Just read this in the graun: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/16/holocaust-us-adults-study
Whatever happened to facts? Things we could all agree on, events from history (in this case) or say, "established" science (by which I mean things that have been proven by experiment or observations to match a given theoretical model, eg vaccination)
How can we counter this tsunami of BS?
Facts are established by experts. We've been told that we've had enough of them already...
I'd just read that story with some horror. I don't know how "what you are taught at school" and "what you read on that guy's twitter feed " came to have equal status in so many people's heads
> I don't know how "what you are taught at school" and "what you read on that guy's twitter feed " came to have equal status in so many people's heads
Its not immediate the first happened which leaves lots of room for the latter.
> Facts are established by experts. We've been told that we've had enough of them already...
The other one is "an expert said".
This obviously leads to the question "which expert?" and "what did they actually say?"
The answer is often that the expert isn't really an expert, or they are a discredited expert such as Andrew Wakefield, or that what they actually said isn't what is being claimed (I saw one this week where the expert was questioning the definition of a second wave, but this was presented as him saying that the virus didn't exist. I guess we have also seen things on the internet that are attributed to a Nobel Prize Winner, but has no connection to anything that they have ever said).
Unfortunately, plenty of people don't value facts and objective knowledge. They want "common sense" and experiential knowledge, even if's based only on their limited view of the world. Politically, this can be weaponised. Check out what Carl Rove said about the "reality based community" for example.
Divided societies accept populist leaders. And the easiest way to divide a society is to create a culture war to destroy any shared reality it might still have. Hence "alternative facts", fake news, the ridiculing/side-lining of expertise, politicising of education, factionalised media. Social media didn't make this inevitable, but it turned out to be a very useful tool.
The alternative is the classic "coup and autocracy", but that's hard to sustain over the long haul and tends to get you shot in the end. Its just so much easier and more profitable to turn people on each other and explit the chaos to create a "managed democracy" instead.
Times we live in.
> Times we live in.
Are getting very dark and depressing
That is worrying but not surprising.
A couple of years ago I saw an interview outside a Trump convention where a person was asked what should be done to deal with the greatest threat to the World. The answer was that the US should go and sort out ISIS. When asked where was the first place they should go to do this, the answer was, "Israel".
> Whatever happened to facts?
Threads like this:
First, someone states an absolutely bullshit premise based on a non-analytic and totally wrong misinterpretation of the data: "confirms theories that (very unfortunately) most of the people who would have died due to Covid in western Europe due to underlying conditions, age etc most likely already have and therefore returning to 'normal life' is the best course."
Then they state some snippy soundbite based around brief catchphrases that ignores the reality where schools were/are returning en-mass and businesses likewise: "Surely more damage is being caused not returning to school, work and getting businesses back on track?"
And finishes with a statement that sounds all scientific but is garbage " but even if true that then shows that the mortality rate of Covid is orders of magnitude less than we think?" - the data now shows mortality to be about what people thought it was back in Feb/March.
The more I look at that post the more it is built out of crap from start to finish, with the deliberate intent of convincing people that things are going to be fine and we don't need to be careful. 38 likes within a day or two of posting.
People like positive messages, they like scientific sounding messages, and when they see or read them on the internet they take them as correct as if it was is written in fire in letters thirty feet high by god herself.
People don't like detailed (long winded, verbose to the extreme) counter-points. The promotion of a talking-heads idea that all opinions are equally valid has destroyed any recognition that some people are paid shills of vested interests, some are likeable idiots being exploited by those with vested interests, and some don't understand what they're talking about. The desperate search for "balance" has led to ever more extreme counter-views in debates leaving no room in the middle for a calm, sensible, and methodological approach to decision making.
“Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. … This kind of thing is frightening to me because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.”
- George Orwell, 1936
I'd argue nothing new is happening.
> I'd argue nothing new is happening.
Well yes but that was a country spiralling downhill in civil war and then a dictatorship.
So as comparisons go its not overly reassuring.
I think we all need to be aware of our dispositions and behaviours when we adopt a particular attitude towards facts – or ideas, or beliefs. Not much stands up as “objective knowledge”, whether in science or “common sense", without underlying arguments and propositions that can be evaluated as sound in a logical sense.
Don’t dismiss all “experiential knowledge”, either. Aristotle, held empiricist views, with an emphasis on concrete Particulars and experience was at the heart of enlightenment philosopher David Hume’s reasoning on human knowledge.
