Let Them Eat Facts: Why Fact Checking Is Mostly Useless In Convincing Voters

from the feeling-entitled-to-your-own-facts dept

Last week I wrote a bit about the ridiculous and misguided backlash against Facebook over the election results. The basis of the claim was that there were a bunch of fake or extremely misleading stories shared on the site by Trump supporters, and some felt that helped swing the election (and, yes, there were also fake stories shared by Clinton supporters -- but apparently sharing fake news was nearly twice as common among Trump supporters than Clinton supporters). I still think this analysis blaming Facebook is wrong. There was confirmation bias, absolutely, but it's not as if a lack of fake news would have changed people's minds. Many were just passing along the fake news because it fit the worldview they already have.

In response to that last post, someone complained that I was arguing that "facts don't matter" and worried that this would just lead to more and more lies and fake news from all sides. I hope that's not the case, but as I said in my reply, it's somewhat more complicated. Some folks liked that reply a lot so I'm expanding on it a bit in this post. And the key point is to discuss why "fact checking" doesn't really work in convincing people whom to vote for. This doesn't mean I'm against fact checking, or think that facts don't matter. Quite the reverse. I think more facts are really important, and I've spent lots of time over the years calling out bogus news stories based on factual errors.

But here's the problem: the general business of fact checking seems to merely serve to, again, reinforce and retrench opinions, rather than change them. As I said in my comment, there are a large group of people out there that view the whole fact checking business itself as a sort of condescending "let them eat facts" kind of thing, in which they're being scolded for believing the "wrong" kind of thing. And this has lead (not surprisingly) to widespread attacks on fact checkers themselves as being "biased." You don't have to look very hard to find (often conservative-leaning) publications argue that "fact checkers" are biased against their views. The famed debunking site Snopes has come in for particular attack this year as just a liberal front. In the past few months, any time I've mentioned Snopes, or seen someone else link to it in our comments, another comment will mock them from linking to such a "biased" or "Clinton-supporting" site. Snopes itself, for it's part, has put up a somewhat amusing page with all of the contradictory accusations of bias it has received over the years from people who dislike its fact checking on certain politicians.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously stated "You're entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts." It's a good quote, but the problem is that plenty of people do feel entitled to their own facts these days. And straight up fact checking seems like the wrong approach. In psychology, there's a concept known as cognitive dissonance, describing how people basically trick themselves into dealing with contradictory beliefs (the term is technically about the uncomfortable position people are in put in because of the contradictory ideas, but it is commonly used to describe how people effectively trick themselves to get out of that state). It seems to describe how many people end up dealing with inconvenient facts. They don't change their mind -- they just come up with an excuse as to why the facts presented are wrong or biased. And when they're presented in the form of "fact checking" from a big site or news publication, it's easier than ever to dismiss them, because we're told over and over again that "you can't trust the media." That gives people an out -- when they come across inconvenient facts, they insist that there's bias or a problem with the source while not dealing with the actual underlying facts. And studies have shown that fact checking can not just fail to convince people in political debates, it can actually make them cling more strongly to their false beliefs.

I'm not quite sure how to deal with this, but I wonder if the overall approach needs to change. It's pretty uncommon to see people change their minds when just handed a big stack of facts. Some have suggested that convincing people they're wrong on something is so complex that it has to involve them literally transforming how they think of themselves, which is not going to happen when you just throw a pile of facts at them. In my experience, the times I've been convinced to change my mind, or seen others change their minds, it tends to come when there are long drawn out conversations, exploring the issues in more depth -- with lots of back and forth. But also it tends to happen in environments where the stakes are lower (e.g., often private, rather than public discussions, where no one "loses face" for realizing they were wrong).

Given that, I still don't know what the solution is, but merely pumping up the fact checking isn't going to do much to change anyone's minds. It just angers some, and reinforces the feelings of superiority of others.

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  • icon
    timmaguire42 (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 10:54am

    Fact checking itself is a biased business with a problematic history. (Most fact-checking outlets are rightfully seen as shading their judgments to benefit a particular candidate or party.) If Facebook gets into that game, they will undermine themselves without adding a meaningful benefit to their audience.

    Best to let people fight it out among themselves.

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  • icon
    TheResidentSkeptic (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 10:55am

    requisite movie quote..

    "That's the fact, Jack"

    -- John Winger

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 10:56am

    Snopes literally gave Sanders and Trump different ratings for the same claim. I'm not a fan of Trump, but Snopes is suspect as fuck.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:07am

      Re:

      Snopes is a liberal front. Just Google "Snopes is wrong" and see how many hits you get.

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    • icon
      FamilyManFirst (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:30am

      Re:

      Interesting claim. I have some trouble believing it, though. Can you point to your example? Show me the facts! :)

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:51am

          Re: Re: Re:

          One little difference between these claims that sticks out.

          In the first link:

          We can’t say with certainty, because Trump’s campaign, as usual, didn’t respond to our question.

          And in the second:

          Sanders’ camp pointed us to research by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center think tank. This data is different from the more familiar measurements for a few reasons.

          Perhaps if Trump "showed his work" and not left it to them to reverse engineer his claim to try and decipher where it came from, the ratings would've been a bit more similar.

          That's not the fault of Politifact.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:22pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So a fact checker is running their facts through another party?

            I am not sure I would trust fact checking through an organization that needs someone to tell them where & how to authenticate facts.

            I don't have a problem with someone saying, hey, show your work, but that is not exactly what is happening here.

            It looks like Trump was just rated lower for being nothing more than an uncooperative team player. That stinks of corruption. Fact checking just become opinionated.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:43pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              So a fact checker is running their facts through another party?

              I am not sure I would trust fact checking through an organization that needs someone to tell them where & how to authenticate facts.

              No - the fact checker is asking the person who stated the "fact" to show where they got that statistic from. Which should be a simple thing to show.

              I mean, what's to say he didn't make it up?

              I don't have a problem with someone saying, hey, show your work, but that is not exactly what is happening here.

              It seems like Trump had a problem with it, as he didn't bother to respond. I suspect that's why he was graded differently. Just like someone who used a calculator to do their math homework, gets a failing grade, and then complains when the instructions clearly say "show all work."

