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Broadcasting from deep in the heart of the American Empire, join your hosts Harrison Koehli and Elan Martin, and fellow SOTT editors, as they discuss everything from current events and the latest machinations and manipulations of the global elite to history, science, and religion, and how it all fits together.

This week, we'll be picking up where we left off last week, with a discussion on objectivity. What does it mean to be objective? Is it possible, and if so, is it desirable? In what ways do we fail to be objective, and what can we do to become more objective? Join us for a broad-ranging discussion on a topic many would ignore, or abuse for their own purposes.

The Truth Perspective is brought to you by the SOTT Radio Network and SOTT.net, your one-stop source for independent, unbiased, alternative news and commentary on world events.

Live every Saturday from 2-4pm EST / 11am-1pm PST / 8-10pm CET.

Running Time: 02:05:00

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Here's the transcript of the show:

Harrison: And welcome back everyone to The Truth Perspective on SOTT Radio Network. It is Saturday, February 13th and returning to the studio today and co-hosting the show we have Elan Martin,

Elan: Hi everyone.

Harrison: Carolyn McCallum.

Carolyn: How do you do.

Harrison: Shane Lachance.

Shane: Hello everybody.

Harrison: And I'm your host for today, Harrison Koehli. We are going to be discussing a very big topic today. We touched on it last week and decided we could devote an entire show to it because it's that big and that important and we feel so strongly about it. We'll have some strong words to say for and against certain aspects of this topic and the topic is objectivity. So today, on the topic of objectivity, we'll be getting into what the word actually means, what we mean by it, because it's kind of ironic but the word objectivity has many subjective definitions and interpretations.

Carolyn: Not to mention being hijacked here and there.

Harrison: Approaches. Exactly. And it's one of those things that I guess probably a lot of people don't think about very much, don't really consider. If they do, they might do it just in a kind of unconscious way. It might just be part of their everyday outlook on the world. But there are problems with that as we'll see. And there are other people who, like you just said Carolyn, hijack the concept in certain ways to say that they are the objective source of information, the be-all/end-all of information which is another extreme. Hopefully the goal is to find a definition, straddle between the extremes and try to find something reasonable. So I guess that's what we're going to start trying to do.

To start out with, last week we were talking about inspiration and we started out with an etymology of the word, where it came from and how that might affect how we look at the concept. Now the word objectivity comes from late 14th century medieval Latin apparently. There's a word, objectum and this meant a thing put before. This was in reference to something put before the mind or the sight. So there was an object that was put before your perception so you would see it or understand it. You'd perceive it. This comes again from older Latin, objectus before or opposite, from obicere, to present, to oppose, to cast in the way of and ob, against, to throw.

So basically something is thrown in your path, thrown in your eyes. It insults you with its objectivity.

Carolyn: Or its presence.

Harrison: Or it's presence, yeah.

Carolyn: It also has the sense of a thing aimed at.

Harrison: All I could find on that is that it came around the same time, late 14th century, so late 1300s, but I couldn't really reason out how that would come from the word roots "a thing aimed at". The only thing I could think of was maybe when you have an objective, something that you're aiming towards, that objective I guess could in a sense be something that is thrown at you. You have the object in front of you. Maybe I'm just fore-spitting that one.

Carolyn: Trying to move toward it. Well something really interesting happened to the words. If you're going to talk about objectivity and objective you may also want to look at its opposite, what we consider now it's opposite, which is to be subjective. So on the Google-of-all-things, I found a very interesting question in a discussion about objective and subjective. For one guy's objective and subjective, he was saying it means one thing in grammar and it means another thing in philosophical discussion. So I'll just try to summarize this.

Subjective does not mean brought under. It is neuter and means to lay or lie there for what lies underneath or what is hidden. Subject comes from Latin subjectum. In ancient philosophy it was a translation of the Greek - I'm not even going to try - what isn't true, which was used by Aristotle to indicate both substance and innate matter on which the form is impressed. This Aristotelian distinction in terminology had currency for many centuries down to Descartes then Latin was superseded as the universal language. It corresponds roughly to Kant's concept of noumenon, the thing in and of itself per se, the intrinsic, substantial reality as opposed to the object which appears to the senses, its representation in the mind.

But - and here's where things get really interesting - Kant reversed the terms and considered the thing in itself as the object and now the subject is the human mind that categories the noumena. The subject perceives and describes the object. Kant's categories of understanding are descriptions of the sum of human reasoning that can be brought to bear in attempting to understand the world in which we exist, that is to understand or attempt to understand things in themselves.

So our usage of these two terms was actually stemming from a particular philosopher's interpretation of these two words and I just find that kind of interesting. I couldn't find a reason for why he decided to swap them around but it's cutting them off from their original roots.

Shane: It sounds like that usage applies more to our grammar than the current philosophical use. It's kind of interesting because grammar can be used in achieving logic. It's one aspect of that. But I think part of the discussion that we'd also like to get into would be our instinctive biases that we have. We are able to instinctively pick up on grammar as young children and we have relatively little problem with that. But when we instinctively try to pick up on things like statistics, we're way off. We're not good instinctive statisticians.

Harrison: What would you say the chances of being a good statistician are? Just instinctively?

Shane: I'd say pretty small. But even statisticians are apparently bad instinctive statisticians.

Carolyn: They suck at it. So the current accepted general idea of objective is to be not influenced by personal feelings, interpretations or prejudice, based on facts, unbiased and objective opinion or intent upon or dealing with things external to the mind rather than with thoughts or feelings as in a person or book. However that is a difficult state to achieve.

Elan: Yes. Is such a thing even possible?

Carolyn: Yes.

Harrison: Our understanding of the term and the concept is shaped by these centuries of philosophical debate to the point where we've got the definitions we have now and even the automatic definitions that we come to understand. Hearing the word as you grow up as with most words, you just assume a certain definition for it and it becomes something that you subjectively understand as something wherein often times when you look at a dictionary you say "Oh, well that's what that word means? I never really thought of it in those terms." So in philosophy at least nowadays objectivity is considered to be related to things like reality and truth so it's outside of your own biases and feelings as a subject, the subject in opposition to the object.

So these things are true regardless and without reference to your own personal feelings, ideas and opinions. Ayn Rand had her own life philosophy of objectivism and this gets into I think, maybe not specifically why Kant switched the definitions but why the trend has gone in that direction since Kant, this idea of this materialistic philosophy because Rand thought that reality exists totally independent of subjects. So you have beings like us who are arguably conscious, sentient - we perceive things and have some kind of inner awareness or consciousness - and reality exists totally independent of that. So if there were no subjects around, there was no consciousness around there would be these brute facts of reality, of things and as subjects, as conscious beings, we only come to know the world through our sense perceptions.

This is a whole field of philosophy that we could get into if we wanted but it comes down to this materialist view of the world and the split between consciousness and matter and this had a profound influence on science because for science, every since the enlightenment we have steadily come towards the position that the material world is all that exists and there is no good explanation for consciousness and in fact probably consciousness doesn't really exist in any real sense. The only thing that really, really exists is physicality, is brute matter.

Carolyn: And then we're just a bundle of chemical processes responding to these facts.

Harrison: Right. And so for science there's this objectivism in science where the ideal of objective truth, of objectivity is akin to a scientific measurement. So this is something like if you've got a piece of wood and you're measuring how long it is, then that is verifiable, it's reproducible, it's public to anyone who wants to test it. So anyone can look at it and say "Okay, yeah, I've verified your finding. That is an objective fact that that ruler is 12 inches, 30 centimetres.

Carolyn: So one aspect of "objectivity" - being in quotes for the moment - is the fact that there is multiple agreement on a particular "fact". Put that one in quotes too.

Harrison: But specifically in the hard core science this is an objective fact that is physical in nature. So the controversy is that only physical facts are objective.

Carolyn: And the only things worth considering.

Harrison: Right. So when you have a scientist's perception of that ruler, that is a subjective experience and that isn't verifiable because I can't physically reproduce or verify that you are seeing that ruler in the exact way I'm seeing it. That is a subjective thing and it's not worthy of scientific analysis or investigation. When I read stuff like this it strikes me as totally ridiculous how philosophers and scientists create these intellectual mazes and they run in circles and come up against total absurdities. This is one of the big criticisms of scientism and materialist philosophy, is that it comes to absurd conclusions that don't really have any correspondence to the way we experience reality because when it comes down to it we are subjects and everything that we experience is a subject experiencing something else.

