In the News -  A nation plagued by misinformation (187 views) Notify me whenever anyone posts in this discussion.Subscribe
From: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostOct-8 7:00 AM 
To: All  (1 of 7) 

How a Road Trip Through America's Battlegrounds Revealed a Nation Plagued by Misinformation

A lifetime ago, on Sept. 14, Greg Vanlandeghem sat outside a café in Holly, Mich., and explained to me that he planned to vote for the President’s re-election because he saw the race as a contest between two bad options. “We’ve got a guy trying not to die,” he told me, “and we’ve got Trump.”

The candidate Vanlandeghem described as “trying not to die” was Joe Biden, the 77-year-old former Vice President, who’s been dogged by right-wing attacks on his mental acuity. But now, the “guy trying not to die” might well be the 74-year-old President, who was being treated with supplemental oxygen and a battery of drugs after contracting COVID-19, a lethal virus that can cause everything from pneumonia to strokes to neurological impairment. Vanlandeghem, a 37-year-old home builder, is a social and fiscal conservative, but he didn’t vote for Trump four years ago and considers the President a “buffoon.” If anyone’s mind was going to be changed by Trump’s diagnosis, I thought perhaps it might be him.

Vanlandeghem was unfazed. “I think it’s unfortunate,” he said, after I called him back to ask his opinion on the latest updates. “But it’s something that a vast majority of the population is going to come down with at one point or another.” He still isn’t considering voting for Biden.

I wasn’t surprised. Once again, history was unfolding in Washington; once again, voters seemed to be reacting with a collective shrug. If there is one constant in this extraordinary presidential election, it’s that every time the political class declares that a news event will permanently reshape the race, it usually seems to evaporate into the ether. The President could be impeached for abuse of power, publicly muster white supremacists, tear-gas peaceful protesters for a photo op, pay less than his employees in taxes, declare that he’d refuse to accept the results of the election, hold a possible superspreader event at the White House–and millions of Americans will ignore it. To half of us, all this is an outrage; to the other half, none of it matters.

How voters are processing Trump’s behavior at this fractured moment may be the most important question of the 2020 election. But it’s a tricky one to answer in the midst of a pandemic that has turned the campaign into one interminable Zoom call. It’s hard to get a read on a race that has limited travel for both candidates and reporters, a contest with countless polls but few insights, lots of speeches but few crowds, plenty of talking heads but few ordinary voices. So in September, after recovering from COVID-19 myself, I spent three weeks driving across the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, trying to get a fix on what’s happening between the ears of the people most likely to determine the winner on Nov. 3.

The more people I met, the more I detected something deep and unpredictable lurking beneath the surface, something that I wasn’t sure was reflected in the polling data, something that maybe couldn’t even be measured at all. My phone was filling with news: news about wildfires engulfing the West Coast; news about Trump reportedly calling fallen soldiers “losers” and “suckers”; news about the death toll from COVID-19 passing 200,000; news of Trump’s admitting to journalist Bob Woodward on tape that he had intentionally downplayed the virus, purportedly to avoid causing a panic. But almost nobody seemed to be talking about these headlines, and when I asked about them, people often didn’t believe them or didn’t care. I felt caught in the chasm between the election as it was being reported by my colleagues in the press and the election as it was being experienced by the voters.

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From: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member IconOct-15 8:19 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (2 of 7) 
 6694.2 in reply to 6694.1 

If you have not yet seen the Netflix documentary "The Social Dilemma", you really must watch it. It explains a lot about how and why people are falling for conspiracy theories and why so many people still support Trump (the two are related). 


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From: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostOct-17 8:56 AM 
To: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (3 of 7) 
 6694.3 in reply to 6694.2 

I will check it out.  Thanks for the recommendation.

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From: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostOct-18 10:12 AM 
To: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (4 of 7) 
 6694.4 in reply to 6694.2 

I watched "Social Dilemma" last night.  Holy cow - it was eye opening.  I was probably like everyone else on social media, using it to keep up with friends and family and discuss issues that affect us on a daily basis, never realizing that I am one of the millions of guinea pigs being manipulated by supercomputer algorithms written by people who know how dangerous this tool can be in the wrong hands.   Knowing that Mark Zuckerberg supports right wing causes makes me extremely nervous.  Is it possible that Facebook helped push Trump to win in 2016?  I think the scary part is that we all are being manipulated on a daily basis and we are not even conscious of it.  I already knew that one of the big battles we are fighting is propaganda v. facts but sometimes it is hard to tell which is which and social media is at least partially responsible for putting us in that position.  Even some of the people who helped create these social media platfoms recommend canceling all social media accounts but then admit that they can't break the addiction themselves.  I think this is important enough to create a new thread dealing with this issue.

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  • Edited October 18, 2020 10:17 am  by  YWN666

From: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member IconOct-18 5:39 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (5 of 7) 
 6694.5 in reply to 6694.4 

I already had some idea before I watched this (having already read some of Jaron Lanier's writings on the subject), but was not aware of the impact it was having on young girls, especially. The exponential rise in suicide rates among these girls is horrific. 

I also do know something about game theory, and how this relates to manipulating people online (and this is programmed in via an alogorithm that FB very clearly has no intention of revealing). The idea is based in psychology. Basically, let people win some of the time, but not too much, and you'll get them addicted. This plays out on social media in the form of likes/comments, but FB makes sure that not everything you post is necessarily shown to everyone in your friends list. What that means is that you may post a photo or video or some update, and it will be shown to virtually no one, but you will not know it. You may get a couple likes and then feel as though you must post something else to get more attention, and the cycle never ends. We saw an example of that when the young girl posted a photo of herself and almost no one responded, so she felt that she needed to delete that post and post another photo. What she did not know is that the views of her post were being manipulated on purpose. She gets a few "wins" so that she'll keep posting even when she "loses" so she can get back to getting rewarded for this behavior. This is the same reason why people continue to gamble or play video games, or even why people put up with abusers in their lives -- because sometime they win, but most of the time they lose. Lab animals will continue to try to get treats even if they get shocked at random from time to time. This is the same principle. 


From: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon Posted by hostOct-20 6:48 AM 
To: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (6 of 7) 
 6694.6 in reply to 6694.5 

BlueMoon67 said...

Basically, let people win some of the time, but not too much, and you'll get them addicted.

One thing I remember from my psychology classes in college is that a variable reward schedule is much more effective with behavior modification than a fixed reward schedule.  Vegas slot machines let you win just enough to make you put another coin in the slot.  There is a whole psychology behind the way casinos are operated.

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From: BlueMoon67 DelphiPlus Member IconOct-20 3:24 PM 
To: YWN666 DelphiPlus Member Icon  (7 of 7) 
 6694.7 in reply to 6694.6 

That's it exactly. And this is what happens with likes/comments and showing some people your post and not others and constantly changing what notifications you get so that you are also part of the game. 


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