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How do we fight post-truth?

Image credit: @Paul M Hurtado

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Anja M
Anja M Feb 08, 2021

[1]Lee McIntyre, Post-Truth, MIT Press, 2018.

[2]David P. Redlawsk et al., The Affective Tipping Point: Do Motivated Reasoners Ever “Get It”?, Political Psychology volume 31, issue 4, p.563-593

[3]James Kuklinski et al., “Misinformation and the Currency of Democratic Citizenship,” Journal of Politics 62, no. 3 (August 2000): 790–816

[4]Backfire effect is the phenomenon occurring when confronted with true information, someone clings to their false belief even stronger.

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Try to change their beliefs

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 09, 2021

[1]https://forge.medium.com/a-guide-to-changing-someone-elses-beliefs-c08fc1cb956b

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Anja M
Anja M4 days ago
Thanks for your comment! So, a couple of things:
Yes, belief is sth that is the base of all knowledge. (not to mix it with belief like a spiritual, religious one, this time), so the main problem is not that we have any, but how they are structured.
Your point 3 is that argumentum ad autoritatem, yes, it is one of the main problems of non-reflecting. Point 4 is what we have to aim at, eventually. To first adopt the relevance of relevant data and not let themselves to arbitrariness.
On point 2... I am not sure, at this point, it works for some of the main conspiracy theories, like flat-earth, vaccines, etc. Can you give me some better examples for it in this context?
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 days ago
Anja M Here is some more explanation for point 2: People are attracted towards anything unique - be it positive or negative. Even though negative things are frowned upon, that won't stop you from sharing (spreading the news) it with your friends. Therefore, one thinks that possession of unique beliefs may make them attractive. This is one of the reasons behind believing in non-factual things. Everyone relies on facts. If you do not, that makes you unique. Some people are, therefore, more susceptible to fake news or conspiracy theories and they try and spread the knowledge they possess before confirming it just because it is not common knowledge or common opinion. They possess something that very few others know/ hold. "The perception of scarcity becomes a more powerful incentive for people to get on board with your ideas." [1]

We don't usually announce when we take a flu shot. Many others take it regularly. It has become a common thing. But telling people that the covid vaccine is bad and can do more harm than good is not that common. Moreover, covid is something that is on everybody's mind currently. It is the active thing (hot topic). Having more knowledge regarding a hot topic (doesn't matter if it is true or false), makes you attractive, is what you think.

Therefore, telling them what they know is not new or not uncommon may discourage them from boasting / talking about / spreading it. Benefits of the cause are lost when many people know about it. This may stop the spread of rumors. You will have lesser people to convince them of the truth. Also, the discouraged ones might be more receptive now since they are not that popular anymore. It might be easier to convince them of your thoughts.

Do you really want to change their beliefs?

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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Feb 09, 2021
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Anja M
Anja M4 days ago
I wrote about this "string" under the bias called backfire effect. The problem of post-truth is pervading too much, so we are not talking about simply changing someone's mind for the sake of it. We are talking about a real-deal paradigm shift that "anything goes" is "our truth". For example, we are in a pandemic now, can we say that the number of anti-vaxxers in the world at this particular point is something naive? No, we can't. So we are talking about influencing this whole paradigm, starting from a smaller scale, like the author said, influencing as calmly as possible those immediatelly around us.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni4 days ago
Anja M One person at a time, then. The only way around I can think of. If you stand in front of a mob, you may not be able to inject sense in a single person.

Should we be critical even at the cost of dismissal?

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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Feb 11, 2021

[1]https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/smarter-living/how-to-argue-on-the-internet-without-losing-your-mind.html

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Anja M
Anja M4 days ago
Yes, you are right... You just added another problem, of written communication + biases of internet bubbles we all live in. Written word is always easier to misinterpret, as there is no facial expression, no sound. In my case, I was one of those users who used emoticons very little, and I literally had to make myself learn to use them to avoid ambigous situations as much as possible (but it seems I haven't quite obtained it in enough quantity). Additionally, like you said, people got so easy to offend. Everyone is offended by just someone else having a different opinion, and that is a huge problem, and I also think quite related to having the post-truth as something so present in our lives, whether we notice it or not. So, like Shubhankar said, the problem is really how to fight something irrational with rational means, but it is not impossible. It is maybe so on a larger scale, but not really in some real one-on-one scenarios. So, as much as any such convo easily slips like you dipped your hands in oil and tried to catch stuff, if we just give up, we are tacitly accepting to live with it and only passively nag.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni18 days ago
Great point Subash Chapagain ! You endure similar backlashes not just when you try to fight post-truth but almost every time you have something to say. It is difficult to have a discussion in an opinionated world. Your suggestion is another reason for my suggestion "Do you really want to change their beliefs?" in this session. I think fighting post-truth is fighting irrationality with rational tools. It, probably, may be the best to avoid it.

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General comments

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Povilas S
Povilas S15 days ago
Was the term post-truth derived having in mind postmodernism? Since postmodernism basically states that there is no objective truth, all theories then become equally valid
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Anja M
Anja M4 days ago
Povilas S The author of the book relies the most on that, yes. He gives a historical retrospective on why he thinks post-truth developed unintentionally due to the rise of postmodernism.