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Science journalist tells Steven Pinker, yes, we ARE living in a post-truth society

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Evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker is rebuked in the view he represents in a recent essay for Skeptic,Why We Are Not Living in a Post Truth Era“:

Those who claim we live in a post-truth society are not saying that there is no such thing as truth. What they are saying is that truth doesn’t matter to most people. When presented with information they do not like, many people respond by calling it “fake news.” But Dr. Pinker says this about fake news:

“Another inspiration for the post-truth cliché is the recent prominence of ‘fake news.’ But this, too, is not a new development. The title of the James Cortada and William Aspray’s forthcoming ‘Fake News Nation: The Long History of Lies and Misinterpretations in America,’ is self-explanatory…”

Dr. Pinker is absolutely correct that fake news is not a recent development. Humans have been lying ever since we have been able to speak. What makes things different today, in my opinion, is that we have the internet. Nearly every human being on Earth has access to all the knowledge ever generated by mankind. Yet, instead of doing research and telling the truth, we prefer to spread lies and propaganda (and pictures of cats) at lightning speed around the globe. This takes the problem to an entirely new level. We have no excuse to be poorly informed, yet we choose to be.


Alex Berezow, “Steven Pinker Is Wrong. We Do Live In A Post-Truth Society” at American Council on Science and Health

But now wait. Are we really more poorly informed than our medieval ancestors? Isn’t it much easier to get correct information today if we really want it?

Note: Last we heard, the Raging Woke had gone after Pinker. See “Now Steve Pinker Is Getting #MeToo’d, At Inside Higher Ed Over Jeffrey Epstein

Clearly, he has escaped their clutches for now.

It must be nice for Pinker to be in an argument with a reasonable human being like Alex Berezow instead.

Incidentally, another Steve, sociologist Steve Fuller, has actually been writing about post-truth for years.

See also: Is there life Post-Truth?

12 Replies to “Science journalist tells Steven Pinker, yes, we ARE living in a post-truth society

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    I really hate this era actually you don’t know it’s a lie and what’s the truth anymore it’s almost impossible

  2. 2
    BobRyan says:

    AaronS1978 @ 1
    During the Woodrow Wilson administration, members of the press that didn’t toe the line were arrested. For four years, he had the media alter what the American people viewed in regards to Germany and Americans of German descent. In a short time, he turned a nation towards hatred off all things German. He wanted to get the United States into the war, but he needed the American people to be on the side of the French. He hated Germany and loved France.

    There has never been a time in recorded history where the truth was easy to get to. I’m not overly fond of what the internet has brought, but it does have some good. It is easier for me to access points of origin, which means I can be in a better position to make an informed decision. Most of what comes out of the media is almost entirely fiction.

  3. 3
    vmahuna says:

    There is a tale, which I assume to be true, that during the WW1 censorship, a father was sent to federal prison for some number of years for saying at the dinner table in his own home something non-supportive about rolling bandages for the Red Cross.. He was turned in by his DAUGHTER.
    Step outa line, The Man come and take you away.
    I’m pretty sure that such a statement would NOT have gotten the father arrested in Nazi Germany.

  4. 4
    DerekDiMarco says:

    I got a great education in medicine and physics. Education is easier and better than ever. I can run PDEs on my phone at Wolfram Alpha! Do you know how hard that was back in the day? But it is much easier to go down pseudoscience rabbit holes too. Black Salve is the newest nonsense laypeople are being misled about.

  5. 5
    Seversky says:

    Vmahuna@ 3

    I’m pretty sure that such a statement would NOT have gotten the father arrested in Nazi Germany.

    In Nazi Germany he wouldn’t have had to sayanything. He would just have had to be a Jew, Romany, etc. And he wouldn’t have been locked up for the duration, he would have gone to the gas chamber.

