Arbiters of “debate-worthy”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply discount all kinds of dissent with a simple hand wave and a scoff? Wouldn’t it be grand if any upstart could be mocked and ridiculed until submission?

Whelp, welcome to today.

Following from the recent mess that was the Google Memo (and I am sure that given two weeks, no one will even recall what this was about), I have seen a number of responses that say something along the lines of:

Not all opinions are created equal.

What a lovely, haughty sentiment. We can’t have the commoners thinking that they have any critical thinking skills, can we? We shouldn’t even engage with their arguments because to do so would be to legitimise their concerns – which are unequal.

I cannot fathom a more arrogant approach to any topic, let alone one concerning politics. It’s an attitude that not only smacks of arrogance, but also treats the population at large as incapable of thought. The notion that people broadly cannot discern honest debate from trolls and ignorance does not give people (or at least the people who matter) enough credit.

When I see someone say something ignorant, I can easily discount them. However to have someone else tell me to discount someone is another barrel of shit. If someone says something that is clearly wrong and have no backing evidence for their views – or they speak in roundabouts and broad sweeps – then I will know the weight of their argument.

For instance, someone says, “Men are physically stronger than women, therefore they are better at x”. I discount this argument because it offers nothing. No rational link. No definite conclusion. The argument lacks nuance and does not account for outliers, broad spectrums of people, and also personal drive. The statements proves nothing and I reject it. I don’t need someone to tell me to reject it.

However, present a more nuanced argument with more considered statements that account for variables, and supplies links to research, then I would review their argument differently. I may disagree with the argument, but I will consider it. If someone has offered enough effort and time to submit something, then I should do a courtesy to review it.

Back to the infamous Google Memo, the author offers a lengthy explanation, makes no rash and blunt conclusions, attempts to attach some research and even offers alternative solutions to the current trajectory, and I see people in certain circles state (and I paraphrase), “The argument does not warrant acknowledgement. It is an unequal opinion. To engage with it would be to legitimise it. So we should mock and bury it.”

This is not how to win people to your side. If something is argued simply, then it can be dismissed simply. It would take no effort and no energy.

If you definitely have truth on your side, then you should fear no debate.


Alternative Facts: The Google Memo

Remember when Counsel to President Trump Kellyanne Conway was ridiculed in the public space for saying the phrase “Alternative Facts”. Oh how we laughed at how she could take something that (then) White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said falsely about the Trump Inauguration, and try to Nineteen Eighty Four it into reality.

Remember that? Good times.

It is preposterous for someone in such a senior position in Government to do such a thing right? I mean, she used the phrase quite flippantly, and the Trump Inauguration was clearly lower in personal attendance than the Obama one.

Except, Spicer was possibly referring to global ratings and not just people attending the show live. So, even though the Inauguration had demonstrably fewer attendees (which was widely reported) the notion that potentially more people watched the Inauguration on a livestream does not sound so outrageous to me.

Hence, “Alternative Facts”.

But that was then, and this is now. The most recent kerfuffle I see relates to a reportedly sexist screed written by a (now former) Google employee. This memo has done the rounds of various news outlets, with the claims that the author preposterously believes that “Women are biologically inferior for programming” or something to that extent.

The problem is that the memo makes no such claim. Gizmodo has reproduced the document here. The link of “Alternative Facts” here is that one thing was reported, when the different interpretation of the facts leads a very different debate.

I am not going to weigh in on the debate, but rather point out something which has been mentioned on this blog a number of times. Firstly, that of having civil debate. Secondly, having someone lose their livelihood for sharing their thoughts.

I have seen it argued that the actions around this memo are not censorship, because firstly it wasn’t done by the Government, but also because it has been widely reported on, and therefore is not being censored at all. One problem with that, though.

The Google employee has been fired. Because he dared to say Alternative Facts, or rather the media reported Alternative Facts. The fact that he was merely calling for a discussion on the matter, and even offered his own solutions would suggest that he was trying to approach things honestly and in good faith. For this heinous crime, he now needs to seek work.

Sure, you could argue that this particular instance isn’t censorship. You cannot deny the very clear and resounding message:

“Say things we don’t like, and you forfeit your livelihood.”

Or even, “Say things that could be misreported, and you forfeit your livelihood.”

