Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy?

Should you squeeze the toothpaste tube in the middle or from the end?
User avatar
Posts: 1875
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2015 5:20 pm

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

Postby BRUTE » Sun Dec 25, 2016 4:25 pm

the reason brute is somewhat skeptical about climate science is that, from his chair, it looks exactly like the "scientific consensus" in dietary science, in which 98% of all scientists, doctors, and other authorities, are simply scientifically wrong.

scientific consensus does not mean truth. in climate, unlike diet, brute has not done his own research. but it looks like the exact same structure from the outside, so brute is very skeptical of the "consensus".

Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

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

Postby steveo73 » Sun Dec 25, 2016 5:12 pm

BRUTE wrote:the reason brute is somewhat skeptical about climate science is that, from his chair, it looks exactly like the "scientific consensus" in dietary science, in which 98% of all scientists, doctors, and other authorities, are simply scientifically wrong.

scientific consensus does not mean truth. in climate, unlike diet, brute has not done his own research. but it looks like the exact same structure from the outside, so brute is very skeptical of the "consensus".

These are two completely different debates. Diet has scientific proof behind in the form of data that corresponds to the hypothesis. It's also much easier to study. Climate can change over 1000's of years. People live, die and get sick in the space of decades. Health in relation to diet isn't 100% perfect in relation to the studies that have been performed but it is significantly better than climate science.

It's interesting that you state that studies that have been completed are scientifically wrong. That makes no sense to me. In health you have plant based foods being correlated with long healthy lives and high meat diets having the opposite correlation. I fail to see how you can argue with that and stating it is scientifically wrong is a little bizarre to me.

There also isn't really a consensus within climate science. This is a political argument that was fraudulent.

Posts: 2303
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

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

Postby 7Wannabe5 » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:14 am

jacob wrote: people need to build their intellectual immune systems

black_son_of_gray wrote: So I wonder what is the intellectual equivalent (if there is one) to Esperanto

Ego said: Sounds a lot like traveling in a country where your native language is not spoken.

Back to that Amelia Earhart quote, "The more one does the more one can do."

When I was a little girl with severe asthma, I would frequently be awake by myself in the middle of the night, propped up on pillows, drinking black tea with sugar to help me breathe. So, I developed the practice of reading through my set of children's encyclopedias in directed web fashion. If the article on the topic of Gold ended with "See also: Silver and Mining, then I would add those topics to my list of articles to read, but first I might need to circle back to Money or Minerals.

In the years since, I have contrived a variety of similar exercises. Therefore, I was delighted when I learned of Taleb's recommended practice towards erudition, because it meshed well with some of my own. Also, what Jacob communicated about traveling across the cross-sections of human society represented in any developed city and surrounding countryside is very key. For instance, as soon as my DS28 jokingly mentioned Ted Nugent as a possible running mate for Trump, I knew he had a decent chance of winning, because when I was in high school, I hung out some with the Nerds, the Jocks, the Prepsters, the Burn-outs, and the Drama/Choir/Band kids. I am likely one of the least well-traveled members of this forum, but my current social circle includes eccentric multi-millionaire septugenarian Trump voter who grew up on hard-scrabble farm with 13 siblings, Iraqi PhD septugenarian who worked on the problem of Khat addiction in Yemen and Belgium , Bengali-by-way-of-Britain immigrant who is frustrated with the system of education in the United States, semi-famous musician brother of renowned glaciologist, African-American urban farmer who built his own smoker to barbeque his own hogs and goats, second generation Cuban immigrant who is an expert on the epidemiology of AIDS, Bosnian woman who is an extremely talented crafter of knitwear, and the Yemeni woman who works in the cafeteria and often shares a cup of coffee with me, etc. etc. etc.

So maybe something like:

1) Read everything. Talk to everybody. Try everything.

2) Apply rules towards sheer volume, such as: Read 3 hours/day. Explore one new social venue, and engage in conversation with at least 3 previously unknown people there each month. Attempt something new each week.

