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#230- An Insurrection of Lies

 
deodand
 
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deodand
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13 January 2021 05:19
 

The idea that Twitter and Facebook should be more regulated and moderated in order to foster ‘reaching the truth’ is both preposterous and appalling. 

It is preposterous because ‘unregulated speech’ is precisely how science reaches truth.  By not excluding in advance any possibility, it remains open to all of them, thereby insuring the right one can be reached.  As it progresses, failed possibilities through testing naturally fall by the wayside, but none are apriori excluded.  This logic, the logic of scientific progress, implies Facebook and Twitter should be less regulated, not more, for only by entertaining it freely can ‘speech’ be tested and truth be reached.

The idea is also appalling.  Why on earth would be want social media regulated by the ideal of truth arrived at through intelligent discussion? It’s social media, not social engineering.  The very idea of regulating it by the idea of truth means someone, somewhere will be in the positon of gatekeeper, applying their and not someone else’s standard of intelligent discussion.  This goes against the idea of democracy, which requires an open criterion of intelligence and an open-ended view of truth.  If you want a genuine public square, leave it alone, excluding only that speech that under restrictive conditions causes harm.  Engineering societies according to truth is how totalitarian hellholes function, not democracies.

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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13 January 2021 05:46
 

ah, but what about “weighing” some messages differently than others?

What about Twitter and FB doing their own way of “no Net Neutrality” and deliberately accelerate some messages whilst slowing down others?


I think Free Speech is such an antiquated concept that it does little good in the current debate about media platforms.

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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Nhoj Morley
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13 January 2021 06:52
 

What a fur ball.

I brought up the word engineering for a different purpose. That is, our plain-to-see differences in the ability to have a discussion public or otherwise. I’ve never used social media platforms and don’t give a twit.

I’ll talk through my hat about it anyway. There should be a standard of scrutiny that separates the noisy public house from a forum of debate. Without one, everyplace has to be both. Forums could discriminate against opinions that cannot be supported with three discernable steps of continuous reasoning. Arguers who draw from a bottomless pit of additional first steps to support the same second step will not pass. Conversing in ones and twos is common chatter.

Protected speech should require a score of three to qualify as speech. Then, if someone says “The election was rigged because the caterer did not bring enough pizza for everyone”, we won’t need to worry about whether we should protect the utterance as speech.

 
 
deodand
 
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deodand
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13 January 2021 07:02
 

Not sure if that is directed toward me, Nhoj, but I was referring a different post.  I hadn’t read what you’d written until now.  “Engineering” appearing on both posts is just a coincidence.

I’m not sure what you are driving at, but if you are saying there are grounds for suspending Trump’s Twitter account and removing “Stop the steal” content from Facebook, I agree.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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13 January 2021 09:04
 
no_profundia - 12 January 2021 05:53 PM

...
Also, my own take is Twitter is something like a town square and that is precisely why there needs to be moderation and guidelines. Online platforms with no moderation devolve very quickly into the loudest extremists and bullies taking over and anyone who doesn’t want to put up with abuse quietly withdraws. That is not the way to promote discourse that is conducive to “free democratic processes.” Spreading misinformation that then becomes impossible to correct is not conducive to free democratic processes.

There is a very good book on this and the first amendment, that I believe came out before social media was a thing, by Cass Sunstein called Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech. He lays out a good argument for why the “marketplace of ideas” model of free speech is not a model that is conducive to the ends of free speech envisioned by the founders. Sometimes regulation actually enables free speech as opposed to just restricting it.

One of the arguments for free speech is that by allowing people to offer differing viewpoints it will help lead us to “the truth” but the discourse that has proven to be best at reaching the truth is scientific discourse and it is HEAVILY regulated through informal means (peer review, etc.). You can’t get a scientific article published anywhere reputable if you don’t cite sources but you can say anything you want without sources on social media.

There are other arguments for free speech but scientific discourse seems to me to show that if our goal is to reach the truth totally unregulated speech is unlikely to be the best means for achieving that. Personally, I don’t consider Twitter’s guidelines a threat to free speech. Twitter is largely a hell hole as it is but I think it is a better platform for discussions that actually contribute to free democratic processes with moderation than it would be without moderation.

To genuinely create a “public square” where people can have intelligent political discussions with people of differing viewpoints requires moderation and regulation. I think it would be good for democracy to create spaces like that but they would require more moderation and regulation than Twitter. Not less.

I agree with the above.  Responsible monitoring and enforced standards in social media will foster open dialogue and exchange of ideas.  At the very least, all promotion of violence and hate/racist speech should be prohibited, including the lies that promote these.

Diodand (post #106) is incorrect in regards to how science reaches truth and consensus.  Novel and controversial ideas must show some merit scientifically before publication.  Crackpots and ‘bad science’ remain on the fringe (e.g. not published in reputable journals) without truth/facts on their side.  They do not have the opportunity to override the work of the ‘good players’.

[ Edited: 13 January 2021 09:06 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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13 January 2021 09:28
 
Jan_CAN - 13 January 2021 09:04 AM

Diodand (post #106) is incorrect in regards to how science reaches truth and consensus.  Novel and controversial ideas must show some merit scientifically before publication.  Crackpots and ‘bad science’ remain on the fringe (e.g. not published in reputable journals) without truth/facts on their side.  They do not have the opportunity to override the work of the ‘good players’.

Agreed. Science requires rigor and parsimony along with a robust marketplace of ideas.
Blatant falsehoods and misinformation should be treated accordingly. 

So should blatant falsehoods and misinformation on social media.
There should be no place for untruths and no one should be accepting untruths and misinformation in the digital age - especially when fact-checking and falsification are readily available to so many.

