zenpundit.com » media literacy

Archive for the ‘media literacy’ Category

Wittgenstein’s language games and the public sphere

Monday, May 7th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — suggesting a lessening of TV Trumpery and its critiques ]
.

In a tweet earliee today, I suggested that the close reading of a text can be highly rewarding, a point I made most forcefully in Close reading, Synoptic- and Sembl-style, for parallels, patterns.

Key to a close reading is the “language” in which a given writer or speaker clothes their words.. “language” here being used both in the sense of their metaphors and forms (which is why I’ve been collecting sports and other metaphors, ouroboroi and other forms) and in the sense formulated by Witty Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Investigations (PI).

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy offers us a list of regular language games as Wittgenstein uses the term in PI:

reporting an event, speculating about an event, forming and testing a hypothesis, making up a story, reading it, play-acting, singing catches, guessing riddles, making a joke, translating, asking, thanking

I want to suggest that we could usefully think of language games in terms of the philosophical, ideological, partisan, religious or psychological drivers that propel them.

Further, in the case of Trump, we might observe that the language game he is playing is not the one his critics on, say, MSNBC, are basing their own critiques on.

And here’s the great advantage: once we’ve analyzed the differences between Trump’s language game and aims and those of his critics, we could close shop. We wouldn’t need this constant barrage of Fox and MSNBC news on the topic — any new utterance of his or Giulianis of note could simply be indexed to the sub-para describing that particular disjunction in language game, and basta! — the rest of the news “oxygen” would be available for the discussion of other topics.

As a subset of that para — I don’t suppose Mueller xxwill want to take every piece of “off the cuff” Trumpery as intended as real “truth” — “all that is the case” –he’ll surely see it as entertainment and distraction — chuff and chaff — and zero in on the key statements of the President’s worldview, viewing them as exemplars not of “truth” but of a language game to be analyzed and evaluated as such. Having zeroed in on these relatively few key phrases, many of the many critiques offered by Trump’s accusers.

**

Wittgenstein asks what all that we consider to be games have in common, and decides they share a family resemblance but — in my words, here — the cousins on one side of the family have little (a polite word for “nothing”) in common with the cousins at the other end of thr spectrum.

If the Olympic Games included language games in their list of sports, Giuliani‘s reference to FBI agents as stormtroopers wight win long jump gold.

Here’s Jonathan Chait in Giuliani’s FBI ‘Stormtroopers’ Smear Is the Key to Trump’s Authoritarian Mind-set”>:

In 1995, National Rifle Association president Wayne LaPierre signed his name to a fundraising letter referring to Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents as “tjack-booted government thugs.” The implicit association of American federal law enforcement with fascists provoked a furor. Former president George H. W. Bush publicly resigned his NRA membership in protest; LaPierre had to apologize.

Last night, in the midst of a long, deeply incriminating interview, Rudy Giuliani called FBI agents “stormtroopers.” Here was the president’s lawyer, not an outside lobbyist, comparing federal law enforcement to Nazis directly, rather than indirectly.

Stormtrooper vs jack-booted government thugs is an interesting comparison (& makes a fine DoubleQuote), and Chait’s “implicit association of American federal law enforcement with fascist” in hth cases exemplify just the kind of language extremism we should be avoiding in our policy debates.

Chait’s continuing half-paragraph illminates the arcane workings of the media machine in processing such things:

The Washington Post’s account of Giuliani’s interview noted the remark in a single sentence, in the 30th paragraph of its story. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Politico accounts of Giuliani’s interview did not even mention the stormtrooper remark at all.

There are times I wish for sanity.

**

Okay, that was third and last in this series.. Previously:

  • On negative space in the painting..
  • On negative space, private morality in the public square
  • This:

  • Wittgenstein’s language games and the public sphere
  • Eagle deaths: an interesting contrast — a DoubleQuote

    Thursday, July 20th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — on imbalances in public interest, reporting, just one example ]
    ,

    David Hardy at Of Guns and the Law posted Eagle deaths: an interesting contrast today, Jonathan at ChicagoBoyz picked up on it, and when I looked at it myself, I saw the first two of Hardy’s three paragraphs as a DoubleQuote — making two points in counterpoint, as a musician might say, Hardy’s phrase “interesting contrast” meaning much the same thing. I like to use my DoubleQuote graphic formulations for such juxtapositions, as I’ve done here with Hardy’s “DoubleQuote in the wild”:

    Hardy’s third and final paragraph reads thus:

    When worked at Interior, a quarter century ago, I was told that bird deaths due to wind farms were massive, but orders were to do and say nothing, because wind power was fashionable. Hmmmm..

    Ouch.

    **

    If you took all the world’s potential “compare and contrast” pairs, and tried to balance them all equably, so that no comparisons ever had the kind of imbalance Hardy exposes here, there would be too many subjective factors for everyone to agree on, and worse thasn that, all too frequently balancing one pair of issues would almost certainly imbalance others..

    So we’d always have room to complain that something or other wasn’t fair.. Sort of like a Gödel’s incompleteness theorem for idealists?

    Sigh.

    **

    Sources:

  • Associated Press, Bald eagle threat: Lead ammo left behind by hunters
  • Politifact, Trump inflates wind turbine eagle deaths
  • So now ISIS has its own fake news

    Friday, March 10th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — propaganda and, i suppose, impropaganda ]
    .

