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Source: (consider it) Thread: Do we live in a post-truth world?
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
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This comes from a Radio 4 programme this morning called Nothing but the Truth which was discussing whether we live in a post-truth world.

There were some interesting points about how we process the truth and how that processing becomes distorted by our political beliefs/bias. The rise of social media is adding to this trend, keeping us inside an echo-chamber of like-minded contacts. That the whole concept of post-truth is one of liberal thinking. One of the interviewees became thoughtful when challenged on his Twitter feed as he realised he wasn't following many centre-right think tanks.

We are also becoming more polarised by the areas we live in and how we deal with them - republican states are becoming more republican, as are democratic states. A similar situation is happening in the UK.

A suggestion as to how we step outside the self-made reinforcing thinking is to listen to people with opposing views, without thinking that they are stupid, and properly engage with the ideas. How easy do we find this?

I found this particularly interesting after a number of threads on the Ship where it has been suggested that the Ship is becoming a liberal echo chamber.

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
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I keep trying to work out what a 'post-truth' world means! I've tried googling it but a definition seems somewhat elusive.

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I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

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quetzalcoatl
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I thought that it's a version of relativism, the idea that there are different points of view, and no objective truth.

But I suppose it also contains the idea of emotional impact, which is supposed to count for more than factual stuff.

Hence, for example, telling a lie in politics is OK, because it has the effect that one wanted.

But then political lies are not new at all, but maybe they are more brazen.

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no path

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Schroedinger's cat

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As I understand it, it is more than just relativism, it is the position that truth is irrelevant, as long as you achieve your ends. Politically, it is very much about "we know best, so we will do whatever to achieve what we want". But it is also relevant in other areas.

So often, those aims are mistaken, which makes it abusive and dangerous, but it is also wrong even if the aims are correct. So telling people lies to make them come to church is also post-truth, whether you think that getting people into church is a good thing or not. Even twisting or modifying the truth (we are a friendly, welcoming community) is part of the idea that truth is less relevant than achieving your objectives.

Are we in such a world? I think we undoubtedly are. And I don't yet know what we should do about it (which is very unsettling). this is part of the reason I am so disturbed by the Brexit vote - all of the "truth" and evidence said that we should stay, but this was irrelevant, apparently.

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Siegfried
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Only if we allow it to become such. To prevent it we need to be vigilant and deliberate in calling out lies as lies, holding the media responsible for not doing so (looking at you Wall Street Journal) and demanding evidence rather than taking things at face value.

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Siegfried
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Enoch
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It's an extremely important intellectual consequence of being a Christian that there is an objective truth. God is real. It follows that some things are true, Some are false. Truth is not relative. Nor is it whatever we would like it to be, whatever we feel it ought to be or whatever that today happens to suit our purposes.

We may have got some things wrong. We may have an imperfect grasp of some things. It may even be that some things that some experts claim are objectively true - like pre-Copernican astronomy with its epicycles - are not. But beneath it all, is a reality that is true. There are also things that are objectively false.

Nor does a lie become true just because it has somebody's passion behind it.

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quetzalcoatl
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And yet I thought that postmodernism has helped religion in a sense, by arguing that there is no super grand narrative, which takes the prizes. Well, OK, that could be seen to harm a religion such as Christianity, which claims to be that super grand narrative, but it also helps, since pm destabilizes any narrative about, say, science being the chief grand narrative, to which all other narratives are subordinate. Not so!

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no path

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rolyn
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# 16840

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This really is nothing new we, the public only ever get given versions of the truth by those bodies which lead us.

It used to be said ignorance is bliss. If you read accounts of when the Spanish Amarda was heading our way most of those working the land had not a clue that invasion could be imminent.

Wind back to the present day. Do we now, even with this fingertip technology, really always want to know the absolute truth of a situation? Take the infamous 03 Iraq campaign. After a few years the subject started to fade from daily news. Having gained a feeling things weren't going the way we were being told I decided to google a news site. Here I was confronted with a candid truth that was utterly depressing. Since then I rarely use the Net for current affairs truth hunting.

In short there are many many occasions in life when we find half truth to be far more comfortable than the whole of it.

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Anglican_Brat
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In undergraduate philosophy, I learned that post-modernism meant:
"There is no capital T-truths, but there are small-t truths."

