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Underestimating the mind-warping potential of fake video (vox.com)
253 points by anarbadalov 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 192 comments



There's a relevant and insightful thread on Twitter posted by David Roberts here:

https://twitter.com/drvox/status/988144274720964608

His thread references the "debate" over climate change, and his point is that the debate most people participate in isn't truly a debate over facts, but rather a debate over trust. That matters of complexity are too distant from any one individual to have direct exposure-to, so in order to form a comprehensive viewpoint on anything, one much choose whom to trust. And that it's this part of the process of "understanding" which has been exploited. That people have been encouraging people to trust untrustworthy sources for information which doesn't necessarily square with the scientific evidence.

In this light point, when facts are irrelevant -- and if fake videos are used to compromise the voices of those which deserve our trust then I fear for those advocating fact-backed positions. It's clear they'll face an uphill battle.


> "His thread references the "debate" over climate change, and his point is that the debate most people participate in isn't truly a debate over facts, but rather a debate over trust..."

Spot on. What the more purely science-mind can't seem to grasp is facts are only as good as the receivers' trust of the source. The irony is, there's plenty of science to support this. Yet, ironically, science too ignores itself.

If Science were a brand it would be in need of a makeover. But instead of owning it's many shortcomings and past transgressions (e.g., consuming Y is safe only to find out it causes birth defects, cancer,etc.) Science blames the customer/consumer.

That too, as we all know is a big mistake.

Sure, I side with Science. But I also know it could use an extensive education in dog fooding if it wants to regain its traction (read: credibility and trust) in the market.


> (e.g., consuming Y is safe only to find out it causes birth defects, cancer,etc.) Science blames the customer/consumer.

It feels like there's a conflation of science and science reporting in here somewhere. Most of the actual research output makes measured claims but the journalism around it ends up being sensationalised (yes, some researchers also participate in that but not as a rule).


Science is science reporting. Normal people can only understand what is reported. If you want to read the actual papers, prepare to spend a couple hours to barely understand what is going on. Most people aren’t able to do that for all of the hundreds of papers published each year that could be relevant to their lives.


I wish scientific journals would start encouraging “human language”, as opposed to impenetrable thickets of mathematical gobbledygook. When I was still in academia, reading papers germane to my field was a chore. It would take considerable time to decipher a complex looking mathematical equation, only to go, “oh, they just mean X.” Basically as soon as I saw a \Sum sign, I knew the equation was pointless peacocking.

This is something I hope to see gain traction with the new gust of open wind blowing through scientific reporting. Open results, accessible results, means more than just the accessibility of the PDF, if you ask me. Publicly funded research has a duty to be readable and understandable by the public, who paid for it.

Or, at the very least, not more opaque than strictly necessary.


I completely understand your frustration, but let me offer somewhat of a different view.

Try reading Euclid's Elements. It was written before equations had been invented and is for the most part "plain language". However, it reads as vastly more obtuse than an equivalent modern formulation of the same facts with symbols and algebra.

The nice thing about mathematical notation is that a simple, one line equation can express relationships and detail that what would otherwise take a full paragraph to unpack. Personally, once I'm familiar with the symbols and underlying concepts, an equation is much easier to hold in my head than a long jumble of plain language explication.

I think most researchers aren't simply pomping up their paper with obtuse symbols. Mathematical notation is both compact as well as a common language, so why not use it? As a side benefit, we also get to lean on the vast background of mathematical research which offers potential precision that would otherwise be completely lost.


The problem is that using 'human language' is inherently hiding complexity by using an abstraction. You are going to lose information, and that information is probably important to fully understand the thesis of a science paper.


Academic papers are written in a difficult to read style. It's more than being precise, the use of jargon, and latex at work. It's a deliberate process of puffing up the difficulty of the work by making it hard for someone else to understand. Part of this is the nature of scientists - they are not educators, nor do they worry about teaching others (ironic given the roles of professors in universities).

A well written paper takes a sympathetic view of the reader and helps guide them to understanding. This is not how academics are taught how to write. It's like a form of handed-down abuse.


I think science journalism is what was meant. Obviously scientists communicate the results of the science they do, but there's a very big difference between a scientist failing to communicate well and a non-scientist failing to understand and adeptly communicating something not supported by the science (e.g. sensationalizing some minor/tangential/wrong idea).


Most people didn’t read Jon Postel’s papers but they enjoy the internet. Same with pharmacology, semiconductors, radio comms, etc. Science is mostly reporting to other scientists and to engineers that turn it into usable stuff.

Popular science writing is very important, but it’s just a small part of the practice. Doing more of it would mean less actual research unless funds and bodies are added for it. I'd like to think that as a community we servo around the sweet spot given the resources.


> Science is science reporting.

No, it is not. This is why I drew the distinction in the first place.

> Normal people can only understand what is reported.

Which backs up my point that sensationalised reporting is a problem. Peer-reviewed, scientific papers are written for other scientific researchers — that's as it should be.


What I was trying to communicate is that Science makes mistakes. Such is life. However, Science makes no effort to own those mistakes.

If your sig other __from your pov__ constantly "deceives" you, what happens?

Science is oblivious to the __cumulative__ effect its process has on belief, trust, etc. The irony of this truth baffles me.


> However, Science makes no effort to own those mistakes.

That sounds ludicrous to me. The entirely of the scientific method is about generating hypotheses, testing them out, finding out you're wrong, and then refining/rewriting those hypotheses and trying again, ad infinitum. Plenty of scientists have been 'wrong' for years.

I'd argue the problem you're trying to highlight isn't about 'Science' per se, but the fact that people/the masses/etc like to have just one immutable 'answer' for something. They find it difficult to cope when new results point to different answers. Is that really the fault of 'Science'?


Exactly!!!

The scientific method is such that Science is never wrong. It's god-esque.

There's no step in the process - a la 12 Step Process for example - that acknowledges past transgressions. It just hypes up the glory and ignores the mistakes.

That's. Not. Working.

That's. Not. Good. Enough.

That's. Bullshit.


> The scientific method is such that Science is never wrong. It's god-esque.

This is wrong.

> There's no step in the process - a la 12 Step Process for example - that acknowledges past transgressions. It just hypes up the glory and ignores the mistakes.

This is also wrong.

Wrong as in factually incorrect.

You're seeing something in science that doesn't exist.


> * The scientific method is such that Science is never wrong. It's god-esque.*

You've misunderstood my point. The scientific method is such that 'Science' is always wrong. It's a method to continually try to become less wrong about how the world works.

I don't even know what you're referring to when you capitalise 'science' the way you have been. It's not like there's a single entity called 'Science' that issues proclamations.


But instead of owning it's many shortcomings and past transgressions (e.g., consuming Y is safe only to find out it causes birth defects, cancer,etc.

Science gave us CFCs then berated us for the hole in the ozone layer...


Do know what CFC's replaced - ammonia? Ammonia was used in refrigeration before CFC's were invented and when your fridge developed a leak you were gassed to death.

Nobody foresaw what CFC's would do to the ozone layer. It took science to find this.

I have never seen a claim from science that something is safe. At best you get a claim that something appears to have minimal risks. Minimal != Zero


> I have never seen a claim from science that something is safe.

Yet I regrettably see people, even here on HN, claiming otherwise. We're not helping.


Wasn't that more like:

Science gave us CFCs then commerce and industry over-used them irresponsibly, and fought regulation. Science later appropriately berated us for the hole in the ozone layer...


Yes! And the list goes on and on.

Science can't seem to tie its mistakes to lack of credibility.

Imagine that. Even Science, like CNN, doesn't know correlation from cause.

That's. Just. Sad.


> Even Science, like CNN, doesn't know correlation from cause.

This is factually incorrect, aside from bringing CNN in for absolutely no comprehensible reason.


>That matters of complexity are too distant from any one individual to have direct exposure to

In the case of climate change it is actually possible to self-inform yourself about some of the key aspects of climate change. Raw data is freely available (noaa and others), and some simple scripts can answer questions like "are the claimed warming trends real or artifacts of bias due to adjustments or other factors".

This was part of my path into figuring out who to trust, and it did take a while. Not everyone is going to have the time or inclination, and this is only 1 of a few dozen important political issues to understand!

By the way my conclusion was that yes, global warming is absolutely a real thing, and absolutely caused by human activities.


> "Raw data is freely available (noaa and others)"

But still - this is a matter of whether one chooses to trust NOAA and others. His point isn't really even about climate change. It's about debating the merits of any position, and what sources of information you trust to reinforce your position.


> this is a matter of whether one chooses to trust NOAA and others

I should mention that this is fairly easy to verify, at least with part of the data. For land temperatures one of the big sources they use is meteorological data gathered at airports (METAR). You know, the same data that pilots use to calculate take off and landing distances, altimeter settings, etc. So a concerned citizen could compare this these data sets and verify part of the NOAA data. Faking this data, at the airports, would cause disasters, unless you had this major conspiracy where you fixed the pilots instruments or every pilot was aware of this faking and used the real numbers. But both seem really silly since GA pilots need this information too, and frequently do hand calculations.

I certainty think the verify part is essential in phrase "trust, but verify". I just want it to be clear that one can trivially verify one of the large components of the data set.

[1] SFO airport data: http://www.wx-now.com/weather/wxcurrent?icao=KSFO


Ok, but what are we verifying, the pre-adjusted numbers, or the post-adjusted numbers? And is there a document a reasonably intelligent layman can refer to to get the complete story behind how various measurements have been adjusted?

For fun, sometimes I try to find someone who can explain to me where the "97% of scientists support the man-made global warming theory" statistic came from, and I'm pretty sure I found the original source, but the problem is, it doesn't say 97% of scientists support it, or that 97% of papers support it. Now, if The Informed would just be up front and admit that "ok, that particular claim is a bit imprecise to be quite honest, here's the actual story....." this would be perfectly fine with me. But when instead both official authors and any advocate I've encountered online instead doubles down on the misstatement, or refuses to answer perfectly straightforward questions but instead attacks me and starts calling me names.....well, my spider senses go off a bit.

