The Fire and the Fury

Large numbers of civilian casualties and the loss of several American cities would be horrific, but not existential.

—Robert E Kelly, The National Interest

Current events remind me of the good old days of my childhood. A time when nuclear annihilation drifted on the breeze, always. In those days, too, there were the likes of Robert E Kelly, compulsively prattling on about things better left unprattled. Often the facts of the matter may be true enough, in the technical sense, but the saying of them is unproductive or downright foolish.

Some of you are considering gibbering a bit along the lines of, "If you would be a man speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today," and so forth, even unto the old women. You shouldn't. If we are so willing to concede that tomorrow has an inclination toward contradicting today, then we'd do well to ignore Emerson and put away the cannonballs. Being misunderstood doesn't make you Pythagoras.

Reads...

  • Social Psychological Perspectives on Trump Supporters - No one factor describes Trump’s supporters. But an array of factors – many of them reflecting five major social psychological phenomena can help to account for this extraordinary political event: authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, prejudice, relative deprivation, and intergroup contact. (Journal of Social and Political Psychology)
  • Associative Activation and Its Relation to Exploration and Exploitation in the Brain - Associative activation is commonly assumed to rely on associative strength, such that if A is strongly associated with B, B is activated whenever A is activated. We challenged this assumption by examining whether the activation of associations is state dependent. In three experiments, subjects performed a free-association task while the level of a simultaneous load was manipulated in various ways. In all three experiments subjects in the low-load conditions provided significantly more diverse and original associations compared with subjects in the high-load conditions, who exhibited high consensus. (Pay-walled journal: Boo! Hiss! Boo! Information wants to be less expensive!)
  • The Russian "Firehose of Falsehood" Propaganda Model - The Russian propaganda model is high-volume and multichannel, and it disseminates messages without regard for the truth. It is also rapid, continuous, and repetitive, and it lacks commitment to consistency. Although these techniques would seem to run counter to the received wisdom for successful information campaigns, research in psychology supports many of the most successful aspects of the model. Furthermore, the very factors that make the firehose of falsehood effective also make it difficult to counter. (RAND Corporation)
  • 'Anonymous' Browsing Data Can Be Easily Exposed, Researchers Reveal - "What would you think," asked Svea Eckert, "if somebody showed up at your door saying: 'Hey, I have your complete browsing history – every day, every hour, every minute, every click you did on the web for the last month'? How would you think we got it: some shady hacker? No. It was much easier: you can just buy it." (The Guardian)

The song of the day is Big Day Coming (Demo) by Yo La Tengo!


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