I don't know if Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan, the grand high Trinity of post-modernism, would think of their movement being interpreted to deny any empirical truth claims. I think they quite would be puzzled, because their principal point was not that the empirical method had no value, but rather that the empirical method didn't always tell the whole story. It's worth noting that the three intellectuals were primarily working in the area of humanities and social sciences and not the hard sciences where fact and veracity is crucial.

Because I find it hard to believe that Foucault, for all of his skepticism, believed the world was flat.

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
It's an extremely important intellectual consequence of being a Christian that there is an objective truth.

This is, of course, a hopelessly naïve view. [Biased]

A consequence of the growth of knowledge and technology is the ability to make anything seem true.

Whereas in the past fiction and superstition were believed because people were ignorant, now they are believed because the lies are so darn clever.

That's progress!

I think that the issue is an epistemological one.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Og, King of Bashan

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I guess that it is easier than ever to just get your news from a biased source and never question what you know, and that is what is meant by a "post truth" society.

But I always caution that the human brain is not necessarily hard-wired to care about facts, so much as it is wired to keep you alive. They say that many optical illusions illustrate this point. Your eyes take in light, and your brain processes that light into something that you react to. You have no control over how the brain processes the light, and in many cases, the image that you get isn't what is actually there- the brain ignores certain signals that would not have been helpful in, say, spotting a lurking predator.

So your brain, in a way, lies to you constantly.

We can strive to be better, but in a way, willful ignorance of truth is an evolutionary trait.

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"I like to eat crawfish and drink beer. That's despair?" ― Walker Percy

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Anglican_Brat
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quote:
I guess that it is easier than ever to just get your news from a biased source and never question what you know, and that is what is meant by a "post truth" society.

A friend of mine who is very conservative in his politics, always reads the National Post, Canada's leading newspaper on the Right. I, being a moderate-liberal, wish I was a socialist but too addicted to Starbucks to be one, usually reads the UK Guardian first thing in the morning.

We both are reading "biased" sources. Now, I being a somewhat liberal person politically will tell you that I trust the Guardian more than the National Post, and he would probably tell you vice versa. That says nothing more than the fact that we both prefer news sources that confirm our ideologically biases and make us feel comfortable in our opinions.

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:

Whereas in the past fiction and superstition were believed because people were ignorant, now they are believed because the lies are so darn clever.

I don't think things are as clear cut as this, quite fake-news is preying on the ignorance of people of a particular area. The lies themselves don't necessarily have to be that clever, they just need to seem reasoned - which was the case in the past too.
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Brenda Clough
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Except sometimes they don't. Sometimes the lies are obviously wrong, proven so over and over again (Obama the Muslim). Sometimes they're physically impossible (wall at Mexican border).

People believe them not because they're gullible. They believe because they want to believe. And because they offer something that the liars want (votes) the liars continue to lie. I am not certain that we can do anything about what people want to believe. If you insist upon believing that Democrats are demons then you will believe every lie about prison camps, sharia law, etc. that is ponied up. The only thing to do is to keep on calling them lies, and the propounders liars. "Post-truth" is too kind, and has too many syllables.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Schroedinger's cat

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
It's an extremely important intellectual consequence of being a Christian that there is an objective truth.

This is, of course, a hopelessly naïve view. [Biased]
It is a wrong view. There is no objective truth, and PM has helped us to see this as a positive. The difference is that PT argues that there is truth, but it is irrelevant. This is an explicit rejection of truth that is not relevant to my particular aims.

So "we send 350M to the EU" is blatantly false, but it served to get people to vote "the right way", so that is irrelevant. I think opposing this is not just about promoting truth, it is about rejecting the idea that principle is more important than truth.

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Blog
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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
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I think the OP has made a good point: that if you passively accept everything in your circle of social media contact, your command of the facts of anything is necessarily poor. Does anyone critically consume anything any more? But maybe we never did.

Within Marxist analysis as pushed to me 40 years ago, it is all a plot to have us be good consumers, buying products to assuage our anxiety and other feelings, manipulating us as religion was once used to keep the peasants working in fields and factories, hoping for a good eternal life as the present one is awful. May I thus assert that we're repeating history in rhyming fashion.

