Category Archives: Social Philosophy

The Epidemic of Willful Ignorance

Mehran Banaei

It is reported that once a group of specialized promotional consultants from an advertising agency had just finished their presentation of a market survey to the board of governors of a client firm. The findings have appeared to be so conclusive, showing that the prior policies which were followed by the firm would only lead to unproductive and disappointment outcome. Despite the clear facts given during the presentation, the CEO of the client company had no desire to change the business strategy which had been previously implemented by him. At the meeting, he adamantly replied: “My mind is already made up, don’t confuse me with the facts.” This is a classic textbook example of willful ignorance, when one is fully aware of existing facts or lack of them, yet refuses to accept the apparent conclusion. It is ignorance of the highest level, when a reckless wishful thinker assumes that facts start to vanish because they are ignored, or speculations and theories are true because one likes them to be.

This precarious attitude of ignoring facts and blind devotion to a cherished belief is notoriously prevailing in our society. Existing facts or lack of them seem to have no implications to many. Selfishness and vested interests often impair one’s judgments. Veteran journalist Ted Koppel during a recent interview with Fox News brought our attention to this predicament. He confronts his opinionated host that adherence to an ideology should not outweigh facts:

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Koppel was short of reminding his conniving host that one’s political convictions ought to be based on facts, otherwise why should any rational person adopt and be loyal to a baseless and fictitious ideology.

On the political scene, the United States political establishment prefers putting the blame for their socio-economic misfortune on Mexicans, Muslims and bogymen than ruthless capitalism, as though, over a century of U.S. imperial domination of the world has nothing to do with the subjugating nations resisting the U.S. military hegemony. “Make America great again!” is a myopic and flawed sloganistic ideology, arrogantly propagated to divert a nation’s attention from hideously insane and inane policies under the hidden agenda of the global elite.

In scientific discourse, evolutionary biologist: Richard Dawkins, the founder of Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science launched a national campaign to promote atheism, an ideology which has nothing to do with science or reason. Dawkins abandons scientific objectivity and evidence-based ruling in favor of a preferred ideology. For months, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life” appeared on UK buses.

Note “probably”. Indeed, since when has science started to operate on probability as the basis of its foundational principles? When did ever science or any other school of thought establish that the belief in a caused universe is sadomasochistic, inconvenient and at odds with the pursuit of happiness and the enjoyment of life? On the other hand, on what grounds has atheism foisted itself as being synonymous with the joy of life? The campaign makes it seem like one may perhaps win a lottery and live happily ever after, if one disbelieves in a caused universe. The Dawkins’ campaign aims to give the impression that an uncaused or self-created universe is a scientific fact. Anything otherwise is unscientific, resulting in unhappy life.

However, a closer analysis shows that a group of determined atheist academics are masquerading their personal opinion as science, and pretend that there are facts to support their assertions.

Society has become biased, unaccustomed to critical thinking, more fascinated by ambiguous ideologies than clarities, and less compliant to objective facts. This is certainly a disturbing trend, and it is clear to all those who are truly rational, and rely on evidence. But “probably” few will realize this.

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Destitute and Displaced: It is all about Pilfering Natural Resources and Strategic Hegemony

Mehran Banaei

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A number of years ago my eyes were badly injured during a recreational soccer game. As a result of this injury, I was temporarily blinded for a few weeks. At the time, I had no idea if I could ever see again. Although this was a traumatic and frightening experience, it was not without its rewards. The whole ordeal was a lesson in blindness. It taught me how I took my vision for granted all along. It taught me empirically what it means to be deprived of one of the most precious senses. Above all, it taught me how easy it is for one to suddenly lose his vision. When I recovered, I began to cherish my eyes and used my sense of vision with a great deal of joy, care and appreciation.

Not long after this ordeal, I found the opportunity to work as a graduate intern at the UNHCR Head Office in Ankara, Turkey. I was responsible to interview asylum seekers and screen them according to the UNHCR’s refugee determination criteria.