              It looks like Trump was just rated lower for being nothing more than an uncooperative team player. That stinks of corruption. Fact checking just become opinionated.

              An uncooperative team player is not a team player.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:31pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                lol, you definitely missed the point.

                They found out, just without the help of Trump, and you need to find and download and update for your sarcasm software. Most people I know figure out what I mean by 'uncooperative team player'.

                I already said I don't have a problem with them asking for source, but Trumps dickishness has nothing to do with the quality of the fact checking. So if you are okay with that, then you just told everyone that you care less about the facts and more about the emotions surrounding them, which means you cannot be trusted!

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:41pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I already said I don't have a problem with them asking for source,

                  Yeah, I'm not so sure you are, but go ahead...

                  but Trumps dickishness has nothing to do with the quality of the fact checking.

                  Well, yes it does - after all - it's his "fact" - you'd think if it's a "fact", it could be proven easily. If you leave it to someone else to prove your "easily-proven fact" (that turned out not to be so easily proven), then it's your own fault really.

                  So if you are okay with that, then you just told everyone that you care less about the facts and more about the emotions surrounding them, which means you cannot be trusted!

                  Wow. Pretty big stretch there.

                  All I did was say Bernie provided a source while Trump didn't. You seem to be more concerned with me pointing that out, than where Trump's "fact" came from.

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                  • identicon
                    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 2:46pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    Please, keep it up, you are becoming the poster child for this article, the fact does not matter, just your political bias of that fact is what matters. You care more about how they found out than the fact that they did found out.

                    You are, by proxy, making the claim that Trump was lying or baking shit because he did not care to provide the proof of his source, even though a source was discovered, and it is fine to score him lower for it.

                    This simply has no integrity, and you are showing the world your integrity is for political sale!

                    Stomp dancing in a circle. Neither Bernie or Trump providing the source is part of the problem here.

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                    • identicon
                      Beech, 16 Nov 2016 @ 2:20am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Coming in after the fact: the problem is that there are roughly 6 bajillion different researchers and polls and think tanks studying unemployment and blah blah blah. Trump and Bernie both said something that seems to contradict what the majority of respected researchers said. This site was checking their claims for truthiness, saw that discrepancy, and went to check sources to see who each candidate was basing their numbers on. Bernie provided a report from a respectable institution. Trump provided a middle finger.

                      So when it came time to write the articles, Bernie got a "True" rating, because his numbers matched those of a respectable research outlet. Trump got a "False" because no one has the time to look up the research as presented by EVERY researcher to see if there was a respectable one that supported his claims. Since it wasn't possible to verify Trump's numbers they had no recourse but to insinuate things about the combustibility of his pants. It's not about playing favorites, it's about ability to verify.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 5:49am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      You are, by proxy, making the claim that Trump was lying or baking shit because he did not care to provide the proof of his source, even though a source was discovered, and it is fine to score him lower for it.

                      Now you're saying there is a source?

                      Please - where is it? The article stated:

                      We can’t say with certainty, because Trump’s campaign, as usual, didn’t respond to our question.

                      But you seem to think there's something else? I'd be completely interested in seeing where exactly you found support for this "fact."

                      You care more about how they found out than the fact that they did found out.

                      Well, I'd say it is quite important, don't you think?

                      For example, if I said that the typical Trump voter is, on average 40% less intelligent than the average Hillary voter, and said I found the fact somewhere on the Internet but refuse to tell you where - does that make my statement true, until proven false?

                      Think carefully before you answer.

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 6:03am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Just thought I'd throw this in for good measure:

                      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161114/21315936043/trump-transition-website-has-some-cop yright-problems-both-copying-content-claiming-copyright.shtml#c176

                      Seems like Trump supporters like Politifact when it benefits them. Or should this number be called bullshit because of Politifact's lack of integrity?

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 6:09am

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Neither Bernie or Trump providing the source is part of the problem here.

                      Well, it's not a problem for Bernie at all, as he provided his source.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:45pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  They found out, just without the help of Trump, and you need to find and download and update for your sarcasm software.

                  Per the article:

                  Clearly, black youths have a harder time finding work than whites. But Trump exaggerates the issue through his misleading use of statistics.

                  We rate his statement Mostly False.

                  They sure did.

                  And he could've helped clear it up, if he only had showed his work.

                  But it appears that may not have been in his best interest.

                  Again, not Politifact's fault.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 12:26pm

      Re:

      wow, talk about not much to go on. 59 trump(mostly false) to 51sandersa(half true)sandersb(mostly true) african american youth unemployment(or real unimployment in one of sanders cases) isn't exactly the same statement to me. the context is also different and taken into account. but to each their own.

      this was the best argument(although not great) i've read against snopes so far. was there another statement you were talking about?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 20 Nov 2016 @ 9:17am

      Re:

      They came handy immediately declaring podesta's spirit cooking as fake, and Google prominently displayed snopes between news results for "podesta". So much for honesty.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:05am

    I doubt it

    "apparently sharing fake news was nearly twice as common among Trump supporters than Clinton supporters"

    Almost all of mainstream media is fake and most of it in favor of the Dems. So I doubt this little statistic very much as most all liberal news these days is fake, fraudulent, misleading or outright lies.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:13am

      Re: I doubt it

      Almost all of mainstream media is fake and most of it in favor of the Dems.

      This assumes that both candidates are equal in both their good deeds and douchebaggery.

      It's possible, just maybe possible that the candidates aren't (wait for it) equal?

      Or is it just a requirement that say, if Trump tweets "she's a fat old hag" that the media must find Hillary tweeting something similar, just so the coverage is equal? (even if that means making something up?)

      Is that what you're advocating for?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:19am

        Re: Re: I doubt it

        I didn't advocate for anything, I am disputing the statement that somehow the right is any more guilty of this than the left.

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        • identicon
          Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:31am

          Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

          "Not Republican" does not mean "Left."

          Can we please stop doing that?

          The Democrat party is led by neocons with Progressives in the back seat screaming till they get what they want.

          The nearest America has to a left is Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. That's not a lot, and they don't have much power.

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          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:32am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

            Slight correction: that's the nearest America has to a left that has any pull on the national level.

            I suspect that there's considerably more "left" in the general population, who simply haven't been able to make any headway against the established right-wing interests already in power.

