David Collum year in review

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jacob
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by jacob »

ZAFCorrection wrote:
Fri Dec 27, 2019 6:07 pm
By motte and bailey I mean that people defend the merits of conspiracy theorizing based on legitime concerns (e.g. Epstein), and then two minutes later it's the Islamic-Atheist-Progressive agenda being discussed. Sometimes there are legitimate concerns and sometimes it is just mudslinging and crackpottery. Hopefully, each case can be considered individually and then categorized according to its validity.
This! ... is why I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories in general. I'll acknowledge that conspiracy thinking can be fun and games to high-information voters who are capable of evaluating the merits of a hypothesis. Like a good mystery novel. Or a what-if scenario. Anyone posting on these forums tend to be a high-knowledge/information person and so we can see CTs for what they are.

However, for low-information voters there's no such evaluation going on and they do not see it. When someone's entire political understanding is based on A/B-tested facebook memes and talk show hosts and "who is saying it"/"it hurts the other team" is more important than both internal logical consistency and external consistency, conspiracy thinking does a lot of damage because there's literally nothing to check against disinformation. Low-information voters lack both an external framework for basic facts AND a framework for internal consistency (logic) and CT thinking actively/mentally undermines such frameworks.

In particular, the motte and bailey comes about because to most conservatives (except the high-trust ones) all conspiracy theories are equivalent and all good as long as they hurt the other team.

To use a football analogy, it used to be that the difference between low- and high-information fans would be a matter of degree of how many rules and formations, etc. they knew about the game. Yet now it's a difference of kind where game knowledge is becoming irrelevant because all that matters is pwning the sportsfans on the other team. The attention has moved from the game to whatever crazy signs the spectators are holding up to own the sportsfans on other side regardless of what's going on in the actual game. Basically, the actual game has moved from the field to the spectator seats. Rules be damned. If someone breaks a rule ("there's no 5th down"), they just make up some alternative rules ("sure there's a 5th down"). For many the spectator section is now considered more important than the actual game on the field. Actually, it's very similar to European soccer hooliganism where games just serve as an excuse/event for the hooligans to meet and go beat up on the hooligans on the other team.

Whether that's perceived as a good thing or a bad thing comes down to what "game" people are still playing. But it's clearly not "your father's game" anymore. Politics is different from football in that the actual winner of the game is determined by the spectators voting every once in a while and not the point score. A fractured media universe (social, blogs, youtube, and micro sources) has made it possible for low-information voters to watch completely different versions of the same game. This makes it really hard to preserve any semblance of the original game.

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by 7Wannabe5 »

Eh, I think the extent to which conspiracy theories get more play in conservative circles can be almost entirely explained by current gender discrepancy in affiliation. IOW, the likelihood I am going to be listening to a Liberal man talking about a conspiracy theory is probably twice the likelihood I am going to hear any woman talking about anything like a conspiracy theory. I think maybe it has to do with how vasopressin causes men to irrationally err on the side of thinking other men are either known pal or assumed asshole.

Also, Conservative men are just as likely to practice polyamory and or kink as Liberal men, they just call it something different, hard boundary it more or talk about it less. Unfortunately, hypocrisy abounds in both camps.

Jason
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Jason »

The issue we are now facing is not of conspiracy theories. It's that of members of our government are using them as legitimate explanations. At that point, they become propaganda. Conspiracy theories are based on unseen forces that people are not privy to i.e. the real truth behind the appearances. When leaders begin telling its citizens to not trust their empirical reality, their ability to interpret facts or question the very existence of facts or that anything can be factual, it opens the door up for some real bad shit.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

What baffles me is that post-2008 people are still inclined to trust so much. Looks like it will take one more event like that to make things really what they seem.

Generation-X
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Generation-X »

Well, I for one would rather see people engaged in discussions of CTs than discussions of a real national emergency.

It means people are doing their jobs.

ffj
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by ffj »

@jacob

"However, in terms of factual reporting, the average standard is somewhat lower on the conservative side. Objective reality is just not considered to be as important to the average conservative mind as it is to the average liberal mind. This is partly why some conservatives (at least some I know) remain perpetually annoyed why they get fact checked so much more than liberals are.---And often wrongly accuse fact checkers of being liberally biased when the problem is that conservatives simply prefer to live in a world that's more fantastical and less fact-oriented as long as it aligns with their ideological beliefs."


Eh....


