Archives for category: information vs misinformation vs disinformation

In answering a question on Quora, Dennis Pratt explained a common problem that has infected today’s “climate change” debate: the motte-bailey argumentation method. I was going to just quote a snippet of his answer, to set up my reply, but have decided that, instead, I will quote the whole thing, and then follow with my response to it:

Why is the climate change denier movement so passionate?

One reason is that climate alarmists use a particularly frustrating fallacy to push their solutions. And so, our points are rarely addressed, and our “passion” is frustration at a sophistic trick.

Conflating Implementation with Problem Identification
In order to solve a problem, we need at least these four steps:

1. Correctly identify that a problem exists and what its extent is.

2. Correctly identify the causes of the problem, and their relative contributions.

3. Correctly identify the “best” solution, which usually is the most effective with the least cost.

4. Implement that best solution well.

Our frustration comes when the alarmists start arguing #2, #3, and #4. When we push back, the alarmists will justify, say, their solutions, by appealing to (a small part of) #1.

“You are ‘denying’ that there is a problem at all.”

“No, we may have disagreements with your certainty at many points of these steps, but the least of our disagreements will be with historic data on warming; we were just now arguing our biggest disagreement with you — against implementing your totalitarian, civilization-destroying solution! Why did you just change the subject back to historic warming data?”

A “bailey” is an enclosed area lightly defended where most of the people hang out day-to-day. A “motte” is a hill with a castle atop it, behind the bailey. Upon attack, the people retreat from the bailey to the motte, which is much more fortified and much easier to defend, but it is sufficiently restrictive that it is not where the people want to be day-to-day.

The worst use of this fallacy is when alarmists cry out for international governmental control of the world economy to ‘save’ us from global warming. As you can see from the steps I’ve outlined above, which are necessary to well solve a problem, the alarmists are demanding an implementation of a particular solution — they are operating at step #4. That would be they hanging out in their “bailey”.

We anti-alarmists, seeing the alarmists at the end of the problem solution process, will object for a myriad of reasons. We might object because we think that their solution (e.g., Paris):

* will not be implemented well (#4),

* will not solve the actual problem (#3),

* causes more problems than it solves (#3),

* is far inferior to better solutions (#3),

* solves a less important cause (#3)

* misidentifies the most important causes (#2),

* exaggerates the size of the problem (#1)

* uses Monte Carlo simulations as though they were crystal balls (#1)

* uses economic forecasts of the future world economy as though they were crystal balls (#1)

* etc.

Upon hearing our concerns, the alarmists retreat from the bailey to their motte. They stop arguing for their proposed one-world-totalitarian solution <0559>, and instead fall back to their well-defended fortress.

“Are you denying that the temperature has increased over the last century!!! Oh, my!! How can you be so unscientific!!!!”

Oh, man, is that irritating!

{To see this demonstrated, the humor in this parable <0302> is derived from the warrior’s repeatedly falling back to pointing out the paw print (his motte) every time his totalitarian solution (his bailey) is challenged by the old man: <0302>}

The Motte-and-Bailey Fallacy is so effective because it conflates the outrageous (a one world totalitarian government enslaving all human action) with the easily defended (temperatures have increased a bit in the past). It is so frustrating because were we to agree that the motte is well defended (i.e., temperatures may have increased in the past), the alarmists would cheerfully return to their bailey, happily pronouncing that “all scientists agree” with some outrageous totalitarian solution. <0535>

Asking for intellectual honesty from alarmists is not possible: this fallacy has been so effective that there is no reason for them to discontinue using it.

The solution is to call them on it.

If there is any “overwhelming agreement of scientists”, it is only on some minimal aspects of Step #1.

Our passion is not against historical data, but against, for example, the refusal to talk about the destruction of humanity that would occur were we to implement many alarmists’ solutions (e.g., Step #4). <1355>

Though I agree that the motte/bailey gambit is vexingly annoying coming from the alarmists, my passion is largely aroused by the historical data that alarmists ignore, and even lie about.

But I go further. Most alarmists know nothing about their subject, or merely repeat a few pet theories and ignore the critical literature. I go further yet. Many researchers claiming to be “climate scientists” know very little about long cycles of climate. Indeed, their lack of understanding of climate cycles is astounding, and I hazard that many of these researchers are not competent in their field.

