Fake knowledge. Do you contribute to it?

By Joe America

A tweet ended up teaching me something important. After the US missile strike on Syria, I commented that it was not really a Trump decision, but a military decision. An American decision. The following tweet came back:

“It was a PR stunt which cost millions. Eyewitnesses say Syrian military anticipated US Raid – ABC News . . .”

And I responded:

“That conclusion simplifies, emotionalizes, and rings like the populist rhetoric of division. But thanks for taking up space.”

I apologize for the snarky response, but humor is where you find it. He responded kindly and I was duly impressed.

Afterward, I thought about this some more.

Why do we need to get to a conclusion so quickly? Why do we rush to judgment on the slightest of knowledge?

Well, it seems to me that we either have a personal need to be seen as smart (the social media show-off syndrome) or we are filtering everything through our pre-cast agenda or bias. So the actual information does not matter. Our agenda or bias matters.

The latter point we can verify by noting who supported the strikes and who opposed them. Britain, for. Iran against. Militarist republicans, for. Far-right republicans who elected Trump, against. Middle-of-the-road democrat Hillary Clinton, for. Arch leftist Michael Moore, against.

They are letting their pre-cast biases create their judgment, without knowing much at all.

Except, perhaps, for Hillary Clinton. She knows the circumstances better than any I’ve listed, and she proposed strikes before President Trump actually did them. Both Clinton and Trump are going by what the US intelligence and military experts are saying. Based on knowledge, and US interests.

So all the quick, profound opinions, to me, are fake news. They are reflections of a need for attention, or precast agendas and biases.  “I Hate Trump” seems to be an operative bias for many. I mean, what are we to think of the guy who wrote that the strikes were just Trump sending a message to Chinese Premier Xi, who was here for a visit?

If we grant such loose opinions any kind of credence, we allow ourselves to be drawn into the surreal world of fake news and fake knowledge.

So how should we deal with significant events such as the air strike when we know they are important?

I’d suggest one of two ways.

First, ask questions that need to be answered before conclusions are drawn: What information did the US have about the chemical attack? Who was in the room when the decision was made? Were any members of Congress briefed? Were Russia and Syria indeed warned in advance? If Syria removed assets before the strike, does that mean Russia abridged a trust? What damage was done at the airport? What are ALL the experts saying?

Once the information is in hand, which may be days away, we can draw a conclusion based on knowledge. That is, add to real knowledge rather than create fake knowledge.

The second possible approach is to list all the possible scenarios, decision-points or outcomes, but not draw a hard conclusion. Do the deductions . . . fine. Look at things objectively and comprehensively . . . great. But leave room for further information and keep a willingness to change the conclusion based on the new information. (Twitter does not lend itself well to such examinations.)

Both of these approaches will drive toward a fair and factual assessment . . . toward knowledge. It is when hard conclusions are drawn in advance of knowledge that we get in trouble. Because too often, we end up trying to defend them . . . whether right or wrong. Then we are caught in a trap that takes our critical thinking south.

The rush to a quick conclusion is too often a rush to ignorance and bad decision-making.

I suggest we avoid being a part of the fake knowledge industry that is flourishing these days across social and mainstream media. We’d all be better off if we sought real knowledge.


202 Responses to “Fake knowledge. Do you contribute to it?”
  1. NHerrera says:

    I buy the current blog’s advice, Joe. At the very least — absent the examination of many facts or events associated with the topic and relevant analysis — at least give the clear impression of the conclusion being tentative, such as by saying, “in my opinion” or some such. Which leaves room for the writer to consider the counter comments, and fair discussion to continue. Of course, a counter comment such as “that is an idiotic conclusion” may start a word war, which you so nicely stop on its tracks.

    The better route is for the first commenter not to make a conclusion and wait for discussions that follow. His conclusion or variation of it may already be answered in the ensuing discussions, by which time his adjusted comment — if he choses to post it — will be a better entry into the discussion.

    In short, I agree: let us not contribute knowingly to fake knowledge.

  2. josephivo says:

    “Significant events such as the air strike when we know they are important” shouldn’t it be we “belief” they are important, or even better “informed people belief they are important”? And are important for what? Stop the worldwide use of chemical weapons? Stop the Russians expanding their influence? Remove Assad? Give a signal of decisive US strength to the world? Important because our leaders/experts decided so? Or all of the above?

    Isn’t there a continuum from objective verifiable facts and pure beliefs? From my father had a long black beard to God the Father has a long white beard? Saying that my father had a white beard would be fake news, but would it be fake news to say that God the Father has a black beard? Where on this continuum does one calls a statement fake news and where a crazy opinion? Doesn’t “fake news” have to have an intentional element to deceive? Isn’t it different from incorrect news?

