Anti-Americanism based on misconceptions?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous (Czech-Related)' started by Sova, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    I just read an interesting article, which refers to a survey conducted in the UK attempting to relate anti-Americanism to misconceptions among British citizens. I'm curious what opinions/experiences people here have on whether such misconceptions exist in the Czech Republic, and how much they may or may not influence anti-Americanism among Czechs.
  2. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    These question in article seems really suspicious and very specific. :)

    What I have in mind about darker aspects of American foreign policy, it's for example Guatemala 1954, support of Pinochet in Chille, support of Manuel Noriega, Contras support in Nicaragua... and other...

    I believe that polygamy isn't officialy legal in USA, but overlooked for some religion groups.

    I believe that many Czechs connect USA with violence and guns (but I know that it very depends on specific US area or neighbourhood) and that American are very religious (which is bad thing for Czechs :) )

    What I most honour on USA is freedom of speech. What surprises me in bad way are ghettos, "projects", street gangs and things like was Katrina fiasco. (Sorry if I am too frank :)
  3. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Very good article Sova, thanks for posting that.
    Americans have a bad image abroad, and it's nice to know that some of that just might be only because of misconceptions. I have never understood the anti.american attitude. If anything, I would agree with Eso that, it should be because of supporting non.democratic, oppressive, tyrants in this hemisphere, but hopefully that is a thing of the past.
    Some of the answers in that survey really surprised me.
    The english thought that polygamy was a legal option in all the states?
    It is only splinter groups of the Mormon church that practice that(and that is a very, very small number(in Utah)). The main stream Mormon church quit practicing polygamy a long time ago.
    The arming Saddam question was an eye opener too. A lot of Americans need to read that. Believe it or not, there is a big 'Blame America for all the ills of the world' crowd over here too.
  4. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    On other hand, I don't think polygamy or carbon emissions are number one US problems for Britons. I guess the main problem they have right now is war in Iraq.
  5. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    I wonder what the number are, in percentages, of the anti American policy vs. pro american policy are. Is the negative view really as strong as some suggest?
  6. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    To expand my own question....I'm sure the attitudes very widely among the different nations.
  7. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Well this isn't so easy, I think majority likes something on America and at the same time doesn't like something other. I believe extremes (love all/hate all) are rare.
  8. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Definitely. This group "America in the World" definitely has an agenda, and so you can bet chose specific questions which they believed would provoke incorrect answers. Also, they apparently don't even attempt to correlate these specific misconceptions of the US with anti-Americanism. Admittedly, some of these questions, particularly the ones about foreign policy toward Muslim states and selling arms to Sadaam, are obviously in some measure related to the current anti-American trends in Europe and elsewhere, but it would be nice to show such a correlation with statistics.

    Thanks for your comments, eso and scrimshaw.
  9. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    I only want to add, that there are many things I don't like on Czech republic, too, of course.

    Like reign of bureaucracy, poor services, "To nejde" attitude, authorities corruption, driving habits...
  10. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    That seems to be a pro-American propaganda based on cargo cult statistics.

    Of course the misconceptions exist, but different or with different frequencies.

    A Czech is less-likely to be duped by the Iraq trap question, for example, because he knows that Iraq was massively supported by the Eastern Block (and Czechoslovakia in particular).

    Not significantly, I think. The anti-Americanisms doesn't consist in misconception per se, because other misconceptions doesn't result, in general, in anti-attitudes. No significant anti-Europeanism is driven by the American misconceptions about Europe, for example.

    What correlation? I guess the article is based on some simple contingency tables, but the statistics, as it is presented, says nothing about the dependency because it gives us only one point [frequency of anti-Americanism, frequency of misconception].
  11. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    That survey was done by a group called 'America in the world'?
    Tried to google that, and found instead a book, with international survey results, and with a forward by Madeline Albright called 'America against the world'. It deals with how americans are perceived Internationally. The forward can be read on line.

    Wer...I don't know what 'Cargo cult statistics' are...can you explain that?

    I found something else interesting,....will post that when computer starts cooperating.

    In an earlier post I mentioned opinions very widely between nations...I meant vary widely....but Wer was able to decipher the code.
  12. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Cargo cult is phenomena, when one culture adopts customs and practices of other culture without real understanding of their fundaments.

    For example, during WW2 some primitive tribes on Pacific islands had seen Japanese and US soldiers and their aircrafts, which delivered cargo - food etc. Islanders , who didn't seen nothing like that before, started to build wood "control towers" and runways and believed, that "their" aircrafts will arrive too and bring them food.

