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Nicholas de Vera
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#ScottAlexander with excellent analysis, as always #BackfireEffect #agnotology
> Tim Harford writes [...] to argue that people are mostly impervious to facts and resistant to logic [...] He admits he has no easy answers, but cites some studies showing that “scientific curiosity” seems to help people become interested in facts again. He thinks maybe we can inspire scientific curiosity by linking scientific truths to human interest stories, by weaving compelling narratives, and by finding “a Carl Sagan or David Attenborough of social science”. [...]

> Harford describes his article as being about agnotology, “the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced”. His key example is tobacco companies sowing doubt about the negative health effects of smoking – for example, he talks about tobacco companies sponsoring (basically accurate) research into all of the non-smoking-related causes of disease so that everyone focused on those instead. But his solution – telling engaging stories, adding a human interest element, enjoyable documentaries in the style of Carl Sagan – seems unusually unsuited to the problem. The National Institute of Health can make an engaging human interest documentary about a smoker who got lung cancer. And the tobacco companies can make an engaging human interest documentary about a guy who got cancer because of asbestos, then was saved by tobacco-sponsored research. Opponents of Brexit can make an engaging documentary about all the reasons Brexit would be bad, and then proponents of Brexit can make an engaging documentary about all the reasons Brexit would be good. If you get good documentary-makers, I assume both will be equally convincing regardless of what the true facts are. [...]

> Purely Logical Debate is difficult and annoying. It doesn’t scale. It only works on the subset of people who are willing to talk to you in good faith and smart enough to understand the issues involved. And even then, it only works glacially slowly, and you win only partial victories. What’s the point?

> Logical debate has one advantage over narrative, rhetoric, and violence: it’s an asymmetric weapon. That is, it’s a weapon which is stronger in the hands of the good guys than in the hands of the bad guys. In ideal conditions (which may or may not ever happen in real life) – the kind of conditions where everyone is charitable and intelligent and wise – the good guys will be able to present stronger evidence, cite more experts, and invoke more compelling moral principles. The whole point of logic is that, when done right, it can only prove things that are true. [...] Violence is a symmetric weapon; the bad guys’ punches hit just as hard as the good guys’ do. [...] And the same is true of rhetoric. Martin Luther King was able to make persuasive emotional appeals for good things. But Hitler was able to make persuasive emotional appeals for bad things. [...] Unless you use asymmetric weapons, the best you can hope for is to win by coincidence. [...]

> Improving the quality of debate, shifting people’s mindsets from transmission to collaborative truth-seeking, is a painful process. It has to be done one person at a time, it only works on people who are already almost ready for it, and you will pick up far fewer warm bodies per hour of work than with any of the other methods. But in an otherwise-random world, even a little purposeful action can make a difference. Convincing 2% of people would have flipped three of the last four US presidential elections. And this is a capacity to win-for-reasons-other-than-coincidence that you can’t build any other way.

Lost, GRRM, M. Night, I've lost a lot of faith in fiction, but I"m confident Genndy Tartakovsky will do Samurai Jack justice with a good ending.

Being in six Discord servers is probably too much

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"4/4 rock, hard, fast, sloppy" #scottpilgrim

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Rogue Twitter accounts have jumped the shark. Anonymity's too easy.

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"Whyte says the acronym (“Affordable, Robust, Compact”) is not a reference to Iron Man’s power source" Suuure #MIT #ArcReactor 

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Metal af
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