Two heroes murdered in Portland defending teens against anti-Muslim hate speech

An individual harassed two teen women on Portland’s Trimet MAX rail system, verbally attacking Muslims and others. Three local heroes stepped up to stop the verbal assault and two were murdered by the attacker and one remains hospitalized.

Not surprisingly, social media, even some professional media, plus the comments to news stories, turned the story in to a political event, blaming “alt-right”, Trump and Trump supporters and Republicans. The Huffington Post writes a column blaming Trump and others.

The tiny problem with this thesis is that the alleged murderer was a Bernie Sanders supporter and voted for Bernie Sanders. He said so on his FB page. He also appeared to support Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate. He also attended “alt-right” public events. He was vociferously opposed to Hillary Clinton and said little about Trump other than publicly calling for the assassination of AG Jeff Sessions and Trump.

One of the defenders, who was murdered, was a past Republican Party candidate for public office.

In spite of these facts, many in the social media crowd blamed Trump and Republicans for the behavior of the alleged murderer.

As The Willamette Weekly notes, the only consistency in the alleged murderer’s rants is that he was extremely racist. Newsweek, a reliable source of fake news, uses the propaganda method of transference to link the alleged murderer to Trump.

Never let facts get in the way of an opportunity to promote one’s personal ideology on social media! This story is a sad commentary not only on the ugliness that spawned such hate to occur, but also on the public’s desire to immediately jump to a conclusion that matches their preconceived notions, without questioning. The social media commentary turned so ugly that The Oregonian had to disable commenting on their news stories.

People literally believe anything they want to believe. Social media, and in particular, Facebook’s implementation of social media (FB presents posts in your timeline that FB believes you want to see), serves to reinforce views, even if those views are contrary to facts and logic. Consequently, social media has become the number one platform for the dissemination of propaganda messaging.

To see the evidence of the alleged murder’s political thoughts, click through …

(I live in the Portland area. I am neither Democrat nor Republican and I did not vote for Trump.)

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“Twitter and Tear Gas”

How social media “adhocracies” are “more likely to be one-hit wonders” as they enlist social media propaganda to whip people into a frenzy – and how governments and politicians are fighting back using propaganda:

The author is also insightful on how governments and politicians are moving from censorship, no easy task on social media, to attention-grabbing and misinformation.

Source: Why networked protest struggles on the streets

Researchers analyzing social media comments to evaluate your mental and physical health

It turns out, the comments we make online reveal a lot about us. Researchers are now analyzing online comments for a wide array of predictive patterns and signals, using Internet discussions and social media as sources of constant, easy-to-access information about what’s going on in people’s lives.

 

Their efforts may eventually allow health professionals to monitor patients’ well-being based on their Twitter streams and Facebook entries. Controversially, employers or insurance companies could one day screen job applicants and potential clients based on their social media status updates.

Source: What online comments can reveal about the person behind the keyboard – The Globe and Mail

Researchers say they can predict “personality traits, or their levels of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, based on their Twitter histories”.

They say they can now predict the heart-disease mortality rates of an entire community based on the Twitter posts of people living in that community – and this is more accurate that evaluating “smoking rates, the obesity rates, the demographics, the income, the education”.

Fascinating how fast false rumors spread on social media

This post is about how social media propaganda appeared immediately after a proposed House bill was passed, then spread like wildfire, and was mostly not true. The NY Times reviews the main social media propaganda memes and how their messages are extreme exaggerations, distortions or outright lies.

I have not looked at the bill because I doubt its going anywhere and no need for me to waste time on that. We were ObamaCare consumers starting in 2014 until our insurance rates rose by 140% from 2014 to 2017 to the point we had to drop out of the ACA markets. News reports rarely mention the majority of purchasers receive no subsidies and their rates have risen so fast and so high that many can no longer buy insurance. If you are interested in learning about the real reason for this, please read my lengthy paper on the subject to understand why ObamaCare is fatally broken, by design, with proposed solutions.)

News and social media “filters” reinforce established beliefs

Facebook, Google News and other online services automatically try to filter the information you see, to deliver to you what their algorithms think you want to see. Usually, this means delivering items to you similar to those you’ve already looked at before. The effect seems to strengthen bias, rather than challenge them. A simplified study was done to test this idea in practice and it (so far) confirms that our online world may be leading to less diversity in ideas, rather than more:

filtering of either sort led people to click and spend more time on “pro-attitudinal” articles — that is, articles most likely to reflect their own opinions right back at them. In a way, the bottom-right graph is the most interesting. It shows that people in the control group spent more than half their time on the site reading articles that challenged their beliefs. That number plummeted precipitously in the other conditions.

