Friday, August 22, 2008


Thanks to Walker for this piece.

From an interview with Michael Crichton, Wired Magazine.
Sep/Oct 1993:

The tendency to characterize people's beliefs - instead of focusing on their actions - is one of the true abuses of the power of the media. Look how quickly Kimba Woods was transformed from respected jurist to Playboy bunny; just as I went from author to racist Japan-basher. In my case, what was striking was how many journalists applied the Japan-bashing label, without appearing to have read my book. The hazards of this practice became clear in a few months, when the Columbia Journalism Review reported last December that the term "Japan-bashing" was invented by an American public relations flack at the Japan Economic Institute, a Japanese lobbying organization. The term was promoted as a way to stifle debate, including legitimate debate, on relations with Japan. The man who coined the phrase said: "Anyone who uses that term is my intellectual dupe."



Walker across Worlds said...

It's interesting to see how such things as "Islamophobia" develop, isn't it? Almost amazing how duped we can be by those who want us all to be "politically correct". It's hard to have a discussion when you feel rude throughout the entire thing.

I've found Crichton to be a voice of very knowledgable reason. He's not just a novelist. I would say he's an intellectual in his own right.

Dag said...

If your summer is extending beyond the season and you still want to read a bit, then based on the interview with Crichton, allow me to propose some more titles:

Philip Knightly, The First Casualty.

Crichton refers to it obliquely in his run-down of the development of the pyramid style of journalism, among other things. It's a great book or war reportage and American history.

One of my favorite writers, now dead, is Neil Postman. I haven't read the one work most directly related to the post you entered, Amusing Ourselves to Death; but I have read Technopoly and Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century. Postman is a good writer, a good thinker, and from what I know of him from his work, a good person.

There's an entire industry within the publishing world dedicated to media critique, but Postman is good regardless of ones interest in that. Postman is an all-round intellectual, a smart and critical and sensitive thinker. I think he' as easy to read and follow as anything in the daily newspaper, though I've met a few people who find him difficult. The three of us here, and others beyond, will certainly be happy to discuss anything that might arise if there's difficulty.

And thanks again, Walker, for the post.