And then I read things like: "The US right, for decades now but accelerating in recent years, rejects mainstream institutions: not just science but academia, journalism, and government. It has devolved into thoroughly tribal epistemology: what is good for us is true." ....and the logical side of my brain says "well yes, that is certainly true for a lot of conservatives, but certainly not all" and then I start to notice a pattern where very few pro-AGW-thoery people seem to be able to resist saying things that are not true, when lying is absolutely not necessary in any way, and I think to myself, this whole situation seems a bit suspicious.

So, partially because I'm genuinely skeptical, partially because I have quite a number of issues with the current political climate and state of discourse, and partially to return just a small portion of the cntiness I've experienced from online know-it-alls, I'm going to set my launch chair just on the other side of the "denier" line, because "fck me? Well fck you too!"

Besides, the economic prospects in the future for my kids doesn't look so bright and no one seems to give two shts about that, so maybe I'm not overly motivated to care about your interests either.


> Ok, but what are we verifying, the pre-adjusted numbers, or the post-adjusted numbers?

You would compare the raw data (pre). You should also look at the models people use to adjust and ask yourself "does this make sense?" I should mention that the raw data suggests significantly more warming than is actually happening (which is why I've never understood the raw data argumet). This is because most ways we measure are actually artificially warm. There's a good layman's discussion here [1]. I'll mention that article gives lots of links to follow and is one of the first things I give technical people that are interested in learning more about the basics. It will give you a world to google and terms to search.

> pretty sure I found the original source, but the problem is, it doesn't say 97% of scientists support it, or that 97% of papers support it.

This is true, but I think you also misunderstand what it means. IIRC it also included papers from arxiv and other preprint services, which aren't peer reviewed. There are other studies that have done surveys on opinion breakdowns between different types of scientists. You still see an overwhelming trend (I believe >97%) among climate scientists that support it.

> And then I read things like: "The US right, for decades...

Leave politics out of science. Well at least as much as you can. Stop reading these things, they aren't relevant or useful. Different parts of academia have different problems, and they don't apply to all parts.

> So, partially because I'm genuinely skeptical...

GOOD. PLEASE BE SKEPTICAL. As a scientist I will NEVER discourage someone from being skeptical. But you also need to do more than just say "I'm skeptical", that is being a conspiracy theorist (in the bad way). A real skeptic looks into the claims made. That's what being skeptical is. So I encourage you to look at the data. I encourage you to actually talk to scientists that directly work on this research (as opposed to me). Most scientists are extremely happy to talk about their work, unless you're being mean to them.

If you are really skeptical please at minimum read [1]. Better, go through the other links as well.

[1] https://arstechnica.com/science/2016/01/thorough-not-thoroug...

Bonus: Link to different datasets https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/12-__RqTqQxuxHNOln3H5...

Nice graph on common claims (with link to data): https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-wo...


> You should also look at the models people use to adjust and ask yourself "does this make sense?"

I don't remember specific details anymore, but any time I've tried to wade into details I'm not able to make much sense of anything. Now, if the science is unavoidably complicated, so be it, but often times it is most definitely not, and correct or not, I am left with the impression that clarity is deliberately not the goal. To be clear, I'm not expecting scientific papers to be written for the layman, but I've yet to come across anything approachable for a reasonably intelligent and mathematically capable skeptic.

> This is true, but I think you also misunderstand what it means.

I'm pretty sure I understand exactly what it means, my complaint is that almost none of the self-proclaimed internet experts on the subject don't, and when you point it out to them, they lie. Worse, the 97% statistic was "double checked" and "recalculated" using some very fancy footwork (arbitrary discarding of a portion of authors) such that coincidentally, they landed precisely on the 97% even though they used a completely different calculation. Perhaps I am misunderstanding (and have pleaded with numerous experts to correct me), but until then my current belief is that whoever wrote that was cooking the books.

So then, when POTUS then tweets a link to yet another report containing the same misrepresentations: https://twitter.com/barackobama/status/335089477296988160?la...

....I'm not sure how to go about explaining to someone how that sows distrust. To me it seems obvious, I am literally as bewildered about my "opponents" belief in this extremely limited scope.

Of course, this may appear irrelevant to the larger actual question whether or not AGW is primarily man-made, but it speaks directly to the question of trust, which it's nice to see some people actually realize is that matters. Almost no one has actually read any of this science, so any of those folks who expresses ~"oh my god, it's sooooo obvious, you're such a science denier" is quite frankly lying out their bum. Once again. And again, how this could sow distrust in the mind of a skeptic is completely oblivious to those who have drank the koolaid.

The popular sentiment is that advocates are asking for understanding of the science, but based on the way they're asking for it, it seems more like they're asking for obedience, which to me is a feeling I've had a lot lately on a number of issues.

> Leave politics out of science. Well at least as much as you can. Stop reading these things, they aren't relevant or useful.

I don't disagree, but I would extend the same advice to the "leaders" of this movement, and ask that they find a way to reign in their rabidly enthusiastic but uninformed supporters, in many cases it alienates those of us still on the fence. "GOOD. PLEASE BE SKEPTICAL." is a sentiment I rarely hear expressed sincerely. Sure, everyone says it, until you ask a question and don't accept it being brushed away with a non-answer, and the knives come out shortly after.

> A real skeptic looks into the claims made. That's what being skeptical is. So I encourage you to look at the data.

For sure, I've just never found anything approachable. Which again seems suspicious to me. Think of the millinions of man-hours and dollars that have been poured into this initiative, yet is there a well-known and approachable website I can turn to to educate myself? If the true motive is to inform people on the facts, such they will willingly support the necessary financial sacrifices, wouldn't it make sense to have such a resource? Whereas, if the actual approach taken is incessant news, TV, and internet articles that repeat the same set of 10 talking points.....once again I get suspicious.

Many thanks for an actually sincere reply, I will read the links you provided.


For me it tends to be easier to take a historical view of a scientific topic, exploring what was known at a given time, and particularly focusing on controversies. AGW is widely accepted now, but has been extremely controversial, and was actually entirely discredited for some fifty years after the first published paper on the topic. The reasons for this should probably be extremely popular among skeptics. The Discovery of Global Warming [0] is a hyperlinked and well-cited ebook which describes the climate research of the last century or so.

[0] https://history.aip.org/climate/index.htm

In the 19th Century the prevailing view of climate was that it was static or cyclical, with cold years balancing out warm ones. This began to be challenged by growing evidence for past ice ages, and various theories of climate change proposed mechanisms by which these might occur. At around the same time, people began playing around with carbon dioxide, carbonated water, and carbonic acid, and noticed that many human activities produced large amounts of CO2. In the mid-1860s Tyndall measured the heat characteristics of various atmospheric gases (you can probably reproduce his experiments relatively easily, if you like). A few decades later in 1896 Arrhenius suggested that halving the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere could produce temperatures cold enough for an Ice Age, but he also provided figures for a doubling of atmospheric carbon. His value for climate sensitivity is a bit on the high side of today's range, but still agrees pretty well despite his unsophisticated climate model.

However, Arrhenius was refuted in 1901 by Knut Ångström, who pointed out that 1) the absorption spectrum of water and CO2 overlap, and the atmosphere is essentially completely saturated with H2O, so carbon dioxide probably isn't having any additional effect, 2) the atmosphere is completely opaque to CO2 at lower concentrations than currently exist, so additional CO2 should have no effect, and 3) that the oceans are an unimaginably capacious carbon sink, and can absorb all the carbon that humans could even think about liberating, and then some. The CO2 theory of climate change was mostly forgotten for about half a century.

In that time, we began to explore the upper atmosphere, as well as the circulation of the oceans. Other experiments shed doubt on the cyclical nature of climate, pointing out that (e.g.) small changes in albedo could reflect sunlight, leading to cooler temperatures, and so on, in a self-reinforcing cycle. The idea of a cyclical climate took a long time to die, and one of my private amusements was reading through a 1950 textbook on atmospheric science. It described the climatic zones of the world as if the annual rainfalls and prevailing winds were graven in stone, and explicitly assigned a small role to CO2. By that time, however, the scientific view was already beginning to change.

In 1949 Callendar published an article titled Can Carbon Dioxide Influence Climate?, which laid out a renewed case for the importance of CO2. The absorption spectra of water vapor and carbon dioxide do not completely overlap, he argued, and although in theory the oceans can absorb a nearly-infinite amount of CO2, the rate of mixing of the upper and lower oceans is very low, and so the oceans provide much less of a buffer in the short term. He also pointed out that the stratosphere was almost devoid of H2O, and that small increases in the composition of the outer atmosphere could have a disproportionately large effect. More generally we can say that increasing the partial pressure of CO2 increases the extent of the CO2-rich layer, raising the effective top-of-atmosphere.

There were a number of unknowns at this point. It was not known for sure whether solar output was constant, or whether the global concentration of carbon was increasing, or whether the influence of carbon dioxide would be outstripped by the influence of particulates or other polluting gases. Solar observations since then suggest that solar output is constant to within .1 percent. The potential cooling effect of particulates and aerosols was the topic of active debate until the mid-1970s, and I'm told that some periodicals published lurid extrapolations of this research. Measuring the global concentration of CO2 was something of a challenge, but it was eventually met in 1958-61 by one Charles Keeling, who established a global baseline for CO2 concentrations, showed a large seasonal variation in the same, and finally showed that the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere were indeed increasing as predicted.

Since then we have seen steadily rising atmospheric concentrations and global temperatures. Better atmospheric modeling and stricter pollution controls reduced the potential threat of cooling. Another potential avenue of escape was offered by the complexities of H2O interactions. By itself, CO2 is not all that much of a concern. The no-feedback forcing per doubling is calculated at ~3.7 W/m^2, which is generally held to be about equivalent to 1 degree of warming per doubling. And if that were all we could expect, we probably would be talking about ocean acidification instead of global warming. However, water vapor is a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, and there's quite a bit of water lying around most everywhere here, and the atmosphere can hold exponentially more water the warmer it becomes, so a naive calculation would suggest an unbounded positive feedback loop. Fortunately this is not observed. The interactions of water in its various states are quite complex, so at this point we essentially had to leave the laboratory and try to study the Earth as a system.

