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Reading What Best Matches Your Bias

By mami in Media
Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 10:37:10 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

Anne Applebaum wrote a column in today's Washington Post with the title "Parallel Universes", in which she describes how media not merely reflect different opinions about the news in different cultures and countries, but actually recount alternative versions of reality.

Her examples are enlightening. To quote just one: "When George Tenet fell on his sword earlier this month over that now infamous piece of British intelligence that made it into the president's State of the Union speech, the story played here as "White House Dumps on CIA." In Britain, it played as "White House Dumps on Britain." Sounds like news from two different universes.


I wonder how many people had expected in the early 1990's that the many different types of information we can read or watch worldwide over the Internet, global 24h/7d cable network news or on-line versions of print newspapers, wouldn't to lead to better informed readers with more balanced view points.

Instead of giving rise to more balanced opinions through the variety of informations offered, the opposite has occurred. The number of people, who love to engage in one-sided, biased debates about factual information passionately and those who engage in the defense of their own viewpoints at any cost, have risen significantly.

It is obvious that people choose to read or watch whatever matches best their own personal, particular, ideological or national bias. Why is that? Never has the amount of information from all points of view been so freely available and accessible. It seems that people always have a preset view about anything they can think of.

Check yourself out. If you think about a country or people you have never visited and lived with for a substantial period of time, I am sure you have nevertheless some sort of "image and opinion" in your mind about that country and its people.

Once you visit that country you may end up being very confused, because you detect things that absolutely don't match your prejudiced views and you hesitate to admit your confusion.

The opposite can happen as well. You may detect that the people your meet really are the way they usually were portrayed in books and movies. We may not be aware of it, but most definitely we all have prejudiced viewpoints without being conscious about having them.

If it comes to ideologies and politics we certainly tend to read that what deepens our understanding of only that which we have made up our mind about already.

TV and radio media outlets in the US (with the tendency of worldwide media outlets to follow in the US media foot steps) build on this fact. There is a tendency, particularly prevalent in the US media, to pitch individuals with extreme and opposing ideological beliefs against each other and encourage them to engage in argumentative debates that pretend to serve the purpose of free and balanced representation of an issue for the benefit of the viewers.

Knowing that people always have a one-sided bias to begin with, the so-called balance (in showing two people with opposite views) ensures that any viewer will be incited to defend his own bias against the other side's argumentation. This hooks the viewer from all points of views (a goal in for profit media outlets) and it will typically not help in any way to change a biased viewer's mind to a more even-handed position, but will deepen his own one-sided convictions.

Anne Applebaum made a very astute observation and the following example might illustrate how true her statements are.

I heard during a short news flash on MSNBC's Countdown a very upset Keith Olbermann reporting about a German poll. Every fifth German citizen believes that the attacks on the WTC towers "was ordered by the US government itself". Among the under thirty years old Germans, it even is every third German. The poll was based on a sample of 1000 men and women, most probably a professionally executed, scientifically sound.

What Olbermann didn't report, which is more interesting to note, is that among the West-Germans under thirty years sixteen percent believed in some sinister tricks by the US government to order the attack on their own towers, whereas in the same age group of formerly East-Germans twenty-nine percent had this belief. Why?

It is obvious that all Germans, be it from the Eastern or Western part under age of thirty have watched and read the same newspapers, watched the same news since their fifteenth birthday, an age when most people start to follow news more consciously. There is no reason to explain this discrepancy through a different exposure or access to different news or propaganda. Both groups had all the access to all sort of news in all the freedom they could wish for.

Nevertheless there is a clear difference in each of those German's reality about what they believe is true. Obviously Germans read and accept only those truths, for which they made up their minds beforehand. Of course the same is true for any American.

Another observation which indirectly supports Applebaum's observation is the fact that people, who migrate for good from one culture to another, are the only group of people, who regularly experience a profound change of their own cultural identity, bias and sense of reality.

It seems that only life experiences, gained in other cultures, will change a biased mindset from one view point to another. What no amount of reading about other people's cultures can accomplish, namely changing your own biased perceptions, any amount of life experiences will. They even will do so in a way that you can't escape your own changed sense of reality, even if you wanted to.

This has been observed so often that much social and psychological research into first and second generation immigrant's identity modifications has been conducted. Many immigrants for example, placed into a new culture, experience the painful accusation of their own left behind family members of having completely changed their personality.

A common phrase like "You have changed a lot, you don't seem to be one of us any more" by old friends from an immigrant's former homeland proves the reality of an immigrant's change of cultural bias and sense of reality best. Sometimes this process is called an identity crisis, in extreme cases the immigrant is accused of over-identification with the new culture.

However sophisticated and analytical the debate over the issues dividing the new immigrant's sense of reality with the one of his native country's old friends may be, it seldom succeeds in building better understanding over the differences in perception let alone any changes in opinions.

If that is a fact, if any amount of freely available, diverse information on-line and in the TV media will not help us to change a biased mindset, but rather often deepens the divide, I ask myself what has to change in the information we access to turn this trend around?

What in our free, on-line worldwide information network has to change to fulfill our dream of better global understanding among peoples?

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Reading What Best Matches Your Bias | 158 comments (114 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
You can never fully trust the English (1.73 / 19) (#1)
by El Pollo Diablo on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:32:33 AM EST

I certainly hope they stop murdering my Catholic brothers and sisters over in Ireland. When they do that, >then< maybe I'll begin to trust them.

--
If a double-decker bus crashes into us
To die by your side, such a heavenly way to die.
And if a ten-ton truck kills the both of us
To die by your side, the pleasure, the priviledge is mine.

Wonton Goodsoup [nt] (1.00 / 3) (#18)
by CodeWright on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 10:08:05 AM EST



--
"Jumpin Jesus H. Christ riding a segway with a little fruity 1 pint bucket of Ben and Jerry's rainbow fairy-berry crunch in his hand." --
[ Parent ]
Only (1.00 / 3) (#55)
by OAB on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 06:46:02 PM EST

When the last Fenian is dead will we be free.

[ Parent ]
I find it all fascinating (4.38 / 13) (#3)
by pb on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:49:34 AM EST

The phenomenon you are recounting is commonly referred to as 'spin'; some judicious searching will turn up any number of informative accounts on this, including Reuters and their policy of not calling people terrorists, some more discussion on terrorism, Israel doesn't like the BBC's spin, spin in the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, different spin in comparable situations, etc., etc. With the advent of the internet, it's relatively easy to read any news story from a variety of major or minor news outlets, along with the personal opinions or first-hand accounts of various people all over the world.

This means that you can compare spin, and track down where that spin is coming from. In a recent conflict, two Palestinians were killed--so far only Palestine is reporting on this one, but it'll be interesting to hear Israel's side of things when they release their version of the facts, and after that, which news outlets pick up which stories.

---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Israel has to deal with constant 'spin.' (1.36 / 11) (#61)
by eSolutions on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 11:37:04 PM EST

It really turns one's stomach upon noticing it. Israel is constantly portrayed in the media as some parasitic, illegitimate colony-state which crushes its land's 'native' people. It's painted as being propped up with funds gathered from Jews world-wide.

Which, of course, is exactly the same propaganda the Nazis used. 'The landless parasites feed off the pure Germans; planet-wide Zionist conspiracy; blah, blah, blah.'

Frankly, it sickens me. I'm sure it sickens all non-racists. The anti-Semitism that passes for news these days is shocking.

Yours in Christ,
eSolutions

[ Parent ]

quite right. (4.66 / 6) (#63)
by pb on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:38:50 AM EST

There's a constant struggle between the media spin on one side, and the media spin on the other side. Considering that the only attacks I can find reported in Israel recently involve the stabbing of an Israeli man, whereas in Palestine, Israeli Occupation Forces killed two Palestinians.

Actually, here's an even better example. The Israel Insider is quesitoning the credibility of people who would think that the death of peace activist Rachel Corrie was a murder. She was crushed while blocking a Palestinian house from being bulldozed by the Israeli military.

Now, a better question might be--what bulldozers? When searching for news about bulldozers in the past few months, no Israeli news institutions come up at all--only Palestinian ones. If I were to believe everything Israel says and does not say, I might come to the conclusion that the bulldozers themselves were a fabrication of the opposition as well!

That is to say, if it weren't for all the pictures, witnesses, and therefore first-hand accounts of that dead American woman getting crushed under an Israeli bulldozer. However, they seem to have solved that problem--I haven't seen nearly as much coverage about the other Americans who have more recently been shot or imprisoned by the Israeli military. Maybe all those peaceful foreign US non-combatant student protestors are really terrorists in disguise?
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

This is terribly evident (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by Wah on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:45:42 AM EST

with regards to Iraq.  I posted a letter forwarded to me the other day, allegedly from a special forces CO currently in-country, and interjected it with a bit of opinion from Salam Pax.  It's all here in crap formatted glory.

The interesting thing is that there are some parallels between the two views of how things are going in Iraq.   It is never seen from the same perspective, but they are obviously talking about the same thing (in one case, the freaks who put up a show and the silent majority that simply wants peace).  I'd pull out specific examples but don't really have the time right now.

Personally, I think things are looking way up.  It's not like you could read what some dude in Vietnam thought about the war, while it was happening.  Anne Frank didn't have a blog, but if she had...  

Yes, peoeple will tend to stick with what they know (and it's a must for writers), but I would submit that things have improved immeasurable over the past 50 years alone.  If you go back even further, the change, the improvement, is so preponderous as to be laughable.

Seriously, I'm carrying on a conversation right now with how many people in how many countries?
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

What, you mean that's not the case? (2.50 / 4) (#83)
by toganet on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:57:52 AM EST

You mean the Palestinians weren't already living, there -- weren't displaced by Europe's creation of a homeland for the Jewish people mostly out of guilt?

And frankly, you're equivocating here.  The Nazi propoganda wasn't saying "The Jews, unhappy with the amount of land that has been annexed for them by the govenments of the world, are trying to cede Germany."  The Nazis blamed all their problems on anybody and everybody who was different than their imaginary in-group.  The current state of Israel is, in fact, a 20th-century imposition of a perceived order onto an existing state of affairs.

