In this case, it's easy for me to recognize they are wrong. But what about other topics (or companies) I don't know much about? I have no easy way of recognizing inaccuracies so I default to mostly accepting them. Sadly, you need to be skeptical of almost everything you read even when the person sounds like they know the subject matter.
Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray's case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the "wet streets cause rain" stories. Paper's full of them.
In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.
That is the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. I'd point out it does not operate in other arenas of life. In ordinary life, if somebody consistently exaggerates or lies to you, you soon discount everything they say. In court, there is the legal doctrine of falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus, which means untruthful in one part, untruthful in all. But when it comes to the media, we believe against evidence that it is probably worth our time to read other parts of the paper. When, in fact, it almost certainly isn't. The only possible explanation for our behavior is amnesia.”
- Michael Crichton
The issue is where they report on things that I can’t easily verify. A company I haven’t worked at, how things are going internally in the white house, what X or Y nation-state was caught doing. These are areas where I have no choice but to trust the media, because none of these entities are open enough for me to personally look at them and fact check what is happening. If some entity wants to say the media is treating them unfairly, that’s unfortunate, but unless they’re willing to open up their inner workings to the public I have to default to believing what the media digs up.
That the media otherwise does have a spotty record is troublesome to me. Generally, I think the right course is to find news sources that at least are right more often than not on the things you can verify. But on many things, the media is the only source we have on what they’re doing besides themselves. And while the media is troublesome, trusting that an entity is doing nothing wrong off their own word is even worse.
Why? What's wrong with just not really knowing?
Let's say there's talk about a new vaccine - should you take it or not. Or about candidates for some political office. Or about global warming.
I guess you can ignore everything, but if everybody does it's not going to end well.
Due to the vagaries of journalism compared to e.g. chemistry or physics I'm not sure what this would look like in every situation.
Here is an article I came across recently that is a good example of the concept I am trying to explain. I don't think there's any information presented that you have to take the writer's word for: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/05/17/hendricks-not-paying-p...
Your trust mechanism seems to be fail-open. A very dangerous default config.
As I've gotten older I like to think that I've gotten better at questioning/doubting anything anyone (with the exception of several close and long term friends and relatives) tells me, especially if it is second hand information.
A lot of this was learned through various 'inconvenient' experiences over the years. Most people don't double check their sources and just parrot out things they've heard. Confidence is not correlated with accuracy.
Indeed. Quite possibly the opposite is true i.e. that inaccuracy is correlated with confidence (for second hand reports).
Opinion pieces are even worse they are never fact checked.
its a crazy world that we live in
You didn't. You're commenting on a news article. What you mean is that you quit reading [that|these] specific source(s).
I follow scientists/engineers on youtube thats all to get all the knowledge i need.
Through debunked videos i've come to know the state of current journalism.
The problem is that media is often right and wrong about things that are very far away from me, so I don't really see the win in "getting the scoop" on anything. For example, the NYT is really good at predicting when there's going to be a high-profile WH resignation or firing come up. It's not like I was going to get that information from original research or critical thinking. But again, unless you're a big player, what are you going to do with the inside scoop on world events?
Arguably, if you did really care about these things, then the degree to which any source provides signal is the degree to which you will tolerate noise.
Also, authority routinely lie and exhaggerate. If not held accountable, they get away with it too!
The only thing more powerful than speaking Truth, is love.
Authority has the power to control, it's part of the job description and politics resolves the truth of that domain.
Why do you want something 'more powerful' than truth? You just excised yourself from philosophy, religion, god, law, ect in dismissing truth.
We all want 'true' love anyway so the distinction is poor.
You realize this isn't a piece of serious research, right?
You realize Michael Crichton purposely used Gell-Mann's name knowing it'd lend more weight because he's a "scientist," right?
You do realize Gell-Mann's field has nothing to do with any of the fields that would study this phenonemon if it were anything other than a cocktail party story, right?
If you'd be uncomfortable casually mentioning trickle-down economics as serious national policy, you ought to be just as uncomfortable with your Gell-Mann Amnesia Affectation here.
At least in the U.S., it's the exact opposite problem that is eating away at democracy.
There are literally tens of millions of people who refuse to believe any story from any news source because they wildly overestimate the corruption of journalism across the board.
Where's the pretentious tag for that phenomenon?
I'm afraid I've traveled enough to say petty wars are often reported night-day level of wrong (at least for all the ones I have experienced)
It seems we want to believe we are good, and 'they' are bad, but frankly we don't care either way, so long as we make money
I work for one (not involved in the actual stories) and I can guarantee that the process I've seen is pretty meticulous.
> But general journalism...
There's a separation that needs to be done here as well between news and columns / opinion pieces. News are supposed to answer what's known as Five Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why), while columns/opinion pieces are rarely expected to be held to same standards, are often inaccurate, and subjective by their nature (they are opinion pieces after all). Unfortunately they're almost always published under the same brand, but usually when I see people complaining about journalism, they don't make that distinction.
