Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Douglas Brooker (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 14:50:01 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
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    Hi Vincent

    Vincent Campbell wrote:

    > Hi Douglas,
    > <An interesting aspect of the story is how 'hot' news items get
    > dropped.
    > > One example is the anthrax story. (see below) Another is the 'short
    > > selling'
    > > of stocks scandal, that disappeared from the news. A valuable source of
    > > cultural information isn't new 'news', its 'news' that a few weeks or
    > > months
    > > older. How do memeticists account for the process of forgetting? It's a
    > > social or cultural consensus about what can be said, what's important?
    > >
    > > On the anthrax story - the bit below was in a UK paper only last week.
    > > I've
    > > been trying to find credible links on the short-selling story, but so far
    > > have
    > > only found 'conspiracy' sites which link the short selling with a bank run
    > > by
    > > the Executive Director of the CIA.
    > >
    > > I'm thinking about the social anthropology of collective forgetting.>
    > >
    > >
    > This kind of thing is something I'm very interested in too. I think
    > there's something memetic in journalists' behaviour, indeed there's already
    > a term for it- pack journalism. I'm interested in how some stories become
    > major national, even international stories generating thousands of words and
    > hundreds of hours of broadcast reporting. What's already clear, from the
    > work I've come across in teaching the sociology of journalism for half a
    > dozen years or so, is that there's little relationship between events'
    > importance and the amount of coverage they get (with a few exceptions, Sep
    > 11 being one). All sorts of practical issues get involved in reporting
    > events, and arguably a range of ideological issues (often stemming more from
    > the paymasters than the journalists themselves) also. Anyway, even within
    > the recognised aspects of journalism studies, it seems to me there's a gap
    > in the understanding of the runaway story, which memetics may offer
    > something towards. Eventually I'll get round to doing some kind of study of
    > this.
    > In terms of the social anthropology of collective forgetting, maybe
    > cases studies of holocaust deniers, or other pseudo-historical groups would
    > be interesting. The David Irving trial offered a fascinating insight into
    > how someone distorted the historical record for their own beliefs, and more
    > significantly perhaps how proper historical analysis could demonstrate this.

    This would be an interesting study, but the Irving example suggests a
    distinction between forgetting and denying. (sort of similar to a distinction
    between intention and acquiescence) People use the term, 'being in denial' as a
    euphemism for being blind, i.e. forgetting something. A question in cases like
    Irving's is the degree to which he is aware that his views are at best, a
    distortion of history, and at worst, pure invention. How are Irving's views to
    be measured? Is there 'objective history' or is it always subjective?
    Interesting to compare Israeli and Palestinian views of history. Or Israeli
    denial of the many international convenants they continue to breach. Japanese
    understanding of WWII, Pakistani understanding the 3 (?) million murdered in
    Bangladesh...und so weiter.

    I expect every individual and nation does this. Social intercourse is in part
    the process by which we point out to each other, (not always expressly), that
    this is happening.

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    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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