We wanted all 1848 to be successful this time (1967, Summer of Love), but we got Les Misérables all over again by ~1980 with all the associated repression. The manipulation is more organized this time, and seems longer term. I'd date the acceleration of post-truth to the really awful movie actor president Reagan whose believed that his movie parts and plots were real. With American cultural hegemony he started us on this path, where he truly believed that he could defeat the commies and reorder the world in terms of good and evil where he and his were the good. Except it wasn't him and it wasn't America which defeated the commies and it certainly didn't provide any freedom or hill-top shining lights except the freedom to be economically exploited and rule by supported dictators, all within a well-sold narrow American gospel of post-truth. The current troubles are the fruits of 35 years. It was BS then, it's BS now, just on your smart phone.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
quote:
Originally posted by Enoch:
It's an extremely important intellectual consequence of being a Christian that there is an objective truth.

This is, of course, a hopelessly naïve view. [Biased]
It is a wrong view. There is no objective truth, and PM has helped us to see this as a positive. The difference is that PT argues that there is truth, but it is irrelevant. This is an explicit rejection of truth that is not relevant to my particular aims.

So "we send 350M to the EU" is blatantly false, but it served to get people to vote "the right way", so that is irrelevant. I think opposing this is not just about promoting truth, it is about rejecting the idea that principle is more important than truth.

I'm confused. Are you saying you believe there is no objective truth? If there is no objective truth, how can it be false to say "we send 350M to the EU"? Surely if there is no objective truth, there is no objective falsehood?

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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chris stiles
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# 12641

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Except sometimes they don't. Sometimes the lies are obviously wrong, proven so over and over again (Obama the Muslim). Sometimes they're physically impossible (wall at Mexican border).

Let me qualify that I meant reasoned according to the set of pre-suppositions accepted by the individuals concerned. For an extreme example of this think of various conspiracy theories
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Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
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The £350 million available when we leave the EU (to bolster the NHS) was a figure bandied about during the Referendum debate and once out there was difficult to refute - and was given as one of the examples in the programme. The programme didn't go into this, but the fact checking sites at the time pointed out that it wasn't a clear cut figure, was giving the highest possible estimate and was ignoring all the benefits from the EU (payments back for various subsidies or development projects). But many people who voted to leave the EU believed that there was going to be £350 million given to the NHS.

One of the examples given in the programme was the arguments around gun control in the US. It started that section by saying that the evidence is not overwhelming in either direction. Apparently proponents of gun control and those against it read the same research and draw different conclusions. It's part of how we read things that conflict with our world view. We can read something we disagree with and as we read we rehearse all the arguments against, coming away from evidence that should change our minds with a stronger conviction in our point of view as we have bolstered those arguments in our minds. There's a term for it, apparently, but I've forgotten it.

The programme was built on anecdotes as story telling is the way we absorb information better. Another story was that of Bob Inglis, the Republican Senator who lost his seat after changing his mind on climate change. He described how he was convinced by another right winger in Australia, who showed him the bleaching of corals in the Great Barrier Reef. He hadn't been convinced by any of the liberals before then as it was a political issue. He then pondered on how to convince other Republicans in the USA as he obviously couldn't.

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Schroedinger's cat

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There is a difference between truth and facts. A lack of objective truth does not mean there are no true facts. It does mean that they are not always interpreted in the same way.

Truth is about ontology - and PM argues that there is no single ontological basis for the universe, and that even individuals do not hold a single, consistent ontological position.

But there are facts - we (Britain) do not give 350M to the EU a week. That is an untrue fact. How important or significant that is will vary across individuals - that is an ontological difference.

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Blog
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Lord may all my hard times be healing times
take out this broken heart and renew my mind.

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mousethief

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# 953

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This is a use of the word "truth" I was not familiar with. Seems to me it elevates it into something almost mystical. You allow the adjective "true" but its noun form is said not to exist. In the tradition I was trained in, "truth" merely meant "correspondence between words and reality." Facts are truth. "True fact" is an oxymoron. "Truth" is the property that statements have when they are true, i.e. when they are factual, i.e. when they are facts.

[ 02. January 2017, 19:37: Message edited by: mousethief ]

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Anglican_Brat
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# 12349

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Well, to use an example from evolutionary theory:

1) Humans evolved from ancestral primates.
2) Humans are special (created in the image of God, superior to other life forms, crown of creation, etc).

Axiom 1 is a fact, demonstratively provable from empirical evidence, Axiom 2 is a truth, that cannot be demonstratively provable from empirical evidence.