That isn't to say news in itself is not biased, because even picking what's newsworthy is a process that relies on bias.
My problem is news like: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-55484436
BBC saying 'restore the presidents rule' and 'unity cabinet', but this is the same president whose people said was a dictator and overthrew in the Arab spring
Not following the situation closely, but those five Ws by the BBC look so very strongly in the pocket of arms money and having very little to do with democracy
To the point I would say they are covered in blood, and calling it 'bringing peace.' I wish this was a lone example
The paragraph referring to president:
"Yemen has been devastated by a conflict that escalated in 2015, when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states launched a military operation to defeat the Houthis and restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's rule. "
> Yemen has been devastated
> by a conflict
There are many reasons but the conflict certainly hasn't helped
> when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states launched a military operation
Is this wrong? There's a wikipedia page on it
> to defeat the Houthis
"the intervention initially consisted of a bombing campaign on Houthi rebels"
> and restore President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi's rule.
Looks like he has declared President of Yemen in 2012. There are many ruthless rulers who are called "President". "President Putin", "President Mugabe", etc
Was this not the aim of the Saudi led coalition?
The next paragraph, which is under the "analysis" part
> Yemen's newly formed "unity cabinet" was always going to have a rocky start. But it clearly did not anticipate this disaster when it announced its arrival would be livestreamed on television.
Is the new government that has been created known as a unity government? Seems yes, the piece further explains
"Mr Saeed's new cabinet was formed in an effort to heal a long-running rift between Saudi-backed government forces and militias loyal to the separatist Southern Transitional Council, supported by the United Arab Emirates.
The two sides are supposed to be allies in the civil war against the Houthi movement, which controls the capital Sanaa and much of north-western Yemen."
Explaining the name "unity cabinet", it seems to be an effort to unify the non-houti sides.
You may not think it's a legitimate government, but it seems to be the one recognised by the international community, whether we like it or not. We recognise all sorts of nasty governments, from Venezuala to North Korea, from Russia to Turkey. I don't see any judgement on which side is "good" or "bad" (or "bad" and "worse" as it may be).
Who -- Houti Rebels
What -- attacked an airport
When -- Yesterday
Where -- Aden Airport
Why -- because they are fighting against the internationally recognised government
The BBC has covered the conflict in Yemen a fair amount, here's a story about the background of the rebels.
You + article are completely correct. That is the problem. Since correctness lasts until the final 'why'
Then inverses strongly
How can locals be 'rebels' and the Saudi/UAE led forces be legitimate??
The last BBC link you placed was impressive and accurate. It ends
> The Gulf states and the US appear intent upon denying Ansar Allah international recognition and supporting Mr Hadi's claim to leadership
Gulf states are Sunni, Ansar + Houthi's are Shia. The 'unity' government the BBC refers to is 'unity' because it unites two fractious Sunni governments... Definitely not unity because it unites or represents the people of Yemen!
The war is Sunni countries attacking a Shia people. This bombing is a response to that
The Houthi 'rebels' have held the capital for years. Why are they able to do that in the face of Saudi led bombing campaign? Because they have the support of the people in that area
Nuances yes. But government legitimacy here is I assure you based on how much Gulf states pay for arms, and BBC + ourselves whitewashing the why
The BBC isn't making any judgement here on who is right and who is wrong, and I think it's unfair to paint people like Lyse Doucet, Darren Conway, Marie Colvin, and other journalists who put their lives on the line to perform journalism in warzones, out as tools of the arms trade because they aren't biased in a way you want.
The entire complaint seems to stem from the BBC using internationally recognised terms to describe the beligerants that the UN uses, and saying this is bias.
If you have a complaint about the UN recognising Yemen as a single country represented by, take it up with your country's ambassador. If you don't think the UN is a legitimate organisation that's fine too, but don't pretend others are biased because they don't agree.
I have lived in Yemen during part of the period of the war. I hope I am not denigrating those who do. That is always a great sacrifice on their part, and they should be honored. So thankyou for doing that and reminding me to the same
But you haven't found bias. It is something that I wish I did not believe, but still do. It is something I didn't believe when told, and only sad experiences changed my mind
Does the BBC have reports like this?
Sure bias and leanings are present everywhere. But bias is maybe the wrong word
Doesn't Chinese news say that China is great, doesn't Russian news say that Russia is great? Should those people believe what they read?
Of course there are differences, but WikiLeaks, Dutch in Congo, UK in Iran, etc, tell us we're good at being evil in the recent past
Have we changed?
In some part yes, I was happy to see this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wxeeGz5sVk
Probably this is better: https://www.jurist.org/news/2020/09/un-experts-urge-security...
Short, but I think it's fair to say the BBC is missing the real facts
I used to think similarly to you. Would of believed the article's conclusion, and imagined we were doing good
Alas, not so sure that part is still true.