Carolyn: But maybe if you look on objectivity, not objectivism - let's just leave Ayn Rand off to the side although she had a lovely quote about it oddly enough - but maybe you can look at it in terms of the way we use Newtonian physics versus quantum physics; at a certain scale and a certain application it has its uses but when you try to extend it past that point then you end up in those scientific mazes. Look what quantum physics has done to that whole idea of the observer versus the activity. That just hooped things terribly. But it does have, at a certain range, an immense amount of usefulness.

Shane: And I think the key there, when you spoke earlier that there was this agreement about these facts, they were also employing a certain set of rules, the scientific method to work towards that agreement. So you could take something outside of a scientific experiment and if there aren't those rules in place there could be wide agreement on some things but it doesn't necessarily mean that it's rooted in any kind of objective reality.

Harrison: I think the basic thing to take home from all of these philosophical debates and arguments is simply that objectivity, the kernel of the idea of objectivity relates to reality and truth, that first of all there is such a thing as a truth. It is possible to say that some things are true and some things aren't and that this should be a goal that we aspire to and that we hopefully will be able to achieve, at least in some greater degree than we have in the past. Otherwise, if that wasn't true then there would be no purpose to science. There would be no purpose to investigative journalism or any kind of inquiry into the way the world works, what happens in the world, the history. If there was no such thing as truth then pretty much every intellectual pursuit and even among people who don't consider themselves intellectuals, just watching the news and thinking that something that they see is true or false, that would just be meaningless.

Carolyn: Then you get to the term which is a beautiful one, which is mapping to reality. Do the concepts in your head line up with what you experience? People are of course wonderfully adept at continuing to hold onto a concept in their head that absolutely has no map to reality but they can do it anyway.

Elan: And they can decide that their experience confirms their subjective ideas of what's true...

Carolyn: Even better!

Elan: ...when I fact it isn't true, where certain things may not be true. And that seems to be part of the challenge or the issue that we come to when we try and present information that is more or less objective on SOTT or anywhere else. We can't say that we're always going to be 100% factual or objective but the goal certainly is to come as close as possible to the goal of being as factual as we can be. So we're not dealing with absolutes here but I think that what we can do is look at some of the criteria, some of the ways of critically thinking about how what we're determining is objective truth or information or mapping to reality as we can.

Carolyn: Well I came up with one little idea. It just popped into my head and it seemed to be good in assessing people, that the degree of objectivity possessed by an individual can be assessed from the effectiveness of their decisions and the actions stemming from them. So if you are objective, you can assess a situation, make decisions and have those decisions and the actions that they take be effective in dealing with the situation the decision was being made about.

Elan: You will know them by their fruits.

Carolyn: Okay.

Shane: It sounds plausible I think when it's applied in certain ways, or maybe possible I should say because there are so many innate tendencies that are ingrained in us, that are automatic within us, that can prevent us from going through that, just on our own. I think that's where we really do need other people to give us that feedback. We're awful at understanding our own issues in our own selves. We just can't see all of our own programs. So if you can incorporate other people's feedback about yourself then I think you can achieve a more rounded and more accurate view of such things. Then the same type of method can be used in looking at things like world events. We might have different biases or belief systems that we grew up with that can alter our perception about things. It will block reality from emerging. We won't see the actual picture of what's going on because of those things.

Carolyn: And then what happens is you'll take an action, make a decision and it will not work out. But that's the thing. That was my idea that you can gauge the ability of a person to be objective by the effectiveness of the choices they make.

Elan: And how would one define effectiveness? As being beneficial to the most people?

Carolyn: Or at least beneficial according to their goals, which ideally would be for more than themselves. That can be a stock trader, maybe only wanting to benefit himself but if he can realistically assess the trend of a market, set aside his own biases, his own fears, his own hopes and simply make decisions based on the information he's gathering, he will do well.

Shane: Well I think the picture can get muddy too when we're dealing with power.

Carolyn: Mm-hm!!

Shane: Because you have these huge corporations and PR firms and such and they do create this mythical reality and they're very effective at it. So when you have these so-called reality makers just manufacturing stories and putting out lies, they're very effective. So how do we measure the objectivity of that?

Elan: There was a journalist in the 1920s and 30s, Walter Lippmann, a bit of a giant in his time. He did a study or examination of the New York Times' coverage of the Bolshevik revolution along with another journalist named Charles Merz. They came out with this study and realized that so much of it was subjective and unfactual and they printed it and it became kind of a standard examination of just how one of these bastions of news and truth doesn't get it right and maybe doesn't even try to.

He was one of the earlier voices for bringing in a criteria for good journalism and he had some interesting things to say. Some interesting quotes were "There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and shame the devil". He also said "Where all news comes at second-hand, where all the testimony is uncertain, men cease to respond to truths and respond simply to opinions. The environment in which they act is not the realities themselves but the pseudo environment of reports, rumours and guesses.

He was trying to point this out to the journalist community at large at the time and some of this trickled down over many decades but there are groups like the American Press Institute that say that the meaning of objectivity in journalism has been completely lost.

Harrison: If you search on Wikipedia for objectivity, which I did, then one of the entries that comes up is journalistic objectivity. This is one of the venues where this word is used and so the ideal of journalistic objectivity is characterized by things like factuality, disinterestedness, fairness, non-partisanship. So I guess what we're coming to in this discussion is that there are several levels of objectivity and several ways it applies to the world, several things it applies to. One can be just the base facts on the ground. So it sounds like what you were saying Elan, these guys in their story actually presented a picture of the world that was factually wrong. Hopefully when you're reading a source or when you're writing something you want to be factually correct and there are facts that you can get wrong. Or you can just lie about them. That comes from the first level. If we're looking for information, we want the information that we're reading to be factually true.

Carolyn: Or they will just leave stuff out.

Harrison: Yeah, we'll get to that. So in the first case, to use some examples from the past couple of years, we have the Ukrainian media who over 100 times had said that Russia had invaded Ukraine on various occasions. This was just factually incorrect because that never happened. On the one hand that's just a bald lie or it could be, in minor or different cases, just getting the facts wrong for whatever reasons, you think this actually happened when it didn't. But by repeating that you're repeating the lie. And then like you're saying Carolyn, there are other examples of the facts that you leave out because a journalist or a person running for a wire service can present what looks to be a factual, disinterested report. For example in the Israel/Palestine conflict, a journalist will talk about "Palestinians fired rockets into the desert of Israel" and that might be factually true. Let's for the sake of argument just say that this actually happened and that Palestinians really did fire rockets because oftentimes they don't and Israel makes it up. But if they really did, there's often other facts that are left out that would give a different picture to this story and that might be that this rocket was in retaliation of an airstrike that killed an entire family going to a wedding or something.

Carolyn: And also the fact that these rockets were tiny, harmless, hitting in the open area, but by leaving the rest of that out, they leave the reader to picture some kind of scene of destruction and mayhem and injury.

Shane: Agencies like Reuters and Associated Press are often seen as this objective news source in the West and another way that we often see a twisting of things is through translation. I remember when...

Harrison: Ahmadinejad?

Shane: Yeah, Ahmadinejad, when he said that Israel should be wiped from the pages of history, that was mistranslated to say that Israel should be wiped off the map with the implication that Iran should nuke them basically.

Carolyn: They had a field day with that.

Shane: Yeah, all the issues with "Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon and they're going to pose a threat to Israel". That was their huge driving force at that time. And just today there was an article from Reuters where they misquoted the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev. He recently had an interview with a German newspaper and they quoted him as saying that he was raising a spectre of a new world war. So their quote was "All sides must be compelled to set up a negotiating table instead of unleashing a new world war." And they put it in a context where Russia was posing this threat of a new world war unless there was this negotiation. However what his actual words were "What is necessary is to use strong measures, including those taken by Russia, by the Americans and even under certain provisions, those that the Turks are trying to take, to set up a negotiating table instead of unleashing yet another war on earth. We know all too well the scenarios leading to that".

