Wednesday, June 13, 2007

bullshit detector

Ezra Klein writes about groupthink among strategists on the left before the war:

A few hyper influential types -- Holbrooke, say, and Ken Pollack, and Tony Blair -- came to the wrong conclusion early on, and their decisions, based, as they supposedly were, on more and better information than the rest of us had, were enormously influential. Many who trusted them assumed, like with the early diners in the Chinese restaurant, that they must be in support for a reason, and so they fell in line. There's your information cascade. And once a critical mass of influentials were for the Iraq War, other influentials with more qualms either quieted their doubts or simply reversed them. It's hard to stand outside the group, particularly when you don't see where your information or expertise differ. If everyone else sees a small line, are you sure you're seeing a long one?

From Wikipedia, on the February 15, 2003 global anti-war protests:

Millions of people protested, in approximately 800 cities around the world. Listed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest protest in human history, protests occurred among others in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and even McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The largest demonstration this day occurred in London, where 2,000,000 protesters gathered in Hyde Park; speakers included the Reverend Jesse Jackson, London mayor Ken Livingstone, and Liberal Democrats leader Charles Kennedy.
The largest protest in human history . . . 2 million people in Hyde Park! That’s like most of Brooklyn, or the population of the entire state of Utah, all crammed into 600 acres. There were half a million people in the streets in New York City and comparable numbers in San Francisco. Interesting fact: New York City was a primary target of the 9/11 attacks. Even so, half a million New Yorkers were so upset by the prospect of attacking Iraq that they faced freezing temperatures and police horses to march down First Avenue to . . . be casually dismissed by the government and media as a bunch of stupid fucking hippies.

For its unabashed endorsement of the Iraq War, the center-left foreign policy establishment deserves to be disbanded and forced to sit through Nacho Libre on a 24-hour loop with their eyelids taped open. Whining about what Holbrooke or Blair or Pollack thought—a favorite tactic of ├╝ber weenie John Edwards—is just another way of saying you didn’t know what the fuck was going on so you deferred to the judgment of the weenie on your right, who deferred to the weenie on his right, who was Dick Fucking Cheney. Oops. Which I guess is Ezra’s argument, but is it supposed to make us feel better that the entire bunch of them didn’t know their arses from Britney Spears’ confidently ignorant, patriotic elbow?

Bah, I say, bah!

No comments: