Archives for category: manipulation

Is this the epitome of ‘click bait’?

Then why do I bother with it?

Because it illustrates perfectly the prevailing trend. How things change because of us.
How we – collectively, change the world around us.

At first, click-bait had been used by ‘fraudsters’. ‘Publishers’ who used to cram completely useless information under some very ‘enticing’ titles.


Now… you may say that the information about our galaxy – the Milky Way, being on a collision course with Andromeda – our closest galactic neighbor, is also useless. Maybe… After all, that will only happen after 4 billion years had already passed… Anyway, this time, the targeted public is rather different than before. More ‘scientifically minded’…
Which proves my point.
That using click-bait has become a lot more acceptable.

The new normal…

Which brings me to the next question.
How many of you are going to watch this?

https://fb.watch/eZRdlM0nNq/

Want to find more?
To figure out, on your own, why this trend worries me?

Read this. Well worth your time, I promise.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-trick-the-guilty-and-gullible-into-revealing-themselves-1399680248

Art – Esthetics – Philosophy.
Techne – Science – Manipulation.
Skills – Technology – Reality 2.0

Art is, maybe, the first form of interaction between us and the place we inhabit.
The first manner in which we ‘ingest’ that place, only to regurgitate it later. The first manner in which we learn about that place and the first manner in which we express what we have just learned.
Esthetics is how we make sense of art. How we organize our ‘first impressions’ regarding the ‘place’ we live in. How we ‘edit’ those impressions in order to make them more easily understandable.
Philosophy is what we made out during the artistic endeavor to learn. The never finished product put together by our ‘digestive system’ out of the artistic interactions we have had with ‘reality’.

Techne is what we do. The transformations we impose unto things in order to make them capable to satisfy our needs. Or our whims…
Science is the process through which we gather information. The information which becomes more and more necessary as our doings take us further and further away from the original reality.
Manipulation is what we do after we consider to have amassed enough information. After we have developed a certain understanding of the world and have decided that time has come for us to ‘take what’s rightfully ours’.

You know what ‘skills’ are. What we’re ‘good at’.
Technology is how we pass our skills to other people. So that we can work in concert. To coordinate our efforts.
The outcome of which is Reality 2.0. The reality we have brought about. The new reality which constitutes reality 1.0 for those currently alive.

2017

““How could you square that statement with legal abortion?” Durbin asked him. “Senator, as the book explains, the Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person for purposes of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the book explains that,” Gorsuch replied.

“Do you accept that?” Durbin asked. “That’s the law of the land,” Gorsuch answered. “I accept the law of the land, senator, yes.””

2022

“In a statement following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Sen. Collins expressed her dismay that Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh misrepresented their alleged respect for precedent and private conversations with her and in their confirmation hearings. “This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents,” she wrote.

Rolling Stone reported last month that Collins was deliberately manipulated by Trump officials into voting for Kavanaugh despite his judicial history indicating a liability to strike down Roe. The White House correctly predicted that as long as they “let the Susan Collins-es of the world think what they needed to think and hear what they needed to hear,” as one ex-official put it, the fence-sitters would fall in line and vote to confirm Trump’s nominee.”

2016

“My people are so smart — and you know what else they say about my people? The polls?” Trump asked a crowd at a Sioux Center, Iowa, rally Saturday. “I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that?”

“I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?” he said, referring to the major street in New York City that cuts through Manhattan’s large commercial district. “It’s, like, incredible.”

2022

“In its first hearing, the Jan. 6 committee last week played a clip of former Attorney General Bill Barr testifying that he told former President Trump that claims the 2020 election was stolen were “bullshit.” In its second hearing, the committee on Monday played several additional minutes of Barr’s testimony, during which he described unsuccessful effort to convince Trump that the election was legitimate.”

