FOX ‘News’ Viewers Again Found Significantly more Disinformed and Misinformed

I posted this for two reasons.

First, it’s further evidence that Fox News is not a reliable source of information… or else that Fox News attracts a very low quality viewer (and doesn’t manage to increase their quality)… not that this should surprise anyone who has been paying attention.

Second, it’s further evidence that Fox News is not “Fair and Balanced” for how could a truly fair and balanced news organization do such a miserable job of informing their viewers (or correcting the misinformation their viewers already have from other sources)… not that this should surprise anyone either.

Fox News not a reliable source of news? Fox News not fair and balanced? Oh my! LOL

December 2010 Survey:

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pip…

Wall Street Journal Poll found FOX viewers the the most disinformed and misinformed:

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/i/MSNBC/Sec…

The Pew Research Center found FOX viewers are the most disinformed and misinformed:

http://people-press.org/report/537/

October 2003 Survey:

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pip…

The Three Questions:

Evidence of links between Iraq and al Qaeda have been found. (A: No)

Weapons of mass destruction have been found in Iraq. (A: No)

World public opinion favored the US going to war with Iraq. (A: No)

Take the quiz and find out: http://bit.ly/glhzkb

 

5 thoughts on “FOX ‘News’ Viewers Again Found Significantly more Disinformed and Misinformed

  1. Dear Benjamin,

    I can’t agree with you more about your assessment of Fox News, which, by their coverage and assertions, has been exacerbating the threats posed by QAnon, extremists, the far-right and the (ultra-)conservatives. Many members in these groups tend to form cliques, thus amplifying problems when things go awry or when conflicts or misunderstandings occur. They are also very prone to living in their information bubbles, which reinforce their ignorance, worldviews, opinions and biases.

    Fox News has also been engaging in casting the Jan 6th insurrection as something justifiable, as patriots trying to protect their beloved country. James Murdoch, the only voice of reason in the family, had had to leave the company in great dismay if not utter disgust.

    Australia’s leading Investigative journalism program entitled FOUR CORNERS has covered at least twice the many dark sides of Facebook in recent years. More recently, FOUR CORNERS covers QAnon, and later features the fallouts of Fox News in a two-part series, each lasting 45 minutes.

    FOUR CORNERS airs on Monday nights at 8.30pm on ABC and is repeated on Tuesdays at 10:00am and on Wednesdays at 11:20pm.
    Another big issue that has really bothered me is the rather wanton and undiscriminating ways in which social media users use and share quotes.

    My own take on QAnon has been discussed in detail in my extensive and analytical post entitled “💬 Misquotation Pandemic and Disinformation Polemic: 🧠 Mind Pollution by Viral Falsity 🦠“. The following is an extract of my views on the matter:

    The impacts of social contest and cultural tribalism have arrived not just in the open as torrents of toxic political rhetoric and vehement campaigns fighting over ideology, attention, power, profit and status, but also by stealth as subterranean streams of Viral Falsity flowing beneath the hotbed of extremism embraced by increasingly sophisticated hackers, hoaxers and haters, whose tactical and ideological variants have continued to emerge and converge in the (production, discussion and distribution of) apocryphal myths, factoids and falsehoods proliferating in fake news, alternative facts, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience, astroturfing operations and front organizations to the point of rivalling, outnumbering or replacing conventional streams of verified news, authoritative data, expert information and institutionalized facts. Concentrated by filter bubbles, intensified by echo chambers and reverberated by confirmation bias, conformity bias and ingroup favouritism, the (trans)formative power of apocryphal myths, factoids and falsehoods constituting the predominant narrative and major currency of discourse within the purview of cultural tribalism and ideological segregation online and offline lies not only in its profound influence on people’s opinions, worldviews, ethical norms and life journeys, but also in its ability to reshape the psyche and moral universe of even an entire generation. The symbolic embodiments and social manifestations of such a determinative power both function as projections of people’s resentment, grievance and existential angst, and reflect (people’s reactions and (mal)adaptations towards) the inherent tensions of a facile and labile, dissonant and turbulent, cynical and critical, aggressive and competitive, adversarial and polarized age. It is an age in which dramatically more citizens embrace or exploit misquotations and disinformation so readily and unswervingly that they have no qualms in supporting actions and outcomes that are not only fundamentally unjust or morally reprehensible but also markedly inimical to people’s social wellbeing and democratic rights. It is an age prominently perpetuating or exacerbating widespread wishful thinking, ignorance, illusion, misbelief, fear, suspicion, paranoia, distrust, anxiety, anger, hatred, resentment, vindictiveness, spite, bigotry, idolatry and fanaticism within and between the myriad aspects of human nature and the problematic manifestations of the human condition, whose mounting volatility and menacing ramifications seem to imitate and rival those of anthropogenic activities and climate change that ultimately result in ecological collapse or ecosystem collapse.

