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shrubbery's avatar

"Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information" - Edward Murrow. What do you make of this quote and the events surrounding it?

Asked by shrubbery (10280points) September 24th, 2009

About Edward Murrow
About Good Night, and Good Luck

I’ve been studying the movie Good Night and Good Luck in my english class and have been looking into this quote. (This is homework, but only a healthy discussion to get my cogs turning, not specific questions that I am required to answer, most are my own questions.)

If you have seen the movie or know the story of Edward Murrow, it might be easier for you to contribute to this discussion but even if you haven’t your input about the ideas behind it is welcome :)

What can be gained from imagining the past?

Who can we look to for ideas and information?

What happens when the importance of ideas and information is diminished? What replaces information? How are judgments made when information is unreliable?

In Edward Murrow’s time there was TV and radio, now we have the internet. Information spreads incredibly quickly, and it’s not always correct. What are your views on the way people find information and what difference the internet makes?

Can we compare the hunt for communists to the war on terror? Senator McCarthy to Bush?

Ideas and information can bring people together, but also divide them. What are your views on this?

Is it reasonable to say that the absence of information breeds assumptions, accusations, and people who don’t have information can be controlled by those who do?

In V for Vendetta, it is implied that once an idea is born, it can never die. People who represent that idea can die but the idea will always live on. What do you think of this?

What do you think of the whole twitter/Iran thing?

What do you think about media bias? I’m reminded of this question.Got anything to say about this?

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10 Answers

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Don’t ask me why, but I feel like doing this, even though it’s gonna suck my time away. And just to add, I don’t know Edward Murrow, neither have I watched Good Night, and Good Luck, but I know about McCarthy, and boy do I dislike him.

“Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information” – Edward Murrow. What do you make of this quote and the events surrounding it?
Let us exalt the importance of ideas and information? When have we never done this? In everything we do, there’s always an idea and information behind it. Unless he’s referring to information as the truth, and ideas such as objectivity (wouldn’t be that surprised since this was during the time of McCarthyism), then this question is, well… unnecessary somewhat.

What can be gained from imagining the past?
I shall answer this question with another. Don’t we all in some way or another? Think about that last date you had with your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/pet rock. I’m sure that there were problems with that date. Perhaps the drinks arrived too diluted, or the music was too loud, and they managed to irritate you no end at the time. However, in retrospect, that was the loveliest date you ever had.

Imagining the past can also give us a purpose for the future. If you’d been bullied at a child, you’d probably be thinking about the past to yourself, imagining what you could’ve done differently, how you could’ve changed the situation for the better. From there you can pass the knowledge on to your children, or even use it in your future.

And of course, if you’re one of those people who can never get out of the past, thinking about the past will probably just give you an escape from reality. Momentary pleasurable self-delusion.

Of course, it all depends on the individual.

Who can we look to for ideas and information?
A funny question, considering how smart I believe you are. Or was this just a question to make us think? =)

Well, I believe that simply put, the answer is anyone and everyone. Any person on this planet has a life story to tell, has lessons only he/she has gone through and has a unique view of the world nobody else probably has in its entirety. Speak to anyone about anything and see the beliefs behind it and you can learn anything. Ask them directly about their ideas/information/beliefs and you’ll get a lot, even if you don’t agree with it.

What happens when the importance of ideas and information is diminished? What replaces information? How are judgments made when information is unreliable?
The importance of ideas and information diminished? Are you referring to an authoritarian regime of sorts where free thought is repressed? If so, then the only thing which replaces the information you used to have is the propaganda of the state and the beliefs of someone else.

As to how judgments are made when information is unreliable… Again, don’t we all do this at one point or another? If you don’t have anyone else to discuss things with, you use either logic and/or emotion to guide you. And you’ll also most probably draw from your life experience.

In Edward Murrow’s time there was TV and radio, now we have the internet. Information spreads incredibly quickly, and it’s not always correct. What are your views on the way people find information and what difference the internet makes?
The way I see it, if people really are sincere in finding out the truth, they’ll go and get the story from all different angles. The internet is a treasure trove of information, more so than what we used to have back in the 20th century. Information just gets disseminated faster, and you have both good and bad information. Personally, I think that the only difference the internet makes is in the speed and efficiency of the messages broadcasted to the public. If you have good marketing skills, then your message will get across faster and will make a better impression. It’s just real life, amplified by a lot.

*Can we compare the hunt for communists to the war on terror? Senator McCarthy to Bush?
Ideas and information can bring people together, but also divide them. What are your views on this?*
Hunt for Communists the same as the war on terror? Hmm… Why not? If you wear a turban and sport a heavy beard, ARGH YOU’RE A TERRORIST. Then again, I think that the spirit of fear that’s been whipped up is due more to peoples’ opinions than government propaganda (correct me if I’m wrong someone). And I admit that I don’t know enough about McCarthy and Bush to give an objective comparison.

But as for the second part, simple answer: It’s humanity at work all over again. Just that now with globalisation it’s happening on a grander and faster scale.