“Barr met with Trump again on Dec. 14. “He went off on a monologue saying there was now definitive evidence of fraud through the Dominion machines,” Barr said of a Dec. 14 meeting with Trump, noting that he gave Barr a report he said proves that the election was stolen and that he would have a second term in office. Barr said the report looked “amateurish” with no real evidence to support its claims that voting machines were rigged. Barr said he was “demoralized” after looking at the report. “I thought, boy, if he really believes this stuff, he has lost contact with — he’s become detached from reality,” Barr said.”

2022-06-24

“In voters, lack of expertise would be lamentable but perhaps not so worrisome if people had some sense of how imperfect their civic knowledge is. If they did, they could repair it. But the Dunning-Kruger Effect suggests something different. It suggests that some voters, especially those facing significant distress in their life, might like some of what they hear from Trump, but they do not know enough to hold him accountable for the serious gaffes he makes. They fail to recognize those gaffes as missteps.”

“Again, the key to the Dunning-Kruger Effect is not that unknowledgeable voters are uninformed; it is that they are often misinformed—their heads filled with false data, facts and theories that can lead to misguided conclusions held with tenacious confidence and extreme partisanship, perhaps some that make them nod in agreement with Trump at his rallies.”

“….. himself also exemplifies this exact pattern, showing how the Dunning-Kruger Effect can lead to what seems an indomitable sense of certainty. All it takes is not knowing the point at which the proper application of a sensible idea turns into malpractice.”

The first reaction, for the ‘average person’, is to ‘love’ this post.

The ‘normal’ reaction, for the ‘fact-checkers’ among us, is to ask ourselves:

Is this actually true?

Heidegger has something really interesting to say about the subject.
I’m gonna put it succinctly and bluntly.

None of us knows everything about anything. Not even about the most trivial thing.
Because the very nature of our knowledge and of our manner of expressing it – language, none of us is able to ‘put together’ even the simplest ‘absolute’ truth.

Hence, according to Heidegger, we have as many truths as there are people interested on the subject.

‘Then the African Proverb is a ‘lie’?’

Nope.

The African Proverb pictured above is a meta-truth.
Heidegger’s truths, as well as those discussed by Popper, all converge towards the ‘absolute’ one.
As each of the ‘people interested on the subject’ dig deeper, each of them gets closer to the kernel. Probably none of them will ever get exactly ‘there’ but their respective positions will become ever closer.

Meanwhile, there’s nothing like a ‘meta-lie’. As we had ‘truth’ and ‘meta-truth’.
A lie, any lie, is also a meta-truth.

We know – we are under the impression, more exactly, that we’ll never reach ‘the absolute truth’. About any subject, let alone the ‘absolute-absolute’ one. But we can conceive that there is one. Somewhere. At least about individual points of interest.

Do we even have the concept of an absolute lie?
What would that be? How could that even be expressed?

This being the reason for some of us being able to come up with so ‘plausible’ lies.
They put so much truth into their words that it becomes harder and harder for us to notice that the ‘proposed conclusion’ is misleading.

That, in fact, they are lying through their teeth.

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/#ObjeKnowThreWorlOnto

Putin advisers ‘too afraid to tell him the truth’ on Ukraine: US official
“Putin didn’t even know his military was using and losing conscripts in Ukraine, showing a clear breakdown in the flow of accurate information to the Russian president,” the official said.

There are two ‘things’ which collide here.

Dictators tend to drive away really competent people and those remaining tend to put the entire blame on the ‘guy on top’.

As many of you already know, I grew up in the communist Romania. Ruled by Nicolae Ceausescu, the dictator who ended up being shot on Christmas Day, 1989.

At 28, I was already familiar with the notion of ‘yes-people’. Decision makers who ruled our daily lives were surrounded by people who provided the ‘right’ answers, effectively isolating the decision makers from the reality.
This ‘development’ being the fundamental explanation for how all dictatorial regimes, including the communist ones, ended up in abject failure. For ‘how’, not for ‘why’ – but this is another issue.

After Ceausescu was toppled, I was absolutely flabbergasted when I first heard

‘He didn’t know what was going on. Had his close advisers kept him in touch with the real situation, he would have taken the proper decisions to rectify things’

Really?!?

