Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

Play game – fight fake news

Build your resistance to disinformation by playing the game Bad News, created by a team of experts.  Here is a review of it.

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February 23, 2018 Posted by | fun, information, politics | , , | Leave a comment

I can haz all ur votes

“…wealth of information creates a poverty of attention…”

— Herbert Simon, a noted economist, 1971

Start by checking out the chart in the middle of the article below, depicting increasing U.S. political polarization.  Then read the article to see how the internet led us there.

It’s a huge problem that is getting worse.

Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis

An economy based on attention is easily gamed

Nov 4th 2017 |The Economist

 

January 27, 2018 Posted by | information, news, politics, sociology | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

If there is an emotion involved in acquiring a belief, there is a much lower chance of changing it, even if it is a false belief.  And the excitement of getting a new social media  message seems to be a perfect way to cement information, true or not.  Think about it — do you have false beliefs that cannot be corrected by data?

Neuroscientist Tali Sharot has been investigating what determines whether someone can be persuaded by an argument. You can read about it in her book, The Influential Mind: What the Brain Reveals About Our Power to Change Others, or check out this article for a taste of what you can do to avoid getting stuck with false beliefs:

Why People Can’t Agree on Basic Facts

By TALI SHAROT | September 19, 2017 | Time magazine

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January 20, 2018 Posted by | behaviour, brain, decision making, emotions, neuroscience | , , | Leave a comment

How our biases divide us

This article explains the cognitive biases that are at work to divide “us” and “them”.  Since meditation weakens the power of these biases, the hope is that the more we meditate the more we can unite.  Even if the meditation part seems a bit far fetched, the description of the biases is very useful.

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Save America

Robert Wright | 10.08.17 | Wired

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October 10, 2017 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, 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

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

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

In this era of fake news all around us, detecting is a major concern, and it looks like we are not very good at it.  I like the definition:

“…bullshit is something that is constructed absent of any concern for the truth.”

As the article explains below,

“Bullshit is much harder to detect when we want to agree with it.”

Why bullshit is no laughing matter

Gordon Pennycook |06 January, 2016 | aeon Continue reading

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