December 29, 2019

The Earth is Flat

I am really tired of cries of "Fake Media." Obviously, in the world in which we find ourselves, anything we don't agree with, or something that might shake our preconceived notions is "fake." 

Truth has become fluid, defined by how well it fits our world view, not by any objective standard. 

I saw an article not to long ago that seemed to epitomize the lengths to which subjective truth can be stretched.

Did you know there is a flat earth society. Can you accept that there are thousands of members of this reality-challenged group and that their numbers are growing? That they believe the earth is flat, it is stationary in the galaxy, while the sun, planets, and stars rotate around us? Known as the geocentric view, this belief held sway until the late 16th century when scientists developed the Heliocentric model which shows the earth and planets rotating around the sun. 

Apparently, the Flat Earth people didn't get the memo. In their view the Antarctic ice cap keeps people from falling off the edge. Of course, that begs the question what happens as it melts? If the earth is round why doesn't water in a bathtub slosh toward one end? We can't see gravity, so who knows if it is real? The sky is actually just a large dome.

Conventions around the world are filled with folks who follow this train of thought. Hundreds of thousands of the true believers gather on web sites and forums to support each other. I won't go through all their theories, but offer you a link to the story on CNN: The Flat Earth Movement. I have to assume some of these folks are just along for the ride and don't believe it all, but that does leave many who do.

At the moment we are in a world awash in conspiracy theories. Why? This isn't the place to delve into the deep recesses of the human brain for the physiological answer. But, I will offer my take on this issue: I think there are people who need to invent an alternate reality or a fictional story line to protect and reinforce strongly-held beliefs. There may be a need to be part of a community, no matter how far out of the mainstream.

Our hyper-connected world allows one person to spread an idea around the globe (or across it, if the earth is flat) instantly, no matter how unhinged from reality it might be. Media tends to look for the brightest flash of light, or the most bizarre occurrence, to grab our splintered attention, if for only a moment. Web sites that exist only to serve as clickbait to advance a belief or sell advertising have become pervasive.

I think we can all (or most of us) agree that conspiracy theories are not helpful. We can chuckle at the idea that there are people who want to think the earth is flat, or the moon is made of cheese, or whatever. But, I suggest there is a much bigger danger that underlies these thoughts.


Basic truths, scientific facts, or simple reality are no longer enough for humans. We can convince ourselves that up is down, light is dark, or truth is fake. As our president has said several times, "What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening." Or Groucho Marx's, "Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?"

When we are in a world where what is real is up for debate, haven't we reached a very dangerous place? If we are told to deny what we see and what we hear for a vision that someone claims is the only accurate one, what comes next? 

Truthfully (?), this is not a veiled attempt by me to insert my thoughts about the impeachment drama into a post. Rather, it is profound unease at being in a world where those things that anchor us to reality are debatable. 

Topics like religion or politics or even whether Apple is better than Microsoft, are meaningful subjects to hold different opinions. The impact of technology on our privacy (what's left of it) should generate strong opinions and debates. Science uncovers and discovers new information all the time that gives us new insight into nature and life. We adjust how we perceive things based on new, credible information.

But, come on. Truth matters. Reality matters. Facts matter. Or do they? To even raise that question is deeply unsettling.


41 comments:

  1. I have read in more than one place that the radical right promote these types of beliefs and conspiracy theories simply because it drives "thinking liberals" crazy. They know it is not true but love our response to them, so they will keep doing it solely for that reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am aware of that theory, and there is probably some truth to it in some situations. For the majority of flat-earth people I think it is just a way of thumbing one's nose at convention and norms while having fun and gaining publicity. However, with the number of normally sane people denying the reality of climate change, I guess there are those who literally belive this bunk.

      In more normal circumstances I would say, who cares? Let them live in La-La land. Where's the harm? Well, the harm is in being just another instance of truth and reality being blurred by lies and purposeful misdirection. Enough of that type of behavior results in us losing faith in what is in front of us.