    Worse still, the former POTUS is planning to launch his own social media network ironically titled “TRUTH Social”.

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    • This is an older post, from the earlier years of this blog. Corporate media, like partisan politics, was irritating me in general at the time. But my irritation was fair and balanced, in that I was fed up as well with the supposedly ‘liberal’ big biz MSM and the supposedly ‘liberal’ corporatocratic Democratic Party. Still, there is a special place in my heart where I hold my frustration with Fox News, not only because of its blatant lies but also because of its relatively larger viewership (emphasis on ‘relative’) and outsized influence, although all of the networks these days have surprisingly small audiences.

      The outsized influence aspect is discussed in more detail elsewhere in the blog (Polarization Between the Majority and Minority; American Leftist Supermajority; & The Moral Axis of the Axial Age). I’ve talked of what I call the ‘Ferengi’ demographic (based on the acronym of F.E.R.: loyal Fox News Viewers, older Evangelicals, & partisan Republican voters). This is a small minority. It’s small compared to the general public, but also a small part of the political right. Most conservatives and right-wingers are often closer to the left-liberal supermajority than they are to the Ferengi.

      Yet it’s Fox News, as the propaganda wing of the GOP (and with the help of pseudo-liberal corporatists), who push the Overton Window far right, shut down the political left with gatekeeping, and so make the Ferengi appear larger in order to enact social control through perception management. This silences and suppresses the actual left-liberal majority by isolating them and making individual Americans feel alone in their views. Among the majority, this creates a false sense of being a minority.

      Meanwhile, the Ferengi get further outraged because they can’t understand why, in how important they are made to feel in corporate media and corporatocratic politics, all of American society doesn’t bow down in service of their every bigoted belief and fear-mongering opinion. This turns them even more reactionary, which is further magnified by the elites making the reactionary narratives dominate the ‘mainstream’. These reactionaries, then, take themselves as the norm and don’t realize how extremist they are. I’ve pointed to this data to my increasingly reactionary parents, but they refuse to look at the data, not even the data from Fox News that shows the same thing.

      Unsurprisingly, my parents are among that Ferengi demographic of older white conservatives who have been indoctrinated by Fox News. They used to be amazingly liberal at one time. My mother, in her early marriage, supported women’s right to choose; a position she now calls ‘baby-killing’ while denying she had ever been pro-choice. Decades of Fox News distortion has caused amnesia of her own past liberal-leaning self and created a reactionary identity in place of it. Others have talked about the same thing happening to their own parents, from watching Fox News, having gone from moderate or liberal to radicalized reactionaries.

      It’s not only that Fox News spins things toward the right-wing extreme. It’s not about interpreting the facts this way, as opposed to another way. Fox News often ignores the facts and blatantly lies to its viewers. Tucker Carlson once was brought to court for knowingly lying to his viewers. Fox News asserted their right to lying, stating that no one could legally force them to tell the truth. The judge agreed that Carlson was a liar, but said the court had no responsibility because, as he argued, no one could honestly believe that Carlson ever tells the truth. The defense was that all of Fox News is merely entertainment and so that the laws about honesty in reporting don’t apply.

      I’ve seen examples of this with my own eyes. James O’Keefe of Project Veritas doctored a video of an important ACORN figure who was working in the Obama administration. Fox News and the right-wing echo chamber pushed the false narrative so hard that they got control of the entire news cycle. Obama immediately fired her and soon after it was shown to have been a lie the whole time, but Fox News never retracted the story and apologized. The same kind of thing happened with a doctored video about a supposedly late-term abortion. It turns out that it was something else entirely. Once again, Fox News didn’t retract or apologize.

