Noam Chomsky's Manufacturing Consent

Aug 15th

Some people call Noam a conspiracy theorist, but I tend to think that just a label used to discourage institutional analysis, which is exactly something Noam states in Manufacturing Consent, an institutional analysis film about mainstream media bias. He also wrote a book by the same name that I still need to read.
Some of the underlying ideas that Noam frequently conveys in many of his interviews are:

  • Creativity is a fundamental need for humans.

  • The military (among other purposes) is in many ways an extension of technological institutions.
  • Authority should be challenged as to its necessity. If it does not prove useful it should be discarded as a source of power. Self regulating positive and negative market forces will keep most market aspects range bound and organized. This line of thinking is mentioned many times in A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History.
  • Power sources which are largely funded by a small group of people will be biased toward promoting the interests of that small group of people. Self preservation is a key goal of any institution.

He then goes into a bit of information about thought control

  • In a totalitarian government you do not need much public support to do whatever you want. In societies with more freedom you must set up a framework for controlling thought which makes it easier to control the people.

  • "Democracy requires free access to ideas, information, and opinion." When you hear politicians pushing laws to regulate the web to save the children make no mistake that first and foremost they are pushing to create a fragmented, filtered, and imperfect information source and network which keeps power in the hands of those who are already powerful.
  • Controlling people requires "necessary illusions and emotionally potent oversimplifications." This is part of the reason there is a left and right side to a story. Create these arbitrary pigeonholes for ways people should think and attach their identities to and hopefully they will not think beyond the categorization that already speaks and thinks for them.

Media shapes public opinion via

  • selection of topics

  • distribution of concerns
  • emphasis
  • framing of issues
  • filtering of information
  • bounding of debate within certain limits

He then talks about the concentration of power and bias of interest toward businesses associated with some publishing formats:

  • Most large distribution news publishing formats are owned by a small group of elites who are tied to other large business interests.

  • The AP and a couple other traditional news sources have an oligopoly over the mainstream news market. Some newspapers, like the New York Times, distribute a brief of the contents of their next day's paper to other newspapers to help set the daily agenda.
  • Many (perhaps most) newspapers consist more of ad space than news (and thus in many ways the advertiser is more of a customer than the reader). While the web and search allow individuals more opportunity (you would never be reading anything I write without them), search engines struggle with balancing this same issue, and are favoring old media by doing things like trusting certain sources to seed vertical search and overemphasize core domain authority in their algorithms. Google has also recently started paying large traditional content providers, including News Corp., MTV, and the Associated Press. They also purchased a portion of Time Warner's AOL. The WSJ recently published an article highlighting that Google believes content partnerships are a key to longterm growth.

Some types of information are created or promoted because they teach people not to think or to not question authority, or to rally behind a common pointless cause.

  • Sports and many other forms of news and entertainment are useful to help drive the masses away from
    issues of importance to their life and help build "irrational attitudes of submission to authority."

Some publishing formats (like 30 minute television shows) work great because they segment audiences and require answers to fit in a 20 second window.

  • Distribution via channels segmented via concision require you to convey thoughts quickly.

  • In limited time slots, it is hard to break new ground or get beyond conventional thought patterns previously formed by others. If you say things outside of the normal realm of thought you do not have enough time to state your reasoning behind your words, and thus can be misquoted or taken out of context and made to look like an idiot.
  • If you say something outside of the norm, like "education is a system of imposed ignorance" then you have no time to explain what that means, and end up sounding like you heavily bought into education. ;)

Noam Chomsky then went through a startling example of clear and overwhelming media bias.

In 1975 Indonesia invaded East Timor. The story of East Timor got a bit of press because the business community was interested what it meant for the Portuguese empire. As the killing reached genocide level in 1978 the US mainstream media coverage of the story dropped to zero. The US provided Indonesia most of their arms for the mass human rights violations and mass murders.

A declassified memorandum of a July 1975 conversation between President Gerald Ford and then-Indonesian President Suharto demonstrates clearly the extent of US support: Ford asks Suharto bluntly, "How big a Navy do you have and how big a Navy do you need?"

