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    • What’s happening in the United States right now is getting me to wonder whether or not the facts still matter. It’s clear from all the testimonies thus far in these impeachment proceedings that President Donald Trump did indeed pressure the president of Ukraine to announce investigations into his chief political opponent and also a debunked Kremlin-produced conspiracy theory in order to get much needed government aid and a white house meeting. There’s no equivocation from any of these witnesses. Trump conditioned a white house meeting and $400+M of aid on those investigations being announced by the Ukrainian president. What’s also clear is that the only reason Ukraine got the aid was because Trump and co. were caught. 

      Yet despite all of this news being revealed, it still looks likely, at least to me, that Trump will skate away from this like he has every other perceived scandal that has come his way. He also very well might win reelection.

      The facts matter to me, but do they matter to Americans as a whole? Why aren’t more people seeing this for what it actually is? The easy answer is media bias and that Fox News is spinning a different narrative or that Republicans are out defending their guy. But no matter what you do, the facts remain the facts. So why can’t the facts win out even when they are crystal clear? 

      Perhaps I’m too cynical and that facts will win out in the long run. But as of now, it does look like we live in a country and world where the facts get ignored in favor of ideas that we find to be more comforting. Rather than accepting the truth, we have a sizable portion of the population that chooses to ignore it in favor of what they wish were true. Not just with this impeachment inquiry. This seems to be happening all the time in a variety of settings. It’s a phenomenon that I can’t get my head around as one who roots for the truth to always prevail. Perhaps Cake can be a place that helps set the truth free. 

    • I think the facts matter but I also think you're right that there are a lot of folks who are selectively listening and believing.

      It scares me that there are so many who choose to ignore the facts.

      It scares me that there are so many who will not discuss their beliefs in a reasonable matter. We don't always need to agree but I think we need to be able to talk to people who don't believe as we do in a way that will help with overall understanding.

    • As an outsider, I wonder if at least some of that has to do with the "win-or-lose" narrative that seems to be so prevalent in the US.

      In a two-party system with no real need for coalition and compromise, it is either "your guy" who gets to be the president - and you "win" - or it is "the other guy" and you "lose". Once in office, "your guy" will continue to score points for "your team" by lawmaking and getting others into relevant positions (Supreme Court and whatnot) - so they need to stay there for as long as possible - while "the other guy" would do the same for the "opponent", so needs to be dragged out of the Oval Office ASAP.

      As long as people consider politics to be a spectacle similar to the annual Super Bowl, it makes sense for them to look the other way when there's foul play on one side, but not if it happens on the other.

    • As an outsider, I wonder if at least some of that has to do with the "win-or-lose" narrative that seems to be so prevalent in the US.

      You may be right about this - but it used to be possible to have conversations with people in the "other" party. That seems to have disappeared with the Trump contingent.

      It's not totally gone though. I have been texting for one of the democrats running for president, and while most of the responses from Trump supporters were simply repeating the phrase "Trump 2020" over and over again, I did have some actual conversations with individuals who told me they usually voted republican but will not vote for Trump. I suppose that means the only reasonable conversations I had were with people who do not believe in him. Does that mean we still can't have conversations with people in the "other" party?

    • Starting near the end of the 1970s or early 1980s, I began to notice (and now it is ubiquitous) that many interviewers including most "on the spot" reporters kept asking the same question of the person they were interviewing "How did you feel?"

      Before that reporters asked about facts not feelings.

      We reap what we sow. The journalistic field threw "Just the facts, Ma'am" under the train about 40 years ago.

    • As for facts in general, I think everyone believed when the Internet happened, that truth would now prevail more than before. But somehow it seemed to go the other way.

      As for Trump, it seems even when the facts prevail (most people do accept that he paid hush money to a porn star), you’re right, it doesn’t matter.

      Which begs the question, for groups who love him so much that they are willing to look past the facts, what is it they love so much? Factotum could be right and it’s just about the team, but George W Bush was twice as popular as Trump until he was half as popular.

      Rick Perry and Nikki Haley recently said Trump is chosen of God and God chooses imperfect leaders (a nod to the facts about Trump). I thought it was a good opportunity to explain Trump’s sky-high approval among evangelicals. Unless I missed it, they didn’t, other than vague mentions of change.

      It reminds me of when Bush’s popularity was near 80% and we were going to go to war with Iraq no matter the facts. Religious leaders for more than evangelicals considered him chosen of God and he seemed to feel that too.

      There was team spirit. We made fun of the so-called facts the French and U.N. claimed to have about no weapons of mass destruction. And yet. Bush finished his presidency at 22%.

    • Emotions are much more engaging to viewers than dry facts.

      I came to the conclusion that TV news was just entertainment many years ago. I still read ink on paper for a closer approximation, at least, of news facts. I keep hoping......

    • I don't think that this accounts for why this cultural change has occurred.

      In the early twentieth century, objective facts were considered paramount. The subjective emotions of the individual were considered merely anecdotal and lacking in statistical relevance.

      This was the age of modernism.

      Contrary to the Wikipedia article, modernism was not primarily and arts, literature, and music philosophy but permeated all forms of thought processes.

      Modernism's attitude towards Science can be seen, however, in the literature and movies of its time. When one looks at movies like "Metropolis", Books like "Brave New World" and the Asimov "Foundation" trilogy, Children's books such as the original "Tom Swift" books and later the "Tom Swift Jr." books one sees one aspect of modernism's attitude towards science. But Modernism also tended to be scared of Science. James Bond fights a Cabal of scientists and the original Lex Luthor was a man of science not an entrepreneur.

