Misinformation Age

In the olden thymes it was much more difficult to be misinformed than it is today, simply due to the fact that information flowed much more slowly that we see today. That meant stupid ideas and nonsense passed from person to person at the speed of foot, not the speed of light. Festus could truly believe that eating cow dung cured gout, but he was not at a university writing papers on it. Those papers were not being spread around the internet. He was simply boring his family with his crackpot ideas and maybe some neighbors.

The flip side of this, of course, is people were much less informed about the world than today for the same reasons. Literacy rates rocketed up with the advent of cheap printed material, but information still moved slowly. You can pack a lot of information in a book, but it still must be toted from one reader to another. It’s entirely possible that the newly literate of the 18th century were not much more informed about the world than the illiterate of the 15th century. Farmer John in colonial Virginia would know more about the Bible and local politics than Farmer Aethelred in the 15th century, but maybe not that much more.

We don’t think about mass misinformation very much today, but maybe we should think about it. That came to mind what I stumbled upon this posting the other day.

Women are predisposed by their genetics to have affairs as “back-up plans'” if their relationships fail, according to a research paper.

Scientists at the University of Texas say they are challenging the assumption that humans have evolved to have monogamous relationships.

The team’s research has put forward the “mate-switching-hypothesis” which says humans have evolved to keep testing their relationships and looking for better long-term options.

The senior author of the research, Dr David Buss, told the Sunday Times: “Lifelong monogamy does not characterise the primary mating patterns of humans.

“Breaking up with one partner and mating with another may more accurately characterise the common, perhaps the primary, mating strategy of humans.”

For our distant ancestors – when disease, poor diet and minimal healthcare meant that few people lived past 30 – looking for a more suitable partner was necessary, researchers assert.

Despite anecdotal claims about cheatng, no study has shown that humans are predisposed to monogamy or non-monogamy.

A study carried out by Rafael Wlodarski and a team of researchers at Oxford University looking into infidelity found a correlation between the length of a individual’s ring finger and the likelihood that they would cheat on a partner.

However, they stressed that they could not find a causal link.

I looked up the lead author and he is not a quack working on TV so this is supposed to be accepted as legitimate science. Just in case the reporter got the facts wrong, which is often the case, I looked up the source paper. The highlighted parts of the quote are the important bits. There have been studies using real science that strongly suggest humans in Europe are predisposed to monogamy. Genetic testing reveals that a tiny percentage of children are the result of adulterous relations and this is data going back centuries.

One could argue, and the paper does leave this open, that women scheme to have a ready replacement in case their husbands get eaten by a saber tooth. That’s not implausible and it would certainly show up in the gene pool as a heritable trait if it were in fact an adaptation.You could also claim that women secretly scheme to have an in-ground pool or a vacation to the beach. This sort of “research” is no longer science and well into idle speculation and propaganda.

This is also the sort of nonsense that is pleasing to the managerial elite because their religion tells them that monogamy and stable families are bad for the peasants. They may live like Victorians, but you people should give up your quaint notions of family, fidelity and morality, cause science!. This ties in with the assertion by feminists that women should have unlimited sex partners. A new movie called Bridget Jones’s Baby, which features a pregnant woman with three potential fathers of her baby, is the sort of idealized woman our betters imagine for your daughter.

That brings us back to where we started. In an age when information was scarce, misinformation was scarce. In an age where information is voluminous and moves at light speed, the same is true of the nonsense, which is much easier to produce in volume. The result is a misinformation age that erodes trust in authority because over time even the most naive grows cynical about what they see in the media. How many junk science stories like the one referenced here get posted before people think science is nonsense?

It’s not just science. The news media has collapsed under an avalanche of nonsense they created. No one believes anything they see reported. Government has approval rates in the teens. We are well into becoming a low-trust society that can only be held together by force. A big cause of that is the daily barrage of nonsense we get through the media. There used to be a time when the responsible made an effort to stem the flow of nonsense, but that’s no more. Instead, we live in a misinformation age.

It’s not going to end well.

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22 Comments on "Misinformation Age"

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Member

I’m tempted to call it prolefeed, but it is really much more like the constant hypnotic buzz that the subjects of Brave New World were subject to with the same goals: a population sated with sex and other cheap thrills, willing to do whatever the managerial class tells them to do.

walt reed
Guest

Sex is not cheap. At home or elsewhere. The in-ground pool component comes into play eventually.