So he's just outlining the need for sitting down and negotiating things to prevent a new world war from happening. So there's all these twists and it always struck me that the so-called objective nature of these media establishments that they try to take and a lot of it is this unemotional, droid talk. And that's how I think about objectivity, right? It is without any kind of emotion. I think that that's seriously lacking because it's working off of an old definition. When we use the word objectivity in everyday use, for example in arguing with a Trump supporter - I wouldn't advise it, just for a thought experiment - say we're arguing with a Trump supporter and they say something like "Well the Muslims are trying to take over America and impose Sharia law" and you might respond "Well try to be a little more objective about this".

The idea behind that is "let's not have so much emotion clouding our thinking". There is I think an accuracy in that idea that emotions can cloud our thinking. However with a lot of the new developments in cognitive science, it's not just our emotions that mess up our thinking but it's also some very fundamental cognitive errors that we use in our judgments about things. It's not just emotions but it's also our basic cognitive function that isn't working so well.

Carolyn: I found this wonderful thing in Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, totally recommend the book. Take it in slow bites, but it's wonderful. It was the idea that brains are lazy, thinking hard is energetically depleting so he posits this fictitious System 1 and System 2. System 1 is the one that serves up an opinion ready to go for you and you don't have to think that hard about it. He calls this cognitive ease. "There's growing evidence that good mood, intuition, creativity, gullibility and increasing reliance on System 1 form a cluster." It struck me that a lot of the news and other such things are either unconsciously or possibly deliberately shaped and put forth in a way that increases this reliance, that makes you feel good.

The impression I get from a lot of news, especially American news, is that it is shaped to enhance that effect; the keywords they use, the way the ideas are presented are all about encouraging you to rely on System 1 and go "Yeah, I agree with it. Patriotic Americans, da, da, da, da" because the other end of it, the one that makes you think well, that makes you think with vigilance, is to be somewhat depressed, suspicious and increasing the effort to think brings that on. People don't want to feel depressed. They don't want to feel vigilant. They don't want to feel suspicious. It's tiring!

So it is a happy mood that loosens control of System 2 over performance. In a good mood people become more intuitive and more creative but less vigilant and more prone to logical errors. And the whole media, especially American, seem to be setup to do that, to simply keep this very feel good, intuitive, "I've got this mood going" and completely discourage analytical thought.

Elan: It gets back to what Lippman was saying. He had another quote that speaks to all of this. There is this kind of appeal to emotion as you're saying Carolyn, and there's also a bit of a con involved in the style of journalism that we're so exposed to in Western media. Lippmann says "The impartial voice employed by many news organizations, that familiar, supposedly neutral style of news writing is not a fundamental principle of journalism."

So you open up the New York Times or any one of these more established organs of disinformation in the West and the style of it kind of sucks you in. It's got this air of legitimacy that is almost impenetrable.

Carolyn: The gravitas and "we've thought deeply about this".

Elan: Yes! We are an authority.

Carolyn: We are the authority.

Elan: All the news that's fit to print. But the flip side of that is I'm thinking about some of the pieces that get carried on SOTT that are 100 times more objective in their use of facts and connecting the dots - at least we think they are - than this New York Times comparison. And they might even include some emotion and some emphaticness and what could be interpreted as subjective feelings about the news that's being covered. So that might get dismissed in many people's minds as subjective but it seems that when an editorial that is informed by the facts includes some amount of emotion it does have a power and validity and a strength. It's almost as if it's delivering or inspiring truth in the minds of people.

Again, we have to be very careful about what we're looking at and we have to think about the criteria we're using whenever we read anything at all. Like anything else, even a lot of the good information that we read is mixed with conclusions and ideas that may not be correct.

Shane: I think this ties in pretty directly to authoritarian thinking within the media and the very structure, especially mainstream media. You spoke earlier of how these ideals of objective journalism don't exist. What objective journalism I think really means is following this authoritarian structure. There are these specific procedures that journalists are expected to take and this involves following official sources. "These are the reliable sources that are giving us the facts of what is and what isn't true." Now we could rely on that if they weren't a bunch of liars, but when you look at the past decade or so, and more, they've been shown to lie and lie and lie again. Yet when we look at CNN, Fox, MSNBC and so on, their reliance is on government sources and then big corporate sources and these always have vested interests. They're looking to retain their power so it just follows that the so-called facts that they're giving out are going to be warped to be able to maintain that power.

I was looking back at one of the big stories where mainstream journalism that has shown just how false they were and how little of the true, objective journalistic practices they didn't accomplish was in the Iraq war. There was an interview with Jon Stewart and Wolf Blitzer some years ago. He had him on and he was talking about how "all the mainstream sources were coming out and saying that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and he didn't. So what was up with that? Why were you guys all saying that?" And Wolf Blitzer responded "Yeah, we had this failure but we were all saying the same thing and I looked at all the briefs and I looked at all the sources."

Now in his mind "we" was just the mainstream media. There wasn't any other media in his mind. There are no other sources other than government sources. So he was getting all the briefings from the Pentagon and the White House and Congress and the Senate and they were all geared towards Saddam having weapons of mass destruction.

Carolyn: So that's shaping the intelligence.

Shane: Yeah, and it's just bizarre that you have these powerful figures in the media and their only perception of a source is what the government tells them. And that by its very nature is authoritarian follower type.

Harrison: It's funny because that's what history used to be like. I've been reading a couple of books on Josephus who was an historian of Judea in the first century. So he wrote an entire paraphrase of the old testament and then all the events leading up to the Jewish revolt, the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. He's pretty much the only surviving source for the events in that time and place.

So I'm reading these books about it and the author Steve Mason brings up some important points that probably a lot of people haven't heard of before, and that is just the nature of history writing in the ancient world and how there were no explicit instructions or guidelines or criteria on just how to verify facts. It wasn't even talked about. So there were no criteria for how to verify a source or to cite a source or to justify why what you're saying is true or not.

Historians would pretty much just write anything. We have no idea...

Carolyn: Just shut up, right?

Harrison: Well yeah. And I'm sure there's some truth in there, it's almost oftentimes impossible to tell if what they're writing is true or not because they just didn't do history the way historians today at least ideally, would do history. What they did do by reading the ancient historians and seeing what criteria they did use, they would judge the truthfulness of an historian on the basis of their character. And so to establish one's character you had to do certain things like proving your good birth, your lineage, where you came from, your wealth, your achievements and all this. So once you had all that, then you were an authority and you could ostensibly be believed. Your account was good.

So historians would oftentimes reject certain other historians based on these moral grounds or they would judge the situations that they're talking about. For example one guy is assassinated by one of his two associates, therefore it must have been this associate rather than the other one because of his lack of character.

Carolyn: A peasant. So your credentials were established by what Kahneman calls the halo effect. You had to establish your halo first and then you could write.

Harrison: Yeah. And then that halo that you created for yourself or that was created for you, would often then colour the narrative that you wrote. So using Josephus as an example, Josephus wrote one of the earliest surviving autobiographies that we have from ancient literature of this time and in his autobiography, it's clear once you know the standards of the time and the way people wrote histories, that a lot of the narratives and stories in these writings are these type scenes. They are straight out of the Greek rhetorical manuals of "If you want to present yourself in this way or present a certain point, then you write a story like this".

Josephus for example says that he was from a priestly class, a priestly lineage and had descended from the Hasmonean kings. Then he provides a direct lineage. So this guy who was the son of this guy who was the son of this guy. But his lineage falls apart when you look at it. It just doesn't make any sense chronologically. So obviously Josephus had fabricated his lineage. It seems he really was a priest and he probably did descend from the Hasmoneans but it's possible he just knew how far his genealogy went back, like a generation or two. But in order to establish his credibility he therefore had to write this sequence of who he was descended from. And that crops up in all kinds of different stories that he tells about himself, the different objectors and enemies that he had and how he responded to them. A lot of these stories that he tells are straight out of the rhetorical manuals.

So when looking back you have to ask "Well did this really happen?" and it's hard to say because it might have but it doesn't necessarily have to have happened because this is just the way historians wrote at the time.

