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.”
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.