(Dont' misinterpret me here -- I do not advocate terrorism or its kind, but I think I would be pissed if all of the sudden somebody's "homeland" rolled over my family's home of several hundred years.)

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.


[ Parent ]
Perspectives, perspectives... (1.00 / 2) (#93)
by decaf_dude on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 01:07:44 PM EST

Israel is constantly portrayed in the media as some parasitic, illegitimate colony-state which crushes its land's 'native' people. It's painted as being propped up with funds gathered from Jews world-wide.

And you're disputing this?


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
Godwin's Law (1.00 / 1) (#110)
by niku on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:47:16 PM EST

http://cbbrowne.com/info/godwin.html
--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
[ Parent ]
jacques ellul knew this decades ago (4.00 / 14) (#4)
by circletimessquare on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:52:24 AM EST

jacques ellul, the frenchman who wrote the seminal book "propaganda: the formation of men's attitudes"

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0394718747/qid=1059025648/sr=2-1/ref=sr_2 _1/102-9824067-8889765

google for his name, interesting character

http://www.regent.edu/acad/schcom/rojc/mdic/ellul.html

he also wrote "the technological society"

all in all a very thoughtful man with some interesting ideas in the interesection of technology and communication and society... what's the byline to kuro5hin again? ;-)

anyway, he said something to the effect that the most vulnerable elements of society to propaganda are NOT the hoi polloi, but the intellectuals!

why?

their ears are so close to the ground, they swallow so many rumors that they wind up believing whatever they want to believe, based on whatever agenda they already have in mind.

they fit their facts to their beliefs.

they drown in information overload.

meanwhile, the hoi polloi, can see things as they really are, on the average, because only the large important stuff gets to them.

turns the status quo of the arrogant holier-than-thou intellectual's idea of the effects of propaganda on society completely on it's ear,  doesn't it? ;-)

here's what an amazon reviewer (on the above link) had to say:

Published in 1965, this book is a significant, if creepy study of that oft-misunderstood concept of propaganda. The references are unfortunately dated, but the insights are valuable, especially given how much propaganda is ignored in American society, particularly. It's not an easy read by any means, mostly because he throws so much at you at once you're sort of left punch-drunk. He lays it all out forthrightly.

The most terrible revelation he offers is when he points out that the most informed individuals (in the sense of consuming the most media) are the most propagandized (but unaware of being so). This is why this book doesn't get more play -- it would put the Massive Media and the "public relations" (aka, propaganda industry) out of business if people understood their real social role.

The book is bleak, and leaves you reeling. But it does provide intellectual ammunition -- namely, critical thinking -- as a hopeful vaccination from propaganda, except for Ellul's statement that people who think propaganda doesn't affect them tend to be propagandized....

I guess the safest thing you can do is assume you are a victim of propaganda, and then deal with it by sorting out what opinions are genuinely yours, and what are the result of "conventional wisdom" and "common sense". The alternative is to pretend you're somehow immune.

take note ideologues and intellectuals, take note: for most of you, you have been served notice on a blind spot in your world view

great article btw, bravo +1 fp


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

beware, poor lost soul, you just (2.00 / 5) (#15)
by vivelame on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 09:02:32 AM EST

  1. praised a frenchman
  2. praised a man who wouldn't have agreed with what you love so much (GW2): he would have spotted all the propaganda miles away.


The FBI will contact you soon, traitor.


--
Jonathan Simon: "When the autopsy of our democracy is performed, it is my belief that media silence will be given as the primary cause of death."
[ Parent ]
vive la merde! (2.33 / 3) (#64)
by circletimessquare on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:38:57 AM EST

your always a breathe of fresh air, like the staten island garbage fill, or the whiff of bayonne from the new jersey turnpike ;-)

it's ok for me to like a frenchman you know, i just don't like you

smooches ;-) xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

How I deal with propaganda (4.20 / 5) (#53)
by TheModerate on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 06:23:07 PM EST

I've come to a similar conclusion also. Furthermore, the intellectuals are also the most powerful men at creating propaganda for other intellectuals. We usually associate propaganda as appealing to our subconscious or our emotions. But what is logic but a kind of rhetoric that would never be uttered if we didn't have desire or moral goal in mind. Ideally, the true intellectual is often surprised by his conclusions, but most intellectuals already know their conclusion before their argument.

So what is the true intellectual? A man constantly at war with himself and his convictions---a reflecting man who zero's in on himself and distances from himself, who is constantly on the alert.

But in modern times there is no real way of seeing the difference between true intellectuals and the fallible ones. Maybe there even is no real way. But I think it is possible, to provide a certain kind of training and even a certain kind of environment from where the rare true individual could have the greatest opportunity to be reared. A kind of training that doesn't just train the intellect or teach memorization and computation through habit---but a kind that pierces into the emotions and the psychological drives as well such that only the strongest and the courageous can survive.

That is how I deal with propaganda. I try to train myself with the conditions that I think must be met for the true intellectual to be reared. It seems to be my calling. For as long as I can remember, I have carried within me the proclaimation "I wish to be wise!"---how could I have known how far this simple request could have taken me? Lurking about with a conscious nihilism and frightened of anything consider fair, good, and just---to hold a contrary opinion every other day, to live by myself, to think alone, by myself, for myself: the only way, I think, one can hold every opinion at a distance. What kind of freak will I be? Society's defect living in a defective society. How far must I go before I undermine my own cause? Its a quest only for the most sickly of men.

"I guess the safest thing you can do is assume you are a victim of propaganda, and then deal with it by sorting out what opinions are genuinely yours, and what are the result of 'conventional wisdom' and 'common sense'. The alternative is to pretend you're somehow immune."

I am somehow immune.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

the joys of self-deception (3.00 / 2) (#90)
by Wah on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:30:47 PM EST

I am [pretending to be] somehow immune.

Aaah, nothing like drinking alcohol to makes one's self smarter and better looking, eh?
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

Does it seem all that impossible to you? -nm (none / 0) (#134)
by TheModerate on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 07:21:51 PM EST

nm

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

"I am somehow immune." (1.00 / 1) (#120)
by gzt on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 08:02:38 PM EST

Empirically denied.

[ Parent ]
hey (1.00 / 1) (#75)
by auraslip on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:51:55 AM EST

true you read something. It exist in your mind untill you prove it wrong.
True "intellectuals" think about what they read.
To digest something as you read it and after you read it. To measure it up and down with what you allready know, to build a rainbow that bridges what you allready know, is the mark on of true intelligence.
 the thinking man reads a lot, and therefore is more open to propaghanda. But he plays through that propaghanda quicker. That is he entertains it in his life style, and then relises it's false.(hopefully)
Thus he understands why people fall for it and it's true natures.
they are better for it.
___-___
[ Parent ]
There is a difference.. (3.75 / 4) (#99)
by Kwil on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 02:31:27 PM EST

..between someone who thinks, and someone who is simply well-educated. And while there is no neccessary correlation between the two, we tend to refer to them both as intellectuals.

The blue collar person who doesn't think and just laps up what the media provides is no better off than the well-educated person who does the same through more resources.

That being said, people who think well will generally tend to become better educated, simply because they realize their own assumptions are untrustworthy without more background knowledge.

So, people who are well-educated are actually less likely to be victims of propaganda because they are more likely to be those who actually think. The turn-about is that people who do not think critically but become well-educated anyway will be the worst victims of propaganda due to the reasons spelled out above; they believe their education protects them.

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
wrong (2.00 / 1) (#138)
by circletimessquare on Sun Jul 27, 2003 at 09:26:19 PM EST

education has nothing to do with it, psychology does

if you say to yourself "i will never die in a car accident," you probably won't wear a seatbelt, and then you will die in a car accident

if you say "i will never get mugged" then you will go places you shouldn't at times you shouldn't, and you will get mugged

if you say "i will never fall victim to propaganda" you will blindly trust some stupid shit you hear, and you will be propagandized

if you say "i can die in a car accident" then you will probably wear a seatbelt, and save your life

if you say "i can get mugged" then you will avoid certain places at certain times, and not get mugged

if you say "i can be propagandized" you will always verify before trust, and you will avoid propaganda

it's all a matter of psychology:
the dumbest ass in the world says "i know everything"
the wisest man says "i don't know everything"

so you are merely the dumbest ass in the world if you think for some reason you are immune to propaganda

while you are the wisest man in the world if you admit you are vulnerable to it

whenever you say, for whatever reason, education level included: "i won't fall for propaganda"... then that is exactly the moment you will probably fall for it


The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

I realize this, and try to counteract it (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by RyoCokey on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 11:17:25 AM EST

Mainly by posting to Kuro5hin, and reading Indymedia, Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Tehran Times, and other such sources. I think I can count the number of times I've ever watched Fox News on one hand.

Even if one holds a certainly viewpoint, you need to at least be familiar with the others.



"During election times, we tend to lose our grandmothers, grandfathers and young children. They just disappear. But I want to warn you all that you should
So what you're saying is... (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by epepke on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:25:06 PM EST

Mainly by posting to Kuro5hin, and reading Indymedia, Guardian, San Francisco Chronicle, Tehran Times, and other such sources. I think I can count the number of times I've ever watched Fox News on one hand.

ven if one holds a certainly viewpoint, you need to at least be familiar with the others.

It's not clear what you're saying. Are you saying that your opinions and bias naturally run along the lines of Fox News, and this is why you read the other materials?


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Good one (4.00 / 1) (#35)
by RyoCokey on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:37:41 PM EST

It's not clear what you're saying. Are you saying that your opinions and bias naturally run along the lines of Fox News, and this is why you read the other materials?

Well, not competely, but more so they than run along the lines of The Guardian. I suppose I should have stated my political beliefs with the post. For the record I am (4.75,-0.1)



"During election times, we tend to lose our grandmothers, grandfathers and young children. They just disappear. But I want to warn you all that you should
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the clarification [n/t] (3.00 / 1) (#42)
by epepke on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 02:05:21 PM EST


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
(OT) That is a good survey? (3.33 / 3) (#81)
by Anatta on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:46:42 AM EST

Wow. That survey seems incredibly loaded, to me.

Take, for example, question 1: "If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations." I would guess that people in favor of the "multinational corporation" style globalization would believe that the ability of corporations to hawk their wares in other countries, and employ people, serves both the company's own interests, and the interests of the people. That is really the bottom-line basic philosophy of capitalism itself -- that you can have a win-win transaction. The question creates a false dichotomy.

Question 3, "No one chooses their country of birth, so it's foolish to be proud of it." is terrible, as well. Isn't it possible to be proud of some things, and not proud of others? Is it fair to be proud of what the country you live in has done, but not be proud of it simply because of the design on the flag? Again, this is a poorly-designed question.

Finally, the last question, "The growing fusion between information and entertainment is a worrying contribution to the public's shrinking attention span" forces the responder to acknowledge a "shrinking attention span" without giving any proof of such shrinkage. It requires the responder to agree or disagree to the cause of something he or she may not accept as a true statement.

The poor design of the questions, and the lack of thought in phrasing suggests to me that the survey is pretty well useless. There's got to be a better political compass than that one.


My Music
[ Parent ]

I agree (3.00 / 1) (#86)
by toganet on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:18:26 AM EST

I took it, and I agreed generally with the end result, but the questions were horrendously worded, and completely loaded.

Take, for example, the final question:

It's fine for society to be open about sex, but these days it's going too far.

How do they expect you to give a single answer to a two-part question?  It's like the old "Have you stopped beating your wife yet?  Yes or No!"  First-year law example.  If I say I agree, does that mean that yes, I think it is fine for society to be open about sex and yes, it has gone to far?  And if I disagree, am I saying that society should not be open about sex, or am I saying it has not gone to far?

These folks need some peer review.  Or at least take Psych 101.

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.


[ Parent ]
Sorry, just saw it in use a lot here. (4.00 / 2) (#92)
by RyoCokey on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:48:06 PM EST

It was an easy response I figured most people understood. I personally thought it was somewhat questionable myself. The Libertarian survey on lp.org is pretty nice, as I recall.



"During election times, we tend to lose our grandmothers, grandfathers and young children. They just disappear. But I want to warn you all that you should
[ Parent ]
NP -- I like the other one... (3.00 / 1) (#96)
by toganet on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 01:24:45 PM EST

I took the one on lp.org, and I think it is much better in terms of question design.  It is a relatively small number of questions, but again, I think the results were valid, at least for me.

The surprising thing on that site was the chart showing the percentages overall:

Libertarian              11.05 %
Left-liberal              7.45 %
Centrist             21.84 %
Right-Conservative     16.49 %
Authoritarian             43.17 %

Wonder how many people take this quiz thinking "yeah, I'm a libertarian"  and then find out they are actually an Authoritarian.

I know folks who claim to be Libertarian, but really hold those beliefs only for themselves -- everyone else has to follow their rules.

Johnson's law: Systems resemble the organizations that create them.


[ Parent ]
On the LP survey (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by RyoCokey on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 01:23:41 PM EST

I am 90% Personal Government, 80% Economic Self Government putting me firmly in Libertarian country. Quite a contrast from the other system.



"During election times, we tend to lose our grandmothers, grandfathers and young children. They just disappear. But I want to warn you all that you should
[ Parent ]
I'm a weirdo.. (none / 0) (#101)
by Kwil on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 03:13:23 PM EST

One of the >10% who are actually left-liberals. Go figure, I thought there'd be more.
90% Personal Self-Government, 20% Economic Self-Government.

Yet the political compass puts me at:
Economic Left/Right: -5.00
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.10

That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


[ Parent ]
Self-selecting poll (none / 0) (#106)
by RyoCokey on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:13:17 PM EST

I doubt the results are a true population average.



And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.
[ Parent ]
i'm a left-liberal (none / 0) (#144)
by Vesperto on Tue Jul 29, 2003 at 09:10:51 AM EST

Personal Self-Government Score is 90%.
Economic Self-Government Score is 10%.
Although the questions are better written, they should be more and more diverse. Can i get a free membership in the Liberal Party now? ;-)

La blua plago!
[ Parent ]
-6.75, -5.44 (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by JahToasted on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:12:25 AM EST

I'm freaking Ghandi, dude...
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
Nice! (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by decaf_dude on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 01:26:41 PM EST

Turns out I'm -6.12/-4.10, in the same quadrant as our Prime Minister, right there with Nelson Mandela and Dalai Lama.


--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


[ Parent ]
The sword cuts both ways (4.25 / 4) (#29)
by McBain on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 11:23:31 AM EST

It seems that only life experiences, gained in other cultures, will change a biased mindset from one view point to another. What no amount of reading about other people's cultures can accomplish, namely changing your own biased perceptions, any amount of life experiences will. They even will do so in a way that you can't escape your own changed sense of reality, even if you wanted to.

This isn't at all true in your absolutist terms. But in cases where it is true, it often works the other way. Often the people who have direct experience and live around minorities are the most racist. They feel they have earned the 'right' to be racist as they have to deal with the minority group every day. This is particularly true of country people or people of low socio-economic status (that often live in the same ghettoes).

Whereas more educated people who have access to books, newspapers and the internet are more likely to be tolerant and less likely to hold extremist views. How many skinhead geeks do you know?

---
Sorry. I can't seem to find that sig.

I don't think your example contradicts (4.00 / 1) (#36)
by mami on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:40:23 PM EST

what I said.

If people live around minorities and develop what you call more racist view points about said minorities, there is a reason for that as a result of a life experience that you can't just ignore. If the "more racist" reaction is "deserved" or "earned" may just reflect the fact that people with different cultural backgrounds (if they really have them) can't handle the proximity of what seems to bother them about the other ethnic group.

You can observe quiet self-segregation for the purpose of avoiding emotional clashes all the time. If that is racist or not is up for discussion. It might very well be the only way for people can avoid conflict.

I have no skinhead geek friends. I think they don't like me much and most probably I have a pre-set mind about that fact. Therefore I seem to fear to get too close to them as well. There seems to happen a secret conspiracy of self-segregation between them and me, I guess. :-)

[ Parent ]

Competing groups (5.00 / 6) (#48)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 04:16:53 PM EST

Once you have two groups of people that percieve themselves to be distinct and to be in some sort of conflict or competition, it's very difficult for them to not end up with stereotypes of each other. Further contact usually makes them stronger in people's minds, and will often actually make them stronger in reality.

The famous psychological experiment about this is the Robber's Cave Experiment . One of the interesting behaviors observed in this experiment was that as stereotypes were formed about the differences in groups, the groups actually change their behavior to conform more to those stereotypes. In the Robber's Cave experiment, there were two groups of 11 year old campers. Both of them originally exhibited a fair bit of cursing, although one group did so slightly more than the other. Once they came into competition, the group that cursed less basically stopped cursing entirely, while the other group began cursing much more. Members of the cursing group developed a stereotype of the non-cursing group as being soft, goody-two-shoes types, while the members of the non-cursing group developed a stereotype of the cursing group as mean, bad, nasty kids. Members of either group wanted to make sure they exhibited the behavior of their own group, and to not act like a member of the other group. This quickly resulted in both a strengthening of the stereotype in the minds of the kids, but also in reality.

Once two groups start to get along poorly, further contact between the two groups is unlikely to make them think more highly of each other. Some things that may bring them together are a common enemy, and associating outside of a group structure. Simply living in the same neighborhood isn't particularly likely to do this.

Now, when someone travels into another country (or anywhere with a different culture) by himself, things are a little different. Even if he has a few friends or family members with him, he probably doesn't have enough people that share his culture to form a viable group. Without having two different groups, a different dynamic is likely to occur. The traveler is unlikely to feel that the people he is seeing are in a competing group. This means he is less likely to develop negative stereotypes, and less likely to avoid the behaviors that he associates with the group he is visiting. I think that most people can intuitively understand that an American that travels to, say, France will have a much different experience if he goes by himself than if he goes as part of a large tour group, and that the experience he gains travelling by himself will lead him to understand and appreciate the French much better.

So experience gained in another culture can change someone's mind, but it is much more likely to do so if he gains the experience by himself, or with one or two companions. When two whole groups are present, extra experience may only make inter-group conflict worse.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Not very interesting (1.33 / 3) (#32)
by rujith on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 12:27:14 PM EST

I voted this down, because the article challenges my pre-conceived biases! :-) Seriously, I didn't think it was very interesting. Changing people's minds is very hard. We all know that. Do we really need a study to prove it? - Rujith.

Hitting the wall once in a while.... (1.00 / 2) (#34)
by Gornauth on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 01:26:29 PM EST

...is a nice reality-check....

I'll vote up any article that basicaly tells you "Think For Yourself"


[ Parent ]

Isn't about changing people's minds (2.00 / 2) (#49)
by TheModerate on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 05:40:40 PM EST

Why would you want to change someone else's mind when all perspectives are no more correct or incorrect than any other perspective?

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

silly unqualified axiom (1.50 / 2) (#87)
by Wah on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:18:35 AM EST

Why would you want to change someone else's mind when all perspectives are no more correct or incorrect than any other perspective?

Not only are your assumptions faulty, but putting forth the idea that someone wouldn't want to act to create a common understanding because of a nihilistic attitude about the validity of the that (or any) understanding, is even worse social logic.

--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]

I don't understand (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by TheModerate on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:07:10 PM EST

"Not only are your assumptions faulty, but putting forth the idea that someone wouldn't want to act to create a common understanding because of a nihilistic attitude about the validity of the that (or any) understanding, is even worse social logic."

First of all, its relativism not nihilism (just to be pedantic). Second of all, isn't the notion that there can be common understandings a faulty assumption?

Well, lets look at this, okay? Lets say there can be common understandings. What form can these take? We are all human, afterall. We could guess that we all have similar feelings of pain and pleasure, both physical and emotional, and that we all have these feelings under similar conditions.