That part is hard. Warmer tropical currents could shut down the Gulf Stream, which would probably result in Europe freezing solid, and ironically provide the impetus for a new Ice Age. (opinion) The strongest skeptical argument presented recently would probably be Lindzen's Iris hypothesis, which suggests that increased cloud coverage could offset rising temperatures. Unfortunately the balance of evidence suggests otherwise. "Something lurking in the H2O feedback" is at this point about all that would save us, and any potential mitigating effect would generally have to be both large in magnitude, to counteract the H2O feedback, and also presumably small enough not to have been noticed. Without getting spectacularly hand-wavy with physics, one might also posit some unknown interaction in the upper atmosphere which would conveniently transfer large amounts of heat into space. The oceans are pretty much ruled out, the optical properties of CO2 are beyond dispute, and hoping for an exception to the laws of thermodynamics is probably a tad optimistic.

The linked ebook should provide adequate citations for all of the above, and the research papers should all be freely available online. Do please respond if you have any further questions, or if you would like any assistance in finding citations. Also, while I have read a fair amount on this subject, I am a layman, not a climate scientist, and the above being somewhat extemporaneous, I would also be appreciative of any chance to correct any mischaracterizations.


> any time I've tried to wade into details I'm not able to make much sense of anything. Now, if the science is unavoidably complicated, so be it, but ...

It is no secret that scientists are bad at communicating with the public. Like any group we speak our own language. And that even goes for specific fields of study. There is no way you can read a paper casually. Even if you are an expert in the field you will not gain much by a casual read. But remember, all these papers list the authors' emails. DO NOT be afraid to email them. You can write something like "Hey Dr. X, I'm interested in learning about climate change. I don't understand this section of your paper (demonstrate some knowledge and effort) and I was wondering if you had the time to explain it to me in more detail or had some further reading that would help me." You'd be surprised at how far that will go. You're not guaranteed a response, but there's a pretty good chance you'll get one.

> 97% even though they used a completely different calculation

I've seen a range, but I'd pay little attention to this stuff. It isn't that important what the exact number is. You can verify that "an overwhelming majority" agree.

> Almost no one has actually read any of this science, so any of those folks who expresses ~"oh my god, it's sooooo obvious, you're such a science denier" is quite frankly lying out their bum.

Not going to argue with you there. There are a lot of armchair scientists that are pretty arrogant. It annoys me too (especially when they argue against things in my field -___-). But it isn't worth much effort when they are on the factual side. Correcting someone usually comes off as "your entire premise is wrong", which I hate, but is a reason people don't bother. But for someone genuinely interested (which it seems you are, and why I'm spending time on this), scientists tend to be happy to talk. We're all nerds after all, and nerds like to nerd out. Just have to show interest.

> but I would extend the same advice to the "leaders" of this movement

I'd argue that it is reactionary. That we didn't put it there, but since it is there we have to deal with it.

> "GOOD. PLEASE BE SKEPTICAL." is a sentiment I rarely hear expressed sincerely.

I hope you do not think I am acting that way. I think you're also more likely to see knives from the armchair types. I often say they sit in an armchair with a baseball bat. A little dramatic, but aren't most analogies? At least good for a laugh.

> Think of the millinions of man-hours and dollars that have been poured into this initiative, yet is there a well-known and approachable website I can turn to to educate myself?

There are plenty on the basics (PBS Eons is great for historical stuff. Cosmos discusses climate. And there are many others intended for the layman), but there tends to be (in most subjects) a lack of middle ground. And I admit this sucks. The best thing to do is ask an expert (I am not one in climate). Find a couple professors and shoot them an email. I'm serious. You will get much more out of that than what I can provide you. You will get best responses to specific questions and demonstrating that you have done some initial research (careful to be showing genuine interest and not bragging or arrogance). Best is short and simple. Or if you have a technical question about a paper they wrote, get technical (be careful with this if you lack the prereq knowledge though). But at some point you will have to trust. You can't know everything, but hopefully you can see that there is no conspiracy and everyone is doing their best efforts. I can honestly say I don't know a person or know a person who knows a person who intentionally misrepresented data, and the scientific community isn't that big. We're just nerds, we like to learn, and we are definitely not in it for the money (I mean have you seen a scientist's salary?!)

Feel free to ask more questions, once you have read at least that one article, and I can try to help. I will again repeat that I am not an expert in the field so my responses will be limited but who knows, maybe another HN user will chime in and add more than I can. I know there are some climate experts here and would love some of that intermediate level work and things I can add to my bookmark collection. All I can do is help you get started and hopefully make you think scientists aren't a bunch of pompous assholes or promoting any conspiracy (we're not good liars).


> whether one chooses to trust NOAA and others

One of the biggest objections from (science-literate) people who reject climate change is precisely this - that 'methodology corrections' applied to NOAA data create a warming trend in underlying data that lacks it. The trust question applies at every level down to "the guy who goes out and looks at the thermometer".

Appeals to "you can run the data yourself" honestly feel like they're missing the point. Pretty much everything we know has some element of faith to it - some of it we can't verify directly, and almost all of it we won't verify, because that task is impossibly large.

Hell, I can't prove that China exists without relying on trust in others. Which is not exactly an academic question when you meet people who say things like "North Korea isn't repressive, that's just a lie our capitalist government tells us". It's not a hopeless case, you can try to push claims to the point where falseness would require a completely implausible conspiracy, but it's worth remembering that "just look at the data!" usually amounts to a call of "just trust these voices!"


You highly overestimate...

...how many people can do data analysis.

...how many people can write scripts.

...how many people know what a script is.

...how many people can do basic arithmetic.

Your example of self-enrichment is perfectly fine for people with a good education, but it's insufficient at 'democracy scale' where elections are decided by voters who cannot do anything beyond trusting the people who are informing their decisions.


I mean, using this definition, you could be 'self-informed' about ANY topic - as long as you have the skills, time, and desire to fully immerse yourself in the subject.

And, as you point out, it is literally impossible to do this for every subject - even if we all had infinite aptitude to study and understand all subjects, we don't have the infinite time it would take to do that. Plus, this is an extreme waste of our resources; we specialize for a reason.

We need trust, and you can only spot check that trust every now and then for things that you actually know.


I don't think this is good advice. An amateur investigation of a complex topic is probably worse than trusting an expert who may or may not be trustworthy. You don't know what you don't know. Sure, you grabbed (what you think is) raw data. But what if the trend or timescale was too small? What if you asked the wrong question? What if the data was artificially adjusted, or should have been but wasn't? (As NOAA has been caught doing.) You don't know these things, i.e. what is/isn't important. Now you're certain of your results, which may be completely wrong. To me, this is the SV/nerd version of an uninformed ideologue. ("Research fast and break things!") Maybe it's better to expend that effort identifying whether your go-to experts are really trustworthy, instead.


> some simple scripts can answer questions like "are the claimed warming trends real or artifacts of bias due to adjustments or other factors".

This requires at least a graduate-level stats education to do "properly"!


>Raw data is freely available (noaa and others), and some simple scripts can answer questions like "are the claimed warming trends real or artifacts of bias due to adjustments or other factors".

That can only tell you whether the trend is present in the raw data or only occured after some processing of the data.

Don't confuse raw sensor data with reality and adjustments with artifacts.

I can use a tire gauge that reads high, but that doesn't make my flat tire an artifact of data adjustment.


> possible to self-inform

Doesn't mean the self-inform is reproducible though due to obvious reasons.


What you say is true, but there are some other aspects of trust at play here. Locally, I observe City Warming of up to 30 degrees each day.

Verifying that "global warming is a real _problem_ and human activities are _net negative to the human experience_" is not as easy as you are suggesting, because I need to model more than temperature over time. Also need some idea of the accuracy of the raw data.

The group of people who trust that global warming is a problem correlate pretty highly with the group of people who want to shut down big chucks of our cheap energy production system and replace it with something expensive. To put people in charge who think that is acceptable is a huge leap of trust.

It is very easy to see why doomsayers are not treated as credible. We've seen a huge number of them, mostly they have been wrong and so far the cheap energy solution has been wildly luxurious and successful.


I heartily agree with your core point.

> encouraging people to trust untrustworthy sources for information which doesn't necessarily square with the scientific evidence

To offer up some compassion to those people, you have to remember that we're daily barraged with p=0.05 experiments getting breathless coverage in the media. "Scientists say peanut butter cures cancer." "Scientists say peanut butter causes cancer."

Remember back when it was going to be a new Ice Age? Now it's "Global Warming?"

The media's coverage of science does not portray research in the proper light, does not give context, etc.

So I have a lot of sympathy for people who are skeptical of trusting "science."


Remember back when it was going to be a new Ice Age? Now it's "Global Warming?"

No, I don't remember that, because that was never actually the case. If you "remember" it, it is a false impression and you should really deeply introspect why you hold it. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-the-global-co...


I'm relating the perspective some people have on science. To them, it's chaotic. Answers change constantly. "Theory" is a derogatory term to them.

The conversation here is not how any given fact is right or wrong. The conversation here is that "scientific facts" seem to change at a dizzying pace to them, without being tethered to reality. "Global warming?!? It's SNOWING right now!"

Do cell phones cause cancer? Do vaccines cause autism? Was there cold fusion in that fish tank?

Also see:

https://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2012/11/qa-samuel-ar...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Half-life_of_knowledge

https://gizmodo.com/why-scientific-americans-predictions-fro...

http://www.aei.org/publication/18-spectacularly-wrong-predic...


Okay, sorry I didn't pick up on that. My fault for not paying better attention.

I agree, but I guess I'm both pushing a bit back on people to have some common sense when ascribing credibility to a source and also push some blame on deliberate bad actors (muddling what is true, and also reducing peoples' trust in the system overall).


What's "common sense" to you undoubtedly relies on your culture, and core assumptions you make. The things you value, and the things you discredit. Your world view.

