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Are conspiracy theories our right as citizens of a free country?


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4 hours ago, swansont said:

Logic and critical thinking didn't get them to their position. Logic and critical thinking won't get them out of it.

And in some cases that lack of logic and critical thinking could be the death of us.eg: Trump and his ignorant rantings with regards to vaccines.

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Censorship is a fine line, but surly even the most ardent advocate of free speech, would object to lies being told about them?

Open debate has to happen with both sides complying with the rules of debate. i.e. evidence is required, not just assertion. Logical fallacies and arguments of distraction cannot be permitted. The lar

But you have to be on Parler, which has 15 million subscribers vs 330 million for twitter. So that’s at least 315 million people not being reached.

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9 hours ago, studiot said:

What if an obviously incorrect 'theory' is repeated posed and simply wastes the time and efforts of others (perhaps many) and confuses those who are not so good at the subject ?

For example those few who continuous challenge the accepted value of Pi with an easily demonstrable incorrect value.

I think @studiot brought up this very interesting question, which I will paraphrase as "what are the limits then?".

Whether Pi is the accepted value is good enough for the sake of argument. But suppose conspiratorial thinking is addressed to set up an (economic) internet scheme to deprive people of their life's savings. Or with consequences for public health. Or with consequences for national security. Or... The possibilities are almost limitless, and we should be concerned. That's why I gave a positive point to @exchemist for trying to draft a set of criteria --that should be made available to people who don't know better-- even though I liked many other arguments exposed here.

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8 hours ago, swansont said:

Logic and critical thinking didn't get them to their position. Logic and critical thinking won't get them out of it.

 

 

Disagree.  Logic and critical thinking, in the context of an open debate, is the only viable solution.

The alternative is censorship, which simply doesn't work.  Censorship is an attempt to expunge incorrect ideas (or those that are perceived to be incorrect), from an "intellectual ecosystem" (society, a political discourse, etc).  The arbiter responsible for the censorship believes that it purifies the ecosystem and upholds its integrity.  But this is an illusory process, and serves only to strengthen the views that have been censored - be they right or wrong.

Take Trump, for example.  Throughout his presidency, Trump repeatedly made false statements about numerous issues.  For most of his presidency he was not censored by the media.  He was able to publicize his views on Twitter, through press conferences, etc.  Only late in his presidency did certain media outlets begin to make editorial decisions about how to censor Trump (cutting away from his speeches, informing the public about erroneous statements, etc).  Ultimately, after he left office, Trump was banned from Twitter, his primary means of direct communication with the American public.

The question is: did this censorship of Trump, this "purge", change anything regarding the views he promulgated?  I highly doubt that it did.  Those supporting Trump are now increasingly compartmentalized into their own self-reinforcing echo chamber (all 70 million of them).  Most have sought out alternative channels of communication to discuss their views - be it on Parler (which was removed from Apple's App store, but will be back soon) and other platforms.  So censorship will have had little effect on Trump supporters: they believe even more fervently than before, and feel justified in their perception of the mainstream media as a repressive liberal machine.  The next step after censorship would be arresting people that don't hold the correct views, but of course we don't do that in a free society.

So in short, censorship is counterproductive.  It excludes people from a dialogue that might otherwise have changed their minds.  Even if their minds aren't changed right away, being included in a group with different views has an effect on such people over time, such that they are become less extreme in their thinking and become more open to other possibilities.  

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5 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Disagree.  Logic and critical thinking, in the context of an open debate, is the only viable solution.

I wasn’t arguing against this, so your disagreement is misplaced. I said that the people advocating conspiracy didn’t get there with reason and logic.

8 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

The question is: did this censorship of Trump, this "purge", change anything regarding the views he promulgated?

It made it a lot harder for him to spread lies. If it changed nothing, why did he (and other people) complain?

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8 hours ago, swansont said:

Logic and critical thinking didn't get them to their position. Logic and critical thinking won't get them out of it.

 

 

I took this statement to mean you were suggesting another approach besides using logical and critical thinking.

What exactly did you mean by this statement?

4 minutes ago, swansont said:

It made it a lot harder for him to spread lies. If it changed nothing, why did he (and other people) complain?

