Distorted Morality

Distorted MoralityIn this remarkable documentary Distorted Morality, Noam Chomsky offers a riveting but devastating critique of America's current war on terror arguing, in fact, that it is a logistical impossibility for such a war to be taking place.

Professor Chomsky presents his reasoning with astonishing and refreshing clarity, drawing from a wealth of historical knowledge and analysis. "Only those who are entirely ignorant of modern history will be surprised by the course of events, or by the justifications that are provided..."

Noam Chomsky is a renowned scholar, the founder of the modern science of linguistics, a philosopher, a political and social analyst, a media critic, an author of more than 70 books, a winner of numerous prizes and awards, and ranks with Marx, Shakespeare, and the Bible as one of the 10 most quoted sources in the humanities.

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Ratings: 8.13/10 from 38 users.

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37 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Capricious

    While I the utmost respect for Noam, he is a hell of a difficult guy to watch give a lecture.

  2. Kitty
  3. Kitty

    Noam lays it all out, makes the case that the United States is, in fact, promoting terror internationally. If only he had President Obama's ear.

    Noam Chomsky is easier to watch than read!

  4. Tyler
  5. Tyler

    I agree with Capricious, I found this hard to watch. Chomsky is fascinating but his voice is pretty bland.
    I thought he would talk a little more about the definition of terrorism and morality and the philosophical implications therein, but this is mostly a review of American state-sponsored terrorism. Worth the watch if you're interested in world history, but a bit dry.

  6. Yavanna
  7. Yavanna

    There's a better lecture by him on TDF cant seem to find it - I struggled too with maintaining my attention span on him in this. Seemed a bit unstructured.

  8. Matt
  9. Matt


    Did you not understand his "second thesis"? Dry as it may be, he clearly lays out an argument with concise facts and timelines. However, I agree that he has the tendency to "be dry". However, there is a certain amount of respect that I have for someone about that, mostly because anyone who preaches and lectures with a certain amount of emotion and enthusiasm, quickly starts to unconsciously subvert the facts to a certain bias. If you understand the meaning. Essentially I thought it was a powerful message to be sending, especially since the lecture took place so close to 911.

    Remember, this was a lecture aimed at Grad. Students, as he so clearly states several times in his attempts at a joke (haha).

  10. V
  11. V

    Both societies use terrorism - the US/Allies and it's enemies. After all that is what war is. Also the Israelis could be somewhat justified in their attacks on civilian compounds based on the fact that Islamic Militants hide among civilians to use them as human shields - and give Israel a bad reputation if they do attack. However the fact remains that the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Islam, Christianity) are inherently militaristic on average (mathematically compare positive phrases associated with peace against negative ones associated with war). In fact Zionists are very similar to Nazis in that they have their own racial and religious superiority complex. But on average I would support the US, Israel, and western allies that have greater freedom and secular elements, against the much more radical Islamic states - most that don't even try to look secular.

    Organized religion is evil.

  12. V
  13. V

    The US and CIA actions in Central America however is a clear example of US terrorism (initiated for corporate interests) that cannot be justified by any good pretext- unlike the continual conflict in the middle east.

  14. Yavanna
  15. Yavanna

    And? Your point is?

  16. Gilbert
  17. Gilbert

    Nothing intelligent was said here. Strictly his opinion with no support, and he manipulates things to reach the conclusion he wants. Perfect example of the ivory tower goofball. Disgusting.

  18. jkaz
  19. jkaz

    Gilbert, you must have watched a different documentary or was it a a bit over your head? Like Consilience said, go back to sleep or stick to watching Fox.

  20. Bluesmanwalking
  21. Bluesmanwalking

    Always do your own research... . After a while some permit themselves to do less systematic research because they know and trust whom they are listening to. Personally, with Chomsky i do less and less research. But that's just me.
    @Gilbert: Google UN (United Nations)i'm sure you'll find a lot files that will make you take wiser views on certain historic facts.
    For more Lectures just Google (video section) Noam Chomsky.

  22. Carl Hendershot
  23. Carl Hendershot

    Sorry was sleeping. What happened other then he said she said i said. You are we are i am they are. Believe dont believe hpocryts but believe im double talking you ears right of your head. No good talk no proof. blah blah sorry i was just not into it not one bit.