    Do not dilute the notion of “fake news” by calling all crazy opinions fake too. “The largest crowd” was fake, the “dancing Muslims celebrating in New Jersey” was fake, all verifiable and with a clear intention to promote an opinion. Disagreeing with a military action might be crazy but it is not fake.

    • oooops. josephivo actually already said what I had wanted to say (sorry for the redundancy below 😉 ):

      “Disagreeing with a military action might be crazy but it is not fake.”

      In this case I’m with Trump’s action re tomahawks, but if someone says it’s a PR stunt, that’s not all together exclusive, ie. I can agree and support while also agreeing it could’ve been (very likely) a PR stunt, given Trump’s style.

    • See my reply to LC. Opinions are thought provoking. Many are wrong. Our current intellectual environment is as dumbed down as it has ever been, it seems to me (opinion). If that is what you and LC are advocating, more of that, I disagree.

      • There’s more of that by virtue of our ability to self-publish opinions, before we had to be somebodies to write our opinions. There’s no stopping the sudden flood of opinions thanks to wordpress, twitter, fb, etc. etc. so more is likelier than less.

        The solution IMHO is not to do more editing, or censorship, the solution is to be able to have the capacity to suck all this stuff in , then come up with your own thoughts of the matter. Maybe this is a generational thing, but since josephivo and I seem to be in agreement, I think maybe a cognitive thing,

        I’d like to get edgar’s opinion on this, what’s the solution here aside from critical thinking, of course it’s impossible to suck everything in, so how then does one prioritize? remember I’m the anti- redaction, censorship, editing guy here—- if I can, I’d open my brain to ALL opinions info in the internet.

        • We have reached agreement. I am arguing for not rushing to judgment when there is knowledge to be had, not to accept a salesman’s patter as fact, and don’t defend a position for the sake of defending a position, when the position is wrong. I’m not saying censor everyone, control speech, or stop the internet. I’m saying be smarter and psychologically healthier within the new realm.

          • I think we agree in theory too, Joe. But there’s an underlying difference in how we perceive this “new realm”.

            I think the underlying presumption here on your part (and maybe edgar’s), is that many people, especially in the Philippines (i’m sure here too) are unable to discern fact from fiction (maybe so), hence the need to fear “fake news” or “fake knowledge”, either shield them from it; or give them some sort of antidote or vaccine.

            Whereas it doesn’t matter to me if people are unable to discern , the nature of crowds have always allowed for course corrections, hence my confidence (or apathy). The name of the game here is meta-data. There’s this fear ingrained in the way you view the “new realm”;

            i’m still in awe of it —– IMHO there was more fake news when there were less people publishing, and more a-holes were in power too. Our optics differ, but all of us agree on the importance of critical thinking, though count me out of introspective thinking 😉 .

            Am I right?

            • Yes, and we do disagree on the point that it does not matter if people are intellectually sentient or somnolent. 🙂 I think democracy works better if people are not ignorant.

              • With that standard, at what point of time (year or era) in the U.S. did “democracy” work best then? 😉 1790s? 1840s? 1960s? 1990s? Now?

                Ignorance/knowledge for me isn’t so much a standard for democracy, maybe icing or the cherry on top, action/inaction is the dichotomy that’s probably more apt—- one can be full of knowledge or enlightenment, yet still fail to act (hence this fake news/fake knowledge is all moot to me).

              • Okay, you are quibbling now, and I’m not interested in partaking. If you don’t get my point, or disagree, that’s okay. Thanks for allowing me the chance to clarify.

              • Didn’t mean to quibble, it’s an interesting question. The US thinks of itself as the direct heir to Greco-Roman (as well as Judeo-Christian) values… though I’m sure UK, Canada, maybe Australia, hell even France would think itself one too.

                So I’m somewhat for American exceptionalism (i think most Americans are especially ones who’ve traveled). But this whole democracy needs wise people (or just knowledgable ) to function, is an ideal , it was never reality… that’s my point.

                If you read the letters and articles (on pamphlets) the Founding Fathers wrote to each other or in response to each other, they were basically trolls (snarky, most times just rude… libel & slander was the norm).

                If you read Teddy Roosevelt’s stump speeches, at least ones recorded, that guy was worst than Trump. American’s had radios first (fireside chats), then television (Americans saw Nixon sweating), now we have the internet, specifically web 2.0, in which people can respond back.

                Your premise is that we’re getting dumber and ruder , me personally I think it’s the same (my reading of American history), maybe there’s some echo or magnifying effect with the internet, but same as ever before.

                I agree the ideal should be that everyone’s smart;

                BUT realistically (Zika virus has been affecting people , i’m using zika here as metaphor, whether thru lack of education or nutrition or genetics, or all three) we all know democracy is lead by one individual or a few handful of individuals, then people follow where ever they lead (and people whether now or the 1700s respond to emotions). Those few know that if you lead the herd astray, there will be a reckoning at the end.

