Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Should you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle or from the end?
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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:09 pm

@BRUTE: Exactly. You expressed it much better than me. Also, I meant male-fantasy fiction, not male fantasy-fiction.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:25 pm

BRUTE wrote:brute has this himself, and he thinks it stems from the fact that most individuals are not particularly attached to abstract positive outcomes, but to a narrative. if brute's narrative isn't playing out, why should he root for anyone else's? burn this mother fucker to the ground.
Exactly. The rebellion/status-quo-destruction narrative is more important than the reality that the person who is haphazardly swinging the club of rebellious-destruction is succeeding in bashing his own head.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Sun Dec 18, 2016 4:55 pm

@ego/brute - In terms of torching stuff ... what you're talking about is summarized by the fable/idiom of the "dog in the manger". I think that idiom aptly summarizes the anti-globalization sentiments that are currently washing over the world. Another metaphor is "burning down the barn" which is done when the barn has become so rotten or rat-infested that it's preferable to just start over rather than trying to salvage it. Now, burning down the barn doesn't cover burning down other people's barns in the process (so torching is more like a free-market sentiment), but dog in the manger does (making it more of a democracy sentiment where we all go down together insofar the democratic process so decides).

It's amazing how thousand year old fables and proverbs keep summarizing the human condition. Yet it's not so surprising after all. If we count genetic generations, humans have only been "civilized"(*) for a very short time---about 100 gens, not very long. In terms of human genetics, civilization is a rather precarious construct. Humans might know how to make a sandwich, but practically no humans know how to build a toaster.---Even building a fire would require some serious #adulting these days. In terms of widespread scientific education beyond the point where more than 20% can quote Ohm's law, we're talking less than 3-5 generations depending on which country you're in. Probably less than that. We're mostly relying on a few phenotypic outliers to drive technology.

(*) Meaning food from farming and the existence of cities and everything good and bad that follows as an organizing principle of human values.

However, I think post-factualism is different from the dog in the manger. After all, everybody likes technology and science. It's practically the god(s) of our civilization:-P

Here, much in the same way that radio and TV was initially seen as a way to educate the public with insight on everything from algebra to geopolitics only to see it turning into game shows and crime procedurals (in the spirit of Bernays and Lippman), I think the same mistake has been made wrt to the internet. Initially the popular internet (less than a decade after Eternal September), intellectuals predicted it would lead to the "wisdom of the crowd" believing that the internet would be a way to distill the best insights of vast amounts of humans ... but but ... the same thing happened.

I think we got something else. This was inevitable too --- failing to appreciate how the system adapts to itself.

Post-factualism or post-rationalism is better described by "the fox and the sour grapes" than the "dog in the manger". Yet I don't think sour grapes optimally describes where we're currently at in terms of the failure of the "internet-driven wisdom of the crowd". Maybe we need a new fable for this particular issue.

Before the internet, the "sour grape"-attitude when it came to facts was more of a "I don't get it, so it can't be that important/it's probably useless anyway", IOW, "my folksy wisdom beats your educated knowledge". Sour grapes is a resolution for cognitive dissonance.

With the internet, facts operate more like drinking fine wines. What I see now ... and what I think we've yet to "science" (note, how this is increasingly turning into a verb ... just like every other asset is turned into a $@#$ service these days) is a world where

* most people don't distinguish between facts and factoids. I.e. most see no difference in people's minds between data they know/verified/understand and data that they spent 5 minutes googling . Most people treat/think of both the same way. IOW "my 5 minutes of google is as good as your 10,000 hours of study", because "wisdom of the google crowds". Knowledge is generally no longer believed to matter anymore than whatever one googles on the interwebs.

* many people now think that "doing your research" means googling and/or establishing the truthiness of something based on what their social media facebook friends or favorite blogs say about something. Or whatever top three search result says as long as it confirms their personal opinion. This process is also self-reinforcing because agreeing with your social circle will get you more likes/monkey-petting in such circles. Subscribing to a blog or clicking on every single "news"-link (fake or not) in one's facebook stream is now considered to be just as good as a university degree or expert knowledge.

As a result people end up throwing URLs at each other as a form of debate much like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Futur ... l_Congress

So for this post-factual world, I've been looking at a new heuristic. Namely to establish whether a person's epistemology is based on post-factual metrics, i.e page one google search results, fav. blogger, a celebrity, a politician, ... or whether they're more "solid" than that. Claiming that "I've done my research" or "I read all the news" or "I have all the bestest facts" is easy. Whereas making a coherent (framework-based) argument that isn't composed of dressed up factoids is hard.

