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A neuroscientist explains why evangelicals are wired to believe Trump's lies
One reason Trump supporters believe his lies comes from a basic fact about the brain: it takes more mental effort to reject an idea as false than to accept it as true. In other words, it’s easier to believe than to not.

This fact is based on a landmark study published in the journal PLOS ONE in 2009, which asked the simple question, how is the brain activated differently during a state of belief compared to a state of disbelief? To test this, participants were asked whether or not they believed in a series of statements while their brain activity was being imaged by an fMRI scanner. Some sentences were simple and fact-based (California is larger than Rhode Island), while others were more abstract and subjective (God probably does not exist). The results showed the activation of distinct but often overlapping brain areas in the belief and disbelief conditions. While these imaging results are complicated to interpret, the electrical patterns also showed something that was fairly straightforward. Overall, there was greater brain activation that persisted for longer during states of disbelief. Greater brain activation requires more cognitive resources, of which there is a limited supply. What these findings show is that the mental process of believing is simply less work for the brain, and therefore often favored. The default state of the human brain is to accept what we are told, because doubt takes effort. Belief, on the other hand, comes easily.

This troubling finding makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint. If children questioned every single fact they were being taught, learning would occur at a rate so slow that it would be a hindrance. But this fact could be just as easily applied to both the political left and right. So how does it explain why conservatives, specifically evangelicals, are so easily duped by Donald Trump?

For Christian fundamentalists, being taught to suppress critical thinking begins at a very early age. It is the combination of the brain’s vulnerability to believing unsupported facts and aggressive indoctrination that create the perfect storm for gullibility. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to be sculpted by lived experiences, evangelicals literally become hardwired to believe far-fetched statements.

This wiring begins when they are first taught to accept Biblical stories not as metaphors for living life practically and purposefully, but as objective truth. Mystical explanations for natural events train young minds to not demand evidence for beliefs. As a result, the neural pathways that promote healthy skepticism and rational thought are not properly developed. This inevitably leads to a greater susceptibility to lying and gaslighting by manipulative politicians, and greater suggestibility in general.
Trump  fake-news  media  psychology  Christians 
8 days ago by thegrandnarrative
Twitter spiega un po' la disumanizzazione
Twitter inizia a spiegare il concetto, labile, di Disumanizzazione presente nelle loro policy
hatespeech  fake-news  ethics  digitalrights  discrimination 
25 days ago by mgpf
Scientists must keep fighting fake news, not retreat to their ivory towers | Fiona Fox | Science | The Guardian
I am sorry to see Jenny Rohn penning her last piece for the Guardian’s science blog network (“I was deluded. You can’t beat fake news with science communication”). I have enjoyed her columns and often shared the links. But I cannot agree with her swan song.

Rohn uses her last post to question whether her seven years of blogging has made the slightest difference to public attitudes to science and concludes that it probably hasn’t. Her despair follows a now familiar trope in science: that in our “post-truth” society no one is listening to mild mannered science writers trading in facts and evidence. Instead the masses are in thrall to what Rohn calls the “enemy camp”, the anti-science brigade who lamentably “picked up the pen as well” and use it to peddle dangerous lies.

In our polarised times I question the wisdom of lumping the critics of science together into an “enemy camp”. Opponents of science come in many shapes and sizes as do their motivations and the quality of their arguments. I also wonder whether name calling is the best way of wining them over; Rohn tells us of “fascists, charlatans and propagandists” whose lies are then tweeted by “anti-vaxxers, racists and nutters.”

Mostly what I question is Rohn’s certainty that no one is listening to scientists. As Carl Sagan said, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” and Rohn describes herself as a writer who specialises in evidence based communication. So where is the evidence that the public buy lies over the truth in science? And why is this the starting point of so many of the debates I have attended on post-truth and fake news?

I am seeing plenty to reassure me that the public are more discerning. The latest trust ratings showed once again that scientists remain near the top of the list of most trusted professionals with 83% of the public trusting scientists to tell the truth (compared with only 17% who say the same of politicians). Soon after Michael Gove’s infamous charge that the public has had enough of experts, the Institute for Government published a poll showing that 85% of people want politicians to consult professionals and experts when making difficult decisions, and 83% want government to make decisions based on objective evidence.

