TBIMG Question #2 ~ Gullible

by Dr. Madhi Obeidi and Kurt Pitzer

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Liz
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TBIMG Question #2 ~ Gullible

Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:49 am

Pg. 81. Dr. Obeidi’s thoughts about Bob & David at MTI Laboratories: I marveled at their carefree lives in America, with time to golf and relax, never fearing that the government would unexpectedly throw them or their families in prison. I had nearly forgotten that such freedom could exist. It occurred to me that this was part of what made them so gullible. Their culture of straightforwardness and trust between people was at least partly the result of a lack of fear. It had helped Americans develop a great nation. But the openness of people such as David, Bob, and Dr. Townsend also made my job easier. I approached them with confidence and a viable story that held up to their questions, and they gave me the benefit of the doubt.

Are we (the U.S., Britain, etc.) gullible because we are free?
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Unread postby Theresa » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:28 pm

Yes, I think we're quite gullible.

That word has such a bad connotation; more than just being too trusting - it usually implies that the gullible person is a sucker, a patsy. But the very thing that made America so gullible is what Dr. Obeidi admired so much -- the trust and openness of the culture.

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Unread postby ThirdArm » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:37 pm

Yes, I think so, too.

I also think that this contributes to the US worldview that what we have is best for everyone else. A lot of ill-advised foreign policy has been based on the idea that democracy will work everywhere and in all conditions and that we have a 'duty' to spread it. This has its roots in the 19th century expansionist policies; so it goes a long way back.

But, on the other hand, our freedom and openness has made it easier for people, just as Dr Obeidi said, to approach us. And many times, that works out for good. So it's a two-edged sword.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:44 pm

I agree, theresa and ThirdArm. That passage shook me a bit when I first read it, but then I considered the alternative; being paranoid and fearful is no way to live! :mad: And the free countries do take certain precautions!
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:06 pm

It is a double-edged sword. We are not as trusting as were back then—not since 911. And we complain about it….about the hassle of the security check points and various other precautions we have to take. And we don’t feel as free and trusting as we used to. It is definitely no way to live.
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Unread postby fansmom » Tue Jul 10, 2007 2:32 pm

Liz wrote:It is a double-edged sword. We are not as trusting as were back then—not since 911. And we complain about it….about the hassle of the security check points and various other precautions we have to take. And we don’t feel as free and trusting as we used to. It is definitely no way to live.

Some of us are still too trusting, Liz. Think of the border guard who let Andrew Speaker, the tuberculosis traveler, back into the country because he didn't look sick. (Or was he just being skeptical of the "do not enter" list he'd been given? Misplaced distrust? :eyebrow: )

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:05 pm

fansmom wrote:
Liz wrote: (Or was he just being skeptical of the "do not enter" list he'd been given? Misplaced distrust? :eyebrow: )


Good one, Fansmom! :lol:
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Unread postby nebraska » Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:25 pm

That passage really caught my attention when I first read it. My first reaction was to feel sympathy for Dr. Obeidi as he realized what makes the difference between his life and theirs. Of course the Americans' lack of fear made it easier for him to obtain information, but just the same I think he envied their freedom from fear.....after all, as a student in Colorado he had experienced that freedom himself.

I think it is part of human nature to want to see the good in people and situations, to trust and believe until we are given reason not to.....instead of approaching the world with expectations of evil. Or maybe that is just another facet of that freedom from fear we have been raised with. Most of us would probably sooner risk disappointment than go around expecting evil at every corner. And after all, there is that theory that "what you think about, you bring about."

Gullible isn't a very pleasant word. It implies "stupid". :-/ "Too trusting" might say the same thing without being such a negative term.