I now decide where to spend my time/argue/educate based on that. It's basic intellectual triage+wheaton levels---can this person be reached and am I the one to do it? If not, I ignore! Why reason with someone who isn't using reason in the first place. It's a waste of time. And now that unreason is en vogue ... it's better to focus one's effort on detecting unreason than fighting a war of reason with someone who's impervious. Of course such an attitude is fracturing when it comes to society ... but isn't this what the fourth turning is about ... we've probably reached a point where we need some creative destruction to rid ourselves of claptrap ideas and magic thinking ...

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Sun Dec 18, 2016 5:49 pm

jacob wrote:So for this post-factual world, I've been looking at a new heuristic. Namely to establish whether a person's heuristic is based on post-factual metrics, i.e page one google search results, fav. blogger, a celebrity, a politician, ... Claiming that "I've done my research" or "I read all the news" or "I have all the bestest facts" is easy. Whereas making a coherent (framework-based) argument that isn't composed of dressed up factoids is hard.

I now decide where to spend my time/argue/educate based on that. It's basic intellectual triage+wheaton levels---can this person be reached and am I the one to do it? If not, I ignore! Why reason with someone who isn't using reason in the first place. It's a waste of time. And now that unreason is en vogue ... it's better to focus one's effort on detecting unreason than fighting a war of reason with someone who's impervious. Of course such an attitude is fracturing when it comes to society ... but isn't this what the fourth turning is about ... we've reached a point where we need some creative destruction to rid ourselves of bad directions ...
very interesting. maybe the crux of the problem is that, with the internet, it's now impossible to counter all the incoming bullshit arguments. used to be that there would be a political debate at the Thanksgiving table, a few arguments in the social circle among friends, in the family, and something at work. it was feasible to carry out a handful of intellectual arguments per week. with the internet, brute could (and sometimes does) spend days arguing without even making a dent. therefore, correcting wrongness has lost its appeal - nobody's going to change. why even try?

throwing URLs at each other is something brute has observed in the Vegetarian/Keto threads on here. brute has basically stopped responding to steveo73 and Ego there. it's a Wheaton level thing - what they're saying isn't even wrong. it sounds akin to "tide comes in, tide goes out - can't explain that!". brute has spent quite a few years debating these things 5-7 years ago, and has now tired of it. the only reason he still gets involved in those debates is to sow a counter opinion, to let bystanders know that there is doubt about veganism and other errors in thinking.

another interesting factor about that vegan/keto debate is how arguments are made and judged. neither brute nor steveo73/Ego are actual nutrition scientists. all information isn't just 2nd hand, it's probably 5th hand to 10th hand. presumably, everyone involved has done an n=1 study or they wouldn't be as convinced of their own ways. brute sure has. so there are 2 sides, neither of which will believe anything the other says, or even consider it. their frameworks are so different that even considering the opposite opinion is akin to madness.

what shall the innocent bystander think, and how will he judge the arguing? neither side has any credentials. both sides are throwing URLs (though brute has gotten to lazy, because the others aren't going to read them anyway, just as brute never reads the vegan sites any more) that the other side will denounce as biased or idiotic. confidence? brute is beyond the point of confidence regarding Keto, it's just literal truth to him. he thinks steveo73 and Ego are slightly less confident in the sense that they still have something to lose if it were proven they were mistaken. maybe akin to how jacob is confident about climate change differently than a human who's heavily invested, but didn't do all the science himself - there's no way jacob could've been wrong (in his mind), so his defense isn't a defense of his own identity, it's a defense of truth. but how can the bystander differentiate this from the ignorant zealot, who also has 100% confidence on faith alone?

in a way, the internet has led to a splintering and self-sorting. there are now small tribes for everything. brute wouldn't have found the ERE community, and probably not the Keto community, without the internet. at the same time, the lack of barriers means that all but the most extreme communities are quickly overrun by idiots ("herp derp is donut a carb" in the Keto communities), driving the more experienced individuals further into the frontier.

instead of re-organizing the society around brute by arguing convincingly, it's become way more efficient to (physically and mentally) distance himself, effectively re-organizing himself. the side effect of everyone doing this is probably the fractal tribal dynamic observed at least over the last 10 years.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:22 pm

BRUTE wrote:he thinks steveo73 and Ego are slightly less confident in the sense that they still have something to lose if it were proven they were mistaken. maybe akin to how jacob is confident about climate change differently than a human who's heavily invested, but didn't do all the science himself - there's no way jacob could've been wrong (in his mind), so his defense isn't a defense of his own identity, it's a defense of truth. but how can the bystander differentiate this from the ignorant zealot, who also has 100% confidence on faith alone?
I'm honestly not like this. I know it's a self-assessment but I think I'm really good at looking at the facts and deriving a realistic conclusion.

