Social Psychosis

Did I miss something? The headline “Why people believe undocumented immigrants cause more crime” suggests the author has found an answer to the question: “why DO people believe (etc)” but according to this Physorg summary, all it seems she’s doing is pointing out the evidence which challenges the belief; then reiterating the question “why the belief?”… Odd.

At the very least I’d have expected to see some mention of the most likely source of such ill-informed belief: viz the disinformation provided, constantly and at high volume, by the tabloid “journalists” in print, visual and digital media.

In any case, the more interesting question, given that the culprits have access to the same evidence, is why, nevertheless, they choose to promote the disinfo, even though they can see their lies being dissected and revealed in public as easily as this story illustrates.

This behaviour is not, of course, limited to their treatment of the facts regarding levels of American crime committed by illegal aliens. They’re pretty similar with regard to their treatment of Climate Change, the War on Drugs, the causes of the Financial Meltdown in 2008, the prospects for the Global Economy and many, if not most, crucially important areas of human discourse.

A clue to their motivation comes in this paper, pithily entitled:A culture of mania: a psychoanalytic
view of the incubation of the 2008 credit crisis
(pdf) in which the author “suggest(s) that a manic culture is one typified by denial, omnipotence, triumphalism and over-activity”; exactly what we see from the Authoritarians the world over in relation to those key issues. Their inflated conviction regarding their own infallibility is one of the most dangerous features of the modern world.

I’m also inclined to welcome this as reasonable academic support for my own amateur efforts to define “Social Psychosis” which I first did back in 2005 in my attempt answer the question as to whether, when Authoritarians lie about the evidence for WMD, or War Crimes or Evolution or whatever, they are Lying, Stupid or Blind.

I made the point that:

Psychologically, people who form firm beliefs – in the absence of the validated evidence we’ve discussed – are, essentially both irrational and gullible… If they continue to hold such beliefs when the relevant hypotheses have been falsified, then, I would argue, they are showing the early signs of psychosis. When groups of like-minded people share the challenged beliefs, it becomes a social psychosis in which members turn to each other for mutual validation of their shared and increasingly distorted world view.

What Mark Stein is helpfully doing is putting some serious meat on the bones of that conjecture.

NASA Perpetual Ocean: The Ocean Surface Currents around the World – information aesthetics

more hypnotic data visualisation:
this time two years worth of ocean current circulation data

…if you think that’s cool, and you have the bandwidth, storage space and an HDTV linked to your computer, I strongly recommend downloading the full 20 minute HD Video (4Gb)

Its good enough to watch without getting stoned!

Climate-change scepticism must be ‘treated’, says enviro-sociologist • The Register

this idiot is an example of the problem rather than solution. I happen to be a firm believer in climate change and the need for action myself. But the idea that you can bully the sceptics into conformity by charging them with irrationality is as scientifically and politically illiterate as most other authoritarian arguments.

The plain truth is that the entire edifice of science is constructed on intellectually strong but pathetically insecure foundations. Until we have an audited peer review system, there is no honest argument against rejection of almost any hypothesis purely on the basis that you are not satisfied that the evidence has been properly gathered, analysed and fairly summarised.

When we choose to believe a particular scientific theory at the moment, it remains an act of faith that the entire system has been conducted with appropriate integrity.

That being said, some such acts of faith are more rational than others. My own faith, for example, in the plausibility of the Theory of Evolution rests on the irrationality of the conspiracy theory required to cast doubt upon it. i.e. we would have to believe that several million scientists have collaborated, over a period of a hundred and fifty years, to fabricate the evidence and misrepresent the findings which flow from that evidence. It is, frankly, much easier to believe that the majority of relevant research has been entirely honest.

But that cannot be so glibly stated on either side of the Climate arguments. Personally, I tend to favour the credibility and motives of those who tell us that the Climate is warming and that we can and should do something about it. But I recognise that my preference, in the absence of an immutable audit trail, is no more than faith in the benign intentions of those researchers.

Scientists stumped by mysterious foam causing hog farms to explode | Mail Online

tragic though this obviously is for the ham, we may have inadvertently discovered a novel way to farm the methane created by the pig slurry, and that could be worth its weight in oil…

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! – YouTube

seriously sexy development in Wind Technology. And I don’t say that lightly. Or often…

New Wind Turbine Design Can Triple Energy Production! – YouTube.

Greenland ‘lurched upward’ in 2010 as 100bn tons of ice melted • The Register

this is probably important, though godnoze y.

More importantly, I can’t wrap my head around the concept of “lurching” 20mm. Try it. Go on, try to “lurch” 20 mm.

See? Can’t be done, not even by a yooman been, let alone a continent…

Greenland 'lurched upward' in 2010 as 100bn tons of ice melted • The Register.

Clever! Geothermal Power Plants Could be a Massive Source of Lithium for Batteries : TreeHugger

Clever! Geothermal Power Plants Could be a Massive Source of Lithium for Batteries : TreeHugger.

interesting developments. Watch this space…