Some creationists would state that if Axiom 1 is true or factual, then Axiom 2 is in error, Some Darwinian scientists would state that since Axiom 1 is true, Axiom 2 is false because humans are no different from other animals.

Some theistic evolutionists might argue that Axiom 1 accepted as fact doesn't negate Axiom 2 as truth. People who follow Stephen Jay Gould's "non-overlapping magisterial" scheme would say that Axiom 1 and Axiom 2 has nothing to do with each other, one is a scientific fact, the other is a metaphysical truth claim.

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
But there are facts - we (Britain) do not give 350M to the EU a week. That is an untrue fact. How important or significant that is will vary across individuals - that is an ontological difference.

I really don't know how you are using the word 'ontological'. I think an ontological difference is a difference in being, rather than a difference in the way we subjectively assign significance.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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Dafyd
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# 5549

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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
We both are reading "biased" sources. Now, I being a somewhat liberal person politically will tell you that I trust the Guardian more than the National Post, and he would probably tell you vice versa. That says nothing more than the fact that we both prefer news sources that confirm our ideologically biases and make us feel comfortable in our opinions.

I think there's a bit more to be said than that. I don't know about the Guardian, but the Guardian is reasonably committed to fact-checking, and attempts to correct its facts if it's got them wrong. So although it has an ideological slant, it's an ideological slant with some attempt to adjust the slant to the world.

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we remain, thanks to original sin, much in love with talking about, rather than with, one another. Rowan Williams

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no prophet's flag is set so...

Proceed to see sea
# 15560

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This tweet is topical. "Did an interview with @ABC7NY about honesty in journalism. Ironically, they asked me to lie and say it's '17 since it won't air until Sunday".

Upon which the station canned the interview.

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Maybe I should stop to consider that I'm not worthy of an epiphany and just take what life has to offer
(formerly was just "no prophet") \_(ツ)_/

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Kaplan Corday
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# 16119

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There is nothing new about post-truth.

As I pointed out on another thread, this year is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, meaning that for one hundred years the most egregious lies have been peddled by communist regimes, and believed not only by their own populations, but by vast swathes of the Western left-wing intelligentsia who chose to believe what they knew wasn't true.

And the same was true of some anti-communism, eg some of McCarthy's claims.

The theory behind the Big Lie (eg the Kim dynasty's assertion that North Koreans are better off than any other people in the world) goes back at least as far as Mein Kampf in 1925.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
Well, to use an example from evolutionary theory:

1) Humans evolved from ancestral primates.
2) Humans are special (created in the image of God, superior to other life forms, crown of creation, etc).

Axiom 1 is a fact, demonstratively provable from empirical evidence, Axiom 2 is a truth, that cannot be demonstratively provable from empirical evidence.

(1) is not an Axiom. You are mis-using "axiom." (2) May be a truth or it may be a falsehood or it may be an axiom. If it's an axiom it has nothing whatsoever to do with empirical evidence. If it's an axiom, it may be neither a truth or a falsehood, depending on how you're defining the terms. If a truth is derived from axioms or observations, then it's not a truth.

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God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean. --Acts 10:28

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Brenda Clough
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# 18061

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Nor are they mutually exclusive. Why should God not use evolution, such a handy system, as a tool?

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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Anglican_Brat
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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by Anglican_Brat:
Well, to use an example from evolutionary theory:

1) Humans evolved from ancestral primates.
2) Humans are special (created in the image of God, superior to other life forms, crown of creation, etc).

Axiom 1 is a fact, demonstratively provable from empirical evidence, Axiom 2 is a truth, that cannot be demonstratively provable from empirical evidence.

(1) is not an Axiom. You are mis-using "axiom." (2) May be a truth or it may be a falsehood or it may be an axiom. If it's an axiom it has nothing whatsoever to do with empirical evidence. If it's an axiom, it may be neither a truth or a falsehood, depending on how you're defining the terms. If a truth is derived from axioms or observations, then it's not a truth.
I stand corrected, thank you.

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It's Reformation Day! Do your part to promote Christian unity and brotherly love and hug a schismatic.

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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Just lost a long post. In summary, the play Don's Party, written in the early 1970's, is about a party given by a Labor supporter anticipating an election win by Labor in the 1969 General Election. It is a surprise, an unpleasant surprise, when a known supporter of the Liberal Party turns up.

