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05 June 2007

The Cult of the Expert

Read this from Newsnight.

Here's a variant from a parallel dimension, a variant slightly closer to the reality of the situation:

The Cult of the Expert
How Today’s Mainstream Media is Killing Our Culture, Our Ability to Think and Assaulting Our Intellect

“If we are all experts, there is nothing left to be learnt.”

The Antagonist’s new post, The Cult of the Expert is the latest addition to the Antagonista reading list. In it, the author expresses his concern for the profligacy of mainstream media 'experts' who profess to know everything and yet convey nothing, spawned by archaic technologies such as newspaper and television and for too long in the control of too few hands. This, he feels, has had a destructive impact on our culture, ability to think, intellect and understanding of the world.

He says, “[They] can use their mass produced media to publish everything from uninformed 'expert' political commentary, to unseemly pornographic videos, to embarrassingly mindless repetitive music, to the same old unreadable, unwatchable and unpalatable rubbish that we've read for years in the form of reviews, essays, novels and even news”.

He complains that the mainstream media are “collectively deliberately corrupting and confusing their own middle-class values about everything from politics, to commerce, to arts and culture for popular opinion.”

He claims that Newnsight perpetuates a cycle of misinformation and ignorance, and labels the myopic Murdoch media empire inane and absurd, “showing poor fools dancing, singing, eating, washing, shopping, driving, cleaning, sleeping, all in the name of becoming celebrities who want to be worshipped by idiots with nothing better to do because this is the rubbish to which they have become accustomed.”

He warns that new media is just taking hold in earnest – “say goodbye to middle-class idiots and cultural gatekeepers of the old media – old style reporting from inside the cage of small elitest and self-interested circles, news anchors with fake smiles who only do it for the money, editors who can't discern facts from personal opinions unless it is to include the latter over the former, music companies who pump out repetitive manufactured mechanical drivel for huge profits, and Hollywood movie studios producing films about how America is going to save the world from everything but itself.”

What do you think? – is The Antagonist being alarmist about the effects of the mainstream media, or raising genuine concerns? Are we at the mercy of the self-professed and overpaid 'expert' regurgitating the same old opinions for profit and personal gain? Can kids tell the difference between credible news sources and the endless stream of middle-class opinion in the mainstream media? What, in any case, can be done?

The Antagonist is not yet finished with Andrew Keen and his elitest claptrap. More later.


Anonymous said...

I couldn't bring myself to read that. Maybe Sunday.

Your parody was on the mark, but I wondered why you even bothered to respond to nonsense of this caliber.

A more interesting question is: What is Andrew Keen hoping to achieve? The 85% of Newsnight viewers who get their information from the papers will simply have their curiosity piqued. The rest of us will laugh.

Who is his audience?

The Antagonist said...

Thanks, C, for the 'on the mark' comment.

Why bother? Simply because there are some things that cannot be left unchallenged and Andrew Keen's pernicious and clumsily but obviously titled nonsense that seeks to rebuke people doing for free what he, his ilk, and the old media as a whole, is doing to make vast and fast sums of cash while dumbing everything down to somewhere far below the lowest common denominator, to a place where a difference of opinion is almost as good as a criminal offence, is one of those things.

Keen's book and Newsnight's coverage of it -- and Newsnight are certainly not the first to pick it up in a desperate attempt to save themselves from the inevitable march of progress -- is not the only thing that's going on and one has to factor in that there are one or two rather concerning things going on in the Internet world, including a concerted, coordinated, cross-media marketed witch-hunt which appears to have the sole aim of achieving the modern day equivalent of a burning at the stake. The witch-hunt to which I refer is now happily bandying around allegations of mental instability as well as accusations of something known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Keen's book coins the term "digital narcissism", Yasmin Alibhai-Brown uses it and advances the Internet as a "bedlam of narcissism" (before going on to say, "I use the net .... to propagate my own ideas and activities", which isn't narcissistic at all!?) and the Internet inspired witch-hunt is running full-pelt with Narcissistic Personality Disorder as one of the main strings to its bow.