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            • identicon
              Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 7:24am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

              You may find that's due to the fact that many people on your side of the Pond visibly jump whem someone says the word "Socialist." I actually met someone who did that once. He was from Virginia and had voted Obama.

              That's a Progressive visibly jumping at the word "Socialist."

              What left wing?!

              I've seen some actual American leftists on Twitter (they're the ones advocating nationalisation of everything and free everything and jacking up taxes, etc.), but they're few and far between. And you'd be amazed at how much people on either side of the aisle actually have in common with each other. If only they realised this! It's usually down to individual aspects of the culture wars. Turns out they're not as split between Liberal/Progressive and the Right as you'd think. For example, there are Dems who love guns. Really. Check it out.

              Imagine what'd happen if people just stopped fighting each other based on stereotypes and strawmen and actually talked to each other. It'd be amazing. Let's make that happen.

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              • icon
                The Wanderer (profile), 18 Nov 2016 @ 4:37am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

                I know there are Democrats who love guns; for sufficiently broad values of "love", I am one. Even my father, an ardent pacifist by philosophy, has enough of an interest in guns to have discussed buying one more or less for its own sake.

                (Well, you could argue that I'm not a Democrat; I'm not officially registered as one anymore, though I forget why not, and my philosophical position is probably closest to the Pirate Party, which doesn't appear to exist on a meaningful scale in the USA. I still tend to associate that way and vote that way in practice, however, at least until such time as ranked-preference voting eliminates the spoiler effect.)

                One of my brothers once opined that what we want in a candidate is someone who's socially libertarian and economically welfare-state. That's not precisely socialist, but it's probably closer to socialist than to the candidates we actually tend to _have_ in modern memory.

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      • icon
        timmaguire42 (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:21am

        Re: Re: I doubt it

        As any politico reader knows, if Trump accurately says other NATO nations aren't pulling their weight, but also says he had bacon and eggs for breakfast when really he just had eggs, while Clinton correctly says her dress is white and then lies about taking bribes while secretary of state, then they are both 50% honest.

        And if Trump goes on to say he drives the speed limit when he was clocked doing 66 in a 65 zone while Hillary says nothing while her campaign pays people to go to Trump rallies and start fights so the press can write about violence at Trump rallies, then Hillary is, statistically speaking, more honest than Trump.

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        • icon
          timmaguire42 (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:24am

          Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

          Thanks to Anonymous Coward, below, Politifact, not Politico. I like Politico. Sorry for slandering you, Politico.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 2:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: I doubt it

          I highly doubt Clinton pulled those strings.

          The psychological effect of fights at the rallies is important for convincing people that it is "us versus them".

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    • icon
      timmaguire42 (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:15am

      Re: I doubt it

      That went through my mind too--that fact could use a fact check. But it will never get one.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 3:26pm

      Re: I doubt it

      Yawn. How utterly, abhorrently ignorant a claim.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 3:44pm

      Re: I doubt it

      Yawn. That tired trope is beyond being utterly ignorant and silly.

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    • icon
      R.H. (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 7:50am

      Re: I doubt it

      If you'd followed the link in that line in the article, you would have seen the work that backs up that statement. Based on the research done, 38% of the right-leaning news articles shared on Facebook were mostly false or a mix of true and false information and 19% of the left-leaning articles shared on Facebook were mostly false or a mix of true and false information. Neither of these numbers is good but one is clearly worse.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:05am

    Not Facts opinions as fact

    Here is a great example of politifact issuing two different rulings on truth, because one fits there politics and one does not. The two issue that are weak at best correlations. The weaker argument is rated more truthful because it fits their politics. President to current economy is a weaker argument than open carry to crime statistics. Why do I say the correlation is weaker for the president to economy. The economy is is volatile by nature, it can not continuously go one way. The government is only one in a number of things that affect the economy. The federal government only can affect the economy so much, the state and local governments probably have a larger immediate affect on the local economy. The president is only a part of the the Federal government. The effects of the president are most likely longer term. His actions may affect the economy down the road, but most likely not immediately. The open carry to crime statistics probably is a stronger argument than that. Also the guy who made the open carry argument acknowledged that the correlation was possible not causal. He gets given a half true. While Hillary gets a mostly true for says the republican presidents are bad with economy, because the down economy correlates with with current republican president.

    http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2015/sep/22/hillary-clinton/hillary-cli nton-recessions-more-frequent-under-rep/

    Mostly True

    http://www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2015/oct/09/matt-gaetz/violent-crime-lower-states-o pen-carry/

    Half True

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    • icon
      crade (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:19pm

      Re: Not Facts opinions as fact

      Sure they are both correlations, but that doesn't make them false, the people saying them are both only claiming they are correlations. What makes the second one less true isn't that it is a correlation, it's that it has less backing it. The gun statement was only 23% lower for a single year, it's not 23% lower period like the guy claimed, it was 23% lower for one single year whereas the the data backing the other claim goes all the way back to world war 2.

      "Gaetz’s statement is a one-year snapshot that is misleading."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:08am

    There's are other factors as well

    Intelligence and education. Stupid people process facts poorly: even given the correct facts, they are often unable to reason from them to obvious conclusions. And uneducated people lack knowledge of history, science, etc.; they lack the context to comprehend what's put in front of them.

    The problem is that these aren't easily fixable issues. And as a country, we've done a miserable job with education: I routinely encounter high school graduates who don't know what a covalent bond is, what happened at Yalta, or who Miles Davis was -- just to pick a few items. I find this alarming and incomprehensible: how can we possibly call ourselves a leading civilization if we don't teach at least the rudimentary basics to our kids?

    Fact-checking won't work with these people either. They might accept the facts, but they can't do anything with them. If you say to them "I'm concerned about a Krystalnacht in the US" then they won't agree or disagree because they CAN'T: they don't know what it is.

    None of which absolves Facebook or Twitter or the rest from their role in this, which I think is substantial. We learned how to handle moderation online decades ago; they should have learned from us (and especially from our mistakes). They should have done MUCH better, doubly so that they have access to software tools and computing horsepower far beyond anything we had. They also have tens of millions of dollars to spend on it; we did it with no budget at all.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:09am

      Re: There's are other factors as well

      annnnnd of course I typo'd the Subject line while revising. Touche'.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:35am

      Re: There's are other factors as well

      It's not FB or Twitter's job to decide what's true or false. As Mike has said, it's up to us to think for ourselves. Otherwise, who will do our thinking for us? Would they do it in our interest, or in theirs?

