By Tony Attwood
“It shows well the state of our society that, when people are generous, we are surprised,” Mr Wenger said after the match. “We are even more surprised when it is footballers and strikers.”
He was speaking about Aubameyang giving up the chance of a hattrick with the final penalty, to help Lacazette get back on the game trail before Thursday.
People follow their own beliefs and habits, and it takes a huge nudge to get them out of that mode of thinking.
While I was thinking on this, one of our friends in Europe who feeds in to the Untold Bunkers (we used to be in Untold Towers but the drones got too intrusive) articles of interest from the world’s press a piece the title of which translates as “It’s all about thought control.”
The article is about the way the internet is censored in China, and a study published by Stamford University (who, if you know your universities, you will know does not publish anything in its name without it being checked, re-checked and then verified again a dozen times) of how a group of 1,800 Chinese students resident in Beijing responded when the government allowed them to view the whole internet, not just the Chinese censorship allowed part.
The researchers provided participants with tunnel software for 18 months free of charge. Result number one: even after six reminders only 53% of the students activated the software.
The researchers were particularly interested in this question: how many students would end up taking the opportunity to surf on foreign news websites blocked in China such as the Chinese-language edition of The New York Times? It was not even five percent of those who had even activated their tunnel. And this in a group of students who visited one of the most famous and liberal universities in China.
Censorship, this study suggests (and it is something that social scientists in the west have verified time and again in experiments), does not work because the regime makes access to free information difficult – “but because it creates an environment in which citizens do not even think about asking for such information,” according to the authors write the study.
But when the students do see something exciting and valuable hidden outside the wall, interest is rapidly increased and the students began to consume regularly the information they could find that was not available in China. In the end, the researchers in China reported “substantial and sustained shift in their knowledge, beliefs and attitudes”. The students’ confidence in China’s government had dropped significantly. They became more pessimistic in their assessment of economic development. And many expressed the conviction that China’s political and economic system needed fundamental change.
I mention this at length because absolute control over news is only one way of controlling the consciousness and awareness of others. Another is to have a free and open news media but to have the majority of the media always follow one line, not matter how clearly it is false so that people come to believe it is reflecting reality, because all the media says much the same.
An example was yesterday’s “he touched the ball” incident in the Stoke match. Everyone says it, the majority believes it must be valid. In the larger scheme of things it is not important, but it showed us how all the “experts” and pundits and indeed even a so-called manager could all trot out the same untruth (that he touched the ball therefore it was not a penalty) and actually believe it. They, like the majority of Chinese students, had no interest at all in checking with any broader reality (in this case the laws of the game).
Yesterday the referee got the matter right, it was a penalty, and Blacksheep and I considered this matter on the train away from Finsbury Park in relation to Type III match fixing. This was the approach repeatedly used in Italy in their 2006 Calciopoli scandal in which the owner of club A asks a referee to help ensure club B draws when it might otherwise win, or lose when it might otherwise draw. It is very hard to spot since club A is fixing matches that it is not involved in to keep its rivals.
If Type III fixing were present in the PL (as Untold has suggested could be the case) then we would not expect any Arsenal matches to be fixed now, since Arsenal’s results are not going to affect the top positions, and the bottom clubs rarely have enough money or power to influence referees in such a way.
Just as the actual rule about whether “he touched the ball” is relevant or not the media don’t care – they go on repeating it. Not because they are trying to warp our minds, but like the Chinese students like they are not interested in going beyond the barricade. Because the notion that Type III match fixing exists in the PL would undermine their vision of football, they don’t ever mention it. Again like the Chinese media.
I started by quoting Mr Wenger saying, “It shows well the state of our society that, when people are generous, we are surprised.” We are surprised because while we all like to think we are free thinking and open to all arguments and possibilities, most people will carry on behind the barricades thinking along Party lines, even when the Party keeps prodding them to look beyond the wall.
A pigeon flies across the sky and drops a present which hits the referee on the face distracting him so he can’t see if a goal is scored or not. What does he do? He asks his assistants for help and gets a towel and sponge with some antiseptic to wipe around his face. The rules don’t say he should do this, but we don’t have rules for everything. However we do have some, and it is helpful if those who set themselves up as experts and who endlessly pontificate know what those rules are, rather than act as vegetables.
If they don’t know the rules – as was clearly shown yesterday – we might begin to wonder about the strange stories we are being told about the nature of football in England. And why.
Put another way: they don’t know the rule about “he touched the ball” which is pretty important. Why else don’t they know?
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