                That very important fact, with or without letters being read in pubs, telegraph, radio, TV , the internet, still holds true. Now maybe we’ll evolve to be Borgs , or something similar to the Buddhist concept of Nirvana (but via tech, internet of things become internet of minds), but for now I don’t see too much difference.

                Confirmation bias still rules the day, maybe the difference now is that where before confirmation bias was rationed; Now it’s like a buffet. But the underlying factor is still action or inaction, just as it was in the 1770s in the East Coast. And most people, as thru out history, prefer inaction (biologically we ‘re wired for playing it safe).

                Democracy all comes down to that, either you do or you don’t. The knowledge stuff is secondary (was never a pre-requisite even, IMHO). In conclusion, democracy is a contact sport:

              • That all makes sense, and it may be the gap between today’s dialogue and what I think is the ideal that troubles me, rather than a historical descent into incivility and bad thinking. The manipulations and emotional thinking these days are real . . . it is not just literary license . . . and the Philippines is paying a heavy price for them. I’d rather rage against the dying light than accept that.

              • You don’t have to be smart to participate, just committed, and the most committed wins.

              • sonny says:

                “… people are intellectually sentient or somnolent.”

                or sometimes worse – somnambulant.

              • Damn! That’s the word I really wanted but had no idea how to spell it! Thanks, Society Word Master! I was somnambulant on the job, heh heh.

              • sonny says:

                Not to worry, Sahib. You take care of the big gates, we watch the little lockers. 🙂

              • “I’d rather rage against the dying light than accept that.”

                Hahaha… I like what you did there!

                I’m not being snarky here, but a simple call for letter writing you’re against, but a next to impossible task like fighting unwanted internet opinions you’re for? What gives, Joe?

                You wanna rage, rage practically.

              • I’m against using the blog for hard (critical) advocacy as it may violate the terms of my visa here.

              • Good point on the visa stuff, I forgot about that.

          • Tydefaly says:

            “…not to accept a salesman’s patter as fact, and don’t defend a position for the sake of defending a position, when the position is wrong.”

            But wouldn’t that actually be rushing to judgment? Or was there just something missed? Because if anything, if you did not give the person a chance to defend it, how can you say that the position is wrong and there is no knowledge to be had? Was it wrong because it wasn’t backed up by verifiable facts? Or was it because it just didn’t agree with your own beliefs, hence, its wrongness? Do you have verifiable facts to support that?

            So as a word of advice: Do take your own advice.

            • 🙂 Thanks for the advice. I actually laughed when writing the article because I know I strew opinions across the internet and for sure my point of view is not shared by all. But at least now I think about why I’m posting, and actually DON’T post as many hasty, emotionalized comments as I did before. But there is a place for observations and opinions in the greater dialogue. You are right.

              • p.s., Wrong would be if someone said Leni Robredo was pregnant, then when shown the fake photo he used to make the judgment, said, ‘well, she is still not a decent person’ rather than, ‘oh, sorry for being unkind’. The well-being of the nation depends on making good decisions based on an honest reading of people and events.

      • josephivo says:

        I’m afraid you misunderstood my point. I’m scared that the misuse of the word fake is supporting all those who belief that a verifiable fact and an opinion are the same. A ton of evidence for evolution equaling to the belief in a young earth. My opinion based on nothing equally valuable as anyone else’s opinion. I can b.s. whatever I want and with the same authority as Newton, Darwin or Einstein formulating their theories, it is just a question of who shouts the loudest, who has the most followers, who can add the more juicy details. Look at all the b.s. programs on UFO’s, visits of extra-terrestrials, hidden secrets on TV, presented with the same seriousness as real science or news programs, these are dumbing us down.

        All are opinions, solid or crazy, unless a statement is based on verifiable facts. And opinions from experienced people in the know are more valuable than opinions from a neophyte. Opinions grounded on solid argumentation, more valuable than just plain statements.

        Fake news should be debunked with pictures showing the differences at inaugurations, crazy opinions should be challenged with solid arguments.

        (In Syria the options were doing something or making a hollow statement while looking in the other direction. Doing something was certainly the better option. One can discuss if 58, 59 or 60 cruise missiles were optimal, one can discuss the timing, one can discuss the communication surrounding the attack, one can discuss the need for follow-up, but in my opinion doing something did trump ignoring the atrocities in Syria.)

  3. karlgarcia says:


    Google will now have a fact check feature.

  4. Zen says:

    An eye opener, a food for thought. I say it is better to wait for more information though I could be at fault with this myself but that is the danger of social media, the rush to click to misinformation.

  5. I disagree completely , Joe—- well… I agree with tempering opinions with IMHO, or I think, this is just me… etc. making obvious that it’s one’s opinion only (i’d like to think that I do that, but i know i’ve come off as a know-it-all here too, mostly because of the way write, so i’m blaming style here, not so much intention).

