The Hater’s Handbook. Confirmation bias and cultural bigotry.

We need to be on the lookout for ignorance and intolerance.

This is a brief guide on how to demonise and oppress a group you hate and fear. (Or alternatively, as in Dick Cheney’s case, rob and plunder).

The first step — and this might seem obvious, but it still bears repeating — is to blind yourself to the deep-seated illogicality of your position. Remember, you will never be an effective oppressor if you harbour the slightest doubt that you might somehow be wrong.  This is fatal. Therefore, you must first eradicate all traces of critical thinking from your mind. Remove all tendencies to see the other person’s point of view.

If you can’t manage this, you should not try to oppress anyone. You are a lost cause.

First choose a big lie. It doesn’t matter what the lie is, provided it tends to cause general revulsion towards the group you wish to oppress.

Once you’ve selected your lie, you must then keep repeating it no matter how many times it’s exposed as a lie.  You must never deviate from your lie, but you must at every opportunity try to smear anyone who disagrees with you. They are, in fact, filthy, dirty, extreme-Left, homosexuals, blacks, immigrants, dole-scrounging Muslims, Jews, Catholic perverts.

Now, here’s the important stuff you need to remember.

The Big Lie that facilitated the USA attack on Vietnam was that North Vietnamese forces had attacked a US warship.  They didn’t, but the press swallowed it.

The Big Lie that allowed Cheney’s armies to overrun Iraq was that Saddam somehow was involved in the 9-11 attacks when he was in fact a sworn enemy of Osama Bin Laden, and presided over a secular state where religion was not allowed to impose itself on day to day life, where women had equal access to all professions and all educational opportunities. Saddam might have been a despot, but he was no Muslim fanatic, yet the press swallowed Cheney’s big lie, and so began the bonanza for Halliburton, the company Cheney had absolutely, without question, separated himself from. So began the asset-stripping of an entire nation and the birth of ISIS, all thanks to the Big Lie.

The Big Lie that continues to facilitate Israel’s destruction of the Palestinian people is that they are somehow a threat to the Israeli people.  And thus we watch, every couple of years, as the massive war machine pounds the world’s biggest concentration camp to rubble with the loss of thousands of lives.

We witnessed the same techniques in Ireland recently, when certain home-grown groups chose to spread insane lies about gay people with a view to defeating the marriage equality referendum.  They pushed the lies that the referendum had to do with adoption, with starting a family and most bizarrely, with surrogacy.

They pushed lies about gay people being sexual abusers. They pushed lies about gay people being something other than our own sons, daughters, brothers and sisters.

Ultimately, they projected a lie based on their own self-hatred and when they met resistance, they sought to demonise those who called them out on their lies, but then an amazing life-affirming thing happened. The Irish people rejected the lies and sent the fundamentalist groups home to sulk in their socks and vests, trying somehow to convince the world that a 60-40 referendum win was a defeat for democracy.

Confirmation bias is a terrible thing, defined by some as a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions.  As more and more people desperately try to escape ISIS, the creation of the West, the new Big Lie is growing stronger, and that lie is simple. All Muslims are evil.

le eithne rescue

Perhaps the most egregious example of it occurred recently when the Daily Mail and the Telegraph reported a shocking story of a devout Muslim father who prevented his daughter’s rescue by beach lifeguards because he believed she would be dishonoured by being touched by men.

What the Mail and the Telegraph conveniently glossed over was that the incident occurred in 1996, because that wouldn’t suit their poisonous narrative.  They found a negative story about a single Muslim and that was enough to project onto all the Muslims in the world, as if there had never been a stupid Christian.

What the Irish media who slavishly repeated the story failed to mention was that we have similar experiences in our own history, the most horrifying of which was the death of 35 young girls in a Cavan orphanage, prevented by prudish nuns from being rescued  because the nuns didn’t wish the firemen to see them in their night dresses.  By the same token, we’ve had recent court cases involving Jehovah Witness parents seeking to let their children die in hospital rather than allow blood transfusions, but such stories don’t fit the anti-Muslim narrative and are therefore never called up when confirmation bias is at work.

