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19
Jun 20

Conspiracy Theory Does Damage in the Real World – And It puts YOU At Risk

The persistent belief in conspiracy theories is literally an addiction. There is a whole sub-field of psychological studies on why people believe such things–fears, a sense of powerlessness, and also a neurological “kick” from the sense of personal elevation they feel. A friend told me of an acquaintance who’s been into it for fifty years–and yet this man is in many ways intelligent. He’s ending his life broke and failed…But his belief in these things is so persistent in him that it sounds as if it is the key to the fundamental defect that has undermined his life… He lost a lot of time and energy to it over the decades; hence it not only defined his life it drained his bank account. Naturally he’s endorsing the “Covid-19 is not real” conspiracy theories. He is of course resoundingly wrong about the virus. Much the same was said about HIV and the story, which got a lot of play, led to more people getting HIV because they came to believe the HIV virus “wasn’t real”.

And people are greatly endangered, right now, because of anti-vaccination conspiracy theory. A vaccine for covid-19/ coronavirus will be on offer. Some people will refuse it because they’re gullible anti-vaxxers–because they’re biased against authentic science–and that will lead to their getting infected, and, in the long term, to a further spread of the pandemic.

The “sources” underlying conspiracy theory and anti-vax fallacies mingle the entirely falsified and the cherry-picked. These knee-jerk sensationalists choose bits of information out of context, ignore contradicting data, and draw convenient conclusions on a kind of Rorschach inkblot basis.

Back in the real world, misinformation about Covid-19 kills people. Because of  their embrace of anti-science falsehoods, anti-science covid-19 theorists fail to socially distance and they become infected–and inevitably infect others. We see that, once again, conspiracy theories, which are based in the unreal, bring about real-world damage.

Much of it comes down to anti-science bias. Here is Anthony Fauci on the dangers of an anti-science bias: “One of the problems we face in the United States is that unfortunately, there is a combination of an anti-science bias that people are — for reasons that sometimes are, you know, inconceivable and not understandable — they just don’t believe science and they don’t believe authority,” Fauci said. “So when they see someone up in the White House, which has an air of authority to it, who’s talking about science, that there are some people who just don’t believe that — and that’s unfortunate because, you know, science is truth,” Fauci said. “It’s amazing sometimes the denial there is. It’s the same thing that gets people who are anti-vaxxers, who don’t want people to get vaccinated, even though the data clearly indicate the safety of vaccines,” Fauci added. “That’s really a problem.”

Conspiracy theory is a vice. And it’s a vice that can kill.


16
Jun 20

Clueless Thugs Suppress Peaceful Demonstration in Ohio Small Town.

Idiotic “believe everything you see on the internet” Trumpian types swarmed a very small demonstration in Bethel, Ohio. They were under the impression that supposedly scary “antifa” radicals were taking over their little town there. They were grossly uninformed. . .But as they were able to engage in bullying and violence and as they outnumbered the peaceful demonstrators–who were simply trying to support Black Lives Matter–they were happy. They were able to hurt people and frighten people with immunity. Violent morons are easily pleased. Just let them bully someone. “…the 80 or so expected demonstrators ended up dwarfed Sunday afternoon by some 700 counterprotesters — motorcycle gangs, ‘back the blue’ groups…Some carried rifles, a local news station reported, while others brought baseball bats and clubs. Police say they are investigating about 10 ‘incidents’ from the clashes that followed, including a demonstrator being punched in the head…”

“‘Counterprotesters…yelling obscenities and threatening us … ripping signs out of our hands, ripping the hats and masks off of our faces, ripping things out of our pockets,” she wrote, above a photo of a man’s bloody face.’”


12
Jun 20

Military Bases Named After Racists? It’s the Awful Truth and it Needs to Change. But there’s MORE …

The “controversy” about taking down statues of Confederate “heroes” and renaming bases named after Confederates only addresses part of the historical reality. Racism is only half of it. It’s important, sure, and it’s enough reason to change the  name. But there’s something else we should remember: TREASON. Those statues are also celebrating treason. They’re not only celebrating racists, they’re also celebrating traitors. All Confederate military men were engaging in flat-out open treason against the United States. And it’s especially ironic, and STUPID, that Fort Bragg, as just one example, is named after a Confederate general. Our biggest military base is named after a traitor!

Where is the military base named after the famous traitor Benedict Arnold? Where are the statues celebrating him? I mean–why not, if we’re going to name one after General Bragg? Trump’s spokesperson said, “To suggest these forts are somehow inherently racist and their names need to be changed is a complete disrespect…” She’s stupidly confusing the issue. No one is saying the base is racist. They’re saying the person it’s named after was racist. If you rename it after a person who’s non-racist you still have the functioning military base. It’s the same base. It does the same job. It just isn’t named after  a George Wallace. Nor is it  named after a Benedict Arnold. It’s not Fort Judas. It’s not Fort Ku Klux anymore. Trump’s tendency to pick dull-witted people to work for him was never more clearly on display…


20
May 20

a bit cut from my novel Stormland that I feel like preserving somewhere

Cory found himself thinking of Adam Sherner, closest he’d had to a friend at college. Adam had been obsessed with abandoned amusement park rides; the big, radically fast, hyper-steep, gut-wrenching rides from a generation before. Big amusement parks had mostly gone out of business in the era of extreme weather. Adam had used his vastly oversized allowance to hire abandoned rides. He’d paid workmen to tighten the bolts, get the thing, as he said, “up to speed”. Cory had tried one out with him, and relished the taut edginess—death became something you had to think about. It was close—Cory felt as if he could reach out and feel its icy face. The intensity of the experience had made Cory feel real, in a whole new way. But he hadn’t gone along on the next trip. Adam had gone with his girlfriend and they got through most of the ride. Then their car broke from the old track and crunched into a concrete wall…


20
May 20

Though there are no Absolutes…

Aware that there are no absolutes, the wise surf the waves of probability.


