Misplacing the bounds of distrust

Astral CodexI believe that in some sense, the academic establishment will work to cover up facts that go against their political leanings. But the experts in the field won't lie directly. They don't go on TV and say "The science has spoken, and there is strong evidence that immigrants in Sweden don't commit more violent crime than natives". They don't talk about the "strong scientific consensus against immigrant criminality". They'll try to punish people who bring this up, but they won't call them "science deniers".

The author's reasoning is interesting, but flawed, in that he believes he can gain useful information based on what he believes the "rules of the game" are in mediaworld. His understanding works just fine for his primary example -- ie, even a liberal who distrusts Fox News will probably trust Fox News if they are reporting on a police shooting or a terrorist attack, because Fox News doesn't lie directly; they may bias their reports differently than other media, or report on things other sources ignore, but they know their credibility would be shot if they actually, deliberately lied and got caught, so they instead report on real things and (sometimes) put a different spin on it. Liberals get outraged about that being lying, but they know it really isn't; and so they trust Fox on facts while disregarding spin.

Fair enough.

The counterexample is a different matter. The rest of the media have a long history of actually lying and faking news. Whether it's using a pyrokinetic device to blow up a Pinto, or Dan Rather reporting on a fake memo to influence a presidential election, climate scientists faking research or adjusting data, or basically the entire mainstream media reporting on a made-up story about Donald Trump to influence another election and destroy a presidency... the left-leaning components of the media have repeatedly demonstrated that they will in fact lie outright to advance their political agenda.

The other hole in that line of reasoning is that it leads to false conclusions about what is reasonable to believe under circumstances where the writers (of both news articles and scientific papers) believe something is true when it is in fact false. (Both examples below are those used by the original author).

No one is really willing to sign letters or petitions claiming Muslim immigrants to Sweden do not commit more crimes than native Swedes. This reluctance is because such a claim is transparently false and the scientists would be both ashamed of themselves and ridiculed for making a transparently false and easily disprovable claim. (Instead, orthodoxy is maintained by preventing anyone saying what is obviously true).

In the case of climate change, however, the situation is different. The proponents of climate change mostly believe it to be true. They are convinced not by good science but by an exercise in faith, self-persuading scientific pursuits, and a self-reinforcing financial research structure. Every scientist looking for funding knows that to get funding you must frame your research to invoke climate change; and if you then find there is no climate change, you will not get any more funding, and moreover, climatologists will work to exclude you from publishing in any and all scientific journals with a fervor previously reserved for burning heretics at the stake.

My algorithm for finding truth in a media-hostile world works thusly: What you are forbidden to say is likely the uncomfortable truth.

This entry was published Wed Jan 26 02:01:31 CST 2022 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2022-01-26 03:18:51.0. [Tweet]

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