Emeritus
Member
100 years ago marked an era widely regarded as the Golden Age of Sports. The individual achievements in baseball, golf, boxing, racing, etc, have all been surpassed and eclipsed since then, yet hardly an American alive does not know something about Cobb, Ruth, and so on. The difference was the reporting. The writers did not make themselves part of the story, they instead wrote to an audience they knew and understood, in dramatic prose that put the reader at the plate in the 9th, on the green at 18, in the corner at the bell before the last round, or… Read more »
james wilson
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It would be good if low trust engendered an independence of thought, but all my experience tells me that the Narrative is embedded in the public brain like a tick. They’ve won, and because of that they don’t feel the need to be very good at what they are doing.

Brooklyn
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God damn, another Bridget Jones movie? Aren’t they just flogging a dead horse at this point? The character got two happy endings in two separate movies that pretty much tied everything up; whats left to do? — Some of the problem today is the system being overwhelmed by information but its also a problem of stagnation generally. Useful people get funneled into a limited system when in previous years they would have tried something out like starting a business or going into work that didn’t require the almost religious type of hoop jumping media and the academy require. The guy… Read more »
Uncola
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I tend to view technology as like fire: It can warm you or burn you. In the shadow of the Information Age lies misinformation. Or, in other words, misinformation lies. If knowledge is power, then the problem here is two-pronged: 1.) Lies and misrepresentations, distortions, fabrications, et al, cause people to make decisions that bring about negative (if not disastrous) consequences; with the speed at which misinformation travels today exacerbating the consequences exponentially, and; 2.) Burn me once, shame on you, burn me twice, shame on me – which is another way of saying: When it’s raining BS all the… Read more »
Uncola
Guest

Another thought as an addendum here:

If truth stands the “test of time”, maybe it pays to wait and see. Even if just for a bit.

With age comes wisdom. I think I read that on the internet once.

Member

People tell me I have a “charmed life”. If so, then one of the largest charms on my bracelet has been and is patience. How right you are about that! Metaphysically speaking, I’ve been a believer in something for my now-longish adult life; socially speaking, I’ve found the old verities to have served me and mine very well, so we share belief in belief as well. Kudos on your comment!

John the River
Member
In high school I began reading the New York Times every day because of a program that subsidized the cost of a weekly subscription that was picked up at school (Good grief, I haven’t thought about this a very long time). I read Russell Baker, the syndicated column of Art Buchwald and many others whose names I can no longer remember. I wish there was a way to reread those worthies today and evaluate their impact. Would I still admire all their offerings as I truly did then? I suspect that I would, though politically opposite, I think they were… Read more »
Blue hat
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Yep, I think pretty much most consumers are accustomed to filtering all reading and watching of commerical product to first identify the “approved message” before continuing on. Where the approved message isn’t clear people get very annoyed because they feel they were conned. In the past this this was less a consideration because there was a higher level of social trust and overlap of generalised cohesive beliefs and standards. This has extended into the sciences which just demonstrates how far along we are in the communist state of mind where everything must reinforce state approved thought – or sanctions will… Read more »
notsothoreau
Guest

I was thinking today about the alternative press. Back in the day, the cool kids had alternative newspapers. I think the Detriot Free Press is still in business. We had the Oracle in the Bay Area, among others. And if you were a young person, that’s the place you got your news. I’m sure Hillary would have approved of the alternative press in those days. Now she has the gall to stand up and scold people for reading it.

Al from da Nort
Guest
Is this paper a (deliberate) scam_? After all this is just ‘The Mano-sphere’ dressed up in academic jargon. Evolutionary Biology, the lead author’s specialty, is not so different from Aesop’s Fables in that it purports to explain observable behavior (some women cheat, particularly with higher status men) by reasoning backwards using a plausible frame (reproductive advantage). Thing is, these assertions are inherently untestable (can’t study proto H. Sapiens) and so have a hard time qualifying as actual ‘science’. So epistomologiccally it can be called a scam. IMHO, this sort of article proliferates on account of the economics of academic promotion… Read more »
Member
“A study carried out by Rafael Wlodarski and a team of researchers at Oxford University looking into infidelity found a correlation between the length of a individual’s ring finger and the likelihood that they would cheat on a partner.” It’s also somewhat known on Wall Street that successful stock or currency traders tend to have longer ring fingers: The working hypothesis is that a marginally higher level of testosterone at a time when both that finger and the risk-taking part of the brain are going through a growth spurt is responsible. My hand surgeon tells me that this characteristic is… Read more »
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