      My parents watched this propaganda and still believes it is true, even though they get some other corporate media sources. That is because, unless one is paying attention to the ‘leftist’ alternative media, one is unlikely ever to come across actual reporting on and analysis of these issues. This goes back to the Ferengi minority. This supposedly leftist alternative media is simply offering a perspective that is in line with the vast majority of Americans. Yet most Americans are still getting 90% of their news info from the corporate MSM. And what little they do get from the alternative media is mostly on the alt-right that is given a megaphone by the corporate MSM, largely because the alt-right media is being funded by dark money from corporations and plutocrats.

      This is what so burns about the allegation of a ‘liberal’ bias in the corporate MSM. When the Bush administration wanted to start a war in Iraq, most Americans opposed it and the largest protest movement in world history formed. Yet both political parties and all of the corporate media, across the ‘spectrum’, all began to beat the war drums and they all repeated the propaganda lies verbatim, straight from the White House press releases. Through this propaganda campaign, the corporate MSM was eventually able to sway the public into believing the lies about weapons of mass destruction that created a mirage of justification for what was a war of aggression.

      Or take another example. The 2000 US presidential election was stolen, of which we have strong proof. The Florida government, under control of Republicans, shut down the recount; but later analysis showed that a full recount would’ve shown that Democrats won Florida and hence won the presidency. Then the Supreme Court anti-democratically chose George W. Bush for president, which entirely dismissed the democratic process of voting. What was the response of the corporate ‘liberal’ media and the corporatocratic ‘liberal’ Democrats? They all fell in line with the Fox News narrative and no one dared to speak out against it, not even the Democratic candidate who had the presidency stolen from him. Instead, the Green candidate Ralph Nader was scapegoated, even though the data shows his Florida votes would never have swung the election.

      To this day, few Americans, right or left, know about that stolen election. The winners, through propaganda, write the history books. I bet that, if you look at any ‘liberally’-biased public education textbook, it will give you the Fox News narrative of that event with no indication of the evidence or other views. The corporate ‘liberal’ media and the corporatocratic ‘liberal’ Democrats have maintained a solid wall of silence and so have further added to the historical amnesia of Americans. When the so-called ‘liberals’ in the elite are this far right-wing, it gives you a clear sense of how fucking off the charts is the reactionary authoritarianism of the right-wing echo chamber.

      But one doesn’t need to analyze any of this, as the polling data (from every major source, even conservative polling groups) directly shows that the American public is far left of the entire media elite and political elite. The consensus of the ruling elite, ‘left’ and ‘right’, has maintained a vice grip on the American mind and public imagination. At the heart of the problem is inequality, the control of more than wealth for wealth is merely representative of power, influence, resources, etc; all of it tied together with cronyism and plutocracy, not to mention controlled by a deep state, shadow network, and dark money. This inequality permeates every aspect of our society. Picking on Fox News sort of misses the point, as Fox News is simply spectacle and distraction from the dark reality of the entire authoritarian system of mind control and social control.

      One of the things that the polls show is that the American public is opposed to high levels of inequality. In fact, most Americans believe that the levels of inequality we have at present is intolerable and should be eliminated. The problem is the elites in media and politics never let Americans know how bad it’s gotten and so this suppresses a new populist movement from forming. When asked, the average American thinks inequality is far lower than it actually is. The reason they think that is because all they’ve seen their entire lives are lies and omissions of truth. In a sense, the Fox News effect of disinformation has spread throughout the entire society.

      If you haven’t already, please do check out my posts on public opinion. It’s a shock to the system. I started writing about it around the time this post was published. Prior to that, I had assumed that I was part of a left-liberal minority. Then, I was confronted with the fact that my opinions all along had been right dab in the middle of majority public opinion. I had allowed corporatocratic propaganda to make me feel isolated and powerless. Learning this made me angry and I’ve refused to shut up about it since. It was also the nail in the coffin for what little forgiveness I had left for the “lesser evil” mentality, not that I ever was all that forgiving of it.

