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8 - Germany and the United States, 1914-1933: The Mutual Perception of Their Political Systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 January 2013

David E. Barclay
Affiliation:
Kalamazoo College, Michigan
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Summary

Some years ago Octavio Paz wrote:

There is no country better informed than the United States; its journalists are excellent and they are everywhere, its specialists have all the data and background facts needed for each case - yet what comes forth from this gigantic mountain of information and news is, almost always, the mouse of the fable.

There is indeed a widening gap between the ever increasing wealth of detailed information and the ability to make adequate use of it, to digest and to integrate it into a larger context.

This leads to an interesting point worth noting in regard to images and perceptions. The sheer amount and the complex character of information might indirectly become a source of misperception; if the details are hard to follow, their interpretation becomes ambiguous. Most people tend to dismiss thorough analysis, if it becomes too difficult, lengthy, and wearisome. Whether they are unable or merely unwilling to cope with the unwieldy bulk of modern information, the consequences will be that they tend to relapse into their familiar views of other countries and into traditional patterns of explaining the attitudes of foreign nations. Moreover, today it seems necessary to distinguish between misperception and misunderstanding.

Type
Chapter
Information
Transatlantic Images and Perceptions
Germany and America since 1776
, pp. 171 - 190
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1997

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