Will Mormonism become Mitt’s Bradley effect?

Is there an anti-Mormon analogous to the Bradley effect?

Okay, so as I understand it, the Bradley effect is a polling phenomenon wherein white people said they were going to vote for a black candidate in greater numbers than they actually did. Its named for a particular black  mayoral candidate from the eighties. Admittedly this effect hasn’t been logged or documented during elections in the past decade or so. This has been attributed to increasing trust among white voters for black candidates running for elective office. It could also be as a result of white people polling more honestly and generally having the confidence to express their genuine opinions.

My task here today is to explore the concept of how personal opinion interacts with personal embarrassment. A recent poll showed that only 8% of Americans view Mitt Romney’s religion as a factor determining whether or not they would vote for him. Mitt Romneys religion is quite conspicuously the least relevant fact that those polled have considered in choosing who to vote for.

Upon analyzing this slim figure I’m astonished at the idea that only such a low number would admit to the pan-human trait of religious intolerance. I mean are these the same people who for years were fighting in Northern Ireland in defense of such concepts as Catholic v.s. Protestant?

Now here they are presented with the ideological rift between Christianity and Mormonism and only 8% consider it an issue? The founder of Mormonism was himself  assassinated simply for expounding his doctrine of the eventual transition of humans to the level of God. Jesus the Christ was killed, so the story goes, for proselytizing his belief that he was the son of God and the savior of mankind. The very founders of these religions were the first of their respective faiths to experience the very intolerance of which Im writing.

Mormons in America represent about 10 million people in the general population of 313+ millions of people. So its safe to say that the vast majority of Americans are in fact not Mormons. Of these, am I honestly to believe that only a mere 8% consider the alien nature of Mr. Romney’s religion an issue? The only words suitable that come to mind are those of the character Gregory House from the medical drama “House” ; “Everybody lies!”

I now try to imagine a random person on the phone answering these question about their sometimes politically incorrect views. I think about just how many random people out there, when given an opportunity to act like what they believe to be a typical voter, would have the mettle to answer that they do in fact have a problem with candidate Romney’s Mormon faith. The very heart of middle class sensibilities is rooted in denying  the less pleasant aspects of the world and of ourselves. True suburbanites have an editing faculty built in. The kind that says, ” Hating Jews is definitely wrong; Hating Blacks is probably wrong and Hating Mormons is…” Well that last part is what we’re examining here today.

Please note that I’m not decrying polls in general. The problem here is not in how these polls were conducted but in those who were polled. These polls assume a deep rooted and academic certainty will result from their carefully worded questions. Their side cannot possibly account for just how irrationally self-conscious some people can be when forced to instantly question their own morality. Denial is usually the first stage or this sudden awakening. Acceptance is inevitably the last. And in between is a variable cocktail of ingredients ranging from realism to self deluding bliss. But at that instant of facing one’s true and disappointing self, denial is the most common first defense. So when in fact a person is asked cold whether or not Mitt Romney’s Mormon beliefs or religion will be a determining factor on whether or not they’re gonna vote for him, I maintain that an automatic “No” would be a lie for most middle class individuals. They simply have too much to lose by telling the truth. Namely themselves.

What Mad Men has meant to me.

From the title sequence with the falling avatar, to the chimney stack chuckle heads that litter this masterpiece, Mad Men has resolutely entertained, edified and fascinated viewers for years now.

The morbidity of a look at the long dead and forgotten age that is 1960’s America has caused us to revisit a less innocent, less evolved period in US history. For some this has been a geek fantasy driven by the ever present opportunities to undress the writer’s attempts at accurately depicting the past. Others, myself included, sometimes sit pensively, waiting for someone to drop the N-word, crack an insensitive joke and otherwise condemn all the lepers who missed out on the distinction of being born rich, white and male.

Image  This is the age when rifts were formed in America during the civil rights movement. In a sense Mad Men has given us a look at the less illuminated aspect of this time period. We usually only hear about the marches, and the dogs and the racism in the south when this period is discussed. It was quite refreshing to see some easily relatable characters struggling with everyday problems of less epic magnitude than racial integration. The characters explored in this series have failings just like all of us. Their smoking habits are so rampant and ubiquitous that they draw parallels with the obesity epidemic which the world faces today.

Its hard to believe that there was ever such a shameless extent of sexism in the workplace, as that depicted in Mad Men episodes. The visuals of this bizarre behavior is striking and its depiction adequately conveys the point of the significance of different historical ages. Each time period is truly unique. Even though history is often reduced to mere dates and events, it’s innards are composed of cultures far removed from our global, politically correct village. In the details is where the real history happens. Like how we often convince ourselves that the true “savages” beloved to ages long past when in fact it is our own which allows billions of people to go hungry as millions of us waste precious food and water daily.

