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The article "Cognitive Ability and Vulnerability to Fake News" appeared at the Scientific American website on February 6th. Its subheadline is "Researchers identify a major risk factor for pernicious effects of misinformation."
The article makes for interesting reading, whether you consider 'fake news' a classifier for broad swaths of the information landscape, or whether you consider 'fake news' to be particular items that are inaccurate, infused with partisan bias, subject to grotesque editorial demands, or otherwise not adequate to your needs.
... you can guess what happened next.
If you seek verity, verily you must verify ...
To that end, that of critical appraisal, one dear to the heart of all Objectivish people, the magazine has another useful (or familiar) set of verification rules of thumb:
Six Tips for Identifying Fake News
-- this is presented at the site as an MP3 sound file, which I link to here:
Note on audio files: the code to insert an audio file is dead easy if you have a little knowledge of HTML. Any modern browser will return a little player like that above -- given the code format below. All you need to do is make sure the file to be played is MP3, the web standard.
<audio controls src="http://www.somesite.com/soundfile.mp3">
-- to insert similar audio file code on OL in your edit box, click on the "Source" button up under "Content" at the top of the edit box. This reveals the underlying HTML.
I want to recommend a book I just started reading last night: "Suspicious Minds," by Rob Brotherton. As is usual, I read first the chapter that stuck out -- Chapter 5, The Paranoid Fringe. It takes a useful critical look at the seminal article by Richard Hofstadter -- "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" -- and also runs to ground a plausible origin of 'tinfoil hats.'
The book is written in a wry conversational tone, and is not on the surface a ''scholarly" read thick with endless footnotes, but it also contains a very useful reference list by page number -- as well as a full index at the back. (My copy is from our local library, but I am going to order it from Amazon so I always have it on hand as a reference book.)
Here is an excerpt from the first page that might whet OLer's appetite for more ...
In a fit of recursion, I include this bit of commentary from earlier this month. It suggests that I am bound by ingrained prejudice/s, which may or may not be true ... yet leaves the door open to further friendly discussion.
-- for those who like to check out reviews before purchasing or borrowing from a library, here's a selection -- which I thought remarkable. Remarkable in the sense of "how many reviews do not mention Donald Trump?"
New York Times review by Adrian Chen
Inside Higher Education review by Scott McLemee
Brief Scientific American review by Maria Temming
-- for the benefit of Dear Leader, I found the book is available at his local library too!
My second test is also awful ... long, choppy, echoey, but I fear not [added February 2]
I have been fussing with technical impediments for a few days -- with the end of the fuss a more-success-than-fail test of streaming video live from Chilliwack. It is still awful, laggy, popping here and there, distorting audio, skipping frames, refusing to play video so I can hear it ... but with some more fussing and rehearsal, and more script cards, and more drilling, this can work. Expect this thread to be locked from time to time as I replace the content with the actual live event URL. This is a recording ...
Yes, it is even more awful than I feared, but still a success. The echoes can be fixed by disabling the mic when listening to playback of embedded videos. And the awful disparities in volume can be finessed.
> I want to recommend a neat little standalone application that lets a podcaster/livecaster play various sound files. It's called Jingle Palette. A screenshot of the thing:
As can be seen in the labels, I had audio excerpts from video, text-to-speech items, and some radio-stingers. All at various wrong sound levels ...
The Hill reports the 'breaking' news that the White House has approved the public release of the MEMO. The MEMO was crafted by staff of the United States House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI).
From an earlier report ...
When Two Tribes Go To War ...
Taking this topic out from the conspiracy thread here at Friends and Foes. I want to look at how we discern tribalisms, membership, shibboleths and associated markers.
Define: William's tribe.
Define: Michael's tribe.
List: core beliefs of Michael's tribe (sacred cows)
List: core beliefs of William's tribe (sacred cows)
Once a core belief of Michael's / William's tribal affiliates is identified, plug the details into the above quote.
Denote, clearly: a core premise/belief of each of the two tribes identified above.
