Be a rebel or conform. Just be yourself. That’s what mom and dad, and the movies say. Mom, dad, your teachers and your boss also said you better shape up – get your life together in terms of conventions or expectations. The Latin-Roman poet Horace advised Carpe diem – the modern translation is the advice to seize the day. Yet the relatively wise ancient Greek philosopher Socrates observed and seemed to advise that “The unexamined life is not worth living…” Not quoted as often so not as well known Socrates also declared “I would rather die having spoken in my manner, than speak in your manner and live”. Being thinking creatures – at least most of us, some of the time – we could take a narrow and difficult to navigate middle path. Embrace some socialization, a form of conformity, for the sake of getting things, done, to have reasonable order so that we can go about our business unharmed, we can listen to the lecture or the concerto without the two jerks behind acting as though their discussion superseded your rights as a student or ticket buyer. Neither do we want to be sheep. Just because everyone else thinks huffing chemicals is cool doesn’t mean we have to cave in to peer pressure. If someone is lying about national security threats we do not have to give in to the shrill demands of self described “patriots”. Just because it seems like everyone is buying this or that fashions or gadget, or whatever that doesn’t mean we have to sell the cat to be part of the trend. We get pulled from both sides, be our own person – perhaps impossible to philosophers like Michel Foucault who saw the self as never fully realized, but rather a concept constantly evolving and in constant conflict with others – this concept makes me uncomfortable, but has a lot of truth to it. Or go with whichever way the wind blows. Socrates in his general statement about the examined life may not be right, though of the choices available it seems the wise and normative. It entails some mental and emotional stress, but works out surprisingly well for those who like to avoid as many of life’s petty hassles as possible – see some of the daytime talk shows for many examples of the pit falls of charging around without thinking or follow politics. This video below is loosely based on the experiments of Asch conformity experiments. Really embarrassing examples of following the crowd. As of today anyway I cannot find something equal in the way of say, not listening to the wisdom of elders in a small town, or your rabbi or health care professional. Everyone has probably had some experience and consequences with breaking bad when it turned out to be a really terrible idea.
While I was snooping around for this post I also came across another worldwide phenomena Three men make a tiger. An old Chinese proverb about the tendency for lies to be accepted by the masses if repeated enough. Repetition has a way of making people think that as improbable as it might be that two of every animal could fit on a boat, it must have some truth to it to be repeated so often. This is also known as a logical fallacy in western philosophy as an argumentum ad populum,”If many believe so, it is so.” Also known as an appeal to the masses or mob – look at all these people who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The Flying Spaghetti Monster must therefore exist.Closely related to the bandwagon effect and the lynch mob mentality. Everyone else is doing it so my doing it is right. The logic is not even circular per se, though it can be. Those who hold views which they justify using argumentum ad populum frequently break the circle to accuse those who disagree or do not get on the bandwagon with something in the price range of who do you think you are, millions of people think the same thing, you’re arrogant, what makes you so special. Gee, I don’t know, logic, evidence or knowledge, or some combination of same.
call of the penguin. even in the Antarctic sometimes you feel like screaming.
Juan Cole brings up some interesting issues in this post about the mysterious deaths of four Iranian scientists, A Murder in Tehran
If four US nuclear scientists were (God forbid) blown up at Las Alamos one after another, I think we all know that there would be hell to pay.
The UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions (i.e. illegal assassinations) told Reuters that the attacks on nuclear scientists were indeed worrying, extrajudicial, and executions.
But Christof Heyns, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, said in a statement to Reuters the Wednesday assassination seemed to reflect a “worrying trend of extrajudicial executions of nuclear scientists in Iran.” But he put the onus on Iranian authorities to solve the murder mystery.
Cole suspects that Israeli, Saudi or U.S. intelligence might be acting through an Iranian organization called the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK or People’s Jihadis). The MEK is known to have been involved in espionage on the Iranian nuclear program. The goal of the MEK is to overthrow the current government in favor of a Marxist-Islamic regime. The deeper political issues aside, just in terms of humanity and human rights, is it proper to be waging a kind of covert war in which targeted assassinations are your method of oration. One of the scientist that was murdered was a theoretical physicists. He was not involved in nuclear armaments or enrichment related activities. You could say he was more like an Iranian Stephen Hawking. A thinker and teacher. Another was about once removed from nuclear related research. So already one, probably two out of four lives lost that in no way accomplish the goal. Juan is speculating, but knowledgeable speculation, not just flinging cow pies against the wall. Though even that speculation may seem a little far fetched. Except in light of this article at Foreign Policy is this recent revelation – False Flag, A series of CIA memos describes how Israeli Mossad agents posed as American spies to recruit members of the terrorist organization Jundallah to fight their covert war against Iran.
Buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives — what is commonly referred to as a “false flag” operation.
The memos, as described by the sources, one of whom has read them and another who is intimately familiar with the case, investigated and debunked reports from 2007 and 2008 accusing the CIA, at the direction of the White House, of covertly supporting Jundallah — a Pakistan-based Sunni extremist organization. Jundallah, according to the U.S. government and published reports, is responsible for assassinating Iranian government officials and killing Iranian women and children.
But while the memos show that the United States had barred even the most incidental contact with Jundallah, according to both intelligence officers, the same was not true for Israel’s Mossad. The memos also detail CIA field reports saying that Israel’s recruiting activities occurred under the nose of U.S. intelligence officers, most notably in London, the capital of one of Israel’s ostensible allies, where Mossad officers posing as CIA operatives met with Jundallah officials.
The officials did not know whether the Israeli program to recruit and use Jundallah is ongoing. Nevertheless, they were stunned by the brazenness of the Mossad’s efforts.
“It’s amazing what the Israelis thought they could get away with,” the intelligence officer said. “Their recruitment activities were nearly in the open. They apparently didn’t give a damn what we thought.”
Interviews with six currently serving or recently retired intelligence officers over the last 18 months have helped to fill in the blanks of the Israeli false-flag operation. In addition to the two currently serving U.S. intelligence officers, the existence of the Israeli false-flag operation was confirmed to me by four retired intelligence officers who have served in the CIA or have monitored Israeli intelligence operations from senior positions inside the U.S. government.
Almost beats the average James Bond movie. I don’t think a Bond movie could get away with proposing something so crazy as Mossad agents posing as American agents to procure the help of terrorists against a common enemy.