Monday, January 7, 2013

Vaccination Against Facts by Kane X. Faucher

The government recently rolled out a comprehensive program for mandatory vaccinations against a strain of conceptual flu known as "facts." Given the normal strong resistance self-selecting systems of belief have against the invasion of facts, it might appear strange that the government would take this initiative. The problem first became evident when state internet monitors, charged with the task of measuring belief on news comment sites, noticed a significant drop in belligerent punditry and echo chamber effects, and a marked rise in actual logic, argumentation, reasoning, and dialogue. This has created the conditions of a "perfect storm" for a fact epidemic.

"Despite the immunological studies that continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of the belief endocrine system, we have had a surge in cases where people's belief-based worldviews have been challenged by a constant barrage of facts in the environment," said federal immunologist David Noel from the State Medical and Ideological Correctness Centre. "We must take urgent steps to minimize and quarantine the spread of facts which are highly socially transmissible from person to person."

At particular risk are the more fervid belief ecosystems of the more neoliberal, evangelical, and populist variety. A state official who wished to remain unnamed due to the closed door nature of policy discussions, stated that "we are very concerned with the voting public being presented with facts that contradict our policy message of unions being corrupt and laziness-enabling institutions, and are frightfully concerned with the public's somewhat weakening belief in our message of jobs, prosperity, and economic growth. There has also been a tendency among some believers to doubt the divine right of the rich to soak up performance pay, if not also a touch of cynicism with respect to corporate welfare bailouts."

If current trends hold, warns the state officials, then a domino effect may take place involving the collapse of extreme nationalism, a turning away from the Church of the Chicago School of Mystic Economics, a decrease in gun sales, and a possibility of reconciliation with the UN. At present, the Office of Information has received an overwhelming number of requests for data in the past year, an unprecedented jump of about 430%

The government has been proactive to date on the issue of minimizing the symptoms of fact spread by gutting the budgets of statistical gathering institutions and using paid trolls to disseminate official state message on a repetitive loop. The basic reasoning behind the moves has been to ensure that if those in charge of collecting data are hampered by underfunding, then there can be no significant data collection, and thus no counterpoint against the government's upbeat and saccharin messages of economic recovery. Or, as one state official put it, "you can't point the finger at government and its policies for an increase in unemployment if we simply deny any such thing, and there's no one around to collect data to the contrary. Ditto for oil pipeline environmental impact, morbid obesity linked to the promotion of fast food high in fats, and any link between GMOs and health problems."

The general idea of the vaccination is drawn from traditional theories of propaganda and immunology. That is, in mixing a small dose of acceptable fact with current blind belief, this will better prepare the belief system to deal with facts by inducing the production of belief antibodies that will combat the presence of facts, thus strengthening belief's immunity. A small injection of facts is administered so as not to overwhelm the belief immune system, and the facts are selectively chosen to be minor so as not to cause complications. It is hoped that the "fact flu" (as it has been named by some) will abate, and that the public will return to its general state of being intransigent, oversimplifying, rabidly zealous advocates of the beliefs endorsed by the government.

As another state official put it, "we cannot underestimate the possible effects of a fact epidemic, which will injure our fragile economic recovery and endanger the security of our rich corporate job-creators. If this epidemic gets out of control, the public will demand the impossible of us: a truly accountable, transparent, and honest democratic government. Our Wall Street Masters would not be pleased."

Outlets like FOX have already come out in support of the government initiative, promising to devote air time to the subject, putting the measure in a positive light. This will be complemented by the selective invitation of weak, inarticulate leftist critics who can easily be trounced by loud-mouthed right wing bullies. "By using strong personalities from the right, we can pulverize any silly objection made by those knock-kneed nanny state liberals," said a producer. He added, "we're doing it for freedom and the American Way. Those who object are little more than Taliban sympathizers and radical environmentalists who want to kill jobs and turn our great nation into a slavish communist nation."

In the first trial run of the vaccine, a zealous believer had been chosen. "Patient X" (his real identity is protected for issues of privacy) was a textbook believer in the pundits. A member of the NRA, a bigot who believed foreigners were taking all the good jobs and killing American morality, and a believer in Reaganomic trickle down effect, his beliefs came under attack when he was exposed to a toxic strain of facts, some of which were carried by that most dangerous transmission vehicle, the reality of circumstance. A recent spate of tragic shootings was enough to gain a small toehold on Patient X who began to question whether or not the Second Amendment really extended to the possession of military-grade assault rifles. He also began to doubt whether the amendment was altogether valid since the provision was initially to protect citizens from imminent British invasion. He was further assaulted by the fact that those with guns who experience home invasions actually have a higher mortality rate than those who do not have guns in the home. Fortunately for Patient X, who was selected from a pool of clinical candidates, he was administered an early version of the vaccine (named the Gohmert-Lapierre vaccine, or GoLa for short). His response to the vaccine was rapid and considered a success; Patient X was able to resist any further fact-assault by producing the antibodies, "left wing media conspiracy," "socialist hatred of America," and "let's arm everyone to protect against lunatics." Patient X was back to spewing official state propaganda within two weeks of initial vaccination.

For an orderly administration of the vaccine, Congress has approved a one-time tranche of funds to be given to the US Defense Department so that the military can set up vaccination clinics at any of its recruitment offices. American citizens need only provide proof of identification and fill out a small personal profile questionnaire indicating ideological belief, media preferences, and other data for the purposes of statistical collection and analysis. The vaccination clinics will begin operating before the next "fiscal cliff" and will run for two weeks. Children are especially encouraged to receive the vaccination since "fact flu" has been shown to be most virulent among the young.

Author bits: 

Kane Faucher is the author of several books, including The Infinite Library. He teaches courses on propaganda and social media at Western University. He, his wife, and their four cats live in the other London without Big Ben and Stephen Fry, situated in Canada.

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