[looks back at 2020]
My parents have such a bias towards their and their ancestor’s culture/religion, that anything said in favor of it will be believed instantly, and anything critical of it will be met with hostility.
I do not dare point out to them basic falsifiable truths about things such as medicine (e.g. this simple action will cure cancer or reverse male pattern baldness).
My parents are very gullible people. Skeptical about exactly the wrong things, repeatedly wrong year after year, yet ever so trusting of the same bullshit sources and rhetoric, as long as it resonates with their prime belief about the superiority of their culture/religion.
I see this in mainstream US too, with the antivaxxers who got a C in high school biological or 5G crazies who couldn’t pass a physics class.
Once someone has formed an identity around some core assumptions of the world, anything that challenges it will be seen as an attack on one’s ego.
That's hard to escape, and it might well be a quite useful mechanism in many cases, but multiply that by filter bubbles and echo chambers, and it can become difficult for otherwise reasonable people to have conversations about many topics. It happens here too but I would say less than in other parts of the worlds. Here = HN. Worlds = Parallel realities that get created that way ^
Beware online "filter bubbles" ( 2011 )
If this is what you intended then I would suggest that they are more media than "ordinary life". If anything, I feel like they further highlight the accuracy of the effect.
What you've described is something I experience in almost every facet of my life.
I'm so blandly stereotypical it hurts yet somehow the rampant generalizations that are used to describe me, my values and my motivations are so hilariously wrong the vast majority of time that I don't even bother to argue because there's nothing to even work with as a ground truth.
The most recent reality check I've had is this year when I finally started using Twitter. I loaded up on folks in my industry only to be blindsided with a barrage of insanity. Honestly think that 75% of the people in my feed in serious need of a wellness check. I can't imagine the damage being done to young folks observing the behavior of adults on that platform.
They created a platform that optimizes for trolling, insanity and outrage porn because it's the cheapest way of inducing engagement. It's hardly a reality check.
A reality check would be going to a conference and realizing that twitter isn't a representation of the general public.
An interesting counter(? corollary? Neither?) to that is when you go to a conference and the SAME INSANE PEOPLE from Twitter are there, acting as one would consider "normal".
I don't know what to think about the immense gulf between how we as a species behave behind a screen vs face to face. And how we also react to others doing it.
"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth - Oscar Wilde."
Giving a mask gives you a new contextual facet of a person, but hardly the truth. Few are those who can even know the truth about themselves. I don't know if I do.
Maybe you are not so blandly stereotypical after all? Your mini bio doesn't sound bland at all. Maybe you fit the formal criteria for group membership (in the group you describe), but aren't an average exemplar? Maybe people in general tend to think of themselves as more typical than they are? Or maybe that's true especially for guys in the group you describe? That would certainly explain political rhetoric talking to regular Joes who aren't so regular anymore.
Also probably true: the group you describe is so large that the variation within it is large, and stereotypes have little predictive predictive power for individual members.
The likelyhood of being average in all dimensions plummets with an increase in dimensions.
People in my industry who I have known for 20+ years dedicated 100% of their online presence to spewing out and promoting such incredible hate-filled garbage that I was in shock.
Otherwise intelligent educated people got sucked into amazing resonant chambers of hatred. It was beyond belief.
I finally unfriended everyone on FB but about a dozen close family members. This was an experience I don’t care to repeat.
Like, uuh, the president of the United States?
My conclusion is that what is asked is so low effort that it is inconsequential for cisgender people and improves the quality of life for people that felt marginalized and increases their productivity.
Twitter/Reddit are always, Always, ALWAYS wrong about everything.
... and thank God for that.
As one whose political and cultural beliefs are, like yours, mostly opposite that of Twitter/Reddit's as a whole, the sites' existence (including subreddits like /r/politics, /r/news, and /r/worldnews) is gratifying and validating.
If the mass of Redditards/Twitter users agreed with my opinions I'd carefully reexamine every one of them.
As bloodraven42 wrote in response to a pretty cringe-inducing example of a Redditard (who was agreeing with an even more cringe-inducing example (http://np.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/urodq/british_guy_...)):
>Please note the fact that you've gotten this impression from "reading Reddit". I assure you, reading Reddit gives you about as accurate a portrayal of reality as reading North Korean "news". Did you know Kim Jong Il is literally a God?
As Anal_Justice_League added:
>So wait, your world view comes from reading Reddit?
>Do I even have to explain how catastrophically stupid that is?
And as 1foryes said in another thread (https://np.reddit.com/r/canada/comments/be2p5a/cbc_predicts_...):
>But fortunately, reddit does not represent reality. If it did, the ice caps would have melted years ago and we'd all be fighting in WW6.
 Except bacon
But when I came to the US and started to learn who is feeding these news to the VOA, RFA, etc. and how these people and organizations (including the UN orgs) got funding, I realize not everything that I read is true. This became very apparent when I read news about my country (reported by NYT and other reputable media outlets) that are too simplistic and one-sided. Then I stopped reading news altogether since 2016 and quit FB.