How did it make it harder?  If anything it fueled his movement to find alternative pathways to continue their discussions. 

8 hours ago, studiot said:

Should a skilled orator like Hitler have been allowed free speech ?

In the context of Germany after WW1, merely censoring Hitler would have accomplished nothing.  The deep rooted causes of Nazism: economic despair, widespread racism, an indignant national psyche - all of these would have manifested regardless of one particular leader, and censorship would never have been able to quell it.  

8 hours ago, studiot said:

What about this lot ?

 

Neo nazis are a group that espouse a primitive racist ideology that I believe most modern citizens reject.  To censor them would be to validate them as powerful, and to me they are not.  

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49 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

How did it make it harder? 

This isn’t a thread about Trump, but I for one have barely heard a word from him since his accounts were suspended. His multiple tweets per day are no longer driving news cycles. His lies are no longer cascading through the ether misinforming people who don’t actively pay attention to specifics. 

Surely this isn’t a good faith question? If it is, I can probably come up with 7 other ways the deplatforming of Trump has made it harder for him to get his message out... but this isn’t a thread about him (despite being peripherally related). 

Come to think of it, why is this thread in the suggestions, feedback, and support section??

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10 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

I took this statement to mean you were suggesting another approach besides using logical and critical thinking.

What exactly did you mean by this statement?

You were talking about open debate, where everybody should be using reason and logic, and presenting evidence. The conspiracy theorist will not have anything to say that complies.

But I was talking about actually convincing them they are wrong. Facts will not sway them, because they deny the validity of the facts; it's all part of the conspiracy. 

10 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

How did it make it harder?  If anything it fueled his movement to find alternative pathways to continue their discussions. 

And have they found such pathways?

 

 

10 hours ago, iNow said:

Come to think of it, why is this thread in the suggestions, feedback, and support section??

The title and OP suggested either politics or support, rather than the lounge, where it was improperly posted. I chose support because we are part of the group that "censors" conspiracy discussion (by locking threads when evidence is absent) and these discussions often go in that direction. This one hasn't, mostly.

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Censorship is a fine line, but surly even the most ardent advocate of free speech, would object to lies being told about them?

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People can believe and promote whatever beliefs they like but I do think there are or should be obligations for people holding positions of responsibility and trust, including journalists to investigate and report factually and news editors to make clear the difference between reporting and opinion.

We have large parts of communities disbelieving the existence or seriousness of the climate problem - profoundly important to our future - because people we rely on to know the difference between fact and fiction chose to promote conspiratorial BS. The US experienced an attempted coup, because organisations that promote themselves as the Fourth Estate, the essential guardians of Truth and Democracy promoted conspiratorial BS. These were not grass roots movements of people holding their own beliefs but conspiracy theories presented and promoted as factual by people holding positions of trust as , with fiduciary duties, who should and mostly did know better.

Journalists and news editors, like people holding high Offices, should have and abide by minimum standards - and be held accountable.

Edited by Ken Fabian
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30 minutes ago, Ken Fabian said:

Journalists and news editors, like people holding high Offices, should have and abide by minimum standards - and be held accountable.

Agreed: That would have the main journalists in the Australian editions of Sky News locked up.....

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15 hours ago, Ken Fabian said:

Journalists and news editors, like people holding high Offices, should have and abide by minimum standards - and be held accountable.

Yet it's telling, how much preparation was made for the acquittal of D Chauvin...

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1 hour ago, VenusPrincess said:

You are a victim of this as well.

I'm sure you have some unevidenced position that lets you define "this" in a way that's only meaningful to you. Your statement has no reasoning behind it, it's vague and retaliatory, and just like conspiracy arguments, it has no evidence to lend it credibility. Or were you waving your hands goodbye?

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4 hours ago, VenusPrincess said:

You are a victim of this as well.

I think everyone has issues they respond to emotionally rather than logically. 

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And have they found such pathways?

Of course.  It's not difficult.  There are numerous avenues, existing prior and subsequent to the recent censorship, for those not validated by the mainstream to discuss their views.  Parler, for one, is back in full effect. 