      Read this: https://www.privateinternetaccess.com/blog/2016/06/fight-internet-fight-power-narrative/

      NOW do you understand? We can't give self-appointed gate-keepers that kind of power. They'd abuse the crap out of it!

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Nov 2016 @ 12:59pm

      Re: There's are other factors as well

      miles davis is an interesting choice, and the only one i know from you four. although knowing most of those things are not important to me. i would suggest that is part of the problem. there are many things i was taught, maybe even some of those(although i learned about miles later i think), but don't use or want to retain.

      i frequently find that many people don't know what i expect everyone to know, and many of those things i was taught in school. the 3 things i didn't know i was able to learn vaguely about in minutes and could probably know much more within an hour.

      i think willful ignorance such as only reading linking titles instead of reading the linking articles or sources to those articles is a bigger problem. i realize teaching critical thinking is proposed here as a solution, but i know i got that several times in schools. i don't know how many others did, and i don't know why it sticked for me.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:09am

    So much wrong in this post

    "You're entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts."

    Yes, and the confirmation bias and ignoring of facts is no more evident then Hillary supporters. Wikileaks couldn't publish enough dirt on her, the DNC and the media to change a liberals mind.

    So I understand the gist of your post, I don't understand why it pretends that any of this is a problem with the right more than the left???

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:17am

      Re: So much wrong in this post

      Yes, and the confirmation bias and ignoring of facts is no more evident then Hillary supporters. Wikileaks couldn't publish enough dirt on her, the DNC and the media to change a liberals mind.

      Perhaps they should've published something from the Trump campaign, you know, just so it didn't appear that they're biased?

      I thought you guys didn't like bias in news? ("fair and balanced")

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

        Not even sure what you are saying here ?!? I would be fine with Wikileaks publishing stuff from the RNC if they had it. My point is that the left are calling the right all sorts of names while ignoring the very real sins of their own candidate. A candidate that rigged her own primary and in effect the general election by possibly cheating Bernie out of being the Democratic candidate. She should be in jail for election rigging. But you and all the left will be on here in 5 seconds defending her thus proving my point.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

          "A candidate that rigged her own primary and in effect the general election by possibly cheating Bernie out of being the Democratic candidate."

          yea, this is another stark reminder of how mentally incompetent you have to be to serve the democratic party. So much back stabbing in the ranks an no one really seems all that pissed off about it!

          One would think they would clean their own house before going after another house. While I am an independent, I did at least take notice that the Repukes were considerably more honorable to their voters during their primaries than the Demturds.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 2:30pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

            Well, to the last, there were rumours about a convention mutiny against Trump at the republican convention. Only because of how many votes he was getting and therefore how criminal it would look, did they stay out of it. Also, many republican politicians did not endorse their candidate, which is rather remarkable. I am not sure it is honourable as much as selfpreservation.

            Meanwhile Sanders was also an outsider to the democratic party. He never really had a chance at the convention because of party rules and Clinton did win in overall voter counts. That the party was disloyal to Sanders, might not have mattered anyway. While he did make some feel the Bern, the majority of democratic voters did not prefer him. Particularly in the south he lacked appeal. I think he was too slow at getting the ball rolling on his campaign more than the partys obstruction being the primary reason for him losing.

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          • identicon
            Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:36am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

            Hmmm. You might find it worth your while to read up on Dr. Ron Paul's experience in the Republican primaries in 2012. Just sayin'.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:40am

          Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

          My point is that the left are calling the right all sorts of names while ignoring the very real sins of their own candidate.

          How exactly are they ignoring it? As you pointed out, it's everywhere. You're making an assumption.

          It's possible - just possible - that despite Hillary's misdeeds they feel that Trump is just a bigger asshole as a person than Hillary.

          In terms of transparency, the release of all those documents leaves nothing to the imagination. With Trump however, there's the mystery of his taxes (or more to the point, lack of taxes), his "university" (which I believe there's still supposed to be a trial coming up), his definition of "blind trust" (or as we on the left call it - clear conflict of interest). I could go on and on - right after I'm done bringing up Benghazi (after 7 investigations/33 hearings cleared her).

          But we can certainly ignore those things, can't we?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:28am

      Re: So much wrong in this post

      Here are a couple of examples of those opinions as facts per some left leaning people.

      Black Republican = Uncle Tom. In their mind it is not possible for a black person to be non-democrat unless they have been brain washed or fallen to some slave like control scheme by racist whitey.

      Female Agency = Democrat. Any female not espousing leftist ideals is similarly just another oppressed or silenced agent by the right. These women have no business thinking for themselves, they must follow the narrative set by the Woman elite if they want rights or consideration.

      Lets just hope the island does not capsize because if facts really had a place in these discussions, they might look a whole lot different!

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:33am

        Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

        Yes, while the left was lamenting that they didn't elect the first women president, the right was celebrating the first women to run a successful presidential campaign. What did the left have to say about her? crickets!

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:38am

          Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

          There have been a lot of female candidates.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_female_United_States_presidential_and_vice-presiden tial_candidates

          Not sure we can classify this as the first successful campaign, unless you are restricting it to nomination by one of the two main political parties.

          I personally would only classify a campaign as successful if they win the Presidency, so there has yet to be any actually successful Female campaigns to date in my opinion.

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          • identicon
            TripMN, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So much wrong in this post

            He was talking about the Campaign Manager.

            Donald Trump's campaign manager was Kellyanne Conway. I'm not 100% sure on the fact, but its being put out there that she is the first female to run a campaign that ended with the election of the candidate as POTUS (therefore calling it a successful presidential campaign).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:11am

    Yes, 1000 times yes for this

    " it tends to come when there are long drawn out conversations, exploring the issues in more depth"

    If we could get the left to stop the name calling and labeling and actually discuss policy we might get somewhere. Until then they will keep losing.

    http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/jan/25/cokie-roberts/have-democrats-lost -900-seats-state-legislatures-o/

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    • icon
      Dark Helmet (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:38am

      Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

      "If we could get the left to stop the name calling and labeling and actually discuss policy we might get somewhere. Until then they will keep losing."

