Quote of the day—Jon Hauptman

I’d be on the side of fact checking if facts actually had anything to do with what people believe. Given the relationship between values, beliefs, and facts, “fact checking” is values enforcement, even if it’s accidental. This is going to reveal itself to be a way to “check” people who believe unapproved facts, more than it’s a tool for improving the information diet.”

Jon Hauptman
December 31, 2019
The Perils of Social Media Fact-Checking
[The points Hauptman makes aren’t always true. Beliefs can be change rather easily if the believer doesn’t have a commitment to the belief. Someone could believe they had plans to have lunch with a friend on on Monday and then check their calendar and find out it was actually Tuesday. It’s a rare person who is going to continue believing the lunch date is on Monday.

On the other hand suppose a person believes the water gods hold up living things like wood, leaves, and small mammals and send things of the earth such as rocks and dirt to the bottom of the rivers and lakes. And further suppose they have been teaching their beliefs to others for many years. Giving the a demonstration of a pumice rock (which floats) and a piece of ironwood (which sinks in water) is likely to cause them to create some explanation which preserves the existence of the water gods.

Also, there exist certain conditions, which can be created, where facts matter and people frequently do change their minds. See When Prophecy Fails for the basis of my claim. My summary of those conditions are:

  • Unequivocal disconfirmation of the false belief must occur.
  • Social support for the false must be minimal or non-existent.

This is how “deprogramming” someone from a cult works. They are removed from their social support network and the flaws in their belief system are presented to them with undeniable certainty.

Conclusion: Mostly true.

H/T to Rolf for pointing it out to me before I caught up on my RSS feeds.

In email Rolf also points out:

What’s interesting to me, after reading it, is the meta:  the author’s bias doesn’t appear to allow him to consider the possibility that the actions of Google, Facebook, etc., are done knowing full well the reality of the situation, and their goal is to shape and form the narrative that people will be conditioned to accept, and are intending to fragment the citizenry, and marginalize specific chosen sub-groups. Subgroups we happen to belong to and are aware of because we’ve been targeted for so long.

Interesting hypothesis. If this is true then I would suspect there would be people who would have leaked this conspiracy. I recall a similar thing has been leaked regarding Google (a video of some sort of an executive) but I don’t recall the exact details even though I know I at least started a blog post on it. I think it had to do with creating a false reality where the uploaded minds of the believers could exist inside their utopian virtual world.

An alternate hypothesis is that determination of reality is really hard problem and it’s irrational for use to expect people to be rational.

And a final hypothesis is that these people just need to be exposed to alternate viewpoints while isolated from their social networks.—Joe]

Update: Phelps points out that Google at least did research on, if not adapted, a policy of “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility”. This is a decent synopsis:

The briefing argues that Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are caught between two incompatible positions, the “unmediated marketplace of ideas” vs. “well-ordered spaces for safety and civility.”

The first approach is described as a product of the “American tradition” which “prioritizes free speech for democracy, not civility.” The second is described as a product of the “European tradition,” which “favors dignity over liberty and civility over freedom.” The briefing claims that all tech platforms are now moving toward the European tradition.

The briefing associates Google’s new role as the guarantor of “civility” with the categories of “editor” and “publisher.” This is significant, given that Google, YouTube, and other tech giants publicly claim they are not publishers but rather neutral platforms — a categorization that grants them special legal immunities under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Elsewhere in the document, Google admits that Section 230 was designed to ensure they can remain neutral platforms for free expression.

The original document is here.


17 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Jon Hauptman

  1. One of my favorite “facts colliding with feelings” was a Steven Crowder video where he had a bunch of rifles and ammunition on display. He asked people to judge which, if any, of the rifles and ammunition they would ban.

    People consistently wanted to ban the black guns (ar-15, ak-47 styles) yet did a pass on the wooden furniture rifles. They wouldn’t change their minds when Crowder pointed out that two rifles were the same with just a change in furniture.

    The other was the people that had already said that it was OK for people to keep their hunting rifles but not the black rifles then saying that they wanted to ban 30/06, 7.62×51 and the other large caliber bullets but that the 5.56 was ok.

