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Joe Biden - VV - Jun 25, 2024 - 8:57am
 
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NYTimes Connections - ptooey - Jun 25, 2024 - 8:44am
 
Things You Thought Today - Red_Dragon - Jun 25, 2024 - 8:37am
 
Music Videos - miamizsun - Jun 25, 2024 - 8:11am
 
NY Times Strands - maryte - Jun 25, 2024 - 8:03am
 
Radio Paradise Comments - islander - Jun 25, 2024 - 6:35am
 
Hockey + Fantasy Hockey - Beaker - Jun 25, 2024 - 6:29am
 
Today in History - Red_Dragon - Jun 25, 2024 - 5:57am
 
2024 Elections! - Red_Dragon - Jun 25, 2024 - 5:34am
 
Bug Reports & Feature Requests - wossName - Jun 25, 2024 - 4:47am
 
China - NoEnzLefttoSplit - Jun 25, 2024 - 4:44am
 
MTV's The Real World - R_P - Jun 24, 2024 - 11:11pm
 
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Outstanding Covers - oldviolin - Jun 24, 2024 - 10:45am
 
• • • The Once-a-Day • • •  - oldviolin - Jun 24, 2024 - 9:28am
 
Little known information... maybe even facts - Proclivities - Jun 24, 2024 - 8:56am
 
How do you create optimism? - R_P - Jun 24, 2024 - 8:27am
 
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BEATLES Make History AGAIN!! - thisbody - Jun 23, 2024 - 9:12am
 
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June 2024 Photo Theme - Eyes - fractalv - Jun 22, 2024 - 1:46pm
 
Things I Saw Today... - R_P - Jun 22, 2024 - 1:38pm
 
Trump - kcar - Jun 22, 2024 - 12:41pm
 
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Too much classic rock lately? - thisbody - Jun 21, 2024 - 4:01pm
 
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Shall We Dance? - Steely_D - Jun 20, 2024 - 1:18pm
 
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Lyrics That Remind You of Someone - oldviolin - Jun 20, 2024 - 11:10am
 
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Pink Floyd Set? - Coaxial - Jun 20, 2024 - 5:46am
 
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SCOTUS - ColdMiser - Jun 19, 2024 - 7:15am
 
20+ year listeners? - islander - Jun 18, 2024 - 7:41pm
 
Other Medical Stuff - miamizsun - Jun 18, 2024 - 2:35pm
 
Hello from Greece! - miamizsun - Jun 18, 2024 - 2:35pm
 
Europe - R_P - Jun 18, 2024 - 9:33am
 
What Are You Going To Do Today? - KurtfromLaQuinta - Jun 16, 2024 - 8:57pm
 
What Did You See Today? - Manbird - Jun 16, 2024 - 2:39pm
 
Geomorphology - kurtster - Jun 16, 2024 - 1:29pm
 
Artificial Intelligence - thisbody - Jun 16, 2024 - 10:53am
 
The Chomsky / Zinn Reader - thisbody - Jun 16, 2024 - 10:42am
 
Football, soccer, futbol, calcio... - thisbody - Jun 16, 2024 - 8:35am
 
No stream after station ID - arlen.nelson969 - Jun 15, 2024 - 2:29pm
 
Business as Usual - kurtster - Jun 15, 2024 - 9:53am
 
What Makes You Laugh? - Antigone - Jun 14, 2024 - 7:04pm
 
Lyrics that strike a chord today... - oldviolin - Jun 14, 2024 - 3:15pm
 
Index » Radio Paradise/General » General Discussion » Media Matters Page: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8  Next
Post to this Topic
Beaker

Beaker Avatar

Location: Your safe space


Posted: May 25, 2024 - 10:59am

 kurtster wrote:

Screw them.  May they suffer the same fate as Gawker.  They obviously didn't pay attention to that lesson.
Steely_D

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Location: Biscayne Bay
Gender: Male


Posted: May 25, 2024 - 1:36am

 thisbody wrote:

A hard-to-believe display of stupidity:


I don’t even need to click on the link to agree that those two are a display of stupidity.

kurtster

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Location: where fear is not a virtue
Gender: Male


Posted: May 25, 2024 - 1:01am

Media Matters hit with sweeping layoffs after defamation suit by Elon Musk, federal probes
thisbody

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Location: North (doubtful)
Gender: Male


Posted: Mar 18, 2024 - 10:03am

The US of A banning TikTok (which is NOT owned by China) while embracing M E T A   (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram), plus Microsoft & Google as private data-enrichment cartels!

A hard-to-believe display of stupidity:
Or is it just political faintness?




Red_Dragon

Red_Dragon Avatar

Location: Dumbf*ckistan


Posted: Jan 29, 2024 - 4:13pm

Smartmatic accuses pro-Trump OAN of engaging in "criminal activities" while pushing election lies
thisbody

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Location: North (doubtful)
Gender: Male


Posted: Mar 26, 2023 - 4:29pm

The content mafia wins in court against the Internet Archive.

The story is that the Internet Archive bought books, scanned them, and then made them available to people digitally. However, they only allowed as many borrowings as they had physical copies of the book.

Then, when Covid went into hot mode, they lifted the restriction. So the publishers were keen to turn the Internet Archive into a parking lot, but they’d rather not have Covid and little kids on lockdown as a context, so now they’ve challenged the whole practice of digital lending of physical books in court.

The court has agreed with them.

Now unfortunately this was not just some district court of Hintertupfingen but a circuit court of New York, but there is still legal recourse and the Internet Archive wants to fight that.

It is remarkable, however, that they not only want to destroy the Internet Archive, but also all the regular bibliophiles who have done the same. So there is the threat of an immense cultural clear-cut.

This is not necessarily something that people can march along with, but the Internet Archive also accepts donations. They are not tax deductible. But publishing the problem is the least that all archive.org users can do.


black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Jan 10, 2023 - 7:39am

Interesting, how each top program was a unique live event, dominated by the NFL. 

2022 TV RECAP: IT’S THE NFL’S WORLD; THE REST OF US JUST LIVE IN IT

Sportico is out with its annual list of the "Top 100 Most-Watched TV Broadcasts" of the previous year, reporting that - by far - National Football League games dominate the list with 82 of the top 100 programs. There were just five college football games on the list, four political programs, three World Cup games, and two college basketball games.

https://www.sportico.com/busin...


Red_Dragon

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Location: Dumbf*ckistan


Posted: Jan 14, 2022 - 11:38am

Joe Rogan and the problem of false balance
black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Apr 22, 2021 - 7:56am

Good discussion on the history and current state of media. 
Is media a public service, or just another company selling a commodity to maximize profit?
Media's role as the "fourth estate" is increasingly compromised as they shift to the latter goal.



black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Oct 4, 2018 - 11:21am

Wasnt sure where to put this...story deals mostly with the dissolving financial trust, but also how the role of media (social) has contributed:



Finance, the media and a catastrophic breakdown in trust

John Authers had a ringside seat to some of the most important financial stories of our time. Here’s what he learnt


Finance is all about trust. JP Morgan, patriarch of the banking dynasty, told Congress in the 1912 hearings that led to the foundation of the US Federal Reserve, that the first thing in credit was “character, before money or anything else. Money cannot buy it.

“A man I do not trust could not get money from me on all the bonds in Christendom,” he added. “I think that is the fundamental basis of business.” He was right. More than a century later, it is ever clearer that, without trust, finance collapses. That is no less true now, when quadrillions change hands in electronic transactions across the globe, than it was when men such as Morgan dominated markets trading face to face.

And that is a problem. Trust has broken down throughout society. From angry lynch mobs on social media to the fracturing of the western world’s political establishment, this is an accepted fact of life, and it is not merely true of politics. Over the past three decades, trust in markets has evaporated.

https://www.ft.com/content/b73...