The problem with ideas and beliefs, including many of those expressed on here, is that authors don’t always set forth the arguments that enable us to evaluate the strength of the claim or statement. We are just expected to accept it. All viewpoints – rational/objective or experiential/subjective – need the presentation of an argument without which reliable knowledge is not possible.
Facts are systematically suffocated by belief, and experts have been substituted by high priests of bullshit.
The protagonist is of course, the right wing media. Almost all of the awful stuff happening at the moment requires the considerable power of belief to sustain the public's faith in it. What gets written in the right wing British (and US) media is not too far removed from crazy conspiracy, dressed up in faux factual clothing to make it seem acceptable to the more gullible among us, and to those who lack (or consciously avoid) critical thinking skills.
When facts become 'fake news', and actual fake news is presented as 'fact', then we are in trouble. This dysfunctional upside-down thinking will even affect our own survival, because climate change will inevitably hurt certain ideologies, and therefore must be played down, and denied. We are then, perhaps unwittingly, submitting to the ulterior will of ideology figureheads; in the case of the media, the billionaires who own the majority of it - and politically, the parties who are most likely to support the status quo that keeps them in a manner to which they have become very accustomed indeed.
The ray of hope in this dreadful global mess (as the article points out) is that millennials and 'Gen Z' seem much more aware of recent history and the lessons that can be learned from it. Their voting choices and media preferences might well be very different from ours, hopefully more fact based, less prejudicial, and significantly less fawning of the ideology that got us into this mess in the first place.
So, I've just looked at this survey, the questions asked, and the answers given.
91% of millennials had heard (or think they have heard) of the holocaust.
A clear majority know that it is about genocide, a large number of Jews being killed.
The headline of the article linked suggests that this is not the case, and I think this is misleading.
If you ask people a multiple choice question with eight possible answers, then a fair few will not pick the correct one, even if they have a reasonable gist of what happened.
The 9% who hadn't heard of it are obviously total morons. I'm not sure we can reasonably these people to remember stuff - they are probably barely functioning at life. Remember that 20% of Americans are actually functionally illiterate.
Back to the main theme. I do, of course agree that facts and education is important, and share your concerns.
I was only thinking along the same lines earlier this morning. Marina, as ever, seems to nail it:
"The best you could say is that Britain is behaving like Donald Trump, and it is certainly a matter of opinion how great again he has made America. Lying, reneging, then lying about the lies you told: these tactics might get you out of a hole in the short term, and your supporters might even cheer you for it. But ultimately, they corrode public life to the point where it is widely believed that there are no objective facts at all, and that all news is fake. As can be seen from Russia to America, this harms people on all sides of any political divide, and betrays every citizen governed by people who choose to indulge in it."
In reply to RBonney:
> How many people in this country know anything about what the Japanese did to the Chinese at the same time?
I have seen TV history programs about the rape of Nanking etc, I thought that happened before the start of the war in europe
Or what the USSR did to people who lived there? Or what China are doing to the Uigurs? Even fewer I'd imagine. Why should that be any less important?
It's not less important. My OP was not trying to say historical fact "a" is more important than "b". I was lamenting the state we are letting ourselves get into where nothing is regarded as "a fact"
> Don’t dismiss all “experiential knowledge”, either. Aristotle, held empiricist views, with an emphasis on concrete Particulars and experience was at the heart of enlightenment philosopher David Hume’s reasoning on human knowledge.
Yes I know that, but this is rather distant from the concerns of many people's lives. People don't deny the reality of climate change because they agree with Hume's position on logical positivism - they do it because they don't experience it (yet) and they don't see why they should believe other people's "scientific facts". Which is fine if you live in a traditional society three hundred years ago, but completely useless if you live in an modern, urban, globalised society that is messing with the planet on an alarming scale.
Same with politics. Same with how we behave towards each other. The stakes are just too high now.
The only way I can see to get out of the hole we're in is to eliminate the reward structure that incentivises populists and their hangers-on to engage in this kind of reality hacking. Unfortunately to do that you need power, and I'm pretty sure they know that.
I have a family member who has fallen for the ‘we’ve had enough of experts’ thinking. His logic that if 1% of experts are wrong, or have mislead, then all experts can’t be trusted. He’s an intelligent guy in a professional job.
Therefore he dismisses facts about all sorts of topics and seems to go on how he feels about whoever is selling their particular point of view.
It frightens the hell out of me.
