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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Beware the False Words of the Dark Magicians

Words are indeed magic. A few well-chosen words can precipitate a love affair, create or destroy a reputation, or incite an entire population to hatred and warfare. The dark magicians of modern times are well acquainted with the magical power of words. Shady sorcerers such as the Clintons, Cleggs, and Obamas; Salmonds and Sturgeons; Merkels and Camerons - make your own list (though some are more adept at the dark art than others, it must be conceded).

It is our responsibility to be wise to the manipulative tricks of these dark magicians in order to inoculate ourselves against the power of their cunning spells. This requires a basic awareness, at the least, of certain aspects of logic, and developing the ability to spot an attempt to cast a poisonous spell. The curse will most likely manifest as a form of logical fallacy, intended to deceive the gullible and unthinking. Anybody unable to discern a fallacy will be easy meat for the magicians' crafty predations.

I invite you to do your own homework on this one; it is not too complex, and is necessary. I will draw attention to two areas that stand out for me, however.

Beware the 'argument' that does not address the point in question, but instead appeals to the emotions, especially the emotional prejudices, of the reader or listener. In recent times, anybody with the temerity to disagree with any of the Scottish National Party's ill-thought-out policies would probably be dismissed as being 'negative'. Whatever that means, I'm not sure; but nobody wants to be branded 'negative', do they? So, to divert unwanted attention from your rubbish ideas, you have a go at the accuser and their negativity. This is not the discourse of proper discussion or debate. Ad hominem arguments are rife, when a point of view is countered by an attack on the speaker/writer's character or personal traits. 'Well, that's just the sort of thing we'd expect an ignorant, ill-informed person like you to say.' Closely related is the calling of names. Trying to dismiss anyone who questions human-made global warming as a 'climate change denier' is an example. By associating them with people who deny the reality of the holocaust, tarring them with the same brush, and thereby suggesting that they are people who refuse to accept the truth that is staring them in the face, and are happy to see us all burn in hell, is a despicably low and nasty trick.

Secondly, beware the black magic of the false dichotomy. A situation is presented in black-and-white terms, as having only two options, while in reality an entire spectrum of (frequently more intelligent) possibilities exist. The false dichotomy is rife. It happens all the time and, if not spotted, is an excellent way of promoting fear and insecurity in a population. A classic example is Bush's post-9/11 statement that 'If you're not with us, you're with the terrorists.' No, George, a minute's reflection will demonstrate that it's not like that at all; but in the midst of the panic and insecurity of the moment, clear thinking is rare, and it is good enough to do the trick.

I encounter false dichotomies all over the place. If you're against windfarms, you must be in favour of nuclear. No. If you're not in favour of windfarms, you must be in favour of fossil fuels. Nope again. If you're against windfarms, you can't care about the environment. Bullshit. If you criticise socialism, you must be right-wing. If you're not left-wing, you've gotta be right-wing, O.K.? If you're not with Obama, you must be a Tea Party person. This is all false black-and-white bullshit to prevent proper thinking. Don't let others define the parameters for your thought, what's permitted inside the box and what isn't. Use your own open-ended intelligence. But to do so requires constant diligence. Beware, beware. They're out to get your mind.

The image of the Dark Magician for this piece comes from the fascinating Infinite Visions Tarot. The website is well worth checking out. The online text accompanying some of the figures of the Tarot is more incisive than a lot you can come across. And what Infinite Visions says about this particular card is of relevance with regard to the Dark Magicians lurking amongst us today:

'The Dark Magician is the wounded one who has sunk into deep despair, sadness, hopelessness, and may express these emotions through anger and violence......  The enemy lurks closely, searching for your weakness, and for an opportunity to exploit it. Take mental note of situations or events that stand out as being strange..... You may never see or recognise this enemy because the work is done behind the scenes and in the shadows or under the guise of a friend.'            

Beware, beware. Exercise constant diligence. They're out for your mind.......

Image: Infinite Visions Tarot