The bullshit valves have been flung so wide open by conservatives since Trump was elected, it’s frankly difficult to keep up (I’ll still entertain dishonest BS from the left too, if anyone can find some). In this age where we are all possessed of the automatic notion that ‘video proves everything’, manipulating peoples’ opinion with video is child’s play. Thankfully, just like the antics of a child, such exercises are transparent. One such practice is called ‘cherry picking’. ‘Cherry Picking’ is when a videographer/interviewer goes into the field with the very specific agenda of proving that certain people are just crappy, hypocritical, or ignorant. With the ease and quality of video recording, the access to cheap and easy editing tools, and a little added psychology, this technique has become very popular and prolific… among the very dishonest.
One such video caught my attention very recently. It was made by a propagandist who posts on Youtube under the name ‘Joey Salads’. The title of the video is, “Refugee in House (Social Experiment) at Muslim Ban Protest”. There is more wrong with that title than the syntax fail which is fairly minor. Calling it an ‘experiment’ to somehow give it methodological legitimacy is the part that falls shorter than spitting at the Moon while in a hurricane. Let’s look at this ‘experiment’:
First, let’s clear this part up:
ex·per·i·ment: A scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact:
Okay, so in the context that Mr. Salads is using the word he has it dead wrong. CAN this be described as an ‘experiment’? Sure, but only under the most charitable definition one might find, like, maybe, this one:
A test, trial, or tentative procedure; an act or operation for the purpose of discovering something unknown or of testing a principle, supposition,etc.:
… In which case we would have to ‘cherry pick’ to extract the phrase: “A tentative procedure for the purpose of testing a supposition.”
After hewing down the definition, removing some of the pesky words like ‘scientific’ and ‘hypothesis’ and ‘procedure’, ‘operation’, ‘known’, ‘discovery’, ‘method’, etc., we can come up with a definition of ‘experiment’ that fits what this video actually shows. See what I did there?
Of course, Mr. Salads expects people who see the word ‘experiment’ to think of a ‘serious researcher’ or ‘dogged investigator’. In fact, Mr. Salads soon proves that he has every intention to taint the results of his ‘experiment’… making it anything but.
Here is the blatantly dishonest point that Mr. Salads is trying to make; “Because someone cannot house or help some refugees, they are therefore refusing to assist them.” And to make this point, the only people we see in the video, one that he had 100% control of from shoot, to editing, to production, to publication, are people that state they are in some way unable to personally help house refugees. Funny thing though, a few of them were willing to give their contact information in case they might donate or help in the future. In this video, Mr. Salads ONLY uses subjects that he has deliberately conditioned, which is a form of cherry picking.
To get to this one point, Mr. Salads first has to suggest that ordinary citizens are actually obliged to assist in the resettlement of refugees. Sure, not everyone is aware that we actually have a stringent and comprehensive resettlement program as laid out by the Department of State, so Mr. Salads puts out this one slick little fib at 1:00 :
“What we’re worried about is that when Trump does let the refugees come in, he’s gonna like cut their welfare, their shelter… and we’re looking for people to either give donations, or to possibly offer shelter.”
Mr. Salads’ audience is likely entirely unaware of the fairly sophisticated manipulation he used there. It would be impossible to convince an expert in sales or psychology that what Mr. Salads did there was anything but remove any and all sense of urgency or responsibility from his subjects. He quite literally conditioned the people to whom he was speaking to believe that their assistance wasn’t really necessary. Here are the key words and phrases:
“We’re worried”. This conveys uncertainty. It is not a statement of impending hardship, just the concern that it is a possibility. This is not ‘clear and present’, it is ‘nebulous and somewhere’.
“When Trump does”. When is that? Again, this is another indication that it is ‘not right now’.
“to either give donations”. Giving them a choice is simply giving them permission to pledge to do what is more convenient and removing any feeling of responsibility to house anyone because both options are presented as charitable.
“or to possibly offer shelter”. This is the reinforcement that the shelter option is definitely lowest on the list of what are very non-urgent priorities to begin with.
Aaaand they gave the exact responses you’d expect from people who’ve just been asked to do something in the event that pigs get pilots’ licenses. Even still, some people did give their contact information to be called upon for help.
But this changes nothing about the main theme of the video: That inability to help is also refusal to help. Planting the suggestion that there was no urgency certainly helped Mr. Salads get the responses he was planning to use to make that false equivalence, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is indeed false equivalence.
“Mr. Salads, please remit to me any high atomic weight stable element in the range of 150.”
Mr. Salads, “Sir, I do not possess any such elements.”
“Sir, why do you refuse to give me what I ask?”
If someone does not have the resources, and you’ve given them every reason not to come up with those resources, they are going to tell you they don’t have those resources. To consider that a ‘refusal’ is like saying you’re refusing my casual request that you lend me your Lamborghini… from your dreams. But with a very small sample of individuals under very unscientific circumstances, to conclude that inability equates to refusal is some true craphunting bullshit.