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posted by janrinok on Sunday January 16, @10:21AM   Printer-friendly
from the By-the-inch,-it's-a-cinch-but-a-mile-takes-a-while dept.

We've previously discussed ( https://soylentnews.org/article.pl?sid=21/12/11/1847236 ) how it becomes impossible to reverse the polarization of a community once their differences become too great, and how that plays out both here at SN and in the wider world. Science Blog has a piece ( https://scienceblog.com/527745/computer-model-seeks-to-explain-the-spread-of-misinformation-and-suggest-counter-measures/ ) about a PLOS paper titled "Cognitive cascades: How to model (and potentially counter) the spread of fake news" ( https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0261811 ) which uses an interesting computer model to explore how this actually happens.

The model demonstrated that if the new information is too much at odds with a person's existing belief, it will be ignored. Furthermore, if that belief is connected with the person's identity, their current belief will be strengthened as a defense against cognitive dissonance. Interestingly, though, a succession of new information that gradually nudge the person to adjust their beliefs can, over time, cause the person to adopt a belief that is very different from the one they started with. This sounds like how psy-ops manipulate targets to accept extreme views.

What was the gradual change of ideas that have led national political parties to be ever more different from one another, and who fed them those messages?


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by darkfeline on Sunday January 16, @12:47PM (6 children)

    by darkfeline (1030) on Sunday January 16, @12:47PM (#1213109) Homepage

    >is critical thinking

    Unfortunately no. Humans just can't overcome their innate irrationality, at least not consistently. There are plenty of contemporary examples of esteemed individuals who clearly have critical thinking faculties and yet fall victim to "misinformation". As a bonus, there are examples for every side of every COVID-19 topic, so everyone can participate in this exercise. And if you feel there are no examples against your chosen side and you fancy yourself a critical thinker, you might want to do a bit of soul searching; you'll find an example right under your nose.

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  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @07:10PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @07:10PM (#1213205)

    “Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty” Albert Einstein

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @07:57PM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @07:57PM (#1213228)

    100% correct, and I see it as based in ego. I think the pandemic is causing human nature in people to tend toward survival mode. I'm seeing worsening of "me me me, screw you" in US "society", and probably much of the rest of the world.

    To oversimplify, if we look at the human brain as 2 hemispheres, with one being more imagination and creativity where much of the ego is, and the other side rational ("critical thinking"), the more emotional / impulsive side wins out in crises.

    I also think the speed of information / communication (and therefore misinformation and miscommunication) plays into the more impulsive / ego side.

    The more rational side is much slower acting. "Sleep on it" is a great old snippet of wisdom. It means: don't make impulsive decisions, rather, give your brain time to process all of the complex data. Huge supercomputers take time to calculate pi, or DNA, or whatever. We don't just stop the machine and take whatever it has at the moment (I hope we don't!)

    The incredibly wise founders / framers of the USA understood that, and that's why they formulated a republic that became one of the greatest nations on earth. The sheeple are too gullible, too easily influenced, and as we've seen over and over, make very bad decisions. The hope was and is that no matter who eventually wins elections, that the process hopefully filters, such that any of the final candidates for political office will be pretty good.

    But those founder / framers didn't foresee the power of the speed and quantity of "information" of electronic "media".

    No matter your political leanings, pretty much everyone thinks the other side is misinformed. So at least we all agree on misinformation being a major problem.

    I think a very powerful component of the solution is to break up the media monopoly.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @08:11PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @08:11PM (#1213233)

      > the media monopoly

      The media monopoly doesn't exist in a vaccuum. It's the propaganda arm of corporations wealthier than most countries. Break them up? How?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @10:18PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @10:18PM (#1213262)

        International general strike.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @04:15PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 17, @04:15PM (#1213399)

          That will accomplish little. You need to get those corporations into court, and fuck them up in court. Silly strikes might sting them a little, but they'll shake that off and continue 'business as usual'. A determined court can destroy the biggest of corporations. A coordinated effort by a dozen of the most powerful governments will bring the biggest multinational to their knees in short order.

    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @08:58PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 16, @08:58PM (#1213247)

      >To oversimplify, if we look at the human brain as 2 hemispheres, with one being more imagination and creativity where much of the ego is, and the other side rational ("critical thinking"), the more emotional / impulsive side wins out in crises.

      It's nothing to do with the hemispheres, and everything to do with the amygdala and hypothalamus and executive feedback loops.

      >they formulated a republic that became one of the greatest nations on earth.

      They had the benefit of a largely uncontested and immensely wealthy land possessed of virtually every resource in an era when technology was sufficiently advanced for efficient extraction of that wealth. They had the biggest leg-up of any nation in the world. This is a correlation/causation issue and I'd posit that given the state of affairs today it's reflective of the fact that the system, like all governments before it, is the problem. The fact of the matter is that it is exploitable, and has been exploited, and has been so for decades largely unchallenged because of the immense inertia it possesses. And all the process does is obfuscate by implying itself as democratic while ingraining a self-perpetuating aristocracy who at the end of the day tends to be incompetent because there simply isn't a real metric to measure them against.