Friday, April 15, 2022

He Said She Said They Said

Surviving in the Dizz/Misinformation Age

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted. Best perused on a screen large enough for even your parents to see and navigate easily.   

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  

Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"The country would be better off if we stopped having comment sections. And if we got rid of Twitter." -Colin Powell

Dear (eventual) Grandstickies and Great-Grandstickies (and Gentlereaders),

Like many people that watch/listen to two too many podcasts...

{That's your idea of a killer first sentence?}

Once I typed to two too many, there was just no going back.

...I've heard the word heuristics oft bandied so I went a-googlin' and the very first hit returned was a definition. 

{Oft bandied?}

Heuristics are mental shortcuts that can facilitate problem-solving and probability judgments. These strategies are generalizations, or rules-of-thumb, reduce cognitive load, and can be effective for making immediate judgments, however, they often result in irrational or inaccurate decisions. 

Perfect. And oh, please note, "...they often result in irrational or inaccurate conclusions," more on that anon. And oh yeah, a tip o' the hat to The Decision Lab for supplying the definition. 

For example, a pair of hungry Homo commonsensicusses emerge from a forest/jungle into a clearing at the same time as a huge, hungry, saber-toothed bitecherfaceoff. Having been around the forest/jungle a time or three they don't stop to debate and plan their strategery.

Their brains — based on past experience, available weaponry, the size of the bitecherfaceooff, how long it's been since they last ate, etceterate — rapidly recommends that they either prepare for battle (bitecherfaceoff steaks kick-ass) — or run like hell.  

{What's any of this got to do with he said she said they said?}

Patience, Tonto, patience. 

{Bite me, Kemosabe, bite me.}

I've never understood that phrase, it doesn't make sense.

{I know, right? But still...}

Scott Adams  cartoonist, author, daily podcaster, and former public speaker (more on that anon), the Dilbert dude — has noticed a powerful heuristic shortcut that's powered by the internet.

In Episode 1681, Scott Adams: Facts Don't Matter. It Only Matters How Much We Hated You Before You Spoke, Mr. Adams points out that "...we have completely stopped caring about topics and we only care about people," and provides examples of "...the personality being more important than the fact." 

Once a person reaches a certain level of notoriety and the kids on your team have identified him/her/they as being uncool, you're no longer burdened with discovering exactly what it was they actually said, in what context, and deciding if it was a valid, factual statement. 

Who said it is more important than what they said

This is a very handy shortcut when navigating a passage through the Information Ocean in search of the truth... or at least a friendly harbor where you can catch your breath and stock up on provisions. 

Who's got the time to watch/listen to all those podcasts, watch all those videos, or read all those articles, blogs, and columns? Even if you do have more time (and energy, and motivation) than the average Joe or Joan Bagadonuts, how do you know who or what to believe?

Worse yet, there are powerful people loose in the world whose power is based primarily on their ability to exploit our ubiquitous media, particularly social media, although their accomplishments in the real world, in meat space, are negligible. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes comes to mind for some reason.

{But you digress.} 


Anyways...  Although he didn't mention it, Scott Adams is a perfect example of this phenomenon. Long before the election of the Donald in 2016, he predicted in a blog he no longer maintains that His Royal Orangenes would be the next president. This was when everyone else, including me, was saying no way; it's just the Donald marketing the Donald.

Mr. Adams, who wasn't a Trump supporter at the timeand whose political opinions are all over the map, merely set out to explain how it is Trump did/does what he does. Adams calls him a master influencer and set out to explain his power from the perspective of a trained hypnotist. It was really quite fascinating. 

{Did/does what he does?}

Cool, right? It also put an end to the Dilbert Dudes' lucrative sideline as a popular public speaker invited to lampoon the corporate weenies he lampoons in his comic strip — at corporate events sponsored by corporate weenies.

Although he went out of his way to explain he wasn't a Trumpie, that he was merely explaining how the Donald does what he does, a handful of rabid anti-Trumpers declared him a supporter of the evil one. Twits who had never read his comic strip, much less his blog, began twittering and the noise triggered an avalanche. 

As far as the corporate weenies were concerned he was now potato salad that had been left out in the sun. An income stream evaporated overnight. Fortunately for Mr. Adams, he had already accumulated FU-level wealth. But what about all those little fish trying to pay their bills that live in large ponds polluted with Wokie ideology?

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

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