It was only until a few hundred years ago that these standards really changed. Up until then historians were still accepting all of what we'd call evidence today just as a brute fact. "Okay, Josephus wrote this, therefore that must be true. Now that we have the facts now we can judge the history." So because Josephus says Herod the king did this or that, this was good and this was bad, this was a good decision, this was a bad decision, this guy was evil, this guy was good, all based on this narrative that may in fact have nothing to do with reality. So it's only been relatively recently that historians have actually come to this idea of empirical evidence; what do we know, why do we know it, what don't we know? And to reassess these base facts. Before that it was all based on authority. We knew our history because this was the way someone had said this was the way it was and that person was a reliable source.

And it's so funny today, now that we have these criteria for truth and objectivity in journalism and history and all kinds of sciences, still on the popular mass level, it is still almost 100% this appeal to authority where we have the major newspapers who are the "objective sources" - and I'm guessing that probably everyone listening, I know it's true for me, knows at least one person if not several, that will reject a piece of information if it comes from a "questionable source", like alternative media or something like that.

Carolyn: The internet.

Harrison: The internet. "Oh, did you read that on the internet?" as if the internet has nothing true on it. And yet they will accept these reputable sources as being true without question. So if you heard it on the BBC, if you heard it on CNBC or CBC, whatever, CNN, then it's just accepted as true. And we operate as if it's true. If you corner one of these people and ask them about that and really grill them about it, they may say "Okay maybe that isn't true. We'd have to look into it more." But on a day-to-day basis they operate as if those news bytes were true.

I've seen that. It's despicable, even Canadian news, just the amount of BS that gets spouted and while it's being spouted it is being presented as if it's 100% true, as if there is no question about it. Then it gets accepted after that by the people listening to his news as being true.

Carolyn: It's terrible. I used to work at a job that would get me coming home at 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning so I would be reading SOTT all day which is wonderful because it gathers news from all over the world. They'll run stuff from The Telegraph. They'll run stuff from the New York Times. They'll run stuff from Press TV, everybody. Then I'd be driving home and after midnight they would pick up a BBC feed on NPR and I would be wanting to shout at the radio while I was driving home because they would be proffering a story that I'd read three different viewpoints on from three different sources and I could say "Okay, you left that out. You twisted this. That didn't even happen." I was like "How can you look in the mirror in the morning and spout this nonsense!?!"

Harrison: Yeah. I just watched an investigative journalism video documentary on Canadian TV. I can't remember what channel or what the show was, but it was about these Ukrainian Canadian doctors who have volunteered to go over to Ukraine, to Kiev to volunteer their services to perform surgeries for soldiers and militiamen who have been injured in the war over there. So they go over there and they're reconstructing skulls of young guys who have been shot by snipers. They treated an 8-year-old boy who lost three limbs from a grenade that killed his brother; all kinds of horrific deformations as a result of the war going on there.

That in itself is interesting, to see who these doctors are, what they're doing, what the injuries are and arguably doing good work volunteering their time to people who have been injured in these wars. But there were two things that stood out for me. One was what was said explicitly to describe the situation there. The other was what wasn't said. One of the things that was said repeatedly was that these men and these young boys were injured because they volunteered to go to this war. They weren't drafted. They were volunteers and this was said in such a way as to imply that this made it even more horrible, that these young men were just so patriotic that they volunteered to put themselves on the firing line to defend their freedom and democracy and that they went to east Ukraine to fight "Russians and Russian-backed terrorists".

So the first people they were fighting were Russians. The implication of this is that the biggest fighting force that they were going up against was Russians which is first of all totally untrue. The vast majority of the people fighting are in local militias in east Ukraine. Now they are arguably Russian in the sense that they're Russian-speaking, they're so-called ethnic Russians. But they are, according to law, Ukrainian citizens or were at the time. To call them Russians is misleading so as to imply that they are Russian citizens. They're not. They're Ukrainian citizens.

There are Russians fighting there, at least according to the Russian government. There are volunteers, military men who might take a leave of absence and then volunteer to go over fighting. But there are also Frenchmen, Belgian, Spaniards...

Carolyn: There's a Texan.

Harrison: Canadians, a Texan. There's all kinds of nationalities fighting on both sides. But the viewpoint was that Russia had invaded and these men volunteered to go and fight the Russians. There's so much wrong with that, that it's hard to know where to start. This is one of the things that they didn't say-they're showing one of the guys that's in a hospital waiting for treatment and on his arm is his military fatigues, his camo jacket and right there visible for everyone to see is the Right Sector logo. So this guy was a Right Sector volunteer, member of the Right Sector. They never comment on that. They didn't mention what battalions these guys were from once. They didn't mention Right Sector or Azov or Sloboda, nothing like that. It was just "These are volunteers in the Ukrainian military".

So no mention that this guy was Right Sector. No mention of what Right Sector is. No mention of the fascist leanings of Right Sector or Azov, these volunteer battalions that all these guys were in apparently. That's why I think the French documentary that was just aired was really good in the sense that they exposed the fascist mentality of these groups in Ukraine. But you didn't get any of that from this program. There was not one mention of the fact that these guys and the Ukrainian military for months on end, every day, were shelling civilian areas, schools, hospitals, residential homes. There was no mention of the casualties among the east Ukrainians, all the children that were killed, the innocent people, women, old people. Nothing like that when there is plenty of evidence of this. You can watch the videos of these people being killed. You can see their bodies and see how they're torn apart.

So it was a completely one-sided, biased example of journalism. They could say "We weren't there to cover the assault on east Ukraine. This is an example where I think the journalistic objectivity as it was defined, is an ideal that I think is good in very many ways. Of course it is perverted in many ways too. But in this example they were not fair in the sense that they did not give a fair representation of the other side of this war. It wasn't disinterested. They were very much biased towards the rightness and the goodness of the Ukrainian side in this war and they were basically factual on the level of what they were directly showing but left out other facts and made up certain other ones. It was totally partisan.

So in this sense it would be a good thing in journalism if they were to have presented the other side, presented what was going on, on the other side to give a little bit more nuance and detail about the scenario of these victims.

Carolyn: So they failed to provide the larger context.

Harrison: Yeah, they failed to do that. Where it gets into shady ground is when this non-partisanship becomes an excuse to not take a moral stance. What was the quote from Lippmann about giving the devil hell or something? That should be one part of journalism because to be totally disinterested is really to be not a human being. Let's say there's about to be a new world war, let's say. It looks like we could go that way. And it's as if there's a journalist that would just not care one way or the other. "I can't say one way or the other whether a fascist regime in my country would be a good thing or a bad thing. That's not my job as a journalist." Well no! That is your job as a journalist, first of all to show the facts; where things are headed, what the beliefs and the policies of governments or other political parties that might come to power are, and that that would be a horrible thing. That should be one of the prime imperatives of a journalist.

Carolyn: So they're saying that it's not their job to extrapolate what these facts may lead to.

Harrison: Yeah, or even just to take a stance on whether they're good or bad. I can imagine at least, a TV program or a news station that is non-partisan in the sense that they don't officially support any particular party, but that is not to say that they should not comment at all on what may be a totally fascist, anti-human, savage or biased, bigoted or racist policy. Non-partisanship can simply mean that we can point out everything wrong about everybody. Oftentimes in practice what it comes to mean is "Well we will not say any bad things about the people who are paying us."

Shane: Exactly! The mainstream journalists' job is to present the psychopathic world view to the public. It's just inherent as part of who they are and what they do. They're representing the established authorities. Carolyn, you mentioned one of Kahneman's points, that the mind is just inherently lazy. We'll go through whatever information is easy and accessible. One of the things that happens in journalism is that you have these makers of news who will write a story line and provide it to much smaller outlets. The smaller outlets are likely under-funded and over-worked and they don't have the time to do actual investigative journalism. That's reserved for the larger corporate media types.

Carolyn: Who are funded by people who have certain biases that they want presented.

Shane: Exactly! So you have even the smaller media outlets going to the larger sources who have this pre-made storyline that they can use and that's easy. So it's accessible. And when you multiply this hundreds and hundreds of times, then you also have this information that is easily accessible to the public which also is over-stressed and overworked and they're not going to take the time to investigate these things for themselves and to look into alternative stories.

