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Memories of the 28th Century

Why Do They Believe?

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Once again I was thinking about propaganda and why people believe it, so I did a little searching to see what others might think of the matter. It appears that a major problem is that it is difficult to tell the difference between real news and fake news. Both real and fake news assert things and provide alleged witnesses and sometimes expert opinions. I suspect that another component is whether the news fits what the reader wants to find out.

In political news the desires of the consumers are very important, because many people wonít even bother reading looking at stories that donít support their beliefs to some degree. The thing about the place of birth of Barak Obama is an example of that. Some people just want to see and believe anything that put down Obama, and the things that asserted that he hadnít been born in the U.S.A. fit wonderfully. The stories didnít need any depth, and people could just accept them. Trump plays the same game with some of his lies. Providing the appearance of accuracy is important in many fake news stories, and the logical fallacy of appeal to authority is perfectly suited for that.

Trump is president of the U.S.A., so he should be telling the truth; he should be the authority, but he isnít an authority. If he had put all of his money into a stock index fund thirty years ago, then he would be considerably wealthier than he claims to be now (see link below or search for more answers). Exactly how much wealthier he would be depends on timing and other factors. This is to emphasize that accepting that someone is an authority isnít just a matter of believing that person. Even people who look like they should be authorities on a subject may not be.

Among those who should be examined carefully are scientists. Many peer reviewed scientific papers turn out to have false data, see links below. This is something that I didnít have trouble finding information on, and I certainly didnít have to make it up. What is presented as science is often only what the researcher wants to be true, but it is presented as science to sully the appearance of accurate facts. Unfortunately, most people do not look at multiple sources to back up what they see as facts in a magazine or TV piece. One area where this is especially true is in the matter of climate change. Most of the scientists who publish in that discipline seem not to have bothered to check the basic facts; they just piggyback their articles without establishing there that the work of others before them was accurate.

Then there are real news stories about Trump calling real news fake news, but Trump isnít authoritative, so he shouldnít be believed. The current White House crew is less reliable than even the Nixon White House was, and that is sad.

What can a reader do? Not much, because most sources are tainted in some way, so everyone has to research everything and hope that he finds good sources and recognizes them as such. It would be nice if we all had good sources of facts, but we don't, and sometimes facts that we think we should be able to believe turn out to be the false items. We have no choice except to work with the information we have.

One tool that many propagandists use is to make those who do not accept the propaganda seem inferior. In addition to simply distancing themselves from non-believers, the non-believers are painted as wrong, unscientific, doubting reality, and a variety of other things. Those of us who are skeptical consider it a sign of success to be condemned by propagandists.

I would like to be able to make general recommendations about eliminating propagandists, but they are very much a part of the information that is out there, and it looks like most people need training in detecting fake facts. Even the scientists who should fight against such falsehoods more than others busily make up data.

Does anyone else have any ideas?

Trump should have indexed

Fake data

Believe It Or Not, Most Published Research Findings Are Probably False

Fake Data Prompts Major Journals to Retract Chemistry Papers

Updated 04-29-2017 at 07:13 PM by PeterL



  1. Magnocrat's Avatar
    An excellent honest and down to earth assessment.