If you focus on specific issues it’s also hard to see why some are so adamant that everyone is blindly soaking up lies over facts. Other countries have had big problems with vaccination fuelled by the kinds of campaigns Rohn is talking about, but in the UK MMR rates have steadily recovered after our own crisis and in parallel with the growth of anti-vaccination noise on social media. I am not saying there is no problem here; the Science Media Centre exists to counter misleading reporting of science and we are as busy as ever. But I think something more nuanced and complex might be happening than Rohn’s bleak scenario allows for.

Some will no doubt refer me to the research evidence on cognitive bias and a number of widely cited experiments that appear to show that presenting the facts make no difference to those who have made their mind up. Worse still, some studies show that the noble pursuit of debunking facts might even make things worse, the so-called “boomerang effect”. But even here there are some rich discussions taking place with some social scientists now questioning whether the findings have been overstated.

Rohn’s tentative conclusion is that science writers like herself should maybe retreat from the public space and try to change things through “more private and targeted channels”. I really hope she doesn’t. The last two decades has seen a remarkable cultural shift in science with more and more researchers viewing it as part of their role to engage with public concern on issues from GM crops to climate change to over-medicalisation. Time and time again I have seen scientists challenging misinformation on these subjects to good effect.

We are approached every day by journalists seeking the very best experts to comment, and the daily news is awash with scientists speaking from the evidence. Rohn may feel they don’t win every battle, and I would be first to agree. But a world where scientists are absent from the debate would be far worse, and we would all be the poorer for it.

No one said this was going to be easy – and I am open to Rohn’s claim that it might be getting harder, or at least more bruising. But that’s all the more reason for Rohn and her fellow scientists to hang in there. Now would be the very worst time for scientists to return to their ivory towers.

• Fiona Fox is the CEO of the Science Media Centre
fake-news  media  science-communication  science 
4 weeks ago by thegrandnarrative
Facebook? Batte Twitter nel contrasto alle Fake News
Un recente studio pare dimostrare che gli strumenti e motodologie messe in atto da Facebook per il contrasto alle Fake News funzionino. E sicuramente meglio di quelle di Twitter...
propaganda  fake-news 
5 weeks ago by mgpf
Notes on some artefacts
Five or six years ago, around the time most people seemed to be spending almost all of their time on the internet, I began to notice a particular kind of online phenomenon, one that I did not have a terminology for. I started to call these moments “artefacts”, borrowing a term from photography that describes the machine-created distortions and ghosts that corrupt digital imagery. “An unintended alteration in data” is one definition, but this new kind of “artefact” was expanding beyond sporadic instances and becoming a persistent sub-theme in discourse at large.

The result was a type of semiotic collapse, one that first found its fullest expression in the absurdity of the 2016 presidential campaign, when news stories fabricated in Macedonia found a wider reach than The Washington Post. Countermeasures to interference in the coming 2018 congressional election look ineffectual, perhaps deliberately so.
artefacts  fake-news  bots  weird  2018  trump  politics 
5 weeks ago by jm
'The Internet of Garbage' by Sarah Jeong
Sarah Jeong's 2015 book is now free:

'I think The Internet of Garbage still provides a useful framework to begin to
talk about our new dystopia, and it continues to be surprisingly relevant in many
ways. But I wrote the book with a tone of optimism I did not feel even at the time,
hoping that by reaching the well-meaning policy teams across Silicon Valley, I
might be able to spark change for the better.
Not only did that change never quite solidify, but the coordinated,
orchestrated harassment campaigns of Gamergate that I very briefly touch on in
Chapter Two have since overtaken our national political and cultural
conversations. These twisted knots of lies, deflection, and rage are not just some
weird and terrible online garbage. They shadow executive orders, court rulings,
even the newly appointed judiciary. They will haunt us for years to come. We are
all victims of fraud in the marketplace of ideas.
I hope that in the very near future, I will be putting out a second edition of
The Internet of Garbage. In that future edition, I hope to grapple with advertising
incentives, engagement traps, international propaganda wars, the American crisis
in free speech coinciding with the rise of platform power, and search engine
optimization as the new paradigm of speech.
In the meantime, I am putting out The Internet of Garbage 1.5 as an interim
edition. I wish it were more helpful in our present reality. But as imperfect a tool
as it is, I figure we all need as much help as we can get. '
dystopia  fake-news  internet  spam  harrassment  abuse  twitter  gamergate  politics  books  free  to-read 
6 weeks ago by jm
How Duterte Used Facebook To Fuel the Philippine Drug War
Facebook free to use on mobile phones, Facebook has completely saturated the country. And because using other data, like accessing a news website via a mobile web browser, is precious and expensive, for most Filipinos the only way online is through Facebook... In an April 2016 report, the company itself proclaimed Duterte the “undisputed king of Facebook conversations.” Two months later, he was elected president...Facebook influencers hitched themselves to Duterte’s rising star; transgender rights activist Sass Sasot (more than 650,000 followers), blogger RJ Nieto (1.2 million followers), and former pop singer Mocha Uson (5.7 million followers)
facebook  Philippines  fake-news  global  free-basics  fascism  microcelebrity  fame  celebrity 
6 weeks ago by jomc
How TripAdvisor changed travel | News | The Guardian
> TripAdvisor is to travel as Google is to search, as Amazon is to books, as Uber is to cabs – so dominant that it is almost a monopoly.

> Bad reviews can be devastating for business ... In response, the hospitality industry has lawyered up, and it is not uncommon for businesses to threaten to sue customers who post negative reviews.

> As the so-called “reputation economy” has grown, so too has a shadow industry of fake reviews, which can be bought, sold and traded online.

> Thus, in promising a faithful portrait of the world, TripAdvisor has, like other tech giants, found itself in the unhappy position of becoming an arbiter of truth, of having to determine which reviews are real and which are fake, which are accurate and which are not, and how free speech on their platform should be.
internet  fake-news  travel  tripadvisor  capitalism  truth 
7 weeks ago by tarakc02
Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth | News | The Guardian
> The tragedy for denialists is that they concede the argument in advance. Holocaust deniers’ attempts to deny that the Holocaust took place imply that it would not have been a good thing if it had. Climate change denialism is predicated on a similarly hidden acknowledgment that, if anthropogenic climate change were actually occurring, we would have to do something about it.

> Denialism is not a barrier to acknowledging a common moral foundation; it is a barrier to acknowledging moral differences. An end to denialism is therefore a disturbing prospect, as it would involve these moral differences revealing themselves directly. But we need to start preparing for that eventuality, because denialism is starting to break down – and not in a good way.

> Whereas denialism explains – at great length – post-denialism asserts. Whereas denialism is painstakingly thought-through, post-denialism is instinctive. Whereas denialism is disciplined, post-denialism is anarchic.

> The new generation of denialists aren’t creating new, alternative orthodoxies so much as obliterating the very idea of orthodoxy itself.

> Post-denialism represents a freeing of the repressed desires that drive denialism. While it still based on the denial of an established truth, its methods liberate a deeper kind of desire: to remake truth itself, to remake the world, to unleash the power to reorder reality itself and stamp one’s mark on the planet.

> Those who were previously “forced” into Holocaust denial are starting to sense that it may be possible to publicly celebrate genocide once again, to revel in antisemitism’s finest hour.

> Perhaps, if we can face up to the challenge presented by these new revelations, it might pave the way for a politics shorn of illusion and moral masquerade, where different visions of what it is to be human can openly contend. This might be a firmer foundation on which to rekindle some hope for human progress – based not on illusions of what we would like to be, but on an accounting of what we are.
denialism  fake-news  truth  political-debate  political-discourse  vaccines  climate-change  holocaust-denial 
7 weeks ago by tarakc02

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