Malaugmented Reality

Malaugmented Reality April 23, 2019

This is another of those posts that started as a link dump and grew until it was out of control. The original idea that sparked it off was the notion of “malaugmented reality” – a phrase I encountered on P.Z.Myers’ blog Pharyngula. We have begun to speak of “augmented reality,” and the experience of the world as having a whole other layer – whether of gods, demons, spiritual warfare, conspirators, aliens, lizard people, or anything else – is potentially a similar kind of overlay, which if false or simply unhealthy, may cause us harm.

There are several conferences and a journal issue related to this topic that I want to highlight, with calls for papers. One is a conference about Trust, another is about the media and (mis)information, one is about Toxic Traditions and maladaptive beliefs, one is about contemporary legends, one is about Conspiracy Theory, Politics, and Representation, and one is about getting beyond post-truth. Still others are mentioned below. But first for a round-up of quotes and links related to this topic. Just recently, The Point had an article about how the internet is transforming our political discourse and other communal conversations. Here is an excerpt:

If many online bigots and loudmouths turn out to be perfectly pleasant in person, we can hardly be surprised then—just as there are plenty of nice dogs who bark viciously from behind a fence, and plenty of nice people who are transformed into irate bullies when they find themselves behind the wheel of a car. That’s not to say that many others won’t or don’t carry out perfectly reasonable and courteous discussions online; but that they hold themselves there according to their own will rather than by the demands that the medium makes on them. The internet makes civility and persuasiveness optional, like everything else, by allowing us to separate our political convictions from our social offline selves—to privatize, in this sense, what is public.

It is not just that internet communication makes it easier to insult others, however; it is that it does so while expanding the bounds of what we feel we ought to take into our own hands. The personalization and depersonalization of online speech renders our reasons at once more categorical and intimate: everyone has the means to police offenses against this or that group or cause, and since we can immediately weigh in—since it feels, that is, as if what is on the screen is in some sense immediate to and part of our direct personal experience—we are each liable to become an open nerve of anger. It is this combination of engorged accountability and relative impunity that makes online speech so eager to aggress and take offense. (Hence the “crybully.”) Godwin’s law is the flipside of the fact that you may you may punctuate any discussion with a bland “disagree”: it is because our punches can’t connect that we may pack them with all the force we can muster. As words matter more (because they are the main way others encounter us), they also matter less (because there is finally nothing doing). We simulate discussion and political engagement without the underlying stakes.

Linda Stomato wrote in Inside Higher Ed:

These are tough days for truth and, particularly, for those truths that are supported by evidence that academic experts provide. It’s a strange new world dominated by intentional misinformation and disinformation campaigns, by deliberate hoaxes, and by the slander of solid, verifiable facts as questionable, even false — not to mention the maligning of individual academics. The constant challenges to truth, and the means to arrive at it through informed and reasoned discourse, exacerbate the trend.

Inside Higher Ed had an article about the role of universities in combating propaganda.

Hemant Mehta highlighted how YouTube is persuading people to believe the Earth is flat:

Almost All Flat Earthers Say YouTube Videos Convinced Them, Study Says

The Chronicle tackled accusations of indoctrination being substituted for education. There is also a call for papers related to this topic (in Romania!):

See also:

The Misinformation Age: how false beliefs spread

Critical Thinking: How To Make Students Better


The Right Problem

Rejecting Science

Why Do People Reject Science?

On doubting science and engendering trust, RJS writes:

Discernment is hard work and requires an openness to challenging conclusions. I am open to genuine evidence that undermines the basic evolutionary model of development over deep time. So far I haven’t seen any.

The ‘Skype a Scientist’ program that seeks to combat fake news.

Connor Wood blogged several times about postmodernism and science.

UK seeking to curb fake news with new laws

A recent study of why people believe in psychic powers

Inside the Secret Sting Operations to Expose Celebrity Psychics

Why Do People Fall for Fake News?

Justifiably Believing That Something Is True Doesn’t Mean You Know It

How Much the Public Knows about Science, and Why It Matters

Measles Outbreaks Are a Result of Misinformation and a Lack of Government Trust

Is the tide of social media facilitation of antivaxxers and other denialists turning?

Why a pragmatist defense of truth is useful

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!

I’ll Be Googled

How the Hindu Right-Wing Factchecks (Fake) News

When Facts Were Enough

History for a Post-Fact America

Valerie Tarico wrote about how we have been hacked and hijacked, psychologically.

Journalism in the era of fake news.

Randal Rauser wrote about how an anti-vaccine mother changed her mind, and what her example teaches us.

Fred Clark on the satanic panic hoax and its persistence.

Why Data is Never Raw

Lying with science: a guide to myth debunking

Today’s Biggest Threat: The Polarized Mind

Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are The Advantage of Understanding Your Adversary’s Arguments

Does a Christian Have to be Certain About Anything?

Is My Ignorance Worth as Much as Your Knowledge?

Does Christianity Solve the Problem of Evil? (spoiler alert: no, it doesn’t)

The Chronicle of Higher Education addressed teaching information literacy in an era of lies.

There was an interesting article about information and democracy.

The tyrant inside your mind

How older and younger people fare at fact-checking

Yuval Noah Harari on fake news

What We Don’t Know Is Hurting Us

Who has the right to remember?

Did Thomas Kuhn kill truth?

David Brin wrote about fighting back against disinformation

Social authoritarians and fake news

How to change someone’s mind according to science

Misinformation was last year’s “word of the year” chosen by

Information Literacy’s Third Wave

Why is one person’s science another’s conspiracy theory?

Let No One Enter Here Who Has Not Studies Conspiracy Theories

Deepfakes aren’t the problem, We are

Messing With Our Minds

Fake videos of real people vs. real videos of fake people

Siwei Lyu, University at Albany – Detecting DeepFake Videos

Religious Right Group Claims George Soros is “Renting” Progressive Christians

Measles, Lies And Politics

Teen Who Defied Anti-Vax Parents by Getting His Shots Testifies Before Congress

Is Truth Worth Seeking?

5 Ways to Correct Misinformation While Minimizing the Backfire Effect

Is Anti-Intellectualism Ever Good for Democracy?

YouTube has stopped promoting videos that promulgate conspiracy theories. There was also an interesting piece about one of the internet’s oldest conspiracy theories.

Post-Truth for Educators

The importance of diversity in higher education

The educational experiences that public schools provide

“Social cohesion is a lot stronger than political groups want us to think. In reality, there are more similarities than media accounts about other people’s perceptions or prejudices want us to see.”

Religious belief and belief in organic food claims

Cognitive behavioral psychology and the logical fallacies we encounter in online conversations

Issues on the Left and not just on the Right

Modernity’s resonances—An introduction

Credulity, or Science as an intoxication

The art of debunking

The secularist killjoy: A reply to Schaefer and Smith

Why We Need (Good) Journalists

Why do people believe in pseudoscience?

Vices of the mind: fake news, conspiracy theories, bullshit etc…

How filmmakers created fake newsreels in the 1920s.


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