    Suppositions, conjectures, presumptions , assumptions, etc. are what makes the commentary fun here. We all come from certain points of view, so each’s speculation is always a breath of fresh air, a new way of looking at things. it’s how say edgar sees the world, or karl, or Bill, or NH, or sonny, and you, Joe.

    If we start demanding journalistic integrity on each other, ie. just the facts , ma’am… this place will be drier than the Sahara.

    Fake news is just that fake news,

    like the USS Maine in Havana Harbor; or Gulf of Tonkin; WMDs in Iraq, etc. the intent is to lie to get the public to think a certain way. We here are simply engaging in fun speculation, most times we’re sharing personal experiences, actual knowledge and historical/scientific facts. But the speculation IMHO is what makes interaction here fun, the spice if you will, so by all means don’t curb this.

    Like chemp’s Bangladeshi heist article, we all like playing detective—- at least allow us that.

    “First, ask questions that need to be answered before conclusions are drawn: What information did the US have about the chemical attack?”


    I’ve talked about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on here, mostly because I agree with her a lot, but also because of her hotness. But she’s asking exactly that question—- ie. couldn’t the sarin/chem stockpiles already have been on the ground and Syrian jets bombed it (intentionally or not)?

    There’s a bunch of chem (though not sure about biological stuff, it’s harder logistically) and radioactive stuff missing around the world (from this, smart guys can cobble together not just dirty b0mb but nuke too), but in Syria & Iraq specifically, chemical weapons have changed hands.

    I still think the tomahawks attack was waaaaaay to convenient, I’m still waiting for Assad to parade dead soldiers victims of said attack—none yet. Be suspicious— but I’d like to think that it’s different from the WMDs case to justify invading Iraq, since Trump isn’t itching to get into Syria.

    I don’t think Trump wants to invade Syria, but the notion of these tomahawks being a PR stunt is not too far from the ball park… it’s within the park, Joe. here’s Ms. Gabbard’s take:

    “Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) said Friday she was “skeptical” that Syrian leader Bashar Assad’s regime was behind this week’s chemical weapons attack in northern Syria.

    “There are a number of theories that are out there,” Gabbard said during an interview on CNN’s “The Situation” when addressing who was behind the attack.

    Gabbard pointed to false intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction used to justify the Iraq War under President George W. Bush as an example of how the intelligence assessments can produce inaccurate information.”

    • karlgarcia says:

      Worldview, point of view, line of sight,angles,etc.
      But we all know fake news has been around ever since we learned to communicate, what makes it different today? Maybe because the internet is involved now as a medium and many has access to it.
      Gone are the days when we say,’What you don’t know won’t hurt”.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Ok, I understand that this is a fact and opinion issue. Second or third grade science classes teaches kids the basic difference of facts and opion: ex. world is flat, fact or opinion?
        Joe’s example is from a news outfit, or was it a tweet from someone quoting a news outfit, I am sure anymore. It maybe a news outlet, and it maybe a matter of degree of influence.

        But what we do in the comment boxes like guessing,conjectures,humor is not what Joe calls fake news.

        • Then you’re reading the article differently from me, karl— maybe Joe can elaborate.

          “Why do we need to get to a conclusion so quickly? Why do we rush to judgment on the slightest of knowledge?”

          I’m simply saying , because conjectures are fun (no deceit intended, just playing detective); it’s not fun to wait a week after the fact (it may be fun to re-visit to see how close we came), but waiting seems drastic here, is my point.

    • You and others are completely free to sow opinions across the internet ether. Baked. Half-baked. Agenda-based manipulations. As I am free to read your material, or not. I only say for myself not to mistake loose talk for knowledge. And to observe that when we are guided by loose talk, we seem to get really shitty leaders.

    • edgar lores says:

      “Like chemp’s Bangladeshi heist article, we all like playing detective—- at least allow us that.”

      Oh, JoeAm allows that.

  6. karlgarcia says:

    Sometimes we just read a few sentences and Bam! we already formed an opinion, even in blog articles and comments in TSH.
    That is why the enumeration of Edgar never gets old.It is always complete.

    • NHerrera says:

      karl, I agree with you on the scope of edgar’s posts, chempo’s blogs, and others, but in a way I agree with the general tenor of Lance’s post above — especially as such posts, not overdone (?), add some spice to the discussion. 🙂

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yes, I just read LCX’s comment. Thanks NH.

        • Exactly, NH. When there’s intent to deceive, as josephivo pointed out. But I’m just talking about the day to day interaction on here, since we can “feel” each other’s points of view, we can actually already tell where say karl stands on things, or you, edgar, Ireneo, Bill, or Joe, etc.

          In the US most speculation is in NFL football games or say March madness, or of sport brackets, but especially in the 3rd world where people watch the news with their neighbors, or say in the Mid East in coffee shops,

          conjectures is what livens up the place, once a certain event or news unfolds, especially when it involves the American military, can you guy imagine a shop keeper or TV owner, yelling “Guys!!! let’s all wait when we have all the facts!… I don’t want fake news in my shop!”.

