Friday 5 January 2024

Received Ideas: Skepticism 38

We should be skeptical about those "facts" and stories that "everybody knows".

We are the inheritors of so much inaccurate information and manipulated history. It conditions all areas of our lives, from personal interaction, to how we engage locally, nationally and globally. I’m constantly checking my assumptions, the sources of information and intent behind it.  
(Historian @DrJaninaRamirez)

On observation of many decades, those who espouse one prejudice endorse or are tacit about many. Same with conspiracies and pseudo-science, and indeed across all three. Go to war on 15-minute cities, you're in the triangle. (@rupertg)

A tutor once told me that we didn't have to be right, we just had to formulate a compelling argument. I immediately knew he was wrong. Scholars have to pursue truth, not chase fashions and concoct arguments out of thin air. (@jj_mcgovern)

Humans have a large store of beliefs that override almost any instruction, and these are generally neither made explicit nor questioned. (G.N.N. Martin)

Non-verbal communication is a booming field – not just for research, but for authors, presenters and businesses making money out of offering advice and training on everything from how to read a celebrity’s body language to the ‘tells’ that will reveal if a courtroom defendant is lying. But there’s a problem with all this, write Miles Patterson, Alan Fridlund and Carlos Crivelli, in a new paper in Perspectives in Psychological Science: the field of non-verbal communication is plagued with persistent misconceptions and incorrect ‘truths’. ‘These “truths” have taken on mythlike status as a kind of received wisdom impervious to evidence, so that they endure as pseudoscience,’ the team writes. And when they are used to guide the reasoning of jurors, employers, law enforcement agencies and romantic partners, not to mention researchers, they have the potential to be very damaging indeed. (The Psychologist)

has been around since 1795. Its inclusion in the dictionary is not a sign of the English language falling to pieces, or proof of the educational system failing, nor is it the work of cursed millennials. It just means a lot of people use it to mean "regardless." 

I studied anthropology for a year. Apparently, some jungle tribes don't have many words for colors because everything around them is green. Everyone has a word for red though, because of blood. I have no idea if this is true, I suspect a lot of anthropology is made up. (@madameask)

A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth. Authoritarian institutions and marketers have always known this fact. (Daniel Kahneman)

We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false. (William J. Casey, CIA Director, 1981)

Microchips aren’t in Covid vaccines. The government isn’t coming for your guns. The border isn’t wide open. The elections weren't rigged. Biden isn’t a communist. (@SaltyProfessor)

Nothing is achieved by going to a polling station simply to spoil your ballot. I assume people do it as a kind of protest, hoping it will upset or inconvenience someone. What they think that might achieve I don't know. In reality nobody cares that you drew stupid squiggles or wrote something offensive on your paper. If you don't like any of the candidates offered then don't vote. You might consider standing yourself next time. (Chris Blunt is the voice of reason.)

The courts have ruled time and time again (at least, here in the United States anyway) that when it comes to signatures, it is the intent that matters not what is put on the paper. This is also why documents signed electronically are still legally enforceable. (James Boroznoff responding to the frequently raised question “Now schools don’t teach cursive any more how are people going to sign their name to a legal document?”)

I get really tired of ridiculously rich and famous women claiming <insert accessible routine> is the secret to their youthful appearance. EVERYONE in Hollywood has had plastic surgery and has access to the best skin care and aestheticians. It's disingenuous to claim otherwise. (@squirrely_gig)

More here, and links to the rest.
It's all in my book What You Know that Ain't So.

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