  6. 6
    Seversky says:

    Besides, there have been lies and propaganda for as long as people have been communicating. Its just that they can travel a lot farther and a lost faster through the ‘Net that before.and there are plenty in the media happy to feed the appetite for whatever panders to the prejudices of various groups. All that is required to counter it is a willingness to believe that there is a reality out there which we can apprehend – at least in part – and the humility to accept that we are not omniscient and that our current beliefs may be wrong .

  7. 7
    DerekDiMarco says:

    @Seversky Indeed Martin Luther’s book about the “Jews and their Lies”, was written in 1543 in Germany.

  8. 8
    BobRyan says:

    Seversky @ 6 states “…we are not omniscient and that our current beliefs may be wrong.”

    That would include every scientific theory currently accepted, including evolution. All theories are subject to change, since all theories are based on what is known. There is no theory that is exempt from the need for self-assessment as new information is learned.

  9. 9
    BobRyan says:

    One of the lies that are far too readily accepted is that the Republicans and Democrats switched. Republicans suddenly became the racists and Democrats suddenly opposed racism. They never mention which year the change occurred. The Democrats and Republicans split over the issue of slavery. Democrats did not want slavery to end and called the Republicans radicals for being abolitionist.

    The Democrat controlled South attempted to leave the country over their desire to bring an end to Jeffersonian Democracy, as the Fire Eaters referred to the Representative Republic and not in a good way. Any state can cede from the country, since there’s nothing in the Constitution to keep any of them part of the Union, but without the Union agreeing the new country exists, there is only states in rebellion.

    Wilson, a Democrat, segregated the military and fired just about every black person from the federal government. He was a racist and anti-Semitic, as well as his hatred for Germany. He loved France and was the closest this country ever got to a dictatorship. FDR was part of Wilson’s administration in the Navy department and everything he would later do was Wilsonian in nature.

    FDR continued with segregation of the military. It was his administration the turned a ship full of Jews away knowing full well that it was a death sentence. His wife was more Republican than Democrat in her social views and she was the one that fought to make inroads. It was a political union and he had no choice. Without her, he loses the close relationship he claimed to have with Theodore Roosevelt.

    Eisenhower, a Republican, ended segregation. The Dixiecrat states voted against him. That was 1952 and 1956. About 10 years later the Democrats were holding their convention in Chicago and unleashed the police and dogs on black protestors.

    The root of the Democrat party is racist and it continues to produce poisoned fruit to this day.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    The practice of science itself is not only a search for various truths about reality but is also, ultimately, primarily a search for ‘the truth’ about reality.

    The search for the ultimate truth about reality in science takes the form of trying to find the hypothetical final mathematical ‘theory of everything’. In its present form this entails trying to mathematically unify general relativity and quantum field theory, (which is the unification quantum mechanics and special relativity), into a single mathematical ‘theory of everything’. It is hoped that this hypothetical final ‘theory of everything’ will be ‘capable of describing all phenomena in the universe.’

    Theory of everything
    Excerpt: a theoretical framework revealing a deeper underlying reality,,,, a single theory that, in principle, is capable of describing all phenomena in the universe.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_everything

    As the following article states, “The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.”

    Theories of the Universe: Quantum Mechanics vs. General Relativity
    Excerpt: The first attempt at unifying relativity and quantum mechanics took place when special relativity was merged with electromagnetism. This created the theory of quantum electrodynamics, or QED. It is an example of what has come to be known as relativistic quantum field theory, or just quantum field theory. QED is considered by most physicists to be the most precise theory of natural phenomena ever developed.
    In the 1960s and ’70s, the success of QED prompted other physicists to try an analogous approach to unifying the weak, the strong, and the gravitational forces. Out of these discoveries came another set of theories that merged the strong and weak forces called quantum chromodynamics, or QCD, and quantum electroweak theory, or simply the electroweak theory, which you’ve already been introduced to.
    If you examine the forces and particles that have been combined in the theories we just covered, you’ll notice that the obvious force missing is that of gravity (i.e. General Relativity).
    http://www.infoplease.com/cig/.....ivity.html

    Quantum field theory – History
    Excerpt: ,,, (Quantum field theory) QFT is an unavoidable consequence of the reconciliation of quantum mechanics with special relativity (Weinberg (1995)),,,
    The first achievement of quantum field theory, namely quantum electrodynamics (QED), is “still the paradigmatic example of a successful quantum field theory” (Weinberg (1995)).
    per wikipedia

    Interestingly, “Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.”, i.e. conscious observation was dropped by the wayside in QFT!