      For a larger context of why society has become psychotic (i.e., disconnected from reality), you might also be interested in a post of mine about media technology and its influence over psychology and society — Technological Fears and Media Panics:

      “We are in the middle of what one could call the New Media Derangement Syndrome (NMDS). It’s not merely one thing but a thousands things and combined with a total technological overhaul of society. This past century has turned all of civilization on its head. Over a few generations, most of it occurring within a single lifespan, humanity went from mostly rural communities, farm-based economy, horse-and-buggies, books, and newspapers to mass urbanization, skyscrapers, factories, trains, cars, trucks, ocean liners, airplanes and jets, rocket ships, electricity, light bulbs, telegraphs, movies, radio, television, telephones, smartphones, internet, radar, x-rays, air conditioning, etc.

      “The newest of new media is bringing in a whole other aspect. We are now living in not just a banana republic but inverted totalitarianism. Unlike the past, the everyday experience of our lives are more defined by corporations than churches, communities, or governments. Think of how most people spend most of their waking hours regularly checking into various corporate media technologies, platforms, and networks; including while at work and a smartphone next to the bed giving one instant notifications.

      “Think about how almost all media that Americans now consume is owned and controlled by a handful of transnational corporations. Yet not that long ago, most media was owned and operated locally by small companies, non-profit organizations, churches, etc. Most towns had multiple independently-run newspapers. Likewise, most radio shows and tv shows were locally or regionally produced mid-20th century. The moveable type printing press made possible the first era of mass media, but that was small time change compared to the nationalization and globalization of mass media over the past century.

      “Part of NMDS is that we consumer-citizens have become commodified products. The social media and such is not a product that we are buying. No, we and our data is the product that is being sold. The crazifaction factor is how everything has become manipulated by data-gathering and algorithms. Corporations now have larger files on American citizens than the FBI did during the height of the Cold War. New media technology is one front of the corporate war on democracy and the public good. Economics is now the dominant paradigm of everything.”

    • There is so much I could add. All of the evidence and analysis I’ve gathered since 2010 has become quite immense. My views now have so much more nuance and depth to them. In the past, I had a good sense of something being wrong and could point to issues like that found in this post. And I had know the basic problems were pervasive throughout society, an understanding I had going back to the 1990s in reading the likes of Robert Anton Wilson, Derrick Jensen, and Paul Shepard. But I’ve slowly been able to form my own take on all of this from a somewhat unique perspective, in pulling together multiple threads.

      One such thread is the influence of the intelligence agencies, COINTELPRO, counterinsurgency tactics, and propaganda campaigns. The entire authoritarian system is a con job and has been so for a very long time. The likes of the Murdoch business-political dynasty, for certain, didn’t invent the whole mess. All that the present generation of Machiavellian social dominators and demagogues have done is to manipulate the system they’ve inherited from a previous generation that was as bad and sometimes worse. The obfuscation has been going for longer than living memory, although it really took off during and following WWII when the government-trained propagandists returned home to either continue their work in government or to find jobs in the private sector.

      That is what defined the Cold War as the most propagandized era. And that is what made the American public what probably is the most internally propagandized population in history. As Chomsky has argued, authoritarian regimes (Soviets, China, etc) don’t need to propagandize their own people to such an extent since they have such total control of what the public is allowed to hear and see in the media. The tighter control of info the less need there is for disinfo. It’s only in social democracies (or banana republics maintaining a public image of being social democracies) that propaganda is seen as so central to those in or aspiring to authoritarian power. An example of that was, while the government committed actual conspiracies, a propaganda campaign to not only spread conspiracy theories but to smear as conspiracy theorists anyone who pointed out the actual conspiracies. This is where even many leftists like Chomsky dropped the ball — A Culture of Propaganda:

      “One interesting detail is how consistent Chomsky has been in denying “conspiracy theories”, despite the fact that much of his own writing could only accurately be described as conspiracy theory, in that he analyzes the history of those who have conspired with various agendas and to various ends. Like many academics today, he seeks to be respectable. But how did alternative thinking become disreputable, even among alternative thinkers?

      “Although the term “conspiracy theorist” has been around since the 1800s, it was rarely used in the past. This changed following a 1967 CIA memo, in response to the Warren Commission Report, that conspired to control the narrative and manipulate public perception about the John F. Kennedy assassination: “The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists” (declassified CIA memo# 1035-960, “Countering Criticism of the Warren Report“; for more detailed info, read the book Conspiracy Theory in America by Prof. Lance deHaven-Smith).