Around the same time the US heavily bombed Cambodia. The civilian deaths were not given strict numbers in the media until the Khmer Rouge gained power, at which point the US mainstream media started throwing out words like genocide and numbers like 2 million dead within a couple weeks.

People manipulate systems (as an SEO that is sorta what I do). In much the same way that most people are kept in the dark about SEO or public relations the same is true for just about any type of publishing or marketing business model. But, as Upton Sinclair would say:

It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.

I like learning about power, authority, and publishing business models because

  • if you know flaws in other business models it is easy to build business models that eat at their flaws or revolve around markets they would never want to be in

  • on the web everything is so scalable that if you have a really great idea it can go far, especially as people learn to trust software programs and other consumers to help them make decisions which once relied on friends or traditional intermediaries.
Published: August 15, 2006

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Comments

Agatha Crispie
February 16, 2007 - 7:27am

Chomsky is just a left wing gatekeeper neck deep in defense contracts for the militant right.

So calling Chomsky a theorist is well insulting to theorists.

Chomsky said he couldn't care less if JFK was assassinated by magic (bullet that is) or by conspiracy. Same for 9/11.

Truth is Chomsky is bought and paid for.

Manufacturing consent is a drop in the ocean to documentaries made about Edward Bernays, the media's own Joseph Goebbels.

August 15, 2006 - 6:57pm

Reading these types of posts from you reminds me of a scene in "Walk the Line". Johnny Cash is about to play one of his own haunting songs for the record guy who has goaded him into playing something emotional and real.

Record guy: It ain't got nothing to do with
believing in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with
believing in yourself.

JC: Well, I've got a couple songs
I wrote in the Air Force.
You got anything against
the Air Force?

RG: No.

JC: I do.

August 15, 2006 - 7:43pm

I'm a huge fan of Noam Chomsky. The reason we never hear about him in the U.S. is that the "powers that be" DO NOT want our citizens to know about the type of info that he has to offer. Conspiracy theorist? Hell no! Noam delivers the facts. He's a truth teller. Considered to be one of the world's most important intellectuals. People all over Europe and the rest of the world are very familiar with his incredible body of work. Just not the citizens of the USA. Hmmmm...?

I have an entire library of Noam's books (there are many). Indeed, now that you've seen the movie, you should read the book "Manufacturing Consent". It'll open your eyes. Once this truth gets in your head, it's almost impossible NOT to see it everywhere you look. It's a real eye opener. You'll begin to really see how the government uses and misuses information to keep people confused and divided, thereby maintaining absolute control.

I was introduced to Noam Chomsky by one of my biggest heroes Bill Hicks, who died in 1994 at the age of 32 from pancreatic cancer. He was arguably the absolute best stand up comic/scathing social commentarian on the planet. And his work has continued to grow since the time of his untimely passing. Check out his website (maintained to this day by his best friend Kevin Booth): www.billhicks.com. Once your listen to Bill's work, you'll be a through-and-through convert.

Thanx for the excellent post, Aaron

Best regards,

Twan

August 15, 2006 - 8:19pm

QUOTE:
"The reason we never hear about him in the U.S. is that the "powers that be" DO NOT want our citizens to know about the type of info that he has to offer."

Sorry, but this is just ridiculous. I agree with Chomsky on most things and my first date with my ex-girlfriend was to see Chomsky speak when he was touring to pump the Manufacturing Consent book. That said, the "powers that be" have much less ability to suppress supposedly controversial ideas than you might think. It's not an accident that Faux News is so popular.

The reasons people don't hear what Chomsky has to say are many:

1. He's BORING. Go see Chomsky speak and compare his speaches to other "serious" (i.e. non comedian) leftists like Howard Zinn or Michael Parenti. It's like the difference between Howard Dean and Ralph Nader. He's just a droning intellectual and trust me, I am a professional historian and often a droning intellectual myself. Howard Zinn and a few other academics manage to actually be interesting and witty, but Chomsky essentially suffers from the same disease that most of us academics have - we're simply boring and uptight (I thought my blog would be witty and have been so disappointed how hard it has been to exercise the demons of academia from my head).