Who had selected his ‘close advisers’?!?

Who prevented him from asking ‘a second opinion’? From stepping out of his office and ….

Who, step by step, had ‘created’ the ‘atmosphere’ which had driven all those unwilling to lick where ‘he’ had spat to flee, living ‘him’ surrounded by sycophants?

Sycophants attempting, after Ceausescu had been toppled, to pile all the blame on his shoulders…

I’m afraid we are witnessing a replay, with Putin as the lead character.

Let’s face it!

Santa is a lie.
A white one, indeed, but still a lie.

Then why do we continue to ‘confuse’ our children?
Because for as long as they will remain convinced that it was Santa who brought their presents, they will not pester us with their demands?
It’s easier for us to tell them ‘Santa didn’t consider you worthy enough’ than ‘we didn’t have enough dough’?
It’s a ‘subtle’ manner for them to learn that deception is acceptable? If driven by ‘noble goal’? And who gets to determine how low the benchmark for ‘noble’ must be set for a deception to become acceptable?

But the strangest thing pertaining to this habit of ours is the number of fake Santas hanging in the most peculiar places.
The one above, for instance…
Why would a sensible person – me, drill a hole in the middle of an otherwise pristine wooden door just because his wife loves to hang bearded figurines?

Meanwhile, this guy has become a permanent fixture. He’s been there for years …

Some of you will agree and some will say I’ve lost it.

First things first.

Socialism does take away liberties.
One by one. Under various pretexts.
I’ve learned this on my own skin.

Spending the first 30 years of your life under a communist regime teaches you a thing or two…

On the other hand, the meme above does have a certain ‘appeal’.
A significant number of people had their pensions slashed, watched their savings disappear and their jobs being exported. Health care and education have become exorbitant. Racism, xenophobia and hate have again risen their ugly heads and more and more people die at the wrong end of a gun. Of a gun ‘manhandled’ by ’emotionally distressed’ persons…

What’s going on here?
Why so many people’s lives are so badly ruined?

Fugazi can be used to describe a situation as “fucked up” or to describe an item as fake.

You see, “capitalism” stealing anything is a lie.
A blatant lie!

Capitalism cannot steal anything!

Socialism can rob you of your rights because it actually says it will do it.
Given the slightest chance, those who promote socialism will use the doctrine to ‘discipline’ their followers into a herd.

Capitalism doesn’t promote stealing!
Stealing is not condoned by any capitalist ideology while concentrating all decision making in the hands of the ruling coterie is the cornerstone of socialism.

‘If capitalism doesn’t condone stealing then why an increasing number of people end up penniless while so much money gets concentrated in such a small number of hands?!?’

Why are we living in such fugazi times?

Replace “capitalism” with ‘some (fake) capitalists’ and the text above will make so much more sense!

You see, what we have here is the perfect illustration of fugazi.
We are in a fucked up situation!
And instead of trying to solve it, some of us attempt to ‘fake it’!
And consequently make it worse…

Socialism won’t bring any respite!

Solving the current untenable situation starts with acknowledging its causes!
Its real causes…

Blaming the socialists for the errors committed because too much greed had been ‘expressed’ at ‘very high levels’ doesn’t solve anything.
Promising that socialism will making things right is just as malignant as blaming the socialists for the mistakes made by the greedy who have brought us where we currently are.

Only when we’ll stop faking it we’ll be able to look for solutions.
For workable solutions…

Oh, I almost forgot!
Don’t allow the ‘con-artists’ to convince you that social democracy is equivalent to socialism.
This is a thesis put forward by the same people who maintain that “republic” is good while “democracy” is bad.
And don’t allow the ‘other’ ‘con-artists’ to convince you that all wealthy people are bad and that (forced) “equality” will solve everything.

https://www.facebook.com/photo/?fbid=10220264321259677&set=a.10200798952597626
https://www.dictionary.com/e/slang/fugazi/
https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Manifesto.pdf
https://www.britannica.com/topic/democracy/Democracy-or-republic

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Most steps ‘forward’ had been made at the expense of those daring to put one foot in front of the other.
Fernao de Magalhaes and Marie Sklodowska Curie had been but two of the examples.