      Delete
    2. To drive thinking liberals crazy? I give you my word that it drives thinking conservatives crazy. Indeed it drives any thinking person crazy and to start to sling it into the vast right-wing conspiracy realms is just.. pardon me,..,, bull goose crazy.

      Delete
  2. There is an article on presslink.org called the "The Christmas Eve Confessions of Chuck Todd" about the disinformation the right is spreading. Very powerful read...

    ReplyDelete
  3. Personally I think the problem originated back in the 1970s with the New Media, which held that there was no objective truth, but only the truth as the writer saw it. Then it went on from there until we have what we have today. We've always had people who denied reality, from Holocaust deniers to people who say LBJ killed Kennedy, the landing on the moon was a hoax, etc. etc. But the media, and esp. Social Media (as you point out) have given the crazies more credibility than they deserve. The far right is certainly guilty of exploiting people's naivety; but the far left has its own problems with confirmation bias and all the other factors that lead us to deny what's right in front of us. Btw, I remember reading about a Flat Earth Society in the 1970s. My impression, back then, was that it was a goof, making fun of people who couldn't accept modern reality. How things have changed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is an excellent, and timely, editorial in this morning's New York Times. It has two quotes from poet, William Yeats: "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold," and, "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."

      This is as good a description of any of where we find ourselves.

      Delete
  4. I remember The Flat Earth Society from the '70s. There were actual believers in it but back then, I think most people who joined thought it was funny. Today with social media anti-science people connect and are growing their numbers of true believers. I personally think the anti-science people aren't smart or logical enough to understand and follow the science of things like climate change, the importance of vaccines or the important work of the EPA to protect our water and air. They label anything they can't understand or like as 'fake.' We need to teach more science and logic in the lower grades.

    I hate that one man was able to change our society so much in just three years! I just hope the damage he's doing is temporary. In the meantime he's giving a voice to alternate reality folks and that's not a good thing. I've heard the theory that RJ posted, that they don't actually believe all the conspiracy theories and "fake" labels and they only talk about them because it drives "thinking liberals" crazy. That makes it worse in my opinion, because it's deliberately stirring the pot, purposely taunting others for their amusement. It's mean and doesn't advance anything positive in our world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In addition to attacking windmills, low flow toilets and dishwashers, our president is guttting science research and credibility. I have thought the same as you: when someone doesn't understand somwething it is easier to deny its truth or importance than to learn somewthing about the subject.

      Delete
    2. In that case, Bob, you clearly do not understand what is right in front of your nose about what Trump is doing.

      Delete
  5. People have always enjoyed stories that reinforce what they believe, make them part of something grand, and entertain them. They spend lots of money on some of their fantasies, going to conventions and dressing up like 17th century Scottish nobility, for just one example. Let's face it, it beats owning up to being descended from indentured children sold for a couple of small coins.

    The problem is, we've had media manipulation for about a century already, so the tricks are well known and have been propagated through all our newfangled stuff too. So all the Nazi tricks to sell their programs are now blasting us with making America different from what we thought we had. Maybe it's just out in the open now, I'm so confused!

    I'd like to see critical thinking taught from pre-K on up, in age-appropriate increments, so that when people graduate from high school they can filter most of the crud out of social discourse themselves. I'd also like them to be able to make canned soup and open-faced sandwiches, balance a checkbook, and sew on a button, but that's for another day.

    Thanks, Bob, for bringing this up. The more people notice and think for themselves, the more hope we have that this is temporary!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The idea of bringing up a subject and hoping it stimulates rational discussion is probably a pipe dream at the moment. I remember when media, meaning TV or newspapers, wasn't left or right-leaning, it was simply reality.

      That is no longer the case. Both conservatives and liberals stake out a position and do everything in their power to promote it. As you suggest, it would be nice if we allowed younger generations to analyze the "facts" before they became corrupted by spin, so they could form their own opinions and not be swayed by the loudest voice in the room, regardless of where it came from.

