We all sorta thought

A thing I wrote today, about Trump and Brexit and “post-truth” and “alternative facts” and helplessness, because I’ve had this conversation separately three times today.

this is the thing. We all sorta thought (and by “we” I mean everyone from us here right back to, I dunno, Newton and Boyle) that if we provided inductive or deductive proof of a thing, that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. But people who don’t want that to happen have learned that attacking the evidence doesn’t work — it took them a few hundred years to learn that, but they did — but dismissing the whole idea as illegitimate does work. And we don’t know how to argue against that. I say two and two are four; you disagree; I say “no look here’s the proof”; you say “your methods of proof are wrong and biased”; and then I’m all, er, I don’t know what to say now, you were meant to be convinced by the proof.

more importantly: a third party, looking at that conversation, goes away thinking “well, is 2+2 equal to 4? Don’t know; there seem to be two sides to that argument”, or worse, “man, I just don’t care what 2+2 is because every time I try to find out there’s just loads of shouting, so I’ll stop asking”.

and thus, modern politics. Gaslighting and obfuscation, designed to make people believe that facts are disputable and that engagement is confusing and annoying.

(Of course, part of the problem here is that our side have a habit of declaring things to be an actual fact when they’re really “what we want to believe”, and once one’s cried wolf that way a few times, one’s credibility is gone and it’s really hard to get back. It’s not all the other side’s fault.)

Normally I wouldn’t re-post such a thing, but of course this conversation happened on Slack, which means that six months from now I won’t be able to link to this because it’ll be over 10,000 messages ago and Slack will be holding it to ransom until we pay money, and five years from now I won’t be able to link to it because Slack will have gone bust or have been sold to someone and shut down.

More in the discussion (powered by webmentions)

  • Jeremy Walker responded at twitter.com We all sorta thought that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. Modern politics. kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Alan Bell responded at twitter.com there are four lights
  • Tobias Goeschel responded at twitter.com We all sorta thought that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. Modern politics. kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Jeremy Walker responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Daniel Foré responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com I have not yet won the victory over myself
  • Merter BOZKUŞ responded at twitter.com "...to make people believe that facts are disputable and that engagement is confusing and annoying." kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Birmingham.IO responded at twitter.com Stuart Langridge: We all sorta thought by @sil buff.ly/2k2bZ1I #PlanetBirmingham
  • Thomas Meehan responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Michał Prędotka responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Andrew Spencer responded at tag:twitter.... (twitter.com)
  • Chris Taylor responded at twitter.com We all sorta thought that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. Modern politics. kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Masoud Abkenar (‫امیرمسعود پورموسی‬‎) responded at plus.google.com Post-truth! holy crap...
  • David Cooper responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Masoud Abkenar (‫امیرمسعود پورموسی‬‎) responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Graham Binns responded at twitter.com Here's @sil brining the wisdom about both politics and Slack. kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Oliver Grawert (ogra) responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Keith Milner responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Joe Sneddon responded at twitter.com Love this on #PostTruth and #AlternativeFacts by @Sil — We all sorta thought: kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Shaun Hills responded at twitter.com We all sorta thought that everyone else would say “oh yeah, I’m convinced now!” and that’d be it. Modern politics. kryogenix.org/days/2017/01/2…
  • Jan Moren responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Stephen Smoogen responded at twitter.com Good post, I remember when I realized it too. I saw two physicists get in a fist fight over string theory proofs. Humans can be weird.
  • Andy Wootton responded at twitter.com About a year ago I found out science is process + facts. 'Facts' are only the mutable state of the current science process; a state vector.
  • S. Wilson responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Christopher Adam Lessley responded at plus.google.com Yes, another form of sophistry like the good old days when men wore hoplons instead of man buns.
  • Eric Beyer responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Gavin Panella responded at tag:plus.goo... (plus.google.com)
  • Paul Tansom responded at plus.google.com Anyone know what the bookies odds are for Trump forming a US Ministry of Truth? I thought I'd got past the worst of this sort of thing at school when…
  • Keith Milner responded at plus.google.com Some people want to "be right" at any cost.In fact the worst are the ones who claim they are happy to be proven wrong. Do a little digging and they us…
  • F. Okoye responded at twitter.com This is why I focus on the social drivers tbh (esp. as someone equally susceptible to the joy of being the annoying dissident lol) - that and follow t…
  • Stuart Langridge responded at twitter.com That sounds like a great approach. I’m sorta lost about how to do this, so any tips you have are gratefully accepted!
  • F. Okoye responded at twitter.com Honestly? It's bloody time consuming because basically you're proving by contradiction from first principles. I don't judge folks who say "oh I don't…
  • Richard Cunningham responded at twitter.com All this stuff reminds me of a Simpsons episode “Trash of the Titans”, where Homer is elected on a populist message and he completely fails to meet hi…
  • Richard Cunningham responded at twitter.com
  • Robert Barat 🌹 responded at twitter.com
  • Rodney responded at twitter.com o/~ i say one and one makes three, 'cause i'm a cult of personality o/~
  • Alex Russell responded at twitter.com
  • Peter Cannon responded at plus.google.com Just read +Stuart Langridge's blog post. While not wanting to be tarred and feathered by the "Believe factual evidence you cretin" brigade I would lik…