That was the best decision ever and nowadays I only use Reddit to follow very specific subreddits (just sports, aww and funny). People are very opinionated about things that they have not experienced, and with online anonymity, people can sprout baseless stuff and easily buy into believing things that are simply not true.
Everything I said here applies to HN as well. There are a lot of very poorly-informed-but-opinionated users here just like everywhere on the internet.
Even within a company I am very sceptical of narrative. The root cause of something can be quite different to what is presented, which can be different to what people believe privately. We are all biased after all.
I think someday soon I'll be communicating about this more widely, we'll see though
I've also worked at companies where wikipedia has more accurate and detailed information than the internal wikis.
So maybe some of those insane people have - expertise and perspective.
Now not all. A lot of press is fawning. And nowadays, maybe due to algorithmic feedback, a lot of stuff is sort of fake controversial.
But my comment wasn't really about cultural or org issues (which can be much more subjective); it was more about specific facts that are binary. I'll read people say something like "x company is rewriting everything in Go because Rails is slow" when it's not true at all.
The idea that the drones in a company know more about the company than the public is laughable. Unless you have your own office you do not know what the company's goals actually are.
I will never understand why it’s so hard for people to realize and admit when they don’t know what they’re talking about.
One thing that helped me was when I was taught how to answer questions in a legal context. (Patent deposition.) Every answer has two parts: the answer to the question is the second part, to be preceded by your confidence in the answer. “I believe,” “I think,” or just plain “I don’t know,” and so on. Ever since then I’ve just habitually asked myself, “do I actually know this, or do I just think this, and on what basis?”
Do this enough and you’ll be surprised at how little you actually know.
Especially about what goes on inside companies you’ve never worked for.
For example, news about some new nutrition study typically don't involve any of the hard scientific line of inquiry that actual science work entails (e.g. critically thinking about potential methology flaws, for example.)
Reading about some politician slipping out a gaffe says nothing about what is happening in terms of law making (and nuances are often lost in translation when an article does talk about new laws). Etc.
A lot of articles are filled with rethoric and/or "real life" stories that don't really have a direct impact on the reader other than to elicit some form of emotional response. Contrast to actual educational material that is denser and drier, and can make a real impact in the reader's future when studied properly.
Often companies deal with their own staff very differently to how they treat their customers or their competition. The average Oracle developers probably has no inkling of how Oracle screws over their customers with onerous licensing, for example.
Insiders that aren't in very senior management positions may not even be aware of the high-level decisions being made by their company. You often hear stories of employees being completely blind-sided when scandals or corruption are revealed.
Similarly, I've noticed that employees tend to make excuses for their company's behaviour, casually dismissing bad behaviour that isn't so easy to ignore for everyone else. This is tribalism at its finest.
Lastly, you hear rationalisations galore from people in senior management positions, carefully avoiding any mention of the real motivations for their bad behaviour. These lies are especially important when they speak to internal staff, especially staff they're screwing over.
As a random example, I worked at a large company recently where they essentially fired their entire IT department and replaced them with an outsourcer that charged half as much. I was an outside consultant working for senior management, so I got to see the real inside story. The staff were deliberately kept in the dark, and even outright lied to.
The real reason for the whole thing was that outsourcers cycle employees through every three months on temporary working visas, avoiding income taxes and essentially all mandatory payments such as worker's compensation. The whole thing was a huge tax dodge.
I read an article in a newspaper calling this out. The article was mostly true, but I guarantee you that 99% of the people at the company would have never known any of this.
Being an insider only gives you really detailed information about your own team, perhaps a dozen people. If you're at a FAANG, this might be 0.01% of the company at large...
- Dr. Hildern at Camp McCarran.
Great quote from a fictional game (Fallout) character.
When you're the expert, it's all about tradeoffs, and every decision or opinion always needs to be balanced out.
It has been hilarious and scary to read comments from people
who don't work at the company say completely inaccurate things
like they are facts.
Or so we thought. How naive we were.
Sounds more like stupidity than insanity. People do this to express an uninformed opinion with unearned authority because that opinion and any resulting agreement are more valuable than facts and boring predictable conclusions.
I know people as intelligent as me, to have complete opposite opinions. My first reaction was that they are stupid, but I actually know they are pretty smart.
It's easy to dismiss someone elses opinion as stupid, but it's really hard when you know it's not actually the case.
With the COVID situation, I concluded that there are more authoritative, "follow the rules" people, and more rebel, "we hate the rules" people. Thanks to covid I have a clear view who of my contacts belong to which group. Most of them are intelligent.
Writing, math, human interactions, art, etc. These each require different sorts of intelligence. The dominant view on "intelligence" these days is something along these lines.