That is a daring thing for a non-scientist to say, I know, but we should remember a few things:

  1. There is a huge replicability problem in modern academic research, making most putative science junk science.
  2. The peer review system has been compromised in many disciplines, so we should be very suspicious, and the mere citing of a peer-reviewed paper does not provide the authority we might expect.
  3. And it gets worse, since the whole research area is funded in the billions and billions of dollars to promote a specific flavor of conclusion. This is a not unsubtle process, but not too difficult to see. Indeed, it looks an awful lot like the implementation on a global scale of the technique the Bush Administration used to get false reports about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the early 2000s.
  4. The whole consensus angle has been shown to be a fraud. There is not nearly as much agreement among ostensible climate scientists as commonly made out. The “97 percent” claim is bunk.
  5. Most of the reporting on “the science” is propaganda, and lying propaganda at that. Claims about “hottest summers” and “warmest winters” abound, but almost all are against the evidence, leaving out whole decades in the past that were warmer than recent, for example, with much more impressive records, etc. Tony Heller has made an online career demonstrating the concerted fraud that has been going on. And why folks who have read The Grapes of Wrath or endured any educational film strip (remember those?) about the Great Depression should not remember how hot it was in those days, and not be able to figure out that recent temperatures have been nowhere near as hot as it was for several years in the 1930s, and not just in America, is beyond me. Are educated people really this stupid? Can one convince a college grad of any damn fool thing, so long as it feeds his (or her, or zher) sense of self-righteousness?

I could go on. Though I am annoyed by the motte/bailey biz you mention, in a sense I understand and almost forgive the alarmists. They are doing what ideologues almost always do. People have great difficulty separating matters of fact from value. And politicians are known liars and opportunists; journalists hacks and propagandists — so of course they transmit the idiocies. This is known.

But when scientists behave like incompetents and worse — propagandists and liars — I get my dander up.

Climate alarmism is a cult. It works like an End Time Cult. We should be studying social psychology (see Festinger et al.) and roll our eyes when “scientists” say obviously idiotic and non-factual things.

twv

Elites and their popular supporters often express alarm at resistance to and disobedience of their demands and authoritized “expertise.” I find this so disingenuous as to be contemptible. If our elites expect our trust they shouldn’t lie to us, especially in plain sight, or evade big truths and scurry to keep them hidden.

And the elite’s loyalists in the general population? Their compliance shouldn’t be so knee-jerk and their credulity should be leavened with some skepticism — or at least some empathy for us doubters.

I am of course thinking of the pandemic panic. But not just that.

twv

Voting security and electoral integrity would seem to be important things in a democracy.

But of course, for politicians and large interest groups, what’s more important is a widespread belief in voting security and electoral integrity coupled with actual, in-play clever ways to rig and game the system.

I disapprove of electronic voting machines, since such systems have been repeatedly shown to be easily compromised.

The fact that one almost never hears about this is astounding in the way that almost everything in our hyper-politicized time is shocking.

I think there should only be two ways to vote:
1. A secret ballot on election day at a registered polling booth.
2. A public online ballot, completely transparent, with the ability to vote early, and change one’s mind often, right up until election day, at which point your last vote is sealed.

A public, non-secret ballot should be the only remote way to vote, no mail-in ballots or any of that easy-to-compromise nonsense.

I support open, non-secret balloting for the same reason that John Stuart Mill did. I support secret ballot as an option for the same official reason to introduce the method originally.

A person should have some identification to vote, of course. The arguments against such things are amusingly racist.

And a person, registered for online voting, should be able, on election day, to click a button saying one will head to the polling place and vote there. The polling station should be notified and the whole security arrangement should remain secure through sensible protocols. Votes should be hand-counted and the totals should be checked against polling station rolls, as usual.

twv

This week’s podcast is up:

LocoFoco Netcast #19, with Robert Wicks.

It is available on Bitchute and Brighteon (though at time of publication, the video was still “processing” on both sites) as well as YouTube:

LocoFoco Netcast #19, with Robert Wicks.

What if most of the major intellectual paradigms of our age began with a lie? What then?

Freudianism, Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson argued convincingly, began with a lie, when Freud abandoned the “seduction” (rape) theory of neurosis for his cockamamie Oedipus Complex. The professional world of 19th century academics and doctors could not accept his reports that rape and sexual molestation and incest were quite common in their beloved Austro-Hungarian Empire. So Freud cooked up the fantasy theory of repressed lust on the part of children for their parents. It was a hit!

Keynesianism, W.H. Hutt insisted, was a lie at base. The young Bloomsbury Group economist confronted a fairly easy economic problem, the post-war depression caused by (a) going back to the gold standard at parity while (b) following union demands to prop up nominal wage rates artificially. Was any economist confused? Really? This was elementary stuff. But there was a political impasse: the politicians could not afford (they thought) union backlash if wage rates were allowed to collapse to equilibrating levels. So Keynes cooked up a bald-faced lie: naturally occuring market-based “sticky wages.” Economics and politics since then have been warped by this one evasion, the inability to confront union “pigs” (as the Fabian pol Sidney Webb called them — privately).