    When it was pointed out to them that the “hunting” rifles shot the ammunition that they wanted to ban and the “black” guns shot the ammunition they wanted to allow, they couldn’t handle it.

    People’s beliefs are harder to change then we want to acknowledge.

    It has taken me 15+ years to get to the point where my wife is willing to touch a gun and she shocked the heck out of me last year when she said she wanted to go shooting with me.

    (Joe cost me $500+ that day, I ran out to my local shop to get a .22 pistol to start her with. Thanks Joe. *GRIN*)

  2. Look at how the ‘evil black rifles’ are portrayed in the media. People are conditioned to believe the things are damn near magic wands. Then you show them that tiny little 5.56 cartridge and the truth of their eyes starts warring with the conditioning they’ve been given since most were born. Rambo kills thousands with this thing but they can’t imagine that little intermediate cartridge doing the damage Hollywood has told them it does.

    My own mother, not ten years ago was convinced anyone could walk into a gun shop, plop down $500 and walk out with a machine gun. After a bit on Gun broker to educate her, the confusion turned into anger pretty quick when she realized how she’d been lied to.

  3. “If this is true then I would suspect there would be people who would have leaked this conspiracy.”

    Then you’ve been out of university for too long. I remember well the parties, and the late night conversations over whiskey and weed, with the professors and their students. It’s not a conspiracy to them. It’s just “the way things are”, or “should be”.

    Those in the conspiracy usually haven’t the slightest inkling that they’re in a conspiracy. Rather, they believe what they believe because it is (to them) “reality”. Nor is it, in the mind of typical conspirators, a crime to oppress their detractors in the most horrible ways, for they are simply doing “what needs to be done” for what is obviously “The Common Good”.

    In the war between good and evil, it is possible, and indeed quite common, to be on the side of evil while believing one is on the side of good. There is no “conspiracy”, then, to report, and anyone who thinks there is a conspiracy is either a liar or is insane, thus “Deplorable”.

    Eventually the !Deplorables may be rounded up and killed by the millions without a “conspiracy” having been formed. Rather, any attempt to stop the elimination of Deplorables would be a conspiracy, for it would be an attack against Social Justice and The Common Good.

    The one who sees it as a conspiracy is the one who disagrees with it.

    At university, one can openly and freely associate with fellow believers in the cause, with the expectation that no one you encounter in your particular college will disagree with what has become the default, collectivist world view. You’d be perfectly aware that people outside your college often disagree, but that doesn’t make your college into a conspiracy; outsiders disagree if and only if they are “stupid” and/or “evil”.

    Ths is why I’ve been using the words “allegiance” and “alliance”. Your allegiance will determine which “conspiracy” you belong to, but only those in the opposing alliance will ever think of your alliance as a “conspiracy”.

    What your enemies see as conspiracy, you see as loyalty and what you see as conspiracy, your enemies see as loyalty.

    No one “blows the whistle” on loyalty within their own ranks.

    They’ve abandoned the slogan, “Don’t be Evil”, I believe, not because, in their minds, they’re promoting evil, but because, after all, “Who are you to determine what is good or evil anyway?” (this being in total contradiction to the oft held belief that one can determine what is the “Common Good” and, worse yet, with the presumed authority to force it upon others).

    But all this description of moral relativism doesn’t mean there isn’t still, none the less, a clear delineation between, and clear definitions of, good and evil. You’ll find such in the Ten Commandments ( KJV), with some further clarification in the Sermon on the Mount.

    Once again, this whole conversation centers around that distinction between perpetrators and their duped, and the question; To what extent has a given perpetrator himself been duped, and to what extent does a given perpetrator understand what he’s doing?

    We cannot have THAT conversation, of course, until we’ve established what is right and what is wrong, for otherwise we cannot distinguish a loyal servant from a duped conspirator who deserves some compassion, from an evil perpetrator.

    And how do we establish these things? Again; Ten Commandments. Problem there is, of course, we ourselves will be reproved or condemned by that standard, and who wants THAT?