Proclivities

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Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 16, 2018 - 9:37am

Can't seem to put two separate links in the same post:

America's Newspapers Just Played Right Into Trump's Hands

Proclivities

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Location: Paris of the Piedmont
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 16, 2018 - 9:20am

Journalists Are Not The Enemy
Red_Dragon

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Location: Dumbf*ckistan


Posted: Oct 23, 2017 - 4:54pm

tarbell
aflanigan

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Location: At Sea
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 10, 2017 - 6:30am

 Lazy8 wrote:
I'm not talking about a change (biologically or otherwise) to the human species, and I don't think we see the problem the same way at all.

What you see as our ability to delude ourselves I see as a fundamental characteristic of our species, neither good nor bad. We don't have a way to discern the truth, we have only the evidence of our senses. What we do with that evidence is ultimately up to us, aided by a built-in facility that has served us well for eons: pattern recognition.

It helps us see the difference in tracks between wounded and healthy animald when that difference is very subtle. We may not even be able to describe it, but we know it when we see it. Even though the tracks lead uphill the animal is worth following. We use it to reject some evidence in favor of an induction from other evidence, and it helped us get where we are today.

But that facility can be used against us. We see patterns—we want to see patterns, it's how we understand the world—where there is just noise. When you see someone rejecting evidence in favor of a cherished belief he's not acting completely irrationally, he's comparing the evidence to the pattern he's seen and rejecting it as disinformation, camouflage, an attempt to throw him off the track of that wounded beast. It takes a lot to overcome that built-in bias toward how we think the world works because there is noise, disinformation, camouflage. A magician's slight-of-hand might get you to believe that he has conquered gravity, but our experience—the patterns we've recognized from it—tells us to distrust anything we see a magician do, and to trust that gravity is constant.

What looks to you like self-deception is really data filtering. The conscious (and inquisitive) mind can overcome that with time and practice, but we won't abandon pattern recognition, the old pattern will be rejected or modified in favor of a new one. The underlying mechanism doesn't change, and I doubt it will. We need it. At least...that's the pattern so far.

The tool we need is skepticism, to test our assumptions—the patterns we think we see—against the evidence we can assemble. Skepticism is a skill we can learn, and we need to build a culture that values it.

Skepticism is damned inconvenient. It slows things down. It makes you prove that the building is on fire before you get out of your cozy bed to stand on the icy street, but it also gets us to the next level of societal evolution. It helps us get closer to the truth.

The tools that aid a skeptic are more accessible than at any time in history. It will take time to learn to use them, but the incentives are there. Most of us have been living with this access for fewer than 20 years. Give it a bit. Way too early to reject the long-term pattern of human social development just because there are idiots on Twitter.

  You're right, I was conflating our desire to see patterns and causality where it doesn't exist with choosing loyalty to a group over what our objective mind should see as the truth. They're separate phenomena. I didn't actually name skepticism in my discussion of tools found in our brain, but it is definitely one I was alluding to.
As I said, I am afraid that we have the potential to wreck our social order within the course of a single human life span, so the "give it time" platitude doesn't console me all that much. Wish I could be as optimistic as you.
EDIT: I am apparently not the only pessimist on this topic (hat tip to Xeric).


black321

black321 Avatar

Location: An earth without maps
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 10, 2017 - 6:26am

