CarlJH t1_iw7k1i0 wrote

Either you didn't understand what I wrote or you are arguing in bad faith. I can't tell.

My point, which you are either unable to understand or simply refuse to accept, is that the word "belief" encompasses a wide range of things, some weakly held beliefs and others that are given the weight of fact. To treat both senses of the word as the same thing is sloppy thinking at best, and intellectually dishonest at worst, and the term for such a fallacy is "equivocation."

I like to take a bath in hot water, I make coffee with hot water. If I took a bath in water that was the same temperature that I made coffee with, I would end up in the hospital. "Hot" encompasses a range of temperature.

If you are unwilling to accept that some beliefs are held more strongly than others, then we really can't have an intelligent discussion about this.


CarlJH t1_iw7ia5n wrote

What are you asking me exactly?

First, I accept the notion that people are influenced by the media to which they are exposed. If you don't believe this, then all the world's ad agencies would like a word with you. A preponderance of scientific evidence demonstrates that media exposure sways beliefs, whether it be the brand of tomato sauce they buy or whether African Americans commit crime at a higher rate or are more prone to violence.

Secondly, it is hardly a stretch of the imagination to conceive of the idea that the ownership of the media, especially the right wing media, would be would be predominately oligarchs who would welcome right wing violence against their political opponents, but would not wish to be connected to the actors who commit such acts.

Thirdly, it is similarly no stretch of the imagination to believe that the people who have committed such violence in the past have been avid consumers of far right media, the primary source of such false news stories as the "stolen election."

Finally, given the first fact, and the two entirely reasonable assumptions, it would seem to follow that there is some connection between the well documented increase of right wing violence and the prevalence of far right media sources. The fact that these right wing media sources have not toned down their rhetoric in the face of this increase means one of three things: 1)They don't believe that there is a connection, 2) They believe that there is a connection but the outcome has been undesirable, or 3) They believe that there is a connection and they are pleased with the outcome.

Option 1 and 2are unlikely; the aim of media is to influence. If they thought they were not influential they would do something different, and if they thought they were influential in a way that was dangerous, they would change as well. That leaves option 3. So, given the first fact, and the reasonable assumptions that followed, it appears that the oligarchs and I would be in agreement on the effectiveness of stochastic terrorism.

Unfortunately, the coincidence of the rise in right wing media outlets and the rise in right wing violence may be only coincidental. We can document correlation but not causality, so therefore, my belief is still just a belief, and a very provisional belief at that.

So we're back to where I started, I have a belief but with insufficient evidence to take it as fact. As I stated elsewhere in this thread, "belief" is a broad term. My belief in the universality of gravity is much stronger than my belief in next week's weather forecast. Both are subject to change, given compelling evidence. Though one will require more evidence than the other. The more strongly held my belief, the more I am likely to treat them as fact.


CarlJH t1_ivxz3h3 wrote

So, let me weigh in on this, because I think your theory isn't far from the truth.

There is an increasingly common belief in the idea of stochastic terrorism (the idea that if you reach enough unhinged people with enough propaganda, and if you can create enough emotional arousal in that group, one (or more) of them will eventually act in a way that, while not entirely predictable, will be violent and it will be against your target.

I believe that stochastic terrorism is a thing, and I believe that it is the aim of many of the backers of right wing fringe media.

It is only natural that the far right effluvia would ramp up near critical times, such as elections, and that would naturally increase the chances of such attacks.

Unfortunately, my belief in the theory of Stochastic Terrorism is just that, a belief. There is absolutely no scientific evidence (to my knowledge) that such a thing really exists. SO far, all I have read about it has been speculative. So If you were to gather data, in a scientific manner, I would be really interested in seeing it.


CarlJH t1_ivxwi1o wrote

“Everyone believes in at least one or a few conspiracy theories.”

I am getting pretty tired of this bullshit. Do I hold some beliefs in some conspiracy? Sure, I'll cop to that. But it requires some dishonest equivocation to make that stick.

First, there is a large gap between "belief" and "Knowledge." I "believe" that today is going to be slightly warmer than yesterday, based on what I saw on my weather app yesterday. If it turns out that it's actually colder today, then I am not going to defend that belief, I'm going to discard it. In other words, I treat my beliefs as provisional, as most of us do. In contrast, an Evangelical Christian does not treat his belief in his salvation as provisional, yet because the English language doesn't make a distinction between the two uses of the word "belief" we somehow end up in the same epistemological category. My "faith" in the accuracy of Yahoo Weather is not of the same character and degree as that of the Evangelical's belief in eternal salvation.

Whatever "belief" I hold in a conspiracy theory is just my best guess based on what I know to be true, and other beliefs which I hold, some strong (my belief in the universality of gravity, or the earth's shape*), other's casual (my belief that large news media outlets make editorial decisions in accordance with the values of their owners). So, sure, I believe in some conspiracy theories, but my belief in them is subject to change as I learn more, or as my beliefs in other supporting ideas to that theory change.

The discussion is confusing enough without muddying the waters with sloppy language and easy equivocations.


[* largely spherical]


CarlJH t1_itvagch wrote

This is tangential to something called "epistemological intelligence", a concept explored by Stephen James Bartlett of Williamette University.

I think that intellectual humility is an important part of epistemological competence, i.e. the ability to accurately evaluate claims and assign some sort of realistic probability value to their truthfulness. For example, how likely is it that I would know better than an expert in a given field of study?