3) Apply rules towards diversity or variety, such as: Have at least one novel, one textbook, and one book that was written over 100 years ago in active stack. Talk to people you might tend towards ignoring, fearing or disdaining because service worker, gangster appearance, or Jock. Attempt things you think you might totally suck at or have written off as too hard, useless or boring (burpees, poetry slam, applied statistics, crochet.) Once you have read, engaged, attempted something/someone, purposefully do the opposite AND randomize your inputs.

4) Apply rule towards quality, such as: Follow trail to original source. Note consistency or reappearance across wide variety of sources. Ask "Cui bono?" Prefer simple or elegant explanations/motivations over complicated (not complex!)

5) Periodically relieve yourself of all notions of competence/expertise or information/knowledge you have in any realm, and approach it again with beginner's eyes.

I am going to try to come up with a new well-defined extreme practice towards extreme erudition as part of my 2017 cycle of self-re-invention based on what I roughly brain-stormed/outlined above.

User avatar
Posts: 1419
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

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

Postby Riggerjack » Tue Dec 27, 2016 8:27 pm

I avoided this thread, because I assumed that it was going to be another "why don't (Republican) people know science" thread.

But I missed out. Brute, you had some great posts here. Jacob, you as well.

But Jacob, there is no post-factual faction, rising up to swollow your internet. I understand that it is new to you, but it is not new.

Case in point, Art Bell radio. Back before the MSM got in a knot over right wing AM radio, there was the Art Bell show. He would interview conspiracy theorists, practitioners of alternative medicine, alien abductees, whoever. No proof, facts, or even factoids necessary, or encouraged.

Sometimes, a guest would fail to show, and he would open the show to callers. It went like this:

Caller: I wanted to know about the holes in Seattle.

Art: holes?

Caller: yeah there's like these holes. In the street. They can't find the bottom.

Art: I haven't heard of this. Let's open it up to our listeners. Call in if you know anything about these bottomless holes in Seattle.

And then the crazies would call in.

We have all known these people were out there. People whose train of thought is associative.

" I heard it in Art Bell.
Art Bell is on the radio.
The radio is a form of technology.
Technology requires science.
So it just follows that what I hear on Art Bell is scientifically proven."

These people can't distinguish between BS and science, but they respect an assertive tone of voice. If you say it like you mean it, it must be true. I will refer to them after this as agnostics. They literally don't know.

But their interest in physics was limited to how flying saucers flew, and quantum woo. So, they weren't interested in Jacob's work.

Jacob's work was similar enough to CC work, that he can't see why the agnostics are so wound up in CC science. The answer is simple: because you lied to them. But before I get into that, I have to talk about my own conspiracy theory.

In the fall of 2008, as our financial system was melting down, I was clearing land and preparing to move a house. And TARP was announced. At the time, my libertarian streak was wider and deeper. So I joined a protest group that just started, called the tea party protest. At first, it was libertarians, like me, outraged at Bush jr. for bailing out banks. This was just before the election. But quickly after we started getting (biased) news coverage, the pros came in. We went from being outraged libertarians and fiscal conservatives to the tea party of today. Religion, bigotry, abortion, Michelle Bachman. Because we gained enough momentum to attract professional protestors, and agnostics. And news cameras follow these dancing monkeys every time.

This is the same pattern that happened to the Occupy Wallstreet movement. Once the dancing monkeys get involved, the circus follows them.

Climate science, is not science, because of the dancing monkeys. Sure, there are studies, and results, and we are progressing in our general knowledge. All signs point to AGW. But for every sign, there are a dozen dancing monkeys. It takes time and energy to read a study, and the reviews of those studies. And the whole time you are trying to figure this out, you have professional protestors shouting from both sides of the issue.

