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[RD] How does one go about determining who and what to believe?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by BenitoChavez, Sep 8, 2018.

  1. BenitoChavez

    BenitoChavez Whispering Walrus

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    I just finished watching a documentary called Active Measures which summarizes everything that is publicly known about how the Russians interfered in the 2016 US election. One of the key points of film was that before the election, Russia spread fake news articles about Hilary Clinton across Facebook and other social media sites. The goal of the Russians was to generate so much fake news that if the average person was bombarded with these stories over a long enough period, they would say to themselves "Well some of this has to be true".

    This got me thinking about the Russian investigation. There is so much out there. Money laundering, secret meetings, Trump's constant praise of Putin, etc. Some of this has to be true. Right? Or am I just falling for the same trap in believing where there is smoke there is fire? If I were to truly take a critical viewpoint, the only way to be 100% certain if Russia interfered with the election in order to elect Trump is to examine all the evidence, in as much minute detail myself.

    However there is a problem. The expertise required to go through all the information and the time requirements are so great that it is impossible for a single person to do this. So I'm at a dilemma, I can't make a conclusion myself so I'm forced to believe the conclusion someone else has made. So how does one go about determining who and what to believe?

    By the way, this isn't meant to be a political thread, it just happens to be specific topic that got me thinking about how to determine the trustworthiness of people and information. The goal of this thread is to answer the question asked in the title and it can be applied to any number of situations. Do you trust the physicist that says time doesn't flow at a constant rate even though that conflicts with everyday experience? Do you trust your parents about what day you were born on even though you can't remember a single thing about it? Do you trust the medical study that says the sugar in blueberries can give you diabetes?
     
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  2. Zkribbler

    Zkribbler Warlord

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    I reserve judgment until the investigation is complete.
    This of course means I trust the investigation and reject Trump's claim of a witch hunt, which admittedly is a form of passing judgment. However I weigh Mueller's impeccable reputation & weigh it verses our Liar-in-Chief. It's not a hard call.
     
  3. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    The key to my answer in general is the answer to the specific; Do I trust the physicist?

    I do, mostly.

    He is expressing what he has seen through examination in the best common language that he and I have between us. "Flow" and "constant," by the way, may not mean the same in his context as they do in mine or yours, but that's off the track.

    So let's look at the flip side, what I don't believe. Stories that sound absurd from people who have no particular credentials. No matter how many idiots, be they small time sheriffs, big name real estate developers, or internet purveyors of conspiracy theories and diet supplements, came up claiming evidence that the president of the United States had deceived every organization that had been responsible for verifying his citizenship, I didn't believe them and never understood why anyone would. Occam's razor...all of these organizations have been wrong and an unqualified shooter in the dark stumbled on the truth, or the simple story is the truth and the shooter in the dark is still in the dark?

    And determining qualifications isn't that hard if you aren't a nutjob. Any one of the major networks is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Are they, as Trump says, just making stuff up whole cloth? The risk associated with that is mind boggling...or would be if there were the slightest chance in hell that they actually would do it. So when they summarize that evidence, which they pay people to examine in minute detail, I tend to accept their summary as having been made in good faith. That doesn't make it true, but at least it is a starting point, which Bob's Blog or Breitbarf or a random poster on Facebook that might be a Russian just aren't.
     
  4. Kozmos

    Kozmos Jew Detective

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    I've always chosen to believe in what I'd least want to be true.
     
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  5. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    Hah hah tbf probably not a bad method.
     
  6. Robo-Star

    Robo-Star Chieftain

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    How did you go about determining they were sincere?
     
  7. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    The physicist? People don't gather that much education, then do the work of creating and submitting for publication without being sincere. Again, it's a matter of risk and reward. While getting published and reputation building is a positive, it isn't worth making stuff up for publication when the downside risk is that all your education and previous reputation building gets reduced to nothing if it goes badly.

    People, in large measure, don't take crazy risks.

    You can spin nonsensical stories on Facebook, or a blog, or here, because there is nothing at risk. I started a thread one time where I actively defended the theory that the moon is made of green cheese. Various church of science types had catfits, assorted people called me crazy, but it had no particular impact on me because there is no risk.

    You can spin nonsensical stories if they support the right view on "internet news sites" like Breitbarf. The Breitbarfers believe what they want to, and if you had any credibility to lose among the rest of humanity you wouldn't be writing for Breitbarf, so again nothing is at risk.