    Not So Real – Sheldon Lee Glashow – Oct. 2018
    Review of: “What Is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics”
    by Adam Becker
    Excerpt: Heisenberg, Schrödinger, and their contemporaries knew well that the theory they devised could not be made compatible with Einstein’s special theory of relativity. First order in time, but second order in space, Schrödinger’s equation is nonrelativistic. Although quantum field theory is fully compatible with the special theory of relativity, a relativistic treatment of quantum measurement has yet to be formulated.
    https://inference-review.com/article/not-so-real

    Richard Feynman (and others) were only able to unify special relativity and quantum mechanics into Quantum Electrodynamics by quote unquote “brushing infinity under the rug” with a technique called Renormalization.

    THE INFINITY PUZZLE: Quantum Field Theory and the Hunt for an Orderly Universe
    Excerpt: In quantum electrodynamics, which applies quantum mechanics to the electromagnetic field and its interactions with matter, the equations led to infinite results for the self-energy or mass of the electron. After nearly two decades of effort, this problem was solved after World War II by a procedure called renormalization, in which the infinities are rolled up into the electron’s observed mass and charge, and are thereafter conveniently ignored. Richard Feynman, who shared the 1965 Nobel Prize with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga for this breakthrough, referred to this sleight of hand as “brushing infinity under the rug.”
    http://www.americanscientist.o.....g-infinity

    This “brushing infinity under the rug” with QED never set right with Feynman.

    In the following video, Richard Feynman expresses his unease with “brushing infinity under the rug” in Quantum-Electrodynamics:

    “It always bothers me that in spite of all this local business, what goes on in a tiny, no matter how tiny, region of space, and no matter how tiny a region of time, according to laws as we understand them today, it takes a computing machine an infinite number of logical operations to figure out. Now how can all that be going on in that tiny space? Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman – one of the founding fathers of QED (Quantum Electrodynamics)
    Quote taken from the 6:45 minute mark of the following video:
    Feynman: Mathematicians versus Physicists – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obCjODeoLVw

    I don’t know about Richard Feynman, but as for myself, being a Christian Theist, I find it rather comforting to know that it takes an ‘infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do’:

    “Why should it take an infinite amount of logic to figure out what one stinky tiny bit of space-time is going to do?”
    – Richard Feynman

    John1:1
    “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

    of note: ‘the Word’ in John 1:1 is translated from ‘Logos’ in Greek. Logos is also the root word from which we derive our modern word logic
    http://etymonline.com/?term=logic

    And whereas special relativity, by ‘brushing infinity under the rug’, has been semi-successfully unified, (i.e. save for quantum measurement), with quantum theory to produce Quantum Electrodynamics and/or Quantum Field Theory, no such mathematical ‘sleight of hand’ exists for unifying general relativity with quantum mechanics.

    General relativity, as the following articles show, simply refuses to be mathematically unified with quantum mechanics in any acceptable way. In technical terms, Gravity has yet to be successfully included into a theory of everything since the infinities that crop up in that attempt are not renormalizable as they were in Quantum-Electrodynamics.