I have bought lottery tickets, even though I know it's a "Stupid Tax." And apparently many other people do, too:

"Americans Spend More On Lottery Tickets Than On Movies, Video Games, Music, Sports Tix And Books Combined" [1]

Even though there's ample evidence that:

"Here’s How Winning the Lottery Makes You Miserable" [2]

A cynic could conclude that people are stupid. I'm not sure what an optimist would conclude, but I think I'd encourage them to consider their peers from the perspective of an anthropologist... View the culture as "different," not "wrong."

[1] https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-12/2016-americans-spe...

[2] http://time.com/4176128/powerball-jackpot-lottery-winners/


In the specific example of the lottery, if people could intuitively grasp what the odds really meant, few would play. It may not be a tax on stupidity, but a tax on how many people fail to understand how probability works. It’s also a tax on the impulsive, the desperate, the uneducated and people who have a predisposition to gamble.

Then difficulty in explaining to people these facts, or convincing people of them doesn’t imply some broader cultural relativism. The lottery is stupid, it’s just very challenging to get people to understand that consistently.


We'll have to agree to disagree. Perhaps both of our approaches have merits in different situations, but in the case where something is concretely falsifiable then people can be wrong not different. Perhaps convincing them otherwise is a job best left to kinder people than me.


I'm genuinely curious:

Can you name anything interesting which is concretely falsifiable?

Just to list a few things that I believe in, and they're very important to me, but which I assert are not "concretely falsifiable":

Anthropogenic Climate Change

Evolution as the origin of species

Reducing (not necessarily eliminating) access to guns is effective at reducing gun deaths

Bombing Nagasaki was the wrong thing to do

Torturing people is not an effective way to gather intelligence, and it's bad policy

Waterboarding is torture

The US has committed very many war crimes in the last thirty years

Abandoning the Gold Standard was a great decision


You don't get falsifiable in the real world in a computability sense. But > 99% confidence is completely reasonable and should be synonymous in an epistemological sense.

1, 2 are falsifiable and true. They are observed, modeled, and predictions have been demonstrated accurate. 3 is falsifiable and true, but I believe misses the point in the controversy there. 4 is not, ethics are not falsifiable. I lack the knowledge to say on 5 (people who I trust agree on both). 6 is just stupid, it tautologically is - not a question of falsifiable or not. I lack the knowledge to say on 7. I agree 8 but don't believe it's falsifiable (or I cannot prove it).


Newtonian physics was observed, modeled, and predictions were demonstrated accurate. Until Relativity and Quantum Mechanics showed us that our models were too simple.

This whole argument you're making that things are "concretely falsifiable" is still entirely about trust, and faith, and "good enough" in practice. It's nowhere near as rock solid as you're portraying it.

With guns, if you can't even agree that reducing access would decrease gun violence, it's hard to then debate whether we should, and whether we would need to modify the Constitution in order to do so. We can't even start the conversation.

"Abandoning the gold standard was good" is theoretically falsifiable, but you'd need to explore the multi-verse, or you'd need to run grand experiments in other countries. (Other countries DID do that for us, and it was bad for them.)


You are falling into the same trap described by @chiefalchemsit. Saying normal people should have common sense only makes matters worse


> fake videos are used to compromise the voices of those which deserve our trust

Which leads to what needs to be considered the greatest sin and betrayal of all: The creating and promoting of such videos.

No one creates a false video by accident. They know what they are doing, and their intentions are clear.

And this is not free speech.

Putting words in other people's mouths and manipulating voices is fake speech, and is the direct opposite of free speech.


"Putting words in other people's mouths and manipulating voices is fake speech, and is the direct opposite of free speech."

Another example of where a sufficiently large quantitative change becomes a qualitative change. Historically speaking there's nothing new about false attributing speech to some authority, but people had built-in instincts to deal with people simply saying that X said Y and could treat it with some salt. But easy fake videos reverses the situation; we have built-in instincts that say we should trust the video as a reliable representation of the putative speaker, even if we in intellectually know better.

Even if you flashed a warning "THIS IS A FAKE VIDEO" constantly, I bet you'd still be able to run studies that show disproportionate effects on people as a result of a sufficiently good fake video.


I remember a big deal being made of a TAS video of Mario and people assuming it was a real run.


> isn't truly a debate over facts, but rather a debate over trust

Spot-on.

This is severely exacerbated players like Google & Facebook, whose algorithms favor "engagement" and "virality", with zero regard for truth. It/s been shown [1] that falsehoods sperad faster, in part because they contain more 'surprise value'.

The result is that these info vendors effectively create an editorial environment favoring falsehoods.

Google has done a bit to clean it up on their search engine, e.g., the Flat Earth search generally points to debunking entries, but the same company's YouTube site contains a bunch of fakes in the top 10 results on the same search.

It is no exaggeration at this point to say that these tech giants are significantly undermining our society by failing to exercise responsibility over their implicit/explicit/algorithmic editorial decisions.

[1] http://mitsloan.mit.edu/newsroom/articles/study-false-news-s...


This is similar to the pre-elightenment skepticism of alchemists. Soon after the printing press, scientific communication was invented as a way of addressing the trust issue. The internet might be forcing a similar shift.

I wrote a bit more about this here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/blog.scholarpedia.org/2013/11/0...


This assumes that there is indeed no difference between fact and fiction. However, facts need to be consistent among themselves. In such a case where a fact can be disproved by a lack of consistency with directly observable phenomema, no appeal to trust is required. For eg. the earth is not flat, etc.


> matters of complexity are too distant from any one individual to have direct exposure-to

But in the case of climate change anyone over thirty-five or so knows damn well the weather has gone funny.

People are scared, way deep down where it's hard to think about, because they know on a cellular billion-year-old level that you cannot escape the weather.

Once you grasp that, climate denialism is an obvious coping mechanism to prevent mass blind panic. It is a terrible thing to face the destruction of all that you love.

- - - - -

In any event, deepfakes are a shocking thing to have to deal with and we are sooooo unprepared. The only thing I can think of is to spread the word about it far and wide and hope for the best (meaning hopefully people and society will "innoculate" themselves against the onslaught of concrete dreams.)


>But in the case of climate change anyone over thirty-five or so knows damn well the weather has gone funny.

A very similar logic leads people to conclude "it was cold last week, so global warming is nonsense". Being able to understand the scientific case for climate change requires a level of scientific literacy and critical thinking that most people could readily develop, but isn't taught in schools.


It's not logic even slightly.

Multicellular organisms have internal mechanisms to track environmental changes and forecast things like how many offspring to have.

This sort of "thinking" isn't neurological, it takes place in epigenetic systems that can span generations, especially in mammals due to gestation.


Climate change denial isn't denying some inevitable thing that is so horrible it makes sense not to think about it; there ARE steps we can take to fix the problem.


I don't understand what you're saying, do you mean there are people who deny the problem yet still take steps to fix it?


No, I am just commenting that it only makes rational sense to ignore a doomsday-type problem if there is no way to avoid it.

For example, we all know we are going to die at some point. It is inevitable, and nothing we do is going to prevent us from eventually dying. Because there is nothing we can do, it makes sense for us to ignore the problem, and possibly even to delude ourselves that we will live forever. There is no cost, since we are going to die eventually no matter what we tell ourselves.

However, with climate change, there ARE steps we can take today to prevent the catastrophe. Therefore, there is no rationalization for ignoring the problem.

I know human brains don't work rationally, though, but I thought it was useful to make the distinction.


Ah, well, when I say "climate denialism is an obvious coping mechanism" I don't mean that people are rationally thinking about the situation and deciding to put their heads in the sand. I think it is "Denial" in the Freudian sense:

> The same word, and also abnegation (German: Verneinung), is used for a psychological defense mechanism postulated by psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, in which a person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denial

BTW, I think human brains do work rationally to the extent that the world is rational, because they are evolved organs. But human personalities or minds are not necessarily consciously deliberately rational. Like how computers must use physics on the hardware level but can be programmed to model impossible physics in a simulated virtual world.


I think more likely some obvious deep fakes will be circulated, people will cry about it and beg for regulations, government will step in and regulate the shit out of the internet. Congrats now we are back to getting all our news from the oh so trustworthy unbiased mainstream media.


Certainly in China and the UK we are seeing the status quo reassert itself, I think.


I think it's important to note that the truth has never been widely available, to the point where it might be useless to think of truth as being a real concept to begin with. One could say that for a blip of time, we lived in a world where a large percentage of human were pushed largely accurate (if incomplete) information by mass media, allowing for something resembling consensual reality and informed democracy. We have always had to delegate verification of information to third-parties, whether those be text books, media organizations, or government officials.

I don't think we should be overly sentimental about the passing of this "golden age". We have never been a society ruled by facts and logic and we have been regularly misinformed all along. The difference now is perhaps a decentralization of who is controlling this misinformation and the realization by elite institutions that they now have to contend with their loss of monopoly, either by combatting perceived and real falsehood or coopting it.

It is admittedly deeply unsettling, but only to what was probably a false sense of security. Maybe instead of fretting about how to obtain more truthiness in the face of these new dynamics, the more fundamental question remains how can we achieve human welfare in a world where informed democracy is an illusion?


Similarly, it's also worth noting that the means of verifying a story or claim weren't widely available for a long time either. Seriously, go back to before photographs became a thing in 1839 or so. How did you verify any claims at all?

You usually just took people's word for it, or assumed their writings/paintings/memories were accurate. Unless you had the means to actively verify a claim yourself and the claim was about something you still could verify (aka the people involved weren't dead and the organisations and places there still existed), you never really could be sure.

And the same sort of setup goes for other forms of evidence too. Audio evidence, video evidence, even things vital to crime solving now like fingerprinting and DNA testing are all new in the greater scheme of things. For most of human civilisation, being at least somewhat unsure of what's true and what isn't has been the norm, and the time periods where forms of evidence were easy to obtain and hard to fake few and far between.

So yeah, it's definitely like a reset back to the olden days, and the challenges are certainly more about how to deal with informed democracy becoming an illusion again.


> go back to before photographs became a thing in 1839 or so

My favorite taste of this is the Blackadder episode Money. Blackadder ends up blackmailing a bishop with a portrait of the man in a compromising position, and everyone simply assumes that if there's a portrait of an event, it must be real.