Those eight categories are perhaps a bit insufficient and arbitrary, but surely the overall notion rings true -- we have all known "smart" people who excelled in some of those areas while failing at others.
Sifting through the available information (and disinformation) and reaching a rational conclusion on something like COVID involves multiple axes of intelligence.
It requires a (somewhat rare? apparently?) combination of a base level of scientific literacy, and perhaps some interpersonal skills because sifting through the misinformation requires an understanding of various parties' motivations. As well as perhaps a few others.
Then the lawful people claimed extreme situations require extreme measures, experts know best, high numbers are because stupid people don't follow the rules, etc.
It helps to look at HN the same way. It's not about the truth, it's about enjoying the conversation.
If your question could be answered by googling, its not really an interesting question.
Meaning of life -> interesting question
What is the capital of Canada? -> who cares, and if you did care why would you want to debate it instead of looking it up? [Its just an example, i am Canadian and obviously know what the answer is]
Keep at it! Big/impactful companies are great places to learn, and I don't want to tell you what to think. But your views on topics like benign intents and unintended consequences might change after you see enough of them firsthand.
Is it really? I always learned the most at tiny companies.
This is actually something that I've struggled a bit with, because it feels like the most interesting and educational jobs are the ones that involve more than 40hrs/week.
Sometimes I wish that I could find a 20hr/week role with the potential to make big positive improvements in peoples' lives. But there are always other groups trying to do the same thing, and they're never happy to stop at part-time.
Genuinely awful organisations always have people on the inside who are very convinced everything said about them is an injustice, but that can very easily be tribalism. I mean Zuckerberg and many Facebook employees claimed that Facebook influencing elections is a ridiculous proposal. If that's the kind of thing that working at the place does to you I think we can safely discount the opinion of insiders.
not to forget this gem: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELgAZH-Wb44
Perhaps to a fault, the same applies to the CCP Bots you see here posting anytime anyone questions China: you have people here with self-interest guiding their words and creating rationalizations like those above stating how erroneous 'the media' and 'outsiders' portray them in a bad light and that some how they are poorly informed and thus their views are nothing more than unsubstantiated conjecture.
But one needs to only look at the recent behavior of Apple riots in India and Amazon exploiting warehouse workers and firing them during COVID due to reasonable concerns--like lack of PPE and distancing/hygiene/prevention methods.
Its so commonplace and thus very easy to realize that if these massive monoliths, who benefit from very skewed tax, legal and labur laws, are not going to put Human Rights/Labor Laws before Profit or Market Share even during a Global pandemic, then they never will: and Governments on a whole are either/or both complicit as they ignorant on their business models making legislation solutions entirely moot. And I'm not even going to mentioned Google as this rebuttal would never end.
But nothing changes those objective truths regardless of how much you may want to sugarcoat things, and the fact that so many here still think FAANG is the end all and be all of Tech shows just how misguided if not entirely indoctrinated (from within or otherwise) they really are and how easily they are bought off with the illusion of prestige, a meaningless title and an often over bloated salary and by extension a sense of self worth for the things they've actually bring to the World often, most notably: Social media that creates discord and division and devices that promote further dependence on self-infatuated naval gazing while our Environment and hapless languish in mines and suffer ever greater exploitation, and these businesses make them increasingly more within the closed source, planned obsolesce paradigm business model. Not to mention the depression and suicide these addictive things are meant to create in a sort of intention span casino addiction model.
So, no, I don't think what you're saying is true, and what you are referring to is told with very obvious biases.
People should be critical of these exploitative and frankly often unnecessary and cancerous business models, the problem is that they wield so much power and money they simply destroy any competition they may have had in the past, assuming they didn't acquire them and we get less choices due to these monopolistic practices.
I think it was Chamath that said it best when he describes what banks and big tech excel at that most the Industries can't as the 'intellectual lobotomization' of a generation(s) best minds as they spend(t) their talents and drive to often pointless (facebook) and often nefarious ends (credit default swaps, naked short selling/high frequency trading algorithms etc...).
> So, no, I don't think what you're saying is true, and what you are referring to is told with very obvious biases.
So i am confused, do you agree with me that HN goes easy on big tech, or not? Because your argument seems to be the opposite of your conclusion.
Ok, let me make it clear: I agree with your quoted response, but I disagree with the substance and the narrative of your view from which it is told. It's very obviously a skewed perception from someone who frankly takes a very poor view of the overall health of what Big Tech has created to the detriment of us all. If you really think Microsoft is any less despised now, than it was back then now you are out of touch entirely as they are the epitome of the panopticon business model that colludes with Military and Intelligence agencies for contracts .
And just so it clear, a lot of people on HN do not work for FAANG, YC funds many startups that challenge those business models after all; so many here have no desire to work there, myself included.
What I take issue with is with the over-glorification of the 'intellectual lobotimization' and what are clearly very intelligent and talented people and the motivation(s) and consequences behind them and the acceptance of it as a casual dismissal of it with statements like 'well, I didn't see any of that when I was there.'