Do people not see the danger in pushing the threat that if you don’t conform to the group think, you might lose everything? Again, I say that this might seem fine when the group think is in your favour and aligns with your own views, but there might become a time when that isn’t the case.

Besides, sending the threat of loss of job doesn’t stop people from having their thoughts. If anything, suppressing them only makes them stronger and more resentful.

Hollywood: the Useful Idiots

I remember when George W Bush was the President of the United States. Oh lordy how the globe laughed. Wasn’t he such a buffoon? I am pretty sure David Letterman owes much of his career to good ol’ Dubya, and Will Ferrell may not have received as much attention if not for his impression of Bush the Second.

That sure was a fun eight years. While in the midst of an actual war in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, Hollywood, the music industry et al went all out in the mockery of George W Bush. There were some protests over the wars he started, sure, but the role of Hollywood and the celebrities within the cluster were to mock him.

Now we have Trump as the President. Sure, a Republican in the White House was always going to be mocked, but to my eyes, it feels like Hollywood cannot do anything without having to point out what a colossal evil-doer Trump is – and he hasn’t started any wars yet.

I’m seeing anti-Trump sentiment popping up in entertainment news, and on the Ellen DeGeneres show – places of light entertainment where politics probably have very little place outside the election cycle.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel that Trump is worthy of mock and scorn, but I have an unshakeable feeling that there is an exaggerated and concerted effort to denigrate Trump that isn’t what I’d consider “organic”. It’s almost like there’s a genuine attempt to ensure that the people don’t do again what they did in November 2016.

Trump was an outsider. He wasn’t meant to get anywhere near the Presidency. He was meant to just disappear after the primaries. Except he didn’t.

I have a hypothesis that both sides of the political divide in US politics are simply two sides of a rotten coin. Every four years they allow the commoners to have a say in who leads the country, but despite whoever they elect, the agenda is the same. Sure the parties might differ slightly, but I cannot shake the feeling that the elections are simply a bit of theatre to make the people believe they have power.

Watch the below video for an opinion that closely aligns with my own.

Hollywood seems to be on board in following the lead of the theatrical production, and are railing against Trump in the most visible way possible. Now, I don’t suggest that Hollywood is part of the sinister cabal that ultimately controls the President by threatening to “JFK” the person – much like I wrote about Katy Perry, I think Hollywood stars genuinely believe in their cause.

But they are simply Useful Idiots. They are simply influential (ie popular) people who will follow and promote the cause of those truly in power, unthinkingly parroting the party line, either willingly through their own sense of righteousness, or because they fear that their career will end if they don’t say the right words, or espouse the right ideology.

I am wary of using the term “they”. The word “they” is often employed by some conspiracy theorists when they refer to “the Establishment” or “the Illuminati” or “the Elites”. I think it’s good to keep in mind that if you use the term “They” then you should be able to name one person. To some, this might be George Soros, or The Rothschilds. Either way, I am going to simply use “They” because this is only a hypothesis I have.

Trump wasn’t meant to be in power, and I think the election cycle has already started to ensure that Trump doesn’t win again in 2020. “They” are using their Useful Idiots to convince the new generation of voters coming up to not vote for Trump, and/or convince those who did vote Trump that they made a mistake.

When every Hollywood star and likeable personality tells you that you made a bad choice, it’s hard to not think that you’re on the outer. It’s hard to not think you’re a part of the right side. It’s the tactic of isolating people and showing them the right way.

To this, I assure you that you should vote for whomever you want. Don’t be dictated to by anyone – even me – as to who wins your vote. Don’t let the Useful Idiots make you feel bad. They don’t care about you. They care about their cause.

You do you. Forget the Idiots.

The 2020 race and Facebook

According to “buzz on the internet”, which for me these days says “what the media wants people to think others are talking about”, CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg is planning to run for President in 2020.

My post from yesterday seems rather timely, then.

This is one of those Elephant In The Room moments. Does nobody see the problem here? Nobody?

In the wake of Clinton’s shock loss, there were myriad news stories trying to find out what went wrong, or more importantly who they could blame. Immediately Facebook was in the firing line for permitting the spread of “fake news”, with Clinton herself using those very words about stories about her on social media.