    So without that standard we’ll be floating around these arguments forever, always from different angles to make it feel like we’re covering new ground, never reaching a conclusion.

  4. The problem with the people in the media, FB, google, & c. is not that they are working to hide reality, but that they believe if they can get enough people to believe the narrative then the narrative becomes reality. In other words, it’s not a conspiracy to deny reality, but a firm conviction that reality can be changed.

    I don’t know if this a human problem or a modern problem. Certainly the soviets/communists/socialists have tried the narrative shaping reality experiment on a top-down massive scale. It seems to me that as the Boomers began leaving childhood many thought they could do it on an individual or corporate level (Age of Aquarius anyone?). For example on Neil Young’s Live Rust album there’s a part between two tracks where you can hear a thunderstorm letting loose and Neil yells to the audience, “maybe if we think real hard we can make the rain go away,” and he and the crowd begin chanting “no rain”. As Gen X, I grew up watching all this new age BS; crystals, Celestine Prophecy, belief that psychedelic drugs could make you the next Buddha (how’d that work out for Syd Barrett?). It’s probably one of the main reasons my generation is so skeptical and cynical; we watched the Boomers try to rewrite reality over and over again and fail and fail again.

    I shouldn’t blame Boomers though. I think it’s a human problem. Before even the soviets began we had the Romantic era filled with gnosticism, quackery, and spiritualism.

    • I think part of it is a loss of religion. Without some faith that there are things (God, forces of nature, natural consequences, whatever) that are beyond not just your control, but <em)anyone's control, you start to get a hubris that is ultimately self-destructive, because if you think you (or others in “your tribe”) can ultimately control everything, then you start to think of yourself as a god.

      That doesn’t end well.

      The left has learned to use that as a “feature” to achieve their goals. Their goals do not include most of their nominal supporters, because in their arrogance, the left’s supporters think they are in charge.

      Look at how practical Julies Caesar was before spending time with Cleopatra in Egypt, and starting to believe that he was a god, in the Egyptian sense. It didn’t end well, did it?

      • Good point. It’s part of it. If there is no God or god(s) then we control reality. Look at this silly Simulation theory that’s all the fashion in Silicon Valley. Their theory is just as easily explained by the God of the Bible and a few other religions, but if they are programmed and have no free will, then cheating on your spouse or screwing over your employees is unavoidable right? Write the narrative and then live it.

        Then they wonder why they’re so miserable despite being the wealthiest beings outside of Adam and Eve in the Garden.

    • How’d psychedelic drugs work out for Brian Wilson?
      G. K. Chesterton wrote that once you stop believing in God, you don’t believe in nothing, you believe in anything. A biography of Marie Antoinette told of how during the revolution all sorts of superstitions became prevalent throughout France. Supposedly Rasputin had such a hold over the Czarina and the ladies of the court he told them that God likes to forgive, so let us sin together and seek forgiveness. Today in Germany a popular New Year’s Eve activity is to melt a spoonful of lead and then drop it into water, the shape it forms somehow telling you something about your year to come. It is all part of the re-paganization of Western Civilization .

      • You believe in anything.

        Really? Have you heard of the scientific method? Or how about the processes used in a courtroom to distinguish guilt from innocence?

        • Have you seen people go from that method to believing that the Earth is angry about pollution and is sending natural disasters as punishment and that Science! says that they can be whatever gender they feel like this minute?

          I am well familiar with the Daubert standard. It has little to do with actual scientific method and more to do with whether or not the belief has “widespread acceptance within a relevant scientific community.” Daubert may be the law, but Frye is still largely the practice. Daubert just gives an additional way for scientific evidence to admitted over a lack of “most scientists believe this, so we’ll let it in.”

          • Not exactly that, but close enough. Just because they use the word “science” doesn’t mean they didn’t just make things up on a whim or report their feelings. The same applies to belief in God or god(s). Evidence of this is clear from all the different religions. Muslims believe in God but yet the different sects don’t seem to have a problem murdering other Muslims who don’t agree with them on the details. Or whipping a woman who shows her bare ankle. Or executing homosexual men. While one Christian (and former Sunday school teacher) I recently talked to doesn’t see a problem with having a boyfriend or two on the side as long as it’s okay with her husband. One devout Jewish woman told me she and her husband estimated she has had sex with over 600 men since they were married.