Charles Darwin even accepted something as bedrock to his point of view, and it was obviously incorrect even then: uniformitarianism. I do not think this was as deadly for his theory, but it is worth acknowledging.

In my opinion, Marxian thought also rested on a set of Grand Evasions. Karl Marx based everything he did on a denial of the productivity of exchange, the Condillac-de Tracy notion of mutual benefit in trades. Marx compounded this by taking Adam Smith’s labor theory of cost, and a simplistic reading of Ricardo’s Labor Theory of Value, and concocted a defense of communism — and the attendant destruction of private property and cooperation via trade — based on a glaring evasion and an idiotically dunderheaded mistake that he ended up unable to “close,” as Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk put it.

So what other major paradigms are based on actual lies, or whopping evasions?

twv

The leftist definition of fascism — corporate take-over and tyranny — has been enacted not by self-professed fascists, or the Alt-Right, or Donald J. Trump, but by leftists themselves.

For years leftists told libertarians that corporate power could be suppressive, oppressive, tyrannical. Libertarians scoffed. Demanded evidence.

So leftists provided that evidence: they developed major social media (with a little help from the alphabet soup of U.S. “intelligence” agencies) and then used their leverage to censor information, inquiry and opinions that run counter to their narrative and party line. YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter now routinely censor opinions on the coronavirus they (and the World Health Organization) don’t like. And more.

They proved their point. They became the oppressors they warned us about.

Libertarians lost the argument, and are doubly unhappy about it: they were proven wrong and they are oppressed. But leftists? Their win must be . . . bittersweet. I mean, to win by losing: by becoming the very thing you most hate!

twv

If a policy is promoted and put into action by touting Rationale A, but, after that case begins to crumble, the policy receives a completely new defense by recourse to Rationale B, I not unreasonably wonder what Rationale C might be, and whether it constituted the real motivating principle from the beginning.

If you start shouting “Conspiracy Theory!“ that C looks better and better every moment.

My official position is that I do not know what to make of this:

“The proper relationship between any researcher and his or her audience is one of equality.” — Richard Dolan

The cottage industry that is UFO cultism — as described by a leading UFO researcher:

The issue, at base, is that the biggest, perhaps fastest-growing religion in our time is whorled around UFOs.

Richard Dolan is a researcher, one of the most respected researchers in the field, and one way to critique his stance (which I generally support) is to note that he is attacking his competitors in occult knowledge. That would be a sneaky and invidious interpretation, but it is worth laying on the table. Against that I take sides with Dolan, and readily admit that I see no reason to abandon good investigation techniques, accumulation of data, and the falsifiability criterion (where it can be applied). UFOs may be weird, but they are no reason to abandon reason.

I insist, however, in the spirit of Jacques Vallee, that we take this approach and apply it also to the investigation of the religious foment that is associated with the UFO/ancient alien biz.

Indeed, I am most interested in this subject as a religion — in part because I think religions should be studied on a scientific basis as well as from a more generally philosophical standpoint. In some of his later books, such as Messengers of Deception and Revelation, Vallee goes part way to that very study.

And the various UFO cults out there, with their usual list of prophets, priests, maximum leaders, secret gnosis, esoteric/exoteric teachings, political agendas, and the like, are indeed fascinating. We must go beyond Vallee’s and Dolan’s cult-bashing, though. The full panoply of sociology, economics, social psychology, and related disciplines must be marshaled to try to comprehend the social flux of our time. And in all of this, Dolan’s strictures must apply: evidence and source sharing — and general data transparency — between the field’s consumers and the purveyors of purported information. Secret knowledge if for conspiracies and cults.

It is worth mentioning that Gaia.com began as a yoga and meditation channel, and has slowly morphed into a ufology speculation channel hosting extensive discussions of myth and history. While scientific rigor is uncommon there, it is not without a voice; still, much more prominent is “spirituality.” While I do not dismiss any of these data and theories out of hand, most must be filed under Epoché — at best.

But we should ask ourselves:

Why is it growing out of hand?

Well, the evidence I know most about does not directly pertain to UFOs, but to government involvement in spreading confusion about UFOs, as testified since the beginning of the public UFO craze in 1947, by figures as diverse Major Donald Keyhoe and Carl Gustav Jung. Government incoherence — or seeming incoherence — on the issue is spreading irrationality. And thus a religious attitude of dogma and lack of interest in hard evidence.
Now, I have to state: this might ALL be a psy-op; SOME of it undoubtedly is. The CIA has been involved in the UFO issue since its inception. Indeed, the CIA was legislatively created one month after the Mt. Rainier “flying saucer” sighting by Kenneth Arnold.

