Bryan Beverly

Postmodern Analytics: The Emergence of ‘Alternative Facts’

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bkbeverly
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Re: Delight me with your lies
bkbeverly   3/13/2017 1:02:25 AM
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@T Sweeney - agreed - both the left and the right are equally guilty. Even in my own journey, in growing up during the Civil Rights period, the messaging was equally bad. One side said that blacks were inferior and should be subjugated as second class citizens. The other side said that blacks needed caretakers but were competent enough to vote for their caretakers every four years. So in my own formative journey, it became clear to me that both messages were based on an assumption of innate superiority at a cultural level. Both the right and left believed that they were correct and the other side incorrect - not seeing the common fallacy that they shared. Hence, I try to be balanced in how I see all subjects, because what became clear to me (just speaking about my own experiences- hence a sample size of 1), was that whether the dictator was malevolent or benevolent, that the humanity, intelligence and moral sensibilities of many blacks were automatically suspect. So yes, both the left and right hands that govern our political policies are equally dirty. And shifting anatomical metaphors, the senses of the left and right sides of our national brain trusts have been dulled. And because the real issues of life hurt so much, we are willfully ignorant in the attempt to find narratives that let us sleep each night. If both sides can promote narratives of greatness that galvanizes their constituents, then we can ignore the 'other stuff'. Yes - totally agreed - both sides of the political spectrum are equally guilty.

Lyndon_Henry
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Re: Looming danger
Lyndon_Henry   3/12/2017 5:58:06 PM
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..

Terry writes

... we also didn't need the Internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle to contribute to a culture where people can be persuaded to believe just about anything. With so much data and noisy content coming our way, it dulls our senses, not to mention our powers of discernment. 
We are an intellectually lazy people.



 

Indeed. I still haven't recovered from astonishment at the magnitude of the chunk of the U.S. population that appears to be hopelessly susceptible to gullibility beyond belief. This, in a technologically advanced modern country, with presumably a high level of education, here in the 21st century.

In this regard, I refer a recent article in the Huffington Post; the title pretty much sums up the content: A Satire Website Posted Fake News To Trump Supporters. Many Believed It.

As the article reports, 

The idea was simple enough: publish as many absurd, obviously fake stories imaginable, and see if anyone actually falls for it. The results of this experiment were both fascinating and disheartening. 



 

"While writing them, I was aiming for stories that no one would believe, but rather would be satirical in an age where disinformation is so prevalent" the publisher, James McDaniel, explained. But, he says, "To my surprise, the Trump masses embraced my stories as fact, almost universally .... It seemed that there wasn't anything I could write that was too wild or outrageous to be believed by this particular audience."

He adds:

I was startled that in today's world, so many could be so willfully ignorant .... It's truly a frightening time when a group of people screaming, "FAKE NEWS!" at the top of their lungs, live, eat and sleep falsehoods.



 

What are we all coming to?

..

T Sweeney
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Re: Looming danger
T Sweeney   3/11/2017 6:50:40 PM
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Dangerous, indeed, Lyndon. But we also didn't need the Internet, social media and the 24-hour news cycle to contribute to a culture where people can be persuaded to believe just about anything. With so much data and noisy content coming our way, it dulls our senses, not to mention our powers of discernment. 

We are an intellectually lazy people.

T Sweeney
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Re: Delight me with your lies
T Sweeney   3/11/2017 6:47:08 PM
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Agreed, Bryan, about dominance dulling our senses or leading to conditions where we live in a bubble of selective perception and willful ignorance. And I'd hasten to add that the left and right ends of the political spectrum are equally guilty here.

Lyndon_Henry
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Looming danger
Lyndon_Henry   3/11/2017 11:46:27 AM
..

News events over about the past 24 hours have brought the discussion in this thread to mind.

The modus operandi of some behaviors of the Trump team seem to be shaping into a pattern. In this pattern, factual reality is being disparaged and replaced by a kind of fantasy environment of "alternative facts" that is intended to serve as the basis for accepted beliefs and policymaking. To me, this is extremely dangerous and puts all of us in considerable peril.

Now, I do have a tendency to perceive longterm trends from rather small beginnings. But my experience is that most of the time I'm right.