      Delete
  6. For those who automatically view anything regarding Fake News as the domain completely of that "other side", may I respectfully submit that YOU are a big part of the problem. For example, I tend to be more Libertarian but am admittedly conservative on fiscal issues and topics like illegal immigration, and liberal on many social issues. Therefore I will read websites like Fox and CNN dispassionately, since neither addresses my concerns completely. But both, along with the USA Today that comes automatically to our winter abode, are skewed so dramatically to one side or the other that they are virtually unreadable. My point? Both sides of the media are guilty of pandering, skewing their stories in one direction, outright lies, or lies of ommission. It does not make one side morally superior in any way, rather quite the opposite. And for those on the Right they probably feel it more since so much more %-wise of the mainstream media is aligned with the Left nowadays, a trend that started decades ago at the journalism school level.

    And do you believe any political candidate from either side has anything they are interested in other than staying in power, particularly at the Congressional level? Oh, they will act belligerent to each other in public, but they are friends behind the scenes, totally united in their obsession with being reelected. The sooner you realize that ALL of them are playing the game of keeping each of us at each others throats, along with the willing media on both sides, the sooner you will realize what pawns we all are. Read some writings from former Federal employees who were around these politicians to understand what they really think of each of us. Bottom line - get beyond the rhetoric and make knowledgeable decisions based on facts, not some skewed commentary from media sources pandering to the lowest common denominator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I certainly agree that both sides play the game and our nation and our citizens are the ultimate losers. Further, I have very little faith in any of the current crop of politicians, regardless of the side of the aisle, to not make too many decisions on short term power and reelection considerations.

      That said, I ask you where do we get the "facts" that you urge me to deal in? If all media sources or social media outlets have a hidden agenda or point of view where do we learn the truth, the reality?

      By pointing out that the term "fake news" now means simply information someone disagrees with rather than real lies, I reject the idea that I am a big part of the problem. If we ignore the obvious, then I submit the problem does not go away, it only grows worse. If we make the term "fake news" meaningless by reducing its definition to disagreement, not actual falsehoods, then what does it mean? Nothing.

      If readers have a suggestion as to where we can go to get unvarnished truth and facts without basis, I am all ears.

      Delete
    2. Bob, it is not easy but I find rather than taking the word of news outlets (who are now more likely news makers rather than objective purveyors of the news) I will do queries on any subject matter I feel I want to know more about. Generally if I can find enough sites of varying persuasions that are in agreement than I will have a greater likelihood of getting closer to the truth, than having something spoonfed to me by one side or the other. BTW, I no longer use Google for any queries for two simple reasons - they are blatant in their pushing of one side over the other, and I don't need them to have any more of my data to sell than they already have. I use DuckDuckGo on all my devices, including my phone, since they block ads and such and do not archive your searches for sale to others. Nor do they have a hidden political agenda of what they want you to see or not see on their responses to your queries.

      As an aside, I believe one of the most blatant examples of pushing a fake agenda is the media of the Left and their reporting on the successes of President Trump (I know, I am being one-sided here, only because it is one of the worst examples of making rather than reporting the news). If you read most of the liberal press there has not been a single positive thing that has occurred under Trump's Presidency. They ignore completely the increases in the stock market (which they assured us would tank if Trump was elected), the lowest unemployment rate among blacks and Hispanics in history, the drawdown of troops in hotspots that never took place under the prior administration, the negotiating for better drug prices and faster drug releases, and the clamping down on the vaping epidemic just to name a few off the top of my head. They can disagree with the man but you cannot ignore any successes and claim you are reputable journalists.

      Maybe a little of my view is due to recency bias in that Trump is our current President and we have seen these actions by the media for three years. But it does not make it right in any way, and needs to stop. Until the media gets back to being objective purveyors of the news it will continue to be difficult to gather unbiased information on important topics of the day.

      Wishing you and Betty and the family a Happy New Year's, Bob.

