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The principle of Occam’s razor suggests that the simplest hypothesis is usually the correct one

By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/books/16aaron.html?hpw

Aaronovitch's book is plugged by the New York Times this week, in a review that claims to rely on LOGIC.

According to the reviewer, Occam's razor suggests that the stork brings babies, since that explanation is much simpler than that complex theory involving the birds and the bees.

Of course the Occam's razor known to logic is just a little bit sharper than the Times's reviewer seems to think. It states that the hypothesis containing the FEWEST ASSUMPTIONS is ususally the correct one.

As critical readers of the Warren Report can see, the case against Lee Oswald involves a great many assumptions, while the case for his innocence requires only one. Occam's Razor doesn't help Aaronovitch in the JFK case, even though he uses Matthew Smith to give the rest of us a bad name. I have never met a JFK researcher who considers Matthew Smith a serious student of the case.

No doubt Occam's Razor helps Aaronovitch in some of the wilder conspiracy theories he deals with, but if the Times reviewer is accurate then we can say that logic is not his strong suit.

It seems Aaronovitch

"argues that overarching theories tend to be “formulated by the politically defeated and taken up by the socially defeated.”

Yet when when dealing with the Red Scare conspiracy theory of the so-called McCarthy era (in which Lee Oswald became a victim)

Mr. Aaronovitch writes: “They were East Coasters or Hollywooders; they were educated; they were city dwellers; they liked art and fancy music; they were separate from — and unsympathetic to — the daily travails of the American little man.”

So conspiracy theories are the product of East Coasters and Hollywooders who are educated and like art and fancy music, the politically defeated and the socially defeated?

----

It is simply incredible that an Oxbridge edjumakated War ho like Aaronovitch could mouth lines like that whih are so transparently designed to appeal to Reagan dems. and rich folks who want to seem earthy at the same time. This book is all mental-fashion accessorizing and no fact. A whole new level that would herniate Orwell. It must be roundly trashed by anyone with a bit of free time on Amazon. Since so many people will see your review, it is well worth your time.

Comments:

Only those can comment who have read the book...and who would buy and read a"trashy" book?

Those who quote "Occam's Razor" usually do not understand it and usually misuse it...and try to create a cloak of being "educated".

Jack

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The principle of Occam’s razor suggests that the simplest hypothesis is usually the correct one

By MICHIKO KAKUTANI, New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/16/books/16aaron.html?hpw

Aaronovitch's book is plugged by the New York Times this week, in a review that claims to rely on LOGIC.

According to the reviewer, Occam's razor suggests that the stork brings babies, since that explanation is much simpler than that complex theory involving the birds and the bees.

Of course the Occam's razor known to logic is just a little bit sharper than the Times's reviewer seems to think. It states that the hypothesis containing the FEWEST ASSUMPTIONS is ususally the correct one.

As critical readers of the Warren Report can see, the case against Lee Oswald involves a great many assumptions, while the case for his innocence requires only one. Occam's Razor doesn't help Aaronovitch in the JFK case, even though he uses Matthew Smith to give the rest of us a bad name. I have never met a JFK researcher who considers Matthew Smith a serious student of the case.

No doubt Occam's Razor helps Aaronovitch in some of the wilder conspiracy theories he deals with, but if the Times reviewer is accurate then we can say that logic is not his strong suit.

It seems Aaronovitch

"argues that overarching theories tend to be “formulated by the politically defeated and taken up by the socially defeated.”

Yet when when dealing with the Red Scare conspiracy theory of the so-called McCarthy era (in which Lee Oswald became a victim)

Mr. Aaronovitch writes: “They were East Coasters or Hollywooders; they were educated; they were city dwellers; they liked art and fancy music; they were separate from — and unsympathetic to — the daily travails of the American little man.”

So conspiracy theories are the product of East Coasters and Hollywooders who are educated and like art and fancy music, the politically defeated and the socially defeated?

----

It is simply incredible that an Oxbridge edjumakated War ho like Aaronovitch could mouth lines like that whih are so transparently designed to appeal to Reagan dems. and rich folks who want to seem earthy at the same time. This book is all mental-fashion accessorizing and no fact. A whole new level that would herniate Orwell. It must be roundly trashed by anyone with a bit of free time on Amazon. Since so many people will see your review, it is well worth your time.

Comments:

Only those can comment who have read the book...and who would buy and read a"trashy" book?