So when it comes to diet I know what is right although I don't follow the right thing to do all the time. There isn't a cognitive bias though. I accept that I eat some meat and some junk food even though I know it's not the best option. I think this debate is past the point of no return but if someone came up with some proper facts I'd look at it. I haven't seen those facts yet and I've seen a tonne of evidence on the flip side.

As for climate change I think it's pretty clear that the science is no-where near where it needs to be. All you have to do is look at the non-factual comments stating local climate change and people honestly believing that is due to anthropogenic global warming. I mean this is basically crazy stuff.

Maybe I can draw some parallels here. A dietary zealot would believe that drinking carrot juice can cure cancer. It might be that eating well (a healthy vegan diet) might lower your chance of developing cancer but I think only a fool would believe that drinking carrot juice will cure cancer.

The question becomes how can you differentiate between the ignorant zealot and the informed individual. I think the zealot draws conclusions that aren't provable from the data or the facts. They also can't see that there is a chance of some other point of view. I for instance can see that some meat in your diet is probably okay. I accept that there is a realistic line. A zealot for climate change won't admit for instance that the models aren't working and that extreme weather events cannot be attributed to AGW. Now there will be times when the zealot is correct. Some people have been cured via drinking carrot juice. Climate does change and it has been warming for 200 years so a local creek might have dried up because of this warming. The zealot though can't accept the complexity in the cancer cure or the creek drying up. They are too caught up in their beliefs that they can't discern reality.

So 100% confidence on faith alone is way too harsh a statement because it's not at that level where it's clear that someone to me is a zealot. A zealot simply can't accept the complexity of the situation and draws conclusions that are not supported by the data/science/facts.

For the record I think that your belief on ketogenic diets would have to be considered in that category. You have drawn a conclusion not supported by the data. You have your anecdotal belief and you can't remove yourself from the situation.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 7:46 pm

jacob said: In terms of human genetics, civilization is a rather precarious construct. Humans might know how to make a sandwich, but practically no humans know how to build a toaster.---Even building a fire would require some serious #adulting these days. In terms of widespread scientific education beyond the point where more than 20% can quote Ohm's law, we're talking less than 3-5 generations depending on which country you're in. Probably less than that. We're mostly relying on a few phenotypic outliers to drive technology.
Oh, I don't think it's all that dire. Even I could build a toaster if you left me alone with no instructions in a scrap yard for a while with adequate motivation. I know my sister probably could because she made one in the 7th grade. I am going to estimate that around half of the 10 people with whom I associate most frequently in real life could build a toaster from salvage. OTOH, if you dumped the 10 of us in the wilderness with no salvage materials, then that would be tough. Maybe 10 years to get back to toaster-level technology? Mining would almost certainly be the most difficult endeavor. Maybe some alternative technology that would bypass the re-invention of a device constructed solely for the purpose of browning sliced baked goods would serve as well?

@BRUTE: I think the keto/vegan debate and the climate debate are very different. The climate debate concerns science that is known but poorly understood by the general public, whereas the keto/vegan debate concerns a matter that is still scientifically debatable. At least this is my perspective if these debates are framed as "Is the planet warming due to increased human emissions of CO2, and is this likely to cause a variety of negative effects?" and "What is the ideal diet for human health?" Being able to know the answer to the keto/vegan debate would be more like being able to know the answer to exactly how and to what extent all or any of the negative effects of climate change would be mitigated if we chose one plausible solution set vs. another. IOW, the climate debate is on the level of clearly observing that an individual is consuming 5000 kcals of restaurant meals everyday and gaining mass and volume as a result, and the Paris Agreement would be like all of her polyamours having a meeting and vowing to no longer feed her so much because none of them want her to get fat. The only thing about climate change that remains debatable in my mind is the likelihood of any such agreement being maintainable.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Sun Dec 18, 2016 8:51 pm

apparently, some humans think that climate science is less clear cut.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by George the original one » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:08 pm

And apparently some people can't accept that planning for climate change <> zealot.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:10 pm

jacob wrote:I now decide where to spend my time/argue/educate based on that. It's basic intellectual triage+wheaton levels---can this person be reached and am I the one to do it? If not, I ignore!
Curious how often you don't ignore?