Provide at least one example from OL of each tribe's unquestioned core belief. Ask each of the tribe members whether or not they actually hold the identified belief.
Once a/the "core belief/s" of the respective tribes are identified, set up a "premise-checking" operation.
For another time.
Again, can we put a name to it? Can we define William's Tribe so that there is no mistaking what you mean?
I was alerted to this review by one of the folks I follow on Twitter, Robert Tracinski:
A small excerpt from the offending review with a bit of Rand news that I missed highlighted:
-- I am half-convinced that we already noted the Amsterdam theatre group's adaptation in an earlier OL post, but my attempts to find that note are foiled by the search facility, which has gremlins at the moment.
[Edit: gremlins vanquished:; the link goes to Michael's note of the earlier sighting ... ]
From Rick Ross's Cult Education Institute -- Getting Started:
See also the fascinating Objectivist Living topic, "Secret Objectivist Cult," a funny and intriguing thread started by Dear Leader seven years ago:
I am a big fan of Tony Ortega's blog The Underground Bunker. Tony is former editor of the Village Voice, where he began his decade-long examination of Scientology. Some readers here may have seen him on various episodes of the Leah Remini cable series "Scientology and the Aftermath.
Tony had a 'public service' announcement in an awful GQ article that dared to compare Trumpism to a cult ...
It seems to me, rightly or wrongly, that the word cult gets flung around with wild abandon at the best of times. My first immersion into "cult studies" came in the mid-nineties, when a couple of trends in psychotherapy met and melded with moral panic into a belief that an intergenerational and international "Satanic Ritual Abuse" cult was stalking children and adults (sound familiar?).
One of the many astute chroniclers of this time was Frederick Crews, whose "The Memory Wars" still stands out above the rest. I note in passing his most recent book, a stunning tour de force in my opinion. See Freud: The Making of an Illusion. I have mentioned his work a couple of times here on OL. He is the author of a book review just out, published at the online site of Skeptic Magazine, which is -- to say the least -- becoming massively controversial. See this critical blog entry to grasp the contours of the controversy. In a nutshell, the book reviewed suggests that Jerry Sandusky may be innocent ...
Anyway, back to the main subject, cult warning signs, and what to do or say and how to behave if you suspect someone is trapped in cult-thinking or a 'High Demand Group.' Here's another PSA:
-- finally (save for edits), what compelled me to post this rambling topic.
NB: I have never, ever used the word "shithole" on Objectivist Living, to the best of my memory (which unfortunately, may not approach the 'best memory' of the US President). I much prefer "socialist hellhole."
There are times when I miss the Objectivist Living stalwart "Adam Selene." I am definitely going to miss his wonkish, passionate opinions on the coming mid-terms. I put this blog entry up to have a place for OLers who are interested in tracking the campaigns, the shoddy and unconvincing polls, and the final night of returns. With the disbanding of President Trump's "voter fraud" commission** we will have no executive guidance on where or how various states are vulnerable to rigging or other hinkiness.
In among the news-hoopla today, a few reports that stand out. This from The Week: A record-breaking 31 House Republicans won't seek re-election in 2018
A whopping 31 House Republicans will not be seeking re-election in November, NPR reports, including Rep. Darrell Issa (Calif.), who announced his impending retirement from Congress on Wednesday. The 2018 GOP exodus is a new record: The last time there was such a massive departure from Congress was when 28 Democrats left in 1994, and Republicans subsequently seized control.
Most significantly, Republicans in states won by Hillary Clinton are leaving in droves. "Vulnerable House Republicans would clearly rather call it quits than stand for re-election with a deeply unpopular agenda hanging over their heads," Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Tyler Law told NPR.
Democrats would need to flip 24 seats to take back the House, with the Senate being more of a long shot; in the upper chamber, Democrats have to defend 25 seats and pick up an additional three in order to take back the majority. A Washington Post/ABC News poll from November found that hypothetical Democratic candidates are favored by voters against their Republican counterparts 51 percent to 40 percent.