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Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 10, 2007 3:57 pm

Nebraska, I agree with both yours and Theresa’s definitions of gullible. And I agree that it was a poor choice of words because I don’t think he really meant it that way.
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Unread postby suec » Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:49 pm

I don't have a strong opinion on this one, and have been pondering it for a while. He may be right. But does it follow that being gullible is because of freedom? He is noticing two different aspects and attributing cause and effect. To me, being too trusting on a personal level comes from possibly innocence. Mistrust and wariness come from possibly learning a few lessons the hard way, and being stripped of that innocence. Loss of freedom may be one of the factors that lead to that - but so are being lied to, or discovering that someone has ulterior motives, or being used or betrayed. He is very conscious of freedom in America and the contrast with his own country, and he emphasises more than once the constant awareness of having to be guarded in what is said. But he is working with a certain group of people here, fellow scientists, people who would feel a natural cameraderie, and besides, there is also the love of knowledge and pride in achievement. He writes elsewhere about announcing his achievement with pride on the diffusion technique he has mastered. So, there is some ego involved, but also that love of knowledge: acquiring and sharing it. Besides, he is quite adept at deception when he comes to it.
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Unread postby rainbowsoul » Tue Jul 10, 2007 6:51 pm

I don't think it is gullibility that he is referring to I took it more as that Westerners are more trusting. We don't live with anywhere near the same sorts of opressions hanging over our every move and every word so we have less to fear and are thus more open and trusting. That's my take on it at least.

I am posting this without reading anything that has already been said cuz if I Do read it all then I will just think ah well, that's what I think and then I won't post!

So Sorry in advance if I am repeating anything that has already been said.
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Unread postby Liz » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:21 pm

Never apologize for that Rainbowsoul. All opinions are welcome, even if they are a repeats. Besides I find it interesting that you are in agreement with me that he doesn't really mean gullibility. And answers are more fresh and real if they are not influenced by what others have said.

Suec, you've made an interesting point about the camaraderie involved in working with or meeting someone in a like field. I think it is natural to want to open up to someone who shares the some interest or knowledge.
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Tue Jul 10, 2007 7:24 pm

To me gullible doesn't really have a bad conotation but more along the lines of what suec siad - naive.

nebraska and rainbowsoul, I agree that people want to see the good in and trust others. (Of course being the Pollyanna that I am that's not surprising! :blush: ) As a society we have been forced to become less open than we have in the past as the world becomes a smaller and smaller place. What was once a story in the newspaper in a far flung spot in the world begins to take on global proportions and edge closer to our own doorstep.

Betty Sue, I wouldn't consider the alternative either!
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Unread postby Raven » Tue Jul 10, 2007 9:52 pm

The horrible oppression Dr. Obeidi worked and lived under is horrendous. I cannot imagine having to look over my shoulder 24/7 at work and on top of that wonder if my family was safe from my boss and government.

And then coming to America meeting people, and it looks like the living and working conditions are free and easy, certainly we have very few worries compared to the Dr. I can see his view of us as being naive and even gullible.
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Unread postby gemini » Tue Jul 10, 2007 10:34 pm

I marveled at their carefree lives in America, with time to golf and relax, never fearing that the government would unexpectedly throw them or their families in prison.
This should not be something he marveled at considering he lived here for a few years. I think he is more likely making a comparison of his life having returned with what it would have been had he stayed here.

I had nearly forgotten that such freedom could exist. It occurred to me that this was part of what made them so gullible. Their culture of straightforwardness and trust between people was at least partly the result of a lack of fear. It had helped Americans develop a great nation. But the openness of people such as David, Bob, and Dr. Townsend also made my job easier. I approached them with confidence and a viable story that held up to their questions, and they gave me the benefit of the doubt.
He acknowledges that great freedom exists in our nation even though he now considers it gullible after living in Iraq so long. He even states that it comes from a lack of fear. He approached them with confidence.

Somehow I don't like what he has become knowing the policies of both countries he should have had a lot more conscience about what he was developing and who he was giving it to. Its nice to read this book as past events but he really would have finished his project had we not invaded his country. Not a very pleasant thought.

I guess the answer to your question is that we had less fear then which was a good thing. If our fear of other countries reached the level of Obeidis fear for his family, would we be afraid enough to forget our conscience and let our country become more like his? Sorry, I am on that soap box again.
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