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SAS soldier was killed by friendly fire, inquiry finds | UK news | The Guardian
“It was initially believed that Sgt Tonroe was killed by enemy action, however subsequent investigation concluded that Sgt Tonroe was killed by the accidental detonation of explosives carried by coalition forces. Our thoughts continue to be with Sgt Tonroe’s family and friends.”

Tonroe, who joined the army in 2004, served in the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment in Colchester on completion of his training, where he served as part of the Sniper Platoon. He later passed selection for the Special Air Services Regiment. In Syria, he was embedded in Seal Team 6, the unit that killed Osama Bin Laden.

According to reports, Tonroe was on a mission to capture or kill high-value Isis personnel when he died. Five other people were injured in the explosion.

military  us  uk  syria  agnotology 
7 weeks ago by juliusbeezer
Twitter won’t ruin the world. But constraining democracy would | Kenan Malik | Opinion | The Guardian
Active engagement rather than passive consumption might seem to be a good thing. Many worry, though, that what it actually means is the greater spread of misinformation. As John Sergeant, the BBC’s former chief political correspondent, told Radio 4’s PM, the problem with people forsaking mainstream media “is that you can’t inform them and increase their knowledge… So, how do you stop them not falling prey to fake news? They only have limited knowledge and you can’t correct it.” Such critics point to the willingness of the electorate to believe Donald Trump’s constant untruths, the Leave campaign’s infamous bus slogan and the odious conspiracy theories to which many cling as evidence of what happens in a more fragmented information landscape.
news  socialmedia  agnotology  journalism 
7 weeks ago by juliusbeezer
Liebreich: In Energy and Transportation, Stick it to the Orthodoxy! | Bloomberg NEF
The Orthodoxy Window is maintained by a whole ecosystem of supposed thought-leaders, all trying their hardest to avoid having to think uncomfortable thoughts. Industry bodies trumpeting the world’s vital interest in protecting fossil-fuel- and diesel-engine-producing incumbents; respected analysts who are nothing but oil industry shills; right-wing commentators who talk like libertarians but walk like corporatists; bloggers and Twitterati, whose certainty that the energy and transport sectors can never change is inversely proportional to their knowledge. Pity the general public, correctly wary of wrenching change, threatened by this mob each time they think of peeking outside the Orthodoxy Window...

However, there is much more to do. In too many areas the Orthodoxy Window is still tightly shut. For instance, the majority of people I meet still believe the following: the cost of managing intermittency is prohibitive; demand rebounds to eat all the benefits of energy efficiency; industrial processes are inevitably lumbering, inflexible and fossil-fuel powered; long-distance freight can only be carried by dense liquids; those lacking modern energy services would be better off waiting for a centralized grid, rather than using distributed solutions today; advanced biofuels will never work; the answer to every long-term question is hydrogen; self-driving cars will eat the world; England will never win another football World Cup.
energy  fossil-fuel  renewables  politics  agnotology  economics  oil 
february 2019 by juliusbeezer
Ah, the bitter of a paywalled article about (the social construction of ignorance) n…
irony  OpenAccess  agnotology 
february 2019 by juliusbeezer
Climate Change First Became News 30 Years Ago. Why Haven’t We Fixed It?
Can we name the main culprits? There are almost as many theories and targets as there are advocates of one stripe or another. Among them: lack of basic research funding (I was often in that camp), industry influence on politics, poor media coverage, and doubt-sowing by those invested in fossil fuels or opposed to government intervention. There’s also our “inconvenient mind”—my description for a host of human behavioral traits and social norms that cut against getting climate change right.

For years I thought the answer was like the conclusion in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express: that all suspects were guilty. But there’s another possibility. Maybe climate change is less an environmental wrong to be set right and more an emerging source of risk—a case of humanity’s planet-scale power outrunning, at least for now, our capacity for containing our momentous impacts. In a 2009 piece called “Puberty on the Scale of a Planet,” I toyed with this notion, suggesting that our species was in a turbulent transition from adolescence to adulthood, resisting admonitions to grow up—with fossil fuels standing in for testosterone.

But the situation is even more tangled. The more I reported in unlit Kenyan slums and Indian villages where people cook on illicit charcoal or hand-gathered twigs, the clearer it became that there’s no single “we” when it comes to energy, nor for vulnerability to climate hazards. The rich “we” can afford to convert to clean energy and cut vulnerability to heat, floods, and more. But the rest of humanity is still struggling to get the basic economic benefits that we’ve gotten from burning fossil fuels.
climatechange  politics  agnotology 
december 2018 by juliusbeezer
Why we stopped trusting elites | News | The Guardian
What the paper shows is that, where politics comes to be viewed as the domain of “insider” liars, there is a seductive authenticity, even a strange kind of honesty, about the “common knowledge” liar. The rise of highly polished, professional politicians such as Tony Blair and Bill Clinton exacerbated the sense that politics is all about strategic concealment of the truth, something that the Iraq war seemed to confirm as much as anything. Trump or Farage may have a reputation for fabricating things, but they don’t (rightly or wrongly) have a reputation for concealing things, which grants them a form of credibility not available to technocrats or professional politicians.
politics  authoritarianism  agnotology 
november 2018 by juliusbeezer
Matthew and Sarah Elliott: How a UK Power Couple Links US Libertarians and Fossil Fuel Lobbyists to Brexit | DeSmog UK
At the heart of this network lies a little-known power couple, Matthew and Sarah Elliott. Together, the husband and wife team connect senior members of the Leave campaign and groups pushing a libertarian free-market ideology from offices in Westminster’s Tufton Street to major US libertarian lobbyists and funders.

Collectively, the network aims to use Brexit as an opportunity to slash regulations in the UK, paving the way for a wide-ranging US-UK free-trade deal that could have disastrous consequences for the environment.

The current draft withdrawal agreement appears to try and provide some protection for the current level of environmental regulation — at least in principle. But politicians associated with this transatlantic network are lobbying hard for the draft deal to be scrapped, along with those protections.

This DeSmog UK investigation reveals the strength of the ties between Matthew and Sarah Elliott, UK lobbyists and politicians, and US groups with vested interests in fossil fuels keen to profit from deregulation.

It shows how organisations with strong ties to the Koch Brothers and Robert Mercer increased their political activities in the UK immediately before and after the Brexit referendum.
agnotology  politics  uk  us  climatechange 
november 2018 by juliusbeezer
Media Lens - The Filter Bubble - Owen Jones And Con Coughlin
'Owen, we absolutely loved your thread exposing Con Coughlin. But what happened to the promised Guardian article on this? I'm asking because you told us you were writing something on Oct 17. The piece then came out a week later on Oct 24 with almost all the meat missing. Did you run into internal opposition at the Guardian?' (Direct message, Twitter, November 8, 2018)

We received no reply. Jones, of course, is not about to reveal what happened to his article. Perhaps the Guardian editors simply published what he submitted. One thing is clear: somehow, at some point, the filter bubble worked its magic and prevented a damning expose of a senior UK journalist reaching the Guardian's readers.
journalism  uk  iraq  attention  agnotology 
november 2018 by juliusbeezer
The Empty Core of the Trump Mystique | The New Republic
I suppose that if I’m going to define nihilism as a lack of values—or to use Rauschning’s summation of Nazism, a “hostility to the things of the spirit, indifference to truth, indifference to the ethical conceptions of morality, honor, and equity”—I’m obliged to say what I mean by a value. I would call it any kind of allegiance for which you are willing to check your own desires for reasons other than pure self-interest. All values manifest themselves in restraint. You’d like to pitch out all those empty wine bottles, but you recycle them instead. You’re late for a doctor’s appointment but slow down your car so as not to hit a pedestrian crossing the street. (If your sole motivation is not to get gore on your front bumper, that is something else.) Values are by their very nature at odds with the amoral dynamism Rauschning describes; they are what applies the brakes. They also threaten the dynamism of an advanced capitalist economy by daring to suggest that something lower than the sky might be “the limit.” All the nameable avatars of the Almighty Market—pop psychology, digital fundamentalism, addictive consumption, cutthroat competition—are based on the premise that what you want is what you ought to have, and the quicker you can have it the better. By its very operation, the market inclines us away from principled restraint and toward nihilistic abandon...
A sense of radical incredulity, spectacularly typified by Trump’s refusal to believe his own intelligence services, is but one manifestation of the nihilism that brought him to power. What makes him “the real deal” in the eyes of his most ardent admirers is largely his insistence that almost everything else is fake. Like him, they know that the news is fake, the melting ice caps are fake, the purported citizenship of certain voters is fake, science is fake, social justice is fake, the whole notion of truth is fake. Whatever isn’t fake is so relative that it might as well be fake; “true for you,” maybe, but that’s as far as it goes. Among those who call themselves “believers” and are thus at least technically not nihilists, one frequently finds an obsession with apocalypse, a gleeful anticipation of the living end that will destroy the inherent fakery of all things. The social teachings of the Gospels need not trouble the Christian conscience so long as the troubles predicted in Revelation come to pass.
philosophy  authoritarianism  politics  agnotology 
october 2018 by juliusbeezer
‘My father’s murder in Algeria shaped my life. That’s why Macron’s apology is so important’ | World news | The Guardian
Official investigations into what went on in France’s former colony were quashed as the state threw a blanket amnesty over atrocities by its forces, and each president found it politically expedient to avoid mentioning the war.