Those who quote "Occam's Razor" usually do not understand it and usually misuse it...and try to create a cloak of being "educated".

Jack

-------

Jack one can read the book in the bookstore. That's what B and N is for these days. That way you dont have to give money for such trash. Not to address this book as a means of showing your superior taste is a Pyrrhic victory. It keeps informed observers such as yourself right where the government wants you... ONLY reaching veteran researchers in very small groups instead of possibly thousands of young Jack Whites! Now which do you think the government feels more threatened by? And if you don't ..... how many millions will never read a review because their brains were celaphaned by such sewage?

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I doubt whether many inhabitants of this section of the forum have read Voodoo Histories. I found it generally very well written, well researched and thought-provoking. I would also recommend Margaret Macmillan's The Uses and Abuses of History.

http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Games-Hist...4818&sr=8-1

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Mike I read it. It bites.

This book can be a real momentum-killer if it is not addressed head-on. It is not even trying to enter into a debate over any of the serious conspiracy arguments such as JFK, RFK, and 9-ll. It is merely another attempt to section off part of public debate with more yellow thought-police tape. It does however make for a real cheap Phd in sociology of knowledge, if anyone needs one quick.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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This book is now inside the Amazon top 100 when combined with its kindle edition.

It spends four pages on the RFK assassination.

The only fact it mentions is the mistake made by the author of JFK Must Die in trying to identify the CIA agents in the Ambassador. No other

facts are given, about why anyone would even be the least bit suspicious about the RFK hit.

Amazon lists this book in its "historiography" section. JFK and the Unspeakable, a book with roughly 900 scholarly as all hell footnotes per chapter

is listed in the "Conspiracy Theory" section.

A product link to a real book could raise the sales of an obscure but good book by a factor of hundreds or even thousands.

Act.

There are a hundred people on this site who could destroy this book by taking six hours to communicate to thousands and thousands. Is that really more valuable than typing one more point for the cognoscenti? I make no claim to be among that group, though perhaps I sound sufficiently pretentious. I do know why the movement to reexamine the JFK Assassination has not yet met its goal, however. It is not for lack of facts or fine writers.

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You mean something like a well written ''edressbomb''? Someone would have to write it. In a succinct format with a legalese consideration. ?

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John let me be clear I was not alluding to "destroy" that book in the sense of interfering with the electronic delivery of this book. The thought never crossed my brain. I was just using the word "destroy" in the sense of writing a devastating review that would easily be ranked the top negative review and be seen by tens of thousands. This would in turn enable all those readers to press the product link button that the author had inserted in order to promote a great though neglected work to a hitherto impossibly large audience.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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This book can be a real momentum-killer if it is not addressed head-on.

Nathaniel: I wouldn't get too excited about this book. When it comes to the JFK assassination, I doubt if this book will influence anyone except the most gullible among us.

Thanks to video cameras and good police work, the rest of us will be reading about the latest assassination conspiracy in our newspapers tomorrow, and saying (as the bible says) "there is nothing new under the sun."

A French passport-holder has been identified as the mastermind of the assassination of a senior Hamas official in Dubai last month.

Police in the Gulf state today launched an international manhunt for 11 suspects in the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in his hotel room on January 19, including six men carrying British passports.

International arrest warrants have been issued after the Dubai authorities released names, photos and passport details of the 10 men and one woman wanted in connection with the murder of last month.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/worl...icle7029037.ece

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Ok, I understand, Nathaniel. It sounds like a good idea. Readership cover isn't necessarily only about diract coverage but also about the indirect which can quickly spread. Thanks for the headsup.

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Oh, Nat, you 'caught' =Mike Tribe in his birthday suit.....perhaps he really is so naive as to believe what he posts here, but one would hope an intelligent man would evenually catch-on...but it seems not....perhaps one of the appointed 'cognitive infiltrators' or just naive. Let the gods sort it out...and history...they are equal. 

Gosh, I've been insulted again, this time by a moderator! I'm either a "cognitive infiltrator" (whatever that is) or I'm too "naive" to "catch on" that he's right... Isn't it against the rules to cast aspersions of this sort?

Have you read the book, Peter?

Nathaniel, the book is not primarily about whether or not there was a conspiracy to assassinate Pres. Kennedy. As you said, there is only a short chapter on that. There are other issues which interest historians. And there are other conspiracy theories...