First, traditional sources of information – particularly the news media – are being disparaged and portrayed as untrustworthy ("fake news"). Of course, this has been going on for weeks, months. However, this stratagem has recently been expanded to include important agencies and institutions such as the Congressional Budget Office, whose traditional "nonpartisan" analysis of major legislative proposals (most recently, the Trump/GOP repeal of the ACA) is being portrayed as unreliable and unworthy of serious consideration. Instead, stridently politically motivated alternative "analyses" and dubious "facts" and "projections" from the proponents are being substituted.

Second, Trump & Co. are presenting themselves as the sole source and arbiters of what "facts" are valid and acceptable. This seems clear from Trump's reaction to the latest U.S. job creation numbers, official data whose validity in the past Trump has been disparaging for some time before his assumption of the presidency. This is well captured by the headline for a perceptive Huffington Post article: White House Officially Declares Jobs Numbers 'Very Real' After Calling Them Fake For Years.

The third component in this pattern is brazen denying and lying – exhibited in the current kefaffle over the Trump team's mysterious contacts with representatives and operatives of the Russian government. Opportunities to scutinize denials (and other assertions) and confront and question Trump and his proxies over these issues have been minimized and heavily constricted and manipulated (e.g., Sean Spicer's intimidating daily "press conferences", extremely limited reports from the State Dept., etc.). Thus, efforts to challenge denials and lies are constricted and minimimized to the point of impotency. And the regime can merely counter accusations of lying with its own version of "alternative facts".

Surely the application of reliable factual information and the availability of trustworthy and comptent factual reporting should be essential hallmarks of sound policymaking. How, for example, could competent analytical processing of federal government big data be trusted if that "big data" is corrupted by the fantasies and whims of whichever regime is controlling that government?

I'd call that pretty darn dangerous ...

..

bkbeverly
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Re: Delight me with your lies
bkbeverly   3/1/2017 8:53:14 PM
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@Lyndon_H, Your words remind me of a sermon by Martin Luther King. It was called 'Great, But ...'. In this message, he identified several great civilizations and epochs and noted the stark contrast of their weakness. The Germans, who gave to the world so much in music, theology, philosophy, the social, behavioral and natural sciences yet also gave space to Hitler. Perhaps that is our problem. Arrogance birthed from global dominance has dulled our senses.

Lyndon_Henry
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Delight me with your lies
Lyndon_Henry   3/1/2017 2:55:59 PM
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..

Rbaz observes that "Trying to make sense of a deranged mental process will not yeild rewarding results."

Yeah, but what I'm fascinated – bewildered – astounded – outraged by is that huge chunk of the U.S. populace that apparently want to be lied to, deceived. How do you understand that?

For a long time, Americans were puzzled by Nazi Germany and how a huge chunk of the German population could attend Nazi rallies, eat their Wurst and gulp their Bier, and just watch and as their neighbors – fathers, wives, kids – were snatched up, hauled away to extermination camps, executed in Zyklon gas chambers, then tossed into ovens, all on a massive industrial scale. A lot of this happened during my own lifetime.

How could the German population, in one of the most advanced counties of Europe, renowned for its culture and intellectual and technological accomplishments, be so bamboozled? Now I'm starting to see the same crazy phenomenon here, and having a hard time getting my mind around it.

..

bkbeverly
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Re: Objective
bkbeverly   3/1/2017 12:57:53 AM
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@Louis - Yes, intellectual integrity? Whole different matter. And yes, with the release of new alternative facts, we willl have to spend more time separating the wheat from the chaff. Why just yesterday, the secretary of education stated that HBCUs were a fine example of school choice. The problem was that HBCUs were established due to a lack of choice; the Jim Crow laws excluded African Americans from many institutions of higher learning. I believe that the secretary was corrected, but some time had to be taken to parse her statement and to correct it. Historical revisionism using alternative facts - yeah, just what we need.

louisw900
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Re: Objective
louisw900   2/28/2017 6:30:06 PM
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@Bryan   I agree.  What was pulled off did take some intellectual  agility. But intellectual integrity ?  That's another question altogether.  Now, going forward we will be slower to deal with real facts because alternative ones will be littered all over.    

Just what our Nation and Democracy needed.

louisw900
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Re: Objective
louisw900   2/28/2017 6:23:12 PM
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"...We should not poke fun at her because the joke is on us."

 

 

@rbaz     It certainly is .....  I am still trying to figure out how reality can be bent to such a degree.  And this position is gaining speed daily with every news op.

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