Rumor-panic, defined

So I’m reading Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend, by Jeffrey S. Victor. Excellent stuff. And I come across this paragraph:

In order to avoid vague notions of what constitutes a “rumor-panic,” in my research I defined a “rumor-panic” as a collective stress reaction in response to a belief in stories about immediately threatening circumstances. A rumor-panic in a community can be identified by the existence of widely occurring fear-provoked behavior. Examples of fear-provoked behavior include: 1) protective behavior, such as the widespread buying of guns or preventing children from being in public places; 2) aggressive behavior, such as group attacks on people perceived to be sources of threat, or the destruction of property; and 3) agitated information-seeking at community meetings for “news” about the threat and intensified surveillance of the community by police and vigilante groups of citizens.

So, yes or no discussion question: Does the Tea Party “movement” constitute a rumor-panic?

0349 It certainly appears to be “a collective stress reaction in response to a belief in stories about immediately threatening circumstances.” What about those other criteria?

Widespread buying of guns? Check. And homeschooling could be another form of the protective behavior of keeping children sheltered.

Agitated information-seeking at community meetings? Oh, big check on that one. (Remember when the words “Town Hall” still had connotations of democracy and citizenship?)

That just leaves “2) aggressive behavior,” which certainly exists, but hasn’t yet risen/fallen to the point of “group attacks on people perceived to be sources of threat.” (We’ll set apart the Texas suicide pilot as — I hope — an anomaly.)

Overall, though, I’d have to say the Tea Party movement bears a striking resemblance to the classic rumor-panic and witchhunt. It’s driven by rumors to become fearful and driven by fear to believe rumors — really outlandish, unbelievable, weirdly nightmarish rumors at that.

Welcome to Salem, 21st-century style. Tune in to Fox News for the latest spectral evidence. …

  • lonespark

    Computers are really good for three-dimensional modeling. So organic chemistry, biochemistry, mineralogy, physics, etc. etc. really benefit from having computers available.

  • lonespark

    With a computer lab, you not only have access to more books than you can get for your library
    And electronic information is more easily updated. I’m not saying schools shouldn’t have books or encyclopedias or whatever, but stuff gets outdated fast and books are not cheap.

  • Kitti

    Kitti is the wisest of the elves!

    I… um… okaaaaay…
    Is that some reference that I’m missing?

  • lonespark

    No, I don’t think anyone actually knows it, but it’s a compliment!
    In Lord of the Rings, Galadriel refers to Celeborn as the wisest of the elves. But he’s kind of a bigoted dick, as regards Dwarves at least. For a reason, since they killed his family. Also for a reason, no love lost, ancient history, blah blah. And they woke up the balrog and such. But he does show friendship to Gimli and aid the Fellowship. So there is a theory that he is the wisest because he can recognize his limitations and improve himself.
    So now I have got in the habit telling people they are the Wisest of the Elves when they own their privilege, realize it’s not all about them, etc. Or just learn from mistakes. But it doesn’t make much sense, especially out of context, so you are right to look at me funny.

  • Kitti

    …Wow. I think you just beat me, and my entire family, in Obscure Lord of the Rings References. *impressed*

  • Jeff

    [[I have to confess that the minute a person uses the human eye as an example to support a theory of design I immediately write them off. The human eye is an obvious kluge and if any first year design student turned it in as a project they'd flunk.]]
    I was going to say that octopi had the best eyes, but I guess mantis shrimp beat even them. Seriously, why can’t we has stalks?

  • lonespark

    I might have have spent a leeeetle too much time on theonering.net and other such places over the years. Just a tad. Or a skosh. Before I found this place and deadbrowalking and such.

  • Kitti

    Lol. Okay, I was never that obsessed.

  • redcrow

    >>>I might have have spent a leeeetle too much time on theonering.net and other such places over the years.
    How much is “too much”?

  • lonespark

    I don’t know. Maybe “more than is necessary to outgeek Kitti’s family and/or Stephen Colbert?”

  • Kitti

    *really entertained with this discussion*
    YES I’M EASILY ENTERTAINED SHUT UP. :P

  • http://www.nightkitchenseattle.com MadGastronomer

    So am I, Kitti, so am I. On both counts.