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It seems Aaronovitch
"argues that overarching theories tend to be “formulated by the politically defeated and taken up by the socially defeated.”

Yet when when dealing with the Red Scare conspiracy theory of the so-called McCarthy era (in which Lee Oswald became a victim)

Mr. Aaronovitch writes: “They were East Coasters or Hollywooders; they were educated; they were city dwellers; they liked art and fancy music; they were separate from — and unsympathetic to — the daily travails of the American little man.”

So conspiracy theories are the product of East Coasters and Hollywooders who are educated and like art and fancy music, the politically defeated and the socially defeated?

I haven't read the book but based on the review you quoted that's not what he said, the "East Coasters or Hollywooders" were the victims not promoters of "Voodoo History":

"It’s not surprising, then, that conspiracy theories thrive in times of change, uncertainty and economic stress, and that the designated villains often conform to enemies in “American populist folklore.” Of the era of McCarthyism and the venom aimed at supposed Communist sympathizers, Mr. Aaronovitch writes: “They were East Coasters or Hollywooders; they were educated; they were city dwellers; they liked art and fancy music; they were separate from — and unsympathetic to — the daily travails of the American little man.”

These days a similar sort of antipathy is directed at President Obama, the Democratic Party and the mainstream news media by the Tea Party movement and by so-called birthers, who question whether Mr. Obama was born in the United States."

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Oh, Nat, you 'caught' =Mike Tribe in his birthday suit.....perhaps he really is so naive as to believe what he posts here, but one would hope an intelligent man would evenually catch-on...but it seems not....perhaps one of the appointed 'cognitive infiltrators' or just naive. Let the gods sort it out...and history...they are equal. 

Gosh, I've been insulted again, this time by a moderator! I'm either a "cognitive infiltrator" (whatever that is) or I'm too "naive" to "catch on" that he's right... Isn't it against the rules to cast aspersions of this sort?

Peter routinely flouts the rules he is supposed to enforce.

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Oh, Nat, you 'caught' =Mike Tribe in his birthday suit.....perhaps he really is so naive as to believe what he posts here, but one would hope an intelligent man would evenually catch-on...but it seems not....perhaps one of the appointed 'cognitive infiltrators' or just naive. Let the gods sort it out...and history...they are equal. 

Gosh, I've been insulted again, this time by a moderator! I'm either a "cognitive infiltrator" (whatever that is) or I'm too "naive" to "catch on" that he's right... Isn't it against the rules to cast aspersions of this sort?

Have you read the book, Peter?

Nathaniel, the book is not primarily about whether or not there was a conspiracy to assassinate Pres. Kennedy. As you said, there is only a short chapter on that. There are other issues which interest historians. And there are other conspiracy theories...

------

Mike I disagree. The merger of the EXTREMIST-shallow treatment given to the JFK overview-- especially given how much new primary and secondary material there is on the JFK assassination-- WITH the musings on more provably outlandish Conspiracy Theories is IN MY OPINION one of the purposes of this book.

Now do I have any concrete proof of this? NO I HAVE NONE WHATSOEVER.

However do we have historical proof of this sort of baby and bathwater disinformation among psudo leftist in order to control the left and wall them off from potentially quite dangerous potholes in history? Yes we do.

Given that we live in a radically undemocratic media environment, I feel it necessary to alert my fellow citizens to possibilities that are based on observations from past history. It is important to emphasize that that is what they are-- possibilities. But there is historical precedent: see bellow the review of Hugh Wilford's book: The Mighty Wurlitzer

------

Fair, Balanced on Trees; Forest Focus Could Be Sharper, January 25, 2008

How is it that many within the CIA were considered "liberal" by many within the FBI and their friends in the right-wing 'China Lobby' The answer is psychological warfare. Many within the CIA were affiliated with ostensibly liberal internationalist efforts, such as World Federalism, for which Agency media guru Cord Meyer showed enthusiasm.

The liberal label could be misleading, however, if the right meant that the CIA "liberals" were at odds with US Cold War foreign policy goals. Just the opposite was true. The CIA liberals had done their communications research howework, as Christopher Simpson has pointed out in his essential and skinny volume The Science of CoercionScience of Coercion: Communication Research and Psychological Warfare, 1945-1960. They realized that special publications would be needed to tame left-liberal dissent from US global ambitions.