My friends in my 20's and 30's all thought in similar ways to me. That's why we gathered together weekly to smoke dope, play cards and laugh. I was probably the most right-wing, but I'm not very right wing at all.

My point is that gathering in like-minded communities is nothing new. That can't be the problem.

I think it's probably just that young people today are leading the world to rack and ruin, and don't know how to behave. In my day, we just got stoned and didn't worry about all that other malarkey. If only the young behaved themselves and got a responsible job things would be much better.

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mousethief

Ship's Thieving Rodent
# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
I think it's probably just that young people today are leading the world to rack and ruin, and don't know how to behave.

Please tell me you're being facetious because young people aren't leading the world. The Boomers are still very much in charge and they're fucking us all.

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Callan
Shipmate
# 525

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quote:
Originally posted by Kaplan Corday:
There is nothing new about post-truth.

As I pointed out on another thread, this year is the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, meaning that for one hundred years the most egregious lies have been peddled by communist regimes, and believed not only by their own populations, but by vast swathes of the Western left-wing intelligentsia who chose to believe what they knew wasn't true.

And the same was true of some anti-communism, eg some of McCarthy's claims.

The theory behind the Big Lie (eg the Kim dynasty's assertion that North Koreans are better off than any other people in the world) goes back at least as far as Mein Kampf in 1925.

Post-truth politics might be defined as the telling of the sort of audacious lies which were the staple of totalitarian regimes without the security apparatus which underpinned them.

Totalitarianism:

STALIN: The victims of the purges were in league with Trotsky and Wall Street to sabotage the Soviet Union!
RUSSIAN: I'm pretty sure this is bullshit but I'm not going to say anything because I don't want the NKVD to kill me.

Post-truth:

TRUMP: We're going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it!
TRUMP VOTER: I'm pretty sure this is bullshit but I'm going to vote for him anyway because, um, reasons.

Thinking about it, apologists for totalitarian regimes in free countries were engaging in post-truth politics avant la lettre.

MORNING STAR EDITORIAL: The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact demonstrates Stalin's commitment to European peace.
GEORGE ORWELL: What the actual fuck?

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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I can't remember exactly where I read it, but a couple of months ago I read a good article that pointed out the fundamental difference today is that societies and communities no longer share their information sources.

Once upon a time, everyone was essentially getting their information from a relatively small number of media organisations - TV networks or newspapers.

These days, we are able to select a small collection of information sources that we like from a myriad of options. And stick with them. And never have to encounter another source that might contradict those we prefer.

So it's arguable that we have ended up in a "post-truth" mindset because there is no longer a large, broad collective effort to arrive at the truth. Opposing views or narratives are not pitted against each other and tested.** They just go and play in their own spaces.

And it's proven that people are psychologically inclined to believe the first thing they are told, making them resistant to any facts or information that indicates otherwise. These days people are less likely to be asked to face the uncomfortable possibility that what they were first told was wrong.

**The Ship itself being a rare example where, to at least some extent, challenging and testing still happens. I'm certainly aware that there are conversations that happen here that, on most other boards, would cause heads to explode because people would not be able to handle the possibility that the first person to post something might be shown to be wrong.

[ 03. January 2017, 07:14: Message edited by: orfeo ]

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Posts: 18031 | From: Under | Registered: Jul 2008  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
These days, we are able to select a small collection of information sources that we like from a myriad of options. And stick with them. And never have to encounter another source that might contradict those we prefer.

This was definitely one of the aspects discussed in the programme that triggered this thread. Also that people of the same mindset are tending to cluster in areas to live too, which is why Democrat areas are becoming more strongly Democrat in the US (and the same for Republican areas).

quote:
And it's proven that people are psychologically inclined to believe the first thing they are told, making them resistant to any facts or information that indicates otherwise. These days people are less likely to be asked to face the uncomfortable possibility that what they were first told was wrong.
And it's even harder to change our minds if there is no explanation to back up the second thing we are told. The example in the programme was an imaginary crime, where the first person arrested was cleared. If there had been no explanation and no second person arrested and charged that first person remains guilty for all those who heard that first.

quote:
**The Ship itself being a rare example where, to at least some extent, challenging and testing still happens. I'm certainly aware that there are conversations that happen here that, on most other boards, would cause heads to explode because people would not be able to handle the possibility that the first person to post something might be shown to be wrong.
Part of the reason I raised this thought here was someone suggested on a recent Hell thread that the Ship is driving out the dissenting voices (or publicly accusing them) and becoming a liberal echo chamber.