    Does quantum mechanics contradict the theory of relativity?
    Sanjay Sood, Microchip Design Engineer, Theoretical and Applied Physicist – Feb 14, 2016
    Excerpt: quantum mechanics was first integrated with special theory of relativity by Dirac in 1928 just 3 years after quantum mechanics was discovered. Dirac produced an equation that describes the behavior of a quantum particle (electron). In this equation the space and time enter on the same footing – equation is first order in all 4 coordinates. One startling by product of this equation was the prediction of anti matter. It also gave the correct explanation for the electron’s spin. Dirac’s equation treats an electron as a particle with only a finite degrees of freedom.
    In 1940s Dirac’s equation was incorporated into the relativistic quantum field theory that’s knowns as quantum electrodynamics (QED) independently by Feynman, Schwinger and Tomonaga. This is the theory that describes the behavior of electrons and photons and their interactions with each other in terms of relativistic quantum fields that have infinite degrees of freedom. QED allowed extremely precise calculation of anomalous magnetic dipole moment of an electron. This calculated value matches the experimentally measured value to an astonishing precision of 12 decimal places!
    The integration of Einstein’s general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics has proved to be far more difficult. Such an integration would give a quantum theory of gravity. Even after a sustained effort lasting more than half a century, no renormalized quantum field theory of gravity has ever been produced. Renormalization means a theory that’s free of infinities at zero distance or infinite energy because 2 point particles can interact with each other at zero distance. A non renormalizable theory has no predictive value because it contains an infinite number of singular coefficients.
    https://www.quora.com/Does-quantum-mechanics-contradict-the-theory-of-relativity

    Unified field theory
    Excerpt: Gravity has yet to be successfully included in a theory of everything.
    Simply trying to combine the graviton with the strong and electroweak interactions runs into fundamental difficulties since the resulting theory is not renormalizable. Theoretical physicists have not yet formulated a widely accepted, consistent theory that combines general relativity and quantum mechanics. The incompatibility of the two theories remains an outstanding problem in the field of physics.
    Some theoretical physicists currently believe that a quantum theory of general relativity may require frameworks other than field theory itself, such as string theory or loop quantum gravity.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_field_theory#Current_status

    Quantum Leaps – Jeremy Bernstein – October 19, 2018
    Excerpt: Divergent series notwithstanding, quantum electrodynamics yielded results of remarkable accuracy. Consider the magnetic moment of the electron. This calculation, which has been calculated up to the fifth order in ?, agrees with experiment to ten parts in a billion. If one continued the calculation to higher and higher orders, at some point the series would begin to break down. There is no sign of that as yet. Why not carry out a similar program for gravitation? One can readily write down the Feynman graphs that represent the terms in the expansion. Yet there remains an irremediable difficulty. Every order reveals new types of infinities, and no finite number of renormalizations renders all the terms in the series finite.
    The theory is not renormalizable.
    https://inference-review.com/article/quantum-leaps
    Jeremy Bernstein is professor emeritus of physics at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    The irreconcilable infinity problem between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity, (and how it relates to Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem), is dealt with in a bit more detail in the following video.

    Gödel, Infinity, and Jesus Christ as the Theory of Everything – video
    https://youtu.be/x1Jw5Y686jY

    Of related note to the implications of Godel’s Incompleteness Theorem as it pertains to the search for the final mathematical ‘theory of everything’. Specifically, “Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything”

    “Gödel’s incompleteness theorem (1931), proves that there are limits to what can be ascertained by mathematics. Kurt Gödel halted the achievement of a unifying all-encompassing theory of everything in his theorem that: “Anything you can draw a circle around cannot explain itself without referring to something outside the circle—something you have to assume but cannot prove”.”
    – Stephen Hawking & Leonard Miodinow, The Grand Design (2010)

    Moreover, Gödel’s incompleteness theorem has now been extended to physics and is not just some abstract mathematical limit that prevents there from ever being a mathematical ‘theory of everything’ but is now shown to be, in actuality, a defining feature of reality: In the following article entitled ‘Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics’, which studied the derivation of macroscopic properties from a complete microscopic description, the researchers remark that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,, The researchers further commented that their findings challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”

