Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

Compendium of interesting bits I come across, with an occasional IMHO

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Two related articles on how people end up with such divergent views from the same set of facts, and how the gap between the two sides keeps getting larger.

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

Tali Sharot | September 19, 2017 | Time Magazine

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September 19, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Social media filter bubbles may not exist

It’s depressing to hear how rather than spreading ideas and views, the internet polarized people more — fault social media for feeding news that reinforces existing beliefs.  A new study has brought to light that this is not entirely true: we shoud be blaming old people and cable news instead.

Social media “filter bubbles” aren’t actually a thing, research suggests

Noah Kulwin | Apr 14, 2017 | Vice News

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April 17, 2017 Posted by | information, politics | , | Leave a comment

Beware of fake think tanks

It’s not just fake news you have to watch for, but also fake think tanks.  This article explains how they manage to fool people.

Fake Think Tanks Fuel Fake News—And the President’s Tweets

| 01.24.17 | Wired

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April 5, 2017 Posted by | information, politics | , , | Leave a comment

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

Good article.

How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail

January 1, 2017 Posted by | brain, decision making, information, psychology | , , | Leave a comment

Faking images and video

Can you believe your own eyes? It looks like we can’t even rely on that in the future.

Artificial intelligence is going to make it easier than ever to fake images and video

January 1, 2017 Posted by | AI, information | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, I’d lie to you

Scary. Really scary. A must-read.

Yes, I’d lie to you

Dishonesty in politics is nothing new; but the manner in which some politicians now lie, and the havoc they may wreak by doing so, are worrying

The Economist | Sep 10th 2016

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October 9, 2016 Posted by | information, politics, sociology | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to find anywhere on the planet

New, more accurate way of addressing places in the world — using a combination of 3 words.   What’s your address? Try it out at  (Helps if you use the satellite view, enlarge until you see the 9 meter squares, and “unpin”.)

How to find anywhere on the planet

Jul 2nd 2016 | From the print edition of the Economist

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July 29, 2016 Posted by | information | , , , | Leave a comment

Unreliable research

If you think you can rely on scientific research as truth, you’d be wrong, according to this article. I certainly will be much more skeptical of research from now on.  Well explained, a must-read article from The Economist:

Unreliable research:

Trouble at the lab

Scientists like to think of science as self-correcting. To an alarming degree, it is not

The Economist, Oct 19th 2013

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April 8, 2014 Posted by | information, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet

I didn’t realize so much data is available on the internet…wow.  From MIT’s Technology Review, December 3, 2010:

The 70 Online Databases that Define Our Planet

If you want to simulate the Earth, you’ll need data on the climate, health, finance, economics, traffic and lots more. Here’s where to find it.

April 23, 2012 Posted by | information, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

The Real News

News sources are invariably biased in what they report and how they report it. Some sources have more obvious slants (like Fox), some less (like BBC) — but all news has a slant. Some bias sneaks in from the reporter — after all, reporters are human — but what is more disconcerting is the profit-motivated bias.

The viewer/reader has a huge impact on what gets reported, after all, the more numerous the audience, the higher the profits of the media group. So you get news that is best suited for the “average” viewer/reader — dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. News that appeals to the basic human instincts like sex, scandals and gossip. Or news that would make the person feel good about themselves or the group they associate themselves with (like patriotism). News that finds someone else to blame. News that clearly delineates between “good” and “bad”.

Then of course the owners of the news source can provide a bias as a policy, and/or by hiring a sympathetic CEO/editor. Do you know what other industries the owner of the news you watch is involved in? (Like NBC universal, subsidiary of General Electric who’s also involved in arms manufacturing through their GE-Aviation subsidiary.)

And finally, the advertisers: they don’t like to put their ads within controversial subjects, or anywhere near a story that might make the readers/viewers be less receptive to their products. As in, it would be hard to sell caviar in an ad that follows a story of starving children.

So having a news source that is not supported by (and has no ties to) any company, nation or group would be much more in a position to report the REAL news. And now, here it is:

Watch their intro and spread the real news.

July 26, 2007 Posted by | information, news | Leave a comment