    • Edgar disseminates enlightenment. Many opinion mongers sow salve for our neediness to be agreed with.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I agree completely.

      • I think now you’re playing the Us against Them game here, Joe ie. the opinion mongers (ie. fake news peddlers) and the enlightenment peddlers. Ask edgar, he’s got biases too (each of us here). I agree though that edgar’s thoughts are gems, but this enlightened opinion vs. fake opinions, is similar to the WE HAVE THE TRUTH sentiments (hence “they” don’t) , expressed by Salafis, Haredis, Evangelicals, etc.

        I wouldn’t presume to speak for josephivo, but much of my disagreement here is in the weighing of opinions and biases, I’m not saying opinions and biases are all created equal, but variety IMHO is good, it’s even better if you’re flexible with ideas presented. But appreciate the variety, is my point… sure you’ll get lousy ideas , opinions, but to say one’s “enlightened” by default implies the other is “un-enlightened” is to me the purview of fundamentalists,

        this Us vs. Them is a fundamentalist game. josephivo’s asking a deeper question re where you draw that line , I’m simply saying appreciate the variety.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    I learned many lessons in this blog installment.
    My two or three comments about the air strike in the other blog showed a mix of jumping to conclusions mixed with a little research. But most of the time, I ask questions.

    • Opinions are valuable, if not sealed into our psyche as knowledge that we then defend for the sake of defending. You are open-minded, so your opinions are more hypotheses than declaration of fact. 🙂 🙂


      • karlgarcia says:


      • chemrock says:

        Joe, how do you look at this:

        Micha and I have very different views on the monetary sovereignty / printing money issue.
        She wonders why I can’t understand her explanations.
        The thing is, I can understand what she was telling me. But understanding her does’nt mean I agree with her. I’m just waiting for her to explain in the way that can justify her point of view. And that means it’s back to my view which counters her.
        Is that stalemate of somebody is not getting through to the other?

        • I feel your pain. 🙂 I’d just shrug and forget about it. The subject is fraught with complexity and maybe there are personal issues in the way. If you reach the point of not learning anything, why continue?

        • edgar lores says:

          It is possible that both of you are correct.

        • edgar lores says:

          To illustrate: your starting assumptions are irreconcilable.

          Your starting assumption is that debt has to be paid (with existing money) or else hell will break loose. And her starting assumption that debt can be paid (with money out of thin air) and, no, hell will not break loose.

          Both of these assumptions are facts/beliefs and are not necessarily true for all time.

          You support your assumption, which admittedly is more fact than belief, by historical precedents and you deduce that it will happen again.

          She supports her assumption, which arguably is more belief than fact, by the existing situation, and she infers that it will not happen again.

          While we mostly rely on projections that are based on past evidence (i.e., facts) rather than pure reason (and present evidence), one has to admit that black swans do exist.

          So, again as I say, it may be that both of you are correct. Time will tell… or not. There might be an intervening event — like Armageddon — that prevents conclusive proof.

          • NHerrera says:

            A technical aside

            This brings to my mind the concept of plane or Euclidian geometry versus hyperbolic geometry. In the early days mathematicians were hard at work on the concept of parallel lines meeting or intersecting which Euclidian geometry says they cannot by way of an axiom. This eventually resulted in the development of hyperbolic geometry which Einstein used in his theory of relativity.

            So when you talk of parallel lines and their implications or corollaries you better state whether you are basing it on Euclidian or Hyperbolic Geometry. (Micha’s or Chempo’s Geometry. 🙂 )

  8. Bert says:

    “I’ve talked about Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on here, mostly because I agree with her a lot, but also because of her hotness. But she’s asking exactly that question—- ie. couldn’t the sarin/chem stockpiles already have been on the ground and Syrian jets bombed it (intentionally or not)?”—Lance

    Lance, I disagree with you maybe for the first time here in Joe’s blog and more so because you’re agreeing with Tulsi Gabbard who is a rabid Trump oppositionist and a true liberal/democrat. It’s common knowledge that Syria’s sarin/chem stockpiles are in the hands of the Assad’s government and not much of an evidence that the Syrian rebels have had them. It has been used by the Syrian military against rebels and civilians a number of times before as reported in the news. We have to remember that there was an agreement between Putin/Assad and Obama in 2013 if I remember right that all chem stockpiles will be eliminated, a promise naively believed by John Kerry and Obama

    Now, by simple logic, I think that Tulsi Gabbard was way off the mark by her statements..by a mile. I don’t blame you though because I agree with you that really she’s hot.