      Delete
    3. Thanks, Chuck. The very best to you and Deb, also.

      Delete
  7. Thank you ChuckY...you nailed it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did not mean to imply that YOU personally were part of problem. I know you well enough to know that you realize there is bias on both sides. I think Chuck's comment was a response to other comments rather than to your post. Am I forgiven? As for where to go for facts...I wish I knew.

      Delete
    2. And knowing ChuckY, I think you may be right!

      Delete
    3. Judy/Bob, you both are correct. I did not pen my response as an attack on Bob; when I used the word YOU it was to point the finger at all of us. Thanks to both of you for realizing that.

      Delete
  8. Bob, I initially read your post as being very objective in nature and exploring a problem that you believe exists regardless of one's own set of beliefs. I was actually encouraged by your refrain from bringing politics or specific hot topics of the day into the dialog. Then I started to read the comments on your posts and your responses to them, and I realized that while you may honestly be trying to post a very objective observation, your personal feelings on certain current hot topics are being expressed which we all have our own thoughts and beliefs on. I am working diligently to step out of my comfort zone about my beliefs on any specific topic and approach issues as I would approach a perplexing problem in IT. What I see is a whole bunch of hypothesis that people are trying to prove. Some are convinced that their hypothesis is accurate and are stating these hypothesis as facts. Others are trying to sell to other people to drum up support for their hypothesis. All are looking for recognition and validation. Of course there are some people out there stirring the pot just to get reaction. Since many of us are divided into opposing camps on a particular hypothesis, we are making little progress in finding the solution. We, as a society today, lack objective thought. We are too quick to believe what we want to believe and are not objective enough to realize that what we are seeing or hearing from the media and politicians and many of today's so called scientists in all forms has little to no objectiveness and is focused on making profit, getting grants, or securing or retaining power. Follow the money trail is what I see today.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't disagree with any of what you say. I readily admit my personal opinions will occur in response to a particular comment. I could just say 'Thank you for your thoughts," but I think that is disingenuous. If someone takes the time to leave their thoughts, they deserve my best attempt to respond and not just with a platitude.

      I hope you agree I am always respectful in the comment section, even when people have called me a POS or worse. Being respectful does not mean having no thoughts, opinions, or feelings on a subject. It does mean allowing differing points of view to be seen.

      Your primary point is the whole thrust of this post: truth has been replaced by self-serving positional logic designed to promote a particular message. As I noted in my answer to ChuckY above, if everyone is doing this where do we go to find the real facts, the reality?

      Delete
    2. Bob, I have seen nothing but respectful comments and dialog from you from what I have seen thus far. I enjoy communicating with you on topics and appreciate your thoughts and contemplate them as I hope you do with other people's as well. We all have personal beliefs and opinions, and it is sometimes difficult to understand other people's beliefs, but it definitely is healthy to try.

      Reality is an interesting topic. Let's use the flat Earth example. We now have definitive proof via satellites orbiting Earth that the Earth is indeed not flat but is oval in shape (equator region bulges out some). Before we had proof, the hypothesis that the Earth was round and not flat was just that, a hypothesis which had yet to be proven as fact even though most scientist in the 20th century (prior to mankind and his/her machines being launched into space) and even before would state the hypothesis as fact. We believe in today's scientific terms and knowledge that traveling faster than the speed of light is impossible (relativity I believe), but that hypothesis, which has yet to be proven factual, is what the scientific community is publishing as fact. I believe we all need to be much more skeptical of what we hear and read and not immediately believe a published statement as being fact even though a group of "experts" has stated it is. These so called experts are often trying to prove a hypothesis and as I stated in my original post are looking for validation, recognition, and funding for more research. I hope my ramblings have made some sort of sense. Happy New Year!

      Delete
  9. There is a documentary called "Behind The Curve" on Netfilx that explores the Flat Earthers. It always seemed to me that they were a brick short of a full load but the documentary shows them to be intelligent and thoughtful if misguided. Many have college degrees and engineering backgrounds. One thing they are not is tin foil hat wearing loonies so it's not productive if anyone is tempted to think of them that way.

