🎧 George Lakoff on How Trump uses words to con the public | Reliable Sources podcast

Listened to George Lakoff on how Trump uses words to con the public by Brian Stelter from Reliable Sources | CNN

President Donald Trump has "turned words into weapons" -- and journalists are providing additional ammunition.

That's according to Trump critic George Lakoff, a renowned linguist and professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. Lakoff wrote in a recent article for the Guardian that the president manipulates language to control the public narrative. The press, he said, functions as a sort of "marketing agency for [Trump's] ideas" by repeating his claims, even when trying to fact-check or debunk his statements.

"By faithfully transmitting Trump's words and ideas, the press helps him to attack, and thereby control, the press itself," he writes.

As the guest on this week's Reliable Sources podcast, Lakoff spoke to Brian Stelter about Trump's linguistic frames, what the press should do differently, and why journalists need to tackle Trump's words like a "truth sandwich."

👓 Anomie | Wikipedia

Read Anomie (Wikipedia)

Anomie (/ˈænəˌmi/) is a "condition in which society provides little moral guidance to individuals". It is the breakdown of social bonds between an individual and the community, e.g., under unruly scenarios resulting in fragmentation of social identity and rejection of self-regulatory values.

The term is commonly understood to mean normlessness, and believed to have been popularized by French sociologist Émile Durkheim in his influential book Suicide (1897). However, Durkheim first introduces the concept of anomie in his 1893 work 'The Division of Labour In Society.' Durkheim never used the term normlessness; rather, he described anomie as "derangement", and "an insatiable will". Durkheim used the term "the malady of the infinite" because desire without limit can never be fulfilled; it only becomes more intense.

👓 Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound | Maryanne Wolf | The Guardian

Read Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound by Maryanne Wolf (the Guardian)
When the reading brain skims texts, we don’t have time to grasp complexity, to understand another’s feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age writes Maryanne Wolf, author of Reader, Come Home

👓 ‘We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things’ | The Atlantic

Read ‘We Are All Accumulating Mountains of Things’ (The Atlantic)
How online shopping and cheap prices are turning Americans into hoarders

The irony of reading this given the material I’ve been reading about materialism and minimalism lately. I think that just today I threw out about 50 pounds of old junk I didn’t need and have piles of old, well-used things that have gone past their useful lives to me.

People keep fettering while I’m always unfettering….

Following Julia Strand

Followed Julia Strand (juliastrand.com)

Julia Strand is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Carleton College.  She holds a B.A. in Psychology & English from Tufts University, an M.A. and PhD. from Washington University in St. Louis, program Brain, Behavior, & Cognition, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Laboratory of Sensory Neuroscience and Neuroengineering, Department of Biomedical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis.

She teaches courses including Introduction to Psychology, the Psychology of Spoken Words, Sensation & Perception, and Perceptual & Cognitive Expertise. Her research focuses on how humans are able to turn sensory information about speech into meaningful representations. Topics of research include how cognitive abilities influence language perception, what traits of words promote easy recognition, how word recognition abilities change with age, and how visual information (seeing the talker) influences language processing.

Julia Strand

Reply to Greg McVerry on Memes as Lazy Metaphors

Replied to Memes as Lazy Metaphors by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (jgregorymcverry.com)
You could choose any picture in the world to represent you and you chose a meme… Day One We started off our #dailyponderances in thinking visually. Each person was asked to post a picture that represented how you felt. The funny memes flooded in I laughed, but I also grasped how frustrated...

As I’ve been reflecting on this further, it does dawn on me that on day one or two of the course many of us had probably just read the Schedule of Assignments/Workflow page of the course site, which also carries the title How The Sausage is Made.

Perhaps we all went to meme-speak because you had subtly primed us to go there? You could try a nice experiment when you teach this course again…

 

 

👓 If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? | Harvard Business Review

Read If You Say Something Is “Likely,” How Likely Do People Think It Is? (Harvard Business Review)
Why you should use percentages, not words, to express probabilities.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Phil Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, who has studied forecasting in depth, suggests that “vague verbiage gives you political safety.”  

This result is consistent with analysis by the data science team at Quora, a site where users ask and answer questions. That team found that women use uncertain words and phrases more often than men do, even when they are just as confident.  