Zuckerberg was then in the unenviable position of having to refute his network’s influence while simultaneously peddling his network’s efficacy to potential investors. To say that he was between a rock and a hard place is an understatement. When the eyes of the most powerful people in the world are implying your being complicit in their downfall must be unnerving to say the least.

Very recently, Clinton has named Facebook specifically in promulgating fake news which led to her poll defeat.

But back to that Elephant.

If Facebook is as effective any many had posited, do they not see the problem with Zuckerberg running for President? Do they not see how the person who has the finger on the buttons that can approve and deny people access to information which could sway their decision? Facebook is the number 3 site on the internet, behind Youtube and Google’s homepage. To a lot of people, Facebook is the Internet. They never go beyond that page.

The idea that a Presidential candidate can control that flow of information just flat-out concerns me. Equally concerning is the lack of other peoples’ concern about this. Are we just going to let someone whose company is (according to former employees) manipulating and suppressing viewpoints that didn’t befit their organisation or their political buddies.

I’ve linked to Gizmodo above, and now I need a shower – although I don’t think there’s enough soap in the world that could cleanse me of the ick.

My previous post talked about how sites which are the most popular should consider their positions one of responsibility rather than partisanship, which is why I don’t accept the “It’s their site, they can do what they want” bollocks. We wouldn’t accept it if the tables were flipped, so we shouldn’t accept it now.

If Zuckerberg decided to run for President, he would need to appoint independent auditors to Facebook’s premises to ensure that no tampering of counter viewpoints occurs. Or he could do what many other power brokers on the planet do;

Buy a puppet.

Further to censorship semantics

Below is a 22 minute video from user Mister Metokur, which covers something I mentioned in a previous post relating to censorship and major social platform’s willingness to quietly direct people away from hearing “problematic” content.

I don’t endorse this user and his content, however in this instance I feel he explains my fears about prominent websites controlling what it is that people see, and they’re doing it hamfistedly. It’s not enough for videos and their creators to organically grow and build reputations, but they also need to have the right views.

You can argue that no one is being hidden, and that people just need to search for specific content, however it’s difficult to find challenging views if you are being railroaded into the “correct” viewpoint.

I would take an uncomfortable truth over one that is deemed acceptable by the Google Gods. Besides, if peoples’ beliefs are so true, then they should be able to withstand opposing viewpoints. That is what debate is, and debate is how we reach the truth, or at least find a compromise that benefits most.

To reinforce my point, Google, Facebook, Youtube and Wikipedia are the 4 most popular websites on the planet right now. I am uncomfortable with these organisations trying to herd their users into what they want them to know.

And this is not because I disagree with the views they’re pushing.

It’s because I don’t want information suppressed. It shouldn’t happen to anybody of any stripe. If these big four sites decided tomorrow that their best interests lie in conservatism and that they should start silencing left views, I would be here on this blog, again decrying the filter.

Because corporations are not your friend. They do what serves their agenda. They will turn on you the moment you stop benefiting them. This is why we all should decry and be fearful what Google, Youtube, Facebook and Wikipedia are doing. It might benefit you now, but what if the next great technological marvel that changes the way the globe distributes and consumes information was created and run by a conservative idealogue?

If you endorse or otherwise hand-wave what Google is trying to do, then the rich people are laughing at you.


When is it a deluded conspiracy theory?

It’s difficult to get alternative perspectives and unique outlooks on events, especially on the internet. From the moment “Loose Change” erupted on Youtube, serving to ask more questions about 9/11 than answer anything, the moment that anyone outlines that they don’t buy the official story they are immediately lumped into a hole with the deranged lunatics.

I attempted to watch Loose Change. All I saw was a whole bunch of allusions and a big fat wad of fuck-all. When it comes to 9/11, I find that when someone claims to me that the buildings were downed in a “controlled demolition”, they are often stumped by the question, “Why?”

Why demolish in a controlled manner when the mere vision of crashing planes would be enough to kick off a war?

But this post isn’t to engage in a search for the truth around 9/11. I am merely wanting to ask when does a crazy theory transfer from being a genuine possible explanation into deluded conspiracy theory? Let’s look a little closer to today as well, and ponder over Trump and the possible Russian collusion.

The rumblings of Russian involvement in the election have been simmering away since November 2016, but nothing of any substance seems to have come to surface. The media keeps trumpeting the story, but even the most “damning” of evidence seems to prove very little.