    Of course, when the flat earthers are presented with facts proving the earth is a sphere they go to extreme lengths to refute them. They even go so far as to disbelieve their own tests that show the earth is indeed a sphere finding it easier to believe that their test was flawed in some way rather then go back on what to them is a core belief. Confirmation bias runs rampant throughout everything they see and do (as do conspiracy theories) despite the facts, which is common to many of these groups.

    I think that those that live in the world of "fake facts" or whatever you want to call it feel that everything that highly educated and trained experts are doing, and telling them, is so far from their everyday experience that something doesn’t feel right (are they being lied to?) and it goes from there. I can say that in my everyday life the earth looks flat even though I know it isn't. I also believe Einstein's Theory of General Relativity too. As such I accept that time isn't a constant, but it sure LOOKS constant as far as I can tell and I doubt I could prove that it isn't to anyone that demanded proof. As for Quantum Mechanics I wouldn’t even know where to start.

    Conspiracy theories generally involves large organizations desperate to make even more money while the ordinary people are left as fodder for whatever suites the big corporation's (or big government's) purposes. Of course, big organizations have from time to time put money ahead of safety. Recall the scandals at various automotive companies going back decades - the GM Corvair, Ford Pinto and most recently the VW "clean diesel" that in fact wasn't clean at all. On the whole automotive companies (or pharmaceutical companies for that matter) really don’t want to be killing off their customers but there are enough lapses of judgement to make people wonder and this primes them to disbelieve.

    Facts matter, more than ever, but the best thing is to respectfully engage and not just write them off as a bunch of nuts. You'll never change anyone’s mind that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I was thinking about some of your points earlier today. I can't see gravity but I am pretty sure Newton was right. Can I, as a non-scientist prove it? Nope, but some things I take on faith or personal experience.

      Confirmation bias is a very real problem. Conservatives,, moderates, centrists, ....everyone has it. As humans we crave consistency and predictability. When things change that affect us in a negative way, we tend to deny something, put up barricades, stick with what used to be, or attack the messenger.

      I really hope that posts like this allow for a reasonable exchange of points of view without resorting to rhetoric or hate. That approach is getting us nowhere.

      Delete
  10. George Orwell was certainly prescient about what can happen to the truth when he wrote 1984 in the late 1940s:

    “There was truth and there was untruth, and if you cling to the truth even against the whole world, you were not mad.”

    “Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”

    “Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two make four. If that is granted, all else follows.”

    “The best books are those that tell you what you already know.”

    “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

    It’s easy to blame politicians for the current assault on the truth currently going on, but there are many complicit others involved, from corporations to media to others operating behind the scenes. The truth is out there and always has been; I just think we have to spend more time these days to find it. Two plus two still make four.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will also blame us, the citizens of this country. We have become lazy and too complacent in not doing the hard work of democracy....being involved, being vigilant, and believing we are all in this together.

      Delete
  11. To me it begins in what YOU (generic) believe to be true. It is sad that debate is not taught to every person. There are, almost always, two sides to every story. You say there are basic truths- but that is debatable :).
    Are the basic truths the same for you as a peasant in Cambodia? Hummm. Or even for you and a homeless person? Is theft a truth or just in the eyes of the beholder? How about murder?
    Here are some examples that I have debated many many times.
    Is a fetus a human before it takes a breath? If not, then why "worked on" in utero or be mourned if it does not come out breathing. If so, it should always be given the chance at life. Is a child is more important then the parent and when that actually comes to action---since a child cannot survive on their own well into the third year and if a parent kills it, that is considered murder.
    Who is human has been debated for several thousand years.
    Were the pyramids raised by captive slave (considered sub human) labor or farmers in the off season- both are truths according to different people. If there was no slavery, is Exodus no longer a truth?
    How about world flood? Almost every culture has the story and their people came up on top. Which story is the truth? Each has a creation story as well- even "pure scientists" don't understand the "spark". So is it fake?
    Going through the Holocaust museum in Israel I got to read letters from Germans working the camps. Fascinating what they saw as truth.
    For 40 years the debate of who will be on the Supreme Court had, really, to do with the perception of basic truths. I remember that debate in high school.
    This is not new. The internet brings every little thing to light---at least the things that brings the person who wants the narrative to be supported by the "fact". The danger comes when piling on the band wagon when giving limited information supporting a certain POV (especially political) and suppressing a different POV. To me it becomes manipulation and not about truth at all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A very interesting and thought-provoking response, Janette.