      This, I think, though I'd suggest pretty much all the sides need to cease with the labeling, realize that identity politics sucks for everyone, and just start talking again. How many Republican candidates can Democrats compare to Hitler before the comparison loses all meaning. The danger is that when a Hitler comes along, nobody is going to listen. How many democrats can the Republicans wave off as "communist" or "socialist" before the comparison loses all meaning? The danger is that when a Stalin comes along nobody will listen.

      We've all gotten so busy calling each other "godless", "immoral", "liars", "evil", "Nazis", and "fascists" that we've forgotten that we probably agree on 75% of public policy and we just have to work out the other quarter. That isn't even a big deal, except nobody is talking to each other any more....

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

        "This, I think, though I'd suggest pretty much all the sides need to cease with the labeling, realize that identity politics sucks for everyone, and just start talking again."

        This is such a bad habit to break, labels are a go to piece of information for everyone.

        Of course you are talking just like George Washington in his farewell address. But I do agree, we should stop referring to each other by label so easily because it only foments division. I am guilty of using labels myself but do wish to dispense with them. Do you have any ideas on how this might be accomplished?

        I would personally outlaw any formation or mention of political parties within the government or public sector under threat of the revocation of voting rights and banning from public service or employment.

        if you want to run a political event you and every attendee can longer vote or run for office!

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        • icon
          Dark Helmet (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:53am

          Re: Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

          "I would personally outlaw any formation or mention of political parties within the government or public sector under threat of the revocation of voting rights and banning from public service or employment."

          I think if you do that, the backlash would be terrifying. Instead, I think having a group of Americans with a pulpit hammer home the idea that party affiliation is shitty and encouraging voters to remain independent is the better way to get to your goal. Because I ultimately agree: having a two party system is largely to blame for easy and binary labels. We should encourage Americans to either have an insane number of parties, or none at all, with the latter being my preference....

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

            You clearly have more hope in humanity than I do. I have met many people that love the two party system. It's like they are addicted to them like crack.

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            • icon
              Dark Helmet (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

              "You clearly have more hope in humanity than I do. I have met many people that love the two party system. It's like they are addicted to them like crack."

              Well, yes, there's that. Much like the fake debates set up currently on tv stations like ESPN, where two sides debate a question with only one right, and obvious, answer, but they setup two sides because conflict sells. I think that's happened in America, in large because of cable news on both sides of the aisle. Eventually it, like ESPN, will lose enough subscribers that they'll either change or die off.

              Either way, the solution is to get rid of the aisle, or make the aisle not mean anything....

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              • identicon
                Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:39am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

                Agreed. Let's stop pretending there's a see-saw swinging left to right and that each is the exact opposite of the other. There's not. The US left barely exists, there's no middle. There's only right and further right, and they come in a range of flavours.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re: Yes, 1000 times yes for this

        Yes, my point exactly. Until both sides start talking, each one will just attempt to legislate over the other. Obama opened up the executive order checkbook during his tenure and now that Pandora's box has been opened, Trump will probably do the same. He will probably extend the goal posts while he is at it. So anyone who supported Obama doing that better be prepared to eat a lot of crow.

        That is why I said at the time that executive orders should not be used. Frankly I much prefer a split of power so that things get moderated.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:16am

    Facts are NOT the only issue.

    Whether or not something is a fact is less of a problem when the reason for that fact is based on another piece of information.

    Let bring up an example.

    Person A hates the people in group B, because a person from group B used the groups perceived logic to justify an action person from group B took against Person A.

    In one case lets say that Person A was a total angel. Then it implies that Group B might be evil.
    In another case lets say the Person A was up to no good. Then it implies that Group B is not evil, but attempting to acquire justice.

    In this way, the facts are less of a concern than the events or actions, which may be ambiguous, that actually took place.

    Facts alone are worth little, which is why a lot of people do not give a shit about them. Everyone wants context, without context 1 + 1 = 2 is just fucking worthless information in the grand scheme.

    Motivation, reasoning, agenda, angle, the juicy bits... that is what people want. The facts can largely be damned until we reach a point to where something must be proven to ensure that motivation, reasoning, agenda, angle, or those juicy bits a fitting a narrative being presented! Say, like in the court of law. But in the court of public opinion? Well yea, fuck those facts!

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  • icon
    mrvco (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:22am

    When anyone says that they are "Fact Checking", then typically what you're going to get are select facts presented to support a particular position or world view.

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  • icon
    JoeDetroit (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:43am

    Holy crap

    Reading these comments leaves me with little hope that there might be a way that facts, data, & the truth, would influence & change the beliefs of the voters. It really does not help that there are so many very popular outlets that feed the bullshit to no end. & their audience laps it up.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:54am

      Re: Holy crap

      Then I would say that you are misunderstanding many of these comments.

      Facts, Data, and Truth DO influence & change beliefs quit a lot. The problem is, like you said, the many popular outlets feeding the bullshit. The issue is trust, if a known liar is spitting facts then those facts find small or slow purchase compared to a trusted source where they take root and grow quickly.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:43am

    Facts are becoming irrelevant because people live and see the world in their own bubbles. Before if you had beliefs that were radical, you would be considered an outcast and had the choice to conformed to the mainstream idea or be marginalized.

    With the internet, you can find other people with similar ideas as yours so it is harder to marginalize those ideas.

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  • icon
    wevrem (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:57am

    Mike, you are right

    Your final thoughts are spot on. Convincing someone else they are wrong only seems to happen when the convincer approaches it with an attitude of genuine respect and compassion, when the convincee feels they are in a safe place to accept they are wrong. It's hard to think of an example of that in today's political or media scene.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 11:57am

    It's time separate fact checking from opinion checking. PolitiFact does engage in a certain amount of opinion checking. Questions like "do tax cuts for the wealthy spur economic growth?" are questions of opinion; reasonable people can disagree, based on different studies and calculations.

    There are some things, however, that reasonable people can't disagree on. Trump said he never said climate change was a Chinese hoax. Well, yes he did. He tweeted it. We have it on the record. Whether *something happened* isn't open to debate, and when a candidate claims something did or didn't happen, but in fact the opposite is true, someone needs to point that out.