  • Anton Mates

    Lee,

    Creationism is based on the belief that God created everything as is. Creationists either believe that humans and dinosaurs once co-existed or that God created dinosaur fossils for some reason, most likely a test of faith.

    This actually isn’t true. “Creationism,” in practice, covers an even wider spectrum of beliefs than ID, from young-earth creationism to old-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, which overlaps with theistic evolution. (See Genie Scott’s explication of the creation/evolution continuum, for instance.) This is partly because, unlike “intelligent design proponent,” “creationist” is a word lots of laymen actually use proudly to describe themselves. For instance, I’ve met theistic evolutionists from conservative communities who identify as creationists, by which they mean, “I believe in the creative power of God. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those scary atheist evolutionists.”
    By contrast, although ID tries to present itself as a big tent, 99.9% of “design advocates” are relatively conservative creationists (though old-earthers, usually) in private. Even the high-profile ones: Michael Behe and William Dembski, for instance, have both rejected common descent, which an evolutionary creationist accepts. (As always, ID is primarily motivated by “We’re not monkeys!!!”)
    There are a couple of high-profile IDers who don’t toe the theological line, like the agnostics David Berlinski and Steve Fuller. But the exception proves the rule: neither of these guys are willing to actually endorse ID, they just earn their keep by attacking evolution.

  • lonespark

    My favorite comment on Creationism was on Al Franken’s old radio show. RTCs weren’t crazy about Creationism being taught in school when it was a Native American creation story. It was really funny.

  • Tricksterson awaiting his just and rightful slaughter.

    lonespark: Reminds me of a netfriend who, if Intelligent Design ever started being pushed in his brother’s school planned to immediately protest on behalf of the Norse Creation Myth not being given equal time.

  • lonespark

    Tricksterson, isn’t there a comic related to that that gets linked once in a while?
    I would totally join that protest.

  • Caravelle

    Launcifer :

    It’s the where that I can’t quite wrap my head around, to be honest. There’s bits of the function that seem useful, like colour and binocular vision and funky depth perception, but having them stuck in the centre of the front of my head and slightly recessed? Seems a bit limiting is all.

    Actually as far as positioning goes our eyes aren’t bad at all. Talking to a friend in robotics about the problem of walking, he says that people used to put the gyroscopes in the legs and wondered why it didn’t work out, and it turned out they had to be right next to the camera – like our inner ear is in head with our eyes. I expect it’s probably true of most sensory organs : the math is just easier if they’re all sensing from the same place. Also, it’s all at the same place as the brain that way the signal doesn’t have to travel very far and you’ve got better reaction time.
    Also, this place is usually the front of the animal, where you’d want it to be really. We don’t really have a front, but being at the top is also a good idea for eyes : better visibility. A nose might be more useful lower but we’re visual animals so never mind that.
    As to slightly recessed… You wouldn’t want your eyes to fall out, would you ? Or to be too vulnerable to attack ?

  • burgundy

    We’ve moved on a bit from homeschooling, but this is both relevant and fascinating:
    German family seeks (and gets) asylum in the US because they insisted on homeschooling their children.

  • hapax

    We don’t really have a front
    /hapax squints down at her chest/
    Speak for yourself, bucko.

  • Jeff

    lonespark, thanks to you, I’m brushing every night.
    Thanks!
    =========================
    [[Also, this place is usually the front of the animal, where you'd want it to be really. We don't really have a front, but being at the top is also a good idea for eyes : better visibility.]]
    Why can’t we have three eyes on stalks, made of thick bone or retractible, swivel 360 degrees plus 90 or more degrees up and down. 3 lids like all the “normal” animals have, and no blind spot. If I was designing something that was “in action how like an angel, … the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals”, that’s where I’d start!

  • Tricksterson awaiting his just and rightful slaughter.

    I don’t have a problem with our eyes, but every time I stub my toe, i wish for hooves.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    Jeff: I dunno about stalks. I’d like the idea of…supplementary eyes that we could point anywhere without turning our head, but otherwise you’re putting our most valuable sense-organs in a very dangerous position.
    Mind you, I also think we need at least a third ear to provide more precision when it comes to tracking sounds and the ability to actively alter how sensitive our senses of pain and touch are.