But what kind of ‘moving forward’ is to find yourself shackled en route to a plantation in the ‘Brave New World’?
Or nuked?

That’s the whole point.
How do you balance the urge to explore with the need to survive?

What convinced Fernao de Magalhaes – and his men, that it was a good thing – for them, at least, to climb aboard those primitive ships and attempt to reach the Indies by sailing towards the ‘wrong’ direction?
What made Marie Sklodowska Curie – and other scientists, overcome barriers previously considered insurmountable in their quest for knowledge? Putting themselves, and us, in great danger?

What made Giordano Bruno cling to his belief?

What made him so sure he was doing ‘the right thing’ when he “finally declared that he had nothing to retract and that he did not even know what he was expected to retract.”?

Fast forward to the XXI-st century.
Following in the steps of de Magalhaes, Bruno and Curie, we’ve explored almost all corners of the Earth, peered into the womb of the Universe, named the entire table of Mendeleev, and reached the present state of civilization.
In doing so, we’ve changed the composition of the atmosphere we breathe, polluted the water we drink, exhausted the soil which grows our food and, the worst, have soured whatever mutual understanding ever existed among ourselves.

After some 75 years of relative peace we’ve become more callous than ever.
Judging by what’s being said on TV, shared on social media… and, most importantly, by how we react when our fellow human beings are in danger. Or in need…

We refuse to wear a mask – because it doesn’t offer perfect protection and it has been mandated by the government.
We refuse to give up fossil fuel – because ‘it has not yet been scientifically proven beyond any reasonable doubt that all the global warming has been produced by us’.
We refuse to pay taxes – because they are ‘theft sanctioned by the government.’

All these in the name of ‘defending our God sanctioned liberty’…

We steal much of the help we send to those in need.
We pay those who work for us as little as we can, regardless of the consequences. And we declare, nonchalantly, that ‘greed is good’.
We continue to notice the skin color of those we interact with. And to pass judgement on them starting from this ‘piece of information’.
We continue to consider that women should ‘behave properly’ and ‘mind their own business’.

We allow ‘spin doctors’ into our minds. We welcome them, even. And let them ‘fine tune’ our biases…

How are we going to survive this huge amount of ‘progress’? That which we’ve brought upon our own heads?
When are the ‘spin doctors’ going to realize the Earth is finite? Not flat. Limited!

What are they going to do when the shit they’ve sown into our heads will finally hit the fan?
Where are they going to hide?

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I’ll start by stating that nothing becomes fact before somebody calling it so!

Doesn’t make any sense?
It’s not enough?
OK…

So ‘blue’ had become a fact only after people had invented a word for it…
It had existed before hand but we hadn’t noticed it – hadn’t spoken about it, more exactly, until we had a word for it. Until we had learned how to ‘measure’ it…

But what is a ‘fact’?
Something which is ‘real’?
And how do you determine if something is ‘real’ or not?
It either has ‘measurable consequences’ or your experience about it has been confirmed by somebody else.
A coffee table becomes a fact in the dark after you hit it with your shin and a meteorite ceases being a illusion the moment your hubby confirms he has also seen it.
No so complicated, was it?

‘But what about a propaganda movie? It that real? Can you consider it to be a fact?’

Excellent question, Watson!

The movie itself is real alright! A fact, indeed.
The fact that not everything it pretends to be real is true… is also a fact!
Savvy?

In fact, there are more facts waiting to be discovered than actual ‘happenings’.