I have roughly the same criteria and I'm beginning to get seriously worried about whether I'll be talking about anything beyond the weather five years from now.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:04 pm

BRUTE said: apparently, some humans think that climate science is less clear cut.
Well, I am lazy, so for many years I was just content to accept that the people who clearly have more expertise know what they are talking about. However, the matter has become so contentious lately, I felt compelled to make a bit of effort to see to what extent I could get a better grip on the science. If you divide all the weather stations in the world into two sets that are independent but equally dispersed, the temperature data looks somewhat different graphically displayed, as would be expected, but the general trend upwards is obvious and the same on both graphs. Understanding that this is due to human causes rather than natural causes only requires analysis roughly at the level of understanding the commonly offered problem of the baker who is cheating on the weight of his loaves. Understanding that even though the level of human emissions of CO2 is low compared to the amount processed by the biosphere in total this is still resulting in a major problem is like understanding what will happen if you pay less than the minimum payment on your credit card each month. What else? When ice that is on land melts into the ocean, the level of the ocean will get higher. The organism known to thrive in an environment that is high in CO2 yet nitrogen limited exudes a toxin that renders fresh water undrinkable by humans. Much of the water used to grow human food is obtained from seasonal melt off of mountain tops. No freeze. No melt. Etc.etc etc.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:56 pm

jacob wrote:So for this post-factual world, I've been looking at a new heuristic.


We pre-internet peoples were completely ignorant about most topics. That is, if we had no direct experience with a topic we had to go to the library and hit up Funk & Wagnalls to get a thumbnail sketch before we were even equipped to proceed to the card catalog. Back then the librarians were gatekeeper who would refuse to order wacky books and it was fairly easy to discern the crazy books from the serious ones.

Image

This type of person, one who is completely ignorant, is easier to deal with than a person suffering Post-Internet Incorrect Disorder (PIID). Pre-internet you had to really seek out outlandish ideas and had to pay good money to get them. Today, they seek you out and compete for your eyeballs by tickling various biases. Where once we had use our energy and money to find useful information to connect in novel ways, we must now use our energy and money to filter out the deluge of useless information and avoid false patterns.

When designing a new heuristic, it seems to me the first step is defining the problem. What are the characteristics of someone suffering extreme PIID? Apophenia? Anxiety? Schadenfreude? Not-even-wrong-ness? What else?

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by sky » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:22 pm

They consume media drivel in herds, stampeding from one mass delusion to another.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by sky » Sun Dec 18, 2016 11:28 pm

Weekly World News, you know it is not true but it is far more interesting than reality.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:09 am

Ego said: Back then the librarians were gatekeeper who would refuse to order wacky books and it was fairly easy to discern the crazy books from the serious ones.
Contrary to stereotype, librarians generally do not conduct themselves as though their primary function is to limit access to written materials, inclusive of the wacky, or even the overtly dangerous. Quite the opposite. Right after 9-11, everybody was frightened and wrought up, and the initial version of the Patriot Act was going to allow virtually unimpeded government access to the library records of American citizens. We had to call a special policy meeting at the major bookstore where I was employed to discuss the ramifications. One of our customers had recently requested that we place a publisher-order for books on the topics of changing your identity, manufacturing weapons at home, and hiding dead bodies. The conclusion reached, and the one I have lived by in the years I have been operating independently as a book dealer, is that it is not our place to exert prejudice over what use an individual might make of ANY book or information. Censorship is BY FAR the greater sin.

There have always been multitudes of books on wacky topics published. Libraries often suffer from limited funds and limited shelf space, so they only order books based on perception of quality and perception of customer demand. So, collections can vary a good deal in even relatively nearby communities. For instance, the Judaica collection was huge, but now slowly dwindling, in the public library that served the community where wealthy people of the Jewish faith were "segregated" into their own country clubs mid-20th century. The library that served the rural, socially conservative community where I lived for many years, devoted an entire wall of shelving to the genre of Christian Romance novels. If 3 people walked into a small community library and requested a copy of "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" then the librarian would likely order a copy. It is NOT and NEVER was her job to tell the farmer, the PTA president, and the dentist, "You shouldn't be reading that crap."

Because it is likely that over a million books have passed through my hands, "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" is not unfamiliar to me. It is in a category I might call "rare crap." I might choose to buy a copy if I could get it for a dime, and tack it with a price of $19.99 and tick off storage cost of 3 cents/month until 3 years later somebody on the planet had the urge to buy it. Popular and marginal delusions come and go, just like any other sort of temporarily popular item. I sometimes ask people "Who was Winston Churchill?" (no googling allowed!!) The answer is that he was a phenomenally popular American novelist at the turn of the 20th century who was also active in politics. His "Richard Carvel" sold 2 million copies in the same year that Stephen Crane won critical acclaim for "The Open Boat." Many "non-fiction" works on the topic of the Yellow Peril were also published in that year. The reason why many people think that people used to be more discerning in their taste or rational in their thought processes, is that the good stuff is mostly what survives the test of time.