Josette Audin, who never remarried, wrote to each new French leader renewing her appeal for information. Shortly after he was elected in May 2017, Macron called her to say he was willing to do something. On Thursday, the Elysée Palace issued an official statement and the president visited Audin’s home with an apology...
In Algeria, Macron’s mea culpa has been welcomed. In France, academics hope his statement and promise to open official archives will encourage witnesses from the period, protected by the amnesty, to come forward. A historian, Gilles Manceron, said Macron had made a “break with the attitude of denial, silence and lies we’ve long had from the state”.
france  politics  francafrique  algeria  agnotology  history 
september 2018 by juliusbeezer
Government opens dangerous and careless cycling law consultation |
Alliston, who had been riding a fixed wheel bike with no front brake when he collided with Mrs Briggs in 2016, fatally injuring her, was acquitted of manslaughter but found guilty of causing bodily injury through wanton or furious driving under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

The case led to calls for the law to be updated, rather than prosecutors having to rely on outdated legislation in such circumstances and last year the government announced that it was conducting a review of the law.

Announcing the consultation today, transport minister Jesse Norman, who has responsibility for cycling and walking, said: “In recent weeks we have announced a range of measures designed to protect vulnerable road users such as cyclists and pedestrians.

This campaign so obviously ludicrously misses the point, that it's worth considering why a political party would launch it.

The creation of narratives to distract from the central problem is an essential part of the new politics. First masterminded by the Russian political adviser Vladislav Surkov in the 1990s, the essence of the strategy is to create guff in the public attentional space that distracts from any meaningful action that would harm the financial interests of the oligarchs invested in the status quo.

A review of cycling laws is ideal: cyclists are a vocal minority who can be guaranteed to rise to the bait, generating a false debate that avoids the central issues. Meanwhile the 25% or so of the public who have difficulty distinguishing between the numbers 2 (pedestrians killed by cyclists) and 1700 (p̶e̶d̶e̶s̶t̶r̶i̶a̶n̶s̶ people killed by motorists) are left with the hazy impression in their wobbling jelly-brains that cycling is dangerous, cyclists are lawless killers (because why else would they be against this obviously sensible measure), and the party proposing action is protecting the public from a very real menace.


Don't feed the troll. Or if you can't resist, make sure you attack their cynical media strategy as you do so.
cycling  road_safety  uk  law  agnotology  dccomment 
august 2018 by juliusbeezer
The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones | Technology | The Guardian
The World Health Organisation in 2011 would classify mobile phone radiation as a “possible” human carcinogen and the governments of the United Kingdom, France and Israel issued warnings against mobile phone use by children. Nevertheless, the industry’s propaganda campaign would defuse concern sufficiently that today three out of four adults worldwide have mobile phones, making the wireless industry among the biggest on Earth.

The key strategic insight animating corporate propaganda campaigns is that a given industry doesn’t have to win the scientific argument about safety to prevail – it only has to keep the argument going. Keeping the argument going amounts to a win for industry, because the apparent lack of certainty helps to reassure customers, fend off government regulations and deter lawsuits that might pinch profits.

Central to keeping the scientific argument going is making it appear that not all scientists agree. Towards that end, and again like the tobacco and fossil-fuel industries, the wireless industry has “war-gamed” science, as a Motorola internal memo in 1994 phrased it. War-gaming science involves playing offence as well as defence – funding studies friendly to the industry while attacking studies that raise questions; placing industry-friendly experts on advisory bodies such as the World Health Organisation and seeking to discredit scientists whose views differ from the industry’s.
telephony  mobile_telephony_risks  agnotology  health 
july 2018 by juliusbeezer
What Can We Learn About Moral Panics from Absinthe?
Absinthe’s history is one of persecution, moral panic, and demonization; these subjects are near and dear to the hearts of most (if not all) Satanists. In addition, the ritualistic nature of how the drink is prepared makes for a thoughtful commentary on traditions and their importance. ...
As it turns out the reason for absinthe’s rise in popularity in the late 19th century are rather mundane. What is interesting however is the way the spirit became a scapegoat for societal ills despite scant evidence. Claims arose that it was hallucinogenic (it’s not); absinthe was blamed for murders, suicides, and all manner of moral decay. There was a concerted propaganda campaign to malign and disparage the drink, which is at worst no more harmful than any other cocktail.
alcohol  drugs  agnotology 
june 2018 by juliusbeezer
10 Monkeys and a Beetle: Inside VW’s Campaign for ‘Clean Diesel’ - The New York Times
German automakers had financed the experiment in an attempt to prove that diesel vehicles with the latest technology were cleaner than the smoky models of old. But the American scientists conducting the test were unaware of one critical fact: The Beetle provided by Volkswagen had been rigged to produce pollution levels that were far less harmful in the lab than they were on the road.

The results were being deliberately manipulated.

The Albuquerque monkey research, which has not been previously reported, is a new dimension in a global emissions scandal that has already forced Volkswagen to plead guilty to federal fraud and conspiracy charges in the United States and to pay more than $26 billion in fines.
driving  airpollution  agnotology  science 
february 2018 by juliusbeezer
VW condemned for testing diesel fumes on humans and monkeys | Business | The Guardian
Revelations about the tests have only served to deepen suspicions that the industry is looking to increase the acceptance of diesel as a clean source of energy even as increasing numbers of scientific studies show the opposite to be the case.

LRRI said it decided to withdraw from the EUGT-commissioned study in the autumn of 2015 following the emergence of the dieselgate scandal. “After we learned about this fraud, we decided that the study was flawed,” the LRRI’s president Robert Rubin told a German newspaper.
Diesel car sales slump puts thousands of jobs at risk in UK
Read more

Barbara Hendricks, the German environment minister, said what was known about the tests so far was “vile”.

“That a whole branch of industry has apparently tried to discard scientific facts with such brazen and dubious methods makes the entire thing even more horrific,” she said. Those responsible, she added “have not understood what is on the agenda here – to finally accept full responsibility in the diesel scandal”. She said she was “appalled” that scientists had “made themselves available as willing supporters of such despicable experiments”.
agnotology  oil  driving 
february 2018 by juliusbeezer
After their attacks on climate science, industrial lobbyists target the scientific evidence on air pollution - Multinationals Observatory
Science under the influence

And obviously, there is the case of Michel Aubier. This eminent respiratory physician cruised the television studios downplaying the dangers of air pollution, only to later reveal that he was also a paid consultant to Total (read our article). In 2012, Aubier published an Académie de médecine report—widely cited by industry—entitled “Impact sanitaire des particules diesel : entre mythe et réalité ?” (The health impacts of diesel particulates: between myth and reality?), that promoted the merits of particle filters. In 2015 he had also testified along the same lines to a senatorial enquiry, claiming that the number of cancers linked to pollution was "extremely few". On both occasions he neglected to mention his pecuniary involvement with a multinational corporation whose primary business is the sale of petrol and diesel. In July 2017 he received a suspended six-month prison sentence and a €50,000 fine for failing to declare this conflict of interest to the Senat when asked.
agnotology  airpollution  air_quality  health  politics  france  us  india  germany  translation  driving  oil 
february 2018 by juliusbeezer
This came out nice. Timely , but in French. Its author Olivier Petitjean has paid me the compliment of p…
february 2018 by juliusbeezer
Après celle du climat, l’industrie et ses lobbyistes s’attaquent à la science de la pollution de l’air - Observatoire des multinationales
Après le climato-scepticisme, le dieselo-scepticisme ? « L’air moderne est un petit peu trop propre pour une santé optimale » ; « on ne peut pas faire de lien entre décès prématurés et ozone » ; « [si la pollution de l’air tue,] où sont les corps ? » ; « les experts ne sont pas d’accord entre eux quant à la réalité de l’impact sanitaire des particules fines » ; « la qualité de l’air n’a jamais été aussi bonne qu’aujourd’hui »… Telles sont quelques-unes des phrases que l’on a pu récemment glaner, de divers côtés, dans les médias ou les réseaux sociaux en France, aux États-Unis et ailleurs. Alors que des voix de plus en plus nombreuses s’élèvent pour dénoncer l’impact sanitaire de la pollution de l’air, et les dizaines de milliers de décès prématurés qu’elle provoque chaque année en France et dans le monde, certains font de la résistance.