2. Chomsky loses credibility because, for example, his linguistic theories are utterly ridiculous and repudiated (among other things by the research that Fouts et al have done on chimps) and yet there he is droning on about them as if they still made sense.

3. The American people hate inconvenient truths. When I was in Europe and some US presidential candidate with early stage Alzheimer's promised to lower taxes, balance the budget and spend for a massive military build-up, people asked me "Does anyone believe that?" The biggest landslide victory in history said "Yes" (not to mention the biggest deficits in history to that date). Americans, more so than most Europeans, have an incredible ability to believe everything is okay, no matter what the facts are, and to filter any information to the contrary. You can put Chomsky's book on the "featured" shelves at every bookstore and advertise it on Fox every 30 minutes and it won't change a thing. It has nothing to do with the powers that be, except insofar as the people are the ultimate power.

August 15, 2006 - 8:41pm

#1 He was no overly animated person when I saw him, but he did make many jokes.

#2 I don't really agree with #2 at all. Largely because in the film he even stated that his industry is redefined every 10 years and stuff does not stay relevant.

#3 So if a group of people are easily mislead then do you think that is just a natural function of those people or a framework their society and media were based upon? It is sorta the point upon which the film was made, right?

August 15, 2006 - 9:52pm

QUOTE:
"The reasons people don't hear what Chomsky has to say are many:
1. He's BORING. Go see Chomsky speak and compare his speaches to other "serious" (i.e. non comedian) leftists like Howard Zinn or Michael Parenti."

I agree that Chomsky is boring. He's not an entertainer. He provides useful information that is not readily accessible in this country. That's one thing that is disappointing in the USA: everyone wants to be entertained. That's one reason the so called news is just another tv show. It's all sensationalized garbage. If it's "boring" it won't make the cut, no matter how important the message may be. If one wants to find the real facts or at least some alternative ideas about things, one needs to do some digging. And that's another thing that's disappointing about U.S. citiizens: they're lazy. No one wants to dig. We've been conditioned to this. Everything is contained in catchy little sound bites, easily digestable. Sloganeering. Not much thinking involved.

I'm also a big fan of Howard Zinn, and he is gifted with a bit more personality and animation than Chomsky. Also Gore Vidal, who is a wonderful orator, quite witty, sardonic, and full of information that you don't hear much about. But even with Zinn and Vidal, rarely do we in USA get to hear their point of view unless we dig for it. Rarely do you even hear their names mentioned in the complicit mass media, let alone their ideas. So if it's entertainment you want, go to a movie or a concert. If you want useful information, you've got to do some digging on your own (which is one reason I read this blog!)

Respectfully,

Twan

August 16, 2006 - 2:01am

Aaron,

On #1. I've spent my life writing boring books. The research is impeccable and people in the field consider them "important", but it ain't John Grisham. I've spent most of my life plowing through "boring" books and that's typically where the real meat is, but most people won't read that stuff. It might be important, but it will never measure up. It makes me sick to see how many magazine chronicle Jennifer Anniston and Angelina Jolie's love lives (there's some good keywords for you), but yet those magazines sell like crazy and more come out every day because that's where the money is. I wish people were more into reading boring stuff, and I still put the effort in to write long drones about Archer Daniel Midlands and control of the ethanol market, but as a practical matter, I know that even if I were a way better writer I still wouldn't attract a huge audience.

On #2, I believe Chomsky sticks to the basic idea of innate universal grammars, but of course he did have to give up some of his original theories because there was such bad empirical support.

On #3, I think there's a lot that goes into why Americans prefer entertainment and ignorance to analysis and understanding, but I don't think that you can simply blame "the powers that be" as though there is some conscious conspiracy in the vein of Brave New World to keep everyone medicated and ignorant. Rather I think the answers go to much deeper structural and cultural issues.

Let's flip the question around. If big media, big oil and Carl Rove all decided that it was in their best interest to create a public that was informed, questioning and analytical, do you think that they could achieve this? I don't think they could actually.

What explains, for example, the rampant fundamentalism in the United States? It has been coopted and promoted by the Bush adminstration, for sure, but when Carter ran for president, the fact that he described himself as a born again Christian cost him several points in the polls. Big media and corporate America have typically been relatively hostile to right-wing religious fundamentalists. And yet, they have practically taken over the US and are poised to destroy science education, reverse Roe v Wade and so on and so forth.