This experience was similar to my eye injury, although it was very depressing, it was nonetheless very rewarding. It brought me close enough to witness the plight of those refugees who were in serious financial, psychological and even physical pain. The uniqueness of such an experience is the realization of the same ubiquitous reality that one witnesses night after night on the television screen, but this time perception of this reality is aided with more than one sense. The focus of this perception is on displaced people who are human beings like everyone of us with flesh, feelings and hopes, but are dehumanized by having been turned into file numbers. One of the most unforgettable incidents while I was there took place during an early morning interview. A middle-aged asylum seeker was just admitted to the office for his first interview. Although the man appeared healthy, he was under so much stress that as soon as he started to reveal his grounds for asylum he collapsed with a heart attack. He died in the office, right in front of the legal officer and an interpreter. I was told later that this was “nothing,” incidents such as someone burning himself in front of the UNHCR building or somebody throwing his sick child in front of a vehicle to relieve the child of the pain were common incidents there. The situation at the UNHCR camps was far worse than the Head Office.

My daily experiences were particularly depressing for a new employee who had to face the misery of destitute and then make a yes or no “moral” decision. Indeed, reading Locke, Hume, Hobbes, Kant and all other theoretical writings on ethics meant nothing when it came to a real life situation. It was striking to see that the permanent employees were very accustomed to this operational ennui. It frightened me to think that the same thing could have happened to me if I had stayed there a little longer. There, in the legal unit of the UNHCR, legal officers are involved in making decisions on the future of these applicants. They act like quality control inspectors on an assembly line filtering out unwanted goods. The irony in this process is that the needless determine the fate of the needy in accordance with ethical values which are relative and culturally biased. Being involved in this pedagogical process was indeed my greatest difficulty, especially when the system is known to be deficient from experiences elsewhere.

As one of the consequences of the U.S. rampant jingoistic military intervention in the Persian Gulf, the majority of the refugees coming into Turkey were Iraqis, who were fleeing the severe economic hardship imposed on them by Western economic embargos. The distinction between convention refugee and migrant worker is clear in the UNHCR Determination Handbook, and of course “the UNHCR does not act as travel agency” in population movements. Thus, those who do not fit the convention definition are doomed to be rejected. None of the asylum seekers get any benefit from the UN, unless they are first recognized as a convention refugee. The result is tantamount to a disappointing brush-off for a great number of those who seek asylum.

The standard and ubiquitous cliche: “we regret to inform you that …, thank you for your interest in UNHCR, we hope that you are successful elsewhere in your future objectives” appears in the only correspondence that a refugee receives from the UNHCR. Indirectly, the rejectees are treated as though they are guilty of committing an embarrassing crime like shoplifting or plagiarizing an essay, while their only “misdeed” is trying to provide better living conditions for their family. “You migrant worker, how dare you impersonate a convention refugee.” A “crime” that without any hesitation anyone of us would commit being in their position. Often both the needless and the needy are where they are due to an accident of birth and fate. The needless, seemingly immune from displacement, are indifferent to the needs of the needy. The needless never think that they too may easily become one of the needy, just as we hardly ever consider that we may lose our precious eyesight.

The rejectees often remain in Turkey illegally, hoping to reach their destination through smugglers. The smugglers, who can hardly be trusted, often prey ruthlessly on the vulnerability of these desperate people. They charge as much as U.S.$10,000 to provide them with a forged passport and an airline ticket. While in Turkey, if they are caught, they are subject to prosecution and deportation by the Turkish authorities.

As a result of this obviously faulty process, many NGOs and refugee rights advocates have campaigned for broadening the 1951 UN definition of a refugee. Although concerned for human rights, I personally never favoured the idea of keep changing the “outdated” definition of a convention refugee in order to accommodate the larger number of asylum seekers of 1990s and onwards. That is simply because we should always seek an optimal solution as opposed to a band-aid approach and false comfort. Therefore, we must handle any problems at the foundational level, to see what has caused the cracks in the structure in the first place. Thus, we ought to remove the sources which have generated the defects, rather than just dealing with symptoms. Furthermore, if we try to revise the 1951 definition of refugee in order to accommodate the current situation, then what are we going to do in the next few decades when the 1990s or 2010s definition is once again outdated? We have already tried this approach once in the 1960s through the added rights implementing by the 1967 Protocol and that soon after deemed to be insufficient.