    What Wer probably has in mind is, that mentioned PR company believe that if it starts talk about these certain questions, Brittish press will repeat them and these questions become real topics for British public.
  13. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Eso gave you the explanation of the term "cargo cult", but I refered to a related term "cargo cult science". The word "statistics" in my post wasn't used for statictical data, but for the science.

    I could explain what does "cargo cult scince" mean, but I could hardly beat R. Feynman in it.

    Not exactly, what I mean is that the authors haven't serious understanding of statistics. They just immitate it by using some statistical instruments and believe it will become scientific.
  14. scrimshaw

    scrimshaw Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that explanation. I had not heard of that before.

    Cargo cult science..maybe hocus pocus ideas with no valid basis.

    But in the world of politics and surveys, everybody has their own slant and do whatever they can to promote that view. Unlike real science, where you test and disprove theories.
    Surveys can say anything you want them to say, 82 per cent of the time.

    Here's part of that article I mentioned...

    But who hates Americans the most? You might assume that it's people in countries that the United States has recently attacked or threatened to attack. Americans themselves are clear about who their principal enemies are. Asked by Gallup to name the "greatest enemy" of the United States today, 26 per cent of those polled named Iran, 21 per cent named Iraq and 18 per cent named North Korea. Incidentally, that represents quite a success for George W. Bush's concept of the "Axis of Evil". Six years ago, only 8 per cent named Iran and only 2 per cent North Korea.

    Are those feelings of antagonism reciprocated? Up to a point. According to a poll by Gallup's Centre for Muslim Studies, 52 per cent of Iranians have an unfavourable view of the United States. But that figure is down from 63 per cent in 2001. And it's significantly lower than the degree of antipathy towards the United States felt in Jordan, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Two thirds of Jordanians and Pakistanis have a negative view of the United States and a staggering 79 per cent of Saudis. Sentiment has also turned hostile in Lebanon, where 59 per cent of people now have an unfavourable opinion of the United States, compared with just 41 per cent a year ago. No fewer than 84 per cent of Lebanese Shiites say they have a very unfavourable view of Uncle Sam.

    These figures suggest a paradox in the Muslim world. It's not America's enemies who hate the United States most, it's people in countries that are supposed to be America's friends, if not allies.
  15. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Maybe it's because America is friend with governments, but not with people. And sometimes maybe these governments fulfil USA wishes against will of their people.
  16. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Yes, this organization did present itself as a pro-American propaganda organization. And yes, no statistical correlations were not done, and the questions chosen seemed to be chosen very specifically, so I agree the study was poorly done.

    Which misconceptions, in particular, exist in the Czech Republic? (Other than each Texan owns a field of oil wells :roll: :lol: )

    I don't agree with the second statement, specifically about "other misconceptions." Quite frankly, I think the a large number of anti-attitudes are propagated by misconceptions, particularly so when looking throughout history.

    That was my point. There was no correlation shown; hence it's existence is in doubt. It would have been nice if they had attempted to show such a correlation (I should have added in my previous post, "if such exists").

    Great article, wer! This "cargo cult science" is a pet peave of mine, as many people fall into this pattern of thinking, even physicists, as Feyman points out. More often than not, among physicists this seems to appear more often out of desire for increased/continued research funding than not, or out of limited funding for more careful experiments (as Feyman also points out), both of which are difficult issues to address, since financing science involves decisions most often in the hands of politicians or other non-scientists.

    One thing Feynman doesn't address, however, is that a shoddily-performed "science" experiment (and I use this term loosely in this context) doesn't necessarily negate the theory being proposed--rather it says that the experiment should be repeated in a more controlled manner to better assess the validity (or lack thereof) of the theory. In other words, just because their arguments are not valid doesn't mean that they are either wrong or right.

    My personal experience says that there is a valid basis in many anti-attitudes being fostered by misconceptions. People are often mislead by others, misinterpret events/intentions/actions, misremember facts, use flawed logic, etc. and these "facts" we hold true color our judgments and attitudes to a substantial degree. To what extent these misconceptions contribute to those anti-attitudes and in what specific contexts is what's at issue here.
  17. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    "Friends" is not the word I would choose. "[Business] associates," perhaps. Just like people, countries must deal with other countries, whose ideals they might agree with and whose people they might not like, but this association often says more about some want or need that is being fulfilled, rather than establishing a friendship, either between peoples or leaders/governments of countries. But like eso said, even the governments and the people the represent may often not be of like mind on certain given issues.