One of my favourite election handicapping sites is Decision Desk HQ, a relatively-nonpartisan group of wonks and dweebs. Their DDHQ 2018 House Midterm Forecast is a good place to come up to speed on the challenges and excitement ahead.
The 2018 House Midterm Election is bound to be one of the more interesting in recent memory. With Donald Trump in the White House, infighting on both sides of Congress, and an American public that is bursting at the seams we have a recipe for a perfect political storm. Keep your eye on this page, which houses our forecasts for all 435 congressional districts, and stick with us as we attempt to answer the ultimate questions: who will win majority control of the US House of Representatives?
Here is an image from that page:
Click on the image above to go to the fully interactive version of this image, where you can zoom in and examine each race's details and present-day forecasts. Eg,
-- another very good site is Ballotpedia. Here is a link to their comprehensive 2018 elections page.
** a welter of reports on the controversial commission and its end can be accessed here. Click the following for a snapshot ...
Prediction: surprise surprise!
One of the items I fish out of the general Russia Russia Russia hoopla is geopolitical strategy. In other words, setting aside the unproven allegations of the Trump-Russia 'collusion' grab-bag, and putting to one side the actual details of the "Russia hack" of the 2016 US presidential election -- leaving the residual "what is this administration's larger strategy with regard to Russia, its hopes and fears, its ambitions."
This is no easy task. The election campaign revealed just a few rules of thumb that a Trump administration would use in a new relationship.
Each of us will have an impression of just what President Trump hopes to achieve in relation to Russia between now and 2020. For me, having studied utterances of Michael Flynn and the many Russia/Putin statements from the president, it is to "get along," to cooperate where it serves American interests, and perhaps to let Russia back in from the cold by removing sanctions where appropriate. In an sense, it is a desire to move the 'deep state' off its suspicious foundations in order to make a better partnership with the Eurasian nuclear power.
(the 'deep state' I envision as the intersection of established policy [of the executive branch, including national security agencies] and law [from the legislature]; it is the entrenched state of affairs, the 'ship of state' -- a vehicle of praxis built up over time. The 'deep state' of course takes its orders not from a shadowy cartel, but from department policy as written, intelligence findings as transmitted, and law. Law as in the welter of official acts and regulations, eg, Magnitsky-related sanctions. The 'deep state' vehicle can be refitted and given new missions, but this takes time, time to install new commanders with clear mission statements, time to legislate and decree a change in direction, speed, goal and targets)
Having established their own briefs on facts and values, strategy and intelligence, law and practice, OLers might like me might have asked themselves the same set of questions -- not of the American 'vehicle' commanded by President Trump, but of the Russian ship of state.
What Russia wants.
-- that boring introduction done, here is a well-written analysis of Russian imperatives:
Russia’s Evolving Grand Eurasia Strategy: Will It Work?
NB: at 4200 words the article is not light reading. But I suspect readers will be better able to answer the question "What is a proper Russia policy for the USA?"
One person whose opinions I wish we could consult right now is the founder of Objectivism. Having a cold eye on the Soviet Union, a cold eye for any unfree state, a cold eye for dictatorships, Ayn Rand would likely be able to add moral clarity to the 'debates' about Russia Russia Russia.
A couple of folks here have contended that Rand would be enamored of Donald Trump, a notion I find preposterous. But I could be very wrong.
[Spelling and grammar plotzes fixed Jan 10, 2018]
President Trump, in his inimitable fashion, has pushed back against one of the central themes of Michael Wolff's breathless work of gossip, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The theme -- fanciful, false, 'fake' or not -- is that Trump's White House was staffed with more than a few folks who view the man in the Oval Office as unfit for the job, lacking the qualities of mind that one should expect.
This is not a new theme.
Here is an article in Statnews last year that tried (and failed?) to 'measure' a difference between a younger and older Trump's vocabulary and fluency.
Trump wasn’t always so linguistically challenged. What could explain the change?
Research has shown that changes in speaking style can result from cognitive decline. STAT therefore asked experts in neurolinguistics and cognitive assessment, as well as psychologists and psychiatrists, to compare Trump’s speech from decades ago to that in 2017; they all agreed there had been a deterioration, and some said it could reflect changes in the health of Trump’s brain.
