Thursday, February 4, 2016

Lies, Spindoctoring and Statistics

In a Heinlein book I ran across the 'art of the lie.' One of which is to to tell the truth in such a way that nobody believes you. (Tricky, but can be done -- I've seen sociopaths do it.) The other is to tell only part of the truth.

The last is really slick because it goes past just lying by omission.

First everything you say is verifiable. For example, black children do indeed constitute a high number of firearm homicides.

Second, the lying by omission part is the extra data you don't supply (e.g., that older gangmembers manipulate and use young kids because of lighter sentences, that the standards of 'children' can go up to 23, most of these homicides are directly involved in criminal activity). But as you will see, calling it a lie is ...well, not exactly right. 

Third, the supplied, but edited, information usually leads to an emotional and not rational specific conclusion. "POOR CHILDREN ARE BEING SLAUGHTERED!" If you have that other information that isn't the same conclusion you'll jump to -- that's why the data you're supplied is carefully edited.He’s not lying per se, but he is manipulating you to a desired conclusion. A conclusion that you ‘make.’

Fourth it creates a 'yes set.'

Super short version, after three yeses, it's harder to say no on the fourth point. Add to that, after three yeses we start to trust the person and stop checking/verifying the accuracy of what they are saying. So the small lies start at four, and the whoppers start coming in at eight.
Fifth, is confidence.

How's that for a left turn?

Realize that people WAY over estimate their ability to detect falsehood. A big part of this is they are looking for non-verbal cues that indicate unease, uncertainty (can I get away with this) and inner conflict. All of which are real common with young children lying to their parents. 

Yet when someone presents something that is true there's a certain body language that accompanies it. It's a form of confidence in the information and self. Try it yourself. Look in the mirror and say "The sun comes up in the East." Then say "The sun comes up in the south." You're conflicted by saying something you know isn't true. You can fake the confidence the second time, but the first time don't.

Here's the rub with lying by providing only half of the needed information. You don't have to fake it. You can say what you're saying with absolute conviction because it is -- partially at least -- true. If you can keep from thinking about those partials, you can be very, very convincing. Mostly because you've convinced yourself.

Sixth is it doesn't create cognitive dissonance.
The first four minutes of this clip convey some important concepts -- especially 'that satisfies' and 'allow something to be true.'

We have a lot of biases and heuristics that we use to make everyday decisions. And believe me, they are incredibly important for functioning (look at the persuasion clip again in this light). No BS, if we didn't you couldn't get through the day, starting with putting your shoes on. This ties back to the difference between knowledge and belief, which is too big to into right now, but is well worth looking into.

When we are supplied information we run it through these filters. Not just looking for BS, but also what we're going to do about it. If something doesn't gel with our beliefs it's going to be like large particulate matter in a screen. It gets hung up. But things we do agree with pass through like smoke -- unfiltered and with ease.

Now that's all a fancy way of saying if you believe something already, you're not going to spot either edited information or an outright lie about the subject. You're certainly not going to spot the Holland Tunnel sized holes in the logic. For example:
"Guns kill people! So they should be illegal!"
"Ummmm...the number of legally owned firearms used in homicides is statistically meaningless. The killers are already breaking the existing gun laws."
"That means we need stricter gun laws!"

Now if you've bought into the rhetoric of 'guns are evil' this makes perfect sense. If you haven't, "Wait...what?"

So another way of saying 'doesn't create cognitive dissonance' is it "It aligns with your pre-existing biases."

Seventh is operative conditioning.

Many people have heard the Hitler/Goebbels quote about 'tell a lie big enough' but have you heard the rest of the quote? Here it is:
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. 

The thing about this is, if you get beaten over the head enough times with an idea, you begin to give it credibility -- even if you don't buy it. Let me give you a few examples of completely made up concepts that we now take their validity for granted. Assault rifles, muscle memory, rape culture, instinctive flinch response, racism, religion and rights.

Do we actually know what those are? Seriously can ANYONE give a solid definition that is verifiable? Or is it a 'everyone knows what you're talking about?' Yet I can guarantee you we can argue over them. Man, all I have to say is any of those words and there's a fight. That we’re fighting over it, unconsciously acknowledges that we’ve accepted the validity of the concept -- even if we rabidly disagree with it.

We've been conditioned not to question the validity of the ideas -- but instead to fight over which one is right. If I can get you to stop questioning, and instead to buy into the a belief (pro or con) I've just secured my power base. That being done, you're way more susceptible to buying into the tailored information I'm feeding you after you've bought into 'the big lie.'

Eighth -- and finally -- get into the habit of asking "What aren't you telling me?"

I gotta tell you this is a barrel of laughs, especially the deer in the headlights look. In truth, though it's more for you to develop the habit of looking beyond the narrative. To look at the 'yes set' and ask, 'where's the spin?' To look at people who are feeding you carefully prepared information and ask 'what are you getting out of telling me this?

Basically asking "so what do you want me to do about this?" Including me doing nothing about what you're doing. (And believe me, THAT is a biggie.)

So right there is a list of things you can do to help you spot spindoctoring lies and statistics.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Kind Word And A Gun vs. Unarmed Rudeness

I originally posted a snarky comment over a link to “I’m tired of being kind to creepy men in order to be safe.” Yes, that is the title and the attitude. Here’s the link...

My snarky comment was:
~spitting on the floor~
Rude doesn't do shit against a predator. It hurts the innocent (and socially awkward). It provokes everyone else.
It's usually misused and abused by people who have nothing else except social scripts and demand that everyone else behave a certain way.
Or, as Eric Hoffer said: Rudeness is a weak man's imitation of strength.