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    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 17 Nov 2016 @ 7:09am

      Re:

      Actually, even the question you cite is a question of fact. It's just that we don't necessarily have the data to determine what the facts of the question _are_, and that we disagree about the meaning of the data which we do have.

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  • icon
    Ehud Gavron (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:11pm

    Scott Greenfield opines similarly

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  • identicon
    Ed, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:25pm

    Simple fix?

    In my experience, the times I've been convinced to change my mind, or seen others change their minds, it tends to come when there are long drawn out conversations, exploring the issues in more depth -- with lots of back and forth.

    Is it time to ban Twitter, because limiting comments to 140 characters leads to a lack of depth? (This comment is 140 characters in length).

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:28pm

    Perhaps Politifact should have held the story until they could do a better job researching from where Trump’s number may have come. But no. “As we go to press no one will talk to us because we burned that bridge. So here’s an unresearched story with a clear conclusion.” It is just as lame as, “An unnamed source says…” This is where I tune out.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:50pm

      Re:

      Perhaps Politifact should have held the story until they could do a better job researching from where Trump’s number may have come.

      You're going on the premise that the number is correct - I'm not sure how wise that is.

      Let's say you eat at a restaurant. You've seen the menu. You know the prices.

      When you get the check, you see something odd as far as the total.

      Do you:

      • Dispute it and ask the waitperson to explain it?
      • Accept it absent any explanation, and pay it?
      • Dispute it, have the waitperson ignore you, and then pay it as-is?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 6:46am

      Re:

      until they could do a better job researching from where Trump’s number may have come

      Or, Trump could provide the source, as it's his claim.

      He refused.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:43pm

    Much of the fact checking of 2016 was designed to fit a certain narrative. Trump often spoke seriously about issues but the media took him literally.

    Case in point, referring to the email server story he said something to the effect of "Hillary acid washed her server to clean all data off it." In the next breath he said she bleached it. One of the networks fact checked "acid washing" and declared him a liar because she did not pour acid over the server.

    While he said something that would be false if taken literally many of us understood that he simply screwed up his terminology. Looking at his entire statement in context though it is obvious what point he was trying to make.

    Things like this cause the people to highly distrust the media.

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    • identicon
      TripMN, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:08pm

      Re:

      Well, you know Trump likes the 80's denim look. A little acid washing here, a little bleach-bitting of the hair there, and voila!, we bring back the 80's.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:58pm

    The shooting rate in Chicago is up

    Up this day, this week, this year, this decade?

    Is this Chicago, the city, or Chicago the metropolitan area?

    What % of these shootings are suicides? (Approximately 2/3 of shooting deaths nationwide are suicides; MSM never tells you that.)

    How to lie with statisticsXXXXXXXXXXfacts.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 12:59pm

    I think you can break this problem up into three specific categories:

    1) Religion. If you can hold up a fact that says abortions saves lives that's great, but that doesn't mean much when held up against a religious belief. And you also can't distill it down into a single issue, if abortion is bad because of a Religious ideal then just getting rid of that ideal isn't something you can do or convince someone to do. Religious values, just like cultural values, are built over decades and centuries.

    2) Does a fact always matter? A good example of this one Clinton's e-mails. It is a fact that she violated Executive Order 13526, which is an administrative law applicable to the Secretary of State. She wasn't prosecuted for it, but she still broke the law. To some that fact doesn't matter unless you were prosecuted, and to others it does.

    3) It is extremely difficult, even impossible in some cases, to stick to the facts. I think Climate Change is a good example here. It's easy to point out facts that Climage Change is real, and most people (including head in the sand Republican's) can agree to that. But it's hard to point out facts about the severity, because no one really knows and there are dozens of different answers out there. Makes it easy to dismiss or ignore an entire argument when half of it is factual and the other isn't.

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  • icon
    PlagueSD (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:19pm

    I think George Carlin nailed it with these two quotes.

    "Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.”

    “Never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    I do my own fact checking. I don't rely on any single source. 10 steps for vetting internet sources

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    • identicon
      Zonker, 15 Nov 2016 @ 4:31pm

      Re:

      I do my own fact checking. I don't rely on any single source. 10 steps for vetting internet sources

      I'm not going to rely on the only source in your post. I've checked the facts myself and I think Abraham Lincoln nailed it with these two quotes:

      *If it is on the Internet then it must be true, and you can't question it."

      "Don't believe everything you read on the Internet."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 6:32am

      Re:

      And that site's methodology is itself becoming *obsolete* as people migrate away from dedicated-domain shared-hosting platforms to either integrated hosted services (such as WP), optionally with a CNAME pointer to create the illusion of a dedicated domain, or VPSes that allow them to self-host the service stack they wish while providing a unique IP.

      In the first case, you have reputable authorities utilizing integrated hosted services on a regular basis in order to reduce in-house IT workload to a tolerable level -- some very common service stacks (such as WordPress) don't lend themselves particularly well to self-hosting. (Much of the rest of the logic is still valid in this case, though, although one thing that site does *not* take into account is the distance, if you will, between the events described and the author of the site, which discounts primary sources based on a false belief that primary source material isn't found on the "shallow Web".)

      In the second case, the logic they use misfires even more drastically, as the reverse IP lookup finds nothing but the subject website in that case.

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  • identicon
    @b, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:21pm

    Facts are for the undecided

    Myth busting is effective in helping the undecided. The bystander effect.

    Of course there's in-built bias and a backfire effects when debaters meet. But in the end we only care how the audience votes.

    And usually we have no idea why out tab list. We simply don't understand (well enough) the psychology of individuals and of groups. Keep in soft scienting.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:23pm

      Re: Facts are for the undecided

      *broken phone

      And usually we have no idea why our team lost. We simply don't understand (well enough) the psychology of individuals and of groups. Keep on soft scienting.

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  • icon
    Dirkmaster (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:21pm

    I think the problem is more fundamental than this

    I believe that we are more opinionated than we used to be. While there always have been strongly held positions/beliefs, there was also a whole spectrum of issues that you could discuss, and there was room for back and forth, give and take. Doesn't feel like that anymore. Everything is already decided in folks' minds, set in stone, immutable.

    Until there is uncertainty, you can't even have a discussion. All you have are arguments, which no one ever wins, and no one ever moves. Really, at this point, discussion is pointless, because everything is either "echo-chamber" reinforcement, or lies/distortions.

