Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Thu Feb 28 2002 - 16:06:11 GMT

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    Subject: Re: Rumsfeld Says He May Drop New Office of Influence
    Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 08:06:11 -0800
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    >Date: Thu, 28 Feb 2002 14:50:01 +0000
    >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
    > > > 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
    > > > have
    > > > only found 'conspiracy' sites which link the short selling with a bank
    > > > 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
    > > there's something memetic in journalists' behaviour, indeed there's
    > > a term for it- pack journalism. I'm interested in how some stories
    > > major national, even international stories generating thousands of words
    > > hundreds of hours of broadcast reporting. What's already clear, from
    > > 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,
    > > 11 being one). All sorts of practical issues get involved in reporting
    > > events, and arguably a range of ideological issues (often stemming more
    > > the paymasters than the journalists themselves) also. Anyway, even
    > > the recognised aspects of journalism studies, it seems to me there's a
    > > 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,
    > > cases studies of holocaust deniers, or other pseudo-historical groups
    > > be interesting. The David Irving trial offered a fascinating insight
    > > how someone distorted the historical record for their own beliefs, and
    > > significantly perhaps how proper historical analysis could demonstrate
    > >
    >This would be an interesting study, but the Irving example suggests a
    >distinction between forgetting and denying. (sort of similar to a
    >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
    >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
    >denial of the many international convenants they continue to breach.
    >understanding of WWII, Pakistani understanding the 3 (?) million murdered
    >Bangladesh...und so weiter.
    >I expect every individual and nation does this. Social intercourse is in
    >the process by which we point out to each other, (not always expressly),
    >this is happening.
    A society or culture is like a person in that it, too, has long term and
    short term memory. You'll find long-term memory in the history books and
    short-term memory in the newspapers and magazines. The distinction is
    becoming more blurred with each passing day, but the news media does decide
    what's hot and what's not for us. Just because an issue slips to long-term
    space does not mean that it's forgotten. We still dredge up Socrates, for
    God's sake. Little or nothing is forgotten anymore. It just can't compete
    with the clammor of more pressing issues for our attention.


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