Social Media Doomed to Fail

Consider for a moment the following headlines.

Now read Twitter's official policy position.

If the hypocrisy and cruel irony escapes you, it may be wise to check the news more often.

Facebook and Twitter have recently banned a variety of voices, including that of President Donald I. Trump, from their platforms. They claim falsely that the President actually invited the violence that occurred at the Capitol last Wednesday. He certainly did not help, but it's a major leap to accuse him of giving the criminal trespassers on the Capitol actual marching orders. To arrive at that level of blame, we must also hold a variety of politicians to blame for the riots in a variety of cities throughout the year 2020.

Then as a result, Apple, Google, and Amazon decided to pile onto the virtue signaling censorship movement and shut down Parler, the open social media competition. The violence at the Capitol gave all these players the pretense to silence their political enemies, and the results in Georgia assured them that nobody in Washington would hold them accountable. All impediments to their fascist rage against the right being removed, they acted swiftly.

But apparently the global policy boys at Twitter object to the same thing happening to their users as a consequence of the actions taken by a totalitarian regime in Uganda. How ironic. The Twitter pot seem to be calling the Twitter kettle black. 

I'll copy a comment I made in reply to a comment made on another post:

If we can't tolerate speech with which we disagree, we can't have freedom of speech. In high school, at the height of the cold war, our American Studies teacher asked if we were willing to allow the Communist Party to operate as a political party in the U.S. I was the only one who raised my hand. My classmates booed. My teacher chided them and gave me a guaranteed A.

If we begin to stifle speech because we fear it, rather than countering it with persuasion, we will produce a violent and unpredictable response from radicals who have been shut up rather than simply beaten on a fair and open playing field of ideas.

Will the rash actions of social media and other big tech players have unintended consequences? I think that is certain. Have they signed their own roadmap to decline and failure? Time will tell. Freedom will ring. Freedom will prosper. History is clear. Those who suppress the voices of millions are doomed to eventual failure. 



How to Find Truth on the Web

Here's a few things I do. They are not fool proof and I don't always follow my own advice, so take them for whatever value you find in them.

1. Find at least two sources from left leaning media and two from right leaning media. I have my favorites on both sides. 

2. Try to find original content rather than a simple duplicate copy of an AP story or two sources with nearly identical copy. There is a lot of intellectual plagiarism out there.

3. Ignore the headlines and pull quotes (the enlarged quotes of the article). These are designed only to get clicks and lead you to a biased conclusion.

4. Ignore opinions and conclusions. Anything that characterizes the facts or statements of people quoted in the story is not journalism; it's activism, designed to mislead.

5. Look for details that are common between the ideologically opposed sources. These are often truths. 

6. Look for details included in one side and excluded in the other. You won't immediately know if these are true. Often they lack complete context and are included in the way that they are in order to support the characterizations being made by the writer or editorial staff.

7. Assume that there is always more to the story than meets the eye.

8. Take photographic and video evidence with a grain of salt. It is altogether too easy to edit these and remove context that contradicts the slanted narrative. I've been caught by this more than once. We want to believe what we see and hear. This is where we are all most easily manipulated.

9. Assume that all media sources have an angle, a narrative, that they are pushing. 

10. Watch for stories that are covered only by one side. Ask yourself why. Dig for multiple sources. Often when a story hurts the narrative, the story is still covered but it's buried under a bland headline designed to avoid clicks.

11. Use more than one search engine. Every search algorithm has bias built in. Mostly that bias leans left, so you may need to dig deep to find opposing coverage from the right, but you will find it.

12. Distrust bloggers, podcasters, straight up opinion talking heads, and so-called independent fact check sites. Listen to them but do not believe everything they say. Research whatever they say using the steps above.

Again, this is not foolproof, but it does help me.

Computer Models – Magical Scripture of the Climate Change Disciples

I’ve not used this blog for politics in the past, but I’m going to start making some exceptions where I think there is a technology tie-in. George Will’s piece on the Copenhagen summit was very interesting. I recommend that you read it. I am not a climatologist but I am a skeptic of all science based on computer models, especially models that cannot accurately predict the present observable state of a system.

The recently hacked emails of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) in Britain reveal a pattern of behavior that would be more consistent with the corrupt leaders of a cult whose proclaimed tomes of divinely inspired scripture cannot withstand scrutiny should certain facts be revealed. In the minds of the true believing disciples or the corrupt leadership of the cult, the ends justify the means. And truth is not a consideration.  

The software models and data upon which all climate change disciples rely are written by flawed human beings. Whether a software engineer expertly writes the software to implement his best understanding of the requirements of the scientist or the real scientist writes the software with a less than perfect knowledge of software engineering and design, the outcome is the same. (Hey, not even a PhD can know everything.) All software is flawed. It is the nature of our art.

Can computer models be a good thing? Sure. Especially when they work. Can they be a bad thing? Well, consider that a climate model must model the entire earth and its atmosphere. That’s a few million data points (colossal understatement). These models must have historical data. And there’s the rub. It’s not there. Not really. So we extrapolate the data using tree cores and ice cores and, wait for it, more computer models.

Any software engineer knows that such a model will be inherently complex and that complex systems are inherently flawed and that very complex systems are inherently very flawed. No software engineer will declare her (or his) faith in such a model or its output, but more importantly, they would never bet a week’s salary on it’s accuracy without full testing and confirmation against known observable data and repeatable tests. Yet, we are preparing to bet trillions of tax payer dollars on these flawed models. “Hey, Sam, keep your hands out of my pocket!”

The problem we have is that scientists have put their faith in software models and data produced by software models as the magical source of all truth and knowledge. They are either the corrupt leaders of a cult (see the CRU emails) or its blind disciples insisting on the truth of their models even when observable facts contradict and invalidate those assertions.

The climate change models and extrapolated data have become scripture. The scientists who preach daily from the pages of that holy writ are held in prophetic awe and reverence by the ignorant masses of well intentioned politicians and citizens of the earth. Except for software engineers and the “deniers” of course.

So back to the question. Can computer models be a bad thing? Yes, when the ignorant or the corrupt use them as an unquestionable, magical affirmation of their own political agenda or emotional response to the idea that man is killing the planet and that unless we do something about it, we will all die. Well nobody wants that.

Oddly, we ridicule and persecute religious nuts who do the same thing. I guess they just weren’t smart enough to get a PhD and call themselves scientists rather than prophets. Stupid nuts.