Ce « déni de la pollution de l’air » se manifeste aussi sous une autre forme, dans certaines études « scientifiques » financées par des constructeurs automobiles. Le New York Times a raconté il y a quelques jours comment une officine crée par Volkswagen avait payé des chercheurs pour faire respirer des vapeurs de diesel à un groupe de singes, dans le but de prouver leur innocuité.
agnotology  pollution  airpollution  climatechange  tobacco  français  india  us  france  germany  oil 
january 2018 by juliusbeezer
I Don’t Want to Be Right | The New Yorker
Kelly Garrett and Brian Weeks looked to see if political misinformation—specifically, details about who is and is not allowed to access your electronic health records—that was corrected immediately would be any less resilient than information that was allowed to go uncontested for a while. At first, it appeared as though the correction did cause some people to change their false beliefs. But, when the researchers took a closer look, they found that the only people who had changed their views were those who were ideologically predisposed to disbelieve the fact in question...

False beliefs, it turns out, have little to do with one’s stated political affiliations and far more to do with self-identity: What kind of person am I, and what kind of person do I want to be? All ideologies are similarly affected.

It’s the realization that persistently false beliefs stem from issues closely tied to our conception of self that prompted Nyhan and his colleagues to look at less traditional methods of rectifying misinformation. Rather than correcting or augmenting facts, they decided to target people’s beliefs about themselves. In a series of studies that they’ve just submitted for publication, the Dartmouth team approached false-belief correction from a self-affirmation angle, an approach that had previously been used for fighting prejudice and low self-esteem.
agnotology  psychology  authoritarianism 
january 2018 by juliusbeezer
Fake news is a threat to humanity, but scientists may have a solution | Dana Nuccitelli | Environment | The Guardian
The study authors also suggest that inoculation theory techniques could help dislodge misinformation after it first takes hold. This involves explaining the logical fallacy underpinning a myth. People don’t like being tricked, and research has shown that when they learn that an ideologically-friendly article has misinformed them by using fake experts, for example, they’re more likely to reject the misinformation.
agnotology  psychology  news 
january 2018 by juliusbeezer
Jimmy Savile's 'clunk click' safety ads ejected from National Archives | UK news | The Guardian
Savile made 20 clips in the 1970s warning of the dangers of driving without seatbelts. The “clunk click” films, which were repeatedly broadcast in the 1970s, were seen as playing a key role in reducing road deaths before seatbelts were made compulsory in 1983.

One of the adverts featured in a collection of public information films issued by the National Archive in 2006. But a spokeswoman has admitted that the film was quietly removed from the National Archive’s website in 2014 after the extent of Savile’s child abuse became clear.

She said: “It was on our website as part of a selection of public information films that we curated there to mark the 60th anniversary of the Central Office of Information. We took it down in July 2014. We just felt with the current climate it wasn’t the best choice and it was perhaps ethically wrong to highlight it. So we removed it from the selection.
road_safety  history  uk  agnotology 
december 2017 by juliusbeezer
For Those Who Don't 'Believe' In 'Conspiracies' Here Are 58 Admitted False Flag Attacks
(31) At the July 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, Italy, black-clad thugs were videotaped getting out of police cars, and were seen by an Italian MP carrying “iron bars inside the police station”. Subsequently, senior police officials in Genoa subsequently admitted that police planted two Molotov cocktails and faked the stabbing of a police officer at the G8 Summit, in order to justify a violent crackdown against protesters.

(32) The U.S. falsely blamed Iraq for playing a role in the 9/11 attacks – as shown by a memo from the defense secretary – as one of the main justifications for launching the Iraq war. Even after the 9/11 Commission admitted that there was no connection, Dick Cheney said that the evidence is “overwhelming” that al Qaeda had a relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, that Cheney “probably” had information unavailable to the Commission, and that the media was not ‘doing their homework’ in reporting such ties. Top U.S. government officials now admit that the Iraq war was really launched for oil … not 9/11 or weapons of mass destruction. Despite previous “lone wolf” claims, many U.S. government officials now say that 9/11 was state-sponsored terror; but Iraq was not the state which backed the hijackers. (Many U.S. officials have alleged that 9/11 was a false flag operation by rogue elements of the U.S. government; but such a claim is beyond the scope of this discussion. The key point is that the U.S. falsely blamed it on Iraq, when it knew Iraq had nothing to do with it.).
agnotology  politics  police  war  WarCrimes 
november 2017 by juliusbeezer
Are cars the new tobacco? | Journal of Public Health | Oxford Academic
Sitting (in a car) is the new smoking. Motor and tobacco lobbies' tactics compared: HT
agnotology  driving  health 
november 2017 by juliusbeezer
Are cars the new tobacco? | Journal of Public Health | Oxford Academic
We present routine data and literature on the health impacts of private car use; the activities of the ‘car lobby' and factors underpinning car dependence. We compare these with experience of tobacco.
driving  agnotology  health 
november 2017 by juliusbeezer
Government review considers forcing cyclists to wear hi-vis and helmets · Cycling Weekly · Disqus
>I really don't understand the aversion to them.

The aversion arises from the scentific evidence: the human skull is fairly well-adapted to surviving low speed impacts. There is little evidence that a helmet is much use in the collisions with motor vehicles that are the real source of danger to cyclists. There is however good evidence that making cycle helmets obligatory reduces the uptake of cycling. As the beneficial effect of cycling on the reduction in cardiovascular risk and obesity outweighs the risks of trauma by an order of magnitude
reducing cycling (by harassing cyclists) will actually diminish the public health.
By all means wear one yourself if you want to. Just don't imagine that legislating to make everyone dress just like you leads anywhere good.
The helmet issue is a good means of distracting everyone from the real sources of road danger, however, so the road lobby like to keep it bubbling along.
cycling  helmetwars  DC  comment  attention  agnotology 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
Joseph Goebbels and Propaganda - History Learning Site
It is known that Goebbels studied the way advertising companies worked in America. A great deal of his written work was made up of short sentences – as the above indicate. Everything was kept simple so that there could be no misunderstanding as to its meaning. When Goebbels wrote for something like ‘Der Angriff’ or ‘Volkischer Beobachter’ he punctuated his sentences with capital letters. For example:

“What we demand is NEW, CLEAR-CUT and RADICAL, therefore in the long run REVOLUTIONARY. The upheaval we want is to be achieved first of all IN THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE. We know no IFS OR BUTS, we know only EITHER…OR.”
journalism  agnotology  attention  typography 
september 2017 by juliusbeezer
Stop Worrying About Climate Deniers – We Won’t Escape Extreme Warming Unless we Deal with Climate Apathy | DeSmog UK
We should stop talking so much about climate denial. That might seem a surprising message from the author of a book on public opinion about climate change, but I’m convinced it’s the right answer for those of us who want more action to cut emissions.

Look at the news and climate denial seems to be everywhere. It’s common in the media, as Newsweek readers and UK radio listeners have recently been reminded, while its grip on the White House seems stronger than ever.

But among the public, denial is quite rare. As I show in my book, The Climate Majority, in comparison with the proportion that think climate change won’t be a threat, Americans are more likely to think 9/11 was a US government plot, more Brits think Princess Diana was assassinated, not killed accidentally, and Canadians are more likely to say Bigfoot is real. Those are fringe conspiracy theories, and it’s right they’re treated as such.

