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    • Having a “holier-than-thou” attitude about people who believe ghosts are real (or vaccinations spread autism, or a caravan of refugees is a cover for ISIS terrorists, etc.) undermines trust and gives rise to the very culture wars we are experiencing now.

      I was recently trying to buy a house and the seller made a counteroffer that would’ve required me to spend my time hiring a contractor to make repairs. I wanted the seller to take care of it but I didn’t want to lose the house. So I talked to our expert and he made a counteroffer along with arguments to the seller’s agent that got me what I wanted. It would be incredibly self-injurious to think I knew real estate negotiations better than an expert. If you need to make a decision that can cause harm to yourself or people you love, you have a responsibility to rely on experts if you haven’t done the research or lack the skills to make an informed decision.

      I’ve spent most of my career working with senior executives. When I’m providing information to them, my goal is to help them make an informed decision. I may not agree with the decision they make, but if I’ve given them the information they need to make an informed decision then I know I’ve done my job.

      My intent in sharing the ghost stories was not to look down on someone’s beliefs. I was raised to believe in the sanctity of drinking the blood and eating the flesh of a zombie descended from an all powerful being.

      Beliefs can be extraordinarily positive even when completely untrue. The placebo effect has alleviated pain and suffering without the use of actual medication. But not every belief is positive or innocuous. In fact, some innocuous beliefs, such as believing in ghosts, can make one more susceptible to believing in harmful beliefs, such as vaccines cause autism.

      My apologies if I came across as having a superior attitude because I don’t believe in ghosts. There’s a shorthand that naturally occurs during meaningful conversation and I may have been guilty of not adequately communicating the true intent behind my words.

    • There’s a shorthand that naturally occurs during meaningful conversation and I may have been guilty of not adequately communicating the true intent behind my words.

      I hate it when that happens. :)

      I didn’t mean to call you out on the ghost thing. I honestly didn’t remember who posted that story—it has served as a good catalyst for this discussion, though, hasn’t it?!?

      Coincidentally, I’m currently slogging my way through a book about Behavioral Economics which makes a study of all the irrational things humans believe and do when it comes to money. It’s not much different than the questions we are mulling over in this thread...

    • Interesting that this work was published both anonymously and posthumously. My theological studies are quite limited but Spinoza seemed to be of the philosophy that religion was a tonic for fear.

      He rejected the view that God had a particular end game or purpose to advance in the course of events: to Spinoza, those who believed so were only creating a delusion for themselves out of fear.

      He also believed that the purpose of religion is obedience, that the purpose of philosophy was understanding truth, and that the two should not be confused.

      Wow, that’s a conversation I don’t plan to have at the next holiday family gathering!

    • I don't believe we need to censor information but we do need to illuminate it for people to make better judgements on their own. I believe sources should be attached to posts through the assist of AI to let people make the final call.

      I listened to a radio show on AI & data yesterday on NPR as I drove and never got to hear who the two women were who seemed so knowledgeable. One of the things that stuck with me is AI is based on human data and therefore inherits the disinformation, biases, and racism that humans have. 😬

    • Very interesting article. Anti-Vaxers seem to follow a very interesting trend in the lack of trust in anything outside of their own dominion. New media has seemed to fan this flame.

    • There is a certain faux sense of power if a person feels that they are "making something go viral". I am sure it is the same drug that made cigarettes a staple for 75+ years. I have some FB friends....professional, seemingly level-headed that every once awhile blindly perpetuate some meme, or fake news story. And, my friends that know how closely I knew Sarah Palin professionaly while living in Alaska. I would casually share some insights to her persona and they would blindly disagree just cuz they liked her being a "maverick".

      I think it just comes back to personal and corporate responsibility. I gently call out my friends who are posting BS. And, I think companies that depend too heavily on AI versus an actual workforce are being equally irresponsible.

      I don't surf porn so porn is not a problem for me. Same with fake information. Don't buy into it despite how hard it is to look away. Generally speaking I categorize people that pollute their brains with morning talk radio as being complicit to their own ignorance. Same with podcasts. Plenty of good podcasts out there but probably that accounts for only 5%.

      I have a Navy buddy call me two days after the 1 October Vegas shootings and he swears by the consipirist whack job alt-right radio personality and he almost was forcibly telling me there were two shooters. There were not TWO SHOOTERS.

      Back in the days, news was not as fast and as addictive...I just make sure I am personally vigilant managing the content I decide to digest and somedays it is really hard to discern which is clickbait and what is actual content.

      But, back in the day watching a cat play a keyboard was real content, right? ;)

    • By teaching our populations critical thinking - we can make it less profitable than the truth. Another thing that I would add to your theory is that the vulnerable are the most succeptible to being duped. Let's say you or a loved one has cancer and the doctor says there is nothing that can be done. In comes the scam artist, selling you all kinds of pseudoscientific nonsense and hope. It's so sad that those most vulnerable are the ones most targeted.

      Nonsense claims and marketers who want to target gullible people, love paranormal type tv shows to advertise on. People who believe in big foot for example are more likely to believe a claim for a product that says it can cure a multitude of illnesses and diseases.

    • I'd add that research has shown that providing a sound alternative narrative or understandable explanation for an alternative view, goes a long way into helping a person change their mind. In other words, instead of simply telling them they are wrong, explain clearly how another view provides a valid alternative to their current one and makes more sense. Let them decide what makes more sense to them because people convinced against their will are of the same opinion still.

    • @Mathgarden recently shared a quote with me that resonates with our discussion on the more I learn the more I realize how little I really do know. I’m assuming the unaltered quote is from Anthony Bourdain.

    • "People are stupid. We still print 'DO NOT DRINK' on the side of bottles of Bleach. What we should do is remove those labels for a few years - THEN hold an election or referendum." - Gervais, R.

    • Wow. This line:

      Children who have an autistic older sibling have 30 times the odds of having autism compared with children who have a typical older sibling.

      I still wonder what it is that causes us as humans to be terrified of the things that the numbers say do little harm — vaccinations, mountain lions, air travel — but completely at ease with things like painkillers, which take so many lives.

    • I still wonder what it is that causes us as humans to be terrified of the things that the numbers say do little harm — vaccinations, mountain lions, air travel — but completely at ease with things like painkillers, which take so many lives.

      I think it would be extremely helpful if everyone was forced to listen to the first ten hours of Enlightenment Now. We are so surrounded by annectodal stories of what happened to someone’s best friend’s mother’s husband. So this becomes our perception of reality. How would I have gained a more accurate understanding of our world, with statistics to back it up, if you hadn’t shared on Cake about the Enlightenment Now audio book? Or if @jpop hadn’t shared this on Cake?

      People need more perspective. Not saying that this is a cure all—some people are too invested in their “the world is flat” world view to change. But it is a first step towards eliminating those mental scotomas.