I agree with the fundamental premise of Manufacturing Consent, namely that corporate control of the media both in the form of ownership and sponsorship (i.e. ad revenue) prevents inconvenient topics from getting aired, but I don't believe that explanation alone goes very far in explaining the power grab that the religious right has pulled off in America.

Before the last election, conservative commentator George Will had a column about some scandalous behavior on the part of the Bush administration. He then said that one might expect that voters would be outraged and it would affect the election, but then went on to say that it wouldn't, ending with a comment like "Because, dear reader, you are among the fewer than 1% of Americans who read a weekly news magazine".

The fact is that, historically, when you offer people "bread and circuses" (entertainment), the vast majority of people will choose that and, in a market-driven society, there will always be an overwhelming urge to feed the masses what they want. The simple fact is that what they want is not Chomsky and it is not even George Will (opposite ends politically, but both intelligent commentators). The reason for this is not, however, that "the powers that be" are conspiring to keep the populace ill-informed of Chomsky because if word got out, there would be trouble as the original commentator suggests. The modern world is more like the Greek marketplace where Diogenes carried a lantern in broad daylight in hopes of finding an honest man. Chomsky is carrying a lantern in broad daylight.

It's like Utah Philips says: "The profit motive follows the path of least resistance, and following the path of least resistance is what makes a river crooked."

August 16, 2006 - 7:59am

Hi All,

Thoughts and questions. I haven't read Chomsky to this point since my view was that he was an old school communist. Some of the exceprts that Aaron makes are interesting, though.

"Authority should be challenged as to its necessity."

"Power sources which are largely funded by a small group of people will be biased toward promoting the interests of that small group of people"

"Democracy requires free access to ideas, information, and opinion.""

"The AP and a couple other traditional news sources have an oligopoly over the mainstream news market. "

"Ford asks Suharto bluntly, "How big a Navy do you have and how big a Navy do you need?""

"The civilian deaths were not given strict numbers in the media until the Khmer Rouge gained power, at which point the US mainstream media started throwing out words like genocide"

Ermm....

So what's truth? Is Chomsky a libertarian with his challenge of authority? Is he a communist who only challenges rightwing authority? Is he a flake who lied about his backgrouind, his research, and who deserved his firing from an admittedly far left institution?

Do we challenge ALL authority? Or just the authority we disagree with?

If the far left candidate is funded by a few individuals (eg: George Soros and his Pals) and the moderate candidate (Bush) is funded by thousands of small contributions what does it mean?

If you kill a baby, not yet born, because its birth is inconvenient to you are you a killer? A hero? What does it change if the birth of the baby will kill or cripple the mother (perhaps because it's aligned such that it won't come out properly?)

If the religious right is taking over the gevernment, but most of the government is made up of people on the far left, what does that mean? Is it a secret conspiracy by the right? Is the left tossing out nonsense to try to control our thoughts?

What does Mr. Chomsky have to say about Political Correctness and Hate Speech Legislation, both of which are, in fact, pure censorship?

And just why did the US side with Indonesia?

"Noam Chomsky then went through a startling example of clear and overwhelming media bias."

If the Media cosistently polls 90% one way and very much to the side of the mainstream public is there reason to call it biased? Can it be any other way?
(It does, democrat and to the left. European media more so.)

Worse, if most of the reporters in any media grow up on a steady diet of MTV are they even capable of reporting intelligently?

So there are at least few dynamics here. Most of us feel that if the other side doesn't agree with us, then they're idiots. Maybe especially Europeans, but not letting anyone off the hook.

People tend to want the easy life. That's why Europe loves it's socialism and the US is slouching that way.

It takes work to study the other point of view, it's easier to have it spoon fed to us. So schools, mostly run by a somewhat left to far left philosophy, teach us that feeling good about ourselves is more important than learning about why x+2y=z. They also learn that capitalism and private property are bad, it's good to be a quiet little robot, and if you ask the wrong questions or are a little too energetic you're a "bad kid."

