Habermas and the public sphere

The critical analysis of Jurgen Habermas, dropped nonchalantly into a variety of conversations, remains little understood, even by academics. The public sphere at the centre 0f his thesis was by definition inclusive, but entry depended on one’s education and qualification as a property owner. The idea of a neutral social space for critical debate among private persons is a wonderful ideal, but it is not as it seems, or as routinely presented, anywhere available. To test this, try avoiding marketing, or any publicity via advertising, for even one day.

Television formats such as Q&A simply do not qualify as a public sphere, except as a street market of second-hand views, shopped by disingenuous hucksters and self-interested parties, keen to sell their opinions or build their brand. For some strange idea of balance, dumb ideas are casually represented as viable alternatives next to brilliant ideas. No wonder the “public” are often represented in qualitative research as confused. Many comments, found tagged to articles  on the power relations of the media, do however, perhaps more by instinct and intuition, get Habermas’s point regarding the manufacture of consensus by media institutions functioning as publicity machines for this or that powerful interest group.

RUPERT RULES OK2vintage

This is particularly true when people say how much they seek to avoid the mainstream media. This is the only attitude to have: avoid it, it is bad for you. Habermas argues that mass media is sublimely powerful. It attempts to manipulate and create a public where none exists, and to manufacture a consensus that “this” is what is real and on your mind, beyond anything else “you” could invent for yourself.

The sincerely believed nonsense spoken in the UK by Murdoch editors, that they were merely doing what their readers wanted, is the clearest recent example of the all-pervading invisible veil that sits over and obscures this manufacturing process. It even fools those who work within the factory. The same can be said for the knee-jerk reaction of local media landlords to planned media oversight rules. They sincerely believe they have our interests at heart. In other words, they know how we feel.

As nice bourgeoisie, we would like to see ourselves as open and benignly public, and would hope our opinion is well-considered and personal. Yet the central takeaway from Habermas is that “public opinion” is difficult to define or measure. All the group behaviour methodology in the world cannot nail it down, except as a series of possibles, not any exact thing. One thing is certain, it is being made for you, if you cannot think of it for yourself. This does not mean humans are dumb agents, incapable of original thought, but it does mean the manufacturers of consensus are gifted manipulators. Do not look into their eyes.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 1:22 pm  Comments (1)  

Sheldrake and the delusion of science

I have no way of knowing if Sheldrake is right. But he is clearly a scientist, exploring areas of interest, not a pseudo-scientist, or a spiritualist, or fantasist. As a meditator, I grapple daily with the place of consciousness. It is of the universe, not a deviation from it. Science will soon come to that same conclusion.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 7:18 am  Leave a Comment  

Sheldrake and consciousness of science

http://youtu.be/JKHUaNAxsTg

A troubling indictment of orthodoxy in scientific debate. I have no way of knowing if Sheldrake is right. But he is clearly a scientist, exploring areas of interest, not a pseudo-scientist, or a spiritualist, or fantasist. As a meditator, I grapple daily with the place of consciousness. It is of the universe, not a deviation from it. Science will soon come to that same conclusion.

http://youtu.be/OqaATPAnTZQ

TED Blog

UPDATE: Please see our new blog post Graham Hancock and Rupert Sheldrake, a fresh take, which replaces the x-ed out text below.

To discuss the talks, view them here:

The debate about Rupert Sheldrake’s talk
The debate about Graham Hancock’s talk

After due diligence, including a survey of published scientific research and recommendations from our Science Board and our community, we have decided that Graham Hancock’s and Rupert Sheldrake’s talks from TEDxWhitechapel should be removed from distribution on the TEDx YouTube channel.

We’re not censoring the talks. Instead we’re placing them here, where they can be framed to highlight both their provocative ideas and the factual problems with their arguments. See both talks after the jump.

All talks on the TEDxTalks channel represent the opinion of the speaker, not of TED or TEDx, but we feel a responsibility not to provide a platform for talks which appear to…

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Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 6:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Habermas and the mediated public sphere

The critical analysis of Jurgen Habermas, dropped nonchalantly into a variety of conversations, seems little understood, even by academics. The public sphere at the centre of his thesis was by definition inclusive, but entry depended on one’s education and qualification as a property owner.

The idea of a neutral social space for critical debate among private persons is a wonderful ideal, but it is not as it seems, or as routinely presented, anywhere available. To test this, try avoiding marketing, or any publicity via advertising, for even one day.

Q&A simply does not qualify except as a street market of second-hand views, shopped by disingenuous hucksters and self-interested parties, keen to sell their opinions and boost their brand. For some strange idea of balance, dumb ideas are casually represented as viable alternatives next to brilliant ideas. No wonder the “public” are often represented in qualitative research as confused.

Many comments, to articles on the power relations of the media, do however, perhaps more by instinct and intuition, get Habermas’s point regarding the manufacture of consensus by media institutions functioning as publicity machines for this or that powerful interest group. This is particularly true when people say how much they seek to avoid the mainstream media. This is the only attitude to have: avoid it, it is bad for you.

Image

Media cut-up courtesy Metta Bhavana. Created in GIMP.

Habermas argues that mass media is sublimely powerful. It attempts to manipulate and create a public where none exists, and to manufacture a consensus that “this” is what is real and on your mind, beyond anything else “you” could invent for yourself.

The sincerely believed nonsense spoken in the UK by Murdoch editors, that they were merely doing what their readers wanted, is the clearest recent example of the all-pervading invisible veil that sits over and obscures this manufacturing process. It even fools those who work within the factory. The recent knee-jerk reaction from local media landlords to mild alterations to media oversight is a further example of the self-made concept that they know what we want and are defending something precious, namely our right to swallow what they consider public opinion.

As nice bourgeoisie, we would like to see ourselves as open and benignly public, and would hope our opinion is well-considered and personal. Yet the central takeaway from Habermas is that “public opinion” is difficult to define or measure. All the group behaviour methodology in the world cannot nail it down, except as a series of possibles, not any exact thing.

One thing is certain, it is being made for you, if you cannot think of it for yourself. This does not mean humans are dumb agents, incapable of original thought, but it does mean the manufacturers of consensus are gifted manipulators. Do not look into their eyes.

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 3:43 am  Leave a Comment  

Breaking Bad, Breaking Really, Really Bad…

Breaking Bad, Breaking Really, Really Bad...

High on the future

Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 3:22 am  Leave a Comment  

The manufacture of consensus is the central role of the bourgeois media.

Australians For Honest Politics


PM Julia Gillard: “Well, the first thing I would say is, don’t write crap, can’t be that hard.” National Press Club 18/07/11

By @Thefinnigans
Source: The Bisons
The ides of March

AFHP:  This is the updated list of blindfolded journos and commentators, courtesy of @Thefinnigans, updated to the moment 

The Finnigans has collated this incredibly long list of failed commentariat predictions since 2011. Let’s not forget that this is the product the media is selling to us as quality insider information with context. In the 24 hour news cycle you can say and publish whatever you want and you get rarely held to account for your work, shoddy as it may be. Just last Thursday, the twitterverse went into overdrive over this quality false rumour:

How come they never explain…

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Published in: on March 19, 2013 at 2:48 am  Leave a Comment