 Lazy8 wrote:
aflanigan wrote:
I get the sense that the main thing we don’t agree on is the direction in which the arrow is pointing with respect to our ability to delude ourselves, and the ability to reject nonsense and irrationality. It seems you think that since the human brain is evolving and ultimately improving due to evolution (which I accept wholeheartedly), that on a microscopic, short term scale, we can also view the ability of humans to be less subject to self-delusion, less likely to buy into BS, as inexorably improving. On the long term scale of biological evolution, perhaps this is true. I tend to be more pessimistic than you, apparently, over the short term. You can cherry pick examples where we have “crawled out of the darkness”, as you put it, during the brief period covering human’s rise that we can call the “era of civilization”. One can offer comparable examples of the endless capacity for self-deception in humans.  Take the increased popularity of the anti-vaccine movement, which is now spreading to pets. The continuing (for centuries) popularity of belief in “faith healing” (the Quackwatch site points out that a “1996 poll of 1000 adults found that 79% believed that spiritual faith can help people recover from disease”). The continued gullibility of people who lose significant sums of money in an increasingly diverse variety of scams. The unwillingness of significant numbers people to change their false beliefs when presented with indisputable evidence of its falseness. I think it is instructive to think of the “evolution” of human capacity for being duped, for self-deception, not as an adaptation that deals with a static or slowly changing circumstance (such as gravity or climate), but as a battle between two constantly evolving and competing agencies. Sort of like our immune system (and our use of antibiotics) battling the evolution of diseases and microbes. In a sense, it’s somewhat of a battle against our own nature. Along with an improvement in peoples’ ability to recognize and resist old scams, new ones are created in the fertile mind of scam artists, pseudoscientists, etc. And the same tools (computers, internet, etc.) that facilitate arming one’s self against being scammed/taken in by nonsense, fake news, pseudoscience, quackery, etc. enable those who are so inclined to develop new, cleverer ways to dupe people that elude the defenses erected against existing scams, and to foist them on a much broader cross section of potential victims.

I'm not talking about a change (biologically or otherwise) to the human species, and I don't think we see the problem the same way at all.

What you see as our ability to delude ourselves I see as a fundamental characteristic of our species, neither good nor bad. We don't have a way to discern the truth, we have only the evidence of our senses. What we do with that evidence is ultimately up to us, aided by a built-in facility that has served us well for eons: pattern recognition.

It helps us see the difference in tracks between wounded and healthy animald when that difference is very subtle. We may not even be able to describe it, but we know it when we see it. Even though the tracks lead uphill the animal is worth following. We use it to reject some evidence in favor of an induction from other evidence, and it helped us get where we are today.

But that facility can be used against us. We see patterns—we want to see patterns, it's how we understand the world—where there is just noise. When you see someone rejecting evidence in favor of a cherished belief he's not acting completely irrationally, he's comparing the evidence to the pattern he's seen and rejecting it as disinformation, camouflage, an attempt to throw him off the track of that wounded beast. It takes a lot to overcome that built-in bias toward how we think the world works because there is noise, disinformation, camouflage. A magician's slight-of-hand might get you to believe that he has conquered gravity, but our experience—the patterns we've recognized from it—tells us to distrust anything we see a magician do, and to trust that gravity is constant.

What looks to you like self-deception is really data filtering. The conscious (and inquisitive) mind can overcome that with time and practice, but we won't abandon pattern recognition, the old pattern will be rejected or modified in favor of a new one. The underlying mechanism doesn't change, and I doubt it will. We need it. At least...that's the pattern so far.

The tool we need is skepticism, to test our assumptions—the patterns we think we see—against the evidence we can assemble. Skepticism is a skill we can learn, and we need to build a culture that values it.

Skepticism is damned inconvenient. It slows things down. It makes you prove that the building is on fire before you get out of your cozy bed to stand on the icy street, but it also gets us to the next level of societal evolution. It helps us get closer to the truth.

The tools that aid a skeptic are more accessible than at any time in history. It will take time to learn to use them, but the incentives are there. Most of us have been living with this access for fewer than 20 years. Give it a bit. Way too early to reject the long-term pattern of human social development just because there are idiots on Twitter.

 
Skepticism is just another pattern to follow...no more truth down that alley than throwing darts. (Am i a skeptic?)


Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2017 - 10:53pm

aflanigan wrote:
I get the sense that the main thing we don’t agree on is the direction in which the arrow is pointing with respect to our ability to delude ourselves, and the ability to reject nonsense and irrationality. It seems you think that since the human brain is evolving and ultimately improving due to evolution (which I accept wholeheartedly), that on a microscopic, short term scale, we can also view the ability of humans to be less subject to self-delusion, less likely to buy into BS, as inexorably improving. On the long term scale of biological evolution, perhaps this is true. I tend to be more pessimistic than you, apparently, over the short term. You can cherry pick examples where we have “crawled out of the darkness”, as you put it, during the brief period covering human’s rise that we can call the “era of civilization”. One can offer comparable examples of the endless capacity for self-deception in humans.  Take the increased popularity of the anti-vaccine movement, which is now spreading to pets. The continuing (for centuries) popularity of belief in “faith healing” (the Quackwatch site points out that a “1996 poll of 1000 adults found that 79% believed that spiritual faith can help people recover from disease”). The continued gullibility of people who lose significant sums of money in an increasingly diverse variety of scams. The unwillingness of significant numbers people to change their false beliefs when presented with indisputable evidence of its falseness. I think it is instructive to think of the “evolution” of human capacity for being duped, for self-deception, not as an adaptation that deals with a static or slowly changing circumstance (such as gravity or climate), but as a battle between two constantly evolving and competing agencies. Sort of like our immune system (and our use of antibiotics) battling the evolution of diseases and microbes. In a sense, it’s somewhat of a battle against our own nature. Along with an improvement in peoples’ ability to recognize and resist old scams, new ones are created in the fertile mind of scam artists, pseudoscientists, etc. And the same tools (computers, internet, etc.) that facilitate arming one’s self against being scammed/taken in by nonsense, fake news, pseudoscience, quackery, etc. enable those who are so inclined to develop new, cleverer ways to dupe people that elude the defenses erected against existing scams, and to foist them on a much broader cross section of potential victims.

I'm not talking about a change (biologically or otherwise) to the human species, and I don't think we see the problem the same way at all.

What you see as our ability to delude ourselves I see as a fundamental characteristic of our species, neither good nor bad. We don't have a way to discern the truth, we have only the evidence of our senses. What we do with that evidence is ultimately up to us, aided by a built-in facility that has served us well for eons: pattern recognition.

It helps us see the difference in tracks between wounded and healthy animald when that difference is very subtle. We may not even be able to describe it, but we know it when we see it. Even though the tracks lead uphill the animal is worth following. We use it to reject some evidence in favor of an induction from other evidence, and it helped us get where we are today.

But that facility can be used against us. We see patterns—we want to see patterns, it's how we understand the world—where there is just noise. When you see someone rejecting evidence in favor of a cherished belief he's not acting completely irrationally, he's comparing the evidence to the pattern he's seen and rejecting it as disinformation, camouflage, an attempt to throw him off the track of that wounded beast. It takes a lot to overcome that built-in bias toward how we think the world works because there is noise, disinformation, camouflage. A magician's slight-of-hand might get you to believe that he has conquered gravity, but our experience—the patterns we've recognized from it—tells us to distrust anything we see a magician do, and to trust that gravity is constant.

What looks to you like self-deception is really data filtering. The conscious (and inquisitive) mind can overcome that with time and practice, but we won't abandon pattern recognition, the old pattern will be rejected or modified in favor of a new one. The underlying mechanism doesn't change, and I doubt it will. We need it. At least...that's the pattern so far.

The tool we need is skepticism, to test our assumptions—the patterns we think we see—against the evidence we can assemble. Skepticism is a skill we can learn, and we need to build a culture that values it.

Skepticism is damned inconvenient. It slows things down. It makes you prove that the building is on fire before you get out of your cozy bed to stand on the icy street, but it also gets us to the next level of societal evolution. It helps us get closer to the truth.