We tend to trust authority and we learn that, most of us, from our parents and from our school teachers. It's quit basic and natural. Our teachers tell us this and we have a natural tendancy to believe it.

Lastly, why is it that so many people (not TheRanter, I'm sure) have such a distaste for religion, sometimes using as a reason the killing of thousands of people in the name of god, are diehard communists: a religion that's killed close to 100 million?

So I think we have to balance analysis of bias (and I agree that the media is very biased) with analysis of people's values.

For example, if I really, fundamentally, believe that killing is a bad thing, then logically I'd think the Mid East situation is horrible, than Bush is a Bad Person, that Bill Clinton is almost equally loathesome, and that communism is the most horrible mind disease ever inflicted on humankind.

I'd probably be very isolationist and, if I really stuck to my beliefs, would let someone kill me and mine before I'd kill him.

If that's your belief as a politician or a reporter or a corporate big wig how does that effect how you see the world and report it? And when you report, with that underlying belief system, are your reporting or manipulating.

And if you belief that killing in self-defense is the right thing to do, then how does that change things?

Greg

PS: Thanks Aaron for a great post. I now have a little different view of Mr. Chomsky, warts and all.

August 16, 2006 - 11:23am

No! Noam Chomsky? Aaron...say it ain't so!

All of us have our vices I suppose... ;)

But, as you said:

Some people call Noam a conspiracy theorist...

This is because Chomsky, while affable and easy-going, fits the bill as one. His appearance on Charlie Rose earlier this year is a classic.

Chomsky complains that American democracy is broken, while Bolivia's system works. Why? One reason/evidence is that Bush and Kerry were both members of Skull and Bones ("...both joined the same secret society where you're trained to be a member of the ruling class").

Sounds like inklings of a conspiracy theory...

Alex K
August 16, 2006 - 4:14pm

Hey aaron, I actually agreed with the concept behind this post (don't just accept the status quo, be skeptical, especially of politicians, etc) but I still say you should start a political blog (or at least another section of this blog) for this sort of thing... or are you trying to branch out of the SEO world? You don't have to reveal your strategy but I find this trend puzzling.

August 16, 2006 - 5:21pm

Hi Alex
I have no grand strategy at the moment.

Hi Greg
Of course portions of your posts were at least as biased as anything Noam says or does.

The point of the film was not to be biased left or right or any arbitrary polarized direction like that. It was simply to show the ties between media and large business interests.

August 16, 2006 - 9:58pm

To Greg,

----------------------------
"It takes work to study the other point of view, it's easier to have it spoon fed to us."

"I haven't read Chomsky to this point since my view was that he was an old school communist."
----------------------------

Is that a contradiction I see? Perhaps you should have been more open minded. Pondering the other side might open up some insight and issues in yours.

I've lived in a communist country. Every country was different. Some were half-capitalist, like Hungary. In Poland, we had freedom of religion and life was quite alright, but capitalism is better in many respects of course.

Communism, at least in the first half of the last century in Europe, was definitely the worst evil to visit this world but it wasn't so bad in some countries as it developed in the various countries after the war. I prefer the Judeo-Christian originating free enterprise system put in motion by Calvinists but communism and communists had their points too. That's how it always works.

To Doug

----------------------------
"("...both joined the same secret society where you're trained to be a member of the ruling class").

Sounds like inklings of a conspiracy theory..."
----------------------------

Perhaps you missed the first line of the post?

"Some people call Noam a conspiracy theorist, but I tend to think that just a label used to discourage institutional analysis..."

Calling someone a conspiracy theorist or something a conspiracy theory is a lazy way for the ignorant to avoid taking a closer look at the validity of an idea. Of course, sometimes an idea is not worth pondering.

To TheRanter

"And yet, they have practically taken over the US and are poised to destroy science education..."

Christians destroying science? Well, that would be a first, considering modern science and capitalism was started by Christians and almost all the great scientists in the last 600 years believed in the Judeo-Christian God in one way or another.