  24. Alan
  25. Alan

    Carl, if you don't understand what Chomsky is talking about, you are the perfect consumer. Perhaps slogans would impress you? He's hard to take at first yes, but the truth about the world is not a movie plot.

  26. Carl Hendershot
  27. Carl Hendershot

    Alan, he is playing both sides of the game. Never does he stick to anything but the retortion of words. Talking in circles is fine. Leading sheeple to the edge of a cliff, do you have the tendency to give them just the extra nudge they need. LOL Anyways to each is own. Fly high.

  28. James
  29. James

    My favorite part is how whenever anyone criticizes Chomsky, the phrase "ivory tower" eventually peeks through the diatribe. I don't understand; what exactly is removed and lofty about discussing the facts of US foreign policy?

    And can we please stop having a forum of religious debate on every video? The Abrahamic religions are certainly not about hatemongering, as is clearly evinced by history. Even Islam, famous for its scriptures about killing not only pagans but the 'People of the Book' as well, can be shown throughout its long history to have provoked thought on the Self, Reality, and the relation between these: we, in the west, owe Geometry, Algebra, Aristotelian philosophy, optics, and many other traditions to the care of Muslim scholars in the Dark Ages, when sewage was running open through the streets of Europe. If you'd like to do the mathematical comparison which V suggested on verses relating to peace and verses relating to war in the Bible (my subject, I confess rather more ignorance of the Qu'ran), perhaps it would be fortuitous to do a similar comparison in any text, religious or otherwise, that's extant in the modern day.

    I think you'll find that in every comic book, soap opera, self-help book, or what have you, there are many more references to conflict than to peace EVEN WHEN PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE IS THE GOAL. This is to be expected in a world that has never had a year without a major military struggle since the beginning of civilization. As Foucault would say, everything, all love relationships, all politics, everything, are power games based on strategies of controlling/avoiding control of the other. Even Buddhist and yogic Tantras were famously kept from lower level initiates and laypeople, the community of leaders being afraid that the reader might come to the interpretation that in order to become a Buddha one must slay every living creature, have sex with every living creature, or whatever.

    The great truths of this world are not new, though they give birth to new forms as every generation begins to dawn, but they are necessarily communicated through language like Plato's Cave, Christ's Parables, Zen Koans, because human conception lacks terms to deal with Reality with a capital R. There is a fundamental ambiguity resident in every such teaching, by necessity. You can justify any program you'd like, whether genocide or burning books, on the basis of religion; Hitler was famous for trying to "Aryanize" Christianity, but the real content of the teachings of self-denial, self-actualization, altruism, detachment from desire, love of all things, a prayerful attitude towards God (or Reality, if you wish) persist and must be erased or somehow glossed over to support any action of hate. Humanity is not an open ended project, it has a definite goal and destiny, a teleology, if you will, that we perhaps cannot see but which we can infer the broad basis of nonetheless. Doing away with religion is a mistake of the same caliber as doing away with art because of misrepresentation or eliminating science because of its most apparent negative consequences.

    Anyway, I've digressed in trying to show, at least in a limited way, that religion is positive and necessary for man ("You cannot understand psychology if you do not understand the Bible." - Carl Jung) Whether it is in fact true is another argument entirely; something that must be inferred from literary and historical evidence, and in the phenomenological sense from experience. As William James pointed out a hundred years ago, though we must judge a tree by its fruits and a religion by the positive/negative effects it brings to bear, whether or not a religion is true has absolutely nothing to do with whether it's positive and helpful. Truth is truth period. If you'd like to see whether Christ really died for you, or whether Mohammed was indeed a laudable man (this last is something I have some issues with), you need to look at archaeology, literature, and the like, as well as some degree of metaphysics (First cause arguments, etc) and then make an informed decision.

    If you approach the Bible with a preconception that there is no God and source criticism is correct in its assertions, you've tailored your register of interpretation to fit your bias as much as a true believer who approaches the book with the thought of always casting it in the best possible light, and you will find nothing except what justifies your prejudices. We must let the text make sense of itself rather than trying to impose sense on it, and we cannot ascribe 21st century notions of morality to a book that describes the world of the Patriarchs, of blood sacrifice and of family groups that WERE the government. We must try to understand what it is exactly that the Bible is saying through the various modes of lawgiving, history, wisdom stories and poetics that it uses.