    Quantum physics problem proved unsolvable: Gödel and Turing enter quantum physics – December 9, 2015
    Excerpt: A mathematical problem underlying fundamental questions in particle and quantum physics is provably unsolvable,,,
    It is the first major problem in physics for which such a fundamental limitation could be proven. The findings are important because they show that even a perfect and complete description of the microscopic properties of a material is not enough to predict its macroscopic behaviour.,,,
    “We knew about the possibility of problems that are undecidable in principle since the works of Turing and Gödel in the 1930s,” added Co-author Professor Michael Wolf from Technical University of Munich. “So far, however, this only concerned the very abstract corners of theoretical computer science and mathematical logic. No one had seriously contemplated this as a possibility right in the heart of theoretical physics before. But our results change this picture. From a more philosophical perspective, they also challenge the reductionists’ point of view, as the insurmountable difficulty lies precisely in the derivation of macroscopic properties from a microscopic description.”
    http://phys.org/news/2015-12-q.....godel.html

    Simply put, despite how much people may believe that there must be a single mathematical ‘theory of everything’ that exist out there somewhere, there, in fact, never will be a single mathematical theory of everything that links the microscopic world of quantum mechanics to the macroscopic world of General Relativity.

    And as was also touched upon in the preceding ‘Godel’ video, I firmly believe that the true reconciliation of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ was successfully accomplished in Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead. And that this fact is testified to in noting the physical details of the Shroud of Turin.

    Basically and succinctly, allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, as the Christian founders of modern science originally envisioned,,,, (Isaac Newton, Michael Faraday, James Clerk Maxwell, and Max Planck, to name a few of the Christian founders),,, and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands (with the closing of the free will loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), by rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics then that provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead provides an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between quantum mechanics and general relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”. Here are a few posts where I lay out and defend some of the evidence for that claim:

    Overturning of the Copernican Principle by both General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/we-are-invited-to-consider-a-simpler-perspective-on-the-laws-of-physics/#comment-680427

    (February 19, 2019) To support Isabel Piczek’s claim that the Shroud of Turin does indeed reveal a true ‘event horizon’, the following study states that ‘The bottom part of the cloth (containing the dorsal image) would have born all the weight of the man’s supine body, yet the dorsal image is not encoded with a greater amount of intensity than the frontal image.’,,,
    Moreover, besides gravity being dealt with, the shroud also gives us evidence that Quantum Mechanics was dealt with. In the following paper, it was found that it was not possible to describe the image formation on the Shroud in classical terms but they found it necessary to describe the formation of the image on the Shroud in discrete quantum terms.
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experiment-quantum-particles-can-violate-the-mathematical-pigeonhole-principle/#comment-673178
    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/experiment-quantum-particles-can-violate-the-mathematical-pigeonhole-principle/#comment-673179

    Verses:

    John 14:6
    Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

    Supplemental notes:

    Dr. Ed Feser – The Immateriality of the Intellect – video
    Excerpt:
    1: Formal thought processes can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    However,
    2: Nothing material can have an exact or unambiguous conceptual content.
    So,
    3: Formal thought processes are not material.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNi0j19ZSpo

    Twenty Arguments God’s Existence – Peter Kreeft
    Excerpt: 11. The Argument from Truth
    This argument is closely related to the argument from consciousness. It comes mainly from Augustine.
    1. Our limited minds can discover eternal truths about being.
    2. Truth properly resides in a mind.
    3. But the human mind is not eternal.
    4. Therefore there must exist an eternal mind in which these truths reside.
    https://www.peterkreeft.com/topics-more/20_arguments-gods-existence.htm#11

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    BobRyan@ 8

    Seversky @ 6 states “…we are not omniscient and that our current beliefs may be wrong.”

    That would include every scientific theory currently accepted, including evolution. All theories are subject to change, since all theories are based on what is known. There is no theory that is exempt from the need for self-assessment as new information is learned

    Agreed.

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