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    nmw 17:51:27 on 2016/02/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , confidence, depressed, depression, doubt, doubting, , , , , Galileo, group, group dynamics, , , , , , , , , questioning, , , sad, , , , , social cohesion, social group, social groups, , , , , , , , ,   

    Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want To Be Happy? 

    Did anyone ever ask Galileo this question? Why or why not? Why do some people ask other people this question today?

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    nmw 16:06:05 on 2016/01/20 Permalink
    Tags: abnormal, , , , , , , , , , , digital media, digitalisation, digitalization, , , , , , group, , , , , , , , , , market research, , , , , , messages, , mob, mobs, , normal, , , , rumor, rumors, rumour, rumours, , smart, , , , , , , , , untrue   

    Propaganda + Subjectivity in Retard Media 

    I was recently discussing a radio program with a friend who understands media quite well – but who seemed to be „playing dumb“ during the discussion. The radio program in question was a German one – BR’s Radiosalon had broadcast a debate about privacy versus the „espionage“ tactics used by many online media giants (I used the word „espionage“ to describe the behavior of such mega-media companies’ data gathering techniques, the BR Radiosalon program was actually called „Wie soll unsere digitale Zukunft aussehen?“ )

    My friend is an acclaimed scientist with a deep understanding of statistics, research methodology, etc. I have a great deal of respect for his work, and I do not wish to ridicule him. On the contrary, the views he expressed are actually quite widespread and widely considered to be quite “normal” (I will get back to this aspect of “normal vs. abnormal” further below in this post). Indeed, these views were also discussed in the radio program.

    The point in question is whether or not people have “something to hide” (though in my opinion the more crucial issue is that most people seem to have little or nothing to show). I agree with my friend that there is little to be concerned about if / when other people collect data (indeed, I am even of the opinion that data cannot really be “owned” — the way I see it, data are always freely available to anyone or anything that can recognize them). If someone sees me and scribbles onto a notepad that my race is “caucasian”, then their racism is their problem, not mine. Whether other people check off boxes or fill in blanks has nothing to do with me — instead, it is all about their point of view, perspective, biases, prejudices, etc. I couldn’t care less if large media companies record data about me or my behavior — unless they use this data to lie about me or to propagate rumors which are untrue.

    If a larger portion of the population were more literate, more numerate, etc., then even such misinformation and propaganda would not really matter very much (cf. also this post by Gavin Patterson, CEO of BT). The other day I posted a “heatmap” graphic that was used in an article which was purported to be about how much of a webpage is commonly read. Of course it is impossible to measure whether a person actually reads something, but that did not prevent the author from pontificating profusely on the topic.

    Apparently, the vast majority of people are less interested in literacy than they are in belonging to a crowd.:

    Freud was saying that masses are bound by libidinal forces. They love each other and delegate their ideas and ideals to the chap on top. […] Hate is delegated to the others outside. — Dr. Leopold Löwental (39:50 – 40:25) in the BBC documentary “Century of the Self (Part 1): Happiness Machines”

    Belonging to a crowd is normal, not belonging is abnormal. No one wants to be abnormal, and the media propaganda machinery is based on a foundation of belonging to the crowd, riding on the bandwagon, etc.

    Today, few members of the complacent illiterate generation realize that what they perceive to be “objective” news are actually usually personalized (and therefore “subjective“) marketing messagesespecially online. People visit facebook.com quite often, but they rarely (if ever) realize that the “news” they receive via their “newsfeed” is anything but objective. Likewise, the phrase “just Google it” is commonly understood to mean that Google is also objective. If fact, nothing could be further from the truth: Google is a corporation focused on maximizing profit — and that means showing you (the Google user) links they expect you will click on, such that the corporation (Google) will be paid by advertisers (and note that the link does not even need to be an advertisement — Google will also make money by displaying the advertisements controlled by Google which are displayed on the page, i.e. the so-called “organic” link the Google user clicked on). The fact that Google is a money-printing machine is a testament to the high degree of illiteracy we continue to observe today. Most members of the complacent illiterate generation are suckered into believing some subjective marketing message is actuallynews” — and that it is what the “normal” crowd also believes, that it is true, an objective truth, etc. — many times over each and every day.

    At this point in the discussion, another friend chimed in and said “I cannot manage my daily life without my smartphone” (and the smartphone is made by the very same media conglomerates which profit from selling advertising disguised as “news”, “notifications”, etc.). Hence, the mass of men (and women, too) continue to lead lives of quiet normalcy, guided by advertising messages which cater to duping illiterate suckers into believing everything is hunky dory because they are normal (and also users of “advanced technology”).

    Note that I don’t believe either of my friends should be called a “sucker“. In my opinion, they are simply illiterate (which most people refer to with the term “digital literacy“). They seem to be cognizant of their illiteracy — and yet they nonetheless remain complacent.

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    nmw 18:37:25 on 2015/09/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , cultures, group, , , , , , , , , societies, , sociological, , , ,   

    Delusions of Grandeur 

    Wikipedia.org has two articles that seem somewhat related — one is about “delusions of grandeur”, the other is about “grandiosity”. From the latter:

    A distinction is made between individuals exhibiting grandiosity, which includes a degree of insight into their unrealistic thoughts (they are aware that their behavior is considered unusual), in contrast to those experiencing grandiose delusions, who lack this capability for reality-testing. Some individuals may transition between these two states, with grandiose ideas initially developing as “daydreams” that the patient recognises as untrue, but which can subsequently turn into full delusions that the patient becomes convinced reflect reality.

