Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast

S2-Episode 31 – Leave The Bullshit, Take The Cannoli

May 12, 2022 Coach Pierre Season 2 Episode 31
Disgruntled Life Coach Podcast
S2-Episode 31 – Leave The Bullshit, Take The Cannoli
Show Notes Transcript

Social media and attention seeking rallies have spread misinformation far and wide, and we need to look at why. First, definitions and quotations. Then we'll talk about how you need to get a grip on reality, and we’ll finish off with a Disgruntled Nugget – a little piece of wisdom you can take with you, or not, I don’t care. Also thx to Audionautix and Partners In Rhyme for the music and sound effects.

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So you can be uninformed or misinformed, sometimes even both. But what I'm hoping we get out of this episode is that you really have a choice to simply be informed. Stop listening to voices that are obviously lying and look for better ways to get information into your thick skull. I'll try to point you in the right direction, but first, let's define what it is that we're talking about. Listen carefully knucklehead. 

For a definition today, I thought we would take a segment of the awesome website called The Grammarist, and we're going to do a short compare and contrast. Here's what they say about misinformation: "Something that is misinformed is based on bad information. Something that is uninformed is based on no information or inadequate information. For example, a web page on the difference between misinformed and uninformed would be uninformed if it were based on no research or experience, and it would be misinformed if it were based on research drawn from misleading or speculative commentary." There are those that seek to misinform, but that doesn't mean you have to buy in. But right now, let's take a look at some quotes for context.

Our first quotation today is from Garry Kasparov, a Russian chess grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist and commentator. From 1984 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world No. 1 for a record 255 months overall for his career. Since retiring, he has devoted his time to politics and writing and joined as a member of The Other Russia, a coalition opposing the administration and policies of Vladimir Putin. Kasparov is currently chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and chairs its International Council. He said, "The point of modern propaganda isn't only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth." Although truth is sometimes subjective, we'll talk a bit about that later.

Next, we have Stephen John Fry, an English actor, broadcaster, comedian, director and writer. Fry has repeatedly expressed opposition to organized religion, and has identified himself as an atheist and humanist. In August 2013, Fry published an open letter to David Cameron, then British prime minister, and the International Olympic Committee calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, due to concerns over the state-sanctioned persecution of LGBTQ people in Russia. On being uninformed, he said, "The only reason people do not know much is because they do not care to know. They are incurious. Incuriousity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is." So, being uninformed can be a choice, possibly. Hopefully you have a second choice, or, um, a third – sheesh.

Finally, we have Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. She is a psychologist, administrator, and educator who has conducted research and written books on the topic of racism focusing specifically on race in education, racial identity development in teenagers, and assimilation of black families and youth in white neighbourhoods. Tatum is the author of the widely acclaimed book " 'Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria' And Other Conversations About Race", in which she argues that Americans are reluctant to talk about issues of race. She said, "We all get misinformation growing up about people who are different from ourselves." The idea that we don't understand those who are different is a great jumping off point, so let's get this party started.

In an article titled "MIT Sloan research about social media, misinformation, and elections" by Sara Brown, it stated that, "falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth, and reach their first 1,500 people six times faster." But why people listen to these falsehoods is another topic entirely. In separate research published in Judgment and Decision Making titled "On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit", they focused only on "pseudo-profound bullshit, which consists of seemingly impressive assertions that are presented as true and meaningful but are actually vacuous." They found that "people are more receptive to this type of bullshit and that detecting it is not merely a matter of indiscriminate skepticism but rather a discernment of deceptive vagueness in otherwise impressive sounding claims." So when a lie is presented in a way that sounds profound on it's surface, it is more readily accepted. It is the person –  you – who must put aside confirmation biases and actually listen to the message and, more importantly, judge the source, for what it really is. It's bullshit.

Still on the topic of bullshit, a book by Harry G. Frankfurt titled "On Bullshit" argues that "bullshitters misrepresent themselves to their audience not as liars do, that is, by deliberately making false claims about what is true. In fact, bullshit need not be untrue at all." That's right bullshit may not even be completely lying, but here is why Frankfurt thinks that's important: "Bullshitters seek to convey a certain impression of themselves without being concerned about whether anything at all is true. Liars at least acknowledge that it matters what is true. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are." And the majority of those listening believe the bullshit because it's spoken in a language they don't know anything about. For example, in a review titled "Why do people believe COVID-19 conspiracy theories?", 31 percent of Americans agreed that COVID-19 was purposefully created and spread, despite the absence of any credible evidence for its intentional development." Let me lay that one out for you, and I promise to speak slowly. Actually, that's a lie. Keep up.