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Curiosity killed ...:
And it's even harder to change our minds if there is no explanation to back up the second thing we are told.

This is happening in Canberra right now. A van with some gas bottles in it exploded next to the offices of the Australian Christian Lobby, a conservative lobby group. The explosion caused considerable damage, but it occurred late in the evening in an area full of office blocks and so no-one was hurt other than the driver, who was badly burned.

The initial reports were of a "bomb" and an "attack", along with a description of the van having "rammed" the building. But the next morning the police said they had spoken to the driver (shortly before he went into a coma), and his family, and they had concluded that it was not a terrorist attack - there was no political or religious motive.

But they didn't explain any further what had happened or who the driver was. And so all the conservative Christians (the ACL basically being driven by a persecution mindset anyway) refuse to accept the police conclusion. They're continuing to broadcast the incident as evidence of what they're up against.

And it is quite simply impossible to get them to even countenance the possibility that this was either an accident, or a suicide attempt in the peak season for suicide attempts (just before Christmas).

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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Yes that's right. The bloke from the ACL jumped to the conclusion that it was targeted because of the organisation's work, but in the vision I saw of him he seemed pretty shook up. I reckon that on the morning after I might have been jumping to conclusions with a wavering voice too.

Orefo, it seems wonderful to me that you are the ship's musical counterpoint. Later in the post I refer to the National Broadcaster, and I'm sure you know that Counterpoint was the show put on specifically to counter Philip Adam's proud leftwingery in his show Lenin-el. I think Amanda Vandstone still does it...

Orefo said this:

These days, we are able to select a small collection of information sources that we like from a myriad of options. And stick with them. And never have to encounter another source that might contradict those we prefer. So it's arguable that we have ended up in a "post-truth" mindset because there is no longer a large, broad collective effort to arrive at the truth. Opposing views or narratives are not pitted against each other and tested.** They just go and play in their own spaces.

I think this is a valid opinion, and quite reasonable, but I am leery of it. I consume what I think is 'quality' news media. On TV, that includes the ABC (Australian) and PBS (American), both organisations whose charter requires fair and balanced reporting (I think). I used to read The Age Newspaper in print and online, but since they put up a paywall I just use the ABC, and occasionally the Guardian Australia. I spend some time in the car listening to the radio, usually the ABC's News Radio, occasionally their talk station, and less often their poncey cultural station. My wife sends me articles from the New York Times and I have a look at those in case there is a pop quiz. I use facebook, but have only occasionally seen the faux news stuff. I think I got caught with some fake story about Trump that Charles Blow shared and I believed, the one with the video of Guliani in drag and Trump feeling him up. I guess I wanted it to be true.

My point is (a) post-truth and fake news and people's reading and social habits are the same as it ever was, as the man from Talking Heads sang. My habits are more or less what they were at University in the 1980's; and (b) I'm not looking for liberal voices, or elite voices, I'm looking for trustworthy voices, free if you forget that the ABC is a Government funded service, and most importantly without commercials. I'm also very keen not to encourage Rupert Murdoch by buying stuff he wants to sell me, or using my clicks to generate income. However, I've been on that train since the 1980's too, so it kind of hasn't worked out. Nevertheless, I remember Wapping. Solidarity forever, solidarity forever, solidarity forever for the Union makes us strong.

[ 03. January 2017, 11:58: Message edited by: simontoad ]

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SusanDoris

Incurable Optimist
# 12618

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I did not get back to this topic yesterday, but have now read through all the very interesting posts. I think I have a better idea of what post-truth means, but I don't think I like it much! I thinktoo it is going to make a bit of a dent in my optimism! I'm going back to read again now but slower and more carefully this time. As one post says, I do not see this sort of detailed discussion on the other forums I go to.

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Freddy
Shipmate
# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
My point is (a) post-truth and fake news and people's reading and social habits are the same as it ever was, as the man from Talking Heads sang.

Same as it ever was!