    • Hahahahaha… then we should also ban hotness, as it affects decision making. I agree with you re Syrian stockpiles, the Syrian regime have ownership of much of their stuff still, I was talking more about Iraqi stuff and the possibility that they’ve been transported cross border, the loss of Iraqi stuff is documented.

      As for my girl Tulsi being anti-Trump, of late she was looking like she’d be Trump’s Democrat darling, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/01/tulsi-gabbard-syria/508367/ (pls. read that article) I think she still could be because she is (like me) anti-regime change (hence her skepticism).

      As a veteran, Tulsi just doesn’t want another repeat, what she’s saying isn’t necessarily anti-Trump, she’s just making sure the whole WMDs in Iraqi isn’t used again. But like I said, since I don’t think Trump wants to actually invade Syria or do another regime change , we’re safe—- and we both can still appreciate Ms. Gabbard’s hotness, ambivalent to whether she’s pro- or anti- Trump.

      • Oh, and I agree more than likely Assad launched the chem attack to see what Trump would do, or maybe he thought Trump gave him a green light to do whatever. But to Tulsi ‘s point , possibility-wise , her point would still be possible— though probability-wise, it most definitely came from Assad. But Ms. Gabbard is still in the ballpark, IMHO. 😉

        • NHerrera says:

          I get confused now. In the ballpark of hotness, you mean? (Sorry Joe, for injecting that rather un-tasty type of humor; I am affected by the summer heat.) 🙂

    • NHerrera says:

      @Bert, thanks for a recollection of that item — it does throw light on this topic of sarin gas.

  9. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    There is a confirmatory survey result on PRD’s performance/ satisfaction rating: Pulse Asia versus SWS out today. Because probably of differences of questions asked and methodology difference, the numbers are different, with SWS numbers for “net” (approve – disapprove) tending to be lower not only in the recent result but in the previous result.


    I see that PA’s numbers on the “net” has gone down but that SWS’ numbers remained at the same. Whether this is significant or not, I cannot say unless one goes deeper into the methodologies, etc of the two survey outfits.

  10. edgar lores says:

    1. In my time, “fake” was not used to describe news or knowledge. No, it was used to describe artificial body parts.

    1.1. There were fake teeth knows as dentures. There was fake hair known as wigs or toupees. And there were fake breasts known as falsies. Or, as Holden Caulfield said, ”…those damn falsies that point all over the place.”

    1.2. “Fake” was also used to describe contrived body movements known as feints, widely used in basketball and boxing.

    2. From the physical to the non-physical, the term is now used to describe alternative facts, counterfeit news, and spurious knowledge. I suppose we can apply the term to conclusions derived from all of the above.

    3. If we go back, we will remember that knowledge originated from the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Eve, then Adam, ate of the fruit… and they realized that they were naked.

    3.1. Now we eat of the real fruit (true news and knowledge) and the rotten fruit (fake news and knowledge)… and it seems to engender delusion: we think we are wearing finery while other people are naked.

    4. JoeAm suggests we partake of the fruits with grains of salt. This is critical thinking and it does work depending on our thoroughness. In this scenario, we are looking at present events and assessing their significance.

    4.1. As to whether we should wait for a few days before reacting to events, we may not have that luxury. We no longer live in the era of horse and buggy and telegraph, but in the era of 24/7 news (not to mention breaking news), search engines (that respond in microseconds), and social media. So it is alright to react, more or less immediately, after performing due diligence.

    4.2. This points to a need to go deeper, not necessarily to the past but to our conditioning. To be able to interpret events correctly, we should have the proper lens (critical thinking as one method) and the proper perspective (conditioning or our base beliefs). Because chances are that our starting point, which is ourselves, may initially carry the “wrong” bias… and we may thus interpret events not objectively but merely to confirm our bias.

    4.3. What I am suggesting is introspective thinking. The unexamined life… etcetera.


    5. Personally, my visceral reaction to the US action – PR stunt or not; ISIS caliphate or not — was approval. Bashar al-Assad is a dictator who bombs his own citizens. And he uses biological weapons that have been internationally outlawed.

    o The civil war has been going on for 7 years.
    o The death toll is 470,000.
    o The number of refugees is 4.8 million.
    o The number of internally displaced persons is 6 million.

    Compared to him, Duterte is almost a saint.

    • NHerrera says:

      I agree with the notion of “introspective thinking.” And from that, screen-in the relevant items/facts as you did in 5.0 — a schema that helps in reducing the effort in searching or recalling the relevant items needed to support the view. Nice.

    • And 59 missiles is just opening a new phase of dialogue.

      Nice assessment of the topic. Introspection is what blind followers are incapable of as they forward yet another batch of propaganda into the knowledge stream.

    • “And he uses biological weapons that have been internationally outlawed.”


      I’m sure you meant chemical , but just as a side note on biological weapons , Mid-East countries do a lot of research on this knowing full well Israel’s capabilities, but it’s very hard to weaponize biological stuff, ie. if you explode them they tend to die, etc.

