The Reality Gap: The Heartland Faith-Tank Edition

So Ezra Klein at Vox wrote a post recently asking “What’s the liberal equivalent of climate denial?” Well, there really isn’t one. It’s not that there aren’t liberals or even liberal organization that believe daffy, unhinged things; there are. But to be so overwhelmingly disassociated from reality requires special talent. In the case of the Heartland Institute, a right-wing faith tank best known for its global warming denialism, some of that, no doubt, stems from its interesting personnel decisions. But there really does seem to be a culture of lying–telling little lies for the Greater Truth–among right-wing faith tanks.

Consider this supposed George Carlin quote being circulated around the intertoobz by the Heartland Institute:

Governments don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests.

They want obedient workers who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork. And just dumb enough to passively accept it.

Wow! That George Carlin guy sounds like quite the libertarian–which would come as a surprise to anyone familiar with his work. Lo and behold, here’s what Carlin actually said (boldface mine; italics what Heartland misquoted):

There’s a reason education sucks, it’s the same reason that it will never, ever, ever be fixed. It’s never going to get any better, don’t look for it, be happy with what you got. Because the owners of this country don’t want that. I’m talking about the real owners, now. The real owners, the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they’re an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don’t. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They’ve long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They’ve got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They’ve got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying,­ lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

But I’ll tell you what they don’t want. They don’t want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They’re not interested in that. That doesn’t help them. That’s against their interests. They don’t want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they’re getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

You know what they want? Obedient workers,­ people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they’re coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They’ll get it. They’ll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It’s a big club, and you ain’t in it. You and I are not in the big club.

This selective quote-mining would make a creationist ashamed. Not only did they take Carlin out of context, they left out the parts that directly conflict with their agenda: Heartland wants to privatize Social Security and they oppose any minimum wage, never mind better wages and benefits.

I don’t think the denizens of the Heartland Institute are stupid–I’ll posit they’re brighter than average. They had to know that they were twisting Carlin’s words around to mean the exact opposite of what he intended. Admittedly, it’s just one picture, just one more little lie. But it tells you a lot about the ‘Reality Gap.’ Sure, some of it has to do with all of the behavioral sciences cognition stuff that gets the technobrat set all hot and bothered, but much of it stems from a well-funded sociopathic propaganda apparatus. They lie because it suits their needs, and they are clever at tapping into long-standing cultural narratives.

But the unabashed willingness to lie is the key. It’s something that you really don’t see on the left, certainly not in the face of overwhelming evidence like the right does on the key issues of our time. There’s a lot of money to be made being a right-wing propagandist, not so much on the left. The ‘reality gap’ reflects this.

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7 Responses to The Reality Gap: The Heartland Faith-Tank Edition

  1. gubbler says:

    Here is one:

    Also, while worries about global warming might have merit, the hysteria surrounding it is near-religious and it’s fueled by those to cash in on it via taking green energy big time on Wall Street.

    Another liberal hysteria is the notion that ‘gay marriage’ makes sense. Two guys do fecal penetration and that is the premise for marriage?

    Btw, if for ‘marriage equality’, why no liberal push for polygamy and same-family marriage?

    Why are homos the only ones allowed to change marriage laws?

    Another silly liberal hysteria. OBAMA IS messiah!!!!

    • elspi says:

      Racist much?
      The left’s unwillingness to accept the racial inferiority of Black people is just like the flat-earthism of the right. Color me convinced.

    • idahogie says:

      And gubbler becomes the best example for what the article is about: dishonesty to the core. Seriously, there is some sort of mass psychopathy going on with the right these days. I think it’s related to this:

      1. I didn’t read enough of the racist Takimag article to comment
      2. You think global warming is real, but liberal anger in the face of global warming denial on the right is a sign of hysteria on the left. Seriously?
      3. Giving people the freedom and happiness of forming families is hysteria.
      4. “Homos” are the only ones allowed to change marriage laws. From a guy who comes from the end of the political spectrum that nominated Romney. A Mormon whose grandfather was a polygamist.
      5. I don’t know anybody who thinks “OBAMA IS messiah!!!!” I know lots of insane conservatives who think he is Satan.

      Congratulations, gubbler: you are the best example of the self-deluded idiot described in the OP. A self-deluded, racist bigot who can’t think. (Unless you’re a Poe. That’s a strong possibility. In that case — good job!)

  2. Barbara says:

    As an environmentalist who has taught environmental biology at a couple of universities, I get very frustrated with an unthinking, ignorant “natural is better” position. You won’t find it in administrators in, for example, the Audubon Society or The Nature Conservancy, but you will find it in a great many individuals and some groups. Persistent problematic positions including: GMO’s are bad (some are bad, some are good, many are mixed bags), herbicides are bad (depends on which one, how it’s used, and what it’s used for), humans killing animals is bad (depends — and overpopulation of, say, deer, may be good), herbal medicines are better than “standard” medicine and don’t have side effects (herbal medicines may work, rarely as well as standard medications, most are ineffective, some are harmful, and they can indeed have side effects). Of course, deciding whether it’s right to use a particular herbicide to control a particular invasive weed in a particular wildlife refuge takes thought, and “herbicides are evil!” does not.

    I don’t think the people who say this are lying so much as ignorant and resistant to learning; “You must be in the pay of Big Chemical Companies!” — wish I were; I’d like the income.

  3. Min says:

    They are not just twisting Carlin’s words, they are misquoting him. Their so-called quote:

    “Governments don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests.”

    Actual text:

    “They don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests.”

    Who does the “they” refer to? Here it is, in the previous paragraph:
    ” The real owners [of this country], the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions.”

    So the quote should be, “[Big wealthy business interests] don’t want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests.”

  4. FUCK says:

    what a bunch of assholes, libertarians are literally scum,

  5. M says:

    Libertarians are the socio-economic equivalent of creationists. They always where, and I was pointing it out all the way back before even Ron Paul raised his decrepit head.

    That they use the same tactics should come as no surprise.

    It’s important as such all honest rationalists become aware of the libertarians most common lies and dishonesties, and the facts to beat them around the stupid/dishonest ears with, whenever they open their stupid/dishonest mouths.

    Anyway does the late Carlin have some sort of estate that could take action against these people? If anything it’d call public attention to their dishonesty. Show the world the libertarians are dishonest kooks.

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