Why is it so easy to mislead about science? it's Simple. The key weak link is the problematic area of citizens’ understanding of basic scientific facts and the scientific process more broadly. In a paper published in Social Sciences titled "Science audiences, misinformation, and fake news" they found that "one in three Americans (36%) misunderstood the concept of probability; half of the population (49%) was unable to provide a correct description of a scientific experiment; and three in four (77%) were unable to describe the idea of a scientific study, indicating an inability among many members of the public to differentiate a sound scientific study from a poorly conducted one and to understand the scientific process more broadly.” Also, similar numbers exist for the knowledge gap in the workings of the political and judicial systems, and not only in the U.S., but everywhere there is bullshit being presented. And we spoke in an earlier episode about how, once the incorrect information is installed inside your concrete linked skulls that, even if information corrections are introduced, they can produce psychological discomfort that motivates a person to disregard the correction to reduce the feeling of discomfort.

So now we know that we need to do better at detecting bullshit, but the why is important too. In an article titled "The psychological drivers of misinformation belief and its resistance to correction" published in Nature Reviews Psychology, it concludes that "Not only can belief in misinformation lead to poor judgments and decision-making, it also exerts a lingering influence on people’s reasoning after it has been corrected – an effect known as the continued influence effect." And who wants to, willingly, be part of bad decision making? I'm not asking, but no one is the answer if you're keeping score. No one. So, what can you do to both detect the bullshit and not engage in the bad decision making? Well, I have some ideas that are somewhat less bullshitty. Is that a real adjective? Well fuck, it is now.

So how do you activate your bullshit detector and become a better citizen? Well, in the first place, you have to actually accept that the things that you're hearing or reading may not always be correct, and you must start with some healthy skepticism first. Remember, if you heard something from someone who is university educated, it doesn't make it automatically unassailable. And if you heard it in the mainstream media it doesn't mean it's automatically wrong or biased. Always find at least three verifiable sources of information for every thing you hear, and take the common links as the parts that are true, and start from there. If you're not willing to believe that you're wrong or that you're misinformed in the first place, you will always be uninformed. Always, and it won't matter how loud you yell, it will still be bullshit.

Secondly, take a break from social media. All those platforms are now filled with bullshitters who will happily tell you blue is green and give you weird science you've never heard to convince you it's true. Take a look at some really good, non-partisan websites that verify facts for you, such as Snopes, AllSides, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and ProPublica, among many others. Look at the research they've done on the things you're hearing, and why they are bullshit from the start. Stop listening to those around who happen to be holding the same sign or flying the same flag, because they have an interest in keeping you uninformed. Really try to find out if those theories you're hearing are based in fact or just made up distractions. Spoiler alert, they are all crap, but please, please, please find this out for yourself.

Lastly, if you check one thing, and it's a lie, try to figure out why you were told that lie in the first place. Seriously, try to think for yourself and determine why people are lying to you. In most cases, there's someone way up the chain who is benefiting from your activism on some bullshit conspiracy, and that should upset you. But don't be upset, just make a pact with yourself that, starting today, bullshit stays in the farmyard, free yourself from the lies, and your life will start to get better immediately. But be willing to take that first step. it's a baby step, honestly. Would I lie to you?

Okay, so that’s it for this episode. As always, I’ll leave you with a Disgruntled nugget in a second, but first I want to thank you for listening. Remember to subscribe to this podcast, I’m on all the major platforms, and please visit www.disgruntledlifecoach.ca for all my podcasts – working on the w-w-w, please still use it until further notice. Please also follow me on twitter @lifedisgruntled, there’s a link on my website – DM me if you want some stickers. Have you heard about my stickers? They're free. Also, if you like what you’ve heard today, tell your friends. If you think this is ridiculous, still, tell your friends, I mean how hard is that?

Disgruntled Nugget
American poet, philosopher and songwriter Criss Jami once said "It's okay to be honest about not knowing rather than spreading falsehood. While it is often said that honesty is the best policy, silence is the second best policy." Then The Bad Astronomer – Phil Plait said "I'm tired of ignorance held up as inspiration, where vicious anti-intellectualism is considered a positive trait, and where uninformed opinion is displayed as fact." Not to be outdone, the great American investigative journalist Carl Bernstein said "The lowest form of popular culture - lack of information, misinformation, disinformation and a contempt for the truth or the reality of most people's lives - has overrun real journalism." So be honest about not holding up misinformation as contempt for the truth because uninformed is not a positive trait when you're anti-intellectual, or something, I don't know, whatever...

Again, thanks for listening, and thanks also to Audionautix and Partners in Rhyme for music and sound FX, thanks again to Neatnik for visuals, and thanks for your patience - see you in two weeks, or not, whatever...