      So Middle Eastern research into bio-weapons tend to just focus on counter-measures, not so much weaponizing , hell nukes is easier.

      • NHerrera says:

        Please oblige me: that is for biological agent which when weaponized you said, die when exploded through the missile fired. How about chemical agent such as sarin, will its effect be kaput also when exploded. You may know of this so I need not google.

        • I know say for Anthrax (bio weapon), it needs to stay in its powdered form, so its delivered mainly as aerosol ; as for Sarin (chem weapon), I think there’s still incineration involved but with enough the gas still spreads and is intact—- think of it like an IED, all the ball bearings or nails are slapped around the explosives, and they go flying outwards (some invariably melt).

          • NH, so the explosion is in the center, propelling chem weapon outwards (maybe there’s a protective layer, protecting the chemical upon explosion).

            • By the way, that’s based on my recollection of bio/chem/radiation/nuke briefings, I ‘m no expert… but I do remember that of all 4, biological weapons is the most bothersome, not necessarily most difficult, essentially because you’re trying to keep ’em alive, so they can do their work (infect people).

      • edgar lores says:

        Thank you for correcting my fake knowledge.

        • I was gonna ask how do you know mine wasn’t fake news/knowledge either? but karl’s got a wiki copy/paste below… so how do we know that’s not fake? Who’s this Dr. Jill Dekker?

            • ID’ing names is not exactly my point, but more on the notion of skepticism for the sake of skepticism (invariably putting blinders on, when eyes wide open should be the call).

              OK, let’s say Dr. Dekker is legit, then from where does her info come, is it good info, how do we ascertain it’s not “fake news” or “fake knowledge”?

              My point is, at some point we have to take things at face value, karl, like Giraffex‘s “PR stunt” tweet.

              ie., when you take a Vitamin C tablet you ‘re not skeptical as to it’s actual component, it says Vitamin C in the bottle, you take it as Vitamin C. My issue isn’t really with Dr. Dekker, my issue is where do we draw the line re skepticism… especially when you don’t agree with something, or doesn’t fit your worldview,

              or your values.

              • karlgarcia says:

                If you say so.

              • karlgarcia says:

              • karl,

                that’s kinda my point, how do you verify… much is either proprietary info, or classified, or in academia (as in this case) hard to reach , then there’s all the smoke & mirrors played by gov’ts/corporations ; a PhD in Google only gets you so far. So no go on verify,

                hence a whole lot of Trust only. this is josephivo’s “beliefs”.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Your example of Vitamin C, you just take it because you trust the brand or or those taking generics they trust all brands, but they trust the cheapest available most.
                Speaking of trust generic and trust of different brands. You can verify that in the next lab exams if what you are taking works.
                You ask where to draw the line in skepticism, it is your judgment, no one tells you how to do that? You can be guided, but the rest is up to you.

              • karlgarcia says:

                In one of your comments below, re:correlation of porn vis-a-vis rape:
                My worldview is damn the research,my belief is the prevalence of sex and violence on tv, the news, drugs,alcohol,and porn are major causes of sex crimes.It is always a mix or a cocktail.
                It depends on how you use or manage it.
                But after all is said and done, I research.

                Click to access goldsmith.pdf

      • karlgarcia says:

        “Syria is generally considered not to have biological weapons.[8][9] However, there are some reports of an active biological weapons research and production program. According to NATO Consultant Dr Jill Dekker, Syria has worked on: anthrax, plague, tularemia, botulism, smallpox, aflatoxin, cholera, ricin and camelpox, and has used Russian help in installing anthrax in missile warheads. She also stated “they view their bio-chemical arsenal as part of a normal weapons program”.[30]”

        This is from wikipedia.

  11. NHerrera says:


    Ten years hence, Joe’s blog is still active (oops, will I still be here or in the other world?), and I want to post a comment of the un-fake type. What to do?

    I whip out my superfast, super-RAM of a smart tablet and ask ROB (my AI robot assistant programmed in my tablet). Ok, Rob, you have the latest Joe blog and I want to post a sensible comment; enter as my primary criteria the PH Constitution and Laws, the International Laws the PH signed into, and my morality principles you already have in your memory; give me your views. It took Rob all of 10 seconds — that looong; must have given him a little digital indigestion — for him to compute. He started to give me the summary and a lengthy rational explanation before I stopped him. Ok, Rob, only the summary, don’t impress me with your brilliance. I heard his vocal summary as well as the text. I agreed with his views except for some minor difference. I then posted at Joe’s. Am I cheating?

    • No. You are efficient, and your criteria are sound.

      My son and I converse with Apple’s Siri from time to time, and she (or he, if we choose) speaks, and we gain great enlightenment and sometimes laughter from the dialogue. It is a new world, for sure. We should go forth purposefully and not wander at the whims of the ignorant. ROB is not ignorant.

