiving approval from other “pure whites”), people are STILL ignoring the people who only voted for him because they were desperate for change. They are only talked about in abstract of terms like “his voter base”. Can we not look at the people who aren’t in economic hot spots for once? Did we not recant that “Hey, maybe swing states should not be a thing?” Trump will show up in the middle of what we perceive as nowhere and tout himself as the savior. He wants to say that he means to represent us all but he only represents his own interests.

Trump threatened to pull out of the United Nations. Why would he need to? He keeps talking about making America great again without saying when exactly he believed America to be great. The times he does seem to reference would be violently ejecting protestors (not leaving it at that but also fatally harming and potentially killing them outside of the rally). That is not someone who respects other humans. What upsets me the most is that the media largely paints Trump supporters and ex-supporters as either ignorant or un-educated. IT’S THIS GENERALIZATION THAT GOT US HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Mark Zuckerberg is toying with the idea of running for President and he’s touring the United States. Please, whoever is reading this, don’t forget that there were Bernie supporters that voted for Trump over Clinton. They’re not asking for a bloody re-run of “Where are they now?” but I assume they would want you to remember that they’re on the map. This cultural lag and isolation thing is no joke.

Does anyone remember how Trump tried to say Putin was a good bloke and that America should align with Russia? He was harping on that and then when there allegations of his ACTUAL collusion and most of his head officials of his campaign having this, that, or the other business with Russia. . . he shut himself up right quick. Interesting, no? On top of that was the Muslim Ban passed in complete disregard for the whole “America the Beautiful” being a nation of immigrants. He went after the most disenfranchised group, not the only scapegoat he held above his head and said that he wanted to kill their families. After his Middle East expedition, he’s suddenly calmer? Sometimes, I’m convinced that he’s employing Nixon’s Madmen Theory and other times, I’m convinced that he’s just a moron. Ivy League or not, that doesn’t determine if you’ve made the most of your education. He wasn’t a lawyer before he became a politician (just jumped into the Presidency and you would assume that if he really wanted to save money that he would have). Trump is pushing the image of Americans being capitalist pigs. He won’t exercise. He believes that most efforts aren’t worth it if the profit margin isn’t clearly defined. He is making arms deals for money (rumors say he’s doing it for his nationwide campaigns, strange because people don’t plan on changing their minds about him).

I will say there were two things that he did say that don’t get enough attention. 1) We forgot people, and that hurts. That hurts enough to want to screw over the rest of the nation. People literally only ever think of the coasts and only call the middle as Fly-over states. 2) Trade schools and community colleges are actually not terrible. We’re all so caught up with good 4-year colleges especially for that resume that we say nothing of starting more humbly. If anything, we look down on it, like we do people, and that’s not right. No one gave him that much credit but instead went to investigate it and then report their findings (like ATTN:, Vox, and other up-and-coming news sources). Trump isn’t a complete moron but I can say for certain that he knows nothing about foreign policy and would like to see the United States become isolationist (but he doesn’t mind keeping his own businesses overseas- less competition). He hasn’t bothered to know the history because that wasn’t important that long while ago that he was in school. We literally have an anachronism in office (coupled with a lot of actual collusion with a country that is written off as an oligarch and is therefore against American ideals). Are there Russian ideals? I’m slick scared when they joke that we should learn Russian because that’s why they keep holding Ukraine. That’s Lebensraum that Hitler wanted. Like, I’m all for learning for the sake of better understanding and the government rarely represents the people (except that the United States and Europe were actually supposed to uphold that ideal at the least). I’m learning Korean and I’ve taken a certain liking to Hindi. I might learn Russian because I want to surprise my Russian friend. That’s learning with good intentions over “you should learn because we plan on conquering you, sooner rather than later.” Perhaps, they did not intend to frighten me or others but as officials who are already under scrutiny: you would think them to be a tad more cautious. I could be taking it out of context as I hope that I am.

America was actually already split between isolationists and internationalists. Internationalists’ latent warning in all of their policies was to not become isolationist China because we could literally miss everything in a blink of an eye, yet Rome did not fall in a day. Trump’s policies will not be the best thing for this nation and they have the very slight chance of not being the worst (until he proposes more rubbish) but as we joked before: Better to break it and know exactly how much force it takes than to patiently let it last and scramble to replace it. I’m rather fond of learning from history.

SIDE NOTE: Pardon, I wasn’t aware that I was suddenly elitist, much less an elite. What I’m getting at is the fact that political correctness has just become a derogatory term for “anticipating potentially aggressive behavior that disrespects another human being.” Racist jokes were okay when those races couldn’t speak for themselves. Transgender jokes and all other LGBTQIA+ too. Political correctness makes it seem like everything that was funny suddenly isn’t… but that’s because you finally acknowledge that I am not okay with being referred to as innately lazy. She is not okay with you making her being afraid to come out of the closet as betrayal. He doesn’t care for your “harmless jokes” that tell him that he is less of a human being, a freaking caricature. But you tell me, that we are all angry. Why would I not be angry? You can say how you’re mad that the immigrant took your job but you should be mad at the corporations that hire them to only pay them under the table. Corporations are freaking exploiting them but you’re the one who’s hurt. How selfless of you.

That’s all for this time. We’ll talk to you later.