You're an academic? Great, why don't you email your objections to the most extreme of Christian Creationists, Answers in Genesis which takes Genesis literally and claims the earth was created in 6 days. They are PhD's in science, some made important discoveries in micro-biology and other areas. They have a Feedback section, if you think you have what it takes why don't you take them on and email your objections? We'll see how you do.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/

Chris, Bible thumping radical Baptist GW-Bush-American-Foreign-Policy-Israel-Disdaining Evangelical Christian, Vancouver, BC

August 16, 2006 - 10:32pm

Normally I try to avoid flame wars, but I assume Chris (the post directly above me) that you don't take Catholics or the catholic church to be christian...

...because I seem to remember a story about a fellow who said the earth moved around the sun and if I call correctly-- his life didn't end well.

August 16, 2006 - 10:35pm

hehehe

Religion is nothing but flameville....and is largely why I ensured there was not much of a mention of it in the original post I made.

Before the first edit there was, but I decided to pull it out such that the page would not be focused on religion.

August 16, 2006 - 11:17pm

Paul,

Please get informed.

The Galileo affair: history or heroic hagiography?

by Thomas Schirrmacher

Excerpt:

"The 17th century controversy between Galileo and the Vatican is examined. Fifteen theses are advanced, with supporting evidence, to show that the Galileo affair cannot serve as an argument for any position on the relation of religion and science. Contrary to legend, both Galileo and the Copernican system were well regarded by church officials. Galileo was the victim of his own arrogance, the envy of his colleagues and the politics of Pope Urban VIII. He was not accused of criticising the Bible, but disobeying a papal decree."

http://www.answersingenesis.org/tj/v14/i1/galileo.asp

>I assume Chris (the post directly above me) that you
>don't take Catholics or the catholic church to be
>christian...

That's another issue.

Anyways, let's not go down any rabbit holes.

On a more relevant topic; Aaron, any idea why a home page would rank as PR2 but a couple of internal pages would rank at PR4 when the only links reported to them come from the home page?

Thanks,
chris

August 16, 2006 - 11:21pm

>Religion is nothing but flameville.

Not if you're informed and know how to carry on a discussion in an intelligent manner.

Like these guys

www.str.org

August 17, 2006 - 12:02am

Chris:

Calling someone a conspiracy theorist or something a conspiracy theory is a lazy way for the ignorant to avoid taking a closer look at the validity of an idea. Of course, sometimes an idea is not worth pondering.

Ironically, this is the stock defense of conspiracy theorists.

Surely we can agree that conspiracy theories do exist. And there are people who believe in them. So, some people do deserve to be dismissed as conspiracy theorists.

Nonetheless, you are, of course, correct that simply dismissing someone as a conspiracy theorist can be an easy way to (wrongly?) dismiss their ideas as well.

In my case, it could also be true that this is a blog and I have neither the time nor the energy to dissect some of Chomsky's ideas here in the comment section to one of Aaron's posts. :)

The only point of my comment was that Chomsky shows inklings of conspiracy thinking in his lectures and writings. I'm not sure I would "dismiss" him as a conspiracy theorist, but it shouldn't be hard to see why others do. His thinking, in many aspects, fits the bill.

chris
August 17, 2006 - 12:11am

Doug,

"Ironically, this is the stock defense of conspiracy theorists."

??? Here we go again? What else are they supposed to say?

"Surely we can agree that conspiracy theories do exist."

So what are "conspiracy theories" and why are they inherently wrong?

"Nonetheless, you are, of course, correct that simply dismissing someone as a conspiracy theorist can be an easy way to (wrongly?) dismiss their ideas as well."

If so, then there's no reason to dispute about this.

"The only point of my comment was that Chomsky shows inklings of conspiracy thinking in his lectures and writings."

And WHAT is inherently wrong with that?

The ONLY thing that counts is whether the arguments he posits forth reflect reality or not. All else is irrelevant.

chris

February 13, 2007 - 4:12am

Well theres lots to cover here, but I'll start where most everyone else did. (from the Ranter's first post)

#1 Chomsky is boring considering his presentation (and writing) style, however I would contend that the power of his ideas and the level of documentation with which they are backed are as interesting and intriguing as anything else I've ever been exposed to. That they aren't marketable is self evident considering what he is saying.