  30. ez2b12
  31. ez2b12

    @ James

    No one wants to do away with the bible, it is a beautiful work of literature that brings about questions that need to be asked. It presents moral themes and social schemes that need to be studied and understood. It is a great insight into the peoples and cultures of its time. It is also a work of fiction and allegory filled with brilliant metaphors and parables. All we secularist want is for it to be veiwed as such, a fiction that has great worth both as entertainment and enlightenment. Not as a literal account of some omnipotent diety that quite frankly acts like a spoiled brat for the entire first half of the book. Nor as a magical guide to some eternal reward to come. This absolute fantasy perpetuates guilt, segregation, false hope, and disassociation from reality.

    Organized religion is responcible for more deaths than any other social institution, country, or ethnic group. The Christian religion being one of the more destructive and blood thirsty of all, topped only by Islam or Judaism. In my opinion the Iraq and Afganistan conflicts are the direct results of the combined effects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam coupled with capitolism and inevitable corruption. Yet these people, the Jews; Christians; Islamic; and/or the Capitolists claim to be based from a devine morality and a desire for perosnal freedom. People are so indoctrinated that they can not see the truth when it is screaming in their face, dying in their streets, starviing on their tv's.

    Does it not make you sick to see Donald trump and then turn the Chanel and see a ten year old kid that has obviously lived a short life of hell and is now dying of starvation. Not that it is Donald's fault, no he is just operating within the accepted rules of capitalism. The system is to blame. Capitalism is to blame along with religion. The first has taught us to value money above everything else- to be motivated by profit instead of compassion or practicality, the second has taught us to be moral only under threat of eternal pain and suffering, to place our problems into the hands of a non existent super hero- that this earth and all its inhabitants other than humans and all the universe is purposed to be used for our needs, that if others do not believe as we do they are condemned or not living a full life somehow.

    If man could learn to pool his knowledge and resources at a global level, if he could learn to be motivated by the creation of a more productive society achieved through application of the scientific method coupled with basic moral and ethical standards. If he could learn to look at the human race as one entity having needs and desires that have to be met with finite resources. We could then move into the next stage of human evolution their by perpetuating our species.

  32. Roopy
  33. Roopy

    There are a few transcripts of interviews where Chomsky is told his talks are full of important information, but very dull.

    He replied that he would rather be perceived as 'boring' than have his commentary riddled with emotional and sensational rhetoric which is effectively biased.

    It's needless to say his writing and even interviews can be tough going, but are always worth listening to.

  34. Waz
  35. Waz

    Roopy: I agree, Chomsky is worth listening to, it's just that we live in a day when most people's attention span can't go ten minutes without car chases,nudity or violence. Says a lot about our world. I hope the U.S and Israel are forced to leave the Middle East and South America, as they only have destruction and chaos planned the people there.

  36. Charles
  37. Charles

    Well said Consilience!

  38. Charles B.
  39. Charles B.


  40. Stuart
  41. Stuart

    @ V: You regurgitate one of the most vicious of Israel's numerous, racist lies, namely "Also the Israelis could be somewhat justified in their attacks on civilian compounds based on the fact that Islamic Militants hide among civilians to use them as human shields".

    That assertion has been proved time and again to be an utter falsehood. Who says so? Amnesty International, The Red Cross, The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, B'tselem and others.

    The only people making this claim are the Israelis -*every* other observer refutes them.

    Civilians are, however, used by Israel as human shields regularly in their aggressions against their neighbours. Just this week, 3rd week november 2011, two israelis were found guilty of using a 9 year old Palestinian child as a human shield.

    Unfortunately they were found guilty by an Israeli court and their punishment was the equivalent of losing the car keys for a week, ratehr tha the 10 years in prison they deserved.

  42. j.
  43. j.

    There are no dates anywhere on this site. That is not good.
    For anyone interested, this video dates from 2003.

  44. scoogers
  45. scoogers

    Great film! I think this has a lot of information in it that many Americans aren't fully aware of, all of which is easliy verifiable. Thanks!

  46. Listener
  47. Listener

    Interesting lecture, this notion of things being out of history is something to think about.

    As someone in academia, I well know that there is a range of acceptable topics and positions, and a widespread blindness to that delimitation of viewpoints.