    **

    Publication of the last three issues of the ISIS magazine Rumiyah have been preceded or accompanied by bogus issues, thus giving ISIS its own quota of fake news. I’m of course delighted because one can compare authentic and fake versions as visual DoubleQuotes. Here are some examples from the latest issue, #7, courtesy of Charlie Winter:

    **

    MEMRI has graciously made its February report, Release Of Two Suspicious Fifth Issues Of ISIS’s ‘Rumiyah’ Magazine – Timeline, Characteristics, And Takeaways, openly available — here are the basic paras:

    On January 6, 2017, the Islamic State (ISIS) released Issue 5 of its online magazine Rumiyah. The issue, which included, inter alia, the usual threats to the West and advice for carrying out attacks there,[1] was picked up by Western media outlets and widely reported. Much less attention, however, was given to two other purported issues of the same magazine, which were released a few hours prior to the official Islamic State release of Issue 5.

    Each of the two fake issues of Issue 5 of Rumiyah appears to have a different purpose. While the first was reportedly a rogue PDF file packed with malware aimed at infecting the devices of anyone downloading or opening the file, the content of the second was surprisingly well crafted content in what appeared to be a malware-free PDF file, making the point of its release not entirely clear.

    This is not the first time that a jihadi magazine or other release is comprised, especially in light of the fierce cyber warfare being waged against terrorist groups. The most prominent example of this is the 2010 operation that aimed to undermine the first release of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) English-language magazine Inspire. That attack resulted in the release of two modified PDF versions of the magazine, and has had a negative impact on one of the magazine’s distribution channels as well.[2] In another incident in 2013, which also targeted AQAP, a video of the group was purposely sabotaged and a segment calling for the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Yemen at the time was removed prior to its official release.[3]

    Terrorist groups’ distribution chains and channels have evolved in the last decade. What was once a single download link posted on a password-protected top-tier jihadi forum, is now a widely distributed URL to jihadi content posted on the San Francisco-based Internet Archive (archive.org)[4] that goes viral on Twitter, Telegram, and elsewhere within minutes of its initial release. Jihadi response to suspicious content, on the other hand, has been relatively consistent during that same period, with overly cautious and even paranoid behavior characterizing many members of online jihadi circles. In fact, social media has in many ways made it more difficult to “trick” jihadis into consuming dubious jihadi content, since warnings about such content are now generated and disseminated faster and easier than ever before.

    The graphic at the head of this post is taken from a February Heavy Terror Watch post, ISIS Alleges Someone Is Publishing Fake Islamic State Magazines

    It’s all faintly hilarious / deadly serious: fake news, ISIS-style.

    News from left, center and right? this site provides links

    Sunday, March 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — see also post on left, center, right news maps ]
    .

    I ran across the AllSides site recently. Their aim seems laudable:

    Unlike regular news services, AllSides exposes bias and provides multiple angles on the same story so you can quickly get the full picture, not just one slant.

    At the moment, their focus is on Obama and the wiretap:

    WHITE HOUSE
    Obama Denies Wiretap

    From the Center
    Trump wants congressional probe of claims on Obama, won’t comment further
    President Trump called Sunday for a congressional investigation of his claims that predecessor Barack Obama had him wiretapped…
    USA Today Bias: Center

    From the Right
    The Obama Camp’s Disingenuous Denials on FISA Surveillance of Trump
    President Trump’s early Saturday morning tweeting has exploded to the forefront an uncovered scandal I’ve been talking about since…
    Guest Writer – Right Bias: Lean Right

    From the Left
    Obama Refutes Allegation That He Wiretapped Trump Tower During Campaign
    U.S. President Donald Trump accused predecessor Barack Obama on Saturday of wiretapping him during the late stages of the 2016…
    Huffington Post Bias: Left

    They also feature a host of topics you can explore, such as the environment — and there you can find not only relevant news, but also:

  • Think Tanks from the LEFT
  • Think Tanks from the CENTER
  • Think Tanks from the RIGHT
  • Those pages in turn will take you to:

  • The Environmental Defense Fund
  • The Council on Environmental Quality
  • Brookings Institution
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • The Cato Institute
  • The Heritage Foundation
  • Are Zenpundit readers already familiar with this site? Does it strike you as fair and balanced? Do you know of other sites that serve the same or a related purpose? Any other comments?

    News from left, center and right? two maps to guide us

    Sunday, March 5th, 2017

    [ by Charles Cameron — see also post on left, center, right news links ]
    .

    To complement a post in this series which provided links to left, center and right news sources, here are two maps to help you sort right from center from left, a response to one of them from InfoWars, and a blank map you can fill in with your own sense of what goes where — or with noughts and crosses if you prefer, or for that matter, moves in a HipBone Game on a weird Venn-diagram influenced board…

    **

    The first map comes from Vanessa Otero:

    InfoWars didn’t like its positioning as “garbage” on Otero’s chart, and responded in Alternate Reality: Viral Propaganda Chart Demonizes Independent Media — subtitled Chart exemplifies dying dinosaur media’s extreme liberal bias:

    Otero also offers a blank format for do it yourself mapping:

    **

    Pew is, at least theoretically, non-partisan, although they too presumably have an Overton window. The below may, accordingly, seem to you more accurate than Otero’s chart above — but please note, this one dates from 2014:

    What do you think?


    Switch to our mobile site