Since I am an old woman who has had her share of success and delight in life, I would likely throw myself upon the pyre to prevent the last extant copy of "Huckleberry Finn" from being burnt at the hands of some short-sighted Puritanical mob. OTOH, I will do NOTHING to impede the free dissemination and free discussion of any idiotic view on any topic, no matter how wacky or dangerous it might be. The only known solutions are time and education, and if those who are too impatient or too unwilling to exert energy in the effort to further educate others, suggest some sort of Draconian solution as more efficient or efficacious, I will protest that too.

The risk I am much more concerned about at this moment in time is the manner in which the digitization of information is threatening its survival. Amazon recently enacted policy which will threaten the last remaining copies of some rare books. The availability of books in digitized form is rendering the preservation of books in paper form a purely charitable activity. We should all be thanking any higher power we believe in that there are still copies of "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" out there for us to laugh at.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Ego » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:53 am

7Wannabe5 wrote:
Ego said: Back then the librarians were gatekeeper who would refuse to order wacky books and it was fairly easy to discern the crazy books from the serious ones.
Contrary to stereotype, librarians generally do not conduct themselves as though their primary function is to limit access to written materials, inclusive of the wacky, or even the overtly dangerous.
Please don't throw yourself on any fires. :D You are speaking about how it was in theory. I am speaking about how it was in reality. When a nutter walked into a branch of the Philadelphia Public Library to request a copy of "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" the librarian would first look in the card catalog, then make a call to the Central Library to check availability, then make another call to the Inter-Library Loan Department. When all three failed the librarian would refer said nutter to the acquisitions department where Miss DeGroot would politely tell him to fill out a form. The moment he walked out the door Miss DeGroot would look at the form and round file it. When nutter returned to pick up the requested copy of "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles", Miss DeGroot would refer him to her supervisor who would explain that the public library system has very limited funds and "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" would not meet the criteria of a book.... blah, blah, blah. She would then refer nutter to a bookstore where he could buy it himself.

Maybe the nutter in question was actually the illustrious David A. Noebel, the author of "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles" and he wished to donate one copy of the book to each branch library in the system so as to disseminate the important information. Miss DeGroot's supervisor was skilled at explaining that there is limited shelf space at the branches and blah, blah, blah.... no.

Nutter would have no choice but to pay for the privilege of bathing his neurons in the wisdom contained in "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles".

Today you can simply click here and have the author read most of the book to you with commentary....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGg5QADoQhU

Welcome to the nutter factory.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by steveo73 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 3:43 pm

sky wrote:They consume media drivel in herds, stampeding from one mass delusion to another.
I agree with this with some more contextual information. There are groups out there that suffer from mass hysteria. They get fed lines and they buy it. I suppose it's just like bubbles in the economy. So the tulip bubble is a great example. People get caught up in something and can't take a step back and be rational. In writing this it makes me realise that this is not a modern thing but a people thing. It's just that now we have better methods of feeding dribble to the masses.

Some objective idea -> the message spreads for whatever reason -> people can't step back and critically evaluate the event because they buy into it -> at some point reality proves them wrong.

I suggest that there is a loop here "the message spreads for whatever reason -> people can't step back and critically evaluate the event because they buy into it".

I think the key point is that in the loop that I have reality eventually proves them wrong. I wonder if this is always the case. I think for extreme events it has to be ala the tulip bubble. It gets taken too far and there has to be a period of reversion back to the mean or reality.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Mon Dec 19, 2016 7:40 pm

Ego said: Nutter would have no choice but to pay for the privilege of bathing his neurons in the wisdom contained in "Communism, Hypnotism and the Beatles".

Today you can simply click here and have the author read most of the book to you with commentary....
Point taken. However, I would note that the time wasted on listening to that clip would be worth a lot more than the $19.99 one could spend on purchasing something much more worthwhile. In fact, unless you are in want or need of a particular set of information or the newest-new thing, great books are one of the biggest bargains available on the planet. Therefore, I don't see how price-point of FREE!! makes much of a difference. I mean, do you feel compelled to read a copy of The Watchtower pamphlet when somebody thrusts it in your hand? If your place of employment provided a constant supply of free Sour Patch Kids, would you feel compelled to eat them?

The rule-of-thumb is "Fast, Cheap or High Quality? Pick two." Maybe in the world of the future there will be more than one internet. I attended an art festival recently which was produced in the form of a contest between hundreds of artists in various categories. The artworks were displayed all over a city. The general public could walk around and view and vote on their favorites with their phones, but there was also a winner chosen by critical jury in each category. Maybe something like that. How much would you pay for a jury filtered internet for your own use?