#2 His standing in the linguistics community (something with which I have no experience in) seems to be a non-starter as rarely does his technical scientific work ever make its way into his publications and presentations regarding media theory, politics, history, etc.

#3 The American people (as well as everyone else) doesn't like bad news, sure. As Chomsky would say, this is a truism. However, in a hard-working country like the U.S., the populous only has the time and energy to access information which is easily available to them. I disagree with the statement that the "powers that be" have less control than one might think. Look at what happened to Bill Moyers (CPB booted him from Frontline), Phil Donahue (kicked off MSNBC despite highest network ratings), or even Dan Rather for that matter. When they want ideas muted they often get their way. As far as Fox News is concerned, they revolutionized the presentation of news but the lack of robustness in their content and the intellectually decrepit ideas presented there are a large reason why they can't make any progress in attracting any new vierwership. Seems to me that the luster of a shiny new product has worn off for them and now people are judging them for what they are: crappy, uninformative entertainment.

Moving on, I appreciate Chris's comments on communism as they provide a level of nuance that often escapes traditional American debate regarding the subject. Whilst I too decry the infinitely long list of wrongs committed by certain communist regimes, it worked better in some places than capitalism does today.

As far as conspiracy theory is concerned I don't think there should be a debate as to whether Chomsky falls into this category. He cites mainly mainstream sources (the WSJ, NYT, Defense Dept., Financial Times, etc.) for the framework of his criticisms. In regards to Skull and Bones, no one disputes that it exists and no one disputes that it exists to train a select group of upper class individuals in the ways of power.

Lastly, there is a very real war on science being undertaken by MULTIPLE factions of the conservative coalition. Truth be told, the christian fundamentalists are leveraging their influence to redefine science in terms of their belief system and culture. Big business (such as the energy companies) use their power to suppress science that disagrees with their profit motives. What needs to be considered altogether though is that the fundamentalists are largely a tool of the business wing of the conservatives and are used mainly for electoral purposes. Notice that when their interests are antithetical to each other, business nearly always wins. When evangelicals call out for something to be done about global warming, nothing happens. When they decry the hedonism of our entertainment, business makes it racier and more ubiquitous. And even though Bush threw them some slop on stem cells, watch how long that lasts. There is money to be made there and business will gobble it up eventually. Look at abortion, big business has no interest in it and thus doesn't unnecessarily weigh in on the topic. In fact the abortion issue is just one of the carrots that the corporate-backed power brokers in Washington dangle in front of their Fundamentalist mules to keep themselves in power.

What I don't understand is why Aaron is looking to Chomsky to exploit Manufacturing Consent for tips on making headway into new markets. Kinda seems like he realized Chomsky is a great keyword to draw a crowd to his site and pimp his book. That said, the post is a fair summation that left the politics and bickering to us the readers so I can't be too harsh.

August 17, 2006 - 7:21am

I should have said that the right, backed by Christian fundamentalists, are currently waging war on science. The Galileo thing can be debated endlessly, and has been for over a century now. Check out "The Republican War on Science" by Chris Mooney.
http://www.waronscience.com/

This war on science is driven largely by greed (can't slow down the factories for a non-existent climate change now can we) and religious fundamentalism (the earth is only 6,000 years old, so any theory that tracks climate change over the course of 30,000 years must be wrong, right?)

Anyway, Aaron, sorry to have gotten all this going. Or maybe I'm not. I guess I'm not actually when it comes down to it. I just dropped back by to say that another book that I'm reading that you should check out is "Cradle to Cradle" by William McDonough. I wish I could get everyone to read at least one essay by him. If we are going to save the planet, it's people like him who are going to do it.

February 13, 2007 - 10:27am

Google and search engines in general are authority systems which heavily trust the mainstream media (they have to rely on some group to hopefully make it harder to spam). Understanding the motives and frameworks of various business models and how those powers and models mesh together is key to creating marketing that works in that framework.

I doubt many people search for Manufacturing Consent DVD documentary or Noam Chomsky and the mainstream media and find this page then buy my ebook. I think the number of ebooks ever sold from this page is probably close to 0.

January 20, 2012 - 7:16am

It won't be affected

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