America’s Favorite Reaction is Overreaction: Today vs Past

Today, we’re going to talk about multiple situations in US history and how it has translated into modern politics. This is mostly going to be a historically-focused article. Let’s start off with a quote:

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I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”         –Barry Goldwater (written by Karl Hess, his speechwriter)

This isn’t immediately relevant to the topic we’re discussing today (and Barry Goldwater lost in his election by a landslide) but it demonstrates the general idea of American exceptionalism and how Americans take from that the idea that they are the big brother of the world and if anything should threaten what America thinks the world should be, then all expedient action should be taken to right the “wrong” regardless of the circumstances of the others involved. It has been evident multiple times in US history where wrong information have been used to accomplish such an agenda and frankly, even if afterwards, the people decide that what damage they inflicted was wrong, they pick and choose what benefits them.

We’ll start relatively recently: the end of the 19th century. The US and Spanish-controlled Cuba are in a tense situation. To make a long story short, citizens of the US thought that Cuba was being held under tyrannical rule (which was true to some extent but not to warrant the kind of reaction it did) and the newspapers at home, rivals as they are, try to outsell each other and they found that sensationalised news stories sold the most papers. So they started calling for US intervention in Cuba and wanted complete Cuban independence from Spain. Being the most widely-read newspapers in the country at the time, this created a lot of public pressure on policy makers. This prompted some questionable actions to be taken by gov’t officials that got questionable responses from Cuba and those questionable responses got blown up further by the newspapers (Hearst’s Journal and Pulitzer’s World).

Then, a US-sent warship (the USS Maine) docked at Havana, Cuba got blown up (the warship was sent in response to “rumours” that Spain would try something in Cuba so it didn’t need to be in Havana anyway) and even though there was no solid evidence that the Spaniards were responsible for it (and not only was it not proven, it was also highly unlikely), the newspapers called for revenge and whipped the public up into a war-ready frenzy. Calling the then-President McKinley and any other pacifists cowards and unpatriotic, these newspapers succeeded in starting one of the most pointless conflicts in US history. The war lasted for fewer than six months and Spain, who fought the war to save face more than to actually retain Cuba, was in no way a worthy adversary. The United States didn’t get anything from the war besides a messy Cuban situation and other territorial acquisitions that would prove to be a pain in the butt later on. There was literally no point in the waging the Spanish-American War besides the pride of two newspaper tycoons competing over daily sales and the public ate up the stories and caused this war.

For the full story:

Timeline

Full Breakdown

Then, there is the Red Scare and McCarthyism that occurred during and post-WWII. I can go on and on about how illogical the irrational fear of Communism is. I could go on about the Japanese internment camps (which, although isn’t driven by anti-Communist sentiment, is still a product of fearmongering) and how there was no reason why they existed (especially since the Japanese-Americans in Hawaii weren’t sent to them even though they were in Hawaii where Pearl Harbor was). As for McCarthyism, it was all because of a vague statement about outdated information on a piece of paper that wasn’t even released to the public. That’s the whole premise of McCarthyism. A single piece of paper. Once again, private ambitions played out to much larger consequences in the country. McCarthy and Nixon, both insecure and ambitious, fed these fears to acquire and keep power and the result was a decade-long witch hunt.

For the whole story:

McCarthyism

Although this next example isn’t as obvious as the previous ones, here’s another example of the country swayed by an influential man’s words. LBJ, though I do have some affection for him as a president, was a man desperate to leave behind a legacy. He inherited the Vietnam War but he didn’t care one squick about it. He wanted out but he couldn’t do that gracefully if he just withdrew troops from Vietnam. As his first term wore on and the situation in Vietnam grew stickier and stickier, Johnson needed a way to show that he wasn’t weak. With the election drawing closer, Johnson also needed the people to have a favourable opinion of him.

His opportunity came when, on a dark night, US ships patrolling the Gulf of Tonkin sent out signals saying that they were under attack and that the ship’s sonar had picked up multiple torpedoes in the water. Presuming that they had been attacked, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution under Johnson’s direction. This basically beefed up Johnson’s power as Commander-in-Chief and the war in Vietnam was summarily escalated. If you look at public opinion before and after the Gulf of Tonkin incident and the passing of the Resolution, then you see an increase in the level of approval for Johnson for his “restrained” handling of the crisis. The thing is, the incident was heavily misconstrued and the analysts in charge of interpreting the signals from the ships didn’t have a full picture of what was going on before a report was compiled to be sent to the President. Not only that but due to some natural phenomena and the nature of how sonar works, the attacks might have not had even happened at all. And yet, thousands upon thousands of lives were lost because of it.

While the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution wasn’t caused by the general public, it is the same in the other cases where the decision was made in careful consideration of political gains and was unwarranted for the situation.

For more on the Gulf of Tonkin:

What Really Happened

Finally, there are plenty of examples today of people overreacting to threats real or imagined. The war on Iraq, for example, was completely unnecessary. Then, there are the various objections to programs that are beneficial to common citizens like Social Security, Planned Parenthood, Medicare, Medicaid, the various regulations and programs that come with the Affordable Care Act and even things like public education. People don’t really understand what they’re afraid of in these cases. If it’s about socialism leeching away individualism and capitalism, then we would have seen some sign of it since T. Roosevelt and Wilson first earned their nicknames as “progressive” presidents in the early 1900s. If the taxes are really too high to pay for these programs, then people wouldn’t be wishing for the ’50s because the taxes were even higher then. Then what is the cause of this overreaction? Part of it has to do with the concept of “other”, part of it has to do with the supreme confidence that Americans have that their way is the right way and should be the only way and part of it is the stubborn clinging to a past that was glorious for them and perhaps not to the rest of the world.

Sorry for the late post and the rather messy content. It’s now summer break and I’m having some problems transitioning so bear with me. If you guys have anything you’d like to share, leave a comment down below and I’ll see you with another round of APUSH help. (Hopefully, I’ll be able to get most of it up before school starts again in August).

I’ll talk to you later.