I do agree some people are very involved in precise wording and if they can find a hiccup than they'll declare victory. I made the mistake of implying that most of the Democratic candidates were for "open borders" because they: agreed on free healthcare for anyone that managed to enter our country and how they wanted to decriminalize entering the country unannounced. I cited everyone raising their hands at the debate and subsequent comments by the candidates.

Nope, said the person I was communicating with. No candidate had cited the words "open borders" and therefore my opinion was null and void. To whence I responded with basic realities of human behavior but in their mind I was factually wrong, which in word salad I probably was. Now we can argue whether having the conversation in the first place was even remotely beneficial ;) but interactions such as those are very frustrating.



@Dave

Oh yeah, she's fully aware, especially when it comes time to cash her paycheck. Trump has been a huge financial boon to all of the news networks. I believe they are all secretly grateful to him for keeping them employed. Is that another conspiracy theory? ;)

My opinion is that if someone like Alex Jones or Rush are threats to low-information voters, than so is someone like her who willingly spreads misinformation to people eager to believe it. Can someone explain the difference?

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by jacob »

@ffj - I think you're talking about bias(*) (= loaded words, spin-doctoring, and the habit of leaving out stories that hurt the cause). That's not the same as a conspiracy theory which is what I'm talking about. It's the difference between misinformation (a poor source of facts) and disinformation (a source of deliberate lies or hoaxes).

Misinformation presents an inadequate version of reality (like leaving out how many candidates raised their hands (all of them) when questioned on free healthcare for illegal immigrants or reducing illegal crossings to a misdemeanor) and also includes spin (saying that this constitutes an "open border"-policy is a kind of spin that the person you were talking with objected to).

(My general strategy for communicating with low-information people from a given side is to only use their words or phrases. For example, I wouldn't use "open border policy" when talking to a democrat just as I wouldn't call guns "assault weapons" when talking to a republican. Such words just stop the conversation immediately as your choice of words is identified as an attack. Think of them as fighting words to be avoided insofar the goal is to convince or inform rather than to pwn. Ditto on sourcing: If I send a link to CNN to a low-information conservative, I just lost the entire argument by default just as if I used a link to Daily Caller to a low-information liberal. So I don't. Instead, I try to find stuff from "their own side" to support my point.)

Disinformation (which is what conspiracy theories and hoaxes are about) presents an alternate version of reality (like when K Conway talks about presenting "alternative facts" for the crowd size at Trumps inauguration. Unlike spin and selective story telling, disinformation is making up lies in order to present a different reality. A conspiracy theory is a more elaborate and internally and ideologically consistent set of disinformation that usually involves an actual conspiracy of secret evil men pulling the strings to keep the people down (like claiming that Sandy Hook was a false flag operation by the government to push legislation to take away people's guns).

So as I said you'll find spin and bias on both the left and the right. Some outlets are worse than others. And some people are also worse than others. But "both sides" are doing in. That is to say, for each level of bias on the left, there's an equivalent on the right. For example, MSNBC is to the left what FoxNews is to the right. They both show strong bias (not extreme, but strong) and they're both sloppy when it comes to sourcing and correcting statements that go against their ideology.

However, disinformation remains asymmetric and you find more of that on the conservative side. For example, there's no equivalent on the left to Infowars or Breitbart on the right in terms of popularity. And ... it seems that many conservatives actually enjoy these kind of outlets whereas very few liberals appreciate them. The more interesting question to me is why this difference exists between the "conservative mind" and the "liberal mind" and what consequences it will have.

Jason
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Jason »

There is one Fox news conspiracy theory that I do think demands more investigation.

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/s ... -not-blind

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

I think a factor is that there a major cognitive dissonance in the perception “we are all in this together” and the reality “we are not all going to make it.” Talking about zero-sum games is uncomfortable.

Insofar as a neoliberal globalist structure benefits a few elites who can exploit cheap immigrant labor, middle-class and rural whites as a group no longer have a role to play in such an economy. So as long as we are maintaining an effort to maintain that status quo, the wealth in the metropolises concentrate around a few powerful interests. The underpaid racially diverse collective in the city that retweet every anti-Trump “news” piece supports the globalists, who are afraid of the angry rural whites with guns whose jobs have been sent offshore and have been deemed obsolete.
Conspiracy theory narratives on the right end of the spectrum are only natural as a survival mechanism. They have no hope of clamoring for the breadcrumbs at the table of the elites, while the racially diverse liberals eagerly beg and compete for these crumbs. The elites have used this divide-and-conquer strategy masterfully.
David Holmgren wrote:A decline of the middle class already evident in many western countries accelerates leading to discontent and suppression by government including internment camps either for migrants or homeless people. Strong approaches to population control, even forced sterilization are introduced in some countries.
Looks to me like mass incarceration for blacks and the opioid epidemic for whites have been effective population control methods so far. Any other good ideas?