      “In overtly advocating for the government to conspire against the public, the memo’s anonymous author directs CIA operatives to, “employ propaganda assets to answer and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose.” Who were these propaganda assets? And why was there such confidence in their power to carry out this conspiracy? Let’s put this in context.

      “That same year, in 1967, a Ramparts article exposed the CIA funding of the National Student Association. The following decade would lead to the revelations, in the Congressional investigations and reports, that the CIA was working with journalists in the mainstream media, along with connections to civic groups. At around the same time, the CIA Family Jewels report was compiled and, upon its declassification in 2007, it was shown that the CIA had a propaganda program called Operation Mockingbird that involved the media with operations going at least back to the 1960s. This was an extensive covert operation (AKA conspiracy), linked to major news outlets and influential journalists and editors in both the foreign and domestic media”

      The rest of the post covers the factual details about how this was implemented and what were the results. So, Fox News and the Shadow Network of allied-media sources, mainstream and alt-right, are continuing to push this muddying of the water it becomes difficult to separate fact from fiction, info from disinfo. That way, actual conspiracies like the stolen election, manipulated evidence about WMDs, etc gets unreported, underreported, or simply spun into oblivion and forgotten. In this environment where corporate new reporting and plutocratic-funded alt-right media is just another form of propaganda, it’s predictable that conspiracy theories would abound and anyone who points out this Machiavellianism will get dismissed as a conspiracy theorist. It’s a brilliant form of mind-fucking social control.

    • Here is a deeper take on these issues. As argued elsewhere, all of us moderns have compromised ideological immune systems and so we are vulnerable to the reactionary mind virus. This is why all of the corporate media and corporatocratic politics, be it ‘left’ or ‘right’, may be reactionary in different ways and to different degrees (and those differences may be significant and meaningful); but basically all of it is reactionary and so shades of the same gray. The right-wing extremes of reactionary authoritarianism could not successfully operate without the assistance and complicity of those on the ‘left’ who are also infected with the reactionary disease.

      But this isn’t only about politics. The reactionary is, in one sense, a causal agent of sickness; but it’s the larger environmental conditions that make us vulnerable to it in the first place. This is the terrain theory of ideological immunity. What the reactionary mind indicates is a profound disconnection from reality, but all of us moderns have become similarly disconnected, if it doesn’t always show up with the most obvious symptoms. I’ll give an example from the left. I know a guy who is socially liberal and economically left-wing, while also being rather New Agey which is something I’m personally familiar with because of my upbringing.

      This guy will get lost in abstract ideas that he struggles to ground in the real world. So, he has read about the keto diet and was convinced by it to the extent he will sincerely tell people he is on the keto diet, even as he actually eats a crappy standard American diet of high-carb processed foods (to emphasize this point, he is one of the most sincere people I’ve ever met, and he is also a genuinely kind and caring person). The idea replaces reality. This is the reactionary mind in a nutshell. Yet he would never identify as a reactionary. That is the thing. The reactionary is generally not an identity anyone places on themselves. Even the most reactionary alt-righters rarely self-label as reactionaries.

      This has been on my mind, combined with both observations of the world and introspection of self. I realize all of this applies to me as well. This is where I bring up the WEIRD (western, educated, industrial, rich, and democratic or pseudo-democratic). The reactionary mind, in being the shadow of ruling paradigm of post-Enlightenment liberalism, might be considered an inevitable product of WEIRD culture; at least in the form its taken in recent centuries or even recent millennia, if we take the Axial Age being the first eruption of the WEIRD and reactionary.

      I mentioned to you elsewhere that one leading scholar of the WEIRD attributes the main cause to a total immersion in literacy and so WEIRD culture ahs been concomitant with the rise of mass literacy and mass media. I just made a connection in my mind yesterday. I have a draft of a post on the backburner that is about linguistic recursion (words and phrases embedded in sentences). Chomsky thought this was universal to all human societies, until some others like Daniel Everett found languages such as that of the Piraha that lacked it.

      Linguistic recursion, in its most complex forms, is particularly a sign of a highly literary society, as opposed to oral cultures. Literary recursion pushes the phenomenon to an ever greater extreme and it is recursions built on recursions that create complex hierarchies of ideas and meanings. This builds an ideological hyper-structure within post-bicameral Jaynesian consciousness that can be imagined as separate from concrete outer reality. That is the other thing about oral cultures, as shown in the early 20th century work of the Russian psychologists Lev Vygotsky and Alexander Luria. Non-literate individuals use concrete language that is much more simple and direct in being less recursive.