Back to Mad Men though, it has also enlightened me to the perspective the individuals alive at that time had with regards to their news consumption. I had previously been under the impression that those people in history books were in a sense one with their news. I never before thought that it was once new to them.

Like they were all characters in his coherent narrative where everyone  was in perfect step with the causes and effects. I have lately realized that this was due to the approach of some of the historical texts I’ve read. These depict history as a constant narrative without attempting to sift these abstract causes and effects from the people who happen to live in the time period.

It is works of creative historical fiction like Mad Men that have truly figured out the less concrete, but arguably more important type of history which is woven using the twine of individual narrative.

This approach usually has the advantage of keeping the audience involved and interested and ultimately better positioned to receive the more concrete type of history. The narrative is the key.

Image Mad Men has proven itself the superior of old tomes and dusty volumes with its approach to history. As such, it is a force good more than an agent of evil.

Netizens!

If you can access this with no fear of persecution and under no threat of bodily harm,then you are one of the lucky ones. Here are some of the not so lucky ones:

1. In Bahrain, the moderator of an online forum died in police custody in April 2011.

2.In Jordan, a blogger was stabbed in the stomach.

3. In Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan, those who criticized the government online have “disappeared under mysterious circumstances.”

4.In Mexico, bloggers who had written about organized crime were murdered, with notes that referred explicitly to the victims’ postings online.

http://www.bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/09/25/estonia-gets-highest-marks-for-internet-freedom/

Is the Web God? Or atleast Religion?

We depend on it for answers. We cant conceive of an existence without it. We use it in our daily lives. And all these points of interaction between technology and human need beg the question; Is there an emergent or transcendent relationship here?

How can an entity so seemingly intelligent as the world wide web have any less right to claim a place in the Parthenon of the Gods? Are we so far removed from our “pagan” ancestry that we can resist to anthropomorphize or even deify this central thread in our common existence?

Gods have been forged on less merit.

Google maps can pinpoint your location using your IP address as a LoJack. Facebook can identify you using facial recognition software. Any email that you archive can remain in the cloud for an indefinite amount of time. We are living in an archaeologists fantasy. Our digital footprint is an upload of our soul.

As a whole, the web is like a gigantic net in which we are all caught. It is noteworthy that the first Christians used a fish as their symbol. We are all being reeled into the future in a web of information, pseudo-information and garbage. We have here yet another likeness between religion and the internet; in that both have facets that are more useful than others.

Already, people around the world and particularly in the united states consider instantaneous delivery of searched information a right. Gigantic cloud server farms now exist to cater to every whim of these ‘worshipers.’ As long as the machines keep humming along we all hum on along with them in a resounding tone of : The Machine is Good, All The Time.

At some level I think we have stopped to look at the web as a construct and more like a force of the universe itself. Just observe how irate perfectly rational people get at the slightest malfunction on a website. Its almost as if someone has insulted their God. A leaked password, or a message that has been in appropriately displayed, or any information that presents the slightest discomfort to the observer is reacted upon with righteous and near biblical anger.

Just like previous ages and civilizations have been defined by their supernatural and religious practices, so has the 21st Century been influenced by the World Wide Web. The importance of this tool is comparable to the relevancy the church had in the middle ages. For some of us, to stop broadcasting online is to lose ones soul. Or so it sometimes feels. We need the web so much that logging off has come to feel like receiving an excommunication from the Pope. Its like a total tearing asunder of one from ones e-spirituality.

Our technological crutch is obvious. We don’t even pretend to have any autonomy anymore. The most backwards of SMEs now has a facebook page, or a twitter or google plus account. Through social media, the web is becoming more and more surgically embedded in our lives. It is hardly healthy to maintain such lofty expectations and to demand perfection from a machine. We are obviously going to have to deal with disappointment, sometimes  even from the irreproachable World Wide Web.
All I insist on is a formality in acknowledging how truly important it now is to us.

Scientists are already expressing fears that Moore’s law is about to hit a wall. When this eventually happens, computers will encounter a situation of stagnation. How should a population so used to an endless technological frontier adjust to cope with this reality?

The answer is simple: Self Control. So turn off your computer this weekend and try to enjoy yourself  in other less pagan ways. The web cannot do for you what you cannot do for yourself. Its not God.

And remember; its never that serious!