> “Early in life I had noticed that no event is ever correctly reported in a newspaper, but in Spain, for the first time, I saw newspaper reports which did not bear any relation to the facts, not even the relationship which is implied in an ordinary lie. … This kind of thing is frightening to me because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world.”
> - George Orwell, 1936
> I'd argue nothing new is happening.
Once upon a time lies spread slowly by word of mouth.
Then they spread faster and to more people through printed medium.
Now a lie can cross the whole world in milliseconds.
That's the difference.
It's depressing for sure. Due to the positive feedback loops most online searches show you more of the same as whatever you have just watched. Hence someone sees a video denying / distorting the horrors of the holocaust is far more likely to see similar content. Worse still they then share it with a friend and suddenly it starts going viral and creeps up on the trending charts thus making the situation worse.
As for stopping it, call your friends and family out if they post or share something misleading. It's not nice, I've got family members who have become upset when I commented on their Facebook posts saying it was pure bullsh*t (Brexit / cost of migrants / jobs being taken etc) - I always provide a link to a site backing up my assertions.
False information is poisonous to our society and needs to be stopped.
The 'right' to have an opposing opinion. Freedom of speech protects the ability to dispute facts. Then airtime lets them grow.
Expert #1 : we believe 6 million died
Expert #2 : we disagree with you method for estimating ~5% of that number and so believe true total is 5.9 million
Twitter Person #3 : it is possible it didn't happen
News Summary : experts are unable to agree on a number, and some observers have even commented that it may not have occured at all.
It's a post factual world where if something gets said enough it becomes fact.
Like the CDC saying 94% of covid deaths had a contributing health condition. That was repeated as 94% died of other things and just had covid at the time. They did not say that. It's infuriating how people will not actually refer to data.
> Once upon a time lies spread slowly by word of mouth.
> Then they spread faster and to more people through printed medium.
> Now a lie can cross the whole world in milliseconds.
> That's the difference.
Agreed, but that goes for fact-checking exposing non-facts as well. There is definitely a difference in the pace and scope of dissemination, but that doesn't mean lies, fake news and disinformation are more ubiquitous than when the king, pope or emperor had the monopoly on information.
Though far from perfect, it's safer challenging and exposing the lies now than it ever has been.
I think the start of the anti-science trend was from the knowledge that at least some of the conspiracy theories are true. If a few are true, why aren't they all true? To take a step away from the established narrative - I think is a good step. But to run blindly the opposite direction and bang on the wall - well that's quite something else!
The second aspect is that we are in the start of the greatest information transformation in history. There are many ways to define this, but the way I will define it in this post is that we have greatly moved from a 'knowledge of' society to a 'knowledge where' society. It's no longer important to remember basic facts - but it's important to know where to look them up. e.g. If you are a programmer - you know intimately how programmers use stackoverflow routinely instead of remembering everything.
This change away from remembering facts, to remembering where to find them has been a fraught transition - because many people have not learned how to find what is an authoritative source, and mistake the simple act of something being on the internet as being true.
Lastly - we now have a situation where people can choose the answer to the hypothetical question - would you rather be a genius of the idiots, or an idiot of the geniuses? And surprise surprise - many choose the former.
Which ones are true? Obvs 9/11 inside job and the moon landing was faked, any others?
> Unfortunately, plenty of people don't value facts and objective knowledge. They want "common sense" and experiential knowledge, even if's based only on their limited view of the world. Politically, this can be weaponised. Check out what Carl Rove said about the "reality based community" for example.
It is worse then that. Most people know full well the lies are lies they just chose to accept them anyway.
It is similar to a phenomenon observed in the last days of the Soviet Union: everybody knew the system wasn’t working, and yet everybody kept pretending the system was great.
> Which ones are true? Obvs 9/11 inside job and the moon landing was faked, any others?
They're suppressing the 13 month year to keep us down and the man up!
> It is worse then that. Most people know full well the lies are lies they just chose to accept them anyway.
> It is similar to a phenomenon observed in the last days of the Soviet Union: everybody knew the system wasn’t working, and yet everybody kept pretending the system was great.
This. The degree of expected non-facts has grown, along with the knowledge there's no real consequences for disseminating them. Point out something like Breitbart and it's turtles upon turtles till one realizes no one is clean.
The Soviet example is a great one and the consensual acceptance of non-facts doesn't just apply to the big ticket items like national security and economics. The mundane non-facts around miscellaneous stuff that barely gets questioned and builds a world view forms the iceberg below the water that flips if you chip away too much at the obvious bits the same way calling out Trump or Obama exposes the entire politico-media system.
