[internetworkers] Triumph of the Stultocracy

James Dasher jdasher at ibiblio.org
Tue Sep 28 19:18:38 EDT 2004

On Sep 28, 2004, at 10:15 AM, Michael Czeiszperger wrote:

> On Sep 28, 2004, at 6:46 AM, James Dasher wrote:
>> I wasn't deriding you for knowing more than other people, and I 
>> wasn't belittling your profession.  Other than the "collective 
>> stupidity of the nation" bit, I wasn't really talking about you 
>> specifically.  The point is that you think those things are worth 
>> knowing.  I happen to agree with you.  But I've met people who could 
>> give two sh#ts, and I've gotta tell you, they have pretty convincing 
>> arguments for why it doesn't matter.  (And to be honest, your vote 
>> and your knowledge matter less and less every day.  Capping the 
>> number of U.S. Representatives ensures that your vote will count for 
>> less each and every election than it did the previous election.)
> The problem is not only are we deciding the election based on 
> different opinions, we're also deciding it based on different facts as 
> well.

How do you mean?

Different interpretations of the available information?

Weighting facts differently?

Choosing which facts matter and which don't?

Choosing only those data that support one's argument?

I think different people decide based on different facts for different 
reasons, some of which I accept, and some of which I don't.

A guy I know who's deciding the election based on healthcare is making 
a different choice from a lady in Michigan that I know who's deciding 
based on jobs - hers, and her family's lack of them.

But they're both different cases from the people deciding based on, to 
pick a topic at random ... oh, say, Iraq.

(It's a medium-sized country in the Middle East, north of the Persian 
Gulf, with about 25 million people of various religious and ethnic 
extractions.  You may have never heard of it, because it's not like 
it's close, like Mexico or Canada, or big, like China or India.  But I 
know some real foreign policy geeks, and for a number of reasons, it 
matters to them.)

Some folks are deciding that, based on the absence of clear and 
numerous WMD violations by the former regime there, and based on the 
presence of U.S. troops in harm's way, combined with concern over 
priorities in the War on Terror (a dumb name, don't get me started), 
someone besides the current president would be a better president.

Other folks are deciding that, based on the prevarication of the former 
regime regarding the presence or absence of huge stockpiles of WMD in 
Iraq, combined with questionable neighbors, sending U.S. troops to 
topple the regime and act as a "honeypot" for terrorists would keep 
them away from us, and that the guy responsible for this will keep 
doing this and, thereby, be a better president than somebody who 

Obviously, these are both simplifications.  And just as obviously, one 
could quibble with my word choices.  Also obviously, even (most) voters 
for whom Iraq is THE issue are also selecting their guy based on a few 
other factors, too.

Which leads me, albeit circuitously, to the clarification of my 
questions: are we talking about people who think Saddam was behind 
9-11?  Or are we including people who, based on evidence of ties 
between his regime and al Qaeda operatives, think the question is open 
to debate?  Or people who don't think it matters one way or the other 
(either that ties between the two still weren't justification for war, 
or that the lack of ties between the two didn't justify maintenance of 
the status quo)?

I suspect many list members are tired of the topic, so if you would 
prefer to migrate this discussion off-list, I'd be happy to oblige.  
(Assuming no one objects.  But this has strayed from the topic of 
Internet-related work, and could be considered "off-topic".  Unlike the 
Flash Distraction of the Day.)  We could also slow down the pace of 
responses, allowing more time for consideration of each others' 

I admit to more than a little interest in what you might call the 
"meta-election" (though that, too, is a crappy term).  What matters to 
people, and what doesn't?  And what does that say about them, or us, or 
the people who say that it says something about them?

Cheers -

James Dasher
misterdasher dot com
IM misterdasher

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