The tools that aid a skeptic are more accessible than at any time in history. It will take time to learn to use them, but the incentives are there. Most of us have been living with this access for fewer than 20 years. Give it a bit. Way too early to reject the long-term pattern of human social development just because there are idiots on Twitter.
aflanigan

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Location: At Sea
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2017 - 2:16pm

 NoEnzLefttoSplit wrote:
I don't know where fawning is on the evolutionary scale of things.  
Just wanted to say I think the discussions you two have are great and although you seem continually at odds, I find myself agreeing with both of you really often, which is kind of confusing, but hell, have at it.


 

 
Thanks, we probably both agree on a lot of stuff, but we do sometimes manage to make a lot of fuss over areas where we differ in opinion. 

 
NoEnzLefttoSplit

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Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2017 - 11:26am

I don't know where fawning is on the evolutionary scale of things.  
Just wanted to say I think the discussions you two have are great and although you seem continually at odds, I find myself agreeing with both of you really often, which is kind of confusing, but hell, have at it.


 
aflanigan

aflanigan Avatar

Location: At Sea
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 9, 2017 - 10:20am

 Lazy8 wrote:

If your point is that the evolution of human society is not uniform, that some people will lag the trend, then yes, point taken, point acknowledged, point made earlier. Yes, not everyone will get the word. We won't chase all the voodoo and superstition out of the zeitgeist at once—maybe ever. There are people who still believe the earth is flat. People still read their horoscopes, throw the I Ching, avoid the 13th floor, go to chiropractors and herbalists and organize campaigns against GMOs. There are millions convinced that fracking will poison their water, that cell phones kill bees and cause brain cancer, that antibiotics and taking megadoses of vitamins help you get over a cold. Scientology is still a thing. Hell, Abrahamic religions are still a thing and we've had over 5,000 years to work on that problem.

So no, I didn't miss that point. I'm saying that this kind of superstition and ignorance used to be the norm, and humanity has been crawling out of that darkness for its entire history. We have tools that help us crawl faster now, but that doesn't mean every single human will crawl out.

As with all eons-long trends progress is not uniform and there will be setbacks from time to time, but how many witches have been hung in Massachusetts this year? Are gay people still being committed to mental institutions? How's attendance at your local church?

If you want a Ministry of Truth to establish orthodoxies then you're arguing to slow that evolution down. The truth emerges from combat with falsehood. Exempting ideas from challenge is the opposite of that process.

I'm speculating here—you haven't said what you want, just demanded a concrete proposal from me. Here it is: let's get out of the way. Advocate for what you think is true, but let no idea go unchallenged. Fight censorship. Engage with people and ideas you think are wrong, don't just try to shut them up. In short, reverse the trends we see on college campuses and public debates in favor of openness and dialog.

And start with yourself. Challenge your own beliefs. Read things that do that, talk to people who do that, realize that understanding the concept of confirmation bias doesn't make you immune to it. Get used to being uncomfortable with new information—that's how you know you're learning something. Be the change.

 

You obviously put some thought into this, for which I thank you, and I tried to do the same below.

I get the sense that the main thing we don’t agree on is the direction in which the arrow is pointing with respect to our ability to delude ourselves, and the ability to reject nonsense and irrationality. It seems you think that since the human brain is evolving and ultimately improving due to evolution (which I accept wholeheartedly), that on a microscopic, short term scale, we can also view the ability of humans to be less subject to self-delusion, less likely to buy into BS, as inexorably improving. On the long term scale of biological evolution, perhaps this is true. I tend to be more pessimistic than you, apparently, over the short term. You can cherry pick examples where we have “crawled out of the darkness”, as you put it, during the brief period covering human’s rise that we can call the “era of civilization”. One can offer comparable examples of the endless capacity for self-deception in humans.  Take the increased popularity of the anti-vaccine movement, which is now spreading to pets. The continuing (for centuries) popularity of belief in “faith healing” (the Quackwatch site points out that a “1996 poll of 1000 adults found that 79% believed that spiritual faith can help people recover from disease”). The continued gullibility of people who lose significant sums of money in an increasingly diverse variety of scams. The unwillingness of significant numbers people to change their false beliefs when presented with indisputable evidence of its falseness. I think it is instructive to think of the “evolution” of human capacity for being duped, for self-deception, not as an adaptation that deals with a static or slowly changing circumstance (such as gravity or climate), but as a battle between two constantly evolving and competing agencies. Sort of like our immune system (and our use of antibiotics) battling the evolution of diseases and microbes. In a sense, it’s somewhat of a battle against our own nature. Along with an improvement in peoples’ ability to recognize and resist old scams, new ones are created in the fertile mind of scam artists, pseudoscientists, etc. And the same tools (computers, internet, etc.) that facilitate arming one’s self against being scammed/taken in by nonsense, fake news, pseudoscience, quackery, etc. enable those who are so inclined to develop new, cleverer ways to dupe people that elude the defenses erected against existing scams, and to foist them on a much broader cross section of potential victims.