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Tue Dec 20, 2016 12:19 pm

Ego wrote: When designing a new heuristic, it seems to me the first step is defining the problem. What are the characteristics of someone suffering extreme PIID? Apophenia? Anxiety? Schadenfreude? Not-even-wrong-ness? What else?
There's more than one single problem(*), but I see the primary problem as being a due to a difference in confidence and competence (their relative levels in a given person) and how the internet makes it easy to sabotage entry-level competence with false information.

A person's competence develops roughly like this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreyfus_m ... tage_model Here the "competent" level corresponds roughly to someone who has a bachelor degree or someone with 1000 hours worth of study. The Dreyfus model is just a heuristic but it's supported by multiple other lines of arranging the development of personal insight.

In Western cultures, Dunning-Kruger showed that confidence initially develops faster than competence. IOW, given just a little learning, people quickly come to believe they're smarter than they really are. Overlaying this with the Dreyfus model, the gap between confidence and competence seems to peak around the "advanced beginner" stage. After this stage (moving into competent and proficient), the person begins to realize that they're not as smart as they think they are and confidence drops as competence keep increasing. You can also see this effect described in pop culture, like the SMBC graph (which is essentially just the spread of the famous Dunning Kruger graph) or Alexander Pope's poem. Moving further up, we get the opposite and reach a point where competence>confidence, aka imposter syndrome, that is the dip behind Mt Stupid ... and moving further along, they begin to match up as people develop a realistic assessment not only where they are relative to absolute knowledge but also where they are relative to the knowledge of others.

The internet is basically a boon to the "novice" and the "advanced beginner". It allows anyone to find factoids within minutes ... something that would previously have to be gathered via books or courses. What does this mean? It means we're now surrounded by people whose confidence in their knowledge exceeds their competence.

So what are the characteristics?

The "novice" shows 'no exercise of "discretionary judgment"'. An example. If the person posts a piece of fake news and is told that it's fake and how to run a simple fact-check or go read a book but then proceeds to post another piece of fake news, then that person is a novice. I don't see novices as a big threat as most of them have yet to accumulate a sufficient number of factoids to believe they know more than they do.

The "advanced beginner" on the other hand tends to think in terms of "facts" and lists of facts. You can spot them based on their fascination with facts. "We don't have all the facts". "We don't have the best facts". They lack a framework for organizing their facts and thus treat all facts with equal importance.---But obviously more facts, like 200 facts, are better than a mere 100 facts. In pf-blogging, you can see how bloggers start developing lists of tips and hacks within a few months. The longer the list, the more impressive [to them]. If you try to get them to make connections or explain something, they're going to ignore your argument and respond with a factoid they believe contradicts your entire "skill-set"/understanding, like "But what about Benghazi?". The "advanced beginner" will typically have a handful of favorites here. These favorites are treated as trump cards. You can refute them over and over again only to see them be brought out a few weeks, months, or years later.

Both of these types will to various degrees believe they know more than they actually do. "I have all the facts" (they have 10-20 factoids), "I read all the news" (yes, so you click on all the news stories in your facebook feed"), "I've done my research" (so you spent 5 minutes on google to confirm your initial impression), "I've studied this in detail" (so you've followed a blog for sometime, but did you ever open a book or calculate a single thing yourself?).

What the internet has done is to make factoids easily available to everybody. So now the average person can learn how to change a brake pad or figure out what the gross global product is in under 5 minutes(**). IOW, this has moved most people out of the "ignorance" state and into at least "novice" as well as moving any "novice"-enthusiast into the "advanced beginner" within a few months of blog-reading.

Two things here ...

First, it's easy to believe, especially for someone, say a 25 yo high school graduate, who has essentially no fields of competence to think that there are no deeper levels of learning than mastering google-fu. This is where I see how the population at large could turn into idiots who are only as smart as Siri et al. A corollary of that is that it's easy for these people to believe that nobody else can ever have more insight than the 5-min search level ... because, how would they know of such a level? I'd say even today, unless one has expertise in more than one area, most people seem to fail to appreciate that while they may be experts or proficient in their own fields, they refuse to believe that other people can be experts in other fields (and thanks to the internet, they will have a factoid to "prove" it too). Incredulity fallacies abound here: "I'm a medical doctor and so I'm very smart. I tried to beat the market but failed. Therefore it is impossible (because if a genius like myself can't do it, then nobody can)".