Of course you didn't, and that's the point about FAANG: things are purposely compartmentalized, isolated, and people there are kept content with infantile based distractions and financial incentives so much that they lose touch with reality entirely while within it.
You see this within Military and Intelligence agencies as well but that differs in that it is undertaken with some sort of perverse cult-like fraternal code of conduct and unquestionable loyalty to the State instead. The guy maintaining the bomber's engines is in a different department as the guy working on the engineering of the weapons and guidance systems on those 'smart weapons,' who is also in a different department than the guy piloting the plane that ultimately drops said weapons that kills everyone in a remote village, but that system doesn't warrant the rampant diffusion of responsibility for the death of countless innocent people who are deemed 'collateral damage' in the end, are they? They're all responsible.
And as seen in the military (Snowden, Manning), as well as in FAANG, should someone decide to even mention some obvious truths about these places in an attempt to make progress no less, they instantly get crucified: James Damore. And other activist Googlers  who dare to speak up and instantly become persona non-grata in a way to contain the PR backlash and distract from the nefarious acts of said perpetrator.
Also, commonly, Google, but many Googlers on HN aren't afraid to reveal their affiliation.
I listen to talk-only radio a lot, they have some of the best experts in the country supposedly, a lot of famous names.
And then they talk about some topic I am familiar with (like Polish army modernization or computer science) and they spew bullshit for 1 hour with 100% confidence and there's 10 people in the studio who I'm sure know it's bullshit but they say nothing.
It's surreal. It means they don't even spend 5 minutes on the most basic research before a 1 hour debate.
Now, you just go on Twitter and virtue signal about some nonsense idpol stuff while robbing everyone blind, and the people will love you.
I worked for a company who is highly covered in tech news. The most popular stories and themes knew almost nothing about the reality of we were doing. Maybe one in five voices was correct. It was totally disheartening to the point that I completely stopped reading any related topic. Way off base.
To this day, I am frustrated by misinformation about the work we did. The internet (and general knowledge) is not intelligent.
The intent was good: bring the new shiny to people with older hardware. The result was poor: people with older hardware thought we were deliberately slowing them down.
I got that like 15 years ago.
That's true with everything. Everyone has their own way to feel superior to everyone else, and for a lot of people, that superiority comes from knowledge, real or imagined.
I literally ask myself "What if this comment is an echo of a troll?"
I don't impute bad faith to the individual, but that they too may have been seduced by the power of easy emotions.
Some people find that bringing technology into the government is of course good, others are vehemently against agencies like ICE or the military industrial complex.
In some cases discovering the truth has a time element as well. I remember a very specific case from the 2016 elections that drove this point home for me.
I was watching CNN. They featured this story about a black church that had been burned down and the phrase “Vote Trump” spray painted on the side. The network pounded on this story for a week or so. They painted Trump as the racist instigator who inspired someone to do this.
None of this made sense for me. Unless crazy, a supporter of any political candidate would know that burning down a church would not be a net positive for their candidate. Something was wrong, yet it was impossible to discover at that time.
I was so puzzled that I set a calendar reminder to look into the story a few months later.
Sure enough, three months later they arrested the guy who did it. Who was he? A member of the church. Yes, a black man. Why did he do it? Because he had a problem with the pastor. Why did he spray paint “Vote Trump”? Because he thought that would send investigators in a different direction.
Do you think CNN devoted a week’s worth of 24/7 coverage to correct the absolute falsehoods they spread? Of course not! They could not care less! Millions of people walked away from a one week carpet bombing campaign across most of the media with lies upon lies pounded into their heads.
This one event truly changed my views. I started to research everything. I can say that in nearly 100% of the stories I look into the media lied with impunity.
While I don’t consider myself a Trump supporter, I started to understand what the man was dealing with. He has had to endure this for four years. This is a horrific violation of the trust and privileges granted to the media by the US constitution.
Some might be OK with this because they dislike Trump. That is a terribly myopic position to adopt. Today the media attacks those you dislike, yet nothing in life is constant. Tomorrow, whenever that may be, the tables might change...sadly that’s when people finally realize that a principled unbiased position in favor of truth and justice is the only one that can protect everyone.
If you believed the internet, you would believe you can only ever use the best parts in the perfect configuration for almost everything. Be it metalwork, mountain biking, computing, drones or any other hobby regularly discussed online.
The reality is you can make do with in so many different ways that if you can't afford the best you can still have oodles of fun on cheaper equipment. Half the fun is learning all this "expertise" the internet has on your own.
Can't afford a Bridgeport mill? Buy something cheaper and work around the edge cases. Can't afford a full suspension bike? Get a hardtail and have tonnes of fun.
Someone is always quick to add in the caveats, but guess what, a new rider doesn't give a shit that he can't send 8ft drops on his hard tail. There are hours of fun on the bike ahead, none of it sending 8ft drops. The new hobby machinist isn't bothered that they can't mill titanium, they are just stoked to be getting started.