Will be interesting to see the unraveling! May you live in interesting times!
Jason wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 1:32 pm
There is one Fox news conspiracy theory that I do think demands more investigation.

https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/s ... -not-blind
Very superstitious!

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by IlliniDave »

I don't define "conspiracy theory" the way jacob implies. I go more by the basic diction. Citing Oxford online, a conspiracy theory is "a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event." So for example, believing that Russian government tried to secretly "meddle" in the 2016 election is a conspiracy theory that turned out to be fact. Believing that Trump covertly conspired with the Russian Gov't (perhaps under threat of blackmail) to "steal" the 2016 election is a conspiracy theory that is probably false (hard to prove a negative, but Mueller found no evidence of any US persons coordinating with Russians). That the FBI used covert surveillance and NSA resources against (i.e., spied on) Trump's campaign is known to be fact although it was initially and continues to be labeled a "conspiracy theory" by many. The list could go on and on. Sorry to pluck items from current politics, but they come most readily to mind.

In emotionally charged contexts "conspiracy theory" is used as a synonym for "That's a lie!" So I don't know if conservatives are more prone to consider conspiracy theories, or if their opponents/critics are more prone to apply the label with derogatory intent. That the Mafia existed was at one time a conspiracy theory, so to reiterate, not all conspiracy theories are false nor are they the sole purview of fringe characters like Alex Jones nor a symptom of mental illness.
Last edited by IlliniDave on Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

IlliniDave wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:55 pm
That the Mafia existed was at one time a conspiracy theory
Now who’s being naive, Dave.

IlliniDave
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by IlliniDave »

:) I never claimed otherwise.

ZAFCorrection
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by ZAFCorrection »

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Sat Dec 28, 2019 2:16 pm
What baffles me is that post-2008 people are still inclined to trust so much. Looks like it will take one more event like that to make things really what they seem.
I would take a closer look at the word trust, ask what it really means, and then see if there is a reasonable alternative.

I actually got into a major argument with my advisor the other day because her command of English is such that she couldn't understand why I hesitated so long to say I conclusively believed a particular "known fact" in our field. It was not that I don't believe it to be true as in that is where all the experiments are pointing, but I was getting overly pedantic about whether I 100% knew it was true. There is definitely a reason why I am on my second advisor, with whom I also have a poor relationship.

Anyway, the point is that any halfway decent scientist knows there are about a million potential problems with even the most carefully made measurement. The vast, vast majority are not considered because unknown unknowns. Some are taken as a given by the community and are not often discussed except occasionally in some review paper or if some brave soul is trying to take a swing at experimental orthodoxy (usually an old-timer who can afford to put his/her neck out). A much smaller set is discussed in the manuscript because of some ethical concern or because the reviewers will demand it. The point is that reported data is pretty questionable in a "Are you 100% sure?" kinda sense. *GASP*

The question is what else you gonna use? If you don't make some attempt at establishing and acting on a set of "known" facts, the alternative is solipsism. So, ya, count me among the folks who are going to rely on shitty data, which is better than no data.

Mister Imperceptible
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.

It seems there is no shame at the top and no shame below.

I understand why rural whites voted for Trump and why broke millennials love AOC.

I can even understand why the elites spout the propaganda they do. Even though it amazes me that they have so little vision.

What I do not understand is how easily the 9.9% gobble up what is fed to them. Because they should be smart enough to know better.

Or maybe I am too much a harsh contrarian.

Jason
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by Jason »

IlliniDave wrote:
Sun Dec 29, 2019 5:55 pm
Citing Oxford online, a conspiracy theory is "a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event."
This basic definition demonstrates why they are so hard to debunk:

(1) They are believed not on the evidence that supports their claim but the lack of evidence to prove them false (Hollywood staged the moon landing);
(2) However, one piece of evidence supporting the theory perpetuates its possibility (someone in the Ukraine probably did try to meddle in the election, a drunk, unemployed hunter with a hairy asshole claims he was anally raped by Bigfoot);
(3) They are believed not by the uninformed but the misinformed (there is a pedo-ring in the basement of pizza joint so I better go shoot that place up. Too bad there is not only no pedos, no kids, but no fucking basement. At least there was pizza.);
(4) The highly educated i.e. "educated idiots" (Iraq was behind 9-11) are susceptible because those people have the analytical ability to cojoin disparate pieces of information into a logical premise;

IlliniDave
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by IlliniDave »

Jason, sure they can be hard to debunk. Any assertion can have that problem. It's generally hard to prove a negative which is why, for example, in the US justice system the state has to prove you did commit a crime, you don't have to prove you did not.