And yet we still get distracted by climate denial, when our real target should be climate apathy. Many people, perhaps half the population, understand that climate change is real and a threat but just don’t think about it very much and don’t understand why they would need to change their lives to deal with it. If that apathy isn’t tackled, the world will face dangerous warming.
agnotology  attention  climatechange 
september 2017 by juliusbeezer
Sociology as the post-truth science
My own way of dividing the ‘truthers’ and the ‘post-truthers’ is in terms of whether one plays by the rules of the current knowledge game or one tries to change the rules of the game to one’s advantage. Unlike the truthers, who play by the current rules, the post-truthers want to change the rules. They believe that what passes for truth is relative to the knowledge game one is playing, which means that depending on the game being played, certain parties are advantaged over others. Post-truth in this sense is a recognisably social constructivist position, and many of the arguments deployed to advance ‘alternative facts’ and ‘alternative science’ nowadays betray those origins.
sociology  agnotology  media  science  theory 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Why don’t journalists link to primary sources? – Bad Science
the Telegraph ran the headline “Wind farms blamed for stranding of whales”. “Offshore wind farms are one of the main reasons why whales strand themselves on beaches, according to scientists studying the problem”, it continued. Baroness Warsi even cited it as a fact on BBC Question Time this week, arguing against wind farms.

But anyone who read the open access academic paper in PLoS One, titled “Beaked Whales respond to simulated and actual navy sonar”, would see that the study looked at sonar, and didn’t mention wind farms at all. At our most generous, the Telegraph story was a spectacular and bizarre exaggeration of a brief contextual aside about general levels of manmade sound in the ocean by one author at the end of the press release (titled “Whales scared by sonars”). Now, I have higher expectations of academic institutions than media ones, but this release didn’t mention wind farms, certainly didn’t say they were “one of the main reasons why whales strand themselves on beaches”, and anyone reading the press release could see that the study was about naval sonar.

The Telegraph article was a distortion (now deleted, with a miserly correction), perhaps driven by their odder editorial lines on the environment, but my point is this: if we had a culture of linking to primary sources, if they were a click away, then any sensible journalist would have been be too embarrassed to see this article go online. Distortions like this are only possible, or plausible, or worth risking, in an environment where the reader is actively deprived of information.
agnotology  informationmastery  journalism  internet  science 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Exxon Dared Critics to Prove It Misled the Public. These Researchers Just Called the Company’s Bluff. – Mother Jones
Their content analysis examines how 187 company documents treated climate change from 1977 through 2014. Researchers found that of the documents that address the causes of climate change, 83 percent of its peer-reviewed scientific literature and 80 percent of its internal documents said it was real and man-made, while the opposite was true of the ads. The researchers analyzed ads published in the New York Times between 1989 and 2004. In those ads, 81 percent expressed doubt about the scientific consensus, tending to emphasize the “uncertainty’ and “knowledge gap,” while just 12 percent affirmed the science.

The same pattern holds for how Exxon has addressed the seriousness of the consequences of climate change. Downplaying the impacts is another tactic climate deniers tend to use to call for more delays in implementing policies that curb fossil fuel use. Sixty percent of Exxon’s peer-reviewed papers and 53 percent of its internal documents acknowledge serious impacts—a 1982 internal document lists flooding and sea level rise and a 2002 paper lists coral reef bleaching and the disintegration of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet among them—but Exxon’s ads were more likely to claim, “The sky is not falling.”
climatechange  agnotology 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Classical —"clean coal" plants clearly not commercially viable, even in the current regime. An expensive…
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Who Gassed Whom in Syria? We don't Know. Please Don't be Rushed into War. - Mail Online - Peter Hitchens blog
Since the mandate of the FFM is confined to establishing only the fact of the use of chemical weapons, the security risks associated with a deployment to Khan Shaykhun far outweighed any additional corroboration of the facts that have already been established. The Director-General has therefore decided that the FFM will not undertake an on-site visit to Khan Shaykhun.’

I’d note here that modern analysts are able, given good samples of poison gas, to be extraordinarily precise about where it comes from and whose it is.
syria  war  agnotology 
july 2017 by juliusbeezer
science et désinformation
les bases du conflit

La communication dans le domaine de la sécurité routière est dégradée par :

La prétention à l’expertise d’intervenants qui n’ont pas de formation acccidentologique et qui diffusent des informations correspondant à leur conception de la conduite et de ses risques.
La volonté de tromper, c’est-à-dire la mauvaise foi, relevant de conflits d’intérêts économiques ou passionnels.

De telles attitudes ne sont ni récentes, ni spécifiques de la sécurité routière. Les méthodes de la manipulation mentale de masse ont été définies en 1928 aux Etats-Unis par Edward Bernays, le neveu de Sigmund Freud, dans son livre « Propaganda ». Il définissait son objectif comme « la fabrique du consentement ». L’achat de l’intelligence des spécialistes de la communication privilégie la séduction aux dépens de la sincérité. Le développement récent de différents types de communication de masse utilisant l’internet et ses réseaux a accru la capacité de nuisance des désinformateurs qui saturent et dénaturent le débat public et privé.

[site apparamment associé avec Emmanuel "Le casque" Barbe]
road_safety  france  agnotology 
may 2017 by juliusbeezer
How a Professional Climate Change Denier Discovered the Lies and Decided to Fight for Science
From 1991 through 2000, I was a pretty good warrior on that front. I was absolutely convinced of the case for skepticism with regard to climate science and of the excessive costs of doing much about it even if it were a problem. I used to write skeptic talking points for a living.

SL: What was your turning point?

JT: It started in the early 2000s. I was one of the climate skeptics who do battle on TV and I was doing a show with Joe Romm. On air, I said that, back in 1988, when climate scientist James Hansen testified in front of the Senate, he predicted we’d see a tremendous amount of warming. I argued it’d been more than a decade and we could now see by looking at the temperature record that he wasn’t accurate. After we got done with the program and were back in green room, getting the makeup taken off, Joe said to me, “Did you even read that testimony you’ve just talked about?” And when I told him it had been a while, he said “I’m daring you to go back and double check this.” He told me that some of Hansen’s projections were spot on. So I went back to my office and I re-read Hanson’s testimony. And Joe was correct. So I then I talked to the climate skeptics who had made this argument to me, and it turns out they had done so with full knowledge they were being misleading.
climatechange  politics  agnotology 
may 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Media Bubble is Real — And Worse Than You Think - POLITICO Magazine
The national media really does work in a bubble, something that wasn’t true as recently as 2008. And the bubble is growing more extreme. Concentrated heavily along the coasts, the bubble is both geographic and political. If you’re a working journalist, odds aren’t just that you work in a pro-Clinton county—odds are that you reside in one of the nation’s most pro-Clinton counties. And you’ve got company: If you’re a typical reader of Politico, chances are you’re a citizen of bubbleville, too.

The “media bubble” trope might feel overused by critics of journalism who want to sneer at reporters who live in Brooklyn or California and don’t get the “real America” of southern Ohio or rural Kansas. But these numbers suggest it’s no exaggeration: Not only is the bubble real, but it’s more extreme than you might realize. And it’s driven by deep industry trends.
journalism  us  bubble  agnotology 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Recurrent Neural Networks
Neural network generates something looking like English with little training
learning  tools  language  attention  agnotology 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Neuralink and the Brain's Magical Future - Wait But Why
"Elon Musk started Neuralink to accelerate our pace into the Wizard Era—into a world where he says that “everyone who wants to have this AI extension of themselves could have one, so there would be billions of individual human-AI symbiotes who, collectively, make decisions about the future.” A world where AI really could be of the people, by the people, for the people."

[He wants to implant chips in your brain and join the AI-enabled fourth planet (I didn't get this bit, I was too worn out skimming through the high school history and biology for idiocy, did find some)

Can I short neuralink with a Post Office savings account?

Where do I sign to have the chip implanted?

Canny even be arsed following up the obligatory science fiction references: "Iain Banks’ Culture series—a massless, volumeless, whole-brain interface that can be teleported into the brain." and "Ramez Naam, writer of the popular Nexus Trilogy, a series all about the future of BMIs,"

Good point about existing bandwidth of electrodes, but it's not at all clear what they plan to hook up to... and therein lies the "still 50 years-offness" of the whole thing cf nuclear fusion

So meh! Hats off for the effusiveness of the effusion, which will certainly fool millions]
agnotology  spectacle  business  psychology  history  evoscidebate 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Greenpeace fined under Lobbying Act in 'act of civil disobedience' | Politics | The Guardian
Greenpeace has become the first organisation to be fined under the government’s Lobbying Act which critics warned would silence legitimate campaign groups.

