Friday, December 23, 2022

Greg Yudin calls this "an amazing study and an important conclusion" 

Why do Russians continue to recite the propaganda and support the war, despite the overwhelming evidence? Does the reason lie in their unique “cultural code”? Or is it more mundane? Social researchers Anatoly Kropivnitskyi and Alya Denisenko compare the reaction of Russians to the war in Ukraine with the reaction of Americans to the war in Iraq

“I think the best thing you can do with this is to hope that the president has enough information to do the right thing. And then you need to trust him to do that and as part of the country you need to support that…”

In both form and content, this statement is very similar to how many Russians described their attitude to the Russian Armed Forces’ “special military operation” in Ukraine. 213 qualitative interviews collected by the PS Lab team between February and June 2022, demonstrated that for many Russians the very fact that Russia was in Ukraine was enough to conclude that there must be a reason — even if it was impossible to know what it was. 

Yet the “right thing” from the quote above refers not to Vladimir Putin’s decision to start the so-called “special military operation” on 24 February 2022, but to George Bush Jr.’s decision to invade Iraq on 20 March 2003. This quote is taken from the paper by the U.S. sociologist Monica Prasad and her co-authors, exploring the mechanisms of resistance to information that contradict people’s political beliefs. Many Americans had been convinced of Saddam Hussain’s involvement in the organization of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, and this conviction led them to support the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Bush never directly stated that Hussain is responsible for the attacks, but his administration’s political rhetoric consistently connected Iraq with 9/11. Although the 9/11 Commission wasn’t able to prove Hussain’s involvement in the preparation of the attacks on the twin towers, Bush supporters continued to think that the war was justified, because the president couldn’t have started it without a reason.

Prasad and her co-authors call this form of reasoning “inferred justification”. When justifying a political stance or a moral assessment, people don’t appeal to specific facts they themselves consider credible, to leverage them in order to convince the opponent. Rather, it is sufficient for them to simply say that such facts exist or must exist, even if it is utterly impossible to know what they are. 

...24 February was a huge shock for many Russians. Some of them hailed the start of the “special military operation,” others opposed it, but a great number of people took the stance that PS Lab researchers call “undecided”. The very scale of the events forces these people to assume that there must be a reason, triggering the mechanism of “inferred justification.” Unable to prevent or influence the decision of those in power who started the “special operation”, they behave as if this decision was justified. The hope that such a justification is in principle possible allows them to mute the voice of their doubts and makes it “easier for them that way.”  This hope is not necessarily related to the moral character or cultural  characteristics of Russians, but is a reflection of the socio-political situation in which they find themselves. 

"This hope is not necessarily related to the moral character or cultural characteristics of Russians, but is a reflection of the socio-political situation in which they find themselves." RILLY, YA THINK??  THIS IS AN IMPORTANT CONCLUSION!!

What do you do if you have no power over your life? You hope for the best.  And if you know who your human rulers are,  you hope they're right. If you have no exit and no voice, loyalty us your only option. And I didn't need Albert Hirschman to tell me the obvious.

Some people write books for others who never leave the library, then those readers think they understand the world. Social science makes you stupid. A library is a monument to received ideas.

LEARNED (THE). Make fun of. All it takes to be learned is a good memory and hard work.

LEARNING. Despise it as the sign of a narrow mind.

PROFESSOR. Always “the learned.”

ARTISTS. All charlatans. Praise their disinterestedness (old-fashioned). Express surprise that they dress like everyone else (old-fashioned). They earn huge sums and squander them. Often asked to dine out. Woman artist necessarily a whore. What artists do cannot be called work.

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