    In this post, I hope to describe how my own world view is strongly shaped by sociological thought, rather than such psychological approaches. The way I see it, psychology tries to explain the behavior of individuals without any reference to the groups, communities, cultures or societies they are a “part” of. In my opinion such a perspective is wrong on many grounds — perhaps the most significant one is the nearly ridiculous view that the psychologist apparently considers himself/herself able to make observations regarding people that might pass muster as “scientific” or “objective”; a close second is the quite obvious observation almost anyone with even a minimal education could make, namely that people are indeed very strongly affected by other people. As psychology and psychiatry are normally considered to fall within the discipline of medicine, their focus is nearly exclusively on biological organs. This very parochial approach is not always and everywhere followed by each and every psychologist / psychiatrist (indeed, just a single exception would suffice to discredit such a hypothesis), but one can hardly deny that the more any psychologist / psychiatrist pays attention to sociological factors, the less likely they will be considered to be bona fide  medical professionals.

    Let me try to make all of this a little more concrete with an example. Sometimes people say to me: “You can only change yourself — you cannot change others”, several ideas occur to me (but most of these ideas are not exactly in my direct consciousness — I have to reflect on them in order to bring them fully into my awareness). First of all: Why does this person say this to me? If we cannot change other people, are they not wasting their breath in talking to me at all? Indeed: Following this thinking, it is completely absurd that humans developed language, that we send our children to school, that we pay people to do jobs, and so on.

    Secondly, even if this were not a completely absurd thing to say, I think: “Does this person actually consider me to be such a narcissistic idiot, that I might think I could say ‘X’ and then expect other people to simply ‘fall in line’?” What image do they have of me, to suppose that I would think this way? Although I do admit that I am happy when someone shares my opinion, I do not expect that other people will always accept my way of thinking. It is merely my opinion — and even if I strongly defend it, that certainly doesn’t mean I consider it to be an indisputable truth.

    Here is another example, perhaps even a little more extreme than the previous one: There is a so-called “Law of Attraction”, a quasi theory which wikipedia.org declares has no scientific basis — “the idea that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts a person brings positive or negative experiences into their life”. In other words: merely by thinking something — nothing more than a mental state — people might be able to cause such events to happen … no, indeed even it is more fantastic than that: The supposition is that there is some sort of natural law, which will force these things to come about. Apparently, there must be a lot of people who think too much about cancer, or maybe they can’t help themselves from constantly thinking about car accidents. I do admit to having thought about sunny days before, but that doesn’t mean these thoughts actually brought about sunny days, does it?

    In contrast, I feel that a large part of the world we live in is socially constructed. No one can succeed on their own. Every success is a matter that is sanctioned by some group, some community, some culture, some society, etc. People who feel they are able to succeed on their own are deluding themselves. They apparently do not wish to accept the role that other people have played in achieving their status, their privileges and/or their awesomeness.


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    nmw 11:21:23 on 2014/12/09 Permalink
    Tags: , , , events, , experiences, experiential, group, , , , , live, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    Live to Make “Love Life” Stories 

    Why should anyone write down their life story — isn’t simply living it good enough?

    I think not — and the reason why is quite similar to the reason why many people keep journals of their dreams. In fact: This idea came to me in a dream, and since I don’t keep a dream journal, I have forgotten some of the minor details of the plot. Yet it was a quite lucid dream, and therefore I remember the main gist and the major thrust of the idea quite well.

    First of all: Life stories are made by stringing life experiences and life events together. You yourself create the narrative, even if the individual building blocks seem to be plain matters of fact… and you can actually build many different narratives from the same facts.

    Second, very little of what we believe are obviously true facts are actually very much open to interpretation. Everyone has their own point of view, and these different perspectives create inherently different biases — there is no such thing as an unbiased opinion. It is far more fruitful to become aware of bias than to attempt to eradicate it.

    From the above two observations, it should be quite clear already that the complexity of managing so many “variables” is quite formidable. It has often been said that one reason why humans started to write was in order to externalize data and thereby free up space in the CPUs — their brains, their capacity to think, ponder, reason, etc. without at the same time having to worry about each and every bit of detail. This is the reasoning behind storing data externally — in other words: writing it down.

    Another similar motivation for storing data externally is to document the same event from different perspectives — this is the main reason why the “Wisdom of the Crowds” idea became so popular. What many overlooked in their fanatical flocking to overcrowded websites, though, was that this only helps if the different perspectives actually complement each other. Millions of identical perspectives do not really improve the view of any particular event.

    Ultimately, one primary reason to document your own life experiences is to enrich your own perspective on your own life — and perhaps also your perspective on the life of others. Do you know people who might “feature” you in their story — but do so in a way that makes it clear that your existence in the story is after all mainly about them? You can enrich your story by weaving other people’s stories into your own (whether or not they reciprocate by weaving your story into theirs). Be willing to tell other people’s stories: They will love it! You will expand your own horizons! And, in the end: You will have woven a fabric of love — a loving network of interwoven stories that complement each other and from which each and every individual gains perspective. :)

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