Filmmakers Notebook


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FILMMAKERS NOTEBOOK

Caflisch & me (cog dis on the left/cog dis on the right)
38 min. 17 meg quicktime file 11meg winmedia file - thanks to archive.org
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Filmmakers notebook # 85 April 23, 2005 (Cog dis on the left, cog dis on the right)

A couple of years ago, Reed Powers, host of the Saturday morning Sr. Report, Chautauqua County’s (Southwestern New York) only live call-in public access television show (maybe 5,000 viewers, Adelphia) came up with a segment where every other month or so county lawmaker Jim Caflisch and I would debate some subject for about a half an hour. Reed, a retired radio man, identifies me as expressing a liberal or left perspective, and Mr. Caflisch represents the right. Usually he says this, except when he’s particularly nervous about the topic to be discussed.

Jim Caflisch is Chautauqua County’s Republican minority leader in the county legislature. He is a religious man, a faithful person. He is at one with the President’s program, as he discerns it. This mainly comes down to fighting the war on terrorism, post 9-11, and turning government over to free enterprise. It’s my contention, obviously, that Mr. Caflisch has not thought these things through.

On April 23, 2004, Jim Caflisch and I discussed 9-11: what really happened. I told Jim beforehand I would read David Ray Griffin’s The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, as well as much of the official 9/11 Commission Report as I could. I offered copies of the books to him.

But legislator Caflisch is confident his sources of information are adequate to discussing 9-11 (Fox News , William Kristol’s Weekly Standard; occasionally the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. CNN is sure to fill him in with up-to-date headlines). And if it’s really important, he can pick up what he misses at church.

Of late, I’ve undertaken an experimental probing of cognitive dissonance around the subject of 9-11 among people on the “left”: what really happened? have you looked at the evidence? why do you accept the word of a known liar on this key issue?

In Mr. Caflisch case, that’s the wrong set of questions. Those on the “left” hold George Bush (top authority) to be a liar while those on the right accept George Bush as an honest man (capable maybe of telling a ‘white lie’); unless of course they themselves are in on the lie with a high degree of consciousness.

In his 1957 book, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, master behaviorist Leon Festinger explains involuntary and forced contact with information. He writes, “Up to now [we have] focused mainly on voluntary exposure to, or avoidance of, new information. We must, however, also concern ourselves with situations where a person, through no voluntary action on his part, has new information impinge upon him which, if cognized, would increase dissonance.”

[An aside: Mr. Festinger delivered his magnum opus to Bernard Berelson, head of the Behavior Sciences Division of the Ford Foundation, and hence to the CIA and MKULTRA with which Berelson was associated. Festinger’s book is virtually a how-to manual (or at least, the testable theory) for authorities and industry to manipulate the public mind through exploiting our cognitive dissonance.] **

[Another aside: A few years later (1979) another behaviorist (or group of them) express in this document their contempt for anyone so gullible as to believe them: “Human beings are machines, levers which may be grasped and turned, and there is little real difference between automating a society and automating a shoe factory.” An Introduction Programming Manual Operations Research Technical Manual Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars link.

So let’s say, for the sake of this brief experiment, that my colleague Mr. Caflisch is the “person” in the above “situation” described by Festinger, above. I’m going to impinge new information on him “which, if cognized, would increase dissonance.” In most cases so far, for those on the “left”, dissonance has increased when we’ve impinged new information on them.

According to Festinger’s sliding scale, Mr. Caflisch. is in a low dissonant state. By and large, this is because he has near-total faith in his government and the media (particularly Fox), and therefore does not actively avoid situations (i.e., myself, our topic) that could increase dissonance. Whereas a person like Chautauqua County Executive Mark Thomas (a Democrat and a liberal with the tendency to suspect that Bush is a liar) would avoid situations which, quoting Festinger, “if cognized would increase dissonance.”

Festinger notes that there are many circumstances in which a person will become exposed to new information but examines four. The first is adequate for our explanation: Accidental exposure: “If a system [note here: Mr. Caflisch. is being referred to now as a system; this is systems analysis, behaviorist-style] of relevant cognitive elements is characterized by a total or near total absence of dissonance, then there should be little or no avoidance of relevant new information which might impinge on the person.”

Festinger’s behavioristic description holds true. Our “system of relevant cognitive elements” [Mr. C.] watches the video of Building 7’s 6.5 second collapse and does not “cognize” it, to continue with Festinger’s term. One or two rationalizations are proffered. Mr. Caflisch is comfortable knowing that there are a lot of mysteries that we’ll never understand. He also noted that it was very unlikely that the Al Qaida (or anybody) could have gotten the dynamite or other explosives into the three World Trade Center buildings without being seen by security. This is a good point. And when I observed that Marvin Bush (youngest brother of the President) and his cousin William Wirt Walker III handled security for the buildings (Securacom/Stratesec), Mr. Caflisch had two linchpin arguments: Osama bin Laden confessed to the whole thing. And two, if there were any truth to the theories and suggestions I made, they would have turned up on the network news, the newspapers, Fox (instead of on Sr. Report, Channel 5, Chautauqua County).

Legislator Caflisch came prepared with a small sheath of articles. An essay by neo-con Michael Ledeen was on top. After he reminded us that Clinton’s national security adviser Sandy Berger illegally made off with papers that he should have given to the Official Commission (Kean-Zelikow) that had something to do with the Al Qaida, minority leader Caflisch listed Democrat appointees who had no business being on the 9-11 Commission. The point was well taken, since the whole lot were chosen and/or approved by the White House.

Caflisch started off the discussion by the expressing his support for the vigilantes (Bush’s term) or “minutemen” patrolling the Arizona/Mexican border. Other topics of this 38 minute discussion include the ISI and Muhamed Atta, the flight skills (next to zip) of Hani Hanjour, the purported pilot of the presumed Boeing 757 that disappeared into the Pentagon. Jim Caflisch and Reed Powers also quickly discussed the assassination of JFK. I tried to stay focused on 9-11, and cognitive dissonance.

Through it all Mr. Caflisch is good natured and points out that after all is said and done, we must remember that Osama bin Laden admitted to having done it, admitted to masterminding 9-11. You can’t argue with that. Well, actually, you can. But that’s another discussion, my Chautauqua County neo-con Sr. Report cable access television show colleague Legislator James Caflisch and I (Roy Harvey) agreed to have. Many thanks to host Reed Powers, director Chuck Kelsey (Mayville village clerk and Channel 5 station manager, and co-founder with Reed of Sr. Report); Mort Flexer, #1 Geezer, on the phones; & thanks also to Devon Taylor (Mayville village historian) on camera. And Karen, my partner, of snowshoefilms, also on camera.


Properly done, my edit would have contained pictures of the implosions of all three buildings. Due to time constraints, I focused on Building 7. The pulverized dust (which, during the program I foolishly keep referring to as “smoke”), the technique… And then later, a clip of photos of the Pentagon strike.

* Adelphia is one of the few public access companies in my admittedly limited experience that actually turns the television station over to the public – unlike Time Warner, e.g. My hunch is that this attitude was a contributing factor in the Bush administration’s persecution and destruction of the Rigas family and business (Adelphia).

** It’s my view that Julian Jaynes comes closest to understanding this from a non-exploitative (non-behaviorist) perspective in his seminal (and only) book The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind (1976) Jaynes, however, is not very useful in helping us understand the exploitation (by those – especially behaviorists -- conscious of the vestigial trait and who hold it in such contempt in others) of the vestigial bicameral mind we’re all blessed with.

May 15, 2005

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updated Mar 2005