Beyond a point, accepting the lies sucks less than the turmoil of confronting them, or so will have you believe.
>Whatever happened to "facts"?
I blame Schroeder. Once he'd let that cat out of the bag and it became a fact that two things could be true at the same time, people have taken it too far. Black and white are just extreme shades of grey.
> >Whatever happened to "facts"?
> I blame Schroeder.
The former German chancellor? What is it with teutonic types and cat cruelty?
A long term friend commented recently on what people choose to believe seeming to have become a part of their sense of identity, to the point that they can't countenance something else being true. Among the people I'm connected with on facebook, it almost seems to be that the people who like to see themselves as free thinkers or 'to one side' of society and social norms are the people who are questioning the need to socially distance and to wear masks, and whether it's all as serious as the authorities are suggesting. The same can seem to go for being an anti-vaxxer too.
It can take a lot of thought to be tactful at times, when discussing covid and measures being taken.
> The former German chancellor? What is it with teutonic types and cat cruelty?
my favourite story about the German Chancellor Kohl is him being in Austria and in a meeting Margaret Thatcher, and at some point excusing himself because he had another important meeting to go to, and being spotted in a cafe eating cream cakes by Thatcher and her aides when they happen to be walking past. A love of cream cakes is indeed important. ;-)
>It can take a lot of thought to be tactful at times, when discussing covid and measures being taken.
Its this tact, not wishing to upset people, that's is part of the problem. If someone is being a bellend, it is worth pointing that out to them. Their view isn't equally valid, it is just wrong.
They cant breath in a face mask? Then wear a transparent perspex face shield. They don't want to wear a face shield, then stay in. They may not be in the demographic that gets seriously ill, but I expect they have loved ones that might get seriously ill.
I’m Gen X and when asked on the spot at 9:20 on a Saturday morning to name three concentration camps, I drew a complete blank. However if you asked me what Auschwitz and Belsen were famous for I’d tell you straightaway.
So when we look at ‘facts’ we also have to look at how questions are asked and that in itself can provoke biased results. The left wing media are just as guilty. Polarisation is what leads to civil war.
As an example 49% of people have seen swastikas on social media? That’s quite misleading in itself. I’d say 99% of people have seen flat earthers. No one would consider the percentage of content or the percentage of posters to be anywhere near that.
I’m especially weary of a survey commissioned by a group that comes up with a result that supports that group.
What seems not to being taught is critical thinking.
This will be for a couple of reasons.
Expert overload - everyone is described as being an expert in the media. What’s the qualification for being an expert.
An expert in Economics will not agree with an expert on infectious diseases. They’re both experts. Which one you believe has the correct solution depends on whether you’re a healthy person facing huge financial risk or an ill person with little financial risk.
Time - as a professional, does he have time to fact check everything and research loads of papers. Does he have the expertise to understand what he is looking at.
Yet again I blame it on mainstream media not presenting a cohesive story and ensuring the people get the same story. It’s one thing taking the government to task, but the government have an impossible task ahead of them, now is not the time to make them look bad. Don’t save enough people and the lefties get upset. Don’t save the economy and the righties get upset.
Imagine if we were at war and they were continually asking how many spitfires we had ready to attack. The current situation is still propaganda, if people don’t trust the measures, then we have the exact problems we are seeing at the moment. (enter some idiot excusing their own idiot behaviour on the idiot behaviour of Cummings, which was picked over for weeks by - the media).
Now is not the time to make the government look bad ? The government looks appallingly bad because it IS appallingly bad.
And you would be doing exactly what if you were in charge?
Rebuttals can't keep up with easily generated disposable falsehoods.
Those who prefer falsehoods to uncomfortable reality aren't interested in the rebuttal anyway.
> And you would be doing exactly what if you were in charge?
Well the governments of some countries appear to have been doing a great deal better than that of the UK, so perhaps rather than expecting UKC posters to suddenly become expert politicians, virologists and economists, it would be better to draw conclusions from a comparative look at how our government leaders have fared against their peers.
> And you would be doing exactly what if you were in charge?
I'd be looking at the strategies other nations have used, and borrow from the ones with the lowest death and hospital / ICU admissions rates.
I would not assume that the public sector can't provide track and trace. Rather I would build on what we already had, from the STI track and trace system.
I would not be using a pandemic as a way of lining the pockets of my already wealthy mates.
