Monday, August 26, 2013

Taking a Scientific Look at Surveillance and Big Brother...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Liberty -vs- Tyranny

The Patriot Act and all that it brought with it, including and especially the NSA, has arguably taken the USA a few steps closer to the dystopian world portrayed in George Oswell's novel 1984.

Some, perhaps many may find this over dramatic and hold the belief that it can't really happen here. And, perhaps these people might very well be right. Or, they could possibly be very wrong.

The following is an interesting article, and it is backed up by more than hyperbole or a political agenda. Recommended reading and food for thought. The ultimate determination as to whether it becomes an eventual reality or not is of course up to us, We the People or, Something Else.

The Guardian - Recent disclosures about the scope of government surveillance are staggering. We now know that the UK's Tempora program records huge volumes of private communications, including – as standard – our emails, social networking activity, internet histories, and telephone calls. Much of this data is then shared with the US National Security Agency, which operates its own (formerly) clandestine surveillance operation. Similar programs are believed to operate in Russia, China, India, and throughout several European countries.

While pundits have argued vigorously about the merits and drawbacks of such programs, the voice of science has remained relatively quiet. This is despite the fact that science, alone, can lay claim to a wealth of empirical evidence on the psychological effects of surveillance. Studying that evidence leads to a clear conclusion and a warning: indiscriminate intelligence-gathering presents a grave risk to our mental health, productivity, social cohesion, and ultimately our future.

Surveillance impairs mental health and performance

For more than 15 years we've known that surveillance leads to heightened levels of stress, fatigue and anxiety. In the workplace it also reduces performance and our sense of personal control. A government that engages in mass surveillance cannot claim to value the wellbeing or productivity of its citizens.

Surveillance promotes distrust between the public and the state

People will trust an authority to the extent that it is seen to behave in their interest and trust them in return. Research suggests that people tolerate limited surveillance provided they believe their security is being bought with someone else's liberty. The moment it becomes clear that they are in fact trading their own liberty, the social contract is broken. Violating this trust changes the definition of "us" and "them" in a way that can be dangerous for a democratic authority – suddenly, most of the population stands in opposition to their own government.

Surveillance breeds conformity

For more than 50 years we've known that surveillance encourages conformity to social norms. In a series of classic experiments during the 1950s, psychologist Solomon Asch showed that conformity is so powerful that individuals will follow the crowd even when the crowd is obviously wrong. A government that engages in mass surveillance cannot claim to value innovation, critical thinking, or originality. {Read More}

Via: Memeorandum


  1. Surveillance breeds conformity

    And ridicule of the nonconformist.

    This, I believe, is the worst effect. It hampers critical thought and creativity.
    It is an effective road to well behaved consumers.

    Not to ignore the other issues but this is the coup de grace.

  2. He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
    One against whom there was no official complaint,
    And all the reports on his conduct agree
    That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a saint,
    For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
    Except for the War till the day he retired
    He worked in a factory and never got fired,
    But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
    Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
    For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
    (Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
    And our Social Psychology workers found
    That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
    The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
    And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
    Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
    And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
    Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
    He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Installment Plan
    And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
    A phonograph, a radio, a car and a Frigidaire.
    Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
    That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
    When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
    He was married and added five children to the population,
    Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of hisgeneration.
    And our teachers report that he never interfered with theireducation.
    Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
    Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.

    1. By Jove Ducky I do believe you've gotten it.

      Too bad more liberal/progressive/statist folks and conservative/libertarian/statist folks don't.

      Everybody seems to need a big bad boogeyman and are pursuing their own perceived boogeyman while ignoring the real deal.

    2. Les, what the hell makes you believe the left wants this ridiculous security state? Is this just how you comfort yourself when you vote for a conservative?


    3. Wondering why the Patriot Act was reauthorized. Wondering why the current administration is using the NSA to data mine ALL civilian calls. Wondering why many things are why their are the way they are.

      Perhaps a better question is what makes me think you are thinking?

      POWER -CONTROL -To maintain influence political parties and governments need - CONTROL and POWER - Regardless of which side of the aisle is the majority at any given time they must have - POWER and CONTROL - Therefore they work to insure the STATE maintains POWER and CONTROL at all times by insuring conformity through propaganda and indoctrination - POWER and CONTROL for the STATE.

      It's all around us, it's everywhere, it's pervasive and it continues to grow. It's called the STATE.

      Enjoy the article. Consider bringing the article to your attention jmj a public service. Now, please feel free to do with it what you will.

      Tic Toc, Tic Toc, Tic Toc...

    4. Again, what the hell makes you believe liberals and progressives want this ridiculous security state??? Why can't you answer that question?


    5. Apparently you can't read and comprehend?

      Both conservative (R) and liberal (D) administrations have built the surveillance apparatus used by the state going back to at least WW II.

      Read my prior comment, read the article, point point out why the article and historical facts are in error. I reported the article, a agree with the article, and this is am open thread for your dissenting comments. So, have at it.

  3. Replies
    1. That is a matter of opinion. Of course 911was certainly a factor, even a significant one, however it goes back further and goes much deeper than one man or one horrific event.

  4. Jersey said: " Les, what the hell makes you believe the left wants this ridiculous security state?"

    In an earlier comment, I detailed how the Left has advanced the security state as much as the Right... if not more, even. Going back at least to Truman.

  5. The NSA is surely monitoring this blog. Obama himself will give the order to have RN picked up and sent to Gitmo as an "enemy combatant" (I suspect). The race change of Dennis might throw them for a loop, however. They'll show up to arrest Dennis with a picture of a White skinhead and see a black man with a goatee.

  6. Dervish got it. I read his comment today, and in response, changed my picture a few days ago. Glad he put two and two together.

  7. D.Luthor/dmarks/Dervish Sanders... THE BIG PICTURE is that this government, prior governments, and governments around the world are engaged in some surveillance activity and have been going back forever. Only the technology changes, thus making it easier, faster, more clandestine, and more pervasive.

    Why the hell does this thread gave to turn yet again into a pissing contest between left and right rather than an open and honest discussion of the problem and the potential impact on individuals, organizations, and the entire society?

    Oy Vey!

  8. RN: From that point of view, who is in the position to do the most? Our elected representatives. And who do you think is doing the best job confronting it? Rand Paul has made some good statements, but I think he is too much into partisan politics.


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