This false sense of knowing — not a new problem, but perhaps a newly pressing one — has been made worse by the ease with which we find Web sites devoted to telling us what we already want to hear and already suspect is true. There are even algorithms for this; confirmation bias has never been more pervasive or insidious. We inhabit fanciful castles of facts.
Mostly we read the nonfiction that suits our fancy, and tend to ignore that which does not. Not for aphoristic economy alone did Nietzsche observe that convictions are more dangerous enemies of truth than lies. Because we are less sure of what fiction is “saying,” we are less pre-emptively defended against it or biased in its favor. We are inclined to let it past our fortifications. It’s merely a court jester, there to amuse us. We let in the brazen liar and his hidden, difficult truths.
—Rivka Galchen in the NYTimes Sunday Book Review
“Suppressed” patches are those whose traditional symbolic colors are replaced in the service of camouflage: the U.S. flag or the Red Cross symbol rendered in two very slightly different tones of whatever Pantone chip the U.S. Army currently favors. This is imminently practical, advisable, yet quite new, indicating the strength of a prior reluctance to alter these primary symbols. Until very recently, it evidently mattered symbolically that the U.S. flag was red, white, and blue, not coyote brown (or black). Another disjunction.
The crypto-patches of Five Classified Aircraft are covert, “in-house” advertisements. They are best viewed as “industry” marketing tools, as each of these occluded, unmentionable, quiveringly secret crafts is the product of a given contractor. As deliciously sinister as they are, as redolent of our military-industrial hybridism, they are not as broadly ominous as the anonymity and evidential ambiguity afforded by Velcro patches and suppressed patches.