But here's another guess. That each time we are possessed by a certain feeling or mood, we are in another world. I know that has been the conclusion of a number of philosophers. This means that the happy person can't understand the sad person on a fundamental level since there is no common basis for understanding. It also means that as we ourselves change from mood to mood, we can't understand even ourselves.

So which is it? Which one makes more sense to you?

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

sorry for the delay (none / 0) (#147)
by Wah on Thu Jul 31, 2003 at 12:18:52 AM EST

I actually lost a comment back to you during the server storm on Sunday.

Didn't mean to leave you hanging.  I should have some time to reply in the next day or so.  Instead of replying initially to your comment, I read some of your diaries and other comments. So it took a while to put something together for your reply, which was quite moderate.

Anyway.  I'll be back in bit. And the other comment too. Which is the one that I found far more interesting.
--
KSDatafeedv1.0
[ Parent ]

To understand but not to agree (4.40 / 5) (#45)
by megid on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 03:35:53 PM EST

You have reached your goal in balanced opinion if you can understand all sides of a conflict; even when you agree with none (or one of them).

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
the question behind the article (3.50 / 2) (#72)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:09:17 AM EST

is why the availability of more diverse information doesn't lead to less extreme diverging judgements among people? If truth is so relative that arguments on both sides contradict each other and lead people to fight wars over, why would people bother so much to search for the truth and give their live to defend it, when they are convinced they have found it?

If I can understand all sides of a conflict, and all side's arguments have a valid point that should be considered, wouldn't that mean that all sides involved would be able to find a solution to the conflict in question that would satisfy all parties through compromise?

What you observe though is, that everybody has the possibility to understand all sides of a conflict, but is more than ever determined not to consider them.

There is the belief that if you say something like "you are free to your opinion and I am glad you have the possibility to voice it, but I disagree with your judgement" is a polite way of saying that I couldn't care less for your argumets, don't bother me and get lost.

Another trend is to incite the opposite side on purpose through blatant untrue statements, just to have the opportunity to engage in a fight.

Worldwide distribution of "truth" that are easily proven to be "lies" on the basis of free speech helps to increase conflicts. The question is why people decide to fight for each other's relative truths to death instead of getting along better, as they all have the option to understand and consider another side's arguments?

So, even if I have understood all sides of a conflict and I have understood that all sides may have twisted the truth, I not only end up disagreeing, but most probably hating the other side's argument, because I would be convinced the argument is based on a lie. That again is the basis of fury and hate, which leads to more conflict not less.

Question asked what can you change in the distribution of free speech that would turn that trend around?

[ Parent ]

People WANT to fight (3.66 / 3) (#73)
by megid on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:20:14 AM EST

... to compensate their miserable life. A happy person is usually a non-extremist person with a balanced world view, open for everything.

The verbal fighting that goes on everywhere, including here, is the result of frustrated humans, not the result of free information flow.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

Happy people (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by TheModerate on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:12:24 PM EST

I don't think you will find anyone more apathetic about the world around them than the happy people. It is from the sufferers, the sick, the depressed, the spirit-seekers, that all our values come from.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

Once suffered, now happy. (none / 0) (#149)
by megid on Sat Aug 02, 2003 at 12:02:13 PM EST

*This* is, in my opinion, the fountain of inner values. For if you spent your life in misery, your thoughts remain deep but misantrophic, and if you spend your life in happiness, you are shallow for there is no need to think.

Therefore, values come from people who *know* how suffering is but yet are free to think philantrophic. So you are partly correct; but you missed a part, as did I in my rash commentary.

--
"think first, write second, speak third."
[ Parent ]

Is one that can't and shouldn't be answered (4.50 / 2) (#103)
by CENGEL3 on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 03:40:21 PM EST

The bottom line is that people are DIFFERENT. Two people who witness the exact same event first hand are likely to have different interpretations of it. This is because they have different perspectives formed from the influence of thier past experiences and personalty. Everyone sees events through the lens of thier own perspective and will draw conclusions based on that.

Even people who have identical backgrounds are likely to have different perspectives because personalty is not totaly dependent upon experience.

This is a GOOD THING, can you imagine living in a world where everyone was exactly the same and had exactly the same opinion on everything? It would be a nightmare.

Personaly I see a huge difference between listening to some-ones arguements and disagreeing with them and dismissing them without even giving them a fair hearing.

Disagreement is ok, in fact it's healthy.... willfull ignorance is not.


[ Parent ]

write first, think second, speak third (none / 0) (#128)
by chanio on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 01:01:32 AM EST

I would prefer this way, so I would know myself for real, and not fall in love of my arrogance.

Sorry, it is not related to your good ideas. I also believe that to listen makes you powerful.

And, always gives you some answer. At least, a good description of the others' compulsions.
________________
Farenheit Binman:
This worlds culture is throwing away-burning thousands of useful concepts because they don't fit in their commercial frame.
My chance of becoming intelligent!
[ Parent ]

I disagree (3.00 / 2) (#59)
by CAIMLAS on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 11:02:05 PM EST

I read K5 and slashdot, both of which could easily be considered vestiges of "violent, peacenik liberalism". I, on the other hand, am a "gun-supporting anti-socialist". I know of quite a few people like myself who also partake of opposing views.
--

Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.

Note that you're disagreeing... [nt] (2.00 / 1) (#65)
by tlhf on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:53:26 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Message in a Bottle (3.66 / 6) (#62)
by t reductase on Thu Jul 24, 2003 at 11:40:26 PM EST

One comes to the Internet for the first time and initially one concludes the Internet is a modern agora. But the reality is there is very little even barely adequate debate on the Internet. The point of having a weblog, for example, is to be be able to control a discussion, to be able to delete posts. People just talk to talk. One throws the message laden bottle overboard and hopes for the best. There are instances where one discovers new viewpoints but these instances are few and far between. Biased reportage is as old as reportage. The Internet is full of bias but perhaps this is the strength of the Internet for one bias corrects for another. One is left to judge the matter on one's own, which is the ideal.

People Like Expressing Themselves (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by cam on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 12:31:44 PM EST

The point of having a weblog, for example, is to be be able to control a discussion,

People just like expressing themselves, it makes them happy. The internet just provides another medium with which to express yourself.

cam
Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Too much information (3.60 / 5) (#67)
by wrinkledshirt on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 02:09:32 AM EST

The problem is that there's too much information. Give yourself enough time and you'll find any number of websites giving you information throughout an entire range of viewpoints. How do you know what to trust? Do you trust the most commonly-read (which also happen to be the ones most likely run by corporations and governed by their agenda), or do you trust the ones that feel the most independent (which also happen to be the ones most easily marginalized in kookoo-land)?

Chances are you're going to settle in on a few news sources that reinforce your own view of the world, probably because you're busy enough in life anyway to have the energy to try to see everything from every point of view. At the end of the day when you're exhausted from work, the last thing you want is someone blaring at you that everything you've known throughout your life so far is an illusion, offering to enlighten you and dispell your heretofore ignorance.

heh (1.00 / 1) (#78)
by wrax on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 09:32:05 AM EST

all for the low low price of $9.99 a month.
--------------------

I don't know whats worse, the fact that people actually write this crap or the fact that people actually vote it up.
[ Parent ]

Talk to people (3.00 / 2) (#82)
by JahToasted on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:54:56 AM EST

That's why its better to listen to what people have to say, not what some corporation or some other organisation have to say. Individuals can be intelligent while groups are always stupid.

This is why I visit k5, this is why I read salam pax, and this is also why I don't listen to CNN.
______
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]

Cognitive Dissonance (4.75 / 12) (#68)
by brain in a jar on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 03:53:56 AM EST

Is the term psychologists have coined for this phenomenon. It is more general than our attitude to news, it is our tendency to avoid or fail to notice information which contradicts things we already "know".

It is one of the reasons why debate tends to become entrenched with nobody changing their minds. The more strongly held the views are, the larger the role cognitive dissonance has to play. Hence its pointless trying to convince someone that their religion is a bad thing. Cognitive dissonance will render all your arguments useless. Talking someone out of patriotism or nationalism, is almost equally difficult.

That said we do sometimes change our views, I have often changed my mind about things due to comments from other K5ers. But this only happens when we are prepared to swallow our pride and admit maybe we were wrong.

Also I think the biggest lesson K5 has taught me is that if you want to convince people of something, it is better to say it gently. The more confrontational your arguments, the more powerful the cognitive dissonance becomes, and the more likely people are to argue with you instead of listening.

For example, it I come out and say something like:

"Bush lied to us all, and all you idiots believed him, and now you all have to eat crow yah boo!!"

This might be fun to say but it will convince nobody of my point, because the reader (if he doesn't already agree with me) will prefer to believe that I am wrong, than to believe that he is/was an idiot.

Be gentle if you want to be convincing, and read the views of others who disagree with you carefully. Try to understand why they disagree, and if they are right reconsider your views accordingly. At the end of the day, we will all be better informed.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

godbless trolls (2.75 / 4) (#74)
by auraslip on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:48:36 AM EST

eh?
___-___
[ Parent ]
Re: Cognitive Dissonance (5.00 / 1) (#100)
by niku on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 02:49:08 PM EST

One of the most valuable lessons that my father ever taught me is how to counter Cognitive Dissonance. He didn't call it that, simply thinking of it as how to win an argument. The first rule of arguing with someone is to agree with them.

This apparantly is a common tactic in cross examination, which makes sense, seeing that my father is a lawyer. Basically the idea is that you don't want the person that you are arguing with that if he agrees with your point then (s)he is wrong.

The best way to go about this is with a phrase like: "You know what, you're completely right... but I think that this <First point of your argument> is true also". or "I've never thought about it like that before. (pause for thought) You're right. You know, I think that this <your point> might be a better way of looking at it though.

Basically what you are trying to do it take away the element of conflict in the persons head. You don't want it to be an argument, but to have them think of you both as a team, trying to figure out the best way to look at something; Granted, trying to figure out the best way to look at something is the best way to approach an argument anyway, since it will allow you to produce a result, and not stick to some principal.

--
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
http://nicholasbernstein.com
[ Parent ]
if you did that as a moderator or an (none / 0) (#127)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:45:11 PM EST

"expert" commentator in cable network news shows, you would be fired the next day. The rule is that you must disagree with your opponent, otherwise you are useless for their purposes. Another rule is that you must make your opponent so mad that he can't help but to disagree to not look like a loser.

Lawyers have a nice environment, usually they have to behave in front of a judge... :-)

[ Parent ]

Recommended reading (2.50 / 4) (#69)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:09:46 AM EST

Have a look at The Reality Construction Kit wherein I say:

Reality is not something that just happens to you. Reality is something you make.

...

Even if you don't feel the need to question your reality or make a new one, I assert it is worthwhile for you to understand this in the event you ever have to, or ever need to try to help someone make a new livable world for themselves. At the very least it will help you to understand why some people are so difficult to get along with, and help you relate to them. It's not simply that some people hold different opinions, it's that many people, not just the insane, live in a completely different world from the one you experience.

...

There is only so much we can pay attention to or even notice at all. In a very real sense we only see or hear what we want to, although the decision might be made at a very primitive level in our brains.

Thank you for your attention.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


Look here, Michael Crawford (4.00 / 2) (#104)
by spcmanspiff on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 03:50:45 PM EST

You often have interesting things to say.

You're a good decent writer.

And frequently you've already written something topical.

But your repeated, insistent, pimping of your preexisting writings (and your consulting business), leads me to wonder:

  • Is this spam? No, not really, it's usually topical and has a bit of information content... but it tastes awful pink and salty, nonetheless.
  • Business must be awful slow for you to have all this free time :) -- or you're slacking on the job like the rest of us...
Now, as someone who does consulting yourself, I have to admire your self-promotion skills... but perhaps, for forums like this, you should rethink your approach.

 

[ Parent ]

Perhaps I should change my sig (none / 0) (#117)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:14:55 PM EST

How about this one?

While it's still pimping my articles, they're for a nobler purpose.

There's no way I could avoid promoting my articles. Getting people to read what I write is the food that sustains my soul through these difficult times. I live to write.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

as for my self-promotion skills (none / 0) (#118)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:17:25 PM EST

While I've learned to promote myself through years of hard work, experiment and practice, I share everything I know with anyone who cares to read it.

There, I did it again.


--

Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy


[ Parent ]

Not Parallel Universes but, (4.57 / 7) (#70)
by monkeymind on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:51:21 AM EST

MMIU

Massively Multiple Intersecting Universes

Each universe centres on a single human. There view of the world is different for all others. Many are very similar and cross over and match up in many areas but also many who are in close proximity (than same country, city or even household) differ so markedly that they actually inhabit mutually exclusive regions of thought space.

And then they wonder why they can't agree, change the others mind on politics, religion etc.

I believe in Karma. That means I can do bad things to people and assume the deserve it.

They do seem to be rather parallel (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by Wah on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:33:04 AM EST

but only in the processing sense. Each universe emanates from a single human. Other than that, it flows pretty well. And then they wonder why they can't agree, change the others mind on politics, religion etc. And hopefully someone patiently explains it to them.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
Truth may be relative notion: film at 11 (3.28 / 7) (#71)
by edo on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:30:35 AM EST

Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along.
-- 
Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
 - Oscar Wilde
Why not throw out all termometers? (3.00 / 3) (#108)
by BerntB on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:41:33 PM EST

Your argument is that since truth is relative, it's not meaningful to discuss ("Just move along").

You can't chill something to 0 degree Kelvin (absolute zero). So all temperature measurements must be relative -- and less than perfect. Hence, temperature is a worthless concept, according to your logic?

So throw away all temperature measurement equipment!!

Because a perfect description of the world (probably) is impossible, doesn't mean a world model can't get more or less close. The concept of "relative" do allow comparative measurement between different models and how they measure the world.

And a discussion of how people function when they build opinions are very important to read. For people. I liked the story.

(-: My worst experience with preconceived opinions are French people. All my life I've read anglosaxian propaganda about "Frogs" being rude, refusing to speak English, etc, etc. And all French guys I've met was helpful and really nice. I feel cheated. :-)

[ Parent ]

Easier to mod and not argue, edo? :-) nt (none / 0) (#135)
by BerntB on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 09:32:34 PM EST



[ Parent ]
I gave you a 3, didn't I? (none / 0) (#140)
by edo on Mon Jul 28, 2003 at 03:10:45 AM EST

Well, you made a good point (hence the mod), but surely my earlier posting should have been indication enough that I don't feel discussing this issue is worth my while. That's for the under-25 set, really.

Now go and enjoy your 3. Just don't spend it all at once. ;)
-- 
Sentimentality is merely the Bank Holiday of cynicism.
 - Oscar Wilde
[ Parent ]

Well, that is a viewpoint.. but a shallow one (none / 0) (#146)
by BerntB on Wed Jul 30, 2003 at 11:31:42 AM EST

You're totally wrong that only the "under-25 set" care's about that argument.

The fact of "Absolute truth's impossibility" is used in arguments by people like postmodernists, creationist churches, etc, etc. Those people's "argument" can be defined as:

"Since no absolute truth can exist, I can believe anything I want -- and my opinions, without a shred of supporting facts, are worth as much as your opinions based on centuries of work with the scientific method".

You could change argument and claim I'm a humourfree fanatic hater of all things religious (marxism, xianity, postmodernism, etc, etc).

I would blush, though; cheap flattery always work... :-)

[ Parent ]

Ack (2.28 / 7) (#76)
by p3d0 on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:57:09 AM EST

This needed some more time in the edit queue. Interesting topic and all, but the numerous grammatical and punctuation errors are quite distracting.
--
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
gr00vey (3.62 / 8) (#77)
by gr00vey on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 08:10:12 AM EST

Indeed, it seems that you completely discount the possibility that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9-11 attacks. Though I don't espouse this as fact, I certainly entertain it as possibility. Read Gore Vidal's "dreaming war". Perhaps 1/3 of all Germans under 30 are just more informed than most Americans. Also, you assume they all get the same media, this is a broad and inaccurate assumption. Nevertheless, I did enjoy your article, very thought provoking.

Left v Right (3.66 / 6) (#79)
by Cackmobile on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:07:08 AM EST

I totally agree with all this. I have left views and tend to read those type of sources. I do read right newspapers etc as well. I tend to believe the left sources more, not because I like there views but they tend to have a more open editorial process and while stating their views generally show the other side as well. And they are less likely to resort to name calling (tree hugging hippy etc). I just wish we could have news sources that just state the facts, then people could decide for them selves. I know its never going to happen but I can dream. Seriously how can anyone take Fox news seriously...I mean Geraldo Riviera!

Both are biased (4.40 / 5) (#84)
by Wildgoose on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:07:57 AM EST

I tend to believe the left sources more, not because I like there views but they tend to have a more open editorial process and while stating their views generally show the other side as well. And they are less likely to resort to name calling (tree hugging hippy etc).

Both sides have an agenda. You should always read what they are saying bearing their agenda in mind.

And I find the "left" to be just as bad (if not worse) than the "right". Try the "open editorial process" if it conflicts with what is considered "Politically Correct".

And "loony/rabid right-winger" etc. is just as much name calling as "tree hugging hippy".

A plague on both their houses!

[ Parent ]

Yep (none / 0) (#148)
by Cackmobile on Fri Aug 01, 2003 at 11:20:43 AM EST

I agree that the left is biased but i think less so. Not talking extreme left or right here but the left seems to resort to sensationalism less.

[ Parent ]
Nationalism is overrated (4.50 / 6) (#89)
by sunil02169 on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:56:35 AM EST

I totally agree.

I am an immigrant myself and I do realize a change in my perception during last few years I have been staying outside my own country.

When we are exposed to different culture and viewpoints, we tend to revalidate our beliefs - beliefs that do not validate in light of the new information are discarded and replaced with more generic version.

This process is like self-actualization that gravitates one's belief system to one's actual being. The term "actual being" is very hazy, I am using it due to lack of any better term. In general by "actual being" I mean our inner motives and core of our belief system.

To answer the question - "What in our free, on-line worldwide information network has to change to fulfill our dream of better global understanding among peoples?"

I think we need to understand that nationalism is overrated. It is the source of all such biases and a perfect tool for politicians to exploit masses. To counter the effect of overnatiolist biases we should promote exchange programmes in schools and colleges ...so as to expose every student to foreign viewpoints.

It is true that no amount of reading can really balance our biases.
- Sunil

India vs. Pakistan news (3.00 / 2) (#94)
by gmol on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 01:20:29 PM EST

I don't place a terrible amount of trust in the journalistic practices of either country (from direct experience of my sister)...

Wait until the next pakistani guy kills people in India  (the best example was the attack on parliment but you can catch this everytime something happens in Kashmir).  Compare the news between a site like:

http://www.timesofindia.com

and

http://www.paknews.com

Paknews often suggests that the actions were staged by India and indian news constantly claims that it is ISI sponsored terrorism (as far as I know, there has not been a well presented case to the UN for this statement).


Bias (3.80 / 5) (#98)
by Elektro Schock on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 02:20:44 PM EST

Being a German myself I guess I am able to answer your questions:

/* I heard during a short news flash on MSNBC's Countdown a very upset Keith Olbermann reporting about a German poll. Every fifth German citizen believes that the attacks on the WTC towers "was ordered by the US government itself". Among the under thirty years old Germans, it even is every third German. The poll was based on a sample of 1000 men and women, most probably a professionally executed, scientifically sound. */

Well. Polls like these are made everyday. Of course it is a riddculous conspiracy theory.
As an American I would rather be intrested why this source was selected, where the information came from. "Bias" so to speak. 5-10% of the population of every single nation are political idiots. I saw so many online polls.
This information about a poll is obviously used in order to riddiculate German public opinion. But I can tell you that we don't believe in this conspiracy theory. however the case for conspiracys is not that bad. If 911 happened in Germany the minister of interior would immediately resign.

/* What Olbermann didn't report, which is more interesting to note, is that among the West-Germans under thirty years sixteen percent believed in some sinister tricks by the US government to order the attack on their own towers, whereas in the same age group of formerly East-Germans twenty-nine percent had this belief. Why?