Comment, comment, yada, yada, until I replied: Here's the thing way too many people believe they have a 'right' to walk around in their own Private Idaho and then get obnoxious when they are surprised out of it. Or if someone dares to break the rules.
The fact that the person is silly enough to behave that way has already sent out all kinds of messages -- especially to predators
And then someone, for whom English is a second language, asked me about why is it silly and if I was suggesting women stay home.
~Sigh~ It turns out explaining that is a can of worms.
We live in a unique period of human history. And by that I mean you can spend a lifetime looking at how our lives are different from our ancestors. Then how those differences influence out thinking, assumptions, beliefs, awareness, consciousness and finally behavior. We are not superior to our ancestors, but we do think differently.

I'm going to have to use an analogy here. I come from California (Los Angeles to be precise). That is earthquake country. I literally grew up knowing the stability of the earth was not reliable. There are certain 'habits’ you develop when the earth moves. This is why I had a subconscious glitch when I walked into homes elsewhere and very expensive, breakable things were placed right at the ledge of shelves, display cases and counter-tops. Many traveling Californians have to fight the urge to push these things back and away from the edge in places where there aren't earthquakes. People who haven't dealt with earthquakes think this is weird and rude ("Why are you adjusting my home decor?) But basically --unless you come from a place of earthquakes --you assume the earth is NOT going to move. Thinking otherwise is just stupid and paranoid.
What were the realities, dangers, limitations and solutions to issues that your ancestors not only lived with, but took for granted? You flip a switch and lights come on. How did you get light -- which also could burn down your home -- before electricity? Have you ever seen early electrical switches? Do you know how many people died during the early days of electricity turning on the lights before switch safety improved? Your ancestors HAD to pay attention when they were doing something a simple and mundane as turning on the lights.
Do you? I ask because there is an assumption of safety -- which is generally speaking true -- in modern society. Now what does that do to your mindset? Seriously, if you put on earbuds while on a train, during the rush hour commute, that's one thing. But wearing earbuds while walking through a crowd? Are you fuckin' nuts? Oh gee, you're on the subway at 2 am and wearing your earbuds. HELLLOOOOO!
There are times and places that you can 'zone out' safely and there are situations where your attention and brain cells better be on the clock. Even in this, our modern and safe world. And yet, many people have developed the idea that they exist in an isolation bubble. A bubble that is in effect any place, any time. It has in fact, become a new form of politeness. If I crawl into my isolation bubble, and you crawl into yours we can politely ignore each other as we go about our business.
We do this because we can get away with it.
That is until it doesn't work. With most people, when it doesn't work, they completely fall apart OR they become verbally abusive. (Hoffer’s quote.) But here's the issue, people who have bought into these systems DON'T have alternatives.
In the 1986 movie "Crocodile Dundee" you have an Australian in New York City. The cultural shock of him being 'friendly' with New Yorkers (who at the time were famous for their rudeness and aloofness) also exemplifies the development of these isolationist habits. At the same time, when dangers presented themselves Dundee had resources other than social scripts, expectations and assumptions. Resources that city dwellers didn't have.
Okay so it's a movie, but it demonstrates some of the many differences between someone -- who has come from an environment where self-reliance is a fact of life -- and those who rely on social scripts, words and others following the rules. “Civilized people” often have a mindset that requires no commitment, participation or responsibility for most of life’s needs -- especially safety.
I tell you this because the woman in that article is functionally complaining that her life choices, socialization and the --let's flop this dead stinky fish on the table -- source of her power and control over others don't always work.
She is literally being forced out of her comfort zone. More than that, she wants you to know about it. (Probably so someone will do something about it.)
Here is where things glitch for me. Instead of saying "Okay, this usually works, but occasionally we have to do something else" things go the other way.
We're looking at an escalation of commitment. A "this HAS to work!” A “We just need to pour more energy, money, time, raising awareness and legal back up to MAKE it work.” But like I said, most of all it's a call for someone else to do something to fix her problem.
"We gotta get out of this hole! Dig faster boys!"
What makes it worse, she doesn't want to leave her comfort zone. Hey, you think this guy is dangerous and wants to hurt you? Carry a knife and use it if you have to. Because that might be what it takes to stop him, and far better to have and not need...
But I don't wannnnaaaaaaaaa!!!!! My self-image and comfort zone is that I'm a nice person and I shouldn't have to stab anyone to stay safe. Someone else do something to make this bad person leave me alooonnnne!!!
"Oh yeah, and while we're at it you privileged, sexist oppressor DON'T tell me that I can't wear my earbuds while walking down the street at 2a.m. ... alone...after drinking ... dressed this way. That's interfering with my rights and freedoms. And I already told you I'm NOT going to carry a knife or a gun when I do my 2a.m. stroll."
Take a good hard look at those attitudes in the context of power and controlling others. The results can be ...interesting.
Here's something else to consider, what's the difference between an annoyance and a danger?
If you can't tell the difference, you're in a heap of trouble. Some guy makes a comment at the train station? Yeah that's annoying. But if you look over your shoulder and he's still standing there as your train is pulling out, that was annoying. NOT dangerous.
Same dude in the middle of the night, jumps onto the train at the last minute, gets off when you do and starts following you? THAT'S dangerous.
And what you need to do about that danger is WAY out of the average person's comfort zone. Starting with getting over the fact that it's what YOU are going to have to do. Even if it's calling in support, you have to do something to keep from getting victimized.
In closing let point to the wit and wisdom of Al Capone "You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone."
I can assure you there's another level to that. It is very true the kind word will usually get you further than rudeness. But the armed kind word gets you much, MUCH further than unarmed rudeness.
But way too many people choose that last option thinking they're 'protecting themselves' from the big bad world This is a bad idea because unarmed rudeness is a great way to provoke an attack -- even if the guy wasn't planning to attack before.