      I was once watching Fox News. There were several Fox News figures talking to one another, but really talking to the viewers. It was amazing to hear what they were saying. It occurred to me that they were teaching the audience not only to be indoctrinated but how to construct that indoctrination in their own minds and so be able to teach it to others. They were giving an instruction manual about how to put together an ideological worldview and social construct. Propaganda only works if it is internalized, but these media personalities were going far beyond merely implanting indoctrination into minds. It was a teaching lesson about how to think propagandistically.

      None of this would be possible, though, if the general public wasn’t already disconnected from reality. And all of modern society disconnects us in this manner. I’ve written about this in a number of posts, such as The Commons of World, Experience, and Identity and Enclosure of the Mind. The recursive structures of language get built in the mind but, even more powerfully, built into the human-made world around us. There is an inseparable overlap between physical infrastructure and ideological infrastructure. This alters the very perception of reality and experience of identity.

      This is reinforced by the practices that literally and physically disconnect us, as seen in the widespread use of synthetic footwear and flooring that breaks the bond with the earth (in disallowing the cyclical flow of electrons that helps the body maintain circadian rhythms and much else; see Earthing by Martin Zucker, Clinton Ober, & Stephen Sinatra). This has been on my mind in watching people walk around in modern shoes. You can see how they awkwardly hold their bodies and move in the world as if they are uncomfortable or disjointed. Most people clomp or scuff their feet in a flat-footed walk that lacks any sensitivity to the ground they walk on, while typically oblivious to the sensory world around them.

      This isn’t only a recent phenomenon. It goes back to the moral panic in the Axial Age, right when the literary mind first took hold, as heard in Socrates criticisms of the radicalizing impact of book learning, although he also feared the old oral culture as well, which is what made him among the first victims of the reactionary mind virus. But this moral panic didn’t fully take hold until the early modern period, specifically right before the American Revolution (Technological Fears and Media Panics). It was the first era of mass media with not only pamphlets but the new popular Romance genre. In the mid-18th century, adults were complaining about the problems of kids these days who were walking around with their heads stuck in books that contained dangerous material that was supposedly harming the youth and threatening all of society.

      The present New Media Derangement Syndrome, as the reactionary weirding of the WEIRD mind, is an ancient pattern that is simply being pushed toward ever greater extremes (The Great Weirding of New Media). In the past, mass media was still mostly contained to the minority of the population. It’s only been quite recently that mass literacy has become the norm in developed countries. And the youngest generations right now in the United States will be the first ever to be majority college-educated. So, the literate and literary mind will finally take over society. That will increase social liberalism but also its reactionary shadow.

    • About the WEIRD again, the reason my friend’s example resonates with me is from having grown up in new agey religion, mostly New Thought Christianity. The Unity Church of my childhood and youth is basically a neo-platonic and neo-gnostic sect of evangelicalism, a hyper-Protestant individualism that tends toward Unitarianism and Universalism, Quakerism and Anabaptism, but the Positive Thinking theology has much crossover with evangelical Prosperity Gospel. A particular kind of WEIRD mentality is typical in New Age and New Thought. It places mind over body, ideas as more real (more fundamental and powerful) than the physical world. This goes back to the neoplatonic influence on the Alexandrian Jews who, in turn, influenced the early Gnostics/Christians. The origins of this thought, of course, came from Plato.

      Unlike Socrates, Plato was among the first generation of Athenians to be immersed in literary culture and the literary mindset. After all, it was Plato who wrote down Socrates supposed words, not Socrates himself. Socrates was not only involved in oral discourse for, as is more typical oral cultures, he was also a voice-hearer in having a personal spirit that spoke to him. Socrates’ Athens still had lingering elements of the bicameral mind. But Plato’s Athens was already feeling the reactionary backlash, as Plato saw those practicing oral culture as enemies of the state to be banished from his anti-democratic republic. Literacy, abstract philosophy, democracy, Jaynesian consciousness, the reactionary mind, authoritarian politics, social liberalism (egalitarianism and universalism), and the proto-WEIRD — all of this came out of that same historical moment of the Axial Age.

