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Saying and Believing Anything

Adam Serwer, writing on Twitter in response to a series of distortions from the conservative Federalist website, states plainly the truth of Trump-supporting lies:

There is no incentive to correct because the targeted audience will believe anything pro-Trump they are told, whereas acknowledging error would signal weakness and insufficient devotion to the Great Leader.

Yes, and yes again.

They want to hear what they want to hear, and there are always people who will satisfy those wants.

It’s also possible – and this is true at the local level with boosterism – that often pride keeps people from admitting that they’re wrong.

Two examples (of many) in Whitewater would be the commissioning of three studies before the local government at last conceded that a waste-hauling scheme into a digester was infeasible. A councilman (Binnie) pushed for that third taxpayer-funded study when by contrast any reasonable person earlier would have seen that the plan was both impractical and destructive.  Here he futilely held on in the hope of a justification that was never going to come.  Even at the end, Whitewater’s city manager (Clapper) insisted that in ten years or so he’d be proved right, and the wastewater superintendent (Reel) tried to keep talking about what a fine idea he was sure this was (until at last someone cut him off).

At UW-Whitewater, the school publicizes on its website a so-called crime safety study that’s so unsound no educated man or woman could give it credence. See The Marketing of Misinformation: UW-Whitewater’s Use of a Counterfeit ‘Campus Safety’ Study, For UW-Whitewater’s Administration, Talking Points Won’t Be Enough, and Truth-Telling and Tale-Weaving.  It doesn’t matter enough to the chancellor (Watson) and his public relations team (Kuhl, Angileri) that the study is embarrassingly deficient – it says what they want to hear, and what they want to prospective students to hear.  Watson undertook advanced studies and defended a dissertation, but now he advances claims that are unworthy of legitimate academic work at any accredited institution.  Watson, Kuhl, and Angileri say what they want in support of what they want.

Whitewater, Wisconsin, and America can and should do better.

 

 

 

2 comments for “Saying and Believing Anything

  1. J
    10/02/2019 at 10:22 AM

    Sorry to say this is basically right about the campus administration over time. Running through the last few of leaders has been a growth mentality in which the end justifies the means. Dick was all over a sports approach although he didn’t understand all that much about how to sustain a program. Beverly was mostly all about Beverly. Now Dwight Watson has declining enrollment. It seems the idea is to fix that problem by any means necessary. “By any means necessary” seems to mean letting the media folks run the school. It’s a strategy that puts faculty and students last. Dick’s “Powered by Tradition” slogan did not help us or we wouldn’t be in this spot. Beverly’s self-absorption made everything twice as bad.
    Now we are down to fixing it with false advertising.

    • JOHN ADAMS
      10/02/2019 at 11:18 AM

      They have an audience in mind, and they’ll speak – even if falsely – to that audience. The few who’ve chosen poorly continue to do so; bad typically goes to worse.

      After a while, advocacy in opposition becomes more like narration: the wheel of reason and fact slowly turns to grind plans, schemes, strategies, etc. In the beginning (and for months or years), planners, schemers, and strategists congratulate themselves on their own declared cleverness.

      How it begins, however, is not how it ends.

      It is right to argue strongly against bad ideas and bad projects from the outset, but the decisive blow against them isn’t a blow at all. The demise of bad ideas and bad projects mostly comes from erosion, an erosion one patiently chronicles as a cautionary tale for others.