Evidencing a gut-feel can prove very complicated. Every source you use, may itself be tainted by confirmation bias and other agendas. Most research may touch upon many different angles within the same study or document for completeness. This can make it hard for audiences to get the true significance of what the research is showing.
Another major challenge is it is down to the reader to understand many different papers - for, against, and neutral on a specific subject. This blog and my wider content discusses the many ways to spot misleading articles and that is not the purpose of todays discussion. To briefly highlight how to discern good information from misleading information;
- Familiarise yourself with Formal and Informal Fallacies. Over time, reading articles will tell you that they are mostly following;
- Shaky-ground fallacy.
- Proving too much fallacy.
- Assuming the antecedent.
- Appeal to ridicule fallacy.
- Texas Sharpshooter.
- Appeal to authority fallacy.
- Always look deeper into an article which you think is important. Unless they are a pure and simple, what happened article, they are rarely what they seem.
- Always ask why a story got there. The media creates the perception of our reality.
People choose what they want to hear?
Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, and Paul Slovic are great examples of social/psychological scientists who have been capable of articulating how humans majorly behave in different situations. A great example is the famous basketball passing experiment.
When trying to make people understand our narrative, inevitably, we are changing their perception of reality. This is why division exists - either you are for something or against it. Subtlety cannot be considered - for example, we either believe in Covid or are Covid deniers. Is this true? For many it is easier to create a specific stance than to partially acknowledge a reality?
Is everything we ever knew wrong?
One of the hardest things to accept is that almost everything we think we know is wrong. Am not approaching this from a post-modernist perspective, but aside from concrete truths - most events are an experience open to suggestion. One way I think about this is Arthur Schopenhauer's "A world as will and idea." This is a personal favourite of mine, because it helps us to separate reality from layers of sub-realities. Schopenhauer asks us to imagine that we are on a globe which is spinning. Our present - our phenomena is now, if we look back and if we look future - both the past and future are uncertain. What we imagine them to be may be so disconnected from what they are to become or were, we may as well focus on the present.
With technology and data, perhaps we will be able to accurately record every micro-event down its minutest moment and perhaps our past will become clearer - but will it be interpreted correctly?
Whilst a deep concept, we must question whether we can accurately remember past events. Furthermore, with censorship and media - much of our past is a gaslighting of our ability to accurately make decisions from previous knowledge. History can literally translated as "His story".
In many ways, it is easier to make up stories than to bother to accurately record them.
A powerful example of lies
On the surface, there doesn't seem to be too much to be concerned about, Russian influence and hacking is pretty much universally accepted as true because it is in the media continually. We have become immune to questioning what is real, but I want to give a simple example that just cannot be true.
Why does a hacker hack?
We can't know all the reasons why hackers hack. It may be for the thrill of it, the idea of profit, but one thing is for certain - most hackers are not in the business of stealing secrets to then take the magic formula to then take it for themselves. Hackers are trying to exploit vulnerability for short term gain. How do we know this? Think about all of the types of hacks that you receive. Commonly, it is an email stating they had hacked your web camera, caught you masturbating, have your address book, and require 0.2 Bitcoin to delete the video. Of course, if a partner can't catch somebody masturbating - why should a scammer be able to? It is easier to compromise people and try to blackmail a victim for quick financial gain than to go to the hassle of stealing a secret, understanding it, and manufacturing it to the point of marketing a product and selling it. Does a scammer really want to go through all that hassle? Perhaps they can steal the formula and sell it onto a willing buyer?
Another key problem with "stealing" secrets, is understanding whether somebody genuinely stole the version of the secret which is valid? Having worked in finance, it is common to be very cautious about disclosing trade positions, client details and source code to third-parties and hackers. However, the number one goal of hackers is to find information which could discredit individuals. Information is power.
Imagine if source code was stolen from a company, would it be worth somebody's time to try and interpret it and potentially complete that code rather than writing it themselves?
So did Russian hackers try to steal the coronavirus vaccine from Oxford and Imperial scientists?
No chance. Any hacking undertaken was to find embarrassing information to discredit either our government, eminent scientists or the general approach to the covid-19 narrative.
Yuri Bezmenov - a Russian defector, explained the following. "The main emphasis of the KGB is not in the area of intelligence at all. Only about 15% of time, money, and manpower is spent on espionage and such. The other 85% is a slow process which we call either ideological subversion or active measures ..."
Why the lies? What is in it for them?
It is the same as trying to understand why hackers hack - we can't claim to know why but we can figure out the requirements and methods employed.
A significant part of escaping lies is to recognise them. I liken it to the moment where Neo in The Matrix, is fighting Agent Smith whilst not looking - he knows he doesn't need to fight any longer but does it simply to give the enemy something to feel important about. A very important wall to break down when talking with indoctrinated people is they choose to use the Appeal to Ridicule fallacy - something like, "I can't believe that" or "Why would they do this, it is ridiculous?".
The way I tackle it is to avoid attempting to solve their problem. We have been brought up on stories, they have a beginning, a middle, and an end. Nobody feels comfortable when a plot is too intricate, or a story has too many loose ends, we want completion, certainty and closure. Closure can never come because we seek it. Often I will explain that my theory is this, but my theory doesn't matter because what is happening is fact - that they want to believe that a particular set of resolutions are being implemented but are failing, and I believe a different set of outcomes are immaterial because the outcomes are happening.
Instead of looking for closure, look at what happens and focus on that. In many ways - guilty by association rather than trying to prove a motive. If, for example, there has been such widespread destruction by certain individuals there doesn't need to be an understanding on why it happens.
Solving indoctrination is to simply focus on the facts. It means reducing our sensitivities to stories and narratives. Indulging trying to solve other people's difficulties in understanding why a particular entity would perform a particular act is not worth our time.