The author of the Statnews May 2017 article helpfully includes several brief video excerpts -- from 1987 and 1991, and from a more recent video of the President speaking extemporaneously.
... the decline of Grand Supreme Hoopla ...
Most readers will already of course be reacting to the events in Iran. As I use Twitter I realize that 40% of the 'factness' of reported events is analysis and posturing. On the fourth day of protests, getting the fine grain of these events is not easy, since you have to plow through so much crap. Greta van Susteren tweeted a useful link to the VOA live blog. It is not a trove of details, but a terse timeline. Including President Trump's tweets.
The most awful analyses are coming from the so-called 'regressive left,' exemplified by the Max Blumenthal, who has become a heartless 'tankie' leftist. The kink in these folks hoses stems from their indoctrination at what I call Anti-Imperialist U (Amal Saad, Sharmine Narwani, Ben Norton, Rania Khalek, Caleb Maupin, and Max will use the occasion of the protests to curse other leftist-progressives, liberals and neo-cons -- not offering any cogent argument. Attack, attack). Party Men. They will be perfectly unmoved by any violent repression of the protests. I consider their awful behaviour a kind of cult sickness.
-- I follow a few rather manic Iranians (outside) who are using Twitter to tirelessly firehose individual videos and snapshots of events coupled to real time. It is an enormous crisis/opportunity for the leadership in Iran to show the world what it is -- to either embitter its young generation more deeply, or to relieve the repression and undertake some kind of major reform. In the meantime, a lot of sleeplessness.
A more spare and sober running commentary and occasional great media sampling is at Iranwire.
I feel a foreboding. I think the government will choose repression and it will be grotesquely out of order. Again. "Welcome back to the world, Iran. Show us what you are, and let's see if we can do more business."
-- some of the almost-screaming arguments I've seen are searching for the 'source' and 'leadership' or 'support' in the state for the protests. Rouhani says peaceful protest is a right.
Who has more to fear, the government or the young?
Elsewhere on Objectivist-Trumpism Living, the Republican run-off between Luther Strange and Roy Moore was highlighted.
It made me wonder just what qualities and policies an Objectivish person might celebrate in the Republican candidate for the December 12 special Senate election.
I have narrowed it down to 24 attributes exemplified in direct quotes from the man ...
"Homosexual conduct should be illegal"
“We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”
"Now, I haven't seen one thing in the press about this, and yet the President of the United States will not produce his birth certificate [...] That's very strange indeed. Why we don't hear about it — because the press won't report it."
"We have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kind of immoral things happening because we have forgotten God.”
“False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for"
“I want to see virtue and morality returned to our country and God is the only source of our law, liberty and government”
"I'm sorry but this country was not founded on Muhammad. It was not founded on Buddha. It was not founded on secular humanism. It was founded on God,"
“[Islam is] a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution”
“Just because it [homosexual behaviour is] done behind closed doors, it can still be prohibited by state law. Do you know that bestiality, the relationship between man and beast is prohibited in every state?”
“There is no such thing as evolution. That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that.”
“Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”
"When we forget God, we lose the only true basis for morality and ethics, and we are cast upon the shifting sands of moral relativism in which anything goes, including lying, cheating and stealing."
“God’s laws are always superior to man’s laws.”
“Buddha didn’t create us. Mohammed didn’t create us. It’s the God of the Holy Scriptures. They didn’t bring a Quran over on the pilgrim ship, Mayflower. Let’s get real. Let’s go back and learn our history.”
“You think that God’s not angry that this land is a moral slum? How much longer will it be before his judgment comes?”
"God is the only source of our law, liberty and government,"
"The free exercise clause of the constitution does not apply to any religion but Christianity."
"Anytime you deny the acknowledgement of God you are undermining the entire basis for which our country exists."
“Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress”
“We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some scripture or is backed by scripture.”