Elan: I think part of the problem there is this disinterested tone that Harrison was alluding to a moment ago. A journalist writing for the Western press will mention something like the potential for World War III in such a dry, sanitized way, as if there's no meaning behind it.

Carolyn: Very theoretical.

Elan: It's theoretical. It's abstract. There isn't the visceral realization of what it actually means because US journalism in particular exists in such a bubble. For that reason it's really refreshing to read someone like a Paul Craig Roberts or Joachim Hagopian or...

Carolyn: F. William Engdahl.

Elan: F. William Engdahl. These are people who on an emotional level have processed more or less what seems to be objective information, realize what its implications are and have this - as you were saying before Harrison - this real human response to it and a responsibility to be carriers of this information to people who have been so bogged down in this information wasteland that we've been bombarded with. I think for those who do write on these subjects, who do see the writing on the wall, who've recognized the patterns of lies that have been propagated and pushed and just repeated in Goebbel's big lie mode for so long, it's such an egregious thing. It's such an insult that they're able to translate this realization into their writing and that's extremely valuable. So I think it's a rare journalist who's come to that in this day and age. We just don't have enough people of that calibre or erudition and knowledge and humanity.

Carolyn: Who are willing to be poor.

Elan: Who are willing to be poor and willing to be called idiots or tinfoil hat people or conspiracy theororists. And yet their map to reality is far closer, as we understand it I think in many cases, than all of this established, "respectable" journalism that gets shoved down our throats for so long.

Shane: It's an interesting distinction we need to make surrounding emotion because on one hand we're talking about how emotion can cloud thinking and can make us less objective. But we're also saying that there are human emotions that are useful and needed for an objective presentation of material. So what is that distinction? I think it revolves around how aware we are of these lower emotions that distort our thinking like fear and the things that distort and prevent us from thinking through rather than looking at the facts and then feeling the natural emotions that come from that and using that as a driving force to communicate that.

Carolyn: I think the order is important; that first factual one, two, three assessment of what is and formulating the possibilities that could arise from all of those factors. Then you have the emotional response. I think what happens is that when you have this bias then you have that kick in first, the emotion, the fear, the bias, the prejudice, the whatever, and then you take all those facts and you fit them around the emotion that you have. It's a hard thing to do. It's very easy to hijack people. We're very hijackable.

Shane: It's an innate thing.

Elan: I think we may have a caller here. I'm just going to see if this person is listening or would like to say hello. Hello caller. Are you there?
Stephen: Hey, what's up? This is Stephen.

Elan: Hello.

Shane and Carolyn: Hello Stephen.

Stephen: Hey, how are y'all doing? This topic is right up my alley. I spent quite a few years in university in pursuing my masters degree where this conundrum was front and centre of my focus. I got into this particular branch of philosophy called neo-structuralism and what also is known as in the realm of post-modernism. I studied Derrida. I studied Jacques de Luce, Foucault and many others. The continental philosophers were mostly from France. And you know what I came away from all these years of deep study in these books? You know what I came away from it with, tens of thousands of dollars in tuition? I can't understand what the hell they're trying to say!

Carolyn: Yeah, I found Derrida was really obscure.

Stephen: Oh my god! If you're not on crack when you start studying it, by the end of it you're going to be on crack man! And then the sad thing is I had this realization because at the same time I had read everything from Noam Chomsky. So in my particular English department, the head of my department was a theory-head so to speak, but he studied under Jacques Derrida. So I came up with a theory that we're engaging in a particular context which happens to be that we are in the academic system of the empire at the height of the empire.

So the long and the short of this is this has a pragmatic function of rendering people incapable of organizing politically with other human beings in their society. Because one time I had this come to the forefront as an epiphany because I had befriended a janitor, this African-American man. He was really nice and he came in the classrooms after class one day and he said "What are y'all studying?" And I tried to explain it to him using all this jargon and stuff and he looked at me like I had three eyes. That really brought home to me just the uselessness of this type of inculcation and this matriculation into becoming an intellectual in our society.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is, I couldn't finish my thesis and I put two years off to do it. I'd done all my course work and I realized that I did not want to become a professor because I wanted to tell them in my thesis how much crap it was. But I had this incredible fear to do so. It was this incredible paradox where I oscillated, this kind of schizophrenic oscillation. Basically I came to the conclusion that I would have a very hard time fitting into the university, being a radical, so-to-speak, and I wasn't prepared to engage all of that pain. You would be forever an adjunct and so forth and so on. I'm sure there are people who have gone through that and they're on the other side of it and they contribute something important to our university system today.

Getting back to this subject, I liked some of the comments I heard after I hung up last week. I'm definitely not trying to say that there is nothing to grab onto, that you could compare what one person says to another and put more weight on one interpretation over another, this kind of extreme relativism where nothing has any kind of intrinsic value over any other type of narrative because then we would totally be screwed, incapable of effecting any kind of difference or engaging any kind of political mobilization within our communities and our society. That's exactly where I see the dominant discourse of Derrida and neo-structuralism; this incredible relativism that you come out the other side of.

And then also laid in with all this jargon, your inability to express clearly and succinctly basic ideas that people can grab onto and go "Wow! I get that." And if you can't do that with the janitor, if you can't engage a discourse or an interpretation of our reality with the janitor or a construction worker or anybody, then it's just not going to happen as far as effecting any political change. That's why I believe our university system has gravitated towards that.

What's very disturbing to me - I'm not trying to say that there's nothing to grab onto, but I am trying to say is that in the end analysis you're not going to have any ultimate truth that you can put in concrete and everybody else has to either agree with that or if they depart from it, they're inferior, they're in error and all of that. I think that things flow in a particular context and we are also in a dynamic. In other words, we're in a constant unfolding of our reality.

So when you look at it in that context, there was this guy named Werner Herzog. He's done films and documentaries. I'm sure you guys have heard of him. But he made a statement that was very compelling to me. He basically said the art form of storytelling is that Truth, with the big "T" exists in a state of unfolding and then being ecstatic. So in other words it's like there's this kind of glowing and beautiful thing about revelation, when things are revealed and you can see the "truth" of it and all of its glory. And that's ecstatic and that's something that compels you to spread the word and to do so artfully and beautifully. I think that we have a history as humans of having those prophets and those people that expose the truth and I think that exists in today's society just as it did 10,000 years ago and 1,000 years ago and so forth.

But I would say this; when it comes to the subject of news, I will leave the conversation with this insight as well. It is about context in which we're all viewing this and if you're a lawyer and you're making $350,000 and you're in the first five years of your practice and you've got vacations and investment properties and you're gaining a name and you've got the beautiful wife that can get breast augmentation and plastic surgery and your kids are going to private school, you can be very intelligent, you can have a very, very high IQ, you can be very good at what you do in the court system, but you're going to filter certain things out of your consciousness that just don't go with the dominant flow of your society.

So in other words you're not going to investigate in-depth who is right and who is wrong with respect to Ukraine, Russia, NATO, US and so forth. You're going to go with what the dominant society and all the experts and everybody that you hear interviewed analyzing the situation. You're going to go with their interpretation because to not do so would so put you on the outs with the dominant society that there's no practical reason for you to do that.

Carolyn: Would you say that was the matter of a survival instinct?

Stephen: Yes. And you could put that in the realm of pragmatics. A couple of days ago I had a conversation with this guy, talking about permaculture. He was an older guy. He had property. Anyway, he brings up that he's a Christian and his thing was "Obama's betrayed Israel". And you know what I've learned? I'm 52 now. So you know what I learned? Just don't go there. And he asked me "What's your faith" and "Yeah, I'm a Christian". "Do you go to any church?" "No." I said everything I needed to say to not escalate any disagreement or ill will. You know why? Because why do otherwise in that particular context? And it might seem like selling out, this, that and the other, but I just believe it's a function of pragmatics and I believe that essentially a lot of people, doctor, lawyer, no matter where you're at in the hierarchy, you do sense that we're full of crap and we tell lies and we're imperialists. You sense all of that. You don't investigate it. You don't engage books and so forth that would emphasize that, but you sense it.