But conspiracy theories can be pretty straightforward to prove true when they are accurate. And fundamentally my point was that not all conspiracy theories are fictional delusions. Some are correct. But the term has been distorted to be a label implying ignorance, stupidity, deceit, or mental deficiency.

And, the claim of your hunter in item 2) isn't a conspiracy theory as stated (it's missing a conspiracy). Item 3) is a delusion not a conspiracy theory (although conspiracy theories can indeed be delusions).

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by jacob »

It's possible to hold two different definitions simultaneously and appropriately apply them according to the proper context. This is similar to knowing that "theory" means something different to a scientist (a self-consistent set of physical laws based on repeatable measurements) and a layman (personal speculation) and thus should be interpreted according to context.

The one that pertains to CTs in this thread is disinformation. In particular, how disinformation works, how prevalent it has become in the western world over the past 5 years, who are applying and using it, and who are most susceptible towards believing it and propagating it due to various cognitive defenses or biases.

A conspiracy theory can be created as a coherent set of disinformation. It can also be a coherent explanation of information. It can even be an explanation of misinformation(*). To some degree these are increasingly bleeding into each other as disinformation takes hold and people become increasingly unable to tell the difference what true/false and fact/lie whether that's out of ignorance or sheer exhaustion.

(Obviously a verified conspiracy theory is simply a conspiracy. They are, however, not easy to verify or debunk for the true believers, who can and will ultimately fall back on a "That's what THEY want you to believe, but I'm not falling for it"-defense.)

(*) In which case it's rarely coherent but the misinformed person usually gets enough cover by the Dunning-Kruger effect to not realize this.

IlliniDave
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by IlliniDave »

jacob wrote:
Wed Jan 01, 2020 6:01 pm

A conspiracy theory can be created as a coherent set of disinformation. It can also be a coherent explanation of information. It can even be an explanation of misinformation(*). To some degree these are increasingly bleeding into each other as disinformation takes hold and people become increasingly unable to tell the difference what true/false and fact/lie whether that's out of ignorance or sheer exhaustion.
Emphasis mine.

No disagreement with that.

I would tend to call your first option simply disinformation, or maybe propaganda. A conspiracy could certainly be behind the disinformation. I think the problem as I see it is that anytime conspiracy is mentioned it becomes conflated with the popular media/political usage of "conspiracy theory" which is often a smear against opponents; and when uttered by the appropriate ideological authority, adherents can safely ignore whatever the subject is and maintain their orthodoxy. Ironically, perhaps, the label becomes a tool for disinformation--sort of like "Nothing to see here, everyone move along." :)

I happen to think there is credible rationale to suspect nefarious covert conspiracies have occurred recently in our government. While facts and evidence are being gathered these are conspiracy theories. Time will tell, but I'm not sure the ongoing investigations are simply about disinformation. I guess maybe I've wandered off track of the thread, so I'll steer clear of this one going forward.

vezkor
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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by vezkor »

The earliest "year in review" from David Collum that I can find is for 2010. Does anyone know of earlier posts (and can possibly provide a link?) or an archive, possibly?

I like to make an exercise of matching a person's opinions/predictions from long ago to their subsequent performance and I like the way Collum communicates. Unfortunately, he strikes me as super pessimistic BUT also seems to be an idol/hero figure to the doomer/prepper community in general. I have a feeling that his personal financial performance since the start of the bull market is probably very poor in comparison to any random indexer who cashed out yesterday... I digress.

I've read the entirety of Warren Buffett's letters to shareholders (the optimistic take) and I want to read the entirety of Collum's letters (the pessimistic take). Thanks in advance!

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Re: David Collum year in review

Post by jacob »

A ten year streak of writing such lengthy review is nothing to sneeze at. The peak prosperity (which dates to about the same time) people love their 100% gold in the same way that the bogleheads love their 100% index funds. (In practice, they just might have other assets, but at least that's the official party line.) Going back to earlier peak oilers, gold also featured heavily: The general attitude in that community is to "buy physical assets" => paid off homestead + gold with the leftovers. This is to the point of cashing out 401ks and the likes.

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