Ministers said the legislation, dubbed the “gagging law” by charities, would hold corporate lobbyists to account when it was introduced in 2014.

But the act has faced intense criticism from civil society groups which have repeatedly warned that the restrictions it imposes on spending during an election would hamper the activities of legitimate groups.

Greenpeace says those fears have been borne out after the charity revealed it had been fined £30,000 for refusing to register as a “third-party campaigning organisation” in the run-up to the 2015 election...

“Now Britain is going into a second general election regulated by a law that does little to stop powerful companies exerting secret influence in the corridors of power while gagging charities and campaign groups with millions of members. If the last election is anything to go by it will have a chilling effect on groups trying to raise important issues.”
politics  uk  agnotology  law 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Wag The Dog -- How Al Qaeda Played Donald Trump And The American Media | The Huffington Post
The real culprits here are the Trump administration, and President Trump himself. The president’s record of placing more weight on what he sees on television than the intelligence briefings he may or may not be getting, and his lack of intellectual curiosity and unfamiliarity with the nuances and complexities of both foreign and national security policy, created the conditions where the imagery of the Khan Sheikhoun victims that had been disseminated by pro-Al Nusra (i.e., Al Qaeda) outlets could influence critical life-or-death decisions.

That President Trump could be susceptible to such obvious manipulation is not surprising, given his predilection for counter-punching on Twitter for any perceived slight; that his national security team allowed him to be manipulated thus, and did nothing to sway Trump’s opinion or forestall action pending a thorough review of the facts, is scandalous. History will show that Donald Trump, his advisors and the American media were little more than willing dupes for Al Qaeda and its affiliates, whose manipulation of the Syrian narrative resulted in a major policy shift that furthers their objectives.

The other winner in this sorry story is ISIS,
syria  war  agnotology  us  politics 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
White House claims on Syria chemical attack ‘obviously false’ – MIT professor (VIDEO) — RT America
Postol was not convinced by such evidence.

“Any competent analyst would have had questions about whether the debris in the crater was staged or real,” he wrote. “No competent analyst would miss the fact that the alleged sarin canister was forcefully crushed from above, rather than exploded by a munition within it.”

Instead, “the most plausible conclusion is that the sarin was dispensed by an improvised dispersal device made from a 122mm section of rocket tube filled with sarin and capped on both sides.”

“We again have a situation where the White House has issued an obviously false, misleading and amateurish intelligence report,” he concluded, recalling the 2013 situation when the Obama administration claimed Assad had used chemical weapons against the rebels in Ghouta, near Damascus.
syria  war  us  politics  agnotology 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
The BBC has been caught manipulating its coverage of Syria in favour of Trump | The Canary
The BBC has been caught removing opposing views from its coverage of Syria. The comments it edited include analysis of the alleged chemical weapons attack on Khan Sheikhoun. And the revision ended up favouring Donald Trump’s knee-jerk military action.
Bias by omission?

The website ‘NewsSniffer’ documents edits made to web articles. And one from the BBC entitled Syria ‘chemical attack’: Trump condemns ‘affront to humanity’, published on Thursday 6 April, was found by the website to have had 10 edits. But one stands out in particular.
syria  agnotology  politics  uk  journalism 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Trump’s Method, Our Madness - The New York Times
Curtis calls our attention to Vladislav Surkov, whose official title is “the vice head of the presidential administration” and has been referred to as the “puppet master” of Putin’s Russia. Surkov has a background in avant-garde theater and is a devotee of postmodern culture, and has adopted theatrical and artistic techniques of “subversion” to unleash a full frontal attack on Russian society’s sense of reality. According to Curtis, Trump has taken his stratagems for spreading pandemonium from Surkov’s playbook, with Steve Bannon — a product of Hollywood and Goldman Sachs who now sits on the National Security Council’s Principals Committee — acting as Trump’s Surkov.
politics  agnotology  postmodernism 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Why Has Trust in Media Collapsed? Look at Actions of WSJ, Yahoo, Business Insider and Slate.
Even the best and most careful journalists get things wrong sometimes. But the minimal requirement for journalistic credibility and integrity is acknowledging and fixing mistakes. When the debate over Fake News first emerged, advocates of the term insisted that it was this attribute – a willingness to admit and correct errors – that distinguishes credible news outlets that sometimes err from fakes and frauds...
If you publish serious claims without any basis that mislead readers, and then refuse to acknowledge new evidence that disproves your original claims – all because you dislike the people you originally smeared with falsehoods too much to correct your error or because you hope the embarrassment will disappear faster if just you ignore it – why should anyone view you as being different than Macedonian teenagers or “alt-right” conspiracy sites? What are the cognizable differences?
journalism  error  agnotology 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
Information Wars: A Window into the Alternative Media Ecosystem
These rumors had different “signatures” from other types of rumors. In terms of volume (measured in tweets per minute), most crisis-related rumors spike quickly and then fade out relatively quickly as well, typically “decaying” at an exponential rate. But these alternative narrative rumors rose more slowly, and then they lingered, ebbing and flowing over the course of days or weeks (or years). They also had sustained participation by a set group of Twitter users (i.e. many tweets per user over an extended period of time), rather than finite participation by a large number of users (one or two tweets per user, all at around the same time) as typical rumors do. Additionally, alternative narrative rumors often had high “domain diversity”, in that tweets referencing the rumors linked to a large number of distinct domains (different websites), including alternative media sites such as InfoWars, BeforeItsNews, and RT (aka Russia Times). Several of these rumors also had a strong “botnet” presence
agnotology  socialmedia  internet  twitter 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
After 12 Rejections, Apple Accepts App That Tracks U.S. Drone Strikes
Five years ago, I made a simple iPhone app. It would send you a push notification every time a U.S. drone strike was reported in the news.

Apple rejected the app three times, calling it “excessively objectionable or crude content.”

Over the years, I would occasionally resubmit the app, changing its name from Drones+ to Metadata+. I was curious to see if Apple might change its mind. The app didn’t include graphic images or video of any kind — it simply aggregated news about covert war.
apple  politics  technology  agnotology  war 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
Given a state-of-the-art deep neural network classifier,
we show the existence of a universal
(image-agnostic) and
very small perturbation vector that causes natural images
to be misclassified with high probability. We propose a sys-
tematic algorithm for computing universal perturbations,
and show that state-of-the-art deep neural networks are
highly vulnerable to such perturbations, albeit being quasi-
imperceptible to the human eye. We further empirically an-
alyze these universal perturbations and show, in particular,
that they generalize very well across neural networks. The
surprising existence of universal perturbations reveals im-
portant geometric correlations among the high-dimensional
decision boundary of classifiers. It further outlines poten-
tial security breaches with the existence of single directions
in the input space that adversaries can possibly exploit to
break a classifier on most natural images
agnotology  mathematics  software  images 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
Wartime Demands Led to Sloppy Asbestos Use
For much of the 20th century, efforts to put the genie back into the bottle were thwarted by an asbestos industry that knew of the dangers of its commodity but constructed an elaborate conspiracy of silence.

What asbestos industry executives knew and when they knew it is a matter of public record, having come to light in the late 1970s after the first asbestos-disease lawsuits were filed.

But those executives had an accomplice: the U.S. government, which also knew asbestos was hazardous but turned a blind eye to the dangers throughout most of the 20th century...
working in an American shipyard during World War II would prove to be almost as deadly as fighting in the war.

During World War II, 16.1 million Americans were called to arms. The combat death rate was about 18 per thousand service members. About 4.3 million Americans worked in shipyards during the war. For every thousand wartime shipyard employees, about 14 died of asbestos-related cancer, and an unknown number died of an asbestos disease called asbestosis, or complications from it.

``In the highest levels of government, there was a conscious political decision to sacrifice lives of (shipyard workers) for the war effort,'' says Samuels, who, at 71, serves as vice president of a worldwide organization dedicated to advancing occupational health and safety issues.
agnotology  war  work  health 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
Majority of People in Britain Accept Climate Change is ‘Happening Right Now’, Survey Shows | DeSmog UK
most people understand that the climate is changing and that these changes will be seen through more extreme weather, the number of people who still remain sceptical is the highest in the UK, at 14 percent, compared to just eight percent of people voicing scepticism in France and nine percent in Norway.