“‘It was the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America that Christianity ought to be favored by the State’”
“There are communities under Sharia law right now in our country. Oklahoma tried passing a law restricting Sharia law, and it failed. Do you know about that?”
"But to deny God — to deny Christianity or Christian principles — is to deny what the First Amendment was established for. The rights of conscience are beyond the reach of any human power; they are given by God and cannot be encroached on by any human authority without a criminal disobedience of the precepts of natural or revealed religion."
From the pack of survey mavens and rational inquirers at Pew Global, released December 1st under the headline "Worldwide, People Divided On Whether Life Today Is Better Than In The Past." Full results and toplines.
See also this rendering of the economic co-efficient (excepting the USA).
Some thoughts from the author of 'The Righteous Mind,' Jonathan Haidt (see OL mentions here), at Spiked online:
The Fragile Generation
-- my favourite conceptual creep is with the weasel-term "Fake News." Where the species-genera distinction is obscured mightily.
On an unrelated note, "Hate whomever you want. It's your right." Lauren Southern bashes back at micro-aggressions from the folks at Reason TV.
I came across an entry at the place called "Rational Wiki." The biases of the wiki are evidently left-wing, if not progressive, if not evul. Ostensibly ...
Here's the loaded language page header (click through). One of the more fraught uses of 'prejudicial language' is identified as "snarl words." Isn't using 'snarl words' part of the fun of online discussion?
-- surveying the Wiki site's entries, it made me think of a kind of weight in Ayn Rand's language in both fiction and non-fiction. Is there anything objectively wrong with using heavily-laden emotive words in argument? Doesn't using so-called loaded language offer a short-cut or end-point of a long line of reasoning?
Why not 'snarl' at ideological 'enemies'?
Readers will have seen this week one tyrant near the end of his reign -- Mugabe in Zimbabwe, who will likely be impeached next month -- and may have speculated on what the ruckus in Saudia Arabia portends for the family autocracy there (setting aside humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen).
I've been following the activist Iyad el-Baghdadi for quite a while on Twitter. He was jailed and expelled from Saudi Arabia and found refuge in Norway, after having become a stinging thorn in the side of autocrats throughout the Arab world. As he added entries to his "Arab Tyrants Manual" his relative fame/notoriety/danger grew. Readers here may be interested to know of his self-identification as an "Islamic Libertarian."
Long story short, he has launched a new project that I like the looks of ... he is wicked smart, incisive, funny and informed. Here we get a close look at Saudi Arabia's failures as a regime. Not as much zany fun as an hour with Loren Lockman, but hey.
Here's the Soundcloud embed:
Here I add a striking video that depicts the relentless economic development of the alternative Saudi Arabia, the jewel of the Emirates, Dubai.
Glorp Glorp Glorp. Madame Macron is a pedophile. They never stop. Everyone knows that.
Elsewhere on the blog ...
Here is the promised video+audio of Milo Yiannopoulos discussing his youthful sexual activity, through the lens of a provocative gay man, with material from two podcasts, one internet radio show, and a press conference ...
Another repulsive mass-murder in America. Another 'type' of and motive for killing, this time a "creepy" and militant atheism -- at least according to some media outlets. Our old pal Baxter Dmitry adds a bit of fey canoes ...
Texas church shooting – Facebook rants of ‘creepy’ gunman Devin Kelley, 26, who preached about atheism before killing 26 churchgoers
Devin Kelley, 26, who carried out the worst mass shooting in Texas' history, ranted on Facebook about churchgoers being 'stupid'
Classmate Nina Rosa Nava write on Facebook that the mass murderer used to rant on the social network about his atheist beliefs.
She said: “He was always talking about how people who believe in God were stupid and trying to preach his atheism.” The man who shot and killed 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday is reported to be a creepy, crazy, and weird outcast who preached atheism online.
TEXAS CHURCH SHOOTER WAS SJW ATHEIST WHO HATED CHRISTIANS
Learn the truth about the Texas church massacre
Infowars.com - NOVEMBER 6, 2017
Real News with David Knight: The Texas church gunman who killed 26 and injured 24 others in Sutherland Springs Texas was an atheist SJW who specifically targeted Christians in the despicable rampage.