Donald Trump Junior once met with a Russian person who might have had ties to the Russian Government. He was searching for dirt on Hillary Clinton.

Questionable? Yes. Collusion? I remain unconvinced, especially when the likes of GQ pleads with foreign countries for dirt on Trump. My concerns with Trump Jnr lie more with his ethics than with any kind of political espionage.

Time and time again we expect to see some great revelation about Trump colluding with Russia, and each time it results in nothing but allusion and yet more speculation. I don’t mean this post to suggest that Trump is innocent, but at one point or another, if nothing seems to come of it, then we need to accept that the Russia collusion story will fall into the realm of the Truther and Birther movements. Something concocted from nothing which many people got wrong.

The thing is, many mainstream media outlets have wed themselves to the Russia collusion story. They have gone all-in and it will take some time before they admit to have gotten it wrong (if they ever do).

Tell you what, Mainstream Media. If you treasure your relationship with your audience (who is increasingly distrusting you), it would go a long, long way with people if you just eventually said, “Our bad. We kept pushing this, but we were wrong.” Such an act of humility would certainly earn some trust back from me.

On the flip side of this, let’s assume that Russia did meddle in the US election. Sure, I’m willing to entertain the notion. Considering how Clinton was ready to go to conflict with the Russians, are we surprised they preferred Trump?


Let’s not forget that as far back as 2014, Clinton was comparing Putin to Hitler. If I were a leader of a nation, I would be concerned about any politician who was comparing me to history’s greatest villain, and I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t at the helm of the planet’s largest military.

Besides, it’s not like meddling in foreign elections is something that only rogue states do.

“The secret story of how American advisers helped Yeltsin win”

Censorship semantics

It’s long been my own personal lament that news online seems to only pass a wandering eye over an issue before moving onto the more important aspect. I am, of course, talking about How Social Media Reacted.

In the face of something even remotely controversial, or something which happens to challenge current popular convention, news stories (at least in this country) mention the issue in passing before opening another paragraph with “Users on Twitter…”, followed by descriptors of how they lost their collective shit.

I’ve long held the view that Twitter posts are not news, however it seems that news organisations largely disagree. Something odd happens, or Trump utters a sentence, and news stories emerge with celebrity comments, sharp barbs and randomly picked nonsense that seems funny to those whom lean a certain direction.

Okay, so I am clearly on the outer with regards to Twitter comments being non-news. Fine. Sure. Let’s run with that. If people want to have their voices heard, then Twitter is often where you go to have people listen.

Except, Twitter now controls who and what is said. They control what is trending. Same as Facebook, who will bury something which could have grown completely organically. Youtube (ie the premier platform for viral videos, political punditry, peanut galleries and cooking shows) is also rigging their system to shaft those who publish “controversial” content, or as others would suggest, “Views That Are Problematic”.

So, on one side you have people complaining about censorship. On the other, people claim that Youtube, Twitter et al can do whatever they like. It’s their platform. They don’t have to host it.

I’m firmly in the middle of most issues, but I can’t help but lean toward the former than the latter. Are Facebook, Twitter and Youtube private companies? Yes. But they also have in their possession a place that multiple news sources lift news from, and are the go-to for most people to obtain their information. At some point, the dominance of a platform (or in this case, platforms) requires a certain level of responsibility.

Sure, Youtubers can go to other platforms such as Dailymotion or, but with that they lose a lot of eyes. Those disillusioned with Twitter can go somewhere else as well, but I cannot recall any time when something went viral from Gab.

Many people would surely disagree with me on this, however my immediate response (as always) would be “What if it was stuff that you were saying being demonetised?” At this point the silencing is happening to those who disagree with a lot of what The Left says, but what if these platforms were built by those from The Other Side? Would the gimping of revenue streams for Leftist creators be accepted with a shrug and a forlorn trudge to an alternative network?

I sincerely doubt it.

My other response would be, “What about deplatforming?” A number of conservative speakers have attempted to talk at college campuses, or on television shows, and the reaction from social media has been to pressure the venues for hosting such hateful figures. When Milo Yiannopoulos was booked to appear on Real Time with Bill Maher, there was much gnashing of teeth, insults at Maher and a panelist dropped out.

But Maher can book whoever he wants, right?