The report is quick to point out, however, that scepticism is “not very widespread” and that across the four countries “a clear majority think that climate change is at least partly caused by human activity”.

But while it seems most people understand the science behind climate change, many are still not sure about how many scientists agree about the reality of climate change and it being caused by human activities.

In Britain, for instance, just 30 percent of people think the vast majority of scientists agree about climate change and 28 percent think most scientists do. Meanwhile only five percent think just a small minority of scientists agree.
climatechange  agnotology  europe  uk  politics 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
Reposting from a friend for all those Americans out there:
In case anyone is getting sidetracked by Russian spy drama and the 'Obama bugging', meanwhile the following bills have been introduced:

1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act”)
10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran
attention  agnotology  authoritarianism  us  politics 
march 2017 by juliusbeezer
About Us | DeSmog UK
DeSmog UK encourages intelligent, informed and robust debate. Commenters are encouraged to include links to supporting information as this helps enrich the conversation, especially when discussing climate change science. Users who make demonstrably false claims about the science may on occasion have their posts deleted. We believe this will assist readers in accessing more reliable information. DeSmog UK does not censor comments based on political or ideological points of view. We may delete comments that are abusive, off-topic or use offensive language.
agnotology  commenting  journalism  climatechange 
february 2017 by juliusbeezer
Cardinal Sins of Translation #4: Translating Without Knowing the Source Language - Intralingo
Having a working knowledge of a foreign language is generally assumed to be the most basic requirement for literary translators. But is it ever possible to translate from a language you don’t know?

First of all, how does translating work? Most often, the translators work with someone, either the author or another native speaker of the source language, who brings the text into English or a bridge language for the translator to work with. This is usually followed by a back-and-forth dialogue, either in person or over e-mail, in which the translator asks questions and tries out different options.

It should be noted that all my interviewees are also literary translators in the traditional sense; that is, they translate from languages they do know. This meant that they were already familiar with the myriad of issues that arise in all kinds of translation and the various ways in which they could find creative solutions...

“the ability to write (in the target language) is far and away the most important skill a translator could have.”
translation  language  literature  agnotology 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Sound of Silence - Jessica Livingston
Another downside of friction in sharing ideas publicly is that we lose the conversation they would have generated. Before Twitter et al, and before the media were so reliant on page views, Paul wrote an essay called “What You Can’t Say.” In it he said:

The trouble with keeping your thoughts secret, though, is that
you lose the advantages of discussion. Talking about an idea leads
to more ideas. So the optimal plan, if you can manage it, is to
have a few trusted friends you can speak openly to.

Thirteen years later, that's my default plan. There’s just too much downside for me to get distracted with others’ opinions of my opinions. [1] It's not that I'm afraid of expressing my opinions. I just think, "Why bother?"

It's great that technology has given more people a voice on the internet. But that doesn't necessarily mean less friction in sharing ideas, because some of those voices are shouting down the others.
attention  agnotology  socialmedia 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Death Of Expertise
No one — not me, anyway — wants to return to those days. I like the 21st century, and I like the democratization of knowledge and the wider circle of public participation. That greater participation, however, is endangered by the utterly illogical insistence that every opinion should have equal weight, because people like me, sooner or later, are forced to tune out people who insist that we’re all starting from intellectual scratch. (Spoiler: We’re not.) And if that happens, experts will go back to only talking to each other. And that’s bad for democracy.
agnotology  attention  politics  socialmedia  philosophy 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Unbearable Asymmetry of Bullshit | Quillette
There is a veritable truckload of bullshit in science.¹ When I say bullshit, I mean arguments, data, publications, or even the official policies of scientific organizations that give every impression of being perfectly reasonable — of being well-supported by the highest quality of evidence, and so forth — but which don’t hold up when you scrutinize the details. Bullshit has the veneer of truth-like plausibility. It looks good. It sounds right. But when you get right down to it, it stinks...

As the programmer Alberto Brandolini is reputed to have said: “The amount of energy necessary to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.” This is the unbearable asymmetry of bullshit I mentioned in my title, and it poses a serious problem for research integrity. Developing a strategy for overcoming it, I suggest, should be a top priority for publication ethics.
agnotology  sciencepublishing 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
Stereotypes Are Poisoning American Politics - Bloomberg View
The crucial point is that all these stereotypes purport to be findings. In fact, they're the opposite: a refusal to see vast individual variation within groups...
One of the greatest insights of economics is that individual incentives work while group rewards and punishments don’t. Collective guilt doesn't work to change anyone's behavior. In the end, collective guilt, fashioned from bogus analysis and delight in stereotypes, is mere slander. It's a formula for constant antagonism and it's poisoning American politics.
racism  politics  agnotology  authoritarianism 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
Arguing the Truth with Trump and Putin - The New York Times
If there is one trait that Mr. Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia share over all others, it is their understanding of the power of separating facts from truth. By denying known and provable facts — as when Mr. Trump denies making statements he has made — or by rejecting facts that are not publicly known, as with the C.I.A.’s information on Russian hacking, Mr. Trump exercises his ever-growing power over the public sphere. The resulting frenzy of trying to prove either the obvious known facts or the classified and therefore unknowable facts — two fruitless pursuits — creates so much static that we forget what we are really talking about.

Let us imagine the conversation we would be having if we were not preoccupied with Mr. Trump’s denial of the C.I.A.’s conclusions. We would now be discussing the appropriate response to the hacking. We would be talking about consequences for the American electoral process in general and for the results of this election in particular. We would be asking why it matters if Russia’s hacking efforts were intended to benefit Mr. Trump. But in the heat of arguing about facts, journalists and pundits have acted as though the answers to these questions are obvious. They are not.

Sign Up for the Opinion Today Newsletter

Every weekday, get thought-provoking commentary from Op-Ed columnists, the Times editorial board and contributing writers from around the world.
agnotology  news  attention  us 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
We can Fix It: Saving the Truth from the Internet
So it is time to lend a hand; time to raise a barn. We need to figure out how to create the standard new methods of authentication and ranking. We need help pushing for changes at large internet companies. We need to think through the details of how the truth and rotten tomato prizes would be awarded. We’ll need a budget and funding to create a strong incentive for the prizes. We need to promote these ideas and get more adoption. In short, if you found this message, we need you. If you agree that we need social action to make the internet safe for truth, promote this message and sign up to be part of this project.
internet  socialmedia  agnotology  commenting  dccomment  philosophy 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
Report X Marks the Spot: The British Government's Deceptive Dossier on Iraq and WMD - Herring - 2014 - Political Science Quarterly - Wiley Online Library
Drawing upon the relevant classic and contemporary literatures,28 there are categorizations available that can be used to help define when organized political persuasion becomes deceptive. First, there is deception through lying, defined here as making a statement that one knows or suspects to be untrue in order to mislead. Officials and politicians know it would be very costly were they to be exposed as having lied and so have a major incentive to find other ways of misleading. Second, deception can be achieved through withholding information to make the viewpoint being promoted more persuasive; the article refers to this as deception through omission (synonymous with Mearsheimer's category of deception through concealment). It is deceptive because those involved know that an audience might not be persuaded if they knew the full picture. Third, deception through distortion can also occur. This involves framing a statement in a deliberately misleading way to support the viewpoint being promoted. Our categories of deception through omission and deception through distortion are equivalent to Mearsheimer's categories of concealment and spin respectively.29

Central to the task of assessing whether the above categories of deception are in play is the issue of intentionality. Omissions, distortions, and the circulation of untruths may all occur through accident, misperception, or even self-deception by those responsible.30
agnotology  politics 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
The right’s climate denialism is part of something much larger | Grist
Regardless, to restrict discussion to climate science — how many scientists say what, who signed what statement, how many peer-reviewed papers say what — misses the forest for the trees. Climate denialism is part of something much broader and scarier on the right. The core idea is most clearly expressed by Rush Limbaugh:

"We really live, folks, in two worlds. There are two worlds. We live in two universes. One universe is a lie. One universe is an entire lie. Everything run, dominated, and controlled by the left here and around the world is a lie..."
The right’s project over the last 30 years has been to dismantle the post-war liberal consensus by undermining trust in society’s leading institutions. Experts are made elites; their presumption of expertise becomes self-damning. They think they’re better than you. They talk down to you. They don’t respect people like us, real Americans.
agnotology  climatechange  philosophy  politics 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
WikiLeaks specializes in publishing, curating, and ensuring easy access to full online archives of information that has been censored or suppressed, or is likely to be lost. An understanding of our historical record enables self-determination; publishing and ensuring easy access to full archives, rather than just individual documents, is central to preserving this historical record. Since publishing Cablegate, WikiLeaks has continued to work to make PlusD the most complete online archive of US Department of State documents, adding to the library each year with newly available cables and other documents from the State Department communications system. It can be accessed through a set of specially developed search interfaces at
reading  research  writing  wikileaks  agnotology  attention  journalism  history  archiving 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Why journalistic 'balance' is failing the public
And even truth-seeking journalists could easily be pressured into inadvertently or even intentionally covering stories in order to satisfy a false or imaginary sense of balance. You can’t blame them. The concept of “balance” – or as its critics refer to it “false equivalence” – has long been a key precept of journalism. It epitomises the idealistic notion that journalists ought to be fair to all so that, whenever they write a story, they give equal weight to both sides of the argument.