Yes, the yard signs have come down, Trump isn't on the nightly news anymore, and I'm sure we're all a lot less irritated, but regardless of our own brief respite from his ramblings, the recent censorship of Trump has proven to the Trumpists that everything they originally thought was true: the government is out to get them, the tech giants are in it with George Soros, Christians are being persecuted, etc. 

This is why, from a purely utilitarian standpoint, censorship does not work.  Unless you want to go full Stalin and start imprisoning people for their ideas, people with all different views have to be included in the discussion. 

To reiterate my previous statement, I believe that attempting to purge others from the discussion for holding different perspectives will only strengthen their resolve; while inviting them to participate in the discussion has a greater chance of moderating their views and eventually changing their minds.  

Below is a post from a Trump supporter.  This is how they think.  The media played right into Trump's hands by censoring him.  70 million people. 

 

Screenshot_20210422-202351.jpeg

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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As a counterpoint, there is the illusory truth effect where folks have the tendency to believe false information after repetitive exposure. Recent studies have looked into the effect of facebook (and other social media) to strengthen misconceptions and it seems that they have a great effect in spreading and strengthening belief in false information. Only the most implausible info ("the Earth is a perfect square" was an example) seem to be unaffected.

In other words, uncontrolled spread is not only likely to strengthen the resolve of those who believe it, but is also an entry point for folks to be sucked into these alternative realities. We have seen how spread of those lies not only created some of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, they also pushed it into a bigger platform resulting in unprecedented spread.

I have sincere doubt that allowing them to spread will change anything on the persecution complex of the conspiracy theorists (it seems to be part of the their identity).

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29 minutes ago, CharonY said:

As a counterpoint, there is the illusory truth effect where folks have the tendency to believe false information after repetitive exposure. Recent studies have looked into the effect of facebook (and other social media) to strengthen misconceptions and it seems that they have a great effect in spreading and strengthening belief in false information. Only the most implausible info ("the Earth is a perfect square" was an example) seem to be unaffected.

In other words, uncontrolled spread is not only likely to strengthen the resolve of those who believe it, but is also an entry point for folks to be sucked into these alternative realities. We have seen how spread of those lies not only created some of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories, they also pushed it into a bigger platform resulting in unprecedented spread.

I have sincere doubt that allowing them to spread will change anything on the persecution complex of the conspiracy theorists (it seems to be part of the their identity).

The only way to circumvent that would be to regulate the internet as a whole, with some predetermined arbiter (a government agency) determining what information people are allowed to peruse.  Simply not feasible in a free country.  

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4 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

The only way to circumvent that would be to regulate the internet as a whole, with some predetermined arbiter (a government agency) determining what information people are allowed to peruse.  Simply not feasible in a free country.  

Not really. You could allow private companies to make their own decisions to allow or not allow certain content on their sites. That way you have to seek out the false information, which will be done disproportionately by those who already believe it.

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1 hour ago, Alex_Krycek said:

Of course.  It's not difficult.  There are numerous avenues, existing prior and subsequent to the recent censorship, for those not validated by the mainstream to discuss their views.  Parler, for one, is back in full effect. 

But you have to be on Parler, which has 15 million subscribers vs 330 million for twitter. So that’s at least 315 million people not being reached.

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21 hours ago, Alex_Krycek said:

The only way to circumvent that would be to regulate the internet as a whole, with some predetermined arbiter (a government agency) determining what information people are allowed to peruse.  Simply not feasible in a free country.  

That's a non-sequitur; a predetermined arbiter is, by definition not free... :doh:

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21 hours ago, zapatos said:

Not really. You could allow private companies to make their own decisions to allow or not allow certain content on their sites. That way you have to seek out the false information, which will be done disproportionately by those who already believe it.

Moreover, sites that keep a high quality of information could get a better reputation (for most, the conspiracy theorists will obviously demonize it). That alone could curb spread of misinformation. Moreover presence of certain content together with the algorithms these platforms use to keep users engaged have shown to present users with increasingly extreme misinformation which could be a path toward radicalization.

So if the social media sites kept that content off (or changed their algorithms) it could benefit the situation without government control.