            Those people all believe in God yet have dramatically differences in the conclusions they reach about what is moral and immoral. So, please explain to me how belief in God confines people to a set of reality based beliefs.

          • The argument is that people are, by and large, irrational and have beliefs that cannot be proven. That the religious fall into that category in no way proves that the irreligious do not.

            Are there the purely rational exceptions? Sure, in the <1% level, and they almost always make exceptionally poor citizens to boot. That there is an exception doesn't disprove the rule. 99 out of 100% atheists didn't come to that conclusion rationally, but instead are just rationalizing a hatred of the God that they actually do believe in.

        • You are likely not the typical example. 🙂

          But look at the general case: if you believe in God (or an objective physical reality that is not dependent on your words and mental contortions to exit), then the scientific method, or the courtroom dialectic, is seeking a truth that exists apart from your assertions. I think you are there. (Good engineers sort of have to be).

          But to the truly godless, they CAN’T learn to code. They think existence is what it is because of their assertions, and simply convincing people of something makes that thing real. They think they can create reality, effectively,like a god willing something into being. And, if everyone agrees with them, then in a way, for some things, it does. For example, if they can convince the world that whites invented slavery in America by enslaving Africans, and everyone believes it’s true, and acts accordingly, and rewrites the history books to say so then…. well… <em)1984's O’Brien gets told he’s holding up five fingers. It becomes reality, after a fashion.

          They think that if they can get away with something, than that makes it OK, because they are good, so by definition good people (which they are, they believe) having success must be good, and it’s all OK. Yes, it’s circular logic and insane and ultimately self-destructive. But that is how strong, dominant, decadent societies die – via suicide, not invasion

          • Are you equating belief in God with the belief in an objective physical reality? If not, then I don’t follow when you claim

            to the truly godless, they CAN’T learn to code

            And if you claim belief in an objective physical reality is the same as belief in God you lost me in that direction too.

          • Not equating the two, but pointing out a powerful similarity. A belief in god is a belief in something larger than yourself, a force beyond your direct control and anything more than a superficial level of understanding. An objective higher level that simply IS, regardless of your actions and understanding, or lack of them. A good scientist/ engineer recognizes that fact. They must to do their job. They see the world, and try to describe it, good or bad, as best they can, acknowledging there are limits to their understanding and mastery of language (both spoken and the “language” of math and physics equations). They try to discern the reality that exists regardless of their subjective evaluations of good or bad. A priest, in a way, tries to do the same thing. God exists, and the world He made, and he cannot understand all His designs of plans, but he tries to follow the rules as best he can, and knows he will suffer if he doesn’t. He may be mistaken, but he is not *creating* reality with his words. The engineer knows that if he goofs, an makes himself an integral part of a high voltage megawatt circuit, he’s going to have a very bad day regardless of how good a person he is morally, or where the error in his calculations occurred.

            The mystic left thinks they create reality with their words. The deconstructionist nihilist thinks it doesn’t exist outside his mind, so if he can simply will it hard enough, and maybe get others to share his view/delusion, that will make it so. They seek to avoid consequences by simply not believing there will be any. Then, when reality smacks them with the frozen flounder of truth, they blame not reality but the “other” for harshing their mellow and not believing with sufficient fervor. Think the commie true believer blaming “wreckers” when a train carrying too heavy a load makes a bridge collapse under the weight, after the engineer tells him it’s too heavy. Some honestly think the engineer caused the collapse, not gravity.

            The truly godless do not recognize an objective reality outside their words, therefore consequences are only for the little people who cannot bend reality with words to their desires. The Christian west sees science as trying to more deeply understand the mind of God through science, learning what His rules are, so we can apply them and live a better life But when we separate that totally from morality of His book, bad things follow.

            The tower of Babel may be considered as lots of SJWs simply redefining words to the point that nobody can talk to anyone else, because everyone is using their own private definitions, and therefore meaningful communication becomes impossible.

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