But, especially in our new “post-truth” era, this doesn’t always work to the benefit of the public good. Here are some examples of where balance doesn’t necessarily work...

But you can’t help but have some sympathy for Jacob Weisberg of Slate magazine, quoted in Spayd’s article, who said that journalists used to covering candidates who were like “apples and oranges” were presented with a candidate, Trump, who was like “rancid meat”.
journalism  writing  science  agnotology 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Alan Sokal's writings on science, philosophy and culture
Other useful Web sites on the "Social Text Affair"

Jason Walsh site NOTE NEW LOCATION!!!
Gen Kuroki site
"The Science Wars Homepage" Please note that I do not endorse the title of this page; in my opinion this is an intellectual debate, not a "war"! But this page does contain much useful material.
Sokal et Bricmont dans la presse francophone (bibliographie, en français) NOTE NEW LOCATION!!!
Vittorio Bertolini site (sito in italiano) NOTE NEW LOCATION!!!
Jukka-Pekka Takala site (site in Finnish and Scandinavian languages)

Postmodern essay generator (courtesy of Andrew Bulhak, see description and source code)
Postmodern sentence generator
SCIgen, a program for generating random computer-science research papers (courtesy of Jeremy Stribling, Max Krohn and Dan Aguayo, three computer-science grad students at MIT)
Mathgen, a program for generating random mathematics research papers (courtesy of Nate Eldredge, incorporating code from SCIgen). And see also the delicious story of the Mathgen paper accepted at a (pseudo-)journal: here and here.
snarXiv, an archive of randomly generated titles/abstracts of papers in high-energy physics (courtesy of David Simmons-Duffin). Also, play the arXiv vs. snarXiv game: guess which paper titles are real and which are fake! (My own score is a lousy 83%)
Theorem Generator, a generator of random "theorems" and "proofs" (also courtesy of David Simmons-Duffin).
agnotology  language  editing  sokal  coding 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
There are many natural scientists, and especially physicists, who continue to reject the notion that the disciplines concerned with social and cultural criticism can have anything to contribute, except perhaps peripherally, to their research. Still less are they receptive to the idea that the very foundations of their worldview must be revised or rebuilt in the light of such criticism. Rather, they cling to the dogma imposed by the long post-Enlightenment hegemony over the Western intellectual outlook, which can be summarized briefly as follows: that there exists an external world, whose properties are independent of any individual human being and indeed of humanity as a whole; that these properties are encoded in ``eternal'' physical laws; and that human beings can obtain reliable, albeit imperfect and tentative, knowledge of these laws by hewing to the ``objective'' procedures and epistemological strictures prescribed by the (so-called) scientific method.

But deep conceptual shifts within twentieth-century science have undermined this Cartesian-Newtonian metaphysics1; revisionist studies in the history and philosophy of science have cast further doubt on its credibility2; and, most recently, feminist and poststructuralist critiques have demystified the substantive content of mainstream Western scientific practice, revealing the ideology of domination concealed behind the façade of ``objectivity''.3 It has thus become increasingly apparent that physical ``reality'', no less than social ``reality'', is at bottom a social and linguistic construct; that scientific ``knowledge", far from being objective, reflects and encodes the dominant ideologies and power relations of the culture that produced it; that the truth claims of science are inherently theory-laden and self-referential; and consequently, that the discourse of the scientific community, for all its undeniable value, cannot assert a privileged epistemological status with respect to counter-hegemonic narratives emanating from dissident or marginalized communities. These themes can be traced, despite some differences of emphasis, in Aronowitz's analysis of the cultural fabric that produced quantum mechanics4; in Ross' discussion of oppositional discourses in post-quantum science5; in Irigaray's and Hayles' exegeses of gender encoding in fluid mechanics6; and in Harding's comprehensive critique of the gender ideology underlying the natural sciences in general and physics in particular.7
sciencepublishing  agnotology  sokal  editing 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
On Bullshit and the News Media we’ve all helped to build – Medium
Maybe if we judged bullshitters like we do liars, we could have seen Trump’s game from a mile away...
Seek out news that doesn’t have an agenda. Buy a subscription to an honest, no-bullshit newspaper if you can afford it. Journalists at such newspapers are on the front lines of the war against bullshit media. Start treating partisan news like dessert, not the main course of your media diet.
journalism  news  agnotology 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Virtual Bus Stop Supermarket in The Netherlands | Gijs van Wulfen | Pulse | LinkedIn
Now, the bus stop supermarket in the Netherlands is an experiment. Experimenting is a great way to validate the adoption and attractiveness of your new product, service, process or experience through systematic research or testing. You test your new concept to learn if it really delivers value to your customer and if the business model you came up with is valid. By doing so, you validate the future business potential of your new concept.

The goal of experimentation at the start of innovation is to learn and improve. I couldn’t agree more with Davila & Epstein who state in their book The Innovation Paradox that: “Because breakthrough innovation is all about managing ignorance (rather than managing knowledge, as in incremental innovation), the way to learn is through confronting assumptions concerning a market with the reality of that market. The right technology and the right business model are discovered and shaped through smart experiments. A successful breakthrough innovation is not simply an ingenious idea, but an entire process of discovery and crafting.”
agnotology  business  attention 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
The forces that drove this election’s media failure are likely to get worse » Nieman Journalism Lab
I used to be something of a skeptic when it came to claims of “filter bubbles” — the sort of epistemic closure that comes from only seeing material you agree with on social platforms. People tend to click links that align with their existing opinions, sure — but isn’t that just an online analog to the fact that our friends and family tend to share our opinions in the real world too? I ate up studies (from Facebook and others) that argued the site actually encouraged a certain kind of information diversity, because your Facebook friends are likely drawn from a wider group of people (the guy you went to middle school with, your mom’s neighbor, that rando you met that weekend at the beach) than the people you discuss news with in real life.

But I’ve come to think that the rise of fake news — and of the cheap-to-run, ideologically driven aggregator sites that are only a few steps up from fake — has weaponized those filter bubbles. There were just too many people voting in this election because they were infuriated by made-up things they read online.

(Speaking of filter bubbles: Even now, right after the election, my Facebook News Feed is filled with sad posts from my liberal friends from college or media. There are also happy posts from my relatives and friends in the South — but I have to hunt those out because Facebook’s algorithm isn’t putting them in my feed.)
facebook  journalism  agnotology 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Impact of Social Sciences – The current system of knowledge dissemination isn’t working and Sci-Hub is merely a symptom of the problem
Lost revenue is not the only reason for which publishers oppose the operation of Sci-Hub. According to the Association of American Publishers (AAP), by providing indiscriminate access to content, Sci-Hub (and by extension LibGen) are making “certain information, regulated for distribution by publishers, available to parties not intended to have this technical know-how.” In other words, the AAP argues that access to certain knowledge should be confined to specific groups of researchers. This is by all means a contentious claim, as restricting access to knowledge seems to go against the rationale which ostensibly justifies the existence of academic publishers. All researchers, but especially the least economically empowered in academia and outside it, are disadvantaged by such attitudes towards knowledge dissemination.
scholarly  sciencepublishing  scihub  freeandopen  agnotology 
september 2016 by juliusbeezer
What I learned as a hired consultant to autodidact physicists | Aeon Ideas
I put up a note on my blog offering physics consultation, including help with theory development: ‘Talk to a physicist. Call me on Skype. $50 per 20 minutes.’