      While I do think many things are true regardless of the setting, each society does bring variety into the debate. An example: assault is against the law in the U.S. Under our legal system one form of assault is now defined by the courts as yanking something out of some else's hand. For us, that is one of the facts of assault. I am pretty sure that wouldn't be the same in many other countries of the world.

      Your comment has made me think about where the line is and how "truth" can sometimes be in the eye of the beholder. That may not change the reality of something, but I understand how interpretations of events can result in different conclusions.

      I will repeat Laura's thought from earlier: two plus two equals four no matter how someone spins it, and what I see with my eyes will not be denied because someone tells me to ignore it.

      Thanks, Janette. This should stir some brain cells.

      Delete
  12. Yesterday I read a post in Facebook about how social security will fall apart if a democrat win. I don’t usually comment on posts I disagree with but I was able to debunk each point by putting in parts of Social Security’s handbooks. I wish that people would take the time to look things up before posting truly fake news that too many people believe. I do believe that social media is a large part of our current problems. It brings so much good and yet divides us even more. I’m scared for our collective intelligence. So many younger people are incredibly well informed yet so many.....and our generation seems to believe anything. I thought university, work and life taught critical thinking. I must be on drugs....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The problem of social media and false information is a big deal. The companies can't or won't police it properly. Foreign governments and people with an axe to grind can put up anything and feel confident that others will spread the lies.

      Unfortunately, too many people either want to believe the worst about something or they are too lazy to actually check something out before re-tweeting or putting it on Facebook (or anywhere else).

      I an hoping that like almost everything else that becomes out of control, people will eventually move away from these outlets. In the meantime, our only defense is to check everything before spreading it onward, and decide if your time would be better spent somewhere other than on toxic social media sites.

      Delete
  13. What makes all this tricky is that only a small portion of what we understand as true are things we know through the experience of our own senses. Most of what we know to be true we know because trusted others (teachers, textbooks, parents, news media, etc.) have told us they are true. When I taught Introductory Sociology, I used to spend time in class trying to make students aware of how much of what they understood to be "true" was based on social agreement. One way I did this was to use unconventional maps. One student got quite incensed about a "south on top" map of the world, arguing that it was false because north really is on top in the universe. When I asked him how he knew this, he pointed to photos of planet earth taken from space, all of which show the north pole at the top and the south pole at the bottom. He couldn't fathom the idea that the photos had been oriented this way to match our familiar conceptions of the world.
    This then raises the question of who we trust to tell us the truth. I trust the scientific method (in part, because I have enough scientific education to understand the limitations of scientific understanding), I think it's wise to get information from multiple sources and to consider the biases of those sources, and I'm more likely to trust news media that make some attempt to present multiple points of view. (Thus I avoid both Fox News and MSNBC.) When I was young, most of the country got its news from the same sources (e.g., Huntley and Brinkley or Walter Cronkite) and we thus had a lot of agreement on what the facts are. Today, the proliferation of news media means that we don't get our information from just a few sources and we are much less likely to agree about what the facts are and which sources of information are trustworthy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. An excellent explanation, Jean. The "south pole on top" is a perfect example of our view of reality are based on our preconceived notions and what we want to see.

      Walter Cronkite was often voted the most trusted man in the country during his time on CBS. As viewers we really didn't know that to be an absolute fact, but he came across as both trustworthy and human (remember the tears at the moon landing?) So, we assumed.