Second, given that the internet is treated as vast collection of factoids, it's easy to spread misinformation. Now, if an "advanced beginner" manages to accumulate a long list of misinformation (say, they spend all day reading anti-vaxxing websites), then that person will essentially have a collection of "negative knowledge". That is, this person now knows less than nothing. This person is effectively painted into a corner now, because it will be impossible to proceed and develop competence and proficiency as it will be very hard to develop a framework that supports the misinformation. You can often spot the "advanced beginner" by their almost total lack of framework (the awareness of which "facts" support and confirm each other is entirely lacking ... in the mind of the advanced beginner, all their facts lead to the same conclusion; there's no nuance) and the resulting inability to assign relative importance to "their facts". A corollary to this (see previous paragraph) is also that lacking such a framework will render it hard to grok that other [competent+] people do indeed have such a framework. Arguments will all become a variety of "We don't know this yet ... but <insert factoid objection>", like your standard donut-fiend who refuses to acknowledge that they're prediabetic because they feel fine and the doctor is just out for their money.

(*) For example, in that Pew report, 14% of people admitted to knowingly forwarding fake news. I didn't see them going into detail about motivations, but I think the crazy uncle who "just likes to blame Obama, haha" for everything, e.g. why his SS payments didn't increase this year, falls under this category. Reality matters less to this type than enjoying a good time bullshitting.

(**) I think at this point in the DIY wave, one could do a lot of damage with a coordinated agnotology campaign spreading DIY misinformation on e.g. how to install plumbing fixtures the wrong way. People with no plumbing experience would go to youtube and copy off something stupid. This amount of damage might then cause a permanent drag on the economy (but a boon to the plumbing industry) as new noobs would continuously try it out and break something before discovering that the video was fake. This is currently where we are with almost all news and some scientific fields. If/when this happens, they will be a big debate on "fake plumbing news" and whether people need to be protected from trying to install sinks without P-traps or some such because they learned from the internet that this would be a way to save five bucks worth of PVC and not hand over money to the home construction centers who are just out to take their money. Maybe there will be some congressional hearings as well :-P
luxagraf wrote: Curious how often you don't ignore?

I have roughly the same criteria and I'm beginning to get seriously worried about whether I'll be talking about anything beyond the weather five years from now.
So since becoming aware of how skills are learned (the above + other references, various models, etc.) and more importantly not-learned or mis-learned, my first step is generally to try to figure out what level a given person is at; whereas prior to that my initial impulse was the typical "Argh! Somebody is wrong on the internet..." Initially, it was hard to tell, but with practice, I began to notice meta-patterns in people's behavior. For example, people with material scientific training will use the word "fact" in very different ways than others. The way people talk is a very quick way to spot the "fakers" from those who are more solid.

So in light of the above, it depends on what level I'm coming from myself for a given field.

Presuming that I'm competent, proficient or expert-level, I will not ignore novices (at least not the first time), whereas I will studiously avoid debating advanced beginners. This is where the triage enters. Advanced beginners with negative knowledge are lost causes. They need to hit rock bottom to change because it's the only way for them to question their collection of misinformation. Trying to pick apart what they know argument by argument is like herding cats. The rest is where I "lift one corner" and see "if they are willing to lift the other three".

Presuming that I'm a novice or a beginner, I may offer my own limited factoids, but this would be to add to the discussion (I hope), and mostly I will try to just observe.

When it comes to debate, I try to stick to my own level. If I'm an expert, I'll debate other experts. If I'm competent, I'll debate other competents, and so on. In general, though, I find it better to seek out more competence rather than debate if possible.

It used to bother me "when someone was wrong on the internet", but over the past couple of years, I've become much better at maintaining an attitude of live and let die. I've shifted my personal priorities from "trying to convince a single person if they're wrong about something" to "assuming that there are more people like this who are wrong, how do I deal with that, knowing that I can't change anything at a societal level", e.g. instead of focusing on convincing a few persons to become healthy, I focus on what I would do living in a society where many people are unhealthy. Ditto ... instead of trying to make a few people smarter, I focus on how I'd live in a universe where "stupid" is an inherent property of the world. I think it's the same attitude that's promoted in "How I found freedom in an unfree world" but with knowledge instead of freedom.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by jacob » Tue Dec 20, 2016 1:41 pm

I'd also note that the current surge of commercial fact-checkers resemble the libertarian idea/goal of how an institution like the FDA should be privatized. E.g. consumers would go to a private institution to learn whether a given product was safe to eat.

It is conceivable that internet information could become regulated by some government department. This would require a huge rewrite of concepts at the constitutional level because it directly contradicts the first amendment.

In any case, we're in the funny situation where selling toxic food is not a form of free speech but where encouraging people to eat a toxic diet is.

Hard to say where this will eventually end up ... but I'd bet that post-factualism in its current form is transitional.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by Crazylemon » Tue Dec 20, 2016 6:39 pm

@Jacob. The DIY misinformation damage already happens. See here with the iPhone 7. No call for congressional enquiries as of yet though, an only anecdotal rather than thousands, but it is only one video.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Dec 20, 2016 7:48 pm

I think the iPhone hack video is very revealing because of the ways in which it obviously differs from something like science-ing peak oil. The false information is given. The rube attempt to follow the rules to learn the skill or create value. Then he immediately hits the pavement like an over-confident kid on a skateboard. Then the purveyor of false information is righteously vilified.