It's a great bit of comedy just by pushing a plausible event into the past, and it looks like we're headed to that same scenario in the future. The loss of faith in photographs isn't going to be some unprecedented collapse of truth, it's going to be a return to the default position of politics and society after a mere century of novelty.


While not applicable for all claims, some can be verified by consistency. For example, claims a and b cannot both be true if a is inconsistent with b, and this hold regardless of who claims a or b.


> the more fundamental question remains how can we achieve human welfare in a world where informed democracy is an illusion?

I think the way is to change the incentives. People in our society have various skills and abilities. Some of them are highly skilled at accumulating influence. They use that influence to get wealth. Then they leverage the wealth for more influence. Our society is structured to move those people into positions of greater and greater influence and wealth. And those without such skills are marginalized and suffer.

I think a democratic society with pure socialism would not suffer from this problem. It would contain people who are good at accumulating influence, but they could not use that influence to gain more money (to leverage for more influence). Without the power-multiplying effects of wealth accumulation, influencers would be limited in their reach. That society would be less likely to develop an upper class with disproportionate power, nor marginalized middle and lower classes.


I feel pretty similarly.

I recommend this book so much that I feel like a shill, but if you haven't read Twilight of the Elites, you'd probably like it even more than I did :)

One point it makes that resonates strongly with me is that our society is structured to heap extra resources on those who already have in abundance and neglect those with unrealized potential. To say nothing of those who we think lack potential in the first place, we we often treat as subhuman.

When it comes to democracy, I actually don't think a paramount principle. I think human rights, accountability, some form of consent, and private enterprise are critical, but these don't strictly imply literal democracy.


One point that is often lost on the discussions of fake video/"deepfake" is that this development won't only make it easier to fool people into believing something that's made up, but it might also make people more distrustful of things which are actually true.

When it's been spread out enough that anything can be doctored to an indistinguishable extent, everything becomes deniable by those being caught, and the skepticism explosion is going to raise the bar for investigative journalism / actual evidence to standards high enough that few will have the resources to produce them.


The optimist in me wants to say that this in turn might lead to people actually researching stuff and forming their own opinion instead of just going along with whatever headline they see first, but the pessimist in me says that's probably a pipe dream


This is arguably what Putin's trolls are really after. If western societies stop trusting themselves, both internally and externally, it's an easy target for his men to pick up what's left of them.

Note that non-democratic government's are much more resilient to this type of attack on trust, because there's much less of it to begin with.


It seems like fake video can be handled the same way we handle fake text. We're just not used to doing that yet.

Anyone can write an article and sign it "Barack Obama," and post it online somewhere. Not many folks will fall for it. Most people understand how easy it is just write someone else's name down, so they look for provenance to help decide what is real. An article by "Barack Obama" on the Wall Street Journal website is going to be believed much more readily than an article by "Barack Obama" on some random blog.

The same thing will happen with video. Naked video files, found at random places on the Internet, will generally not be believed until they're authenticated by some trustworthy source. This already happens with "amazing" web videos; they attract "this is fake!" comments unless they're vetted and vouched for by (for example) a news service.


> Anyone can write an article and sign it "Barack Obama," and post it online somewhere. Not many folks will fall for it.

That's just stunningly naive. Imagine if Pizzagate or some other such nonsense was accompanied by a video of Podesta mumbling something about sex slaves. Fake News is a a real thing even without video corroboration.

> Naked video files, found at random places on the Internet,

You honestly think Breitbart of FOX wouldn't have run that in a heartbeat?


No matter how much you disagree with FOX, it's in their best interest to make damn sure they never print "fake text" or play "fake videos" on their platforms.



I don't watch cable news or even have cable to begin with, nor do I like FOX. And these are fucking hilarious. But they're not quite as bad as a completely fabricated video or quote of somebody like Obama.


How many people believe Pizzagate is real? Shall we litigate the exact numerical definition of "not many?"--which is what I said, not "none."


A truly shocking number.

I saw a number of around 20% of Florida voters right after the 2016 election. Of course I can't find it now.

But there are plenty on HN who thought (think?) it is real. Read the threads and weep: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13076863 https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13432291

Edit: yes, apparently still think it is real. You may need to turn on "show dead": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16407737


> How many people believe Pizzagate is real?

That's a question that made me want an answer. It seems that, as of 2016, it may have been a lot:

> Among the questions asked by pollsters was whether respondents believed that leaked emails stolen from Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager and published by WikiLeaks prior to the Nov. 8 election “contained code words for pedophilia, human trafficking and satanic ritual abuse — what some people refer to as ‘Pizzagate.’ “

> ...

> Specifically, 9 percent of registered Republicans who responded to the question said the allegations were “definitely true,” coupled with 40 percent of Republicans casting the claim as “probably true.”[0]

A different December 2016 poll[1] also seems to put "yes"/"definitely" at it at 14%[1] with a lot of "maybes".

Given the margins in US Presidential elections, it seems like the answer is "enough to matter". (Not that I think PizzaGate turned anyone from voting for Clinton or to voting for Trump, but fake news stories probably swayed a lot of voters overall.)

[0] https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/28/pizzagate-t...

[1] https://www.publicpolicypolling.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/...


A few thoughts here.

First, the difference between the two surveys is probably because they asked very different questions.

YouGov's question doesn't actually ask if Comet Pizza was a front for a sex ring, or if Clinton was involved in same. It only asks whether leaked email from Clinton staffers contained code words on the topic. It's still not something I think is true, but it appears that "yes" means "yes the memo with those code words existed" and "probably" means "the email probably existed and probably its wording was code for this stuff". Public Policy Polling asked about Clinton and the pizzeria being connected to a real ring, and consequently saw more 'no's.

Second, this looks like a Lizardman Constant thing. For those unfamiliar, PPP polls find that ~10% of Americans say lizardmen might be running the planet. Which means that any weird opinion showing up in polls may well get 10% just from indifference, trolling, or lunacy.

On the same poll, 5% of Obama supporters answered that yes, Obama was the anti-Christ. And here, 5% of Clinton supporters said that yes, she was involved in a child sex ring. If those people were sincere with both answers, I have some serious questions for them.

All of which is to say that this sort of polling produces nutty results no matter what you aim it at. The most interesting part to me is honestly the uncertainty numbers, which seem high enough to be 'real' answers. I could buy that we've reached a point where large swaths of electorate are willing to say "shit, anything's possible these days".

http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/04/12/noisy-poll-results-and-...


We must never forget that half of voters are even dumber than the average voter


That's not how averages work. If 9 people have an IQ of 100 and 1 has an IQ of 10, the average is 91. 9/10 people are still above that.


“Average” can mean “median”.

Also, human IQ is distributed in such a way that the mean is approximately also the median, which, by definition of IQ, is 100.


IQ is just a measure of intelligence mapped back on to a standard distribution with a mean of 100 and SD of 15. The mean equals the median of a standard distribution by definition.

The reality is if you measured absolute intelligence that it would not be a standard distribution (there are more people at the bottom than expected), but it would be close. The reason why is that intelligence is the result of tens of thousands of independent factors (mostly genes).


It does if IQ is a bell curve by definition, and it is.


snowwrestler is right though, the real power of the fake videos stems from the immense trust we have that a digital video (or photo) portrays the truth - I believe they can usually be used as evidence in court?

Perhaps it's a time for a renaissance of film? Or a service that detects doctoring, like Snopes for video (I imagine these AI video doctors probably leave some detectable characteristics in their pixel manipulations).


https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MQrzcwsGYy8 captain disalusion is a YouTube person laity who debunks viral videos, not the kind of bulk or subject matter you're looking for.he breaks down what to look for in fake videos, though.


"The problem with quotes found on the internet is that they are often not true." --Abraham Lincoln


I think you meant: "The problem with mis-quotes found on the internet is that they are often true." --Oscar Wilde


Here's "Barack Obama" giving a thumbs-up to repealing net neutrality: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1051157755251


>It seems like fake video can be handled the same way we handle fake text. We're just not used to doing that yet.

What happens when someone synthesizes fake anchors in fake news segments and posts them on fb/twitter?

You're severely underestimating how news propagates.


I think we're talking about different things. You're asking what happens today. I agree with you that audiences are not yet equipped with the proper skepticism for fake video involving real, unwitting participants.

I'm talking about the long-term implications in society. We treat video as more trustworthy today, but I think that can (and will, I'm sure) change. I think it already is changing for those amazing "WOW" social videos like the whale landing on the kayaker, etc.


The point of the article was that, while one might be skeptical at first, the provenance of data is forgotten faster than the data itself.

The emotional impact of a video will be remembered long after it was discovered to be fake.


You can say the same thing about text.


It happens on Twitter often- the first tweet gets 50k RTs and the corrected/retraction tweet hardly circulates at all.


But not fake narratives, fake writing or fake news.

Convenient that new media celebrities and individuals have greatest audience creation power through video, whereas traditional media still holds sway in print / news.

So clearly, understand the origins of the narrative that "fake video" is more dangerous: creator videos are stealing mindshare from traditional media. So of course trad media wants to believe it's dangerous. Because it is dangerous to them. But not for the reasons it pretends. At least not more than fakery in trad media.

Which there is plenty of. Including disguising a defense of their (failing?) business model, as a moral polemic, a subliminal plea that you need to trust "authority" outlets like them, more.

But funny how the concentration of "authority" power, which occurs in places like fact check /snopes, is the very thing those places pretend to be against.

Better in this distributed age to trust a sea of independent creators than a few authority sites, right? Even if the creators are all russian bots the concentrated few could all be pushing a single line.

Or maybe people should just trust themselves, and their own experience. And get more of that, instead of more exposure to media.


Buzzfeed and Vox are pushing this message, but they are by no means "traditional media". They're online-only publishers who are heavily oriented towards short-form video and social media sharing.

It's a much more straightforward issue of media literacy. The Facebook feeds of most people are littered with "news" from anonymous sources with unknown funders and unknown agendas. This created a major vulnerability in the media landscape that has been ruthlessly exploited.

