Ivor Catt's Web



The clever take the brilliant.

Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments if they are inimical to Ingsoc, and of being bored or repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity.
- G. Orwell, 1984, pub. Chancellor, 1984 edn., p225

Strong forces in society maintain the segmentation of knowledge and discourse.

The pressing question remains, whether the suppression of communication results from conspiracy or from some other cause. This essay introduces a new mode of suppression which does not require conspiracy.

Through our representational democracy, control is in the hands of a much larger group, the "thought proles", some way lower than the top in intelligence. Their primary motivation comes from a feeling of insecurity. So this group have democratically agreed that bodies of knowledge must not be linked together so as to create disciplines which are too complex for them to comprehend. Should such more complex arrays of ideas be allowed to develop, and to be communicated and discussed, the numerous thought-proles, the intelligentsia, would lose control to a new tyranny of the intellectual elite, the over-intelligentsia.

The evolved conspiracy is that the insecure chattering classes (= thought-proles, or intelligentsia) have democratically decided that they are safer living in a schizoid, false universe of discourse, with segmented, unrelated subjects of concern, than to lose control by allowing the potential new dictator group to trade in more complex, interrelated bodies of knowledge which only the over-intelligentsia could master.

To illustrate. On the same day, the government moved to bring down the homosexual age of consent from 18 to 16, and to raise the legal age for selling cigarettes from 16 to 18. This anomaly was pointed out in the press at some length. However, the "Clever take the brilliant, C/B model, predicts that concatenation of the two subjects will not be allowed. For instance, even the discussion of whether they are both health issues will not appear in our published media. (The idea that immunosuppressive drugs leading to AIDS are needed to expedite homosexual practises, thus making it a drug/health issue very similar to the smoking issue, will not even be discussed. Similarly, Walton suggests that discussion of EMU convergence in 1999 will not be allowed to merge with discussion of the projected "Millennium Bug" financial catastrophe on 1st January 2,000, making the EMU convergence date inappropriate.) [Since this was written, D. Parsley and D. Smith touched on this collision in the Sunday Times, 23nov97, sect. 3 p1.]

My friend Eric Coates distinguishes between the expert, whose professional future is bound up in keeping his knowledge base distinct and unadulterated by other bodies of knowledge, and the Man on the Clapham Omnibus. Generally, the latter matter little. To the extent that they are relevant, they feel insecure if bodies of knowledge coalesce. So they support the (intelligentsia) knowledge professionals who block cross-fertilization.

My co-author Dave Walton cites the Venn Diagram as an illustration of the C/B behavioural model. Discussion of, and publication on, subject A will occur. Similarly, discussion of subject C will occur. However, the common area ABC will be taboo. He points out that keeping to A, B or C is sterile, because it is in the cross-fertilization that growth in (and renewal, or even maintenance of) knowledge lies. Neglect of one factor in a situation negates the value of analysis. However, the thought-prole would rather retain control of a fragmentary, false world of ideas than lose control by letting the middle area ABC enter our journals and university courses. There is no need for one thought-prole to conspire with another to ban the middle area ABC. A large part of his ever more reductionist training has led to him looking for, and recognising, the point at which introduction of further factors in a subject discussion will make it too complex for him personally, so that he would lose control to the clever guys, to the new tyranny of the over-intelligentsia.

The references below point to the many partial realisations of the C/B model, of which they are sub-sets.

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Asimov, Foundation Trilogy, circa 1955

Basil Bernstein , On the Classification and Framing of Educational Knowledge, in ed. M. F. D. Young, Knowledge and Control, pub. Collier-Macmillan 1971, pp47-69. Arnold Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind, pub. Penguin 1987

Hiram Caton, "Product Control in the Truth Industry", Australian journal SEARCH, vol 20, no. 1, jan-feb89, pp24-26. See last page.

Ivor Catt, The Rise and Fall of Bodies of Knowledge, The Information Scientist 12 (4) Dec78, pp. 137-1445; The Politics of Knowledge, The Ethical Record, London, June 1996.

Chomsky books on Guatemala et al.

McCutchen, An Evolved Conspiracy, New Scientist, 29apr76, p225.

God showed his understandable fear of the over-intelligentsia, first in the story of the apple in Eden, and again during the building of the Tower of Babel. "And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. .... ....And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they all have one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city [of individual, separate buildings, or bodies of knowledge]." - Genesis ch.11

Chris Penfold's play circa 1980. Plato, The Republic of Plato, Part III, The Allegory of the Cave, p222.

A Tyler, (article on AIDS in the Independent circa 1994. He and Chomsky say that in order to publish, one must not merely pretend to politically correct views; one must internalise them.) (To bring this point up to date; it is important to know no more than Diana did about AIDS. Easy for newcomers to the subject! I.C. 10sep97.)

Ivor Catt 121 Westfields, St. Albans AL3 4JR, England. 20july97 / 10sep97 /24nov97 / 5June98 This copy printed 11/10/98


The Politics of Knowledge in Science. ...............Deception in The Guardian.
(Lecture to the Ethical Society)

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