I rarely am disappointed by this. When I started learning piano, I got a 100 dollar midi controller and connected it to my ipad or computer. It let me know that I wanted a quality digital piano as my next step.
-Is the advice primarily based on every more finely delineated consumption? (e.g. the bikes or mills you mentioned) Then you can safely ignore it as the users responding are well past the diminishing returns curve in their obsession
-Are there any bits of advice that seem to pop up across various sources? → investigate and think about their validity
-What are the main "things I wish I knew before starting" that keep popping up? → investigate and think
Books are written by insane people, on average person does not write a book.
Rock climbers are insane people, very few people rock climb so why listen to safety tips the 0.2% of the population who do. They are not normal people from a statical standpoint.
On average a person does not do any one spicific thing.
Everyone online has contributed to the internet, everyone has written something and everyone has excersised.
I've seen this brought up before that only 2-3% of redditors contribute, like it's a bad thing or a unique thing. That number it's way higher than books, tv, radio any form of convenientional media.
I mean, sure, only .2% of visitors contribute to Wikipedia, but that's because Wikipedia has huge general applicability. I bet the 99.8% of non-contributors also includes the guy that streams on Twitch 12 hours a day, or folks who moderate Reddit forums, or lots of book authors.
Far from being "outliers", could be that most people just focus their creative pursuits on one thing.
There is a phrase in Icelandic, "ad ganga med bok I maganum", everyone gives birth to a book. Literally, everyone "has a book in their stomach". One in 10 Icelanders will publish one, so in that society it's stastically normal to publish a book. But in any society it's normal to create and publishing is just one out of thousands of ways to do something everyone does.
> Edit: I guess my tone-projection is off. A lot of people seem to be put-off by my usage of the word "insane." I intended that as tongue-in-cheek and did not mean to imply that any of them literally have diagnosable mental illnesses. I have a lot of respect for all of the individuals I listed and they seem like nice people, I was just trying to make a point about how unusual their behavior is.
The post is about 'how unusual their behavior is' not about 'their (in)sanity'. In hindsight a questionable use of terms, given the author's profession, but I appreciate the edit.
I seem to recall that after doing hundreds of measurements on thousands of soldiers they found that there was too much variation. None of the soldiers was average in all measurements.
Edit: here's a link
"Creation has always been the province of outliers.
Has every creator--from Grady Harp all the way back to God--been insane?"
The perspective on this can be the shallow assessment that something is insane, or the wisdom to know it was discipline. Take your pick.
You will see some well grounded, expert opinions here down-voted into oblivion simply because they clash with the mental picture of a number of HN users.
As much as I love HN it is slowly sliding into reddit-ism.
If you really want a lark, read the typical HN subthread on a topic involving trading, finance or economics. It's like watching the YouTube-educated spar with the Wikipedia-educated. Commenters with real world experience are downvoted just as often as they're upvoted when they try to earnestly correct mundane misconceptions.
Likewise you can't have a bug bounty story on HN without someone repeating the farce that web app vulns have some sort of shadowy black market. There is invariably a comment near the top claiming the security researcher could have received so much more money by selling it to criminals. It is amazing that something so wrong gets repeatedly so carelessly and easily.
These are a substantial number of people here who think they can confidently talk about anything if they just deconstruct it to first principles and treat it like something else they know about.
Now, for things like finance, markets, politics, etc. like you're getting at, those are a different store. I've been baffled that some political and finance posts have devolved to threads worse than Reddit... Maybe some subs have become homogeneous enough that they don't generate quite the same conflict?
 About once a year there's a Dark Matter related post that usually brings out a very critical set of responses. That and Dark Energy are just things you need a lot of investigation into the evidence of because, like Quantum Mechanics, they are just weird and don't make sense to the uninitiated.
(I didn't find these, they're linked in the site guidelines.)
HN still is the place it's always been. You have more data now, perhaps, but fundamentally it hasn't really changed. People continue to upvote and downvote in roughly the same ways, and they are used to agree and disagree just as they always have been.
I have been active since 2009 here.
But of course the content of each site tends to go far outside its areas of competence, which is where moderation is needed (otherwise they turn into 4chan or youtube). You get a feel for the bullshit after being on the site awhile, and once you're well tuned to it you see it everywhere (the "this site has gone downhill" effect).
If you say so. I used to Reddit heavily, but all the topics I followed definitely started trending into the "crazy people" territory. For instance, personal audio and mechanical keyboards. At one point, the "average" person could get on there and find a good price-per-peformance recommendation.
Now, those subs are taken over by the elites for whom money doesn't matter. I mean, it's neat that someone spent $2,000 building a custom-PCB'd, custom-switched, custom-capped keyboard -- and boy, those pics sure are sexy -- but there are only so many of those posts I can take until I realized that no one was talking about the range I can afford any more.