A week passed with nothing but jokes from colleagues, most of whom thought my post was a satire. No, no, I assured them, I’m totally serious; send me your crackpots, they’re welcome. In the second week I got two enquiries and, a little nervous, I took on my first customer. Then came a second. A third. And they kept coming.

My callers fall into two very different categories. Some of them cherish the opportunity to talk to a physicist because one-to-one conversation is simply more efficient than Google. They can shoot up to 20 questions a minute, everything from: ‘How do we know quarks exist?’ to ‘Can atoms contain tiny universes?’ They’re normally young or middle-aged men who want to understand all the nerdy stuff but have no time to lose. That’s the minority.

The majority of my callers are the ones who seek advice for an idea they’ve tried to formalise, unsuccessfully, often for a long time. Many of them are retired or near retirement, typically with a background in engineering or a related industry. All of them are men.
sciencepublishing  agnotology  communication  science 
august 2016 by juliusbeezer
How facts backfire - The Boston Globe
It appears that misinformed people often have some of the strongest political opinions. A striking recent example was a study done in the year 2000, led by James Kuklinski of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He led an influential experiment in which more than 1,000 Illinois residents were asked questions about welfare — the percentage of the federal budget spent on welfare, the number of people enrolled in the program, the percentage of enrollees who are black, and the average payout. More than half indicated that they were confident that their answers were correct — but in fact only 3 percent of the people got more than half of the questions right...
There is a substantial body of psychological research showing that people tend to interpret information with an eye toward reinforcing their preexisting views. If we believe something about the world, we are more likely to passively accept as truth any information that confirms our beliefs, and actively dismiss information that doesn’t. This is known as “motivated reasoning.” Whether or not the consistent information is accurate, we might accept it as fact, as confirmation of our beliefs. This makes us more confident in said beliefs, and even less likely to entertain facts that contradict them...
One avenue may involve self-esteem. Nyhan worked on one study in which he showed that people who were given a self-affirmation exercise were more likely to consider new information than people who had not. In other words, if you feel good about yourself, you’ll listen — and if you feel insecure or threatened, you won’t. This would also explain why demagogues benefit from keeping people agitated. The more threatened people feel, the less likely they are to listen to dissenting opinions, and the more easily controlled they are.
psychology  agnotology  authoritarianism 
august 2016 by juliusbeezer
The Mistrust of Science - The New Yorker
Rebutting bad science may not be effective, but asserting the true facts of good science is. And including the narrative that explains them is even better. You don’t focus on what’s wrong with the vaccine myths, for instance. Instead, you point out: giving children vaccines has proved far safer than not. How do we know? ...

The other important thing is to expose the bad science tactics that are being used to mislead people. Bad science has a pattern, and helping people recognize the pattern arms them to come to more scientific beliefs themselves. Having a scientific understanding of the world is fundamentally about how you judge which information to trust. It doesn’t mean poring through the evidence on every question yourself. You can’t. Knowledge has become too vast and complex for any one person, scientist or otherwise, to convincingly master more than corners of it...

Few working scientists can give a ground-up explanation of the phenomenon they study; they rely on information and techniques borrowed from other scientists. Knowledge and the virtues of the scientific orientation live far more in the community than the individual. When we talk of a “scientific community,” we are pointing to something critical: that advanced science is a social enterprise, characterized by an intricate division of cognitive labor...

The mistake is to believe that educational credentials... give you any special authority on truth. What you have gained is far more important: an understanding of what real truth-seeking looks like
science  agnotology  attention 
june 2016 by juliusbeezer
Peter Suber, Open Access News
...It’s hard to fight an adversary that manages to be both elusive and in possession of a better message: Free information....

There are no clear villains. Government is looking to give taxpayers free access to the research that they fund and publishers are trying to protect their business and the integrity of the research they publish. The free internet movement is strong and getting stronger....


Supplement the Coalition’s lobbying efforts with communications “air cover”
Simplify the Coalition’s arguments into easily digestible concepts (e.g., censorship)....
openaccess  agnotology 
may 2016 by juliusbeezer
Partnership for Research Integrity in Science and Medicine - SourceWatch
Hiring Dezenhall For PR Advice

In January 2007, Nature reported that public relations operative, Eric Dezenhall, "spoke to employees from Elsevier, Wiley and the American Chemical Society (ACS) at a meeting arranged last July [2006] by the Association of American Publishers." The publishers were seeking to counter economic threats from open-access journals and public databases.

In an email leaked to Nature, Dezenhall suggested that the publishers "focus on simple messages, such as 'Public access equals government censorship.' He hinted that the publishers should attempt to equate traditional publishing models with peer review, and 'paint a picture of what the world would look like without peer-reviewed articles.'"
openaccess  agnotology 
may 2016 by juliusbeezer - Feature Articles
. Pat Schroeder and Brian Crawford defend peer review when it is not under attack, and they attack public access to publicly-funded research without showing that it would undermine peer review. As they have many times before, they cloak their concern about publisher revenue with concern about the “integrity” of scholarship and peer review. This is straight out of the playbook of the PR consultant Eric Dezenhall, who advised the AAP “to equate traditional publishing models with peer review.”
openaccess  agnotology 
may 2016 by juliusbeezer
Rawls on Justice
We are to imagine ourselves in what Rawls calls the Original Position. We are all self-interested rational persons and we stand behind "the Veil of Ignorance." To say that we are self-interested rational persons is to say that we are motivated to select, in an informed and enlightened way, whatever seems advantageous for ourselves.

To say that we are behind a Veil of Ignorance is to say we do not know the following sorts of things: our sex, race, physical handicaps, generation, social class of our parents, etc. But self-interested rational persons are not ignorant of (1) the general types of possible situations in which humans can find themselves; (2) general facts about human psychology and "human nature".

Self-interested rational persons behind the Veil of Ignorance are given the task of choosing the principles that shall govern actual world. Rawls believes that he has set up an inherently fair procedure here. Because of the fairness of the procedure Rawls has described, he says, the principles that would be chosen by means of this procedure would be fair principles.

A self-interested rational person behind the Veil of Ignorance would not want to belong to a race or gender or sexual orientation that turns out to be discriminated-against. Such a person would not wish to be a handicapped person in a society where handicapped are treated without respect. So principles would be adopted that oppose discrimination.

Likewise, a self-interested rational person would not want to belong to a generation which has been allocated a lower than average quantity of resources. So (s)he would endorse the principle: "Each generation should have roughly equal resources" or "Each generation should leave to the next at least as many resources as they possessed at the start."

The corollary of this, in rights terms, is that all generations have the same rights to resources, future as well as present.
justice  philosophy  attention  agnotology 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
Chernobyl poisoned my childhood – POLITICO
My family experienced the Chernobyl disaster from behind the iron curtain.

From the rumors that started to swirl in the days after the explosion, to the first 14-second mention of a small accident on state television in Moscow on April 28. We watched, with equal parts fear and fury, the glowing bulletins on the efforts of rescue workers and engineers in the days following, and the acknowledgement, 18 days after the disaster, by Gorbachev of a “misfortune” that had “painfully wounded the Soviet people and worried the international community.”

We knew, of course, that it was mostly lies. But we listened to it anyway.
nukes  agnotology  ussr 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
How the CIA Writes History
When I asked to see the Cram and Applewhite papers, a staff archivist told me both collections had been removed from public view. The CIA, he explained, was reviewing the boxes for “security material.” He said he thought the material would be returned “by the fall” of 2015. When I asked to see the library records for the Cram papers again, I was told the CIA had removed those from public view, too.

“They knew you were coming,” Tim Weiner told me. Author of the best-selling CIA history Legacy of Ashes, Weiner suggested the agency had learned I was writing an Angleton biography and acted preemptively to protect itself.

Perhaps insufficiently paranoid, I hadn’t thought of that possibility, but I can’t dismiss it now. Trade publications reported in January 2015 that I had signed a contract for the Angleton biography. The Cram and Applewhite papers were removed from public view in the spring of 2015, according to one Georgetown employee.
history  archiving  agnotology  us 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
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