    But people who intend to have a career in journalism, and have gotten as far as a staff reporter position at a recognized news provider have a lot at risk every time their byline appears, just like the physicist when they submit for publication. So do their editors, and the people who have invested millions of dollars into a business that is 90% intangible (take away the credibility of the LA Times that allows them to sell a massive pile of newspapers every day and host a website with massive traffic and you have just a ratty building full of creaking presses...it may be closer to 95% intangible). They may make mistakes, but they aren't gambling by just making stuff up. I know someone who went from 'Pulitzer winner write your own ticket to work for any newspaper in the country' status to unemployable overnight by making something up...and it was just a fluff human interest column. Their paper was massively scandalized and lit into to varying degrees by half the newspapers in the country. The "fake news, they just make stuff up" chant is absurd.

    So I think there is sincerity, which isn't proof against errors but errors generally get corrected or otherwise just don't last.
     
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  8. Hygro

    Hygro soundcloud.com/hygro/

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    It helps to accept first that there is an objective reality and second that... who knows? but that you can know, at least sometimes.
     
  9. Cheetah

    Cheetah Chieftain

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    You compare the new information with the knowledge you already have. The less probable this makes the new information appear, the more skeptical you should be of it.

    This works best when you have a lot of knowledge, of course. Which is exactly why good people yammer on about making sure everyone gets a good general education. Knowledge is definitely power when it comes to telling lies from truth. There is also an issue with 'confirmation bias': You're more likely to accept and remember information which matches your existing bias. This means that the earlier you learn truthful information, the better prepared you are for learning more truthful information. And vice versa, if you've been fed lies in an early age, it's much harder to break out of it later.

    Tim has given lots of concrete examples of this already: Based on his knowledge of human nature, of the way the US bureaucracy works, of how the news media works, and with some idea of what such a conspiracy would require, he easily dismissed the claim that Barrack Obama was born in Kenya. He also trusts the physicist because he has knowledge of human nature, of the scientific process, and of how physicists work and advance their careers.

    As for Russia's involvement in the election, and Trump's involvement in the more shrouded areas of Russia's society, you should already have knowledge to build on:
    • Do you know how US society operates, how people come to work in the bureaucracy, and who goes to work there. The people who are the Department of State, the FBI, NASA or the USGS. Is that a process and people you generally can put some trust in?
    • Do you know how Russian society operates?
    • Of all the crazy things you've heard about Hillary Clinton, do you have knowledge of how many people would have to be involved to keep a conspiracy working, and of what incentives they could all have had for doing so. Conspiracies are real, they do happen, but real conspiracies usually have a purpose and a method to them that doesn't rely on the supernatural.
    • And of all the crazy stuff you hear about Donal Trump, what do you know? You know that serious US bureaucratic organisations and news organisations are investigating as fast and as hard they can. You know that Trump praises Putin, there's untold witnesses to the fact, and both video and audio recordings of it happening. You know that there has been secret meetings, because the Trump people who were involved have admitted it! You know that they previously lied, and has had to backtrack on their lies almost every week since the election.
    You take all your knowledge, you use that to filter new any new information that comes in, and you get some probabilities about the truthfulness of that information. You go from there, and continue to filter, process and refine you knowledge with new information, and then you should have some fairly good ideas about who and what to believe.

    You could still be wrong, and whenever sufficient information builds up, you should look into changing some previously held knowledge which doesn't match reality. It's an iterative process, but always build on real knowledge that you have, and you should be fine.
     
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  10. Hrothbern

    Hrothbern Warlord

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    Trust.... Trust what and how much in what.
    I had once a boss that I could fully trust on his technical expertise, but he could not be trusted to show up in time for a meeting, and at airports he always fell asleep, needing colleagues to take care to get him on board in time.
    I have a neighbor that is really down to earth with everything practical, but political he is a bag of inconsistencies that change all the time.

    Science has a good system. Besides the track record and reputations at stake, there is as base already a good and transparent method.
    A science article can contain lots of information and yet have a very meager conclusion, because more was not possible within the high reliability standard science applies. Whereby noted that not being able to conclude a relation or causality (elimination) can be just as important as a positive conclusion. And importantly: the way an article reports enables others to repeat the measurements and to read the sources: it is transparent and verifiable. And if after publication, an article is not countered by other science research in some time, it gets a higher degree of reliability (unless nobody was interested).