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On 4/22/2021 at 11:22 PM, zapatos said:

Not really. You could allow private companies to make their own decisions to allow or not allow certain content on their sites. That way you have to seek out the false information, which will be done disproportionately by those who already believe it.

Which they do currently.  However, FB, youtube, twitter, etc do not generally censor any information unless it promotes violence.  Other sites, such as Parler, have risen up specifically to cater to communities that feel they are maligned, such as the right wing.

12 hours ago, dimreepr said:

That's a non-sequitur; a predetermined arbiter is, by definition not free... :doh:

Which is why I said it wouldn't be possible in a free country.  

11 hours ago, CharonY said:

Moreover, sites that keep a high quality of information could get a better reputation (for most, the conspiracy theorists will obviously demonize it). That alone could curb spread of misinformation. Moreover presence of certain content together with the algorithms these platforms use to keep users engaged have shown to present users with increasingly extreme misinformation which could be a path toward radicalization.

So if the social media sites kept that content off (or changed their algorithms) it could benefit the situation without government control.

Very hard to come by, these days.  It's very difficult for the average person to adequately vet all the information that is presented.  That's why emotional trust in the messenger overrules the information factor.  Since most people do not have the time or capability to sift through all the shards of data coming at them and construct a coherent picture, they place their trust in a messenger.  This is why Fox News works, and Trump, and Alex Jones.  People place trust in a personality, not the information.  It doesn't matter how wrong Trump is on the information - the emotional trust factor overrules it all and makes his followers feel safe.   

IMO, there are only a few sites out there that have a high quality of information in terms of trustworthiness:  The Hill, The Intercept, and The Guardian; but even these are susceptible to bias sometimes.  The Guardian omits facts from their political stories sometimes, especially if it relates to police shootings.  The NY Times has a corporatist bias, and they generally twist the narrative to fit their own purposes, especially if Bernie Sanders or progressives are involved.  Politico has a conservative leaning bias.  Bloomberg is corporatist, and so on. 

That's why I stand by the idea that critical thinking and open debate are essential.  The higher the critical thinking, the better the ability to parse information, to compare and contrast narratives from various sources, to recognize the inherent biases in a media organization, to see past the bias to what is probably the underlying truth, etc.      

 

Edited by Alex_Krycek
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28 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

However, FB, youtube, twitter, etc do not generally censor any information unless it promotes violence

https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/
 

Quote

* Nudity or other sexually suggestive content. 

* Hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on an individual or group. 

* Content that contains self-harm or excessive violence. 

* Fake or impostor profiles. 

* Unauthorized sharing of intellectual property.

* Spam.

...and others

 

33 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

emotional trust in the messenger overrules the information factor

Agreed

33 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

critical thinking and open debate are essential.  The higher the critical thinking, the better the ability to parse information, to compare and contrast narratives from various sources

Agreed again

34 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

only a few sites out there that have a high quality of information in terms of trustworthiness

Thank you for sharing the sources you personally have emotional trust in. Here’s a more comprehensive / objective summary:

https://www.adfontesmedia.com/interactive-media-bias-chart/

 

 

image.png

You’ll find the Hill far more right than politico, and “corporatist” isn’t one of the available filters. Sounds like a key term you’d find on Breitbart, though. 

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1 hour ago, iNow said:

https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards/


You’ll find the Hill far more right than politico, and “corporatist” isn’t one of the available filters. Sounds like a key term you’d find on Breitbart, though. 

"Corporatist" is a term referring to any narrative supports the interests of corporations over voters - for example, a narrative that advocates for a lower corporate tax rate but disparages the idea of higher wages as "impractical". 

Quote

 

* Nudity or other sexually suggestive content. 

* Hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on an individual or group. 

* Content that contains self-harm or excessive violence. 

* Fake or impostor profiles. 

* Unauthorized sharing of intellectual property.

* Spam.

 

There isn't any mention of "false" information here.  

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21 minutes ago, Alex_Krycek said:

“Corporatist" is a term referring to any narrative supports the interests of corporations over voters

Corporations and the people within them aren’t monolithic in the way you enjoy implying. Also, you’re apparently using a nonstandard definition of the term. 

 

image.thumb.png.01e05a02be7532ab99e572b9fa2ee659.png

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