It is obvious that all Germans, be it from the Eastern or Western part under age of thirty have watched and read the same newspapers,*/

No, there is a large variety of media sources and personal experiences. I don't believe in statistics, but at least you shall tell us how many people were asked in what way.

/* [..] Nevertheless there is a clear difference in each of those German's reality about what they believe is true. */

Well, "contructivism"?? of course there a regional differences as in every region. Some are more catholic, some are more conservative. As a lutherian protestant for instance my judgements are based on priciples that count for me and anybody else. Truth is a more universal category.

/* Obviously Germans read and accept only those truths, for which they made up their minds beforehand. Of course the same is true for any American. */

Well, now you can see what the use of this poll information: Germans must be mad, raise anti-German feelings

I am not anti-american but I was offended by the accusations of US government officials that called anti-War protest anti-American. The US are known for a very broad interpretation of free speech and then it fails. Even US media failed. the opposition party failed and cheered a foreign policy that broke with certain international priciples. Nice to see as the world's biggest democracy failes.

Yes, I read US, British, Italian and German media and it is very strange to see the Bias in US media, how US media just repeats what the press officals and other media reports,. For instance when the US Government told that Iraq was a threat to the US (??) and linked to El Queda. The latter is a incredible conspiracy theory not shared outside the USA. However I was told that US polls said there was a link. So probably both nations are mad by desinformation :-)

The mayor difference: the German Government never told us our US allies attacked WTC, no official politician believes in this conspiracy theory (I listened that Mr. Ratsirka, former president of Madagascar also was in favour of this conspiracy theory back in 2001), while US government official told very obvious lies to the American public. I think that US foreign policy was a little bit autistic and US media uncritical, biased. Therefore it is not credible anymore. And this made the ground for conspiracy theories.

Journalist Matthias Bröckers, a sceptical friend of conspiracy theories, made a very good series "WTC conspiracy". It's fun to read. And the worst is that collection of conspiracy theories is not less credible than the offical version of the White House. He has a kind of intresting meta-philosophy and reflects the media perception.

If 911 happened in Germany (none / 0) (#126)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:33:02 PM EST

If 911 happened in Germany the minister of interior would immediately resign.

I hope not. Pretty much one of the few, who has not lost his mind over there...

it is very strange to see the Bias in US media, how US media just repeats what the press officals and other media reports

So, you think you are able to read and watch all US media? As far as I know the more balanced non-partisan media outlets of the US are unknown in Germany and can't be received, read, listened to or watched. You would only be able to find them online and that is by far over the head of average Germans to look for those sources.



[ Parent ]

What we can do (3.66 / 3) (#102)
by SlashDread on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 03:40:12 PM EST

is read these articles..
Sure for the wise, its a film at 11.
But even for the wise its usefull to be remebered that even wise have biases.
- Read as much on interesting topics from ALL views offered.
- Try to be as scientific as possible, but realise that science is not fair. Did not Edsgar W.Dijkstra proof this already? ;-)

/Dread

Socrates (none / 0) (#107)
by Elektro Schock on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:38:15 PM EST

What did Socrates know?

[ Parent ]
Well, he didn't know enough to check his drink. nt (none / 0) (#113)
by loucura on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 05:33:52 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Socrates knows nothing (5.00 / 1) (#116)
by amike on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:31:16 PM EST

"All I know is that I know nothing." I forget where he said that.

----------
In a mad world, only the mad are sane. -Akira Kurosawa
[ Parent ]
Socrates probably said that in Greece (4.00 / 2) (#141)
by beijaflor on Mon Jul 28, 2003 at 05:51:57 AM EST



[ Parent ]
The best thing to do is ... (4.18 / 11) (#109)
by nigel on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 04:42:22 PM EST

travel, and i don't mean go sight seeing. Go immerse yourself in another culture. It'll give you a more balanced point of view. Even just a few months can drastically change your views. You might even learn something about yourself. It was kind of frightening when I realized just how biased I was.

Once you've gained that additional perspective, it's a little easier to evaluate other peoples points of view.

If you can't afford to travel, become a friend with someone from another country.

"The secret to life is honesty and fair dealing, if you can fake that you've got it made" - Groucho Marx
Definitely an interesting topic (4.00 / 2) (#114)
by TheModerate on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:10:54 PM EST

"What in our free, on-line worldwide information network has to change to fulfill our dream of better global understanding among peoples?"

The most obvious answer, and perhaps the only correct one, is the people themselves. What causes all conflict is not a difference in facts but the many desires and drives that people have. So what sort of people are less likely to involve themselves in righteous conflict? Perhaps those who prefer to have no values, like the Buddhists and lately even the Europeans. For the Buddhists, their lives are revolved around the suppression of desire to avoid suffering. For the Europeans, it is similar but rather they cloak their will to nothingness under a number of anti-values such as freedom and tolerance. The other option is a loud roaring people with an enormous pride and self-satisfaction at their own achievements, such a society would really care less about such petty differences of opinion. But then again, this also is a kind of extreme, for aren't the Nazis such a people? So I think the answer is a moderation between the suppression of desire and the overindulgance of desire.

But I don't think I answered the question. First, I question what this dream of understanding comes from. I think we all, since children, have loved being flattered for when we are being listened to and since then we have always associated that ego-stroking with being agreed with. And that is how we all first interpret any statement---when you read something the first question you ask yourself is "Do I agree with it?" This question is perhaps subconscious and rides along as you read something.

But we must first ask whether agreement or understanding is ever possible. Afterall, we don't have telepathy---or at least I don't think we do. All I ever do is listen to your words and my own words, and I am the sole interpreter of both what I say and what I hear you say. It is only that subconscious quest for agreement that places within us the illusion that our own interpretation of what someone says is actually the meaning they were trying to convey.

And now, we must question the dream itself as well as the motivation of this entire article. I am concerned too---there is plenty of reason to be concerned. This dream is the dream of a liberal democracy. And what you are detecting here, even if for a brief moment, is the shattering of this dream. Anyone who is subtle and still enough can detect the rumbling in the ground and eventually the world will divide again---this time liberalism itself will be engulfed in the abyss. And I think it is the liberals themselves who are the most aware on an intellectual level that this is happening yet they are morally not able to accept it.

Liberalism has always been about an emphasis on the individual and on putting limitations on the state. In America today, all the ideologies are essentially liberal with just a few small differences that have caused the forking off of libertarianism, democratic socialism, and conservativism. The problem is with the emphasis on the individual. Where is this politically involved populace? Where are these free thinking individuals? Where are all these people making compromises through the democratic process? What happened to our individual rights? It is purely a liberal bias that lays blame on the state and recently the corporations for all these things. The answer must be with the people themselves.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer

if you think you can change the people (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:21:19 PM EST

or that they will change themselves in major ways, that seems to be a bit naive thing to hope for.

I really would like to get some practical ideas about how one could improve online and TV news broadcasts and distribution, so that the debate between supporters of extreme view points would become a little more honest, less hateful and more truthful, without limiting free speech. Some way of letting people speak freely, but some way to limit abuse of free speech like like broadcasting lies as truthful facts etc.

[ Parent ]

It is naive (none / 0) (#129)
by TheModerate on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 03:46:52 AM EST

But I prefer naive to impossible. I mean, no matter what set of rules you set up, what restrictions on discussion, what standards of conduct, there must always be a crack or a slip and we humans search for these and exploit them because we hate limitations. I don't see how it can be otherwise. At some point, you have to trust people's intentions---and if you disagree with their intentions then you must change the people themselves: what they value, what are their ideals. No system can ever work without making certain assumptions on human nature---and since human nature itself changes, every system erodes and withers away with time.

Maybe there is another way. I don't know. Sorry I can't come up with anything better.

"What a man has in himself is, then, the chief element in his happiness." -- Schopenhauer
[ Parent ]

Problem with that German poll (4.66 / 6) (#115)
by das bill on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 06:25:04 PM EST

   There is a slight difference in the poll than what the main headline suggests.  The fact is, the questions the Germans were asked is whether " they believed the U.S. government *could* have ordered the September 11 attacks" (http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/europe/07/24/german.poll.reut/, the third to last paragraph).
   Now that seems to me to be asking whether it was possible that the US did it, or that it was within the power of the US to order it... not that they did do it.  Not having seen the original question (and not being fluent in German), I don't know they phrased it exactly.  However, the Reuters article makes it seem less dire than it comes across in the article.

-das Bill

I haven't found the exact wording (none / 0) (#124)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:06:54 PM EST

of the questions asked. The Reuter and the Spiegel link said they asked, if they believed the US government could have ordered ... not if they believed the US government has ordered.

[ Parent ]
Okay, so 20% of Germans are moonbats. (4.00 / 5) (#119)
by Apuleius on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 07:28:07 PM EST

That's below the all-humanity average. Germans should be proud.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Well, I am ashamed, not proud (1.00 / 1) (#122)
by mami on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 10:42:24 PM EST

though I am below the all-humanity average, I can't come up with any dictionary that would tell me what a moonbat is. Is your vocabulary above all-humanity? Explain.

[ Parent ]
Well, hmmm... time to fire up google (4.00 / 2) (#133)
by Theranthrope on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 03:57:21 PM EST

It seem the term "moonbat" appears to be derogatory in nature. The term is used by the insular group of conservative american blogers to refer to anti-war protesters in general as well as anyone who has the presumption to question Bush and his policies and/or motives.
"Turmeric applied as a suppository will increase intelligence." -- HidingMyName
[
Parent ]
This topic seems like psychology. (4.00 / 3) (#121)
by RofGilead on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 09:08:59 PM EST

And I usually don't like to talk or invest time in psychology, as I think it is mostly beliefs and rarely scientific.  (Its difficult to study the human mind, to say the least!)

However, my theory is this, "People will tend to read and listen to what agrees most with their own ideas.  This is because we all judge other things based on how intelligent they seem to be, especially the news.  Things that most agree with our beliefs will sound intelligent to us for the very fact that they agree with out beliefs (and we view ourselves to be in some way intelligent).  We will choose to listen to that which sounds the most intelligent."