Reddit exists now as the worlds largest porn hub, with a very, very thin veneer over the top for respectability. If I google something specific -- like a question about a video game -- I specifically add "-site:reddit.com" because 1) 9 times out of 10, there's actually no answer, and 2) it takes a few clicks and many seconds to get TO the answer, because of their horrendous web site.
And, yes, I'm bitter, and bag on Reddit whenever I can.
Saying anything about the quality of "Reddit" as a whole is very much like saying something about the quality of bars, or messageboards, or knitting clubs as a whole.
I don't agree. I read HN constantly.
As far as I see, the areas where downvotes tend to occur are where they skew to opinion, or have some tidings to politics. In other areas, HN comments are generally high quality, and have a high signal-to-noise ratio.
I wouldn't also correlate expert opinions being downvoted as just because it would "clash with the mental picture of a number of HN users". That's a false correlation.
Actually, I am going to suggest it here just now because it is a great book and I would like more people to have a more accurate view on addiction: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/addiction-and-choice... (Addiction and Choice: Rethinking the relationship by Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal). It is from 2016, but most people's views on addiction is more than a few decades old, and all things considered, it is still fairly recent and all recent studies support these views. Please, if you are interested in addiction, have a read. :) It will get you up to date with it, and dispel lots of misconceptions that are still in the head of laymen.
ANnything that requires empathy for different demographics too. (Like old people.)
When things start ‘disappearing’, that makes it much more difficult to contrast.
I have been on HN long enough to know that points != facts.
But, yeah, I have noticed lots of downvotes for people stating facts or their own personal observations.
Was your experience different?
A lot of people (at least where I work) are disgruntled there. I get the feeling they joined because they were unhappy and want to vent about the company anonymously, but with people who know what they're talking about. Maybe I'm just projecting though.
> you can post anonymously
These two don't square. Your anonymity clearly depends on the site not being hacked.
And some of my posts that are well within my field of expertise stay at zero.
When I get downvoted it is usually when I post an unpopular opinion, but rarely as a result of being wrong.
All this to say that while HN is, I think, one of the best communities, it doesn't mean you should leave your guard down. I'd say it is even more insidious here because you won't find easily debunked bullshit, no flat earthers here. Falsehoods here are to be subtle enough to go unnoticed by an educated mind, and you are not guaranteed to be corrected by a real expert.
My not-very-humble guess is that it is two fold: One, if you only have a shallow understanding of something, it is easy to dismiss things as wrong if they don't align with your understanding so far. Two, if you do have a deep understanding of a topic but different experiences in the field, you may have really strong opinions in a different direction.
Disappointingly they are also usually the least discussed comments of mine and I rarely figure out why they were downvoted.
For instance, it’s gotten better over time but effectively anytime you see comments about how the markets work on HN it will be filled with inaccuracies.
The best way to get yelled at or down-voted on HN is having a basic understanding of how EU regulations and the EU legislative process work.
I've found that for all HN detests conformity, more often than not it tends to be a certain kind of perceived conformity, and more often, what is seen as conformity in startup culture. What is often missed in my (honestly) humble opinion, is that this counter-conformity rests squarely in the larger conformity!
And indeed, because these assumptions are not even known to be assumptions, it's not even visible to the reader that this is a case of conformity.
Interestingly, I've noticed that these modes of conformity often come in temporal waves, in that at different times of the day you get downvoted - or receive less constructive discussion - for differing subjects. I should try to make a more involved analysis eventually.
It's not simply the amplitude changing, but the sign of comments too - it can go from neutral to upvoted to downvoted and back, so simple patterns in activity can't quite explain it.
I’m in bed and on my phone and too lazy to search for an exact link, but for a quick example I can give you the international government-bond market which the theory said that its price should have not ever fallen below zero. At some point in 2019 I think bonds worth $17 trillion (40% of the market if I’m not mistaken) were priced below that zero threshold.
A good rule of thumb, if maybe excessively defensive, is the more strongly held a belief the more likely it is to be wrong. Reality has a nasty habit of being moderate, murky and uncertain. An extremist moderate might be on the right political track, I suppose.
One of the fun parts of being an engineer is that they have to interact with the real world and the theoretical one and learn just how many stupid practical details blow apart theoretically pure ideas.
How many times have you come in to hacker news and read someone's complaint about x where "someone" is an expert with a decade of experience in the field only to have someone else chime in with the "well actually, I'm the creator of that project and..."
The internet does also give a equal megaphone to everyone. Actual crazy things can sound reasonable. The act if down and upvoting on reddit is also similar. 4 or 5 downvotes, which in reality is only 4 or 5 people can bury a thought, essentially censoring it and makes it seem more unpopular then it is. It was only unpopular to those 4 or 5 readers.
In the end I think we underestimate the insanity of “normal“ people. What is considered normal is a pretty subjective question and prone to change.