Is it reasonable to say that the absence of information breeds assumptions, accusations, and people who don’t have information can be controlled by those who do?
The Aryans are the master race. All people with turbans and beards are terrorists. All people who live in the Bible Belt are Bible-Thumping whackheads.

While gross generalisations, I think that my examples do serve to prove a point. However, you have to keep in mind that accusations and prejudices are inherent within most, if not all of us. I suppose that we just direct our hate (or dislike) at a certain object, even if we know that things aren’t really the way we portray them to be, simply because we need something to beat down to make us feel better or part of the winning team.

People are competitive and are always comparing. It’s sad when it results in biasness and prejudices, but maybe it helps us to survive as a race.

In V for Vendetta, it is implied that once an idea is born, it can never die. People who represent that idea can die but the idea will always live on. What do you think of this?
Poetic and lovely, but rather confused. Let me give you a different take on this. Ideas are always in us. It just takes someone to light that spark and really get it going in our consciousness. As long as people carry on living, ideas will always live on in one form or another. An idea is born and if the people representing it die, it will “die” (I’m assuming that there’re no records of this idea anywhere), but it’ll simply take another like-minded individual in a similar situation to come up with the same sort of idea.

What do you think of the whole twitter/Iran thing?
I haven’t been keeping up with the news for a long time, so I can’t really pass comment on this.

What do you think about media bias?
Disappointing, but what else can you expect? We’re people. Sure you may have rare cases of unbiased (or at least, as unbiased as possible) sources such as the BBC but for the most part I guess media biased is just to be expected.

~~~~~~~~~~~

Gosh… approximately 1000 words. But I gotta thank you for this question. It made me think. I hope it helps you too. =)

Also, which were the homework questions I answered? And which were the original questions? I want to know what I may have influenced.

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Thinking about it made me realise that I need to read the news more. Nowadays all the news I read are the interesting headliners from the BBC RSS feed

shrubbery's avatar

@Saturated_Brain, wow! thanks so much for taking the time to give such a great response :)

The questions provided by my teacher were “What can be gained from imagining the past?”, “Who can we look to for ideas and information?” and “What happens when the importance of ideas and information is diminished?”, picked out among a few other quotes and dot points on a hand out. The rest are mine.

Just replies to a few of your comments- “Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information” is referring to truth and knowing what’s going on around us as opposed to one of his other quotes: “We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable and complacent. We have currently a built-in allergy to unpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up off our fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse and insulate us, then television and those who finance it, those who look at it and those who work at it, may see a totally different picture too late.” So I guess it’s about the reliability of information and actually wanting to know about current affairs and what’s happening in our society rather than just watching entertaining TV shows and advertisements, if you get what I mean.

And I think the “Who can we look to for ideas and information?” might be referring to say like the Primer Minister or The President, or TV or radio or newspapers or internet or politicians or journalists or those kinds of things. Open to interpretation though, I like your answer.

I didn’t explain the V for Vendetta thing very well, sorry about that.

I’m also looking into the representation of ideas and issues through genre, structures and language choices in the film Good Night and Good Luck, and also comparing all of this with Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, so if you’ve read that and have anything to say it would be greatly appreciated :)

Saturated_Brain's avatar

@shrubbery Haha thanks for the clarifications. Yeah a few things are a bit clearer. As for the V for Vendetta quote. Nah, you’re question wasn’t unclear to me, just that while I think that V is possibly the coolest character ever, it’s all just a show (kickass show nonetheless).

Also, the only Arthur Miller play I’ve read is All My Sons. So I can’t help you there. Sorry mate. And if you want to ask me to compare ideas and issues through genre, structures and language choices, I’ll only answer them if you tell me what you’ve thought of first. I like discussions, not the homework pit. =) =P

shrubbery's avatar

Nah this isn’t technically homework, all just brainstorming in order to write a speech which is the actual homework piece. I’ll give you what I’ve got after I’ve worked for a bit longer though :) thanks for your help.
I do have to be careful what I post on the internet of my own work though because the teacher can put it through a program to see how much is plagiarised and if I type my speech up here and then hand it in to the teacher it could come up as 100% plagiarised! But at least from that you’ll know that I won’t plagiarise anything you’ve said, not that I would anyway!

Wait a second… Can I reference you?

Saturated_Brain's avatar

No problemo. =)

Saturated_Brain's avatar

I just saw the edit on referencing me.. Hmm.. Also no problemo. =)

Let me see the speech k?

shrubbery's avatar

Sure, I’ll private message you. Too bad no one else has answered, I was hoping to get a good discussion going or something :(

Saturated_Brain's avatar

Most probably the sheer breadth of your questions scared people off. I don’t really know why but it did the exact opposite for me. =P

shrubbery's avatar

@Saturated_Brain, sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you. I submitted my speech and my teacher took a while to mark it, then I had to fix it up and resubmit it. I got all As in the end though. I didn’t use your stuff, but I’ll PM it to you if still want to read it :)

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