Saturday, August 17, 2013

FB World

A friend asked a question on FaceBook today that I can't answer on FB.  Can't answer it there because the answer isn't simple, and FB is a place for simple things.  A place where people put up links with built-in outrage and a dearth of thought, nuance or truth.  I have a compulsion: if it is something I care about, to go back to primary sources.  And there are some common FB sources that I just discount because every one I have checked out has been a lie.

But they are easy.  Short videos.  Impassioned speeches.  Headlines.  Soundbites. It takes absolutely no effort to find vitriol-disguised-as-fact to support whatever emotion-laden thing you choose to believe.  But if you go to primary sources and have even basic skills in critical thinking, it is almost all bullshit. No, not bullshit.  It is entertainment designed for no other purpose than to get you to read it and spread it.  You are the product of this business.  And it is brilliant at manipulating you.

Statistically, most of you will get half of this.  You will immediately realize how true it is for the other side and completely dismiss that you partake of it too.  The more raw intelligence you have, the better your justifications will be, because your limbic system trumps your neocortex.  As long as you have the emotional attachment, your intelligence is a slave to your tribal identity.

Your emotions, not your intelligence decides what is 'right' and then your intelligence is drafted to prove why it is right.  I've talked with pagans and shamans and christians and muslims and atheists.  High end, intelligent people.  They disagree.  Think about two icons of the American right/left divide say, Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton.  I'd put both their IQ's above 130.  There aren't a lot, maybe any, top people in any field who are actually stupid.  But what they believe (feel) trumps.

And the soundbite world of FB is perfect for this.  Thinking is work.  Research is work.  Evidently, people hate work.  We all pretend we think for ourselves, but if someone gives us a factoid that supports our worldview, the question of truth doesn't even enter our minds.

Life is about the questions, not the answers.  If you accept the answers without the questions, you are giving up part of your life.  It's hard, I know.  And it can be stressful to live in a world where things are fairly complicated and there aren't many clear-cut bad guys and there really isn't a simple solution to big problems and there is a very real possibility that even the big problems themselves might not be what we think... but part of being an adult, as Kai says, is your comfort level with ambiguity.

Think, dammit.

8 comments:

Jason Azze said...

Regarding: "You will immediately realize how true it is for the other side and completely dismiss that you partake of it too."

Dan North talks about attribution bias, confirmation bias, and what he calls "bias bias," in which 70% of men believe they're better than average drivers, etc.

Bias bias also applies to itself. "I don't suffer from bias bias as much as the next guy!"

Jim said...

But if I think, I might question. And if I question, I might not like the answers or where they take me...

Tia said...

The Internet in general has created a climate where it's acceptable to base our validity judgments on what we don't know rather than what we do know from peer reviewed research. The current thinking is that if you can't absolutely disprove an idea, that idea is by default credible because there is a possibility (however slight) it's right. Because we can't absolutely prove, for example, that GMO's have never contributed in any way to a single cancer incident, activists sell a GMO-cancer link as a valid concern. And nobody stops them because fear and conspiracy are interesting and safe cassava isn't.
Back to martial arts, and a few blogs back, maybe Judo survived the death of its founder because the Kodokan has an active scientific research group that develops the sport. As I try to figure out what works and what training methodologies are flawed, I get better insight as a martial scientist than a martial artist.

Toby said...

I wanted to 'like' this post but couldn't find a button to do so... *sighs*

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Josh K. said...

Rory,

"A friend asked a question on FaceBook today that I can't answer on FB.  Can't answer it there because the answer isn't simple, and FB is a place for simple things." —Both of these statements are, as you would say conclusions, not facts.

 The answer if this is a problem, if you feel needs to be addressed, lies within this statement made in the second paragraph.

"It is entertainment designed for no other purpose than to get you to read it and spread it."

If you take out entertainment, a conclusion, there is nothing prohibiting positive fact based information or that it must be false, misleading or negative being on the Facesbooks.

Should MacYoung not use his Website to engage people, or you with this blog. FB is just another medium within a larger medium, and it is what you make of it.

If you feel FB is all about the sound bites and not answers, then don't give answers. Maybe provide a link to a blog post, website, book on the subject of what you feel is a credible source.

To me there are two types of question seekers. Those looking for someone to give them the answer or as you pointed out comfer a conclusion, because reasoning is hard. I like reasoning vs thinking Rory for what you are describing. If they are asking a question, they have at lest identified/formulated a question. Reasoning is where you come up with an answer/conclusion. But then again this is probable me just nit picking.

And the second are those testing thier conclusions against someone's opinion they, trust. An Honerable Enemy.

I don't believe you should change your answer depending on which one you think you are dealing with. Maybe it is a waste of time dealing with the first, but then again they just might have a lightbulb moment. But that is a desision we must face engage or not to engage.

My 2 cents,
Josh

Josh K. said...

Sorry, Just realized there is an assumption in my 7th paragraph. They could be parroting back a question heard & firmulated by someone else.

Nomad said...

I just wish I could "Like" this...