    What I will never understand is why people think it is at all worthwhile to make personal comments about the way a lecture is delivered. Why does it matter that you found CHomsky's style dry or whatever? Why not also comment on his wardrobe? That is just about as relevant.

  48. ReligionIsntAllBad
  49. ReligionIsntAllBad

    Honestly, I dont understand how it can be boring to watch someone so carefully dissect US foreign policy. If the subject matter is boring then the lecture will be boring to you. If you are interested in US foreign policy, the lecture will be VERY interesting to you.

    One good mark of a truth teller ... is that he or she is continuously telling you HEY! Dont listen to me as the final say! Go and research this stuff and find this out for yourself! And so we all should, to understand this in our own terms. Check out Amy Goodman for another amazing and uncompromising voice in modern journalism.

    Chomsky erects a giant pointing neon hand at the glaring open contradictions and double standards of the United States, with no small amount of supporting evidence. It is overwhelmingly worth watching.

  50. Hopecat
  51. Hopecat

    I think this is fascinating. Brilliant guy, all the way.

  52. Alex
  53. Alex

    A true sage

  54. Goodie9000
  55. Goodie9000

    @Gilbert and all your dumb friends:

    I'm truly interested in knowing your educational Levels! these are the people we've been talking about; THE INTELLECTUAL COUCH POTATOES"

    why does this guy feel the need to attack the messenger? you an"t even get it thru your dumb down brains to agree in principle to do some investigations of your own on this subject...Oh! I'm sorry people like you do not like to read! just like our previous "dumb" president.

    -Vtlatko, I think it's high-time you add another field to the blog entry form field on this beautiful forum that would verify people's academic credentials; that way we would be sure not to ever read from Gullilbert again...sorry I meant: Gilbert.

    Gilbert please, if you don"t have anything of substance to say refrain from posting anything here; Other people do actually read the blogs here...so just watch the Docus quietly or turn your TV on and watch your FOX news or the Star Trek reruns.

    Thank you again Vlatko for all your efforts on this site!

  56. BetsMcGee
  57. BetsMcGee

    Chomsky has always been a little dry, but the sheer weight and wealth of information that he brings to the table is far more revealing on the subject and more intellectually satisfying then all the shock docs combined.

  58. bld11
  59. bld11

    Thanks J.. I'm VERY interested in dates and wanted this one.

  60. bld11
  61. bld11

    Thanks j. was looking for that date

  62. jimblund
  63. jimblund

    In all present day faihts and inbedded deep i n all people that have been able to walk the 150 000 years of history the idea of...do unto tyo others what you want otheras to do to you...this is no religious fantasm but the evolutionary must to come this far....and without care for others wellbeing and compassion and honest love we would be gone 50 000 years ago..many are...no new born are able on its own foe many years....and this situation with our prsent competitive culture is soon driving it too far...we must be able to relese the chlld impulse to compete..and to win and lose creates more problem in the pioeline...we must learn to SOLVE problems,,..it surely contains price for all to pay...the rich elite is running our world into the ground with the terrible religious ppl as a moral token, these dangerous ppl who need a mystic fantasy dictator to not be out of order...And this rich elite manage the ppl to blame sociaty but now its called state, sometimes its the nation if we win in sports erc.
    To end the competitive age and to mend the disturbed religiuos ppl either exploiting synics or kind and scared. both conditions can be diagnose,

    Secular democrasy hopefully developing a bit...absolute freedom of speach...you us pll are stange...if i write c*** f*** a** w**** yo get VERY offebded. So do europeans and why write it but you have a part of your youth rebellion put into thE beep on teveeee..im raised with tewee..5 years ago i throw the damned thing out...Igot over 70 channels and more but could just coik around and finaly get stuck in some Simpson i allready sen. Then i got VERY god broadband and THWEEE died, FREE AT LAAST!

  64. Teresa
  65. Teresa


  66. malcolm urlich
  67. malcolm urlich

    wonder how Noam Chomski would veiw the New Zealand politicians and elite?

  68. Silas
  69. Silas

    It is rather amusing to see so much arguing whenever you run across Chomsky's work being portraited. I mean, or there is a bunch of misinfo work going on with this guy, or people just cannot get a hold on their oppinion.

    Anyway, I often think that in the worst case scenario, my efforts should be towards the later group. Since the other is beyond any reasonable help.

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