Therefore, it seems that changing the definition every once in a while is far from being an optimal solution or a foundational approach. The curing solution does not lie in allowing more refugees to settle in the West. Our attention, if genuine, ought to be in eradicating the problem from its root, which is indeed viable if our priorities are just and correctly focused. For example, in the case of Iraqi refugees, if the UN enforced economic blockade against Iraq was never imposed, then many of these refugees whom I met in Turkey would not have abandoned their homeland, possessions, culture, way of life, family and beg for membership in a foreign and often hostile society. Why should Western powers punish Iraqi children by putting a ban on exportation of medicine and baby formula? The Iraqi refugees are the victims of the so-called “New World Order”, which evidently breathes disorder.

Three decades have passed; Turkey is once again a major gathering place of refugees from the Middle East. However, this time, they are not the downcast non-convention refugees who are escaping poverty. They are the genuine convention refugees, consisting of Syrians and Iraqis fleeing war zones, an internal war composed and conducted by Western powers.

Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen are the regional nations that one by one are being destroyed primarily for their natural resources or for their vital strategic location. The Middle East is deliberately destabilized by state sponsors of terrorism run by a bunch of well-groomed psychopathic warmongering criminals to ensure the survival of Israel and cheap oil shipped to the West.

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The democracy loving, human rights loving and freedom loving Neocons have turned the Middle East into an eerie graveyard where the masked scavengers feast. Destruction of properties, environment and human life, nothing seems to stop the perpetrators of these insidious crimes. The heartless imperialist strategy of divide and conquer in the form of “sectarian violence” is in effect to tear apart the Middle East, while cunningly pinpointing the collaborators of this tragedy as the people’s own “antiquated backward” religion. The crisis is painted to look like Arabs are victims of a domestic self-inflected misery. Seemingly, it has nothing to do with the dreadful Western intervention and piracy.

History attests that so long as the causative and interconnected factors for human displacement are left loose, the plight of refugees around the world will continue to persist. So long as there is profit in war and money is the be-all and end-all of human existence, there will never be peace on Earth. In essence, so long as Man refuses to humble himself and does not realize his unique place in the universe, there will always be wars and human misery. Surely, there is no other solution for our interrelated social ills.

Revised and expanded, a shorter version of this article was published in: Refuge, Vol. 13, No. 8, January 1994, pp. 25-26

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Propaganda and Brainwashing in Western Societies: The Power of the Media

Mehran Banaei

During the repressive totalitarian Soviet era, the Russian people were known to be among the most informed people in the world. Not that they had a better access to the news, on the contrary, their access to the real news was utterly restricted. However, Russians knew well that whatever their state controlled media propaganda machine was feeding them, was not true and the truth would most probably be the opposite of what was being constantly broadcasted.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said about the people in the West where the most coercive form of tyranny has been in effect inconspicuously, where the gullible masses are kept ignorant. Particularly in the North America to preserve governance, masses are constantly distracted by trivialities, spoon-fed with lies, and consequently kept in darkness. In this polluted atmosphere, deliberate manufactured endarkenment is considered as enlightenment, and an actual enlightenment is considered as dogma. Insisting on the truthfulness of the Truth is considered as radicalization. Unlike Russians, very few people in the West question the contents of the corporate media or are able to distinguish between news and propaganda, hypnotism and entertainment, indoctrination and education. For the overwhelming majority, even if the truth is somehow leaked, it does not really matter to them that they were lied to all along. This bizarre indifferent attitude can only be the result of a premeditated systematic conditioning and desensitization.

Indeed, the most coercive form of tyranny is not that of the former Eastern Block system with KGB spies and surveillance cameras being present everywhere, but it is the one that prevents people from seeing the truth and removes the awareness of other possibilities. It is the one that makes it seem inconceivable that perhaps there are much better ways and viable socio-economic and political solutions. It is the one that removes the sense that there is a better world beyond our manufactured mental borders. It is the one that makes the people illusively think that they are in charge to govern their own affairs; yet they are being easily governed. It is the one that conditions people to erroneously feel liberated and well-versed freethinkers while they are actually in bondage. And above all, it is the one that makes the Truth look like a lethal idea and those who advocate it are monstrous fanatics to be feared.

Malcom X believed, the media is the most powerful entity on earth: “The media has the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent,” thereby, well capable to control the minds of the masses. Not surprisingly, he was labeled a radical rabble-rouser and was assassinated in the country that prides itself as a free polarized society. He realized that media is the prime working tool for the elite to subjugate the masses. Their prime goal has always been to create fear and divert attention from real accomplice of the crimes committed. Politics of fear dictates that bogymen are created and constantly demonized.