Can we “evolve away from” human capacity for self-deception, and resistance to rejecting falsehood? Perhaps not. The capacity for self-deception may be a defense mechanism. If your doctor tells you that you will die in six months, it is understandable that some may refuse to acknowledge the fact, in order to not become depressed. We want to believe the best of ourselves, and be optimistic, which certainly helps to maintain a positive frame of mind. Perhaps there are evolutionary advantages to maintaining a positive frame of mind, or more to the point, evolutionary advantages to clinging to potentially false knowledge if it is similarly being clung to by the other members of one's social group. As the article I linked to above suggests, perhaps "having social support, from an evolutionary standpoint, is far more important than the truth" One can view the beginnings of what we call “civilization”, or organized, complex societies, as being marked by our shift from DIY survival, to our willingness and ability as a society to produce and support “experts”, artists, agriculturalists, engineers, specialists, scribes, librarians, and (horror of horrors) bureaucrats who formalize and record/enshrine/curate knowledge in diverse fields of study. This evolution of human society has continued apace for centuries.  Your suggestion that we be essentially self-reliant when it comes to battling falsehood, and that turning to experts, or “ministries of truth” as you call them, in the battle against BS and scam artists, represents regression/slowing evolution down, seems to fly in the face of our history, and seems to me to be the more regressive view. Yes, I’m lumping a bunch of stuff together here and painting with a broad brush, and I imagine you’d protest  that by all means, we should turn to experts/take a course to learn how to find the knowledge you seek, learn how to be good at searching the internet, etc. To me, it’s not appropriate or helpful to separate things out with respect to being good at collecting potential information and being able to vet that information for truthfulness. Being able to detect bullshit involves the skilled use of tools, including various parts of one’s own brain. I was taught to use many tools, and some I learned how to use on my own. Detecting BS/pseudoscience can be a tricky endeavor requiring a high level of proficiency, particularly when confronted with highly evolved forms. Rejecting guidance available from experts out of hand simply because it may potentially be flawed, include underlying bias, etc. seems counterproductive if we are to achieve your vision of an ever upwardly arcing curve of human wisdom when dealing with falsehood in its many forms. The fact that reporters who work the science beat still regularly misreport or get duped seems to confirm the increasing sophistication of those who seek to deceive. IMO it seems a big waste of effort to promote a system where every individual should automatically scorn the opinions of others (journalists, bloggers, etc.) and insist on developing on their own the requisite proficiency in detecting fake news, BS, pseudoscience, quackery, etc. I’m not sure the majority of humans are that clever yet.

And I am pessimistic because, unlike the biological robustness of humans, I worry that our civilization is fragile and subject to rapid decline, and even elimination, in a short period of time; too short for biological evolution to be of assistance. Species have become extinct, it is true, due to forces beyond their control. Our species seems clever enough to have the potential to deal with things such as climate disruptions or even the impact of a stray heavenly body, potentially. But we have to be clever enough to reach a consensus on the existence of the problem, and moreover, we have to be able to recognize what in my view is the more serious threat; self-annihilation/extinction. Perhaps my worries in this regard mark me as a creature of my time; as a youth I fed on a steady diet of dystopian novels, reading my share of Vonnegut, Orwell, Huxley, Atwood, Zamyatin, etc. Perhaps this has made me too cynical.
Sorry if this rambled on too much and got too far from the original point, but I'm interested in trying to see this discussion in a broader perspective beyond the health and future of traditional forms of journalism.


