Down the Memory Hole

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“Partisan Review”: down the memory hole

Memory fatigue may set in, and the whole project of keeping the past in focus shelved. In that case, we might very well start to give up the concept of citizenship altogether and decide instead to just get on with our own private uninsured , underpaid , and overworked lives.

Sometimes it's easier to simply adjust to an ever-changing official version of reality than to keep up a constant, unrewarding struggle to remember. This was the phenomenon George Orwell described so unforgettably in his dystopian novel " ".

His hero, Winston Smith, becomes aware that the sole party that runs his country incessantly rewrites the past to its own liking and advantage. He could. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality was tacitly denied by their philosophy.

The heresy of heresies was common sense. And what was terrifying was not that they would kill you for thinking otherwise, but that they might be right. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four? Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable?

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He does, however, seem to know in an intuitive way what works for him, what gets him things he wants, as he has his whole professional life. There are, it seems, plenty of memory holes in Washington these days. Since January, the Trump administration has been systematically removing from federal websites inconvenient information on subjects as diverse as climate change and occupational health and safety, and replacing it with anodyne messages.

“Partisan Review”: down the memory hole | The New Criterion

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A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts or other records, such as from a website or other archive, particularly as part of an attempt to give the. A memory hole is any mechanism for the alteration or disappearance of inconvenient or embarrassing documents, photographs, transcripts or other records.

The government has now entered full-scale climate change denial mode. Information of just about any sort on global warming has been or is being memory-holed in a wholesale fashion at other agency websites as well. Actual data is disappearing from government websites. The federal government collects vast amounts of data, much of it the results of studies it has funded. Some agencies, like the Environmental Protection Agency, are required by law to retain data they collect, but they are not required to post it. This means basic information and the results of scientific research, once available online, are now only available through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Of course, you have to know that the information exists in the first place in order to request it. One result of hiding such data is that scientists citing U. Arctic researcher Victoria Herrmann describes watching her citations dissolve into thin air:. The U.

National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. The heresy of heresies was common sense. For, after all, how do we know that two and two make four?

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Or that the force of gravity works? Or that the past is unchangeable? But presto, the past has been changed!

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He also contributes to The Atlantic online and is a writer-in-residence at the University of Pennsylvania. Furious, China summons U. Telemedicine bill faces familiar threat over amendment banning abortion drug. The bill passed the Pa. Senate with broad support, but state House support is divided after Republicans added the amendment. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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