Of course, this is just my thought, and I don't think it should be debated as a debate normally goes, because of paragraph one.  Maybe someone will someday accomplish something scientific that explains more of human nature that would be relevant to this.  Again, it is just a thought, not something I would want to defend at all.

-= RofGilead =-

---
Remember, you're unique, just like everyone else. -BlueOregon

The Secret To Good Reading (4.00 / 1) (#123)
by CoolName on Fri Jul 25, 2003 at 11:00:38 PM EST

The secret is fairly simple but somewhat difficult in practice. One just reads something new at an appropriate level. This often takes some searching. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the author should be basically irrelevant. One should be reading what one has yet to judge.

"What does your conscience say? -- 'You shall become the person you are.'" Friedrich Nietzsche


Bröckers (none / 0) (#130)
by Elektro Schock on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 07:07:56 AM EST

Below I wrote "Journalist Matthias Bröckers, a sceptical friend of conspiracy theories, made a very good series "WTC conspiracy". It's fun to read. And the worst is that collection of conspiracy theories is not less credible than the offical version of the White House. He has a kind of intresting meta-philosophy and reflects the media perception." He is probaly the most important communicator of the Conspiracy theory and he is a German, wrote a German book, read the follwing english background article on his homepage: http://www.broeckers.com/9-11-engl.htm He as a member of the anti-conspiracy conspiracy group does not take it *that* serious. Also watch this funny land map of WTC conspiracy: http://www.seyfried-berlin.de/c-1.JPG Der Standard (Vienna) about Bröckers bestseller (poor translation) The success of this book may draw conclusion regarding a real-existing "mailaise", in which a chaotic public relations policy of the US Government marries with uncertainty of mass media, that does not rmemember its enlightment capabilities, because they don't want to be regarded unpatriotic in these hard days.

Global Understanding amongst peoples... (5.00 / 3) (#131)
by Metatone on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 09:52:17 AM EST

I think you touch on the solution in the main article and certainly in the comments. There is a diversity of viewpoints in the world and we should not expect this to disappear. However, travel between cultures gives the greatest possibility for greater understanding between them.

I myself have lived in India, UK, USA, Netherlands, Germany and am now in Australia. I find the people most open to serious discussion (i.e. discussion that is more than purely the butting of heads) are those who have traveled. People who have never seen a world different to theirs are those most likely to dispute by volume. Obviously, this is never true all the time, but I think it's fair to generalize and say that experiencing a "different universe" is the easiest way to learn that there are different ways of being out there and they might have more validity than Fox news (for example) may tell you.

It's worth noting that whilst this poll of the German people highlighted a relatively large percentage apparently "propagandised," polling is easily abused. Question format, other questions included and the general demeanour of the questioner have been proved to affect the results quite sharply. For an example of a similarly curious poll in the USA see this link which highlights the continuing effectiveness of propaganda in the USA.

One final (critical, I'm afraid) comment. You state:

I wonder how many people had expected in the early 1990's that the many different types of information we can read or watch worldwide over the Internet, global 24h/7d cable network news or on-line versions of print newspapers, wouldn't to lead to better informed readers with more balanced view points.
I was in university in the early 1990's studing Media and Society amongst other things and it was clear to many of us then that 10 years hence (i.e. now) the number of informed readers was unlikely to have escalated dramatically. Reasons for that assessment included :

  • Slow take up of enabling technologies (Internet, Cable TV) amongst lower income groups, which co-incidentally tend to be the lesser informed to begin with.
  • Domination of media outlets (particularly Cable TV, but also "the popular Internet" due to marketing muscle) by a relatively small number of organizations with a limited diversity of production.
  • "Stickiness" of media consumption, At the extreme, my grandma Williams read the Daily Express from the 1930's to the day she died (a couple of years ago). In that time it's political viewpoints drifted around quite a bit, but she stuck with it. Obviously later generations are much less "loyal" to their media choices, but we shouldn't expect people to embrace the new diversity of viewpoints overnight.

    And these are merely the "technical" reasons. A large debate is possible (which other comments have touched on) about what happens when the information stream truly becomes deep and wide, but I'll leave that for another post, for brevity's sake... ;)

  • Very true (none / 0) (#158)
    by Reynard on Tue Feb 17, 2004 at 02:22:28 AM EST

    But moreover, it seems like people apply their own self-conformity on all their actions, not just political views; they are most comfortable with laziness and habit.

    I often cite my current college roommate as an example of this(though I don't tell him that). He is...highly predictable, to say the least. He does his homework, and perhaps studies if he needs it. If something comes up(if he feels hungry, or if things look a bit too untidy, or maybe if the phone rings), he acts to resolve the situation. Otherwise, using 100% of his free time, he drifts from one entertainment to the next. Either it's playing video games, or reading forums, downloading/watching movies, or turning on the TV for Adult Swim and Comedy Central. He seeks neither contact nor conversation, and does nothing to improve himself save perhaps for what he learns from school.

    There is no direction or purpose there. Watching him do this is a constant reminder of what I *don't* want to be. And the thing is, I don't know what makes him do that, exactly, when I personally feel constantly driven to accomplish something of worth, to learn something useful(I'm finding school slow and unuseful compared to what I learn with my own dedication) or at least engage in thoughtful, if pointless, discussion.

    Maybe he just needs some kind of shock to get some perspective on his own situation. Like me telling him he's a fat loser :P

    [ Parent ]

    Religion (3.00 / 1) (#132)
    by limekiller on Sat Jul 26, 2003 at 02:36:41 PM EST

    We see the same thing in religion.  People tend to prefer a god that shares their biases, prejudices, even hatreds.  It isn't much of a surprise.

    Still, great writeup mami.

    Regards,
    Lime

    Reality Bubbles (4.00 / 3) (#136)
    by ka9dgx on Sun Jul 27, 2003 at 01:34:38 AM EST

    I was in my car, listening to Sean Hannity, and it hit me... the ah-ha moment... that I realized the following:
    There exists a bubble of reality that Sean Hannity pumps air into on a daily basis. When seen from the viewpoint of a loyal listener, he seems perfectly sane, and quite wise. The listener usually agree with what he says, and disagree with those he opposes. He seems to be very good at avoiding cognative dissonance. (Which might possibly rupture the bubble for some listeners). The Sean Hannity bubble has a very neo-conservative tone, which stresses the purity and special status and genious of GW Bush as a Great Leader, who will lead the US to save the rest of the world from itself.

    The Nazi party managed to create a reality bubble (pumped up by Goebbels) in which Hitler represented the saviour of the German people. Many other reality bubbles exist, for both good and bad.

    The key is to realized that these entities exist, and to try to get some good tools for popping them.

    --Mike--

    good tools for popping them (none / 0) (#137)
    by Viliam Bur on Sun Jul 27, 2003 at 10:31:32 AM EST

    It's good to speak with lot of people from the different "bubbles". If some group of people is percieved by your friends as evil (or stupid, or anything negative), these are the right ones to speak with. Just do not start telling them: "Hey you, my friends say you are evil, because..." - this only makes them hate you, and then you may leave saying: "They really are the hateful people, my friends were right." Instead, only join them, and listen. Do not believe what they say - but do not say that you do not believe; also do not say that you agree. Write a diary about your experience - if you will read it later, it is great - write every day about what happened and how you feel it now. After spending some time, return. Then, when speaking with your friends, you will notice how ignorant they are. Do not tell it - you may lose your friends and end completely alone. OK, now honestly - if you pop too many bubbles, you certainly will be alone.

    [ Parent ]
    Bubbles (none / 0) (#153)
    by Brandybuck on Sun Oct 05, 2003 at 09:59:44 PM EST

    I happen to like the Sean Hannity (and Rush Limbaugh) bubbles. They are a counteracting agent to the myriad other bubbles I have to interact with on a daily basis. I fortunately realize that everything in the media is a "reality bubble" of one sort or another.

    The last two weeks would be a good example. Wesley Clark had announced his candidacy, and the mainstream media was having orgasms over it. Carol Mosley-Brauns' announcement was virtually ignored in favor of this "great white hope". Hannity's reality bubble was a pleasant recasting of the Democrat hopefuls. Then I visited a friend's house where who regaled me with hours of "I hate Bush with a passion" speeches. Then the NPR reality bubble came on, and they actually had a story on people who irrationally hate Bush. I could see his eyes glaze over and "tune out" until the end of the piece, when he blamed Bush for the hurricane the next segment reported on.

    The funniest part of last week was with another friend. He doesn't listen to radio, watch TV, pay any attention to any politics. We watched the California Governor's debate together. At the end of the debate, he said that his two favorites were Tom McClintock and Pete Camejo. Huh? He doesn't live in any reality bubbles, so without knowing that those two are complete political opposites, made his opinion based solely on their professional demeanor and deportment during the debate.

    In short, while you are correct that the Hannity Bubble exists, don't neglect all the other ones you're living in.

    [ Parent ]

    Great article. (4.00 / 2) (#142)
    by causticmtl on Tue Jul 29, 2003 at 04:17:52 AM EST

    This article brings up some extremely important points. Living in Quebec, Canada, the differences between the french and english language media becomes all too obvious.

    Anglo media tends to immitate CNN with a bunch of Canadian headlines mixed in whereas francophone media is Quebec-specific, with some occasional headlines from french-speaking countries like Algeria and France. You can watch the eleven o'clock news in one language, switch channels during a commercial, and catch headlines that you never would have been aware of watching the news in the other language.

    This can offer quite a breadth of news from local Canadian stations but there are many downsides to this as well.

    French-speaking Quebecers can develop some rather xenophobic views about the rest of North America while unilingual anglophones can spend their entire lives in the province knowing only the five people they can communicate with while perpetually shaking their fists at the "frogs" and how they should just speak english or shut up.