But then it will come down to pragmatics in the end because why put your career in jeopardy and your social relationships because what value practically will it have for doing so?

Elan: Sure.

Stephen: I think when we're looking at the larger topic that we're talking about, I believe that the idea of pragmatics comes to play so much and it's such a force that I think it's worth considering that too when we interpret other people's' supposed ignorance or stupidity and all of that. Ignorance has a practical function as well for existing in this society. Anyway, I'll just leave it at that.

And it's very disturbing for me because I'm in a position where I've been walloped and I have certain ideals that I've invested in for many years and when I see the fundamental injustice being done to Russia and the deformed interpretations of Russia's motivations and actions, where they totally gloss over NATO and US designs and imperialism and lies, it makes me mad as hell. But on the other hand, when I listen to NPR you know what? I also say to myself "Well what else would you ever expect from this incredible debacle of hypocrisy that's going on right in front of our eyes right now?"

Elan: You brought up a really interesting point Stephen. Sorry to cut you off there, but I'd like to get back to this for just a second because I completely agree with you. It is not pragmatic in the least to try and present an alternative point of view to someone who is a dyed-in-the-wool whatever who has a belief system and who is so invested in their reality that to try and shift things a little bit and present the new perspective would only end up bringing hell upon yourself. At the same time, it seems like there are some people in this world for whom it's not pragmatic to be invested at all in those worldly things, for lack of a better term, that the only pragmatic solution is to do the work of looking at things as objectively as it's possible to. What is it about those people or us if we can be said to be those people? What's the difference there? What do you think's involved.

Stephen: You know what really brings it home is you can always say that it's not pragmatic for me to do anything other than go along with what it is going on right now and if people had done that in the past we wouldn't have advanced at all morally or ethically as a people and we would be suffering enslavement and all kinds of social ills that are greater than we suffer now because people were just too chicken. They lacked the courage to come out and say "This stuff ain't right" even if it meant their imprisonment or death, thank god these people did so. Even though we live in a horrible place right now and we have a lot of problems coming down the 'pike right at us, if we don't muster the courage to do something better, more intelligent and more beautiful, we're doomed. That's it.

Carolyn: You might say objectivity could be applied to that.

Stephen: Yes! Yes!

Carolyn: Something needs to be done, but it needs to be done with, as Castaneda said, with forbearance and timing. I'm going to pump up Putin here just a little bit. The situation in Syria had deteriorated for five years running but I believe through all that time Russia had kept a very close eye on it, objectively assessing the different forces at work as they came and went and increased in their influence, especially when ISIS finally pulled itself together. By keeping an objective, close eye on this situation they were able to choose the proper moment to intervene. Yes it required courage and nerve but because they had made as clear-eyed an analysis of the situation and weighed all the possibilities and then decided that 'this is the time', that this particular choice of Putin and Russia has been very effective.

Stephen: Yes, and you know - I'm going to hang up after this - but I'm extremely heartened when I go onto the Guardian or anywhere they allow comments, or the BBC when they have an article and it's interesting they'll totally close down comments. But where they do allow comments, you see that a huge amount of very intelligent, educated people just don't buy the propaganda and that's so heartening to see that and that's a reality that we live in and that's a beautiful thing that's happening. So I'm going to hang up. I really enjoy the topic and y'all's conversation on it.

Shane: We appreciate your thoughts Stephen. Thank you.

Stephen: Allright. Bye-bye.

Elan: Bye Stephen. Thanks for calling. Just a quick comment. In the mid-90s a friend of mine invited me to a lecture at New York University and the speaker was this French guy who ended up being Jacques Derrida. But I found out after the first two minutes that he only spoke French and since I didn't speak any French I wouldn't be understanding anything if I stayed. So I dodged the bullet there.

Harrison: It probably wouldn't have made much more sense if he was speaking in English.

Shane: A couple of the points that Stephen brought up in relation to this conversation was context and pragmatism. I think those are really important points in understanding how to be objective in looking at situations. Just living under empire, under these pathological types, we've been prone to accept this black and white thinking in our definition of things. We automatically see democracy as good and dictatorship as bad and that's applied across the board. But things aren't so black and white.

Carolyn: Objectively looking at the actions of Russia, their actions have been an annoyance to the empire but nothing about them says that they are "out to create the empire", "recreate the Soviet Union" but because we're shielded from the actual facts then we have to accept the definitions given.

Shane: Yeah, and that's a huge thing. We're not given all the facts or it's not a part of our awareness to see the United States in this light. The example that I was thinking of was Cuba. Fidel Castro has been given such a bad reputation because he was a supposed dictator. Cuba has endured over the past 50 or 60 years and they had to have a very controlled government in order to survive. In a very pragmatic way, they needed to incorporate a way to deal with the economic warfare against Cuba with the blockade and the sanctions. They developed some pretty smart ways to survive and to deal with that and Americans don't look at things like that.

Elan: Speaking of American and Russian perspectives on what's been happening and how all of this is being presented to people, we carried an article on SOTT. It's Obama's new budget calls for massive increase in propaganda spending. Basically the point was the Radio Liberty, Radio Free Europe, Voice of America and the Broadcasting Board of Governors, this umbrella for the propaganda organs of empire, Obama saying "We need more money!" In previous conferences we've heard Hillary Clinton discuss this, John Kerry and we know that websites like RT and Sputnik - which they cite as the reasons why they need more money!! - operate on a much smaller scale at a fraction of the cost.

So I find that very interesting. And I wonder if there is something about the awareness of most people where this information that's being put out by Sputnik and RT for instance, has more weight, more substance, by its very nature, by the intentions of those who are behind those websites and channels. We've had one comment by one of our chatters who said that he saw an interview in Russian with the head of RT and the head of RT was asked why they focus on anti-US things. Her answer was that they don't focus on anti-US things but that they focus on things that the West doesn't show. And she also said that if Western journalists were really doing their job - meaning showing the whole story in an objective way, RT would be out of a job. Instead their viewership is growing, which says a lot.

So does objective information have a weight? A substance?

Carolyn: I think it does. And also the intent. I don't know whether anybody saw this but RT did a little birthday video for their 10-year anniversary? Are they 10 years old now?

Elan: Yes.

Carolyn: And sending themselves up, mocking themselves as supposedly this organ of propaganda for Russia, the head of RT, who's hilarious, and all their major journalists participated in this "This is how the Russians do it" and there were little prison things and "You'll get your bread and water when you finish story" and all this other stuff. It was absolutely hysterical and I thought I could not in 100 years imagine any Western outlet sending themselves up like this. But the other thing that was really interesting is the birthday message that Putin had for them, which is "I congratulate you. It's been 10 years of accomplishment. I feel the creativity and joy you have in your work." These are people who appear to love what they're doing. They feel they have a mission. There's pleasure and fun and a sense of purpose that I don't think you can will yourself into when you're working for an organization that is simply spreading propaganda. The whole tenor and feel of it is completely different and I think that adds to the weight of the objectivity, the sense of purpose and service that those who work for these more objective organizations have.

Shane: And just to add to that, intention can be a part of it but there are so many people who are well intentioned but still have all these biases. I think a component of this intention that can have a force is also the sincerity. It comes across that RT and their efforts are very sincere. They're not just pushing an agenda that's just for Russia, but I think there's an element of wanting to expose the truth of things.

Elan: Yeah, there's a certain tone. RT for instance, has a section on articles concerning events in the USA. We quite often refer to websites like the Free Thought Project and Activist Post in many instances and several others where there is - maybe less so with Activist Post for instance because they're willing to go a little further in some areas - but it's all of a piece. It's almost as if the people involved in RT and Sputnik and those alternative sites on the web that cover news of the US objectively, are almost interchangeable in some way. And it doesn't mean that there's a bias, it just means that they're willing to look at what's ugly. They're willing to see things in their essence a little more readily than many other places.

Carolyn: This may be supposed that this interchangeability is actually that each particular site is seeing this set of facts in the same way which sort of lends credibility that maybe that's actually the way it is.

Elan: Exactly. It's all informed by a similar understanding. How many more articles, for instance, covering geopolitics in particular, but also the US police state, are informed by an understanding of psychopathy? Seven or eight years ago it just wasn't there and now because it's the only explanation that we really have, that's got a lot of research and information to back it up and point to things specifically, now that we have this, people are able to point to certain things and draw pretty much the same conclusions and explain things in all their horror.