I know Vox, I know their editor, I know most of their leading journalists. I know their political opinions and their potential biases. I don't necessarily trust them, but I am forewarned of their agenda and forearmed against any conscious or unconscious efforts they might make to influence my opinion. I understand the world view that Fox, CNN, The Guardian, WSJ, HuffPo and Drudge are trying to sell me. If I learn about something from one of these sources, I know how to find a contrasting perspective.

I have no idea who is behind "American Journalist", "Political Feed" or any number of other anonymous "news" publishers operating on Facebook. I'm a reasonably savvy media consumer and know not to give them credence, but the lack of an explanatory framework for their biases makes me much more vulnerable to subconscious manipulation. My psychological immune system hasn't been inoculated against these pathogens, so to speak.

This is a serious issue with stark ramifications and we shouldn't be so glib as to dismiss it as just media companies fighting a turf war.


I welcome other suggestions but for now I rely on Media Bias Fact Check [1] to learn about mysterious news sources (although they don't have entries for the two you mentioned). I agree with most of their assessments for the sources I know. They are criticized by both right and left leaning websites. Although I am sure a larger group could come up with something better, I like their methodology [2] and the answers in their faq [3]. [1] https://mediabiasfactcheck.com [2] https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/methodology/ [3] https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/frequently-asked-questions/


I wonder if we will arrive at a system like the stock market where you have analysts covering stocks and making recommendations and reports.

Oil could the equivalent work here where you see reviews from trusted sources on the “health” and prospects for the journalism outlet.


I perceive your comment as nothing more than an ad hominem attack, so I struggle to understand why others have apparently voted it up.

The main reasons I trust any sources of information is that I trust that they hold themselves to a standard of journalism - such as verifying their sources. Doing original primary research into subjects.

When a video shows up in my Facebook news feed, I'm now more suspicious of it than ever before. Especially if it's from some source that I do not believe holds themselves to any journalistic standard.

I'm not pretending authority is an easy problem - it's not. I trust my pediatrician to be my proxy into understanding the world of pediatric medicine, I trust her as an authority. My family trusts me to be a proxy into understanding the world of technology, they trust me as an authority. And I have learned over time that some journalistic sources are good at reporting - they have a good track record, given the perspective of time.

And it's not even "old" versus "new." I quickly trusted the perspective of fivethirtyeight.com. Even in the crucible of debate, I find snopes vastly more right than they are wrong.

Video evidence used to be entirely damning. We should all ask harder questions now, rather than just taking some random video on faith.


We have front page stories in the NYT, WSJ et al that hinge entirely on 'unnamed sources' '[gov org] senior officials' and 'people familiar with the matter'.

Video should be easy because it's either real or it's not. For stories based on secret sources, we never get a chance to ask the source if they really said that.


> We have front page stories in the NYT, WSJ et al that hinge entirely on 'unnamed sources' '[gov org] senior officials' and 'people familiar with the matter'.

That's about trusting the journalistic integrity the parent mentioned. I do trust journalists to know/keep track which sources are reliable, and report truthfully. Of course the source may have their own agenda on revealing things, but that's part of how the news landscape works.


Good point - "selective revealing" is also something awful.

We've got lists of the logical fallacies. Other than going to journalism school, is there a good list we can refer to for "journalistic sins"?


Yes, and the NYT, WSJ, and many others, have an excellent track record of only publishing stories that hinge on "unnamed sources" "senior officials" and "people familiar with the matter" when they should.

They are asking me to trust them that, if I knew who their sources were, that I would trust their sources. As journalists, they ask that I believe them that they have confirmed the matter through multiple independent means.

And they are judged entirely on their track record.

This is not science. We cannot see their original research, we cannot reproduce their results.

> Video should be easy because it's either real or it's not.

Did you watch the videos in this story? That's simply not true. It's actually never been completely true, but now video is less trustworthy than before because it's getting vastly easier to create convincing fake video.

We used to have to contend with dishonest people editing context out, or even hiring actors. Now we can see convincing but completely fake video produced quickly and cheaply by "somebody sitting on their bed weighing 400 pounds". [1]

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfVce4rELAY


>We used to have to contend with dishonest people editing context out

Any reporter relying on unnamed sources is selectively editing context out, whether complicity or not. It's the price you pay for access.


I had a different meaning of the phrase in mind - I meant like in a video.

"Now, my opponents would like you to think I hate all guns, and want to get rid of them. But that's not true!"

With the kind of context editing I was referring to, that can easily become:

"I hate all guns, and want to get rid of them."

But yes, when we trust a journalist to cite unnamed sources, yes, of course, we lose much of the context. And if over time it turns out the news source has a bad habit of covering the news poorly, we should stop giving them attention.


> Or maybe people should just trust themselves, and their own experience. And get more of that, instead of more exposure to media.

This is fine for certain contexts, but what about cases that can be important for individual people but outside their personal experience?

Did Trump sign an Obamacare repeal (an example from the article)? That kind of thing matters for being an informed voter, but few people were physically present through the various bills that went before Congress.

For much of day-to-day life, I agree with you. I just also think that reputation matters.


"Informed voter"

Ha! An oxymoron that Socrates would have chided you for. :)


Y'en a pas un sur cent et pourtant ils existent.


Sure, but we vote with majority of uninformed voters.

So democracy has to relegate information to second place, and rely on emotion and narrative to motivate voters.

This doesn't mean democratic leaders can't separate campaign from implementation ( campaign on emotive issues, deliver substantive ones ), but it does make the whole trajectory subject to the gravitational downward pull of fickle/merit-less but emotionally compelling issues.

Hence democracies demonstrated inability to deliver long-term plans and rapid large changes. But technocracy beats democracy there -- there they really care about information at the state planning level.

Hence, say what you want about China's media/mass PR exercise, but look at their results. Go and see them for yourself.

Their system kills a democratic system for delivering large meaningful changes.

And just ask FB. If FB was democratic, instead of autocratic/technocratic/data driven you really think they would be where they are now?

So why insist on it in government then, and pretend you are all so clever / right for doing so?

Seems to me you're just selling yourselves short-changed future in exchange for short-term feeling good about yourselves.

A poor and stupid bargain. But one you are happy with. Why? That's the question to investigate. The why. I think you've been sold on the idea of democracy because it's simply an effective means of keeping you all under control, and of maintaining the status quo so that nothing much ever changes -- and of amplifying and concentrating power in the unaccountable / secret / deep part of the state. You "feel" you have a voice, they give you an outlet, so you do nothing to uprise against it. Very effective control.

The architects of this idea must be laughing to see you all defending your system of bondage so hard. Socrates surely is laughing at you, too.


Okay, I confess. I have spoken against the true way of HN and am guilty of advancing ideas counter to the good of the glorious community. I am deeply sorry for how my ideas have damaged the eternal forum. All I can do is submit my useless self to beg for your mercy and surrender to reeducation!!!


Yes, yes, reeducate me! Help me censor my ideas more completely! Thank you, kind guides, your wisdom in the protection of the glorious community from harm is undeniable! All I can do is submit my stupid and pathetic self more fully to your teachings. Show me the glorious way of True HN Thought!


Yes, more, more, more reeducation. I need it! Preserve the unquestionable rightness of True HN Thought!


Yes! Keep going! you are approaching levels of True HN Thought that shouldn't even be possible!!


>Or maybe people should just trust themselves, and their own experience

My own experience wouldn't inform any democratic actions I might take at all except how to vote about net neutrality.


People don't underestimate it, they just don't know what to do about it. That's arguably more of a technological problem than a policy problem, the technical and philosophical problem of how to detect fakes.


People do underestimate it, especially people who see themselves as critical thinkers. Your conscious mind might know that a photo or video is fake, but your unconscious mind still gives it some credibility. Our ability to remember and process facts is much worse than we think and we're highly prone to creating false memories. No-one is immune to these shortcomings.

Fake images on social media are much more than just a nuisance - they represent a fundamental threat to liberal democracy. Our brains simply aren't evolved to cope with convincing but fake images and we don't have any effective countermeasures.

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2010.10.006


I don't think it's a matter of brain being trained to see fake images, or people being emotionally readied. I haven't heard yet heard of the essential difference between fake evidence and the real thing.


Technological solutions will help, but software to spot fake videos will lead to an arms race between video creation and video classification.

The more promising angle is imho the society angle. Most people view their memory as the best source of truth, when in reality it's well established in psychology that our memory is incredibly unreliable. Previously this was mostly a problem for the justice system, now we risk entire nations being gaslighted. What we should be doing is trusting our written word, not our memory. Basically writing diaries and keeping newsletter articles, and checking both from time to time to keep wrong memories from manifesting

All of that is very teachable


I don't think people see enough with regards to the situations they are called to judge, so I see local politics of a small town barely scaling okay that way. People do trust their memories, but I don't think journalling is going to improve civic judgment that much.

Most of the issues discussed in the presidential elections are way beyond personal observation. Are we to throw our votes to the wind since it falls outside our experience?


Forgive me if I'm mistaken, but isn't the technology to detect fake video in fact part of the process of generating it? I was under the impression that these deep fakes used an adversarial network, thus, the better the detection of fakes, the better quality of the generated fakes.


Yes, but in order to be useful for training, the fake detection algorithm has to be reasonably performant. Performance is less of an issue if you just want to test if one video is fake.

Unless of course the attacker has vastly more computational power than the person trying to detect the fake


Yes, the technique you’re referring to is called GAN


Well I'll tell them what to do:

Throw billions of dollars at data science prizes to create open sourced ways of detecting deep fakes. Have western intelligence agencies keep some methods private too, so we can detect it when someone has a way of getting through the open sourced scanners. Figure out how then did it, then open source a third way of detecting what they did while keeping the private scanners private.

This is so obviously a problem to everything that we simply cannot allow this threat to be tolerated. Truth itself cannot be under attack. We simply must be able to trust video.


Billions of dollars might not be enough... I don't really see ways of detecting sufficiently realistic fake videos. The best we could do might be to find the original unaltered video, given that we have access to such video (which is unlikely if the fake video is meant to be an attack). Even then, it's not sufficient evidence to say the new one is fake (one can argue that the original is fake).


