Saturday, June 22, 2013

Greenwald is headed down the wormhole

Here's Glenn Greenwald's description of his approach to journalism.
“I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”
And here's how he described where he's headed with the NSA story the other day on twitter.
The more they lie, the more documents will be released showing they're lying.
That, my friends, is what you call a negative feedback loop (accompanied - of course - by an ill-conceived threat).
Negative feedback occurs when the result of a process influences the operation of the process itself in such a way as to reduce changes.
There's nowhere for Greenwald to go with these kinds of assumptions but down the wormhole. He'll keep assuming that everything anyone in government says is a lie that validates his assumption that they are lying.

In other words, it is the classic case of what Chris Mooney described as motivated reasoning.
...when we think we’re reasoning, we may instead be rationalizing. Or to use an analogy offered by University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt: We may think we’re being scientists, but we’re actually being lawyers. Our “reasoning” is a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case”—and is shot through with biases.
This is clearly not going to end well for Mr. Greenwald. Perhaps he should have stuck to lawyering.

12 comments:

  1. I think Greenwald cares more about being in the spotlight than he does about issues surrounding gov't. surveillance.

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    1. What amazes me is that he seems utterly indifferent to getting caught lying. This is consistent with the personality traits of borderline personalities, people who need to be in control even if they start arguing against their original point - winning, not the point, IS the point.

      Scary that so many people take this man seriously and think he did something good.

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    2. It is more a matter of distortions. People like that don't really lie so much as they unawarely distort things so that they coincide with their pathological mindset. They don't think they are lying. It is how they perceive. It can drive you crazy at close range.

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  2. He calls himself a "former Constitutional and civil rights litigator," but if you step back and think about it, other than infamously defending Nazi Matt Hale -- a case where he attacked black and Jewish hate crime victims (not to mention their REAL civil rights lawyers) and was subsequently caught illegally wiretapping witnesses on behalf of Hale -- what the hell did he EVER do as a lawyer? Given the enormity of his ego, if he had done something significant, we'd all know about it ten thousand times over.

    Truth is he was likely an utter failure at lawyering. But with a knack for inflammatory, conspiracy-minded polemics, he's bullied himself into the public consciousness. Much like another Glenn.

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  3. Nobody ever explained to him what is the wisest thing to do when one finds one's self in a hole of their own making.


    Put down the shovel!

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  4. Greenwald is interested in two things; advancing Greenwald and ratfvcking Liberals to advance uber-Right-Wing Libertarian agenda.

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  5. "The more they lie, the more documents will be released showing they're lying"

    What are they lying about given the fact he hasn't produced one shred of evidence that backs up his statement? Why would they lie about a legal program that's been around since the seventies?

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  6. Greenwald is a fellow of the CATO Institute, founded and funded by the Koch family. That should explain his motives right there.

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  7. Greenwald: The more they lie, the more documents will be released showing they're lying.

    smartypants: [Greenwald will] keep assuming that everything anyone in government says is a lie that validates his assumption that they are lying.

    I simply dont see how you go from Greenwald's quote to your assertion.

    In this particular case, Greenwald is saying he already has the documents. Documents arent assumptions.

    The government seems to be more interested in assuring the public than telling the truth. So instead of being transparent about this very important topic the government tells lies that he and Gellman can easily expose. Clapper obviously. But another example is Gellman tweeted "Obama said NSA not 'listening to people’s phone calls [or] reading the e-mails of U.S. citizens.' Simply untrue." Does that untrue statement about something this important bother you at all?

    And what do you mean by your warning "this is not going to end well for Greenwald"?



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    1. Commenting on an article when you've obviously skipped the first 3 lines is obviously not going to give you a strong argument. So here, let me repeat:

      Greenwald: “I approach my journalism as a litigator,” he said. “People say things, you assume they are lying, and dig for documents to prove it.”

      But then you add to your problems when you use Gellman misquoting President Obama. Here's what he actually said to Charlie Rose:

      …if you are a U.S. person, the NSA cannot listen to your telephone calls, and the NSA cannot target your emails… and have not. They cannot and have not, by law and by rule, and unless they — and usually it wouldn’t be “they,” it’d be the FBI — go to a court, and obtain a warrant. [...] …it’s not targeting your emails unless it’s getting an individualized court order

      And what did Greenwald report?

      To intentionally target either of those groups requires an individual warrant.

      Somehow Greenwald/Gellman find a lie somewhere in what Obama said. And now here you are suggesting the same thing - proving my point.

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  8. I read fine, thank you. I just didn't see how the first three lines even applied to this situation. As you know, Snowden initiated the contact with Poitras, Greenwald, and Gellman. Greenwald didn't go digging for these documents.

    That's great you have a quote with Charlie Rose. You focus on intentionally target. But on June 9 in San Jose, Obama did not say that. He said flat out "Nobody is listening to your telephones....If they actually want to listen to a phone call, they have to go back to a federal judge."

    But the published documents show that the NSA certainly can listen to your phone call if they have a 51% probability that you're outside the country, and you will be presumed to be a non-United States person unless you can be positively identified as a United States person. There's no warrant, no judge. Just weak controls.

    Still curious what you meant by "this is not going to end well for Greenwald."

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    1. Fascinating that you don't see how the first quote applies. It is explained in the 3rd quote:

      Our “reasoning” is a means to a predetermined end—winning our “case”—and is shot through with biases.

      The "predetermined end" (as GG stated in the first quote) - is that people in government lie. Its what science calls motivated reasoning.

      To demonstrate how that happens, you are mixing up 2 NSA programs. What President Obama was referring to in that quote from San Jose is about the metadata collection of phone calls. In order to listen to a particular call - they need a warrant.

      The documents you're referring to are about the PRISM program that collects internet communication (things like email, etc). That is the one that targets non-US persons. And if they inadvertently get communication from a US person - they describe what the NSA does with it.

      Because you've predetermined that Obama is lying, you mix up the two programs and think you've proven that he's lying. But what you've actually done is demonstrate that you are confused.

      That's what I mean by "this is not going to end well for Greenwald." Just like the tea partiers - when you use motivated reasoning, you are bound to err.

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