Shane: One other point that Stephen brought up that I'd like to dig into a little bit is the ignorance of people as well as how we look at those who may be uninformed. In the alternative media you might go to some sites and often see this rage against the sheeple. There's a vehemence there and I think that there's also a lack of understanding of what is happening to make people basically shut down psychologically and just not want to pay attention to anything except for their own stuff that's in front of them. I think this ties into a couple of psychological components or dynamics; one which relates to trauma.

Trauma can be a huge driving force in shaping the way that we see the world and if we don't work through those things they'll just remain there in our psyche and continue. It's that lens that's there that will always distort what we see. The newsmakers know this. I think at the very, very top levels there are people who know how to manipulate people and how to use trauma. We saw this with 9/11 and how 9/11 was played for weeks on repeat. We saw the towers come down millions of times. It was ridiculous. And that was a way of traumatizing the population. It was Naomi Klein who came out with The Shock Doctrine book. She talked about how there are these psychopaths who traumatize people in order to introduce a new ideology and when you're in that state of shock, your defences are basically shut down and it's a form of manufactured disintegration. It's an opportunity for these pathological types to impose the new concepts that they want people to believe and accept and follow.

Now what's interesting is that there seems this disintegrative process we can also consciously try to work through, deconstructing the beliefs that we've come to accept. It's not of the same nature as the imposed trauma but there is a shock involved when you look at the world and see what's going on and feel some empathy about these people who are suffering and dying all over the world. It is a huge shock and it does break down some of the structures that you've come to accept and that is a useful application of the shock.

Elan: So the huge shock being...

Shane: Of reality.

Elan: ...of objective information.

Shane: Yeah.

Elan: Oh it is. It can be a very long and painful process. If one has some serious sacred cows and programming that they've been living with for a very long time, you really have to want to know otherwise why put yourself through such a thing. There has to be a drive for objectivity or truth. It's the extent to which we're invested in not living in truth or living an easy existence or a relatively easy existence because even day-to-day living can be a challenge, is the extent to which it's going to be difficult to go against or to object to all of the false information and the programming and thinking that we've been bombarded with for so long.

Harrison: I liked how you used the word object there.

Elan: Yeah, I had to throw that in somewhere.

Harrison: Well just to make a couple of comments on the hypothetical lawyer that Stephen was talking about, I think that person represents most people - maybe even all people in a sense - everyone's got a starting point and some people never leave that starting point but that's really where we all come from, living in a world where we're immersed by this culture and just the way things work. This gets down to the economy, religion, politics, just what kind of job you are and how it works into the society around you.

So I totally agree with you Stephen when you say that just because someone may not share a viewpoint or an interpretation of information that's available, that doesn't make that person intrinsically bad or worthless or anything like that, but just to keep in mind the distinction that with a person like that, there are things that they don't know. They may have viewpoints that are just objectively false or even self-defeating ultimately. What we've really got to do individually is to make a choice and ask ourselves what really matters to us. So if a person has that drive, there are things that have to be done; first of all getting to know what the biases are, what the programming is that we have that makes us see reality through certain lenses. If we can come to some kind of understanding of what those things are that will make us more objective, better able to see the world objectively because starting from a point like that, there's not much that can be done when you are totally run by your biases where every piece of information automatically gets filtered according to preconceived ideas, assumptions about the way the world works, about, for example, democracy.

If you have a certain idea about democracy, unless you get information that contradicts that opinion or conviction and unless you're willing to entertain the idea that you might be wrong about it, then you're just going to be stuck there. So I think one of the first steps is be willing to think that maybe you're wrong. So it isn't pragmatic, it probably isn't a good idea to get into a debate or a fighting match with anyone who still has deeply held beliefs like that, but we just have to keep in mind that by putting information out there, those people who may have the capability of questioning themselves and thinking "Oh well maybe I might be wrong about that", I think that's what we're here to do.

Carolyn: It is the problem of going against those deeply held, almost religious in nature, beliefs about your society and the one you live in. We're in an election year and if you look at it objectively, it doesn't really matter who is elected because policies and actions of the government carry on regardless. But it is very hard for people to look and say "Yes, this had no effect. I voted for this, that and the other for this person who represented these things and it did not happen." I had a moment like that long before I ever knew anything about SOTT or anything like that. I was watching Bill Clinton being elected and he had this Obama-esqe hope and change and cool and he had a Fleetwood Mac theme song. I mean, what more could you want? And I remember thinking "Yeah, he's good looking. He plays the sax." I didn't think he was good looking but a lot of people thought he was.

And I remember on the one hand feeling so good and thinking "Wow, this is going to be really good" and then thinking "You know, this is not going to change anything. It is not going to make any difference." I wasn't particularly upset about that, but I had a feeling of settling, of realizing that it was bullshit and that's just the way it was and this kind of hoopla and production number was not going to work anymore. As Clinton went along of course things went downhill.

If you can come to these things, I think it takes some of the emotional pain out of it because you're sort of prepared for it. It doesn't get to you anymore, these highs and lows of emotional hope and then emotional disappointment. And that's a good thing. That is a really good thing because that again, lets you step back and look at the world with slightly clearer eyes.

Shane: Well Harrison you brought up this issue of capacity and Elan you mentioned it a little bit earlier too during Stephen's call. Are there some people who have the capacity or a drive to want to know versus others who might not. This is I think a pretty touchy subject because this kind of discussion has been really distorted and used for some really evil things in the past. In particular it's been used in definition and distinctions of race, and currently too, in regards to Muslims, Arabs and in the past it was used against black people and so on. If we can look at people in terms of an innate psychological framework, we know that there is this existence of psychopaths and that fundamentally inside they have a different psychological landscape than other people. So can we look at humanity with a different lens to tease out this issue? Are there some who simply don't have the capacity to really want to know the truth of things?

Elan: Or, do they have the capacity but given their internal landscape, as you said, or their makeup, they decide or have the drive to completely use it for their advantage? In other words you have a CIA organ like Stratfor for instance, that analyzes. They pretty much have an objective understanding of some things. This is a US organization. They said Ukraine was the most obvious coup, meaning that the US committed this most obvious coup in history. They came out and said it and yet they're on the payroll, these US intelligence agencies, and they're a little careless about who they say these things to and don't realize that there are people in the alternative media who have a problem with the US having these coups and bringing "freedom and democracy" to other countries, so-called.

So for instance if we look at Henry Kissinger, there's a story posted...

Harrison: Look at him? No!

Elan: Carolyn just did this kind of monstrous physical bit of comedy there that was very good and I feel the same way Carolyn. But there was just this article about him visiting Putin since he's come to Putin a few times over the past few years to have a chat and apparently he visited him about a week ago, his most recent visit. I think the article was from either Russia Today or TASS. The gist of it was that he was delivering this message on behalf of the elites in the West, the new world order, which was "Well we should be cooperating now. For things to be okay, the US and Russia now need to cooperate and work together on issues like Syria", where of course he realizes on an objective level that Putin's got the West in his little pocket, that so far, I think it's safe to say he has out-thought and out-strategized the West on multiple fronts.

So you have a guy like Kissinger who's no doubt very capable intellectually and knows quite a lot, but given his history in South America and his career as a politician, the guy's a friggin' monster. The guy's a monster in a suit! There are very few people on that level whose names we know of. This is a creature extraordinaire. So just the thought about the fact that some psychopaths have the intellectual capacity to understand but what it means to them intrinsically, is altogether very different from what it would mean to say a man like Putin or Assad or a journalist like Paul Craig Roberts or someone else.

Carolyn: You might say then it's a tribute to Putin's, I hope, will to objectivity that he will not allow emotional biases to prevent him from dealing with these people for the information that can be gathered and then feeding that back into their own analysis and making policy and decisions. Putin once said that "It doesn't matter what people say about me, what people think about me. I will talk to everyone." And that means that he is willing to gather all information with as little interference from personal biases, personal feelings, personal ego and I think that has been the key to Russia's success. That's what I was thinking of before. You can gauge the degree of objectivity by how successfully a person, a nation, whatever, interacts with reality and Russia has interacted very successfully with its reality because it has been willing to see exactly what is there, which is not what the US is doing. They have this idea in their head of being a world hegemon or being the world's policeman or whatever they're calling it these days and their actions are based on this concept that they have, not what's really happening. And it's not going well. It's not going well at all!

