colonizing doubt

As I begin writing today’s blog Eileen is at the doctor, either getting her ears fixed or a referral to do so. Hopefully her recent hearing problems are just something they can clean away.

The shot and topical steroid seems to be helping my eczema. It’s possible that my diet has affected my rash adversely. After a little checking online, I wonder if my predilection for tomatoes and citrus fruit is not helping. I am just finishing up the last tomato of tomato season. I am thinking of laying off tomatoes and citrus and see what happens. Of course, that introduces more than one variable but it’s easy enough to do.

I made bread this morning. It makes the house smell great! I finished Kunzru’s White Tears. I almost finished it last night but ended up reading the last twenty pages today before breakfast. Kunzru seems to have a pattern of starting his stories in a plausible attractive prose and then by the end of the book the world has basically gone crazy. I like that.

I read some more in Lewis Raven Wallace’s The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity. As far as I can tell Wallace’s podcast has fallen off the radar. The last episode seems to be done sometime in 2020. I will keep my eye out for them in the future.

In the meantime, I am loving the book. Wallace asks if the antidote to misinformation and disinformation might be curiosity. This makes sense to me. It is probably the incurious who ignore URLs of websites or do not inquire where information comes from. I am increasingly convinced that many people are just not paying close attention to the things that are being screamed online.

I am not saying there is no danger now, because there definitely is danger in the woefully uninformed and educated. My understanding was that Thomas Jefferson proposed that if we educate the public, we will be able to govern ourselves. I guess we are witnessing the inverse of this proposition at this time in the US.

Wallace quotes one of my favorite authors and poets, Kevin Young. “Calling bullshit is easy but it is urgent” Wallace quotes Young as saying. I was very happy to see that Wallace has read Young’s Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News . I had Young sign my copy of this book when we went to hear him read his poetry in GR. Young’s most salient observation which Wallace quotes more than once is in regard to just how hoaxes work. “Unlike a novel, the hoax feigns certainty yet depends on doubt, so much so that it might be said to colonize it.”

Colonize it. Colonialism of thought makes a metaphor of the terrible history of humans taking advantage of each other in the name of superiority of one thing or the other (race, country, gender, and on). Wallace observes, “Doubt is necessary…” but when it causes people to give up, rather than open a new line of inquiry, doubt has become colonized, indeed.”

Earlier in this chapter, Wallace quoted from an article by scholar, Ann Scales in the 1992 UCLA Woman’s Law Review. “Neutrality is dangerous: if one group can take a decidedly non-neutral point of view and get people to buy it on the grounds that it is neutral, the game is over… we depend on subjective interpretation to decide what is neutral, and those subjective decisions about neutrality tend to uphold the perspectives of those defining the terms of the debate. In other words, ‘objectivity’ always protects the status quo, interpreting the powerful as ‘neutral’ because it is those who create the frame.”

Objectivity is a myth used by the powers that be to go after people who have radical ideas that challenge the status quo.

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