The Dreyfus model is meant to apply to adult skill acquisition. The word "skill" is usually understood to be inherent of something beyond mere knowledge acquisition. The brain ventures out and interacts with the world at large when a skill is exhibited, or as it is learned. You read a book on knitting. You follow the directions step-by-step. You diligently continue. Then when you gaze upon your first completed scarf, there is a feeling of accomplishment, but also clear evidence in front of you of your beginner status.

I would like to suggest that it isn't the poor quality of the information, or the misleading ways in which it is presented, that is at fault for the observed "stuckiness", but rather the simple passivity of the process/practice of just-internet-ing that deprives the consumer of the information from ever bouncing it against the real world. IOW, it's just a further development of the trend that started with kids playing pong rather than ping-pong.

Of course, this might just be my perspective due to the way I learn as an XNTP. If I read 3 articles on the topic of polyamory, I have to go out and try it for myself. If I read 3 articles on the topic of peak oil, I start applying energy equations to my own garden. If I read the Qu'ran, two months later I will be seen in a pink hijab looking like somebody too old to play Mary in a nativity play. Now, I am probably going to have to set up a weather observation station on my property because you guys made me start reading about global warming :evil:

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by BRUTE » Tue Dec 20, 2016 11:22 pm

jacob wrote:In any case, we're in the funny situation where selling toxic food is not a form of free speech but where encouraging people to eat a toxic diet is.
selling toxic food is perfectly legal. in fact, brute would wager that a large proportion of food sold is toxic.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:39 am

BRUTE said: selling toxic food is perfectly legal. in fact, brute would wager that a large proportion of food sold is toxic.
Right, but it is only legal to sell the toxic stuff that kills you slowly. This is perfectly analogous to the point I was making about the iPhone hack vs. peak resource denial. Instant gratification combined with slow consequences is always, often literally, a drug on the market. People are much more likely to scream for regulation in reaction to news about something that might kill them quickly with low probability. For instance, think about the fraction of GDP devoted to tamper-proof packaging. Like there are random psycho poisoners lurking in the aisle of every drugstore.

There are a few categories in which exceptions to the first amendment do exist either by law or consensus. For instance, the version of textbooks with answer keys meant only for instructors and manuals for professional locksmiths, are not made readily available to the general public.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by luxagraf » Wed Dec 21, 2016 5:15 pm

7Wannabe5 wrote:I would like to suggest that it isn't the poor quality of the information, or the misleading ways in which it is presented, that is at fault for the observed "stuckiness", but rather the simple passivity of the process/practice of just-internet-ing that deprives the consumer of the information from ever bouncing it against the real world.
This reminds me in a way of the main flavor of post-factualism that I encounter in my neck of the woods, which isn't so much fake news related, or Dreyfus problems or even Wheaton levels, but some combination of all of them that leads to this very conspiracy-oriented life outlook which seems to permeate all levels of thought process.

This idea that someone, usually the government around here, but could also be the media, corporation X, religion, race, etc, is "clearly" running things and manipulating everyone who holds the opposite view. It seems like not only have the conspiracies blossomed online, but the number of people willing to entertain them seems to have increased correspondingly. I suspect for the exactly that reason, that just-internet-ing makes any conspiracy an immediate positive feedback loop. Now I know people who still laugh at chemtrail conspiracies but yet seem convinced that evil corp is conspiring against them via some gadget or food product or whatever. It's like the spectrum of conspiracy theories has shifted, chemtrails are still out there, but a whole lot of other stuff has been mainstreamed in some way.

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Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Dec 21, 2016 6:27 pm

@luxagraf: I had to google chemtrail conspiracy because I had never heard of it before. I used to think that maybe there were some people who met in Davos who were more organized than most mere mortals, but generally I am too busy having a life to care about such matters.

I happened upon this essay by Paul Graham with a related Wheaton-style pyramid which might lend some insight to this discussion:

http://www.paulgraham.com/disagree.html
The web is turning writing into a conversation. Twenty years ago, writers wrote and readers read. The web lets readers respond, and increasingly they do—in comment threads, on forums, and in their own blog posts.

Many who respond to something disagree with it. That's to be expected. Agreeing tends to motivate people less than disagreeing. And when you agree there's less to say. You could expand on something the author said, but he has probably already explored the most interesting implications. When you disagree you're entering territory he may not have explored.

The result is there's a lot more disagreeing going on...

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