    So, I'm not sure that it is paradoxical, for example, for the rulers of Saudia Arabia to cooperate with the US in matters of regional politics/military stability/etc., while on the same hand promoting anti-American sentiments through funding of fundamental Muslim groups. Rather it shows that they can agree with us on some things, while wildly disagreeing on other issues. It does, however, make for a more uneasy business/political partnership.
  18. eso

    eso Well-Known Member

    Yeah, States have no friends, only interests. I know :)
  19. wer

    wer Well-Known Member

    Well, given the abundance of rich American uncles in old Czech movies there must be some specifically Czech (Central European) misconceptions. :D

    The first thing I remember when I hear "anti-Americanism" in collocation with "Czech" is the American Beetle. :twisted:

    In the Czech Republic there are two major sources of anti-Americanism. The first one, the traditional one, is the communism, and the latter one, the recently imported one, is the Western academia.

    I don't dispute the correlation between anti-Americanism and the misconceptions. I dispute the causality! That's the wrong understanding of statistics I see in the article. This way you can't prove that the anti-Americanism is based on the misconceptions. You have to exclude/separate all the factors.

    An analogous example:
    There are plenty of statistics showing that the smokers are more likely to die of cancer, and even the scientists, who are real experts in their fields of study, tend to believe that it proves that the odds to die of cancer are driven by smoking. But it is not truth, because the smokers and non-smokers could differ in another way besides the obvious fact that smokers smoke, they could be of different social background, for instance.

    As Sova said, the wrong science behind a conclusion doesn't mean the conclusion is wrong. I believe that the odds to die of cancer are driven by smoking - we have a lot of other ways to prove it.
    But as long as the anti-Americanism is concerned, the Gedankenexperiment with anti-Europeanism in America makes me to believe that it is not a general rule that misconceptions drive the anti-attitudes. And thus even the anti-Americanism needn't be driven by misconceptions. I think it is rooted somewhere else.

    And I agree with you, I think both anti-Americanism and the misconceptions are driven by the propagation (propaganda :twisted:).

    If you think that there is a positive feedback between the propagation of the anti-attitude and the misconcenceptions, I tend to agree with you. But I doubt there is a significant correlation between the anti-attitude and the misconception given a fixed amount of propagation.
  20. Sova

    Sova Well-Known Member

    Yes, my Ukrainian wife still tries to convince me that the introduction of the "Colorado beetle" or the Колорадский жук was an intentional act of bioterrorism on the USSR and communist bloc. :roll:

    I don't understand the reference to Western academia being a source of anti-Americanism in the Czech Republic. Would you clarify?

    OK, I can accept that. Correlation is much easier to demonstrate than causality. Again, however, I would argue from personal experience (rather than statistics or scientific proof) that there is a causal link, at least in the sense that misconception can amplify existing anti- sentiments. Certainly there are other causes as well, ones that come from correctly understanding rather than misconception.

    If one is careful in doing a statistical analysis (and has the necessary data), one can rule out most of these complicating factors. To what extent this has been done for lung cancer and smoking is unclear to me.

    I'm not convinced that your gedankenexperiment is relevant. I don't think that causalities of American sentiments toward Europe are affected in the same way as European sentiments toward the US.

    First, a large fraction (perhaps still a majority?) of Americans have ethnic roots in Europe--very little such American roots exist in Europe. America is a melting pot of many various cultures/ethnicities/nationalities, where whereas most European countries are much more uniform in the nationalities they claim. For example, it's still common to call oneself an "Italian-American" in the US, even when their Italian immigrant ancestors are 4 generations removed. No such nomenclature exist in the Czech Republic, that I am aware of, even among persons of say for example 4th generation German ancestry.

    Second, the US tends to be much less influenced by European politics that Europe by US politics. This is due in part to US foreign policy, but also in large part to the fact that the US is and has been generally seen as a more influential player in world politics and economics. So Americans tend to be much less emotional about European politics than the reverse.

    Perhaps this is true. And I don't claim that it might be the only cause. This is why I asked the question in the first place. I'm not assuming that the conclusions of the original article (whether inaccurate, unsupported or not) apply to the Czech Republic, but rather to get perspectives from Czechs and/or Americans living in the Czech Republic (or who interact with Czechs) on the issue.

    Partly my point in asking my original question. There appears to be a strong correlation between anti- propaganda, whether instigated by media or politicians, and the spreading of misconceptions. Again, I'm curious how much of this (i.e. anti- propaganda based on misconception) exists currently in the Czech Republic, and to what extent, if any, it affects anti-Americanism.

    I think the correlation depends in part on how much that "fixed amount" of propagation is. For example, if one person tells you something you find outrageous, you'll probably be unlikely to believe it. Same if two or three people tell you. But if 10 or 100 or more people tell you it's true, you'll be more likely to believe it, if only at least in part.

    Of course, innate skepticism also plays a large role in this, and Czechs in general are known for having a healthy dose of skepticism. Again, another reason I ask the question.

    Thanks for your comments.

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