The only difference is that they are so much better at it, and we are correspondingly so much more skeptical, that it seems like a whole new thing.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

Posts: 12829 | From: Bryn Athyn | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Adeodatus
Shipmate
# 4992

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Pondering the subject a tad, I came to the conclusion that "post truth" happens when yesterday's liars don't like today's lies. Am I cynical, or realistic?

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ExclamationMark
Shipmate
# 14715

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Does it therefore mean that we cannot believe anything we are told?
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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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We can't take anything we are told at face value. Cue Carthago delenda est; cue hagiography as biography; cue Billy Bragg out of context, viz. in the war of circulation it sells newspapers.

Same as it ever was.

[ 03. January 2017, 19:33: Message edited by: simontoad ]

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Freddy
Shipmate
# 365

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quote:
Originally posted by ExclamationMark:
Does it therefore mean that we cannot believe anything we are told?

Not at all.

We can, and will, believe whatever we like. The trick is to be the kind of person who believes things that are actually true. [Paranoid] [Paranoid] [Paranoid]

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

Posts: 12829 | From: Bryn Athyn | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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To my mind the problem is this: No source of information is giving us the truth. How do you make decisions when nobody tells you the truth, and nobody tells you what part is true and what part isn't?

How could you invest your money if all of the stock market indexes were unreliable? In different ways, so they may tell you the same thing or different, but sometimes they all lied together.

How could you decide whether to vote for A or B, if you had no idea what the consequences of either A or B would be? Well, you would vote with your heart not your head. Which is the problem, because your heart my be misleading you.

The scientific fact is that man-made global warming is on the rise. But I don't want it to be, so I will ignore this, pretend it isn't the case, because you can't trust "experts". None of which will make a difference when it kills us.

That is the problem of a post-truth society. If we only believe sources that tell us what we want to hear - which is more and more the case - and we dismiss those who disagree with us because they disagree, and we then claim what we say is true because all the reliable sources agree, we are nothing more than an echo box.

Of course, it is not just the right wing that does this. We all do (deliberately or not). But it means that truth, as we see it, becomes what we believe, no more, no less.

As another example I was going to discuss elsewhere - modern day prophecy. So often I have heard "it happened so it must have been true", as well as "the people have rejected the word of God" when it isn't fulfilled. This is post-truth. The prophetic word is accurate, because there is nothing that can prove it wrong. Whether it is accurate or not, there is always an explanation.

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Barnabas62
Host
# 9110

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The development of a well-honed critical faculty used to be seen as one of the great benefits of higher education. The processes by which this development happened, by tradition at any rate, placed a high value on truth and a high value on the search for the best available version.

Post-modernism was not opposed to such processes, but some of its critical observations were a reminder that the desire for power, significance and influence could indeed corrupt all such high-minded searches in favour of established opinions - and established orders. Those are useful insights, warnings about the need for vigilance.

But much of this high-mindedness has passed by a lot of people. Critical examination and verification processes require hard work; reliance on established authorities much less so.

So the truth is that you can fool some of the people all of the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time. That is, if you see some advantage to yourself in fooling other people.

What I think is in danger of being lost in these evolutions of understanding is the relationship between truth and liberty. Winston Smith observed that freedom is the right to say 2+2=4. And was tortured for his presumption.

Personally, I'm doing my best to preserve and make good use of my critical faculties, and avoid the lazy acceptance of established views. Might is not always right. The majority is often wrong. It's still possible to work things out.

But only if you want to.

[ 03. January 2017, 21:50: Message edited by: Barnabas62 ]

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orfeo

Ship's Musical Counterpoint
# 13878

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
That is the problem of a post-truth society. If we only believe sources that tell us what we want to hear - which is more and more the case - and we dismiss those who disagree with us because they disagree, and we then claim what we say is true because all the reliable sources agree, we are nothing more than an echo box.

Bingo. The perfect feedback loop, until something breaks through and shocks us with the discovery that what we "knew" wasn't true.

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Technology has brought us all closer together. Turns out a lot of the people you meet as a result are complete idiots.

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simontoad
Ship's Amphibian
# 18096

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The S.Cat said:

To my mind the problem is this: No source of information is giving us the truth. How do you make decisions when nobody tells you the truth, and nobody tells you what part is true and what part isn't?