    A documentary is not science. And a doc on the shadow world of intelligence....
    I made in TIL a post on a book of a former SAS spy suggesting an assasination attempt at Gorbachev just before the fall of the wall with Putin involved: post 35294 https://forums.civfanatics.com/threads/til-today-i-learned.496661/page-265
    The motivation the author gave to write the book was that he wanted this piece of history be known while it still mattered. My first thought was: why now ? Is it perhaps related to the UK campaign against Putin ? My second thought was: well with many involved people already dead, and how about documents ?.... not much chance that we get a fair verification process on his claims, but it is still doable. And perhaps in some years more info from other sources emerge to confirm or not the story.

    On that confirmation bias noted by Cheetah.
    There is a similar bias happening to us all, but I don't know the right word for it. And perhaps it is just another example of the confirmation bias.
    If you have made a choice, you are more likely to think that they fit, are coherent with other choices you make, than they actually are.
    A nice example related to newsmedia is that if you are more rightwing (your first choice), but are subscribed to a newspaper that is centre-left (your other choice), there is a good chance that you think that the newspaper is rightwing as well.
    PEW did last year a poll on our perception of newsmedia including left-right (ideology) and degree of populism: http://www.journalism.org/2018/05/1...ly-polarized-than-western-europeans-perceive/
    The following graph is from chapter 4
    Schermopname (1916).png
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2018
  11. The_J

    The_J Say No 2 Net Validations Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Don't forget Occam's razor either https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam's_razor . In short: If there are multiple explanations for the same thing, then the easier one is probably true.
    What's more likely: The russians messed around with US elections, that the democrats faked that the russians messed with US elections, or that the russians faked that the democrats faked that the russians faked that they messed with the US elections? (random example).
     
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  12. Berzerker

    Berzerker Warlord

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    Follow the money... Follow the motives. If none exists the information can still be wrong but at least I can rule out deceit as a factor. Regarding Trump and Russia, I dont think he did anything wrong for trying to get dirt on Hillary from the Russians, she was getting dirt from them about him and thats to be expected. But I have little doubt an examination of his business ties will turn up illegal activity ranging from banking to money laundering for wealthy Russians hiding their ill-gotten gains outside the country. But I dont know, I dont trust him or his Democrat critics enough to judge fairly so I'll wait for Mueller's report.

    Just the facts, Ma'am
     
  13. metalhead

    metalhead Angry Bartender

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    Even if he participated in a conspiracy to commit hacking and other computer crimes, and/or election fraud?

    I don't really see how you can claim to be judging from "just the facts," when we don't have a lot of the facts yet. There is reason to believe Donald Trump himself committed multiple felonies in concert with Russian actors.
     
  14. Berzerker

    Berzerker Warlord

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    I doubt the Russians relied on him to participate in hacking DNC emails and if we dont have the facts, why would I accept your conspiracy theory?
     
  15. metalhead

    metalhead Angry Bartender

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    You said you were going by facts, but then offered a conclusion when you couldn't possibly know the facts which would support your conclusion. Which means you weren't actually going by the facts at all.
     
  16. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    The main question isn't about participating in the hacking. The coordinating between a USian political campaign and the foreign agents in possession of stolen material is what is questionable. There's no way that they didn't know the material was stolen, and no way they didn't know they were dealing with foreign nationals, so once all the connecting lines are completed more indictments and convictions appear to be very likely. The only thing that can save the people who were directly involved is if they manage to get the investigation stopped before all the connections are demonstrated well enough to meet a legal standard. I'd guess they are running out of time, but that's just a guess.
     
  17. Takhisis

    Takhisis excuse me

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    <citation needed>
    <citation needed>
     
  18. metalhead

    metalhead Angry Bartender

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    I'd say that coordinating the release of hacked materials falls under the broad umbrella of participating in hacking. The hacking itself is likely going to be what attaches criminal liability to the Trump people for their behavior, even if they didn't directly participate in it. We already know that Trump's top campaign people met with Russians to discuss the hacked materials.
     
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  19. Bamspeedy

    Bamspeedy We'll dig up the road!

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trump–Russia_dossier

    Her campaign attorney hired Fusion GPS, who hired Steele, who had many sources in Russia.

    The two situations (Clinton, Trump) are indeed different circumstances, so I don't think "but they did the same thing" necessarily applies, but I'm not sure I could state those differences without being accused of being partisan. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.
     
  20. Timsup2nothin

    Timsup2nothin Another drone in the hive mind

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    Let me give it a try, since I'm unconcerned about being accused of being partisan. Steele went to Russian sources for information about what Trump did in Russia. Trump went to Russian sources to get what they had stolen in America. It's actually a pretty simple and distinct difference.
     

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