  • Caravelle

    hapax :

    /hapax squints down at her chest/
    Speak for yourself, bucko.

    Excellent point ! We should indeed have eyes there. Also, if our brains were in our chests it would be much safer all around. When we start genetically engineering the human species we should look into it.
    It would make breastfeeding a bit awkward but we could use our newly freed up head for that.

  • Caravelle

    Jeff :

    Why can’t we have three eyes on stalks, made of thick bone or retractible, swivel 360 degrees plus 90 or more degrees up and down. 3 lids like all the “normal” animals have, and no blind spot. If I was designing something that was “in action how like an angel, … the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals”, that’s where I’d start!

    I was thinking of that. A priori completely mobile eyestalks sounds like a computational nightmare to make a coherent image of, but we know mammalian brains can handle 360° vision or near enough and we know they can handle binocular vision and we can always close one eye, so at the very worst you might double the size of the visual cortex and the stalks would alternate between different fixed viewing positions instead of waving freely (kind of like octopus arms end up imitating rigid arms when picking up something for some reason) but it can be done. And I agree it would be awesome.
    The big problem is vulnerability; I think the stalks should have to be completely retractable and we’d have some solid shell to retract them into. Also, make them indefinitely regrowable. For that matter, make everything regrowable.
    I’m not sure why you want three though. Two for binocular vision, yes, but what advantage would the third bring ?
    Unfortunately in nature eye-stalks tend to belong to shelled creatures who really need them to peek at things and can protect them, so to me that says they’re not as awesome as they seem on paper.
    I wonder if the distance from the brain would give measurably different reaction times ?

  • hagsrus

    …landlord and tenet…

  • http://profile.typepad.com/shiftercat ShifterCat

    Lee Ratner said:

    Personally, I’d argue that if people want the Genesis creation story taught in public schools, it should be taught as long as the Norse, Greek, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, and other creation stories are also taught.

    lonespark asked:

    …isn’t there a comic related to that that gets linked once in a while?

    Science vs. Norse Mythology! (My Asatruar friend got a kick out of that one.)

  • http://merryhouse.livejournal.com Julie paradox

    I read an End-Times person’s blog (I don’t know how I found it – did any of you lot tell me about Annamatrix?) where she once went on about how it was obvious that Intelligent Design was just God without saying so, and how come all these scientists rooting for ID didn’t realise that, stupid people?
    Uh – buh -
    Yes, I did manage a coherent comment ;-)
    [edit: one of these days I will remember that it's slash, not backslash]

  • truth is life

    The big problem is vulnerability; I think the stalks should have to be completely retractable and we’d have some solid shell to retract them into. Also, make them indefinitely regrowable. For that matter, make everything regrowable.
    I’m not sure why you want three though. Two for binocular vision, yes, but what advantage would the third bring ?

    For all-around vision, of course. Haven’t you ever wanted to be able to see what’s behind you?

  • hapax

    one of these days I will remember that it’s slash, not backslash
    Heckopete, we go for any kind of slash around here!
    And as far as re-designing humans go, I’d like to point out that bilateral symmetry is highly over-rated.

  • Caravelle

    truth is life :

    For all-around vision, of course. Haven’t you ever wanted to be able to see what’s behind you?

    Ah you’re right, I was thinking two completely pivotable eyes on stalks already give that but at any one time they don’t.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/gdwarf GDwarf

    Why not just have a ring of eyes around our head, spaced so that we can have binocular depth perception in essentially every direction?
    Oooh, and have an ear and nostril beneath each eye, so that we can very precisely locate sounds and smells.
    To go with that design we’d want at least another pair of arms in our chest/back, making us essentially symmetrical in every direction when viewed from above.

  • http://crisismaven.wordpress.com CrisisMaven

    For home educators, students and researchers: I have put one of the most comprehensive link lists for hundreds of thousands of statistical sources and indicators (economics, demographics, health etc.) on my blog: Statistics Reference List. And what I find most fascinating is how data can be visualised nowadays with the graphical computing power of modern PCs, as in many of the dozens of examples in these Data Visualisation References. If you miss anything that I might be able to find for you or if you yourself want to share a resource, please leave a comment.


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