Pragma Synesi – interesting bits

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

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

Your Smartphone Controls Your Mind

Apps are designed to maximize the amount of time you spend on them — even if that is wasting your precious time.  Tristan Harris explains in his TED talk:

How a handful of tech companies control billions of minds every day

And check out this article to see what he is planning to do about it:

Smartphones Are Weapons of Mass Manipulation, and This Guy Is Declaring War on Them

October 19, 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

The New Mind Control

… or why I am suddenly more confident in predicting a Hillary win.

The New Mind Control

The internet has spawned subtle forms of influence that can flip elections and manipulate everything we say, think and do

By Robert Epstein | Edited by Pam Weintraub | 18 February, 2016 | Aeon

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February 19, 2016 Posted by | behaviour, decision making, politics, psychology | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment