Monday, March 13, 2017

The left-wing information bubble and "Ferguson"

Yes, I put "Ferguson" in quotes.  You'll see why.  Yup, I'm earnin' the blog title today.

Did'ya hear?!  A new tape surfaced!  Before the "robbery!"  This changes everything!!!!  Extra exclamation points!!!!  (I'd go back and re-type that in all-caps, but I'm lazy.  Daylight savings time, and all...)

Every time this topic comes up, I have to link to this, which is the Department of Justice report on the shooting incident.  Very few lefties even know that this document exists.  I'm just going to quote here:
Although there are several individuals who have stated that Brown held his hands up in an unambiguous sign of surrender prior to Wilson shooting him dead, their accounts do not support a prosecution of Wilson.  As detailed throughout this report, some of those accounts are inaccurate because they are inconsistent with the physical and forensic evidence; some of those accounts are materially inconsistent with that witness's own prior statements with no explanation, credible or otherwise, as to why those accounts changed over time.  Certain other witnesses who originally stated Brown had his hands up in surrender recanted their original accounts, admitting that they did not witness the shooting or parts of it, despite what they initially reported either to federal or local law enforcement or to the media.  Prosecutors did not rely on those accounts when making a prosecutive decision.
Translation:  the "hands up-don't shoot" story looked sketchy at best to Obama's DoJ.  And it should have been obvious all along that the story was suspicious.  The story was first told publicly by Brown's accomplice in the liquor store incident, and then, only after that happened, did a series of "witnesses" claim to have seen that.  This is precisely when eye witness testimony is least reliable-- when they can influence each other.

However, the story played into the core beliefs of the left.  And the cops really do use excessive force, primarily against African-Americans.  Just ask Eric Garner.  Oh, wait.  You can't.  He can't talk.  Or breathe.  That one was real.

And this is where we get into the basic psychology of ideological beliefs.  If you are committed to a belief, you will filter out evidence against that belief in order to minimize "cognitive dissonance."  People maintain schemas through which they view the world, making it easier to retain information consistent with their world views, but harder to retain information inconsistent with their world views.  The rigidity of their schemata determines the extent to which they experience cognitive dissonance, and their tolerance for cognitive dissonance will determine how they filter information.

There.  Crash course.

The left focuses so heavily on the existence of real racism among the cops (see: Garner, Eric among many others) that they simply do not follow the basic principles of "innocent until proven guilty" when it comes to cops shooting black people.  As soon as the "hands up-don't shoot" story started to circulate, the left committed to it so completely that there was no way to back out of it should the evidence not support them.

And that was a problem.

Remember that DoJ report on the shooting.

The one that the left mostly ignores.

Why?  It can't penetrate the left-wing information bubble.  It's like an investigation showing that Hillary Clinton didn't do anything wrong with regard to Benghazi (there were many such reports).  There's no way they could penetrate the Fox News/right-wing bubble.  The DoJ report doesn't get attention in left-wing media, and if it did, it wouldn't get past lefties' internal filters because it would require a major internal correction.  "Hands up-don't shoot" became a slogan.

"Ferguson" became a slogan.  A one-word slogan representing everything wrong with policing in America.  And a separate report on policing in Ferguson showed real problems, but that doesn't get away from the basic problem that the DoJ investigation showed the left getting snookered.  The Michael Brown story was central to mobilizing people on an issue that is core to the left right now, and that story was not backed up by the DoJ report.

So now, a new tape has surfaced, with Michael Brown walking into the liquor store before the incident.  According to the new story, we have misunderstood the liquor store incident.  It wasn't a robbery.  It was a drug deal gone bad.

Yeah, that'll elevate Brown to sainthood in the eyes of the unconvinced.

Why is the left still poking at this?  There are two varieties of lefties at work here:  those who have read the DoJ report and are still hoping to find vindication somewhere, and those who haven't read it, and just want to poke at things.  I admit to bafflement in some sense.

Anyone still going on about Michael Brown who hasn't read the DoJ report...  read that thing.


  1. Ah, but it DOES fit with another thread, though.

    It doesn't change what we know about Brown.
    It DOES confirm the (previously existing, yes) opinion about the Ferguson Police engaging in character assassination.

    Maybe the problem isn't cognitive dissonance in the one instance of Michael Brown. Rather, it's that the story has been told so many times, that we have a schema to rely on: namely, a causal schema.

    The story "cops shoot black guy" is so old and well-worn at this point.

    And, yes, the anecdote can't penetrate the left's bubble. But the data can't penetrate the right's bubble--whether you apply Wolfinger's definition of data or not.

    1. Fair point, but anyone reading this probably leans left, so I'm prodding them. The way that the dual Ferguson reports played out was a classic case of each side hearing only what they wanted. The left ignored that Wilson was innocent and the right ignored that the Ferguson cops are often sleazy as hell. Whether or not it was character assassination, though... I won't go there. They thought Brown was a crook, and everything we know about him says he was. And a violent one to boot.

    2. Read the guy who made the documentary saying something about Brown being a superstar because he graduated high school, and only 60% graduated high school in Ferguson.

      Yes, that's a low rate.
      But, by extension, it's got a LOT of superstars.

    3. This is part of a ridiculous attempt to vindicate a dude who was a violent criminal because if they can't vindicate him, then the spark for the "Black Lives Matter" movement remains a lie. The problem is that the spark for that movement really does look like a lie, and if the best that the filmmaker can do to vindicate him is to point out that he was one of the 60% in his cohort who graduated high school, that kind of makes the DoJ's point for them. The silly thing is that there are SO SO SO many real victims. Eric Garner, Tamir Rice... Brown was the spark, but his story was bullshit, and nobody really knows how to deal with that.

  2. I'm OK with Brown being the spark, even if his story was bullshit, because, well....the legal history of this country is basically a bunch of assholes doing stupid shit and inadvertently giving the rest of us some nice fundamental rights.

    1. What I'm not OK with is leaving lies in place. If there are positive changes, then I'd rather that than leaving racist practices in place, and there are a lot of racist police practices. But right now, I've got this thing about leaving lies in place. I don't like it.