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  • identicon
    wiserabbit, 15 Nov 2016 @ 1:38pm

    Two things -

    "fact checking isn't going to do much to change anyone's minds"

    There is a professor studying this exact thing at Tel Aviv University. He has a theory that the way you change their minds is not to fact them to death but to one up them. You take their position and take it to the next level. I've actually tried this. While rolling a cross org program that was designed to be a "Trust but Verify" model. I received enormous amount of push back from my own org that we could not trust the folks to do what they were supposed to do. I did not argue, instead, I agreed and sited the example of another program that I was rolling to our own org that I thought should be in a "Trust but Verify" model (considering our cannon of ethics) but that we can't trust anyone, including ourselves. The cross org program rolled with the "Trust but Verify" model. (Oddly, the program inside our org did not.)

    Second - I wonder, and I just started thinking about this, if maybe this is a case where we are not seeing the forest through the trees. I wonder if this is a reaction to the inability to really get fact based news from the main stream media outlets, with their lack of fact checking, doing a massive amount of "debate" with political analysts instead of just reporting news. It is just the next iteration since trying to get the major outlets to change is not going to happen?

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:51am

      Re:

      Actually, I've had success by starting where the other person is at and working out what their agenda is, e.g. fair play.

      We have an actual left in this country and I'm friendly with many left-wingers even though I disagree with them on pretty much everything.

      So, RE: free speech, my lefty friends want to bully the dominant right-wing hate rags into diluting the bile and stop turning people against their $minority neighbours by defunding them. The defunding campaign is via persuading advertisers to pull ad campaigns or simply not renew them. Lego doesn't advertise in the Daily Fail any more. Specsavers has joined them and it's down to a campaign by Stop Funding Hate.

      I disagree with this approach. In the tweet from Lego announcing their decision you'll see me tangling with the kind of individual who refers to restaurant serving staff as "a waitperson" over gendered toys. You can see right there in that thread that the slope gets all slippery and the gradient gets steep from the moment you give any group the power of gatekeeper RE: acceptable political views. The argument has gone from "Stop encouraging extremist hate freaks to fire-bomb refugees" to "stop selling Barbie dolls with makeup, etc."

      So how did I persuade my friends that censorship is bad? I asked them if they honestly believed that the right would try to shut them up if they could.

      They said yes.

      "Well if you create the power of gatekeeper over what is or isn't an acceptable political view, how would you prevent it from being turned against you?"

      They looked at each other.

      "Well maybe we need to look at how to reach out to the least threatening of the people we disagree with and work out ways of winning them over instead of just calling them names and trying to shut them up."

      They looked back at me and realised that's the thing that I do all the time with them.

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  • identicon
    jimb, 15 Nov 2016 @ 4:14pm

    Doubling down

    Facts are difficult to collect and prove -- in a simple manner to be presented to the people. Candidates, especially ones like Obama and Clinton, know this and will just double down on the lies if confronted. You can't check them so tough luck proving them in a simple non-obfuscated way. Good luck confronting them too.

    Hillary played this "I can lie because you can't prove it and I can always disclaim it" poorly, because we the people saw it as a slap in the face. She lied using wording that, though seemingly precise, those words were very open to interpretation and ripe for disclaimer. Obama exercised this with the illegal mass surveillance. Bill Clinton did it when claiming he didn't have sex with Monica Lewinsky -- and he got away with it. Hillary learned from his lessons, making use of it regularly. Trump may have lied, but I don't think he was intentionally misleading. He doesn't think lineally. He thinks in circles expecting everyone to fill in the center.

    Please, Mike, don't fall into the pit with everyone else trying to blame others for her loss. It was her fault.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 5:58am

      Re: Doubling down

      Shillary's shameless stumping for the corporatocracy and her blithe continuation of the status quo lost her the presidency. She's a neocon war hawk with no concern for anyone outside of her immediate circle. She'd have continued surveillance and forced TTIP and TPP on us. I learned that from Techdirt and other sources.

      Trump, by contrast, is just an ignorant attention whore who makes promises he has no plan to keep. I learned that from his own damn website and subsequent pronouncements — I'm aware of the pro-Clinton bias in the press.

      Please note, the press is run by Establishment figures who wanted to continue the status quo, which Hillary promised to do. That's not a left-wing thing, don't fall into the partisan pit.

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  • icon
    Sychodelix (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 4:16pm

    Good explanation...but...

    What you are describing, Mike, sounds like a reasonable explanation for why people have such a hard time being told they are wrong, even when presented with facts. Maybe to an extent, you are correct that it takes lots of back and forth discussion and a certain understanding that changes your mind within yourself.

    Unfortunately, there is a much simpler explanation. Vast amounts of people are utterly stupid. No amount of proven facts will change the mind of many people because they cling to their views with rabid fervor. And the more politically hardline that someone is to one extreme or the other, the higher likelihood of cognitive dissonance. Facts don't matter, because their party is right, no matter what. And when they aren't, they throw blame and bias accusations and hope they will stick to something to take the attention off of their utter idiocy.

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    • identicon
      Wendy Cockcroft, 17 Nov 2016 @ 6:01am

      Re: Good explanation...but...

      It's a tribal thing more than a stupid thing.

      Think about it; you might fight like cat and dog with your siblings, etc., but they're family and you'll fight tooth and nail for them if it comes to that.

      Some people get so invested in their corner of the culture wars that they'll fight and die for the party that at least sounds as though they're on their side.

      Once you understand that, you have the key to them: just work out what they're all protective of and find some common ground. Work from there.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2016 @ 5:29pm

    They've been hypmotised...