A large literature shows that we tend to be overconfident in our judgments.  

The best forecasters make lots of precise forecasts and keep track of their performance with a metric such as a Brier score.  

👓 The Marshmallow Test: What Does It Really Measure? | The Atlantic

Read Why Rich Kids Are So Good at the Marshmallow Test (The Atlantic)
Affluence—not willpower—seems to be what’s behind some kids' capacity to delay gratification.

I think I’ve read about the Marshmallow Test about 10 times in the past year and in no source did it manage to mention the miniscule or highly biased sample of the original study.

🔖 Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier

Bookmarked Ten Arguments For Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now by Jaron Lanier (Henry Holt and Co.)

You might have trouble imagining life without your social media accounts, but virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier insists that we’re better off without them. In Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now, Lanier, who participates in no social media, offers powerful and personal reasons for all of us to leave these dangerous online platforms.

Lanier’s reasons for freeing ourselves from social media’s poisonous grip include its tendency to bring out the worst in us, to make politics terrifying, to trick us with illusions of popularity and success, to twist our relationship with the truth, to disconnect us from other people even as we are more “connected” than ever, to rob us of our free will with relentless targeted ads. How can we remain autonomous in a world where we are under continual surveillance and are constantly being prodded by algorithms run by some of the richest corporations in history that have no way of making money other than being paid to manipulate our behavior? How could the benefits of social media possibly outweigh the catastrophic losses to our personal dignity, happiness, and freedom? Lanier remains a tech optimist, so while demonstrating the evil that rules social media business models today, he also envisions a humanistic setting for social networking that can direct us toward a richer and fuller way of living and connecting with our world.

This looks like an interesting book to read for some related IndieWeb research. Perhaps something Greg McVerry could use in his proposed talk?

👓 Power Causes Brain Damage | The Atlantic

Read Power Causes Brain Damage (The Atlantic)
How leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise

This is an impressive thesis and area for research. I’m impressed with their restraint in not making a single mention of Donald Trump here who would be a sterling example, particularly given his background, bullying behavior, and complete lack of any empathy.

🎧 Bonus: Malcolm Gladwell debates Adam Grant | Revisionist History

Listened to Bonus: Malcolm Gladwell debates Adam Grant by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

In a special live taping at the 92nd Street Y in New York, Malcolm talks with WorkLife’s Adam Grant about how to avoid doing highly undesirable tasks, what makes an idea interesting, and why Malcolm thinks we shouldn't root for the underdog.

While there was a great conversation here, I was most struck by the incredibly well done and specific nature of the way Gladwell did the embedded advertisement in this episode.

👓 Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult | C Thi Nguyen | Aeon Essays

Read Why it’s as hard to escape an echo chamber as it is to flee a cult by C Thi Nguyen (Aeon)

First you don’t hear other views. Then you can’t trust them. Your personal information network entraps you just like a cult

Something has gone wrong with the flow of information. It’s not just that different people are drawing subtly different conclusions from the same evidence. It seems like different intellectual communities no longer share basic foundational beliefs. Maybe nobody cares about the truth anymore, as some have started to worry. Maybe political allegiance has replaced basic reasoning skills. Maybe we’ve all become trapped in echo chambers of our own making – wrapping ourselves in an intellectually impenetrable layer of likeminded friends and web pages and social media feeds.

But there are two very different phenomena at play here, each of which subvert the flow of information in very distinct ways. Let’s call them echo chambers and epistemic bubbles. Both are social structures that systematically exclude sources of information. Both exaggerate their members’ confidence in their beliefs. But they work in entirely different ways, and they require very different modes of intervention. An epistemic bubble is when you don’t hear people from the other side. An echo chamber is what happens when you don’t trust people from the other side.