And while no one was looking, I'd put the electoral reform society in control of our electoral system, with a remit to cover both houses of parliament.
Have you seen what’s happening in Europe?
>I would not be using a pandemic as a way of lining the pockets of my already wealthy mates.
>And while no one was looking, I'd put the electoral reform society in control of our electoral system, with a remit to cover both houses of parliament.
In a thread about ‘facts’ this is demonstrating exactly the OP’s point.
This is a very interesting and timely thread:
There are no wildfires in Canada or Mexico. Therefore something is wrong with the picture somewhere.
It obviously must be the government hiding something.
Or maybe it’s the way you’re looking at the data of “Wildfires in the US”.
All it needs is someone to suggest that the picture doesn’t have data in it and it’s because the real picture is being hidden to create more problems.
This is why lying by omission is so bad and how people become polarised.
> And you would be doing exactly what if you were in charge?
I know I'm not qualified to be in charge, whereas the current incumbents don't appear that bright.
I would probably have realised that if there was a need for a Cobra meeting, my presence might have been sensible and that photo ops shaking hands with infected people wasn't sensible, though.
>I know I'm not qualified to be in charge, whereas the current incumbents don't appear that bright.
Yet you’re qualified to judge them?
Well the current President of the USA believed there is a Southern African country called Nambia.
It's a few year since I read the former War Correspondent Kate Adie's book "Kindness of Strangers", but during the second Gulf War she found that when interviewing US servicemen, a staggeringly high percentage of them had no idea where they were in the World. They knew that they had troops stationed in Germany Europe and thought that Iraq was somewhere near there.
> Those who prefer falsehoods to uncomfortable reality aren't interested in the rebuttal anyway.
Most people aren't equipped to distinguish fact from falsehood, or can't be bothered, as you say.
Within the scientific context the OP describes, no doubt 'fact' has a meaning. In a historical context, the holocaust has a meaning. Then there's the 'facts' of the pandemic...
However, what happens if you haven't got access to that context? Maybe you're some kid who wasn't taught history or science at school. Maybe you're a confused UK citizen who has no idea whether they are going to die of the virus or not.
The experts will tell you that if you don't know, you don't have the facts, you're stupid and it's your fault. So, you need a simplified story to get you through, and like the weather forecast, you will have a number of choices, and you will be going with the one that you like the look of best.
God loves you, the world was created 3,000 years ago, is flat, and the dinosaurs were the first wave of aliens. It's all exciting, makes you feel good and importantly, isn't your fault any more.
If you want to make a difference, generate stories that will excite people and make them feel good.
Above all, don't tell them their stories are BS. It won't work, and it's not very polite.
Unfortunately sitting on a rock that’s spinning at 1000mph and travelling through a vacuum around a ball of exploding hydrogen nuclei is quite exciting - but not very reassuring. 😂
> Yet you’re qualified to judge them?
> The experts will tell you that if you don't know, you don't have the facts,
> you're stupid and it's your fault.
No. Experts don't tell people that very often.
> Above all, don't tell them their stories are BS. It won't work, and it's not very polite.
True but sometimes a falsehood has to be rejected.
> you're stupid and it's your fault.
> No. Experts don't tell people that very often.
That's a fair point, however it's often the end result by the time the media have got involved. Take the recent debacle over the rising CV cases where there was discussion about the population distribution, followed by a media story about a covidiot having a house party during isolation. The end result is that young people get 'the blame' for the rise, and are likely to adopt various attitudes depending on how they feel about that, including saying that the virus was invented by aliens, etc.
What's the best thing to do here - try to address the virus aliens thing directly, or some other approach?
> Facts are systematically suffocated by belief, and experts have been substituted by high priests of bullshit.
> The protagonist is of course, the right wing media.
Ouch. Steady on. From where I stand I see it being the left-wing institutions that are spinning the tall stories these days. But either way, pointing your finger like that at 'them', and not looking deeply at the propagation of myths from your own side, is exactly how misinformation and a slide in to totalitarianism takes root.
If you want evidence, look no further than Dan Arkle's post which follows your own, highlighting the discrepancy between click-bait headline and reality. This is from the Guardian. A left-wing news source if ever there was one. If they'll spin a story about these facts, what other facts might they be fibbing about?
> The ray of hope in this dreadful global mess (as the article points out) is that millennials and 'Gen Z'
Gen Z perhaps. I see millennials as having been horribly misled.
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