Texas Church Shooter Being Identified As An Atheist On The DNC Payroll Is Fake News
Shawn Rice — November 5, 2017
Here are examples of people sharing the fake news on social media.
Texas Church Shooter Was Antifa Member Who Vowed To Start Civil War
November 5, 2017 Baxter Dmitry
The gunman who opened fire inside a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, has been identified as Devin Kelley, an Antifa member who vowed to start a civil war by “targeting white conservative churches” and causing anarchy in the United States.
Devin Kelley, who killed at least 27 people and injured many more, was one of two shooters in the church, according to eyewitnesses, who also report Kelley carried an Antifa flag and told the churchgoers “this is a communist revolution” before unloading on the congregation, reloading several times.
Classmates of Texas Gunman Reveal the Unsettling Things He Said Leading Up to Church Attack
BY REID MENE
Sunday afternoon, Devin Patrick Kelley stormed into a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church and opened fire, killing 26 and injuring many more.
While there is no question Kelley was deranged in his actions, it turns out those who knew him prior referred to him as “creepy,” “crazy,” and “weird.”
But Kelley's most well-known quality was his distaste for religion, with some referring to him as the first atheist they'd ever met. Just prior to the shooting, a number of his classmates from New Braunfels High School said they had deleted him as a Facebook friend because they couldn't deal with his hateful posts all the time.
UPDATE: Sutherland Springs Gunman Devin Kelley Wore “All Black” – Facebook Page Suggests He Was Diehard Atheist, CNN Fan
by Joshua Caplan
According to his now deleted Facebook page, it appears Kelley was a fan of CNN and Atheism.
These are the Facebook likes of the shooter, as being reported by Heavy and other outlets.
Remember the Panama Papers -- the leaking of millions of financial documents, some of which showed the lengths some big players will go to in evading taxes and financial supervision?
There is a new tranche of unveiled financial documents in town.
An investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has turned up a wide range of financial hanky panky. Here's a brief video: The Paradise Papers – Secrets Of The Global Elite
Although a story featured elsewhere at OL was mu grokked to extract a vast plot of Fey Canoes, the Trump administration is also featured ...
-- in other Trump-Russia news ...
Key words: Veselnitskaya, Magnitsky, Quid Pro Quo, Mueller ...
A Twitter List by wsscherk is my compilation of accounts our dear Leader follows. This post originally was a summer test of embedding such a thing on a page, which I did later do with both the Salon and anti-Salon lists elsewhere.
Sorry if Michael felt his privacy invaded -- this post was put on a "Publish later" schedule and forgotten about until it popped up.
In any case, Twitter Lists are a means to narrowly focus and sample tweets from interest groups, subject areas, kooks and crazies, and so on. Here is a link to how I organize my lists. Some are essential, some are works in progress. I like to dip in during my Twitter encounters ...
Mike LaChance is a contributor to the website "Legal Insurrection." His article "25 Not Salon-Approved Conservatives Worth Following on Twitter" wryly comments on an article at boo-hiss Salon.
So I made a Twitter list.
-- both LaChance and Salon writer Taylor Link address the point of 'the bubble,'' AKA 'information silos,' a tendency to consume news and commentary drawn only from a pool of like-minded people. One of the things I bear in mind as a Twitter consumer. Extend my purview, and all that.
Here's LaChance's 25 embedded:
A Twitter List by wsscherk
I am intrigued by Regi Firehammer's article on Evolution, which is published at USAbig.com. With his permission, I have re-published it at my website with my annotations, suggestions and notes. I will keep this blog entry locked until I have finished the first set of notes. Below is the essay as it stands.
-- here is my annotated version as published. My work is incomplete now mostly complete, although the frame will 'update' if the work proceeds and I revise the file. Thanks, Regi, for the opportunity to reason. The direct link to the file is http://wsscherk.hostingmyself.com/0SCRN-CPZ/FirehammerOnEvolutionRevised.html