Facts Are Powerless in the Hands of War Hawks on Iran

John Glaser, February 27, 2012

I wrote recently about how even the mainstream media is coming around to reporting the consensus within the U.S. intelligence community, that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and has demonstrated no intention of doing so. For example, the New York Times ran a front page story on Saturday entitled “U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb.” Another in the Los Angeles Times last Thursday similarly headlined, “U.S. does not believe Iran is trying to build nuclear bomb.” Even though most of the mainstream media continues to hype threat inflation on Iran and give voice to war hawks, these types of articles are notable. The fact that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and the fact that no evidence of a weapons program has been put forth is becoming more widely understood.

Unfortunately, the war hawks have a tendency to believe what they want. Back in 2010, Joe Keohane wrote a piece in the Boston Globe about how political science shows that “facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds.” He cited recent studies which found that

when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

I have to believe that’s what is happening in this Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, wherein Frederick Kagan and Maseh Zarif from the American Enterprise Institute all but argue war is the only option because Iran is relentlessly building nuclear weapons. Sigh.

P.S. Notice their use of the phrase “nuclear weapons capability,” and see here for the context on that.




18 Responses to “Facts Are Powerless in the Hands of War Hawks on Iran”

  1. john,

    what you report above is a very old tried and true psychological marketing tactic. The first step is to instill fear in the subject by espousing some kind of lie or half truth and keep repeating it until the lie is accepted. Afterwards, when confronted with the truth, more than 90% of subjects continue to believe the original lie, even after being presented with facts!

    This is a strategy that has been around since the 1930's. there are many good books on the subject and in fact some are specifically designed for business

    one of the best books i have seen on the subject are below. Tactics are right out of GWB's war on terror and axis of evil strategies that he used to get elected

    Covert Persuasion: Psychological Tactics and Tricks to Win the Game [Hardcover]

  2. It's kind of like this:

    Nazi leader Hermann Goering once stated:

    Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

  3. Fred Kagan–like all neocons–is a professional liar. He's an armchair Chesty Puller, a chickenhawk douche bag.

    Piss on him.

  4. Excellent comment, John.

    Watching the NeoCons on Iran – I am reminded of Josh Billings's quip that "a fanatic is someone who does what God would do if God knew the facts of the matter."

  5. [...] Middle East; it is dismissed out of hand as not useful for the analysis. Less useful, even, than an imaginary nuclear weapons program. Print This | var addthis_pub="wiredispatch"; var addthis_options = 'facebook, twitter,digg, [...]

  6. Did you know that only about 2% of nuclear waste in America is from power plants, the majority is from military waste and the health care industry.

  7. what you report above is a very old tried and true psychological marketing tactic. The first step is to instill fear in the subject by espousing some kind of lie or half truth and keep repeating it until the lie is accepted. Afterwards, when confronted with the truth, more than 90% of subjects continue to believe the original lie, even after being presented with facts!

  8. This is a strategy that has been around since the 1930's. there are many good books on the subject and in fact some are specifically designed for business

  9. one of the best books i have seen on the subject are below. Tactics are right out of GWB's war on terror and axis of evil strategies that he used to get elected

  10. Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood.

  11. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.

  12. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.
    Report

  13. Watching the NeoCons on Iran – I am reminded of Josh Billings's quip that "a fanatic is someone who does what God would do if God knew the facts of the matter."

  14. Please point to the specific clause(s) of Article II of the Constitution, or any one of the Constitution's amendments, which clearly ENUMBRATE(S) the power of the president to summarily annul any of the rights contained therein, or order any other branch of the federal government to do the same, thereby effectively nullifying his own office, along with the authoritay of any other branch of the federal government.

  15. Government (The Executive Branch) the Power to arbitrarily arrest, charge, Indefinitely Detain Americans that participate in 1st Amendment activities (on the premise) certain 1st Amendment Activities appeared intended or were used to support or provoke hostilities, combatants, belligerents; terrorism and or threaten

  16. National Security. It is foreseeable millions of Americans would increasingly not attend political meetings, peaceful protests or make comments on the Internet out of fear they might be arrested, lose their job; be put on Homeland Security’s NO Hire List, especially if they work for a government agency or contractor—that happened in Nazi Germany.

  17. Soon Americans won’t be able to arrange or attend a 1st Amendment protected meeting or other activity e.g., a doctor or business appointment without government/police knowing about it

  18. Government is on the threshold of having surveillance cameras and drones most everywhere. TSA is expanding its checkpoints on highways, bus and train stops and ports. U.S. Government is actively monitoring without warrants—journalists, U.S. Citizens’ social networks, emails, phone calls, Internet Activity and faxes.