Breeding the Lies

January 27, 2017

Bright sunshine this Friday morning on California’s north coast, another beautiful episode in a respite from a way-rainy season, a gorgeous weather sequence in place supposedly until Tuesday.

Beyond the weather, our current public/political environment is overloaded with lying bullshit.
Dunce-douche Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, chair of the House Science Committee, last Monday pointed the lie to the liar (Vox): ‘“Better to get your news directly from the president. In fact, it might be the only way to get the unvarnished truth.”

(Illustration: M.C.Escher’s ‘Reptiles‘ found here).

Smith is a yuuge, atomic-powered asshole, so consider the source. In 60 years of political consciousness — I first seemingly became aware during the 1960 contest between JFK and Dick Nixon — there’s never been any kind of episode where plain, pure lying was tolerated by so many people, and the audacity of straight-faced lying, too. And in the face of actual, real truth.
Lying just to spew words…
This concluding bit from a piece last Monday at PsychologyToday about T-Rump’s lying-chaos on his inauguration crowd density — he’s actually unhinged:

Update: According to PBS, “On Tuesday, the president tweeted a photograph from the inauguration taken from an angle that accentuated the crowd and said he planned to hang the image in the press area of the White House.”

This indicates that Trump may not be intentionally lying but instead may actually believe his crowd was bigger (merely based on the evidence of his own experience).
While some may think this is more comforting, this is actually worse than him intentionally lying.
Not only does he seem oblivious to the shortcomings of personal experience (which can easily lead one astray), he is either unable to unwilling to revise his belief in light of contrary evidence.
In other words, he always trusts his own experience over and above evidence.
Not only does this mean that he can never realize when he is wrong about something, but it means that he is prone to delusion — and he is threatening to cut off the media if they contradict his delusions.

Scary if T-Rump was just an ordinary citizen, but as POTUS? Fuck me!
Worse still, T-Rump’s interview with ABC was bad, but what was unseen on TV was even worse. This apparently got cut, but came from the transcripts in a part about Chicago’s violence — via Mediaite this morning:

Trump then gave an example, saying that “when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.”
Trump soon clarified by saying, “They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech.”
That’s a startling revelation, but according to The Chicago Tribune, it’s completely false.
The Tribune dug into Chicago police reports from the time of Obama’s speech on January 10, and records showed that not only were there no shooting deaths during that time, there were no shootings at all.
One person was reportedly shot 20 minutes after the speech, but he survived.

The horror is combating the continuing outpouring of lying.
Briefly, there’s an explanation — a new study indicates social media online can make some of us even more narrow minded.
From last week:

Massive digital misinformation is becoming pervasive in online social media to the extent that it has been listed by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one of the main threats to our society.
Whether a news item, either substantiated or not, is accepted as true by a user may be strongly affected by social norms or by how much it coheres with the user’s system of beliefs.
Many mechanisms cause false information to gain acceptance, which in turn generate false beliefs that, once adopted by an individual, are highly resistant to correction.

Our findings show that users mostly tend to select and share content related to a specific narrative and to ignore the rest.

Yet there’s an antidote — another set of research indicates a breach in the arena of fake news and climate change. Titled “Inoculating the Public against Misinformation about Climate Change,” the open access study was published in the journal Global Challenges, and calls for an ‘inoculation.’
Via International Business Times, also last Monday:

One of the leading topics about which there is a plethora of misinformation is climate change, an issue whose effects are not limited to one country alone but have an impact on the entire planet and all life-forms on it.
And in a paper published Monday, researchers suggest using a psychological “vaccine” to inoculate the public against the damaging effects of misleading “myths about climate change.”
In a statement, the researchers from universities of Yale, George Mason, and Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said: “A new study compared reactions to a well-known climate change fact with those to a popular misinformation campaign. When presented consecutively, the false material completely cancelled out the accurate statement in people’s minds — opinions ended up back where they started. Researchers then added a small dose of misinformation to delivery of the climate change fact, by briefly introducing people to distortion tactics used by certain groups. This ‘inoculation’ helped shift and hold opinions closer to the truth — despite the follow-up exposure to ‘fake news’.”

And hope against the rump of ignorance:

Sander van der Linden, a social psychologist from the University of Cambridge and director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab, and lead author of the study, said: “We found that inoculation messages were equally effective in shifting the opinions of Republicans, Independents and Democrats in a direction consistent with the conclusions of climate science.
“What’s striking is that, on average, we found no backfire effect to inoculation messages among groups predisposed to reject climate science, they didn’t seem to retreat into conspiracy theories.
“There will always be people completely resistant to change, but we tend to find there is room for most people to change their minds, even just a little.”

A little is better than none — seemingly the whole country needs vaccinating…

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