Original source

 

And incredibly, he is still dead 3 years later!

Twitter is today filled to the brim with tributes recognizing the death of Gabriel García Márquez, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

One tiny detail is missing from these tributes – he died in 2014! And apparently he just died again in 2017!

Just when you think the social media mob could not possibly do something dumber than the day before, there comes the next day!

Easily verifiable items spreading like wild fire on social media illustrate the true, friction-less nature of social media for the spread of propaganda messaging. This also demonstrates how easy it is to say anything – literally tell lies – and get away with it – on social media.

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As one Twitter notes,

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A related question is why are so many compelled to spread this story?

A possible explanation is signalling of some sort. Could be virtue signalling or could be signalling to others that you (the poster) are intellectual and well read or something else.

 

Most car crashes caused by cellular phone usage?

I saw an item on a Facebook group where the general meme was that everyone knows cellular phone usage while driving is the cause of most vehicle crashes. The data, however, paints a remarkably different picture. Cellular phone usage, per the government’s own data, is a minor causative factor in vehicle crashes.

There are many causative factors in car crashes: one category of causative factors is “distracted driving”. Cellular phone usage is a subset of “distracted driving”.

The U.S.government’s National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a report in 2016 on distracted driving, with data up to 2014 (the most recent data available).

Here is what they write on page 1:

“A distraction-affected crash is any crash in which a driver was identified as distracted at the time of the crash.

  • Ten percent of fatal crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 16 percent of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2014 were reported as distraction-affected crashes…”

Let’s restate this:

  • 10% of fatal crashes involved a driver distraction
  • 18% of injury crashes involved a driver distraction
  • 16% of all reported crashes involved a driver distraction

The proportion of those distracted driving incidents where a cellular phone was a causative factor is a subset of these percentages (see tables in the report):

  • 7% of 10% of fatal crashes or less than 1% of all fatal crashes
  • 13% of 18% of injury crashes or about 2.3% of all injury crashes
  • Cellular phone usage for “all crashes” (including non fatal, non injury) is not provided in the report but is likely similar to the two other categories.

The data provided by the U.S. government does not support the widespread meme that cellular phone usage is the leading cause of vehicle crashes. Is my interpretation off in space? The report uses remarkably plain language for a government report. Am I missing something?

Why do people believe cellular phone usage is a leading cause if not pre-dominant cause of vehicle crashes?  (This was the conclusion of those in a Facebook group discussing this topic.)

There is no official answer to that question so we can only guess:

  1. Selected (cherry picked) emotional stories are given widespread media exposure
  2. Bad journalism/bad reporting (fake news from “non-fake” news sources) – often using a variety of propaganda methods to convey this. One common approach in news reports is to quote an “expert” (appeal to authority) who says “Over 30% of crashes are caused by cellular phone usage”. This is a common quote in many news reports, none of which substantiate the number except by an appeal to authority.
  3. Propaganda efforts by the insurance industry to promote a reduction in risk (and their costs)
  4. The tendency to generalize from n=small numbers (I once saw a bad driver using a cellular phone, therefore most bad driving is due to cellphone usage, and if most bad driving is due to cell phone usage then this must be the cause of most crashes). This is a”logical fallacy“.
  5. Everyone just knows that cellular phone usage by drivers causes most crashes (both the assertion and the get on the bandwagon propaganda methods).
  6. If anyone cites the data in a social media reply, this unleashes a barrage of name calling (another propaganda method) that if you disagree, you are a denier, an idiot or whatever.

Facts and logic are the enemy of propaganda. When many people believe something to be true, and that “something” is not supported by official data, it is likely that propaganda messaging has been used to persuade the public.

Are social networks fading? One early proponent says yes.

The man who set up the most popular social network in Russia [VK] axed all of his online friends in one fell swoop this week. Having them, he wrote, was so 2010.

Source: Social networks are fading as messenger apps rise up | Stuff.co.nz

Just as MySpace fell off the popular list, Facebook has lost many young people who have migrated to Instagram or SnapChat. Many people have deleted one or more of their social media accounts and this does seem to be a slowly growing trend as users gradually pull back from their social media worlds.

All major media participates in fake news distribution

This is also true of CNN, News.Yahoo.com and numerous other mainstream media web sites that allow advertisers to display fake news headlines as click bait. There is no longer any difference between professional news media and fake news media.

An investigation found paid-for hoaxes about high-profile public figures next to users’ news feeds, duping them to click to alleged scam websites.

Source: Facebook promoted scam ads based on fake news headlines | News | The Times & The Sunday Times