Take the propaganda movie.
It has consequences.
Some people believe in its message. And act accordingly. Each of those actions becoming facts on their own.
Other people smell the rat hiding behind the screen. And act accordingly. Each of those actions being facts on their own.
The fact that those exposed to the same message more often than not chose to respond differently is a strong suggestion that facts – and reality itself, are not so straightforward as we’d like them to be.
As straightforward as most spin doctors pretend them to be…

‘You’ve been jabbering for sometime now but you haven’t yet come forward. What was the meaning of that ‘elusive’ title of yours?’

Liberty.
What is it?
A fact? A natural fact? Something which was given to us? Our natural status? Something others want to steal from us?
Something we’ve built/discovered together?
Or an ideal we’ll never be able to fulfill?

How about all three at the same time?

‘Are you nuts?’

A ball – a foot-ball, for example, has a certain degree of freedom. Put it on a table and it may roll in any direction it may choose. But will ‘never’ be able to fall through the table nor start to fly. ‘On it’s own’…
A helium balloon has another kind of freedom. If it’s tied down with a string it has the freedom to oscillate. If it’s ‘free’ it has the freedom to go up. For as long as it manages to hold on on enough helium, but that’s another thing. Another fact, if you will…

A society is free only if its members respect and defend, collectively, their freedoms. Their individual freedom and their collective freedom. For instance, Russia is a free country but its citizens are not as free as their neighbors, the Fins.
The moment Hong Kong went back to China, the city was no longer as free as it used to be as a British dominion. Yet its citizens have continued to be far freer than the rest of the Chinese citizens. For a while…..

Somethings – freedom, for instance, cannot be anything more than people think about them.

Others can.
Until people had invented X-rays, nobody could know how big were the roots of any given tooth.
Until Robert K. Merton had put together a more detailed analysis of it, the law of the unintended consequences was something people intuitively knew it was ‘real’ but nobody was fully aware of its real depth. Now, most of us agree that that depth is unfathomable. Yet some people still behave as if things were under control… Under their control…

Freedom, and all other rights we have enjoyed for sometime now, is only as wide – and only as deep, as we make it to be. As we agree among ourselves to make it.
For all of us!

Collective freedom as a fact.
In the sense that the freer communities have had a consistently bigger survivability rate than the more authoritarian regimes.
Ancient Athens had been able to navigate through more ‘dire straights’ than its arch-enemy, Sparta.
The Roman Empire has been established as a democracy, thrived as one for a while then failed abysmally as an autocracy.
Yes, the Egyptian empire did survive for millennia… only it had been ruled, succeedingly, by 33 dynasties. Practically, there had been 33 regimes, not one… And since there had been some 3100 years between its unification and it being incorporated into the Roman Empire… an average of 100 years per political regime cannot be branded as a real success… Specially in the early years, when the competition was…

A quick jump to the XX-th century will suggest the very same thing. All major wars – WWI, WWII and the Cold one, had been won by the freer societies.

So collective freedom, or lack thereof, has consequences. Is a fact.

On the other hand, freedom – the real version, the one that works, cannot be had/enjoyed but in a social context.
Nobody can be free on their own.
The emperors of yore – and the dictators of today, have been under the impression – illusion, more likely, that they could do whatever they pleased. That they were free. So free that they never hesitated to trample the freedom of their subjects. Only that freedom never lasted for long… it was soon replaced by the liberty of somebody else… And all these successive liberties have been exerted at the expense of those of everybody else.

Hence liberty, individual as well as collective, is not only a fact. It’s also a social construct.

What about the ‘elusive ideal’?

And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

Oops!
The only reasonable way to read this is ‘if you want to be free, you need to think straight’.
To find out what’s keeping you down and how to free yourself in a sustainable way.
How to free yourself in a manner which will add to the freedom of all others!

Cause if your increased freedom means the debasement of your erstwhile peers… things don’t look right…

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Good Old Politics used to be about identifying the common ground.
And making it wide enough to harbor the foundation for a stable – as in ‘sustainable’, future.
A future where ‘everybody’ could claim a place. As in ‘fulfilling the American Dream’.

Nowadays, politics is about identifying the most effective way to pull the rug from your opponents’ feet.

How wise is this?

