Caflisch & me (cog dis on the left/cog dis on the right)
38 min. 17 meg quicktime file 11meg winmedia file
- thanks to
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
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
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
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