To what extent some people within the Deep State know a whole lot more about the subject than anyone on the outside, and to what extent a subset of those people are actively spreading disinformation about UFOs, including faked encounters, I do not know. But I think the evidence shows that these are factors.

And that gives us this to ponder: no matter what the UFO issue is really about, whether multiform or singular in explanation, our government is involved to an astounding degree, and it is behaving in ways that are inimical to the principles that we associate with republican governance, specifically the sub-ordinance of military to civil government, and civil government to citizen control.

Thoughtful researchers like Richard Dolan are on board with this perspective. Indeed, I know of no non-political interest group with more skepticism about government than the UFO enthusiast and research community. It is a pity that so many of them fall prey to wild flights of fantasy unhinged from evidence, as Richard Dolan decries. But this is in a sense understandable: for on this subject, the proverbial “elephant in the room” is not the UFOs themselves, but the United States’ Deep State.

twv


We are not supposed to doubt what the elites tell us. This imperative is enforced. They ridicule us — and we ridicule each other — when we express doubt, or indeed any deeply contrary opinion, about what they tell us.

For example, we are supposed to think it is just accidental that the major media outlets that sat on the Jeffrey Epstein pedo-sex slave story for years then mock as ‘conspiracy theorists’ anyone who doubts their credulous/credulity-stretching story that Epstein killed himself.

And we are CERTAINLY not supposed to then wonder if ‘Pizzagate’ is as ridiculous as elitist opinion leaders have said it is. How could we believe that our illustrious elitists (who have admitted to engaging in pagan blood rites, though they assure us it is only performance art) would also engage in the rape and murder of children? Unthinkable!

I do not know the truth about Epstein, or, for that matter, the Clintons and John Podesta and their creepy emails published onto Wikileaks.

Though I think I know something about pizza.

I also do not know that much about NSA General Michael Aquino who got the Temple of Set recognized as an official religion within the U.S. Government (allowing, I am told, chaplain services in the military). Is this all just nonsense? And why would you worship Set instead of Osiris? I mean, if you have to go back to ancient Egypt for your religion?

I know almost nothing. But it is difficult not to suspect a whole heckuva lot when we catch major media sources conspiring to keep the truth from us — and who go all the way to vindictively lash out at mere suspects for revealing the truth.

By the way, ABC’s suppressed Epstein story was said to have exposed Bill Clinton in a big way.

Just how weird does this get?

Are we hearing about this now because, in the deepest corridors of the Deep State, some deep secrets about UFOs had been threatened by the Podesta/Clinton agenda of disclosure? Or is it all coming out in an as-yet incomprehensible jumble merely because the truth, whatever it is, is almost too hard to understand . . . or keep secret?

Yes, the Epstein story may be linked, in some shady way, to the UFO story.
But we know almost nothing because that has been what we are supposed to know. Nothing. Or the opposite of the truth.

Yet UFOs likely have nothing to do with it. Ufologists often leap for evidence where evidence is lacking. Of course, when evidence is routinely suppressed, we are all find ourselves in an epistemic pickle.

Consider what William Casey is alleged to have said to Ronald Reagan — that success, for the CIA, would be when everything Americans think they know is the opposite of the truth. What did he mean? Well, the source for this now-infamous quotation says this:

Casey expressed astonishment when reporting the huge percentage of CIA ‘intelligence’ that was, and almost certainly still is, based on open sources, and he was absolutely serious when he said that the agency would be successful when everything the American people believed was false.  Though not explicitly said at that time, it was made clear in other contexts during my two years in the West Wing in the highest level meetings that the pretext for this mentality was the claim that in a Cold War era when communications were essentially instantaneous, the vast majority of “the enemy’s” — then the Soviet Union’s — “intelligence” was also based on open press and media sources, so the most efficient way to lie to the Soviets was to lie in the U.S. and allied media, which meant the American public believing the lies was considered a kind of ‘collateral damage.’

Barbara Honegger, November 25, 2014.

This I do believe. Its implications are many, but one stands out: If the source for the CIA’s information is open, particularly from major media, but CIA uses said media for disinformation purposes, U.S. intelligence operatives are always in danger of finding themselves with their heads so far up their own assets that they themselves could not tell truth from their own lies.

How is the world ruled and led to war? Diplomats lie to journalists and believe these lies when they see them in print.

Karl Kraus