Monday 21 December 2020

Common Sense Auditing the virtual world - why doesn't it happen?

A few days ago I gave the name of Common Sense Auditing to the idea of cross-checking ordinary experience for consistency: a fancy name for something all children do, and which people in the past did spontaneously and without theorising...

Well, people seem to do this in real life; so that if a member of your family or a neighbour said that it would be inhuman and abhorrent to prevent you from celebrating Christmas ; and then just a few days later told you that they had personally decided to cancel your Christmas celebrations or else you would suffer police arrest and savage fines - you were be highly likely to recognise... lets call it an inconsistency

If this kind of thing was hanitual in a colleague, you would be highly likely to regard him as dishonest, incompetent, insane, evil - or perhaps all of these?


Most modern man does not take much notice of Real Life. 

For modern Men, real life is something with only personal, subjective importance. Personal experience and observations are just 'anecdotes' which ought to be ignored. 

For 'reality' - for serious, general, objective validity - one must turn to the remote world of 'science' and 'research', of law, economics and all the rest of it. 

But this public, objective world is known to 'the public' only indirectly via the mass media, teachers, government spokesmen... 

Thus 'objective reality' is always elsewhere - but we are only informed of it via the communications institutions.


In the virtual world of the mass media, politics, and public discourse generally - people are not disturbed by even such gross incoherence - indeed they not only expect it but will make elaborate excuses for it in order to retain their assumption that their preferred sub-office of The Establishment (which they aspire to serve, if not join) is essentially benign and caring in its motivation. 

In fact, I am not sure whether people even notice incoherence any more. 

They hear leaders and spokesmen say one thing... and then these same leaders say another and opposite thing; and people both expect and experience zero relationship between these two things. 


For the mass of Men in modernity; Life is just one damned thing after another

And this reflects their deepest most ultimate assumptions; which are that reality is some kind of product of mindless physical causality (the 'laws of science' stuff) and sheer randomness. 

'Real' life is just stuff that happens - so it would be childish and foolish to expect life to make sense...


So people don't expect life to make sense - and it doesn't make sense - and so their expectations are confirmed. 

Why bother with 'auditing' a reality that is already believed to be incoherent? You will only discover what you already knew - that nothing adds-up. 

And all this 'deterministic/ randomness' is not a 'belief' that is taught or leaned; it works at a much deeper level of primary, metaphysical assumptions concerning the nature of reality. 

These 'materialist/ scientist/ positivist' assumptions lie behind the specific statements of public discourse; and indeed structure public discourse. 

All of public discourse operates within these assumptions. 

And anything which does Not conform to these assumptions, does not make sense in public discourse - does not engage with it, and does not affect it. 


Modern public life is trapped-inside its own assumptions that nothing makes sense, and life is going nowhere. 

And the consequence is that modern life is ruled by sheer power - force, propaganda, money - and modern morality is merely expedience; merely a business of making the most for oneself out of what is being imposed.

And if what is being imposed on Saturday is different from what was being imposed on Wednesday - well, our job is merely to obey, so that U-turn is none of our business... 

Thus this merely-expedient pseudo-morality gets shorter and shorter in its time horizons.


Therefore; when the Prime Minister starkly contradicts himself - such that what he says is inhuman on one day becomes mandatory national policy just a few days later (yet, somehow, this does not make him inhuman!)... Then all this is unremarkable; because all we need to do is obey today's diktat; obey in whatever fashion most enhances our short term gratifications...

Indeed it would be dangerously naive (or covertly evil) to expect otherwise, to demand consistency; it would be wicked to require honesty!*


*Those who have worked inside a bureaucracy know that this is precisely the case. An honest employee is regarded as a dangerous fanatic. 


Karl said...

In my experience, most people note inconsistency only to explain it away. In your example about Christmas, they'd argue that, of course you are allowed to celebrate Christmas, but only alone. Of course you are allowed to have a Christmas tree - such things are not illegal. Of course, the sale of Christmas trees is illegal, because shops are closed, but that is another matter - entirely unrelated.

If a contradiction cannot be explained away by sophistry, the next defence is denial that the earlier state was ever made. If that defence is impossible, they'll argue that it wasn't serious or -as a last defence- a necessary lie for the benefit the of the general population.

Speaking truth is a Christian commandment. As our societies are no longer Christian and have instead become anti-Christian, many people accept a duty to lie.

Their mind works very hard to maintain the illusion of benevolent government.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Karl - That's it.

ANother thing that people do not realise is that in a world where people lie habitually and mandatorily, and where there are no significant sanctions against lying; nobody knows much about things. People collecting the basic data are not trying to be scrupulous, but to stay out of trouble, please their supervisors, pursue their own ideological agenda etc.

So, basic data is contaminated - on top of which, those who summarise and analyse data are behaving in the same 'expedient' fashion (some mixture of careerism and ideology - not even trying to be honest)- and then so are the journalists and politicians who report it to the general public and whose agenda is to manipulate public behaviour.

These layers of non-honesty are not merely additive, but actually compound uncertainty in a multiplicative fashion

There are many many things that - 30+ years ago - we would have known about the nations and the world that now are not known by anyone. At the same time, the masses are required (on pain of punishment) to acknowledge that the officially stated unknown pseudo-facts are true (and that tomorrow's psedo-fact will also be true, even when contradictory).

All this is why I have reached the conviction that those who believe the official/ media information are not innocent dupes, but actively culpable - to believe the Establishment is to be colluding in their sin. There are no excuses when even a child can perceive the lies and the value-inversions, so blatant have they become - indeed, nowadays, probably *only* a child can perceive the lies.

Bruce Charlton said...

RJC - Thanks for your kind words. But you may have misunderstood me!

Faculty X said...

Argument from authority, although a well-known logical fallacy, dominates the public's mind these days, alas!

I see CSAuditing as a form of empiricism, and empiricism is historically dangerous to established power (because it dares to realize what is real regardless of what people want to believe).