In Bangkok, press reports
of the bombing said at least 20 people had been killed and more than a 100
people were injured at Erawan Shrine on early Monday evening during rush hour.
http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/17/asia/thailand-bangkok-bomb/ The subsequent police
investigation of the crime scene, the announcements by various officials in
government, and the post-bombing analysis pulsates along swift currents of the
social media in Thailand and elsewhere. One of the many stories is that of BBC
correspondent Jonathan Head who several days after the bombing found pieces of
shrapnel which he tried to hand over to police only to be told they station was
closed for business.
Here’s a link to Jonathan
Head BBC report where he seeks to handover evidence to the police in Bangkok:
Head’s adventure with the
police has elements we come to expect from contemporary reporting on major
disaster scenes: irony, sadness, inexplicable official response and disturbing
lack of professionalism by those on the frontline. Evidence connected to a major
incident involving the death of many people had been refused by the police in
front of police headquarters in Bangkok.
Head has provided evidence
of a much deeper story beyond the refusal of police to accept evidence. I want
to look at that story in this essay in the context of a book I’ve finished
reading. The book tells the story about the process of how the manufacturing
process of truth serves a reality designed to favor the interest of the
The book was written by
Matthew B. Crawford, and titled The
World Beyond Your Head, Farrar, Straus and Giroux(2015). He has three messages
1/Our connection to
reality is largely a consumer product that has been manufactured.
2/Truth’ isn’t found in
reality any more than a bottle of vintage wine is found on the moon; truth has
become indistinguishable from any other product and is processed and packaged
like any other commodity.
architecture of reality is a business and political model. There is profit and
power in such design.
4/The modern cult of
personal autonomy, fueled by the consumer-based political and economic world,
rests on an individually atomized notion of free will.
On lying, the whole
structure of manufactured reality is built from lies. The Matrix was a little
sign that maybe people should pay attention. They don’t. They’re distracted.
Look, there’s a squirrel and they forget a moment ago they were upset about
something. But they forgot what it was. Lies need stupid and ignorant people to
thrive and create the vast colonies you see around the globe. None of the
official stories hold together any longer. Presidents, generals, ministers, all
of them avoid the truth. You can understand in a strange way. Truth is complex,
vague around the edges, no real certainty and constantly needs updating. Lies
avoid all of that mess.
Reality, unmediated by
governments and corporation, is brimming with noise. Embedded in all of that
noise there may be a signal. But it takes an enormous amount of effort,
resources and patience to find a meaningful signal in the noise. The
unpredictability, randomness and uncertainty of reality causes people to
feel anxiety, frustration and fear. Emotional needs compel most people
to seek certainty, peace, and predictability. Everywhere you look, someone will
be offering you a platform that promises resolution of these problems. The
scaffolding is hidden out of sight and the more shoddy ones collapse around us
every day and we hardly notice.
There are good emotional
reasons to recoil from the raw material of reality. It’s not a hard sell.
Sifting through reality for the truth is more painful than going along with the
lies. People are basically lazy except they emotionally are better able to deal
with half-truth, lies and just-so stories than that dark, hidden place called
reality. We go shopping for the truth among the purveyors who promise they know
the reality. Who offers the best deal? That deal is the one that sit well with
what we wish reality to be and mainly that is enough for most people.
Without a deep-seated
narcissism we would challenge the stripped down, communized comic strip reality
and make independent inquiries. On this basis, reality is what you choose it to
believe, and that choice lines up with your personal beliefs, cultural habits,
and aligns the reality jigs designed by the commercial world. We don’t set out
to upturn our internal reality. Quite the opposite, we do our best to confirm
our reality through representations made by others who share our
Why does such a powerful
force easily capture and hold us hostage for a lifetime? We are afraid of the
messy, unpredictable, contradictory and confusing state of affairs that lies
outside the doorstep of the commercial lies from the private sector supplemented
by the official lies told by governments. There is no longer a lie-free space to
escape to—it has vanished in the workplace, schools, shops, clubs, shopping
malls, restaurants, airports, hospitals, etc.—all the public spaces we pass
through have been colonized by truth fabricators. The images and voices of the
hawkers are all around us—in the newspapers, TV, social media, film makers,
authors, generals, politicians, celebrities, and board rooms.
There is an entire
industry devoted to creating ‘your’ experience, ‘your’ style, ‘your’ self and
‘your’ knowledge about how the world works and ‘your’ place in it. What you know
and believe has been through committees, consultants and experts, audience
tested, rolled out and delivered to with the right emotional hooks to grab your
attention. And what is worthy of our attention? Or more important what is your
attention worth? Look at Google, Facebook and Twitter and you’d find it’s worth
a great deal of money.
We hunger for ideas and
representations that put us in the centre of the action, of the world and
reality. Like a virus it infects our view of the world and each other. We think
we can step out of ourselves and have a look around as if we are from an alien
world; we have no third-party vantage point. All we can do is engage in the
world, with each other, and accept that co-operation and competition are normal,
and that normality includes conflict and uncertainty. What politician or
corporation is going to abandon the truth manufacturing business? None of them
will because it has no benefit.
We no longer have to be
force fed, as full-blown narcissists we are addicted to constant reconfirmation
that our psychic needs are being attended to. At some level, people must know
that what is being fed is noise. But it is pleasant, addictive noise that lulls,
soothes, and comforts. By disconnecting us from reality and feeding our
addiction to fantasy, we find the real world jarring and soon enough retreat to
the manufactured reality.
We need to live in a world
that is represented as real. It turns out that government officials and
corporations have long ago figured out that our basic physic needs are vastly
more important than evidence or facts, and those who can serve those emotional
needs to feel secure and protected, popular and loved, admired and special, will
win wealth, fame and power. It is a dirty little racket—this marketing of lies.
There is no official or commercial incentive to offer people the red pill—the
Matrix is too seductive and powerful to resist.
Christopher G. Moore last book of essays is titled The
Age of Dis-Consent.