How sustainable is it?

We learn from Michelle Obama’s book – Becoming, 2018, that her father, a blue collar worker, was the only breadwinner who provided for the family. A family of four, leading a decent life in a decent home. Who was earning enough to send both kids to school.
Is this still possible today? In America? The Land of Opportunity?

Trump got elected after a huge number of well paying blue collar jobs had been exported.
After wealth disparity had become ridiculous.

What convinced so many people into believing that Trump, the billionaire, was the answer to their plight?

Historian Nancy MacClean has just published “Democracy in Chains”, a book in which she looks at a group of ultra free-market thinkers who have been working to change the government systems of the United States since the 1950s. While Donald Trump was not part of their plan, MacLean says “there is no way Donald Trump would be in the White House were it not for their strategy”, which includes gerrymandering and taking control of the judiciary. She joined us for Perspective to tell us more.

No, this is not yet another post about Trump.
This is about Political Science.

You see, physics and chemistry are hugely important sciences.
Physics has taught us how to build planes. And atomic bombs.
Chemistry how to make life saving drugs. And deadly explosives.

And so on.
Science is nothing but a formalized method of gathering consistent information.
What we subsequently do with the technology built around the above mentioned ‘consistent information’ is something else.
It no longer depends on ‘science’.

It solely depends on us. On what plans we have for the future.
On how we – the ‘meaningful’ amongst us, to be more precise – chose to use the above mentioned stash of ‘consistent information’.

J. Robert Oppenheimer, the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, had eventually figured out that “Never before had mankind possessed destructive power that truly posed a threat to civilization“.

Nowadays we’re toying with even more powerful tools.
Tools which are able to turn back the flow of history.
To make a joke out of the fabled ‘checks and balances’.

The H bomb is such a blunt tool that nobody in their right mind would ever consider using.

Tools made possible by political science are way more insidious.
So insidious that most of those who wield them ignore the true amount of fallout their actions will unleash.

Compromise – give some to get some, is debatable to start with. But, ultimately, workable. History is full of successful examples.
Kompromat is nothing but mutually assured destruction. MAD. Made worse by its trivial appearance.

By engaging in compromise, you give hope a chance. The other has a scope. For as long as negotiation is going on earnestly, both sides have a fair chance of getting out alive.
By engaging in Kompromat, the aggressor actually sends the message: ‘I’ll stop only over your dead body’.

Sustainable?!?
Are you kidding me?

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Later additions:

“WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Republicans blocked creation of a bipartisan panel to investigate the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, displaying continuing party loyalty to former President Donald Trump and firm determination to shift the political focus away from the violent insurrection by his GOP supporters.”

“Antonio, who wore a patch for the far-right anti-government militia group The Three Percenters, is charged with five counts, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and obstruction of law enforcement during civil disorder.
Joseph Hurley, Antonio’s lawyer, said he won’t use his client’s belief in false claims of election fraud in an attempt to exonerate him. Instead, Hurley will use them to argue that Antonio was an impressionable person who got exploited by Trump and his allies.
“You can catch this disease,” Hurley said. Misinformation, he said, “is not a defense. It’s not. But it will be brought up to say: This is why he was here. The reason he was there is because he was a dumbass and believed what he heard on Fox News.””

“Many of us have been disappointed of late by the actions of some people who’ve chosen the easy way, playing to the crowd, itching the ears of the resentful with conspiracies and accusations,” the Utah Republican said Wednesday. “I take heart in the fact that such displays are still newsworthy and are generally met with disdain.”
The domestic political squabbles are having a real impact, Romney said, by diverting the nation’s attention away from three great challenges facing the country: the rise of China, global climate change and the “degradation of the national balance sheet.”
Romney said there’s plenty of blame to go around.
“Some of us on the right infect the nation with claims of election fraud, tech and media outrages, even vaccine fantasies. From the left come hyperwoke accusations and antipathy toward free enterprise, the very means of our prosperity,” the Utah Republican added
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