Big fish in little ponds

June 20, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More

I recently came across the following quote by Noam Chomsky:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

It occurs to me that the scope of the quote can be expanded beyond public opinion and media if you make a small substitution:

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the their meaningful choices at election time, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.

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Category: Politics

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (2)

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  1. Mike M. says:

    Erich,

    Bulls-eye on your Chomsky expansion.

    A. Craft an illusion of choice.

    B. Unleash the expertise of the media hypnotists.

    C. Allow the phony debates to flare up and bewitch the gullible.

    D.(optional) Chuckle evily behind the Government curtain as the people swallow the bait and the hook without even realizing it.

    Pure stage magic – simple and effective.

    • Erich Vieth says:

      Mike M.: It reminds me of the tactic that parents use on toddlers. "Do you want to go to sleep NOW, or in 5 minutes?" This "choice" gives the child a feeling of empowerment. It calms down the unwitting prisoner, even though the situation smells strongly of a "false dilemma":

      A false dilemma (also called false dichotomy, the either-or fallacy, fallacy of false choice, black-and-white thinking or the fallacy of exhaustive hypotheses) is a type of logical fallacy that involves a situation in which only two alternatives are considered, when in fact there are additional options (sometimes shades of grey between the extremes). For example, "It wasn't medicine that cured Ms. X, so it must have been a miracle."

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_dilemma

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