    Sometimes, I think that people simply don't "want" to know the truth for whatever reason. This explains the past success of "the influence machine", otherwise known as the liberal media. I liken the viewers (mainly democrats) of said media/machine to the female in that dirty Pinocchio joke because the punch line is the same: "Lie to me! Lie to me!" They simply don't want to know the truth. For example, I can send someone directly to Snopes, where they can see for themselves that Pence does not in fact endorse "gay conversion therapy". Or I can point them to video of the RNC where Trump stated, and I quote: "I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology!" That quote was followed buy cheers, cheers, and more cheers (and from republicans too). He subsequently stated: "And I have to say, as a Republican, it is so nice to hear you cheering for what I just said." But they don't care, or should I say can't care... if you look them in the eyes, they spin like proverbial hypno-disks... their brain-radios perpetually tuned into the queen-bees of the hive-mind like Laci Green, etc.,

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Teamchaos (profile), 15 Nov 2016 @ 6:37pm

    Fact checking isn't the issue

    The issue is that the mass media has lost the trust of the American people. You can agonize about people not accepting the facts, but unless the facts come from a trusted source they won't be accepted. Fact checking is worthless unless there is some degree of trust the fact checkers, it's not that complicated.

    A better column would be an analysis of why the mainstream media has lost the trust of the American people. (And no fair blaming it on stupid people, that's an elite cop out.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Martin Samuel, 15 Nov 2016 @ 9:15pm

    Fact checking

    Mike,

    Fact checking is essential, and unbiased uninterested, raw analysis of facts is key to the whole process. When you do something like politifact did, and you compare two identical statements from say, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and Sanders gets a "mostly true" pass while Trump gets a "pants on fire," there's a clear bias with the fact checking.

    Snopes has been problematic this cycle. There are tens of articles disputing the specific assertions they've made on a swath of different topics. I don't need to go into the details here. It doesn't help the argument.

    My personal feeling is that there are going to be problems anytime a human being is involved. And that people generally suck at objectivity these days.

    So why not have an AI work on this? You're not going to solve all of the problems by doing that, but you should be able to get it mostly right.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sorrykb (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:38am

      Re: Fact checking

      Snopes has been problematic this cycle. There are tens of articles disputing the specific assertions they've made on a swath of different topics. I don't need to go into the details here. It doesn't help the argument.

      No, get into the details. I've seen lots of people saying "Snopes? Clearly biased liars." but not backing it up with any facts. Show your work.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:52am

      Re: Fact checking

      So far, I have seen a sample size of one:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161113/00431436029/let-them-eat-facts-why-fact-checking-is- mostly-useless-convincing-voters.shtml#c313

      But if you actually read the articles, Bernie quotes his sources, while Trump quotes his middle finger:

      We can’t say with certainty, because Trump’s campaign, as usual, didn’t respond to our question.

      Sanders’ camp pointed us to research by the Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center think tank. This data is different from the more familiar measurements for a few reasons.

      One of the people responding didn't seem to think it was important to cite sources. I can only imagine if that person wrote an academic paper how that'd turn out...

      And while we're talking about facts, it wasn't Bernie "mostly true" and Trump "pants on fire" in this particular example - it was Trump "mostly false:"

      Clearly, black youths have a harder time finding work than whites. But Trump exaggerates the issue through his misleading use of statistics.

      We rate his statement Mostly False.

      But wait! There's more!

      In another thread, there's someone actually quoting the same website that they're bashing when it comes to this fact:

      https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20161114/21315936043/trump-transition-website-has-some-copyr ight-problems-both-copying-content-claiming-copyright.shtml#c176

      So I'm not sure that you have a problem with sites per se, as opposed to a problem with hearing what you don't want to hear.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    frank87 (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 3:56am

    To check facts you take two steps:
    Embed them in a theory.
    Try to measure the unknowns from the theory.
    These steps are easy in common tasks (mass is preserved so you can put stuff on the scale), but most political facts are a bit note complicated (that's what makes them political)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 5:29am

    Too easily swayed

    Too easily swayed.. Someone who is too easily swayed is also a problem.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    rebrad (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 6:37am

    Who Fact Checks the Fact Checkers

    I’ve grown not trust the so-called fact checking sites. When you drill down on the ownership and alliances of many of these sites, you'll find them financed and supported by biased parties that have no interest in facts and are in effect, propaganda mills.
    A good example is the New York Times. I don't think you can call them the newspaper of record anymore. They are somewhat better than the Comedy Channels "News" shows.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      sorrykb (profile), 16 Nov 2016 @ 8:39am

      Re: Who Fact Checks the Fact Checkers

      I’ve grown not trust the so-called fact checking sites. When you drill down on the ownership and alliances of many of these sites, you'll find them financed and supported by biased parties that have no interest in facts and are in effect, propaganda mills.

      Then point out where they are factually incorrect.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 7:38am

    Re: scolded for believing the "wrong" kind of thing

    This is a result of the psychological techniques being used in modern propaganda.

    And from what I've read on propaganda, it would appear that the academic crowd is really far behind the curve on what and how propaganda works in the modern age.

    Modern propagandist never says what they want the consumer to believe. They argue around their position, using base arguments to entrench the user into the idea.

    Those base arguments are both affirmations of common beliefs falsely supported by the target fallacy, and rediculous assertions that the consumer will in their own mind refute, but also in a way that supports the target fallacy.

    This creates a basis of of false belief that is extremely strong, which appears to the consumer to be self derived. The end result is not to get the consumer to consciously believe the target fallacy, but to develop a framework of dependent belief with the target fallacy as a keystone.

    The propagandist can then control the consumer, not by affirmation, but by threatening the varacity of the target fallacy. (which the propagandist has never overtly communicated)

    Because the consumer has MANY ideas linked to the target fallacy, they feel attacked, disconcerted and defensive. It is that defensive response that is vectored by the propagandist. In this fashion, the control mechanism is concealed from the consumer, and the executive capability of the propagandist remains dynamic.

    They have in effect, created a component of identity that they can later leverage for ANY purpose they may wish. Which may be advertising, but may be any variety of things.

    The fact is these guys really know what they are doing. And they are good at it. And it IS as sociopathic as it sounds. And they are aware of that.

    What amazes me, is that this doesn't appear to be a documented thing. IMHO, understanding this attack vector in into the subconscious, is integral to understanding critical thinking in the modern age. It should be taught.

    But all that there seems to be at the moment, is a few people starting to "get it". And perhaps a long chilled bottle of champagne, waiting for the day that enough of us "get it" that the power wielded, is reliably mitigated, by knowledge.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Nov 2016 @ 10:25am

    They told me he wasn't a Democrat. They told me he couldn't win. Only after the fact did I realize what they meant. You reap what you sow America, and as I see it you got the lesser of the two evils, but either way there will be a reckoning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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