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MAY 17

Fake News - Alternative Facts - Threat to Democratic Debate

We have seen a lot about “fake” news, “alternative” facts?

• Two main elements – subjective reality v objective reality

What does the idea we are living in a “post” truth world really mean?

• Lose sight of objective facts and the we are in a world of opinion…
• Opinion does not have to be grounded..
• Social media makes manipulation easy, bots, AI…
• Echo chambers of opinion…


• Low Inertia social media – one to many – belief v fact – what sounds real, is real if it resonates with your prior beliefs
• Confirmation bias – we see most of what we believe the be the case
• Deliberate falsehood and their impact? Lies, damn lies, statistics and alternative facts…
• I have been treated worse than any politician in history.
• I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
• Clinton is running a child pornography ring out of a pizza shop..
• Clinton has no stamina, lock her up.
• Perverting the course of justice is what others do.
• Dismissing argument as “just” politics as opposed to dealing with the issues raised.
• When we differ if we can’t agree a framework on what we mutually see as facts (even if we disagree with any given fact) we must agree that the agreed facts have to be dealt with in some way.

So you think democracy itself is threatened by these trends?



• Post truth can become pre-truth say something often enough, in enough different ways and the reality around accepted wisdom shifts, particularly around complex causal links.
• The Chinese took our jobs.
• Carrier have kept the job in USA due to Trump.
• Ford and investing more in USA.
• No collusion with the Russians so why do we need an investigation.
• Excess debt causes house price inflation or house price inflation cause too much debt
• What you believe about why things happen influences what you do about them or what you support in terms of leadership action.
• Believe all Muslims pose a security threat, banning them is easy – if you believe, or have been conditioned to believe, all Muslins are a security threat.

What about science and technology?


• In the world of marketing, markets and religion maybe what people believe is all that matters, I am a Christian – Buddhist – Muslim, on the other side of an act of faith proof does not matter, on this side proof is not possible, this is worth what someone is willing to pay.
• There are objective truths that will bite at some point, vaccines work, the scientific method matters, ecosystems decline – objective reality, for example gravity, cannot be ignored or changed by spin.
• The trouble starts when the way we think in the subjective world is applied to the objective world.
• We might wish the Moon is made of green cheese, or that I had more people at my inauguration than anyone prior but the object facts remain – the worry is that such errors have a cascading influence on many decisions. We don’t need to carry food supplies on the trip to the Moon would be a serious problem for any travel plan.



So the main Points?

• Alternative facts should come with a health warning they are bad for democracy, the quote that the end of the next link:
• “[Our] capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but our inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.”


• And finally, from the BBC.


tags: fake news, alternative facts, democracy conflict
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