This is why some Irish people will look on with equanimity as people drown in the Mediterranean despite the best efforts of our heroic naval service, and yet, in the middle of the horror, there is at least some comfort to be found, since our sailors are working so hard to save the lives of those people fleeing from extremism and oppression.  But on the other hand, it’s hard to escape the suspicion that many Irish people are secretly glad to keep them away from our prosperous comfortable shores.

If we had an education system that was not religious-based, but which instead encouraged critical thinking, perhaps we’d be able to avoid some of this stupidity but unfortunately, that debate is only just starting, and so we continue to be subjected to narratives based on hysteria, prejudice and ignorance.

If you don’t believe me, just take one look at the poor-man’s Golden Dawn calling themselves Identity Ireland.  A bunch of clowns, admittedly, with a stupidity exaggerated by the internet, but fascists all the same.

This is the sort of ignorance we need to challenge at every opportunity, not only here in Ireland, but wherever we encounter it.

15 thoughts on “The Hater’s Handbook. Confirmation bias and cultural bigotry.

  1. Hello all.
    Evolution always was/is a slow business, and for some it would appear to be at a standstill. As you rightly say, ignorance, plus lies, crackpot beliefs and downright skulduggery should and must be challenged where encountered, and fair play to you and others who have the will to expose all these things. And more.
    To shine a light on these things and provoke thought, assists the process of evolving into better beings.

  2. Strangly, the character gazing out at me from the home page of the Identity Ireland site bears a uncanny resemblance to the young Joseph Göbbels.

  3. In general,a good post.You haven’t addressed the fact that these Muslim refugees are fleeing oppression from other Muslims.In fact most muslims are anxious to leave their Muslim countries.This can’t all be the fault of the Jews or the Americans.Is it not possible there are deeper problems in the Islamic world?

  4. “Most Muslims are anxious to leave their Muslim countries.”

    That’s quite a statement.

    Is there research to back it up?

  5. Just look at the wave of Muslim emigration .There is no corresponding wave of westerners trying to get to Islamic countries. Many muslims are prepared to risk life and limb to escape from their Islamic” paradise”.

  6. I’m asking you about a specific statement you made. “Most Muslims are anxious to leave their Muslim countries.”

    “Most” implies at least half of all Muslims in the world and possibly more.

    Where is the research supporting that claim?

  7. Bock, excellent article, must take issue with you on the invasion of Iraq, I was all for it. You say Saddam `might have been a despot’, he was a despot as were all of his henchmen, once he had used Chemical Weapons on his own people, the Kurds this time, it was time for intervention and there is no doubt that the Americans messed up the apres invasion very badly.

  8. Hi Dave, as I understand it, the invasion of Iraq was provoked after Saddam Hussein threatened to trade the oil from that country in euros. I’m not sure I believe the Kurdish peoples plight to be a major factor in the decision. That said, it did enable the world’s policeman to claim the moral high ground.

  9. There was another despot around the same time threatening to fire missiles at a key ally of the US, but nobody invaded North Korea. And unlike Saddam, he actually had weapons of mass destruction.

  10. Ok Bock,great post.good arguments,lovely.However,do you admit to being slightly anti-semitic,anti American?Or is it just my wrong impression?

  11. I’m neither anti-Semitic nor anti-American. Both of those positions would be profoundly stupid.

    Do you think I’m profoundly stupid?

  12. Ah profoundly is a bit harsh in fairness..

    But yeah, you gotta be a bit dumb to be a bigot.

  13. Many thanks for this wonderfully sensible article. Very reassuring to know there are at least some people who hold these views.

    Whether by accident or design, it seems much if not most of the world’s daily media is messing with our heads and our hearts. This article is a great touchstone.

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