Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Another Bernie-Related Attack?; And: Induction and Predesignation

   One of the things I was going to say in that last post was that we all need to commit ourselves ahead of time to conclusions about what it means [ceteris paribus!!] if a mass shooter supports some cause or politician. This is a simple application of the predesignation rule for inductive inference. (As described e.g. in the great-but-unpublished Elements of Critical Thinking (McCarthy)). So, before you find out what cause the shooter supports, you should draw your conclusions about whether the event shows something or nothing about the cause, and what it shows, if anything.
   Here's what people do instead: they wait to see whether they agree with the cause or not, and then decide whether the shooter's support for the cause shows anything about the cause, and, if so, what it shows. So basically everybody sits around waiting to see what side the shooter is on. Then, finding out that he supports cause x, we all draw conclusions on the basis of whether we support x or not. (Worse, we say some BS and then change our tunes as convenient.) So, Progressives and Bernie supporters will undoubtedly now proclaim that this shows nothing about the causes the shooter supports (though, of course, it will show that we need more gun control). Others will conclude that it does, in fact, show something--depending on how far away from Bernie they are politically. Clinton supporters, for example, are likely to decide that it shows something about Bernie and/or Bernie supporters...but not about liberals/progressives in general. Conservatives will be inclined to judge that it shows something about all progressives.
   Don't do that. 
   That's bad.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone should teach WaPo's reporters about facebook. Unless, of course, they don't want to see the ugly side of the hysteria they have created.

More calmly, I don't really think this shows much about either faction, he's just one guy and tribalism is crude, but I do think it is another bayesian update in favor of the hypothesis that press devolving into overt yellow journalism is a massive danger. I'm waiting for someone to find him going off on one of those hack articles calling Scalise a white supremacist.

11:52 AM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

To repeat, the overall most-watched news channel in the US in 2016 was Fox News.

I doubt that many of the black-clad 'antifa' types assaulting people in the Bay Area are Washington Post subscribers.

I am concerned, however, and have been for some time, about hysteria generated in the Fox demographic by 'Fox and Friends' and similar carnivals of lunacy and lies regularly staged on that channel.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"To repeat, the overall most-watched news channel in the US in 2016 was Fox News."

Unless Fox News represents the majority of news consumption (which it doesn't by a long shot), this is an astonishingly misleading statistic. Also, Fox's sway post-O'Reilly/Megyn Kelly is going to be significantly diminished. It's a personality driven outlet.

But more importantly why are you concerned about "Fox and Friends" hysteria when the large scale political violence isn't coming from that demo, while the "uptick" in right wing violence has been, to within margin of error, basically the result of hoaxes? Not just antifa, but Chicago, San Jose, this (I'm certainly forgetting a lot of smaller incidents)...

You can dislike Fox all you want, I don't like it either, and probably haven't watched it in a decade, but the gap in hard evidence here is not flattering.

1:59 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, DJ, I have to say I was thinking similar thoughts.

Fox and the Washington Times don't exactly stack up against the "MSM"

Not dismissing your concerns, obvs.

2:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the same topic, there was some really good commentary by a guy named David Hines around the time of Trump's election. Among other things, he completely anticipated Antifa's role as a political spark plug. Here is the storify version of the rant, it might be best to read the last segment first:

*pt. 5
*pt 1-2
*pt 3
*pt 4

Even if you don't sympathize with his opinions, it is a fascinating summary of the largely forgotten history of 20th Century radical politics.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

I'm not sure what's being claimed here. Is anyone denying that an important part of any plausible explanation for the depth of support for Trump in hardcore Trump country is a very narrow news diet in which Fox News has a (or possibly the) central place? (I know people whose families live there. They report this.) Or that this phenomenon, in turn, cannot be understood independently of the constant drip of real and implied support for the deliberate propagation of material falsehood, of a sort that if it were discovered at the New York Times, would be the object of an immediate internal inquiry and possibly a firing? Can core support for Trump really be extricated from the absurd libel of birtherism, to take just one of many examples? (It's a pretty good example, actually, because birtherism (or erstwhile birtherism) is a highly reliable predictor of enthusiastic support for Trump.) And can the even more absurd level of credence afforded this tawdry lie really be understood without recourse to its grotesque promotion by Trump, and the kind of 'respectability' lent to the idea by the likes of Bill O'Reilly?

There's difference in kind here, not merely of degree. The 'MSM' is to a significant extent beholden to the unvarnished facts on the ground, in a way that Trump and his media boosters just aren't. The Times and the Post will not simply lie and lie at will, even to the point where they know that everyone except their target demographic knows full well that they are lying. But that's what Trump does, and that's what all of his media and political enablers must be prepared to do. (Look at Spicer for a comical instance of this.)

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Darius Jedburgh said...

Also, why is it 'astonishingly misleading' to say 'the overall most-watched news channel in the US in 2016 was Fox News', if, as is the case, the overall most-watched news channel in the US in 2016 was, indeed, Fox News? Was it naive to trust to the reader's grasp of the distinction between plurality and majority? 'Most-watched' here pretty clearly means 'more watched than any other channel'. Anyone who infers that Fox was more watched than all the other channels combined is simply reasoning in a sloppy way; I can hardly be held responsible for that.

4:42 PM  

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