      The original Star Trek series has two advisors to Captain Kirk and both are men of science. Spock represents Modernism's obsession with objectivity, while Bones tends to represent that aspect of the modernistic world which was conflicted regarding the consequences of science.

      By the time of Star Trek: The Next Generation, the revolution against modernism known as post-modernism was gaining headway. It was not nearly as predominant as it is today but it was already tearing down the walls of modernistic thinking. Counselor Troi and later Guinan represent the post-modernist viewpoint towards subjectivity. The cluelessness of Data in regards to his fellow crew members and relationships is representative of how post-modernism views the paradigm's of modernism.

      Post-modernism isn't so much conflicted about Science and its consequences as it is contradictory regarding the topic of Science. Post-modernism tends to treat Science the way Modernism treated "religion." Many modernists practiced a form of religiosity while at the same time destroying many of its under-pinnings.

      Many of those who today claiim to honor science and be supportive of science are intent on destroying its underpinnings in the name of progress.

      For example, Michael Shellenberger, the founder of Environmental Progress has been recently writing articles denouncing celebrities and politicians who are viewed by the general public as Climate Change activists. Why would a man like Michael Shellenberger write articles in opposition to those who are in the limelight? Because he is Science oriented while they are subjectivity oriented. They are making claims and assertions which no objective scientist no matter how long he or she has been concerned about Climate Change would make.

      Another example pertains to the shift away from the so-called "Hard Sciences" to the "Soft Sciences." The upsurge in interest in the "Soft Sciences" tends to reflect a lesser prioritization of "cold, hard facts" and a greater prioritization of how humans "experience" a set of events.

      I don't disagree with you that television news tends to focus on entertainment. There are a few television news reporters who are famous for making their name outside of the studios in places of crises, but in general there are many on television who are more "eye candy" than journalists and II'm not speaking primarily of women either. There are some women who have a lot more journalistic "chops" in the field than many of their "handsome" male counterparts.

    • Lots of great thoughts in here! Two things that were said in here really resonated with me. First, is the idea that we have become a society that is swayed much more by our emotions than by facts. Though to be fair, aren't we all really ruled by our passions as opposed to what makes rational sense?

      Secondly, I do think political parties are indeed an obstacle. There is too much making fun of the other side or just wanting to piss the other side off as opposed to doing what's best for the country. An example of that is I remember going on a church activity and having one of the youth leaders talk about how awesome it is to bash Democrats and call them stupid. While it may have been fun for him to listen to such commentary, what good does it do to bash one side and call them stupid? Is it only about winning? I also don't think it's good to just bash Republicans and call them stupid.

      George Washington warned us about political parties and its looking like his concerns are starting to bear harmful fruit in our modern age. Hopefully, we can figure out how to navigate this because major political parties aren't going anywhere anytime soon.

    • I don't know where to attach this item in this conversation so I am going to attach it to the top post.

      The reason for attaching this article is because the writer is arguing that the facts are being ignored and that unsubstantiated myths are being promoted. (I am not endorsing the viewpoints of this article, I am only posting it to further the discussion of whether facts matter.)

      The article which I am attaching is written by a person who is on the "liberal" side of the political spectrum. Who still supports the concept of transgenderism but who now believes that facts are being ignored and not given the weight which they deserve over a fear that conducting science based research on the subject of why people "detransition" and an accurate assessment of the percentage of people who "detransition" will harm the socio-political agenda of the transgender movement.

    • I know I've been sharing a lot of these lately, but when I hit my target of 50 books this year I decided I had the leisure time to blitz them, and you know - they're extremely topical! I My listening seems to be mirroring Cake discussions. This is a panel discussion on the subject of Freedom from Lies, and well worth a listen if you can spare 50 minutes.

      There's also an interesting one on the so-called soft/hard sciences (mentioned upthread) that talks about degrees of statistical relevance and its quite illuminating - and quite relevant to the question of what is truth and what isn't. I'll share it as well if anyone is interested.

    • There's also an interesting one on the so-called soft/hard sciences (mentioned upthread) that talks about degrees of statistical relevance and its quite illuminating - and quite relevant to the question of what is truth and what isn't. I'll share it as well if anyone is interested.

      I am!

    • Hookay... This is about how a study that proved it was possible for some people to see the future led to a fundamental change in how psychologists conduct their science, and are leading the hard sciences into more rigorous statistical analysis.

      University of Toronto psychologist Michael Inzlicht was shocked to find that research papers in his own area of research no longer held water. They could not be replicated under the filter of more rigorous methodology.

      "I had grown up a scientist believing in the scientific method and the tools that we used, and all of a sudden, this one replication just made me question everything," said Inzlicht. 

      "What was real, what could I trust? The things I was studying... were they real? Could I trust them?"

      Inzlicht is one of the psychologists leading the way to set new research standards. He attributes the lapse in his field to the tremendous pressure researchers face to produce new, high-impact research.

      "Basic science is not always about chasing the new," said Inzlicht. 

      "It's not always about chasing something groundbreaking. It's about building a house. And if the foundations of the house are rotten, if from the beginning a discipline was built on shoddy foundations, the entire enterprise can fall."