      It seems counter-intuitive that as the number of sources for information grew, our trust levels dropped. Instead of verifying each other, they began to splinter into various camps, thus making facts more difficult to determine.

      What are the risks to our social cohesion? I'd suggest serious. A famous example began on the very first day of the Trump presidency. Claiming to have had the biggest inauguration crowd ever when photo evidence proved otherwise, we had clear evidence that what we thought was a given, was being called into question.

      Were the photos altered by the deep state? Obviously, questioning the crowd size reports made that a point of contention, even when our eyes saw something that seemed easily proven. At that point the hairs on the back of my neck tingled; I became aware that something quite important had just happened, but how widespread the gap would be between different versions of facts was still to unfold.

      Delete
  14. As someone who had an academic career in science, I am increasingly disheartened of the trend in society to reject the results of scientific research, based on evidence, in favor of "what I believe to be true," "what I want to be true," or "what others I agree with say is true." Any good scientist embraces doubt as part of their approach to research results. They constantly question their research and those of colleagues. It is the way theories are strengthened and science progresses.

    The internet, while providing unbelievable access to information (like your blog), provides little guidance for validating such information and in many cases has become an ignorance magnifier and provided a means for crackpots to find each other. It saddens me, often.

    Rick in Oregon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your phrase, ignorance magnifier, says it all. Like almost any invention or innovation, something created either as morally positive or neutral, can become corrupted by some. Unfortunately, that is one of the by-products of a free market economy...misuse is quite possible.

      With the president using the term, "fake news," 273 times this year, shutting down scientific research agencies, and calling climate change a hoax, it is hard to imagine things getting better.

      I wonder how much long term damage is being done to trust and the ability to discern fact from fiction.

      Historically, this country has gone through periods when basic assumptions have been questioned. We have always rebounded. Cross your fingers that it will happen again.

      Delete
  15. You hit on a number of issues with this post.

    1) One is the taking of "known" information and turning it around. Be that the flat earth group or the anti-vaxers (I don't want to start an argument for you, but again it is belief vs science).

    2) The Fake News issues. There are sites that post fake or less than truthful information and pass it off as totally true. Many do not know the difference (and most of us could be caught by it with topics we know little about).

    When the border wall was a hot topic, many places posted information that did not match with local facts that were being reported by respected agencies (again that respected part could be debated by some, which comes back to your conspiracy comments). Those that were not in the area of the border getting local information had to sort through all the other information being spread about by so called news sources.

    Which brings me to the use of pictures to "prove" a position. A picture is only a click in time. What came before that, what came after that? What caused that one moment to happen is not shown by a picture, so the person using the picture can add about any type of narration to the image that they want to present. Picture is worth a 1000 words makes a nice song, but not so much for factual information.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The point you make about photographs is important. Depending on when and from what angle it is taken, a photo can convey a meaning that might be completely out of sync with the overall reality. Sources of misleading information often use the same technique verbally by taking something out of context to spin a web of lies.

      In all the reading I have done on this subject, it really comes down to a facet of human nature: we believe what supports a preconceived notion and ignore anything that makes us question a firmly held position. What we want to believe always trumps (?) facts.

      Delete
  16. To me, the idea of the leader of a country deliberately spreading misinformation and using name-calling to disrespect people is beyond the pale. Of course, here in Canada, we recently had the S. N. C. Lavalin scandal, where our prime minister was less than honest about his involvement in succumbing to corporate lobbying. But the magnitude of what people in your country have been enduring seems to be considerably greater, and it has a global impact.

    Jude

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My truth is a lie to you depending on your need to keep your beliefs in play. That has always been true, but has never been so openly supported and promoted by virtually everyone in an important position of power in this country. I am afraid trust in government, no matter who is in power, has been seriously damaged. And, without trust I don't know how democracy works.

      Delete

Inappropriate comments will be deleted