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St. Augustine narrates the story of a pirate captured by the warmonger lunatic Alexander, pathetically tilted “the Great”, who asked him “how dare he molest the sea”. The pirate boldly replied: “How dare you molest the whole world”. “Because I do it with a little ship only, I am called a thief; you are doing the same thing with a great navy, yet are called an Emperor”.  Nothing has changed from those days other than the Emperor and pirate. The pirate is always to be feared, while the Emperor is supposedly the benevolent protector, a champion for democracy and human rights.

After the fall of the Soviet Union, the scapegoat changed from communist party to Islam. The religion that literal means peace, stands for justice and equality has been presented as one of the most violent and feared ideologies to combat. Deranged thugs and dictators who have never read the Quran are presented as faithful adherer of this religion, despite the fact that their conducts are at odds with the very basic tenets of Islam. But, why are there so much biases and double standards in the media and policies when it comes to Islam? Why does Islam have so many internal and external enemies? Is it possible that spread of Islam could pose a serious threat to the vested interests of certain groups? The answer is a most definite “yes”. Islam is no exception to rule and has many hostile enemies who cannot tolerate or afford its growth. Therefore,  for example could  the atrocities committed in the name of Islam by the so-called Muslims, like the Charlie Hebdo attack or 9/11 not simply be a false flag operation to demonize Muslims and ostracise Islam. It is not like the Western governments never engaged in covert operations or appealed to deception before. Their track records prove otherwise.

Hardly anybody in the West questions why the upper echelons that own the media resent Islam, and falsely portray this worldview in such a harsh manner. The simple reason is that it is due to the blatant fact that Islam, a comprehensive socio-political system, poses a deadly threat to the existing oligarchical structure of most parasitic and corrupt societies. For assuredly:

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the present unjust socio-economic set-up that sustains the current unfair system of distribution of wealth and resources.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any move towards a control of the world resources, economies and political systems by a cabal of power-hungry elites.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any system which would continuously piles-up a massive amount of arms and arsenal for its own profit and protection, while leaving its own grandmothers and grandfathers, begging homelessly on decrepit streets.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any banking system that would callously and unjustly force a dispossession of one’s property, because of missed mortgage payments.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate any economic system which makes a huge profit by the degradation and destruction of the environment in various ways.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate the pharmaceutical industry in which its goal is blatantly set on repeat customers rather than curing the patient.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a colossal alcohol industry that, like a vampire, drains the life-blood by providing a habituative obnoxious fluid to society at the expense of the predominant health, family and social complications.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an industry which strips women off their clothes and dignity, and perpetuates promiscuity, immorality and family breakdown in society in order to inflate the wallets of executive pimps.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate a multi-billion dollar cosmetic and fashion industry, which replaces the intrinsic values of women with instrumental values, since its lifeline depends upon spreading illusory images to brainwash women to market themselves for disguised licentious men.

If Islam arises, it would neither allow nor tolerate an educational system which produces regurgitative automatonic relativists, who conform to machine-like systems and are blind to all of the above problems from cradle to grave.

Islam is a nuisance to the voracious conglamerates who own the world. Therefore, it would indeed be an exceedingly naive presumption that in this system anything good will ever be said about Islam, an ideology with many common enemies.

Voltaire, the famous French satirical polemicist, recognized the dubious soico-political system imposed by undemocratic established institutions of the day; he suggested that to learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.

The answer will be clear to anyone who chooses to accept the truth unequivocally, that is one who does not have any vested interests, other than to know the reality of who is trying to run the show.

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“Moderation” in the Consumption of Alcohol: Nonsense upon Flimsy Stilts

“Moderation” is the best defense provided for the consumption of Alcohol. This seemingly harmless approach is adopted by both the alcohol industry as well as a segment of the healthcare industry adhering to the “harm reduction” model. In this comprehensive book, the author attempts to debunk this inept and deceptive approach by providing 23 different arguments to refute the proposed solution to combat alcoholism. He concludes that “moderation” cannot be defined or prescribed to defend the consumption of alcohol.

You can view or download this book in PDF format at the link below.

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