And the worst part is that the dancing monkeys were invited to the climate "debate", by the the scientists. This makes sense, if you work for a university, doing research, odds are very good you would identify with the left side of the political spectrum. We are all a bit blind to the bias of those who share our views. Somehow, I have no trouble imagining a climate science professor with strong feelings about the environment. With friends in the environmental movement. Who may have pushed him to go beyond the traditional scope of research science. Because this is an emergency!!! While I don't think environmental scientists have lied, I have no doubt that they have worked hand in hand with people who did and do. This is no more unethical than me working with salespeople, who I assume, lie.

Given the decades of lies, told by both sides, I admit to being amused by Jacob's frustrations. Sorry, man.

Now, I take my share of the blame for not protesting the presence of the newteapartyists. If I, and the others were better at making our voices heard, the tea party of today would be a wholly different thing. Same for Occupy.

But climate scientists have courted the press, and the controversy and the politics. Because funding lies down that path. And, good things will happen. The science will be developed. The controversy will go away. The models will get more accurate, all because of the money that controversy brought.

But in the meantime, there are these dancing monkeys. And these agnostics. And politics, and lies, on both sides. They were invited. And as long as there is controversy, they will stay. And climate science will continue to slowly expand our knowledge. But nobody will know, because the dancing monkeys and agnostics are loud, and numerous. And we aren't talking about science, we're talking about politics.

Jacob, agnostics are nothing new, and they have no interest in hierarchy of knowledge, their attention is tied to the loudest voices and they believe denial is a form of confirmation. But, they are crashing the party of climate science. They will stay until the party is over.

And to everyone else, science is an evolving body of knowledge. It grows at the edges. There is always growth and controversy at the edges. But when the science is settled, it isn't studied anymore. The research stops. Until that point, consensus is just agreement, subject to change when the evidence changes.

Posts: 498
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:12 pm
Location: Netherlands/Austria

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

Postby J_ » Wed Dec 28, 2016 4:00 pm

Nihilism, cynism, (dark) coloured personal views are not very helpful to guide you to unbiased facts and clear defined values. As long as I live I have to find out myself to find the latter, often making mistakes. First you have to find your own view on how to live, and to shed off the view teached by your parents and school. To find out that what is written in books is not always true.
As you first learn that water boils on 100 C, you learn later that that temperature can be different because it depends on the pressure on that boiling water and later you learn that it also depends on the purity of that water.
When you become to realise that life is rather complicated; that you can look at circumstances from different angels and or perspectives, you learn to be careful in your assesments and judgements. I started in my youth as little entrepreneur, later I had some salaried jobs where I worked in the building industry from different angels: architects, later construction company, later local government, later a developer. And then, just 40 I decided that I had learned enough to start my own company.
This was my way to how I worked to get an "immune system" as Jacob called it against fake facts and biased information.
But I do not think that my path is much different from anyone who stays alert in life.
Now with the internet it is not that different, especially not because the internet itself reveals that it is prone to deliver fake information.

Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

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

Postby steveo73 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 2:17 am

I was thinking about this. If people just had the ability to critically evaluate various subjects within a solid framework it would probably help.

Something like the following:-

1. Can we test the proposition that is being stated. If we can then it's great. If we can't then we have to take a step back and realise that this is a political argument.
2. If we can test the proposition that is being stated then all we need is decent data. I don't think you can expect high quality data all the time. If we have though decent data then you should be good to go.

So just state that we have a proposition/hypothesis that eating tree A means that you can live for longer then unless we have data of a reasonable group of people eating tree A then this theory is simply a political argument until we test that theory. Once we have some data to test though then the theory changes. If we have a group of say 50 people and everyone that eats tree A appears to have lived for longer than we can state well that theory holds true. If we have data that state that those people don't eat longer than we can state that theory isn't valid. The theory also must have predictive value because I think data can be influenced too easily by people's bias. So the test needs to be future oriented.

