Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Chain of Ideas: Rabble-Rousers

Rabble-rousers lie at the bottom of the chain of ideas. They take information from the popularizers, re-package it, and present it to large masses of people. They have little contact with researchers or original sources, and they are more concerned with shaping public opinion than they are with accurately characterizing the world we share.

Rabble-rousing is extremely common and is becoming increasingly sophisticated. Television, talk radio, religious sermons, and pretty much anything political generally fall into this category.

Packaging information for mass consumption isn't necessarily bad. Often, it can even be entertaining. But too much of the time, rabble-rousers misrepresent and abuse facts to further their own goals. This means that they take advantage of people who don't recognize or aren't willing to challenge their tricks.