Lazy8

Lazy8 Avatar

Location: The Gallatin Valley of Montana
Gender: Male


Posted: Aug 4, 2017 - 9:55am

 aflanigan wrote:
I think you are missing the point.

Anyone can google "vaccines and autism", but none of the results that get spit out carry a number or any indicia representing the veracity of the "information" found on the page.

Up unitl a few months ago, then, you would likely have been presented with pages supporting a causal link between vaccines and autism, and pages that attempt to debunk such false claims. 
Now that Google has tweaked its algorithm to keep false info out of its search results and offers a fact check tag with the help of snopes and politifact for some search results, you won't find bogus vaccine/autism articles and websites showing up at least at the top of the page, but this relies on some sort of human vetting, just like editors and newspapers do. Which I'm getting the impression you are no big fan of because you find them biased.

People who are willing to be open-minded can certainly learn over time to distinguish BS and nonsense from factual/reliable information, especially after getting burned by false information a few times, but people don't always have the luxury of getting repeated attempts to make the right call. Worried parents who consider bringing their acutely ill child to a homeopathic practitioner on the advice of a friend/relative/minister will find listings for "Doctors" near them on Google, and their child may not survive the results.

And it is something people like you and me who are pretty good at detecting bullshit need to be concerned about, too, because decisions are being made every day that potentially affect us, and the people making them may not be able to distinguish fact from fiction. Or they may be highly prone to confirmation bias.

So the idea of "caveat emptor" as the sole mechanism of dealing with the harmful effects of misinformation/garbage information/psuedoscience is not a comforting one.

As far as the "curve rising", do you have any data to show that people are now less likely to be duped by misinformation than 50 years ago, or a century ago? My sense is that if anything, people are tending to be more gullible, but that's merely a subjective opinion.

If your point is that the evolution of human society is not uniform, that some people will lag the trend, then yes, point taken, point acknowledged, point made earlier. Yes, not everyone will get the word. We won't chase all the voodoo and superstition out of the zeitgeist at once—maybe ever. There are people who still believe the earth is flat. People still read their horoscopes, throw the I Ching, avoid the 13th floor, go to chiropractors and herbalists and organize campaigns against GMOs. There are millions convinced that fracking will poison their water, that cell phones kill bees and cause brain cancer, that antibiotics and taking megadoses of vitamins help you get over a cold. Scientology is still a thing. Hell, Abrahamic religions are still a thing and we've had over 5,000 years to work on that problem.

So no, I didn't miss that point. I'm saying that this kind of superstition and ignorance used to be the norm, and humanity has been crawling out of that darkness for its entire history. We have tools that help us crawl faster now, but that doesn't mean every single human will crawl out.

As with all eons-long trends progress is not uniform and there will be setbacks from time to time, but how many witches have been hung in Massachusetts this year? Are gay people still being committed to mental institutions? How's attendance at your local church?

If you want a Ministry of Truth to establish orthodoxies then you're arguing to slow that evolution down. The truth emerges from combat with falsehood. Exempting ideas from challenge is the opposite of that process.

I'm speculating here—you haven't said what you want, just demanded a concrete proposal from me. Here it is: let's get out of the way. Advocate for what you think is true, but let no idea go unchallenged. Fight censorship. Engage with people and ideas you think are wrong, don't just try to shut them up. In short, reverse the trends we see on college campuses and public debates in favor of openness and dialog.

And start with yourself. Challenge your own beliefs. Read things that do that, talk to people who do that, realize that understanding the concept of confirmation bias doesn't make you immune to it. Get used to being uncomfortable with new information—that's how you know you're learning something. Be the change.
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