A stunning essay that gives me hope that we’re not in a “post-truth” world. On the other hand, we’re going to need to do a lot of work …

hat tip: Ian O’Byrne

🔖 Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China | Science Advances

Bookmarked Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China by Thomas Talhelm, Xuemin Zhang and Shigehiro Oishi (Science Advances)
Traditional paddy rice farmers had to share labor and coordinate irrigation in a way that most wheat farmers did not. We observed people in everyday life to test whether these agricultural legacies gave rice-farming southern China a more interdependent culture and wheat-farming northern China a more independent culture. In Study 1, we counted 8964 people sitting in cafes in six cities and found that people in northern China were more likely to be sitting alone. In Study 2, we moved chairs together in Starbucks across the country so that they were partially blocking the aisle ( n = 678). People in northern China were more likely to move the chair out of the way, which is consistent with findings that people in individualistic cultures are more likely to try to control the environment. People in southern China were more likely to adjust the self to the environment by squeezing through the chairs. Even in China’s most modern cities, rice-wheat differences live on in everyday life.

👓 How School Shootings Spread | New Yorker

Read How School Shootings Spread by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell (The New Yorker)
An increasingly ritualized form of violence is attracting unexpected perpetrators.

An intriguing article whose theory seems both applicable and timely. It also seems extensible to additional areas, some of which I’ve noted in my annotations.

Highlights, Quotes, & Marginalia

Most previous explanations had focussed on explaining how someone’s beliefs might be altered in the moment.

Knowing a little of what is coming in advance here, I can’t help but thinking: How can this riot theory potentially be used to influence politics and/or political campaigns? It could be particularly effective to get people “riled up” just before a particular election to create a political riot of sorts and thereby influence the outcome. Facebook has done several social experiments with elections in showing that their friends and family voted and thereby affecting other potential voters. When done in a way that targets people of particular political beliefs to increase turn out, one is given a means of drastically influencing elections. In some sense, this is an example of this “Riot Theory”.


“But group interaction was such that none could admit this without loss of status; in our terms, their threshold for stealing cars is low because daring masculine acts bring status, and reluctance to join, once others have, carries the high cost of being labeled a sissy.” You can’t just look at an individual’s norms and motives. You need to look at the group.

This might also be the same case with fraternity shenanigans and even more deplorable actions like gang rapes. Usually there’s one or more sociopaths that start the movement, and then others reluctantly join in.


If a riot evolves as it spreads, starting with the hotheaded rock thrower and ending with the upstanding citizen, then rioters are a profoundly heterogeneous group.


Granovetter’s model suggests that riots are sometimes more than spontaneous outbursts. If they evolve, it means they have depth and length and a history. Granovetter thought that the threshold hypothesis could be used to describe everything from elections to strikes, and even matters as prosaic as how people decide it’s time to leave a party.


The first seven major shooting cases—Loukaitis, Ramsey, Woodham, Carneal, Johnson and Golden, Wurst, and Kinkel—were disconnected and idiosyncratic.

Seven though? In such a short time period? These must have known about prior ones or else perhaps the theory doesn’t hold as much water. Similarly suicide could be added as a contagion that fits into this riot model as well.


That’s what Paton and Larkin mean: the effect of Harris and Klebold’s example was to make it possible for people with far higher thresholds—boys who would ordinarily never think of firing a weapon at their classmates—to join in the riot.


He disapproved of Adam Lanza, because he shot kindergartners at Sandy Hook instead of people his own age: “That’s just pathetic. Have some dignity, damn it.”

This model of a dialectic suggests that the narrative can be shaped, both by the individual reader and each actor. Can it also be shaped by the media? If these mass-murderers are portrayed as pathetic or deranged would that dissuade others from joining their ranks?
gandalf511 on Oct 13, 2015

gandalf511, I like the idea you’ve elaborated here, and it may work to at least some extent. One other hand, some of these kids are already iconoclasts who are marginalized and may not put much value or faith in a mainstream media representation. The tougher needle to thread is how to strike a middle ground that speaks to potential assailants?

👓 Pearson Embedded a ‘Social-Psychological’ Experiment in Students’ Educational Software | Gizmodo

Read Pearson Embedded a 'Social-Psychological' Experiment in Students' Educational Software [Updated] (Gizmodo)
Education and publishing giant Pearson is drawing criticism after using its software to experiment on over 9,000 math and computer science students across the country. In a paper presented Wednesday at the American Association of Educational Research, Pearson researchers revealed that they tested the effects of encouraging messages on students that used the MyLab Programming educational software during 2017's spring semester.