Zionism - Israeli Flag

Zen and Understanding Middle East News and Issues

Zionism Israel Zionism on the Web definitions about issues history documents links photos contact help us

 Zionism & Israel Center    Zionism and Israel Pages   MidEastWeb Middle East News Views & Facts

Sellers' Markets in Information and Solutions

CONTENTS

Zen & Understanding the Middle East

Introduction
Sellers' Market
Will to Believe
Rules of Thumb

"The truth is out there "
Use & misuse of words
False information signals more false information
Technical whiz-bang
Understand the Context
Lies, More Lies, Damn Lies and Newspapers
Beware of Generalizations
Theology and scripture
Misleading Statistics
Smoke in your eyes: a picture can be worth a thousand lies
What is Missing?
Myth versus fact versus narrative
The past was not like the present; the future will be different

Fallacy Recognition in the Middle East

Fallacies and Arguments
Cause and Effect
Slippery Slope
Gambler's Fallacy
Ad Hominem
Authority
Beliefs
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Tradition
False Dilemma or Black and White Thinking
Special Pleading
The Spotlight Fallacy
Who is to Say?

Fallacy Handbook

There are markets for information, as with anything else, and the laws of supply and demand apply. Not many people are usually interested in subjects like Tudor England or quantum wave mechanics. The supply of information generally exceeds the demand, and the buyers are usually fairly expert in the subject and can tell hoaxes and counterfeits from the genuine article. They are willing to pay the price of learning in order to acquire the information, and it is usually pretty steep. Learning is often BORING. It is hard work.

There is an insatiable demand for information about other subjects such as how to get rich in the stock market, how to cure cancer, how to be slim, how to attract women etc. The buyers are much more numerous than the sellers. Often they do not have the time, capability or inclination to afford the price of learning needed to acquire the information. The demand exceeds the supply. This attracts charlatans who manufacture counterfeits. The counterfeits, like the watches sold on the Internet, are inexpensive to acquire. Why pay $5000 for a watch that you can buy for $200? Why spend four years earning a university diploma, when you can get one through the e-mail in two weeks? Why spend time reading lots of boring books about the Middle East, when you can acquire the knowledge from a single article or easy to read book that identifies the villains and the good guys without a lot of boring facts? As one "historian" (Ilan Pappe) put it:

[V]ery pedantic and empiricist historians like to argue and to waste a lot of ink so to speak on figures, on numbers, as if the numbers are really important for the construction of myth, or if you have the accurate number you can destroy a myth or debunk it and I don't think it's very true.


(Quoted in a film about the Latrun battle and originally posted on the Web here -
http://www.olinfilms.com/latrun/script.html)


Facts are boring. Facts are for pedants. The important thing is to create a myth that people believe.


The sellers market for information and solutions is particularly acute when there is no solution in sight, and the demand is very great. People who claimed they could turn lead into gold were in great demand in the Middle Ages, and people who claim they can create controlled nuclear fusion to produce power are in great demand today. Medicines that promise to keep you young are also in great demand. None of these solutions really work, but people hungry for good news will "buy" them. Solutions for the problems of the Middle East, like philosopher's stones that will turn lead to gold, are in great demand and each has its enthusiasts.


It is difficult or impossible to get an unbiased jury about the Middle East or any other political subject. An analyst or researcher who is writing about quantum physics or molecular biology generally wants to understand or explain these subjects. A historian or analyst writing about Israelis and Palestinians or Iraq, is often writing in order to advance a particular view point and to assemble "facts" that will convince you that one side or the other is right, rather than to enhance your understanding or their own understanding. Ever since Thucydides and the Old Testament, histories are supposed to be "edifying." If history does not have a "moral of the story" then it is a "tale full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The facts must be arranged to show the triumph or righteousness of the Jews, the Arabs, the Muslims, God, the Christians, the Athenians or the working class or good over evil. Facts and figures are for pedants. The important thing is to create myths and to weave intriguing tales. In every tale, there must be a villain and a hero, and every tale must have a happy end.


The Middle East is a far away region that is not well known in Europe, East Asia and the Americas. Most of the time, it has the same relation to the lives of most people in those countries as the boiler room of the Titanic had to the passengers of the ship. It is another place in the ship of the world, where people do things, such as extracting oil from the earth (or transporting spices in bygone days), which are necessary, but no concern or interest of yours.


However, when the iceberg hit the engines, the engine room of the Titanic became a place that attracted interest. When Middle East politics make tall buildings fall in New York or there are spectacular wars or terror attacks, there is a sudden demand for information about this Middle East place. Middle East web sites that are generally neglected in favor of sites that specialize in sex, commerce and sex commerce, are suddenly hosts to tens of thousands of visitors a day. Books that "explain" the events, which would otherwise gather dust in libraries, become best sellers. Too often, the Web sites and books convey a point of view rather than information. They sow disinformation and bias rather than increasing understanding.

Previous: Introduction   Next: Will to Believe

Understanding the Middle East I Understanding the Middle East II - Words about Words

Read/Download the entire book (PDF)

Copyright

This material is copyright © by Ami Isseroff and MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA, 2006. Please do link to these pages and tell your friends about them. by e-mail. You may print out these materials for nonprofit use.  Do not reproduce these pages or the entire book for any other purpose in any media other than e-mail without permission.

External Links

This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites. These links are NOT intended to be an exhaustive reference about Zionism, but the list will keep growing...

Please tell us about your favorite links and we will review them for inclusion.

Please be careful to credit the Zionism pages and link to us. Please do copy  these links to your Web site,  giving credit to Zionism Israel Center

Sister sites : Zionism Pages Brave Zionism Zionism and Israel information center  and Zionism and Israel On the Web Brave Zionism

 Thank you.

MidEastWeb  History of Israel Palestine and the Middle East Conflict conflict   

MidEastWeb Middle East News, Views, Maps and History

Zionism  Definition and Brief History  A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish antiZionists.

Labor Zionism   History and Critique  Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

Concise Guide to IsraeliZionist CyberSpace

Israel-Palestina  (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie gids Israël, Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective  Dutch and English.

English  Israel-Palestine.info Guide to the Middle East Conflict (Peace, Zionism, antiSemitism ...)

Advocacy

Active Zionism  A Zionist advocacy site with many useful links

PEACE Watch  Middle East Dialog and Peace Process

Pnews  Progressive Views on Zionism Israel Jews & AntiSemitism

Addmorelinkshere

ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log    Zionism & Israel News  Israel: like this, as if History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew  Zionism and its Impact

Israel Christian Zionism Site Map