So are they advocating for tougher libel laws? The photo and video used as examples are pretty obviously fake, but even if it was indistinguishable, what then?

Fake photoshopped images are so common now that ppl should assume any highly controversial/compromising photo that isn't corroborated by AP or Reuters is probably fake. Doesn't stop people from believing in fake photos or fake stories, but that's how it's always been and fake videos are the next logical step.

Only solution I can see is to make it easier to prosecute entities that have demonstrated intent to defraud the public with fake news/images/video. The press would absolutely hate that, and rightfully so.


>The press would absolutely hate that, and rightfully so.

Not only the press. Whoever is making the decision what's real is the ultimate censor and can decide which reality the voting public sees.

Of course convincing, largely circulated fakes have a similar effect. But in a largely unregulated scenario it will at least be possible to notice that conflicting versions exist


Would also need to distinguish between fake and parody too. For organizations like The Onion, will they create 'deep-fake' parody videos. Will they be allowed to?

Since they can create parody news and images, I'm inclined to believe yes.


Law must be adapted to technology. I wouldn't take anything for granted.


It's not a legal problem... even the courts are going to have to grapple with the deeper underlying issue of how do we detect fake evidence. Courts rely on videos, pictures, and audio too.


So what? If I didn't have access to any news outlets for the past 2 years, my life wouldn't have changed at all.

Let's say there's a percentage of the population X% which is capable of being tricked by the current level of fake news. Do you think with new technologies, X will increase drastically? I guess that it will not change at all.


I'm seeing a lot of comments along the lines of "We have fake images and fake news, how is this any different?", as well as "It's not like we could trust everything before, this doesn't really change anything".

While both of those are true, they neglect two important details: 1) Fake videos are much more realistic than fake images, in the same way that fake images are much more realistic than fake text, and thus more believable 2) A large fraction of the population doesn't fact check anything and believes most anything that is spread around the internet, the logic being "if this many people viewed it and liked/reacted/shared this, it's probably true"

I want to believe that we, as a society, have learned our lesson about fake news from the recent US presidential election, as well as Brexit. But I doubt it.


There will be a plethora of "Deepfake" apps for your pocket computer tomorrow. People will learn quickly not to trust video. They will have no choice because they don't want to fall for pranks.

Humanity will stand through this.


My thought is that it is much like what to do about any new technological threat, for example too many calories or too much information or too many distractions while driving. Bad things happen, and after about a generation coping mechanisms get developed, and some people adopt them more successfully than others. One is reminded of how populations adapt to new diseases.

One valid question, though, is whether or not the pace of introducing new technological threats to society has increased, such that we see something less like the Old World adaptation to the Black Death or malaria, and something more like the New World indigenous populations failure to adapt to getting all the Old World diseases introduced one after the other in quick succession.


We're able to distinguish entertainment "fake" video from "real" video in our minds. The separation is not clear-cut, and fictional movies affect our thinking about real events. So I understand the concern.

But faking video is not a new invention. It's happened before and in a way I welcome the broad availability of faking-tools to inoculate against the fakes that have been with us since video existed. Now everybody will know that videos can be faked.


> fictional movies affect our thinking about real events

A creative writing instructor of mine many years ago told a story about watching Saving Private Ryan with his grandfather, who was on the beach at Normandy for the invasion depicted in that movie. Watching the fictional movie had a profound emotional impact on him (driving him to tears) in a way that actual footage of the Normandy invasion never did.

His point was that the power of fiction can be much greater than the power of fact. His take wasn't that this was a bad thing (it was a creative writing course, after all), but that fiction in service of the truth is a powerful tool and a useful one. Of course we didn't get into the power of fiction in service of misinformation, but this predated the current scourge of misinformation by about a decade and a half.


Now everybody will be able to create convincing fakes. That's not continuous progress, that's a phase change.


I'm sure the same line of argument was made when desktop printers became abundant.


there's a reason photoshop won't work with scans of currency.


I think you overestimate people. We DO want to be pranked. We want to believe powdered rhino horn will cure impotence, we want to believe the Moon landings were faked, we want to believe in that Florida property we purchased sight unseen, we want to believe our grandparents are in the afterlife. And we will damn sure want to believe in videos of despised evil politicians biting the heads off fetuses they ripped out of the womb with their bare hands.

In some respects lies are easier to believe than the truth because they don't rely on facts at all.


> Humanity will stand through this.

Or not. What if the Great Filter isn't a nuclear war but collapse of ability to tell truth from falsehood? To tell reality from fake images and videos?


We've managed so far! Try to follow the war in Syria for a little bit and you will find that people can fake video just fine even in a warzone. They don't need "Deepfake". Even presidents of nation-states want to believe those fakes. Nothing new under the sun.

We had verification problems since video existed:

- When was that video taken?

- Where was that video taken?

- Are the objects in the video what they seem to be?

- Is the people in the video the people we think they are?

- Is the video grainy because it's a shit camera?

- Which of the possibly conflicting interpretations is right?

- Why is only this angle published when we know the event was filmed from another?


I really don’t think anyone is underestimating it. We’re just not buying into the hype. We somehow managed highly-realistic fake images. Why can’t we do the same with video?




I developed an automated actor replacement VFX pipeline back in 2008, and patented the idea of automated actor replacements. My desire was to create a Personalized Advertising service where you and your family/friends appear in the ads on streaming video services. The system worked, I acquired the patents, globally, but needed VC or other financing to create the advertising service and agency. I got financing nearly closed with a number of investors, but every time a clause that the technology could not be used for porn was cited as their reason for pulling out. That issue was debated and I did not cave, as I knew an automated "insert anyone into porn" service was nothing I wanted to be associated. I pointed out the endless other possible applications, all high revenue, but simply having any limitations placed on the investors soured their ambition on the idea. Simply getting investors to understand it was difficult, even after demonstrating live actor replacements to them, and even then they were skeptical. I ended up pivoting to a game avatar service, and am now using the technology for facial recognition.


If fake videos become ubiquitous, people will not believe videos any more.

Only complete idiots will riot over the content of a video. (The little problem there being that we have complete idiots.)

There is one main problem with videos losing their credibility due to faking: namely that videos are a good weapon for documenting some nasty shit done by bad people.


Is there not a chain of trust here that can be enforced with fairly simple technology. And then the trust in the technology is something like a "kite mark" - a global standard of handling video content.

Let's take a simple example - I am a journalist who videos Obama talking. My raw video footage is tagged in each frame with a hash of the pixels in the frame. then I process the video, making linear cuts etc.

If i publish the whole lot as a package, anyone else can come along and rerun the processing and check the hashes match up.

This should be decentralisable and scalable. and we just have to get used to clicking the kitemark to check if anyone has verified the process or even run it ourselves.

one could imagine a cottage industry of verifiers


I want to believe that something like this would work. Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't it the case that whatever signing could be performed on data coming from CCDs could also be performed on data coming from a GAN?


I've been afraid of this for years.

I guarantee you that there exist (or will exist) highly profitable consultancies which specialize in faking evidence. Just think about how easy it would be to launder a million here, a million there, disguised as legal fees in some of these large cases.

We're approaching the limits of the traditional legal system with human juries. I don't how to solve this in the long term. I'll speculate that the solution will involve blockchains and a new, more minimal, totally decentralized legal system.


I was thinking blockchain as well, but as a source of truth.

Imagine if all information on the web was spidered and added to a blockchain, then as new details emerge, those would be appended to the original data. So when someone fakes a video, the original video could/would get appended to the fake, along with the source of the fake, its financial connections to propagandists, etc etc etc. The problem will eventually become sifting signal from noise, because the "proof" will be everywhere.

I still believe that in the light of full information, most people will come to see the truth. That depends on a lot of things though, like being educated, like having the time away from work and family commitments to ponder the deeper questions of life, like understanding the difference between deductive reasoning and dogma, etc. These are all things that authoritarians work tirelessly to take away.

I guess what I'm saying is that the problem will become political, not technological.


> I'll speculate that the solution will involve blockchains and a new, more minimal, totally decentralized legal system.

ok


Weaponized Mandela Effect?


Don't we get some version of this effect with fictional movies and TV shows? Your brain parses it as real, so you accept it at some deep level, even when you know it's fake.


I think it's safe to say that today any "evidence" without verifiable provenance can be entirely ignored. Absolutely anything can be forged, and in many cases using consumer PCs and readily available software.

That means anonymous evidence or evidence with dodgy sources has zero credibility whatsoever.


Do we need digital signing on every image/video in the news?


I like it. Maybe a system similar to certificates used in https. So trusted partners signing photos and videos, maybe news agencies. The partners will be careful because there existence depends on this trust system.

We will still have un-trusted photos and videos, but they can be recognized as such. Maybe browsers can add a small default 'logo' to an image or video, like the green lock now next to urls.


> The partners will be careful because there existence depends on this trust system.

Th3 partners will be careful to not make waves. This does not mean they'll report the truth.


How does their existence depend on the trust system? All they have to do is sign videos. They can sign fake videos just as well as real ones.


Yes but then there will be an auditable trail of signatures that would allow someone to tell who originally approved of the fake content.


Signing by who?


For news we can assume that it's signed by the journalists and news agencies who created the content. Or who researched the origin and are willing to put their credibility on the line.

Edit: To clarify, this doesn't prove if something is real or fake. It just makes attribution of the origin easier and creates a traceable chain of trust.


>It just makes attribution of the origin easier and creates a traceable chain of trust.

This kills anonymous sources, maybe literally under hostile regimes.

If it's signed by the equipment that originally recorded it (you're smuggling evidence of crimes out), you may not be able to verify it anyway.


It would be signed by the journalists or news agencies verifying their report.

Individual sources can still be anonymous.


So no video editing then?


For my master's thesis, I designed/built a prototype that would track video modifications and add them to a signed report like this. Maybe it's finally relevant: http://www.dissertations.wsu.edu/Thesis/Spring2015/E_Houle_0...


Maybe with a chain like with SSL certificates & authorities? Or maybe there could be a reference database with all the versions signed by a given authority so that you could verify it's an approved version? Why not go even further and show the same kind of alerts / block content if the source / signature can't be trusted?