18
May 20

MISINFORMATION KILLS

Misinformation about the coronavirus can KILL people. A guy at social media sites, who calls himself ‘wholistic’, falsely posts that coronavirus test is dangerous and that vaccines are dangerous etc. The New York Times reports that more than 88,600 Americans have DIED from the coronavirus.

What this guy posts is not “alternative” data; it’s not “a perspective”; it’s like shouting fire in a crowded theater when there’s no fire: it’s NOT justified by the 1st amendment. Anti-science lies about medicine can kill–especially now.


14
May 20

Feed the Queen!

Wondering why the cereal I was eating tasted weird, looked down, saw ant swimming in the milk. Just now. For real. Found ants had gotten into the cereal, an ant-line to the pantry shelf. Yes the cereal tasted of formic acid…Been dismayed by the “insect apocalypse”–a genuine issue, numbers of insects dropping, was worried by it, maybe shouldn’t have been…Anyway no bad effects from eating ants but I do feel I should bring some food back to the queen now. I must return to her. I…must…


12
May 20

The Path through the Internet Wilderness

The internet has a way of undermining legitimate, reputable news sources. It has a way of spread false stories and misinformation. We need a general protocol, an internet hygiene, to escape from that sticky morass.

The methodology is simple. We set aside our kneejerk populistic impulses and admit that some news sources are more legitimate than others. An example: the Washington Post is legitimate; it is a consistent winner of the Pulitzer prize, and is consistently reputable. Whereas Fox News does not win journalism prizes and has a very bad reputation in the journalism community.

We need to be selective in our choice of raw information and how we share it…

It’s like this. Scientific American, yes; anti-vax numbskull sites no. Pulitzer Prize winning news outlets and legit alternative sources (like The Nation or the Guardian) yes; flaky promulgators of rumors and conspiracy theories no. Medical journals yes; covid conspiracy theory flakes, no. Anti-bigotry websites yes; racist websites no. That’s the pattern, the path through the wilderness that is the internet: Consistently going to legit, reputable sources of data.


8
May 20

“OK to re-open businesses since mostly people of color & Democrats will die”

I was just listening to the Stephanie Miller show (https://www.stephaniemiller.com/ ) and she read a letter from a Trump follower who defended Trump’s encouragement of re-opening businesses despite the danger of spreading the virus saying, “Most of those who would die are black or brown and are Democrats”…

I just wanted to mention that somewhere.

Trump favors early re-opening so that the economy will pick up so that he will be re-elected. He does not care who dies, so long as he’s re-elected. He’s really into being re-elected not just for the usual reasons but also because if he’s no longer President he can be arrested for money laundering, among other things.


4
May 20

A Revolution in Money?

Wondering for some years–and more now than ever–if our current model of what money is will become obsolete. The US Govt plans to “borrow 3 trillion dollars” from April through June, eliciting: “how to pay it back?” and “are we clear on borrow from where”?

It has seemed to me that international development of a monetary AI system could offer revamp of how money is “created”. That is, an artificial intelligence would decide its flow as needed. Yes most would still need to be earned though I think a guaranteed minimal base income would be involved…The main idea is that we can redefine money as a flow both to be earned but also distributed by the putative system with an individualized and currently hard-to-imagine exactitude that would not have to bring about inflation–a devaluation of buying power–or lack of motivation. Someone has told me recently that trillions of dollars are being “hoarded” by a relatively few individuals. I said, one odd thing though is that this hoarding is mostly just digits in an efile or in some series of computers, computers that agree. Piles of agreed-on non-gold…That in turn suggests that money, being a consensus agreement, though theoretically stabilized by valuation to objects of value and units of effected labor, is far more flexible and socially manageable than we are admitting to ourselves.

Essentially I’m suggesting is that an optimally designed *global* AI system would issue payments in accordance with work done, purchases made, and so on, with a constant reference to projected possible negative effects. It would, in real-time, instantaneously make adjustments in money flow that mitigate or eliminate what would otherwise be  negative effects–recessions and ruinous inflation and so on–while carrying out all socially functional financial operations. It would be a universal bank, with no allegiance to any one nation or group. under which all legitimate banks would still be operable and incorporated. It would be backed up by another, insulated system in case of, say, solar flare damage of global electronics. This all assumes an enormous leap ahead in computing power, but I have no problem assuming that. It also assumes a global will to make it work. It would probably have to be modeled and tried on smaller scales first…