Sacha Baron Cohen on social media and truth

ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen at Never Is Now 2019

Today around the world, demagogues appeal to our worst instincts. Conspiracy theories once confined to the fringe are going mainstream. It’s as if the Age of Reason – the era of evidential argument – is ending, and now knowledge is delegitimized and scientific consensus is dismissed. Democracy, which depends on shared truths, is in retreat, and autocracy, which depends on shared lies, is on the march. Hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.

Read the full transcript here

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/22/sacha-baron-cohen-facebook-propaganda

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The post-truth prophets

Postmodernism predicted our post-truth hellscape. Everyone still hates it.

Technology and globalization were making the world infinitely more complicated and that meant more information to process, more dots to connect. And one way to manage this chaos is to lean more and more on narratives that strip the world of its complexity — and often reinforce our biases at the same time.

https://www.vox.com/features/2019/11/11/18273141/postmodernism-donald-trump-lyotard-baudrillard

Why can’t we agree on what’s true any more?

“It’s not about foreign trolls, filter bubbles or fake news. Technology encourages us to believe we can all have first-hand access to the ‘real’ facts – and now we can’t stop fighting about it.

“Contrary to initial hype surrounding big data, the explosion of information available to us is making it harder, not easier, to achieve consensus on truth. As the quantity of information increases, the need to pick out bite-size pieces of content rises accordingly. In this radically sceptical age, questions of where to look, what to focus on and who to trust are ones that we increasingly seek to answer for ourselves, without the help of intermediaries. This is a liberation of sorts, but it is also at the heart of our deteriorating confidence in public institutions.”

https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/sep/19/why-cant-we-agree-on-whats-true-anymore

Why people believe the Earth is flat and we should listen to anti-vaxxers

Science communication has lost its sense of empathy and misunderstands how fear can alter a person’s belief system.

When we feel so fundamentally disenfranchised, it’s comforting to concoct a fictional universe that systemically denies you the right cards. It gives you something to fight against and makes you self-deterministic.

It provides an “us and them” narrative that allows you to conceive of yourself as a little David raging against a rather haughty, intellectual establishment Goliath.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/apr/05/why-people-believe-the-earth-is-flat-and-we-should-listen-to-anti-vaxxers

“The Rationalist Delusion” Limitations of reason in searching for truth

Knowledge Questions: What is the relationship between reason and intuition? Do we use reason or intuition more when determining truth?

The following are passages from Jonathan Haidt’s book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

Anyone who values truth should stop worshipping reason. We all need to take a cold hard look at the evidence and see reasoning for what it is. The French cognitive scientists Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber recently reviewed the vast research literature on motivated reasoning (in social psychology) and on the biases and errors of reasoning (in cognitive psychology). They concluded that most of the bizarre and depressing research findings make perfect sense once you see reasoning as having evolved not to help us find truth but to help us engage in arguments, persuasion, and manipulation in the context of discussions with other people…

In the same way, each individual reasoner is really good at one thing: finding evidence to support the position he or she already holds, usually for intuitive reasons. We should not expect individuals to produce good, open-minded, truth-seeking reasoning, particularly when self-interest or reputational concerns are in play.

This link is to the larger passage from the book.

https://theindependentwhig.com/haidt-passages/haidt/the-rationalist-delusion/