    I was on tour last summer in the states for a period of six weeks. There were two anglophones and two francophones in the van (I was one of the anglos but I'm fluently bilingual). When we drove through Wisconsin, upon seeing all of the massive water-slides by the motels, the francophnes in the truck started the tired old "fucking Americans and their excesses" tirade. At that very instant I was reading about the history of Wisconsin and how it was the birthplace of the Barnum & Bailey's circus, how this history affects the entire state. Everything is larger than life in Wisconsin.

    Angrily, I turned around, used many expletives, and eventually got them to shut up already.

    Stop watching television. Stop relying on media outlets (yes, that means the internet as well) as a substitute to actually leaving your home and going elsewhere. Get out there and see for yourself what's going on. Make the effort and decide to form your own opinions and thoughts.

    biased opinions inevitable? (none / 1) (#143)
    by VasyaPoup on Tue Jul 29, 2003 at 06:19:27 AM EST

    The situation you very well described in your article results originally from the readres/viewers lack of critical thinking and the basic abilities of telling truths from lies.

    Naturally, it is pleasant to see, that someone shares your opinion, however you shouldn't forget to check the information for consistency. In fact it is your own responsibility. It is as how you apply a CRC check on every TCP packet you receive.
    It is a primary information sanitation rules!

    It happens, however, if you apply these rules strictly you found that you cannot trust any major mass media agency. This is seen by many as an extremity. But this is not. You don't have to watch TV and have opinions on the matters you never had any chance to affect.

    Now, you tell a lot about people having different biased opinions and not about people who acknowledge that they don't have any opinion on particular matter or that their opinion lacks sufficient support. In fact you meet the latter type of guys even among the common people, let alone scientists! :)

    So, the biased opinions aren't everywhere, and the lack of opinion doesn't mean you don't participate in the matter.

    The other point, that I'd like to emphasize, because it got somewhat clouded by the stuff like "identity crisis" in the article, is that people being sufficient time in other cultures are indeed superior in some sence to common people. We are yet imperfect in terms of this opinion stuff, so the hard reality in the face is almost always for good no matter how smart and unbiased you seemed to youself. :)

    Critical Thinking (none / 1) (#145)
    by kaffiene on Tue Jul 29, 2003 at 10:52:23 PM EST

    While I agree with the sentiment that travel or living in another country broadens your point of view, I'm not sure that this is enough to generate a generation of smart information users.

    I believe that we need more focus on critical thinking in schools.  Just teaching the basics of philosophy would do the trick. Knowing what is logically valid and what is not is useful, but also in the course of learning philisophy ones confronts many clever and subtle falicies and argument techniques.  Being able to spot these techniques in action helps cut through a lot of bullshit fairly quickly.

    Being able to tell whether a view is justified or not (and how strongly or weakly that might be) is the first step to being able to interpret information in a critical, constructive fashion.

    For example: when the debate shifts to terms like "old Europe" and "surrender monkeys" you know that
    this is not a debate at all but just so much emotive smoke and mirrors.  I'm sure you dont need to do philosophy to recognise bullshit when you hear it... but then given the kind of rubbish people believe, it cannot hurt :o) (e.g. polls showing that a sizeable number of Americans think that Iraqis were involved in 9/11 and that WMD have been found in Iraq)

    not nt (none / 1) (#150)
    by Kragg on Sun Aug 03, 2003 at 09:12:21 PM EST

    to summarise, you're saying that the media says different things in different places because the people there want to hear certain things. people read those things because that's what they want to hear. unless of course they go somewhere else, in which case what they want to hear changes and so they start reading different things and enjoying the handily biased local media. oh, and it's getting worse.

    i think you may be missing the short-circuit in your logic - what causes them to change their views when they move.

    the media is very influential, and currently mainstream acceptance of ideals tends to come from the efforts of large rich bodies propagating them via tv or the web. media affects ideas. we know this. what people think is affected by what they read. it's called propaganda.

    'what has to change?' was your question. so we know propaganda exists in reporting. people read it and feel and act in a certain way and the world carries on. some things change and some things stay the same. arguably no problem.

    the problem is who controls the propaganda. the popular broadcast media - tv and radio, and big commercially owned websites - is the guidance for the way people act, and it is currently held largely by rich companies and individuals who have their own agendas. i would rather the agendas in our media were different ones - ones based on aims of societorial improvement and enlightenment without the parasitic (if currently necessity) aim of maintaining the status of the controlling individuals. I don't like that agenda, and would like to do away with it. this is the problem. i believe this to be the cause of a lot of the twisting that goes on in the media which 'changes our reality'.

    so that's one thing that i think needs to change. an increasing number of free sources is a good thing. ideas being tossed about and debated and shared is a good thing. making it easier to find good alternative view points is good. not having opinions being squashed because they disagree with the survival of the provider is good. increased accountability of the establishment is good.

    material being published from every perspective on everything is how society decides what it likes in the long term. the less controls are placed on who writes, and what people accept, the better. what we need to do is create a survival of the fittest arena for social and political ideas, and even for history. let's see if we can't benefit more from the fact that there are lots of people having first-hand experiences in different places, who we could listen to in preference to our current politicians and media moguls.

    the technology is here, or pretty close. we just need the content to get better - more readable and better informed, and establish our own means for deciding what's true as a group without some people having undeserved influence over what we think is true.

    lets all hold hands, open our eyes and make it better.
    --
    "How can one learn to know oneself? Never by introspection, rather by action. Try to do your duty, and you will know right away what you are like." -- Goethe, Willhelm Meister's Travels.

    Don't limit the cause (none / 0) (#152)
    by Brandybuck on Sun Oct 05, 2003 at 09:29:43 PM EST

    the popular broadcast media - tv and radio, and big commercially owned websites

    Don't leave out the small non-commercial websites like Kuro5hin and Slashdot! They're just as opinion altering as the large commercial sites. It takes nerves of steel to go against the crowd here. One false unapproved opinion and you will be slammed down hard.

    Kur05hin isn't as bad as Slashdot, but it's still a long ways away from the utopia of intelligent and objective discourse.

    [ Parent ]

    agreed (none / 0) (#156)
    by Kragg on Tue Dec 02, 2003 at 10:42:43 AM EST

    i actually think k5 is a holy hell of a lot better than slashdot - your opinion may be ridiculed, but at least there's a fair chance that it'll be seen, whereas on slashdot, you can't find anything but the bot opinion because there's just so damn MUCH of it.

    I guess the contrast I was trying to draw was between commercial sites with rich-owner agendas (a la murdoch etc) vs the blog-style free-publish mentality. k5 and community sites are a strange middle-ground, but the independently maintained sites are where I think we ought to see real value - not because of lack of bias (that'll never happen), but because of diversity of bias.

    Sorry about the delayed reply. One of these days I might just subscribe...
    --
    "How can one learn to know oneself? Never by introspection, rather by action. Try to do your duty, and you will know right away what you are like." -- Goethe, Willhelm Meister's Travels.
    [ Parent ]

    Deja Vu (none / 3) (#151)
    by Brandybuck on Sun Oct 05, 2003 at 09:20:40 PM EST

    A common phrase like "You have changed a lot, you don't seem to be one of us any more" by old friends from an immigrant's former homeland proves the reality of an immigrant's change of cultural bias and sense of reality best.

    My company recently "offshored" its core software development to Bangalore, India. Layoffs for domestic developers were widespread. Five of those laid off in my building were originally from India. Rather than be unemployed and have their visa status return them to India unemployed, they decided to apply at the Bangalore group being set up. This Bangalore group was a part of this company, and not a separate contractor.

    Nonetheless, not one of our "domestic" Indian workers was hired by the new Indian group. Some of these people had ten years of experience in a very specialized field. All had exellent reviews for the duration of their domestic employment. All were willing to go "back home" for the lower wages which were still substantial for the location. But the Indian group rejected them all in favor of inexperienced applicants.

    The official explanation from the India group was that none of these people were qualified. But a back door relationship with someone over there revealed that the Indian management feared that these people had been in the US too long and were "tainted". The concern was very real that "You have changed a lot, you don't seem to be one of us any more".

    Right on the spot (none / 1) (#154)
    by elpapa on Fri Nov 21, 2003 at 09:46:59 AM EST

    Very interesting, because I think  your company behavior show enormous technical nonsense and the
    source of that nonsense at the same time.

    While I think that (and many will agree with me) your group of experienced indian workers was a very valuable human resource because of both  their technical experience and human experience within the company , apparently the indian side of management tought that they were less exploitable when compared to their never-been-abroad workers.

    They're right from their point of view because a seasoned worker that has seen a little bit of world is less gullible then a local worker, so he's less easily exploitable ; but they're also deadly wrong from an economic point of view because they're trading experienced workers for less experienced workers and on software this is a no-no solution , as in many jobs that become more productive with experience.

    It's quite a show of blind exploitation management, which appears to be a routinely repeated error in managing resources.

    [ Parent ]

    Works from the Human Resource perspective (none / 0) (#155)
    by error 404 on Tue Nov 25, 2003 at 12:38:09 PM EST

    The idea of outsourcing labor to India is cheap labor. Period.

    Labor as a commodity, interchangable, no "brand preference."

    Even without the cultural reprogramming, the extra technical skills and knowledge of the company make those people a liability. They could become hard to replace.

    When you are using a commodity product, uniformity is the definition of quality. You don't want, for example, to go to the gas station and buy a tank of excellent fuel, you don't want a masterpiece of the refining arts, you want exactly the same every time. When HR contracts for a unit of labor, they don't want excellence, they want modularity.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    This is a bit personal for me - I just managed to get a job after two years of interviews that always came down to overqualification (except for one where somebody walked in on the interview in mid-question and informed me that there wasn't really an opening and the interview was unauthorized). Bitter? Moi?

    The company where I work now is too small to have an HR department.


    ..................................
    Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
    - Donovan

    [ Parent ]

    hmm (none / 0) (#157)
    by Ksec on Tue Feb 10, 2004 at 12:46:00 PM EST

    Media's power was evident in the 2000 election when they constantly bashed Gore while revering Bush. They alone, won the Presidency for Bush. This power is being abused . Corporate power over Media slant is very real and dangerous.

    Reading What Best Matches Your Bias | 158 comments (114 topical, 44 editorial, 0 hidden)
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