      Because of my upbringing in the Unity Church, I understand the attraction of the abstract mind pushed to the extreme (my friend attended Unity Churches as an adult). And I know in my personal experience how it distorts one’s sense of reality, driving a wedge between oneself and the world as it is. It took me until adulthood to realize the dangers of this mentality and I’m still one who is easily lost in a world of ideas. I get how someone like my friend can fall into the trap of taking an idea in place of a reality. In this modern world, we all do this in various ways. This is probably what most people mean by ideologies. But the problem with reactionaries is, even when they acknowledge other people’s ideologies in attacking and dismissing them, they have a tendency to deny they have ideologies of their own. Instead, they take their ideas as reality itself in reifying the abstract, which demonstrates how ideologically-motivated they are. Though this splintering is most extreme among reactionaries, it has become common within nearly all modern experience.

      This may seem to be going far afield of the topic of Fox News propaganda. But the point is that media rhetoric works because of how easy the modern mind replaces reality with ideas, to the degree that many can’t distinguish between them. We are immersed in a mediated world. This makes easy pickings for propagandists and demagogues, Machiavellians and social dominators. Media-driven political spectacle has become our reality or rather realities. There is an even more direct link to the Fox News crowd. They are part of what Thomas Frank referred to as the “backlash personality type” (What’s the Matter with Kansas?). He mentions that “every single one of the bitter self-made men of my youth was a believer in the power of positive thinking.” Then he goes on to say that,

      “If you just had a sunny disposish and kept everlastingly at it, they thought, you were bound to succeed. The contradiction between their professed positiveness and their actual negativity about nearly everything never seemed to occur to them. On the contrary; they would oscillate from the one to the other as though the two naturally complemented each other, giving me advice on keeping a positive mental outlook even while raging against the environmentalist bumper stickers on other people’s cars or scoffing at Kansas City’s latest plan for improving its schools. The world’s failure to live up to the impossible promises of the positive-thinking credo did not convince these men of the credo’s impracticality, but rather that the world was in a sad state of decline, that it had forsaken the true and correct path.2 It was as though the fair-play lessons of Jack Armstrong, Frank Merriwell, and the other heroes of their prewar boyhood had congealed quite naturally into the world bitterness of their present-day heroes, Charles Bronson, Dirty Harry, Gordon Liddy, and the tax rebel Howard Jarvis.”

      He brings up one of his references in a note where he mentions the Unity Church (in belonging to the Unity youth group, I visited the main Unity campus in Kansas City): “In The Positive Thinkers, Donald Meyer comments extensively on positive thinking’s understanding of the business civilization and extreme laissez-faire economics as the way of nature. (See in particular chap. 8.) As for its politics, Meyer points out that Norman Vincent Peale, the movement’s greatest celebrity preacher, dabbled in right-wing Republicanism, and a famous positive-thinking Congregationalist church in California embraced the John Birch Society. It is possible that the universal embrace of positive thinking by the bitter self-made men of my youth was a geographic coincidence, since Kansas City is home to one of the great powers of the positive-thinking world, the Unity Church. But I am inclined to think not. Positive thinking is today a nearly universal aspect of liberal Protestantism, traces of it appearing in the speeches of Ronald Reagan and the self-help entertainment of Oprah Winfrey.”

      This is the right-wing New Age with a long history in American liberalism, including it’s reactionary form. Particularly in as Prosperity Gospel, all of this is closely related to the capitalist religious cult as an all-encompassing ideological worldview. This is where one can bring up the fact that Norman Vincent Peale was the Trump family’s pastor. Donald Trump grew up listening to him preach positive thinking. Later on, Peale acted as the minister for Trump’s multiple marriages. Some of Trump’s most outspoken and influential supporters were prosperity gospel preachers, from Paula White to Joel Osteen, and many others. Then there is the fascist Stephen Bannon who is into mysticism, part of the New Agey milieu of right-wing politics. By the way, some commentators have observed that the QANON conspiracy theory had a large helping of New Age thinking mixed in. The mind drugged up on highly abstract thought is prone to fantasies. The paranoid conspiratorial mind is basically the intellect having become ungrounded, and so the mind can endlessly spin out speculations that feel real.

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