[ Edited: 13 January 2021 09:36 by Jefe]
 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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13 January 2021 10:43
DEGENERATEON
 
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DEGENERATEON
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13 January 2021 10:46
 
Nhoj Morley - 12 January 2021 04:09 PM

Personally, I found this podcast frustrating. I do not believe that The Boss or his peers are ever gonna figure this out.

Can you be more specific on what you found frustrating?

 
deodand
 
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deodand
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13 January 2021 11:28
 

deodand is correct about how science discovers truth, and the way in which it reaches consensus through publication illustrates this.

Peer review is, as the term indicates, peers reviewing.  Prior to that no view is censored, or regulated, or otherwise governed.  Instead it is peers determining among themselves what deserves to be kept, and what doesn’t.  Nowhere, in any way, is there a governing body “regulating” or “moderating” this process.  With this in mind the analogy between science and social media would be that the platform for the exchange of ideas no more regulate or moderate those ideas than ideas are regulated and moderated prior to and during peer review by some overseeing authority.  Let the peers do the reviewing and deciding, not the employees of Facebook and Twitter.  That is how it’s done in science.

The same idea applies to standards like rigor and parsimony.  These standards emerge out of peer interaction and come to be valued for the roles they play in reaching truth, or short of that, consensus.  No one imposes these ideals on anyone, and as could be illustrated in many fields, plenty of science is done without them.

Thank you both for the opportunity to clarify this because no_profundia alluded to the same error.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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13 January 2021 12:04
 
deodand - 13 January 2021 11:28 AM

deodand is correct about how science discovers truth, and the way in which it reaches consensus through publication illustrates this.

Peer review is, as the term indicates, peers reviewing.  Prior to that no view is censored, or regulated, or otherwise governed.

Prior to that, views must pass the stink-test.
And they may not fail the stink-test until after entering peer review, but many ideas/views/hypotheses never reach peer review for a variety of reasons.  Some of those reasons include rigor and parsimony.  Some include reasons like “it’s already been demonstrated/debunked”.  Due diligence is key to good science, not just ideas and peer review.  Not all ideas have equal merit.

[ Edited: 13 January 2021 12:10 by Jefe]
 
 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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13 January 2021 13:11
 
Nhoj Morley - 13 January 2021 06:52 AM

What a fur ball.

Protected speech should require a score of three to qualify as speech. Then, if someone says “The election was rigged because the caterer did not bring enough pizza for everyone”, we won’t need to worry about whether we should protect the utterance as speech.

There it is.

You’re welcome.

 

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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13 January 2021 13:21
 
deodand - 13 January 2021 11:28 AM

Peer review is, as the term indicates, peers reviewing.  Prior to that no view is censored, or regulated, or otherwise governed.

Incorrect.  There are numerous governing and regulating bodies that reject hypothesis or experiments.  For example, experiments are now routinely required to be subjected to an ethics review.  Many forms of experiments have already undergone this and since their basic form is well understood are not subjected to a rigorous review.  Most research requires funding, and that funding doesn’t come from no where.  Universities or organizations that support research often require proposals, and these proposals can be rejected.

All of this happens before “peer review”.

 
deodand
 
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deodand
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13 January 2021 14:37
 

No, correct.  The IRB evaluates potential harm to participants, not the merits of a hypothesis or idea.  I know; I served on ours.  A hypothesis or idea can be brilliant or idiotic and the same standard will be applied: does the experiment represent potential harm to test subjects.  Resubmit a design rejected on those grounds but testing the same idea in an ethical way and the study will be approved, even if the idea is stupid, etc. That this occurs prior to peer review is immaterial to my argument.

Funding is similarly a red herring because it itself is a form of peer review.  Funding a study is a statement by a peer that an idea is worth collaborating on.  Like with the peer review of ideas, there is no overseeing body deciding which ideas are worth consideration, and which are not, only individual entities competing for good ideas to fund, or perhaps more accurately, individuals competing among themselves for funding from these entities.  Either framing amounts to the same thing vis-a-vis “regulating” or “moderating” ideas with respect to their funding. Again, that this occurs before peer review per se is immaterial to my argument.

To pass the stink-test an idea must first be smelled, and there is no overseeing body determining which ones are.  Instead that test takes place during peer review itself.  Science removes stinky material by letting anyone take a whiff without an overseer deciding which ideas are worth smelling, and the ones that don’t pass are rejected before deeper consideration.  In effect the stink test is just a first stage of peer review in action.

All this noted, the comparison to science does raise an interesting possibility: regulation and moderation on social media platforms would be more like science if there were multiple platforms competing for users, like there are thousands of journals competing for good submissions.  If that were the case, the question of these platforms deciding which views are ok and which are not would be more like prevails in actual scientific practice. But that is not the world we live in, so we should not be framing it that way when we draw on science as an analogy for regulating or moderating social media. 

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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13 January 2021 15:30
 

If you’re just going to define any sort of oversight as “peer review” then Twitter banning people is also “peer review”.  It’s just people saying that stuff is harmful.  They aren’t superior in any way, so it’s just “peers”.

 
Greg Rogers
 
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Greg Rogers
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13 January 2021 18:00
 
Nhoj Morley - 11 January 2021 01:53 PM

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris discusses two dangerous misconceptions about the siege of the Capitol. 41 mins

#230- An Insurrection of Lies


This thread is for listeners’ comments

FWIW, I listened to some of Douglas Murray today on Triggernometry. I value DM but be warned; if you listen to him you may come away with the impression that we need to state an intervention…Sam is suffering from TDS (i.e. Trump Derangement Syndrome).

 

 

 
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