I find this odd, coupled with the whole post-truth bit. It assumes that there was a time when we were told the 'truth', whatever that is. I say that is rubbish. Name any historical period, the 1970's, the 1850's, the 1380's, and any number of people could bring up quite a few examples of historic bulldust.

We were born into bulldust, we swim in it now, and when we die we shall be buried in a shroud saturated with the stuff.

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Golden Key
Shipmate
# 1468

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
That is the problem of a post-truth society. If we only believe sources that tell us what we want to hear - which is more and more the case - and we dismiss those who disagree with us because they disagree, and we then claim what we say is true because all the reliable sources agree, we are nothing more than an echo box.

Bingo. The perfect feedback loop, until something breaks through and shocks us with the discovery that what we "knew" wasn't true.
...which is one thing that drives people to conspiracy theory as a way of life. Truth turned out not to be true, and maybe never was.

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Posts: 17648 | From: Chilling out in an undisclosed, sincere pumpkin patch. | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Curiosity killed ...

Ship's Mug
# 11770

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quote:
Originally posted by orfeo:
quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:
That is the problem of a post-truth society. If we only believe sources that tell us what we want to hear - which is more and more the case - and we dismiss those who disagree with us because they disagree, and we then claim what we say is true because all the reliable sources agree, we are nothing more than an echo box.

Bingo. The perfect feedback loop, until something breaks through and shocks us with the discovery that what we "knew" wasn't true.
This is being further amplified by the way we are now getting our news. The annual Pew Research Center review of the news is showing a number of trends. The report from 2016 shows that more and more younger people get their news online and from social media - 50% of 18-29 year olds. A significant amount of news comes from friends and the attitudes to the news varies by age too:
quote:
Attitudinally, they [18-29 year olds] are more negative toward the news media, displaying lower levels of both approval of news organizations and trust in the information they get from them. But earlier research by Pew Research Center found that they are no less trusting when it comes to specific news sources with which they are familiar. In other words, while they may be less trusting of the media in general, when it comes to news brands they’re familiar with, trust is less of an issue.
When you add the way that social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google search as the ones I know) suggests people/organisations to follow based on the selections made already and the way searches are tuned to searches already made, this produces a recipe for becoming even more insulated from other opinions unless deliberately looking for a range of views.

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Posts: 13479 | From: outiside the outer ring road | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged
Schroedinger's cat

Ship's cool cat
# 64

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quote:
Originally posted by simontoad:
The S.Cat said:

To my mind the problem is this: No source of information is giving us the truth. How do you make decisions when nobody tells you the truth, and nobody tells you what part is true and what part isn't?

I find this odd, coupled with the whole post-truth bit. It assumes that there was a time when we were told the 'truth', whatever that is. I say that is rubbish. Name any historical period, the 1970's, the 1850's, the 1380's, and any number of people could bring up quite a few examples of historic bulldust.

We were born into bulldust, we swim in it now, and when we die we shall be buried in a shroud saturated with the stuff.

No we were never told a definitive "truth", because such a thing doesn't exist. What we did have were sources that were considered trustworthy to present the facts - the BBC, the Times - and they made reasonable attempts to be fairly objective, and acknowledge their bias towards UK-centric news.

You always had to use your critical facilities to interpret and understand the reality of situations from multiple sources, but at least some of them you could rely on not to be distorting or hiding the facts they knew. That is no longer the case (not always deliberately or explicitly).

As I see it, the real difference is, if you listened to enough sources, you could have worked out what all sides in a situation believed to be the truth. Today, you can only find out what they want you to think they believe. Or what they think they want you to think they believe.

Because lying is considered acceptable to achieve your aims, even when your lies are shown to be blatantly untrue. Politicians have always lied, and dreaded being caught in a lie. Now they don't care if they are caught, so they lie more brazenly. And crucially, this means nobody has any idea what they actually mean or intend.

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Blog
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Posts: 18499 | From: At the bottom of a deep dark well. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Boogie

Boogie on down!
# 13538

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quote:
Originally posted by Schroedinger's cat:


Because lying is considered acceptable to achieve your aims, even when your lies are shown to be blatantly untrue. Politicians have always lied, and dreaded being caught in a lie. Now they don't care if they are caught, so they lie more brazenly. And crucially, this means nobody has any idea what they actually mean or intend.

Trump is the most obvious example of this, yet he won on an 'anti establishment' ticket.

I don't understand.

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