Taken out of context, Keen and his tome could be ignored. In context, however, a rather more worrying picture appears to be being painted.

jon doy™ said...

this is more high pitchedly squealed not so quiet desperation from our high priests of information, no longer can these newsmonkeys hang on to and hoard that which is too 'confusing' or 'complicated' for us mere mortals to digest

if they look like gatekeepers, if they seem to be misinforming people, they can only hold their own actions to blame

and the one trick phonies are squirming, desperately playing their single trick once again, relying on their positions of supposed respect to give them the appearance of credibility

if you cannot say anything useful in maintaining your ailing position, it might be best to say nothing at all...would be my advice, or put another way...if you don't want to dig yourselves deeper and hasten your burial, perhaps put down the shovel ?

needed saying Ant, and preferably saying well - and very well said indeed :)

ziz said...

Fancy people like Alibai Brown returner of her MBE using the word narcissist- most inappropriate.

The Antagonist said...

shutter: Nicely observed!

Do you happen to know if she got a refund?

Shahid said...

Alibhai Brown - lackey paki

You will have no doubt noticed that Inayat Banglawala has ripped your British Oppression article off?

Cult of the rip-off MSM-journo...

Great post, as ever!

The Antagonist said...

Shahid: It would appear that in the space of two 'amateur' posts on this blog, the so-called 'Cult of the Amateur', or the 'Cult of the Expert' as it should more correctly be termed, has been effectively exposed for the utter bollocks that it is.

For anyone that's not seen it yet, here's Inayat Bunglawala's Mystery Demo post, stripped of analysis and meaning and published two weeks after the post on this very blog, British Oppression Downing Street protest - the usual suspects strike again.

The self-titled so-called experts can't very well dismissively label us all 'amateur' and then go about publishing our content as their 'expert' opinion without a few chords of cognitive dissonance being struck among the great unwashed underclasses upon whom they cast so much scorn.

Fuck 'em!

Anonymous said...

Possibly the reason why Keen and Alibhai-Brown are attacking the internet is to act as a cover story for the fact that the Government is pressuring ISPs to use Cleanfeed IP filtering from the end of next month.


The Antagonist said...

Thanks for posting that, Anonymous. Yet another part of the ongoing demonisation of people with common interests that form the greater mass of humanity perpetrated by the ruling classes for their own nefarious ends. They can also add a relatively successful Internet-based witch-hunt and persecution campaign to their list of tick-boxes, a witch-hunt supported in full by rather too many people that are obviously quite happy to be sleepwalked into fascism. I suppose it's worth remembering that it was only 30 or so years ago that many establishments bore signs which read, "No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs" What a terribly long way we've progressed. Not.

The Yorkshire Ranter story reminds me of a snippet in the Guardian a while back about the censorious regime in China, the same 'Communist' China that produces most of the crap that the Capitalist west consumes. Oh, the irony:

"The Chinese government, employs an estimated 30,000 internet police, as part of a long-standing policy to control the web so that it can be used by businesses but not by political opponents."

Which sounds rather more like the State and Corporations uniting in the mutually beneficial cause of fascism than it does Communism and appears somewhat akin to the methods being employed by the British State in its sole cause of self-preservation at the expense of anything and everyone else.

Robert Anton Wilson, someone for whom I have a great deal of time, once said:

"The idea of representative government after we overthrew the monarchy was: we’ll have representatives who will represent us. In the first place, they don’t represent us! They represent the corporations who pay their campaign finance. And in the second place we don’t need anybody to represent us. Now that we’ve got internet we can represent ourselves. So I think all those people should be thrown the hell out of office and forced to make a living as honest men and women do, rather than by lying to the gullible and selling them out to the corporations, and we can represent ourselves through internet."

We're still subjects living under a monarchy, which is why politicians spend so much time banging on about 'citizens' and 'citizenship', another of their great misdirections, so we've got a long way to go yet. In the meantime, however, we do still have the ability to represent ourselves via the Internet, and in many other ways, so I would suggest that anyone who isn't already representing themselves, and each other, in some way get a move-on and start doing it while it is still possible.