Not without losing the signature. But if you take a clip from a larger video you can (and should) refer back to the source.


Dan Rather

Only slight snark intended. But let’s say the signing chain involves high profile individuals or corporations


Perhaps the model for “trusted news” would follow other established certificate signing models


So what would the trust criteria be? There is a lot of credible disagreement about trustworthy media sources today after all.


Especially given that in the modern media landscape, standards for what's considered trustworthy have changed significantly. Think about it, before it was usually 'did this journalism thing professionally without having a conflict of interest', and that's roughly how the likes of Wikipedia define reliable sources.

But now that's not the case, and in many cases, it's amateurs who more trustworthy than the so called professionals are. That's true in science reporting (where it's often academics writing blogs and stuff outside of their university employment), it's true in technology (where many reliable sources are run by hobbyists) and it's true of the gaming and entertainment media worlds where fan sites, blogs and YouTube channels are often far more reliable than large media organisations are.

A good solution here would basically need to be able to figure out that Science Blogs is more reliable than say the Daily Telegraph when it comes to science reporting, or that Serebii.net is more likely to be right about Pokemon than say the Guardian or BBC is.


The idea is that you could at least trace news back to the source. Whether you “trust” Fox News or ABC News or whoever is up to you. So this would be a client that shows you News items which are each signed and verified where they came from.


Perhaps there's a need for an archive or registry of original video so that we can see all known footage of an historical figure. I'd like to have some way to combat the coming memes of John Wayne advocating for arming teachers and banning video games.


We've been able to make convincing fake video since the 60s (see Kubric). Even impersonators with good makeup can get pretty close. I don't see how new tech changes anything.


As cost goes down it becomes more accessible. Take a fake video of the president. People are likely to be willing to buy the explanation someone went through the trouble of hiring an actor and makeup specialist to make such a fake video. But a fake video of a school board member? Does anyone really have the resources to spend all the money needed to hire a look alike and make a video? Would people be more willing to think like that and assume the video is true? I think so.

Apps that can create realistic fake videos will get better and cheaper, meaning that increasing numbers of people will be able to create more convincing fake videos. At least for a while the technology will outpace the social awareness, and this gap is where we will see problems. Imagine a new form of cyber bullying that relied of using a fake app.


It lowers the cost and effort, on an incredibly effective form of lying.

It is effective because it engages a set of senses we have a harder time questioning ... and for good reason ... it’s (currently) easy to spot these unless you are really distracted. That’s because our brains blind us to how it constructs what we see ... we don’t get to continuously deconstruct our consciousness of red or blue, or a three dimensional reality. Such an adaptation would have been counterproductive. These videos cross back and forth in the ‘uncanny valley’ right now. I could easily tell it’s a fake, though i can’t explain why. Our ability to spot these with effort won’t be true forever.

I do fully agree that people have overcome public lying in many forms. It does take a while for society as a whole to adjust.


I'm interested on how society will adapt to this in criminal cases. I think soon we'll need better ways to authenticate and validate video / audio evidence.


It makes it easier, cheaper, faster to create fake content. And then it's easier to get viewers and to spread virally.

It's like you're asking why a modern CPU is any different than a PDP-11, since they're both Turing machines.


>>convincing fake video since the 60s (see Kubric)

I assume you mean stanley kubrick. What are you referring to?


Probably "Dr Strangelove". Everyone knows that we didn't have the adequate technology to make movies starring one person in three different roles in 1964. Peter Sellers was cloned for the three separate roles in "The Mouse That Roared" in 1959, and then two of the clones were murdered once the "Dr Strangelove" was completed. Both movies were filmed on a sound stage controlled and built by the CIA.


I would guess the conspiracy that the US government paid Kubrick to fake the moon landing.


What about fake photos?


Reminds me of an old science-fiction where all events on the media were computer-generated fakes.

There has been no "underestimating" of that potential.

"Mind-warping" has been researched and is being research extensively by the CIA for some time. Most of that research is still top-secret, but well known are the extreme psychological manipulations of subjects during the MK-Ultra experiments.

I will focus on the CIA and it's influence in the past, as this is more controversial and influential than that of other agencies/countries. The influence of MI5/6 or Mossad is great, but a lot of it is still hidden. The influence of the KGB was different, as the citizens did not really believe much in them to begin with. The Chinese are going a whole different way again.

The CIA also did experiments involving the manipulation of the control of subjects in social media, like facebook. But it did not stop there.

After the peace-protests during the Vietnam war, the CIA has infiltrated into the press and media and anti-war movements. They now use that influence to bend war and destruction into a peace-giving action. So we had "Freedom fighters" in Afghanistan etc. Which was portrait in the Rambo movie. And the US supported Saddam fighting Iran with US made chemical weapons. Later the US fights the parties that it created and armed. Some strange thing that keeps repeating in the US history.

At the same time the CIA has the Phoenix program and other society destructive programs. They worked together with the "economic hitmen" and with local crime-lords to strengthen their destructive programs.

The influence of the CIA in other countries was great, but it also worked into influencing the US elections. Jesse Ventura found himself talking with the CIA after he was elected, because they did not expect a "third party" candidate to win. And they wanted to prevent that in the future.

Whistleblowers also show that they spy on political candidates, and pressure them (via blackmail?) before they even get into office. That way they can have direct influence on decisions. One well known example is that they spied on congress when they where investigating the CIA-torture program. Also they were able to destroy much evidence before it became public. Whistle blower Kevin Shipp explains how the CIA is out of control. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQouKi7xDpM

But the CIA is not the only US-agency influencing the US elections. Every company is doing it too. Represent us: Corruption is legal in America: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tu32CCA_Ig And just a few companies own all the press and media in the US.

So while we are looking at potential fake videos, we have a fake press and fake democracy underneath that.

It does not mean that everything is fake, but that it is controlled by agencies and companies that have their own agenda. And indeed we see videos and other media repeating agendas of certain political parties or of certain companies over and over again.

We can actually stop this by putting the agencies and companies back into democratic control, and back into justice. And both need to be moved out of the democratic system. For example: Flint can never get fresh water if the companies and politicians involved can do whatever they like.

It does not mean that other countries all do it better. Most have different kinds of corrupt systems in place. Small communities like Iceland, seem to be able to stop corruption. Maybe we can learn from them.

So how can we counter this mind-warping?

Well: How can you spot propaganda?

If the same thing is repeated over and over again. When no evidence is shown. When a certain party or person is portrayed as "Hitler" or "devil" or as "heroes". When a problem is shown as black and white. When people are "just crazy". If you are only limited to 2 bad choices. If investigations are shallow, and many important questions are unanswered.

Usually you can spot them with logical fallacies. So we need to learn to use logical fallacies and use critical thinking in all the news. And we need to be critical of all ideas. This includes your own ideas as our confirmation bias is also our downfall.

And this brings us back to the story. If our mind is bend, we can learn to bend it back via critical thinking. And stop watching the news, if the same thing gets repeated over and over again.


Interesting on this same topic is the "fabrication of consent" https://www.bitchute.com/video/X4Foosop2wo/


Except all video is fake, that is, all videos are artifacts, artificial things.

"We’re not so far from the collapse of reality" -- am I the only one who finds this inane? No video is real.

Critical thinking as applied to the written word applies equally to the image. It's not rocket science.


Except everyone has been conditioned over the latest ~100 years to assume that everything they see in a video is real. That is: unless explicitly contextualised as fake, like when watching a movie.

Your premise that everyone should just "apply some critical thinking" directly contradicts the events of the last couple of years, not just in the field of video but within any form of media.


It sounds like you're agreeing with the original comment, but I think you might be paraphrasing it to highlight the absurdity.

And it does seem absurd, but it's true: almost everyone has been conditioned to accept news footage as 'pure' truth, something at the other end of a reality-scale from, say, movies.

I think it's hard to remember is that the majority of video is tailored with intent to evoke specific a response: To some degree, your reaction and emotions are at the mercy of the video producer - just like in a movie. Except in a movie, you have the safety switch of remembering it's "not real" - I think the lack of a corresponding mental failsafe with news causes subtle hysteria, confusion, and frustration.

Contrary to a lot of conspiracy, I don't think it's malicious (mostly), and I believe fundamentally journalism has noble goals - but I don't see it as deniable that "news" as a whole is under pressure to be compelling, and that, albeit subtly, twists what we're exposed to.

Crying "be more sceptical" isn't very helpful - it certainly wouldn't have helped me. I think more knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes of newsmaking might be more along the lines of what would help people, but I don't really know.

"Fake" almost isn't the right word. "Disconnected from reality" - subtly - that's the phenomenon causing trouble, in my view. But anything that's disconnected from reality, taken as truth, is open to manipulation; scepticism is appropriate.


Eh, I'm not sure. People have been skeptical of video forever, as long as they feel they have a reason to be. Hell, even the Moon landing videos are doubted by a non-insignificant number of people.

I think the "trust in video" is more a reflection of trust in the establishment, since those were the people who could really broadcast it. People who didn't have that trust in the establishment (e.g. anti-capitalists in the West) already doubted videos as well.

For example, where I'm from there's a significant number of people who are skeptical of the recent videos of the chemical attack in Syria.


You are not the only one who finds it insane.

A video is recorded, cut, and was subject to selection bias to begin with when somebody hit record; not to mention that the subset of things that are easier to record get moved to the front of the line.

Even if you accept the counter-argument that 'unaltered footage' is 'more real' - the entire act of passing a video around, by media, by people, by whomever - is, to me, far removed from the reality of being an eye-witness.

A 'click-bait' headline can be technically true, but there's a reason people take issue with them.

Maybe "fake" is too evocative of digital or selective editing - I feel you're describing a more subtle form of "fakeness" - the subtle loss of reality as something is encapsulated in text, video, etc. and relayed to someone who didn't witness the original.

That, or I'm projecting how I feel about the subject.

I'll add that, for me sometimes, and for a lot of people I know, it's easy to fall into the trap of getting emotionally worked up about some piece of evidence gleaned from the 'net, taking it in as real information, instead of taking it dispassionately as a simulacrum.




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