This should take the emotion out of issues. If people can't see at that point that they are right or wrong then you really can't do anything about it. So in our example if people eating tree A died at the same basic rate as the general population then we would state the theory is false. If the reverse happened the theory is true.

Does that work for people ? Maybe a better way to phrase this is would that work for you personally ? If not why not ? If the theory holds true then can you think of instances where it doesn't hold true within your life ?

Posts: 498
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 4:12 pm
Location: Netherlands/Austria

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

Postby J_ » Sun Jan 01, 2017 6:43 am

@ steveo. @ jacob. Yes, I think it can work that way. Earlier in this tread Jacob has elaborate in a rather brilliant way how to develop (true) insights from facts, frameworks and methods.
(and learned us some danish counting :))

User avatar
Posts: 3747
Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2011 12:42 am

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

Postby Ego » Sun Jan 01, 2017 10:12 pm

In the thread requesting human anthropology / history book suggestions, Dragline mentioned Joe Henrich's book, The Secret of Our Success. I reserved it at the library and in the meantime went looking for talks he has given. I found a talk he gave to the Society for Philosophy and Psychology on youtube.

At one point in the talk he mentions that the average college professor has a vocabulary of 70,000 words while undergrads understand about 50.000 - 60,000. He has studied several small scale (so called primitive) societies where he found a vocabulary of only 3,000 - 5,000 words.

Words are the tools we use to communicate meaning and facts. They are the building blocks of culture. The more complex the world, the more important it is to communicate with precision. Technology amplifies the ability to communicate but also amplifies the consequences of miscommunication.

Attempting to communicate complex ideas with a 10,000 word tool box is like trying to build a Victorian style home with only stones and axes. The person who understands only a few of the hundred-or-so words that mean "to lie" might miss a critical piece of information. Frequent misunderstandings cause them to flee to the comfort of black and white thinking which then makes them easily manipulable by those who intentionally limit their vocabulary to the 10,000 most common words.


Posts: 1125
Joined: Sat Jul 06, 2013 6:52 pm

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

Postby steveo73 » Sun Jan 01, 2017 11:00 pm

Ego - I totally agree with the general point in that we need to ask clear detailed questions and state clear detailed responses.

What happens is that language can be twisted to provide a false impression.

I don't though think it's just words. It's about trying to get into the specifics of a situation.

User avatar
Posts: 92
Joined: Sat Mar 23, 2013 10:42 pm

Re: Post-factualism: Goodbye Enlightenment--Hello Idiocracy? - Mt. Stupid & the Illusion of Explanatory Depth

Postby ebast » Tue Feb 21, 2017 1:43 pm

Came across this which will be no surprise* but some semi-rigorous evidence and I think much enjoyed by the local aficionados of Dunning-Kruger showing here an actual empirical measurement of Mt. Stupid here as applied to commonplace things:

(looks familiar...)

which is from Rozenblit & Keil, 2002:The misunderstood limits of folk science: an illusion of explanatory depth. They asked subjects to self-rate (T1 - Mt. Stupid) how well they understood common mechanisms (flush-toilets, speedometers, cylinder locks, etc), then in time steps T2 had to write detailed step-by-step explanations and (step T3) answer diagnostic questions about them. Afterward they then got to read an expert explanation and re-evaluate their knowledge before (T4) and after(T5) reading the explanation. That means T4 is assessing how-blind-I-was and T5 is how-well-now-I-see.

The researchers were kind enough not to give another diagnostic check at T6. :D

* anyway, the kicker? these were grad students. yes, the authors consider that.. "Conceivably, graduate study leads to an intellectual arrogance
and the illusion of explanatory competence might be less in undergraduates who are still awed by what they do not know" but for more on that you can read the paper.

also, they compare this effect in self-assessing mastery of technical mechanisms versus say, the plot of "Good Will Hunting" and as a bonus lets you know which students would be more embarrassed about getting wrong. small sample-sizes but fun stuff.

Return to “Politics, and other eternal disagreements”