And so publications like Encounter Magazine were created. Five of six articles would be left liberal, to win over this small BUT INFLUENCIAL group of tweedy professors and quasi-professionals who were capable of footnoting their bad moods. Once they thought that "this magazine is on our side' they would be more suceptible to the raison d'etre of the whole glossy: the monthly gatekeeping article that would keep this caffinated crew from openly opposing US Cold War Foreign Policy objectives.

Just so was the intention behind CIA subsidies for domestic front groups such as labor unions, art critics, and journalists within the US. The author deals skillfully with the individuals involved: many of the individuals did not know that their organizations were being supported by the CIA. Others did know and walked on eggshells to preserve their collegues' virgin curiosities.

The author is carefull to give people who cooperated with the Agency a fair shake. It is doubtful that Gloria Steinem could get a fairer shake than she does in this book; true she was young but a handshake or two with arch-conservative Psychological Warfare veterans like Time-Life CIA's C. D. Jackson should wake one up a bit.

The author points out that there were many times when the front group bahaved in ways contrary to the wishes of their CIA funders. In fact, one wonders if the point is not overemphasized. The point was never to turn the targetted audience into armchair McAthurs: rather it was to prevent theier becoming vocal critics of Greater Containment. A little slackening of the leash now and then would have been appropriate for these scientists of coercion.

In short, the CIA front groups, as is emphasized more strongly in Francis Stonor Saunders book (The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters ) were left-gatekeepers with rightist ends in mind. This point about the project could bear much stronger emphasis. On the other hand there is plenty of fresh detail in The Mighty Wurlitzer. The author openly acknowledges his debt to Saunders book but there is fresh information and detail in nearly every chapter. I recommend this book for everyone interested in post World War history and journalism.

One will never read The Nation in quite the same way!

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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Ok, I understand, Nathaniel. It sounds like a good idea. Readership cover isn't necessarily only about diract coverage but also about the indirect which can quickly spread. Thanks for the headsup.

-----

Yes John. Also I think it is a mistake to look at disinformation solely in terms of concrete red-herrings planted for experts. There is no shortage of that either, but what I am suggesting here is a different genre.

Professional historians are much closer to the consensus that the JFK assassination was the result of a conspiracy than the general educated reader of publications like the NYT might realize.

How then, does the professional dissinformationalist deal with this situation? Here one more ding-an-banana peal is not the way to go. These folk do professional homework. A better idea is to fuzz up the audience, by messing with what people consider high and low-status knowledge.

Now a book like Kai Bird's book on Oppenheimer might be cool to mention among a certain Nation reading audience of professionals. Try mentioning a book at least as scholarly with much deeper implications-- such as James Douglas' book on the JFK assassination-- among the same audience in the US. Eyebrows among some of them will conspire to do the wave.

IMO, that is what books like Voodoo Histories are "about": making darn sure that dangerous topics are seen as low-class, even when the research behind them has revealed a far greater degree of certainty than most might think.

There is too much new evidence out there to actively maintain the truth of LNism. Other strategies of disinformation must now be used in addition. That IMO is the propaganda function of David Aaronovitch's new book: to keep history that matters and might in fact become actionable intelligence if it becomes widely understood,.... to keep such truth's "vulgar" even if based on more empiricism many might think.

The 23% who still believe in LN must never be held up for ridicule. That priority has more to do with manners than bullet fragments.

Edited by Nathaniel Heidenheimer
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And so publications like Encounter Magazine were created. Five of six articles would be left liberal, to win over this small BUT INFLUENCIAL group of tweedy professors and quasi-professionals who were capable of footnoting their bad moods. Once they thought that "this magazine is on our side' they would be more suceptible to the raison d'etre of the whole glossy: the monthly gatekeeping article that would keep this caffinated crew from openly opposing US Cold War Foreign Policy objectives.

Never neglect the sordid, Nat.

Encounter paid well, certainly in its early years, a not insignificant consideration in post-war Britain. Academics, like spies and spuds, have always been available by the pound. To enter the CIA-Encounter world was also to gain admission to conferences in pleasant places, the US academic circuit, and publishing (Secker and Warburg published Encounter and lots of books, at least one on the Kennedy assassination). Put the lot together and it's a wonder any of the miserable old brutes resisted the bait.

Paul

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That's the carrot. Those who resisted the stick soon found out how free they really were. To me it's heartening how many who did resist while their fate was often sad. They are numerous and unsung except for a few who embodied the spirit, like Joe Hill, who live on

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