Shane: One of the interesting things with Putin when looking at Russian history since he's been in power, he's been able to out-manoeuvre psychopaths. He's been able to have psychopaths turn around and support him. It's utterly fascinating to watch. For some he'll need to remove from power and he did that with some of the Western oligarchs and that set the tone. And others said "Okay, we'll listen to you". So it makes you wonder can this happen on the world stage as well? I don't know to what degree. To some extent we do see it happening. It just goes to show how smart this guy is.

Harrison: Just to come back to your point Elan about this kind of objectivity, I think that you're right that at a certain level by a certain definition or a certain standard of objectivity yes, we can have people like Kissinger who are in a certain sense objective. I think this can come back to facts on the ground, being aware of a whole range of realities, of facts, situations, things going on in other countries. You need to have an awareness of a whole lot of information in order to make any policy decision. Now where the difference is I think is the aim or the objective, what that is pointing towards, what the goal is. A part of that will be the values that you have as an individual and that the institution that you're a part of collectively has, to a greater or lesser degree.

I like the way you're looking at it Carolyn, about the effectiveness of what you're doing, having some kind of relationship with objectivity, but I think that this then ties into that whole thing about an aim and what the values are. Because if you look at someone like a serial killer, the only serial killers we know of are the ones that get caught. There are probably and almost certainly, many serial killers alive and active today that we don't know about and some of whom probably will never get caught. You could arguably say that they're very successful, that they have an objective view of the reality and what they are doing in order to get away with these crimes. So they plan them. They have an awareness of what needs to be done. They can scope out a victim, make sure they pick the right scene to do it. They make sure they pick a day when they're not going to be interacting with someone. They can get all this information or intelligence and then put it into operation and commit a horrendous murder and then get away with it. So in that sense they are successful and they've been effective because of their objective view of the circumstances in regard to their aim.

So I think that one extra differentiation or one extra aspect that we need to look at is what that aim is and the question of are there objective aims, objective values, objective morals to which we direct our actions. I think that's a whole other topic. We might talk about it at a later date, but just to keep that in mind. So you have people like Stratfor and on the other hand you'll have an individual like Putin who may have the same or a lot of the same facts at their disposal but then it comes down to what objectively is their purpose and what are they working towards.

I think that's where we get into the realm of what a lot of people call subjective because our own personal aims are arguably subjective but on the other hand that gets into the nature of values and purpose, the thing in itself, what you are on the deepest level beneath the surface appearances and beneath the objects of our bodies. What really matters? What is the reality of things that matter? Those are some deep philosophical questions but just to bring it home to a point, if we just look at the statements that someone like Putin has made and you can look at statements of a lot of great leaders, so-called, from history, they are doing what they think is right not just for themselves but for this greater purpose.

And that greater purpose seems to have resonances across cultures and across time on what the nature of that is. Again, you can have a group of oligarchs who have a collective aim that will be the best thing for Rome or the best thing for the American empire, but when you get into the details of that, that will be dependent on so many other greater evils and just continuing those evils.

So it's a tricky subject to figure out all of the aspects of what people are doing and how they contribute to an aim and how they affect the manner in which you'll be able to get your aim and to make it a reality. It just makes the complexity go up so much. If you see Putin, for example, as a person who is a genuinely good person and who wants to do the best thing for Russia, just to think about the amount of information first of all that that person in that position has to have, the number of allies and the number of compromises that you have to make because you have to be in that situation. You have to look at things pragmatically and say "This is ideally what I would want. Can I realistically do that?"

"What can I realistically do in this situation at this moment?" Your options may be limited but you move step-by-step towards that greater goal. And when you're dealing with millions of people then those may appear to be very incremental changes but I'd say that they are there and I think that at least in theory they are identifiable. We can see them. We can perceive them. We can get an objective viewpoint of what those things are and what directions different countries and different people are going towards.

Carolyn: It's definitely clear in the way he handled the oligarchs in that he couldn't just turf them all out but he was able to shape the situation. Also it speaks I think to a larger view. When you look at it from the biggest point of view, you can almost say that somebody who is promoting the welfare of his people, because he has a genuinely good heart he wants people to be happy. But countries like that are easier to govern. You don't have to spend a lot of money maintaining military. There are very pragmatic reasons for making your population happy. I like to think he has a genuinely good heart, but pragmatically, a happy, contented, well-fed populus and good relations with all the countries around you is a very pragmatic thing to have. You don't have to be a saint to want those things. You just have to be a sensible individual. Contrast that with Erdoğan who's busy totally wrecking his position in the world. A long time ago you talked about how power can corrupt and that's your poster boy right there. This person is drunk with the idea of being the next caliphate and whatever legacy he received from his predecessor as the leader of Turkey, he has totally squandered it.

Harrison: We could say "You just need to be sensible to see these things" but I think the fact that when you see a person doing something that you just need good sense to do, that oftentimes may be, more often than not, a sign of a genuinely decent person because if you are not a genuinely decent person then even that pragmatic goal won't outweigh the goal of serving yourself and getting more things for yourself and just to maintain your position in the hierarchy and the pecking order. So that's what I think we see in Western politics almost as a whole; a bunch of people who value their own position and bringing wealth to themselves more than they're willing to even look at the common sense approach to a situation. The happiness or the well being of the people in your country doesn't even enter into your mental calculus. It's not even a consideration because if you look at the situation on the ground, you're there. You've got power. You've got a lot of money. Yeah, the people in your country may not be very happy with anything but you've already got it so all that matters is keeping it.

So I think just seeing these traces, these hints of things in leaders' actions can say a whole lot about them as people. Getting back to the subject of objectivity, it's hard to know in any individual case if you're totally right or wrong because it takes a lot of information to say, with a relatively high degree of certainty as to whether you're right or not, but I think that we can catch traces of this and assign some probabilities that "This person's probably like that" or "they're probably not". I think in a lot of cases that's all we can do. But with a lot of observation I think we can go a little bit further.

Shane: The other thing too is just living in this world of empire is that it is tremendously difficult to make decisions that are basically sensible. It takes courage. It takes courage to do it on even a basic family level. On an individual level it takes a lot of courage. So when you have a person doing this on the world stage, I think that following this course of being sensible and doing sensible things, it has to build some true character and develop the potential that human beings have. I think this relates to the topic that you were discussing earlier Harrison; if there's this objective aim and does it relate to what we as human beings have as a potential inside us. What does it mean to be fully human? We walk around and we have all these mechanisms and dynamics going on inside of us and a lot of them lend towards the division and prejudices or just being pulled in one direction and then the other. But is there something more inside of us that we're able to achieve and is that also beneficial to others around us and to the world at large.

Elan: I wonder if comparing the Kissinger versus Putin thing is at all accurate now that I'm thinking of it a little bit further. I wonder if there isn't something intrinsic to Russia and Putin today that is more objective insofar as they're able to see how the behaviour of the US is less sustainable than Russia is or attempting to be. So maybe we've established that there is some level to which things can be on par objectively, as far as they go. But for a lot of analysts and observers today who are looking at the US empire, they've reached a level of understanding about it where they've come to the conclusion where it's completely unsustainable. So maybe there is a higher level, if you will, of objectivity that exists among some people which says because of their valuing certain things above others, certain modes of being others, truth above lies, cooperation above exploitation, that this is truer to what is created, truer to what is beautiful. So, just another consideration of how we might look at objectivity as a kind of higher, more creative ideal or value.

Harrison: I think that's a beautiful wrap-up to the show Elan. So we've reached the end of our allotted time here today. Thanks everyone for listening. Thanks to Stephen for calling in. Thanks to our chatters. We'll be back next week and be sure to tune in tomorrow to Behind the Headlines at 12:00 Eastern and of course the Health and Wellness Show Friday at 10:00 and we'll see you next week. Thanks everyone.

All: Good-byes.