      • NHerrera says:

        I have a hand-me-up iPAD 2 from a niece and when I first used it and saw siri, I tried and it said it is not applicable to my device. I will check on that again. I may need to subscribe. Interesting — father and son listening to siri together. 🙂

        • NH, that’s sort of my point in my questions re skepticism above to edgar (doubt of knowledge, related to our cynicism talks doubt of good). And I would argue that’s what we all do here already.

          I’m less skeptical of say your posts or say chempo (pretty much all the regulars) , because I’ve gotten a pattern of commentary that tells me not only your biases, but most importantly that you guys take this posting stuff seriously, that your “honor” is on the line if you screw up… hence the level of authority, and care given to each serious post.

          Your posts may lead me to dig deeper, but my first reaction is never this old fart is wrong. So i’d say you’re already serving as your own AI, maybe not as efficiently… but I’ve found Google and wiki searches equally fruitful, those drawing that you do on imgur

          are works of art—- if I had a gallery i’d frame ’em all up and sell ’em like Banksy artworks! (all proceeds go to NH’s prostate research center)

          But there’s quality assurances associated with each’s posts on here, like a guarantee almost, and you don’t see that a lot in other social media mediums online, so Joe’s got something really special here.

          I know i’ve pushed his editing prerogatives lately , but in a way I think I’m trying to get an answer for josephivo’s
          Isn’t there a continuum from objective verifiable facts and pure beliefs?”

          Be assured as Chief Troll , I’m on this case. How do we impose quality control on our thoughts? Who defines quality? What define quality? Better to read each comment or cast a wider net ie. meta data , patterns of commentary and base quality on that?

    • edgar lores says:

      No, you’re not; you’re in the other world.

      In this world, Rob is cheating — pretending to be you.

  12. Giraffex says:

    Hi Joe,

    It was I who posted that tweet. Actually after our twitter conversation, I took the time to think about what you said (after the snarky response, of course :-)). I see a parallel between what Trump did and the current war on drugs in the Philippines. It’s not that people are against responding to Syria (or drugs) but against the manner by which it was/is being conducted. I agree that a response to Syria was necessary but, in my opinion, it must be done in a manner that is will produce maximum effect. The base bombed was being used the following day! I agree that we should not be purveyors of fake news by making knee jerk tweets/posts depending on where our sentiments lie. I enjoyed our very brief conversation and always look forward to your tweets and blog posts.

    More power!

    • And you taught me not to be so snarky, so we both gained. 🙂 You make good sense in your elaboration. It was good of you to stop by. I appreciate your courtesy, and more power to you, as well.

  13. edgar lores says:


    1. “Isn’t there a continuum from objective verifiable facts and pure beliefs?”

    2. Gadzooks! We are going where angels fear to tread! This is heavy stuff, this is epistemology, defined as “the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope, and the distinction between justified belief and opinion.”

    3. There is some validity in seeing knowledge as a continuum, defined as “a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, but the extremes are quite distinct.”

    3.1. My difficulty is with the term “continuous sequence.” I can see that knowledge — defined as “facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject — can be disjointed and discontinuous.

    3.2. Continuum suggests a single thread. Knowledge is multi-threaded. For example, there are many branches of science and, as yet, the branches are not interlinked. As another example, even verified facts are not universally accepted by all.

    4. What I would suggest then is to map out a taxonomy of knowledge similar to the taxonomy of biology.

    4.1. Perhaps metametaphysics would reside at the top (Domain).

    4.2. There would be various Kingdoms — similar to the Plant and Animal Kingdoms. Currently, metaphysics is divided into Cosmology, Ontology, Philosophy, and Science. I would think that the Humanities is another Kingdom.

    4.3. Within the Humanities, there would be a phylum called Literature. And within that phylum, there would be a Class bifurcation between fiction and non-fiction. Within fiction, there would be the Order of historical fiction, espionage, mystery, romance and so on.

    4.4. Within the Humanities — defined as “the study of how people process and document the human experience” — we would also have the Media. This can be broken down into newsprint, TV, and radio. And here you will find news facts as distinct from opinions about the news.

    4.5. Within each classification and sub-classification, there would be a characterization of known knowns (Joseph’s objectively verifiable facts), known unknowns (Joseph’s pure beliefs), and unknown unknowns. Naturally, the last subset will be empty.

    5. As I google, I learn that there are several existing taxonomies of knowledge. One is Bloom’s Taxonomy, but it is limited to educational objectives.

    6. So here is your chance, guys, to become known as the Linnaeus of Human Knowledge… and be immortalized in Wikipedia.

    • NHerrera says:

      Aargh! That is heavy stuff indeed. Now, can we go back to being normal people. (That is meant to be 🙂 ) Thanks for the taxonomy stuff. I needed that this morning — woke up late; I am not a clock like you.

    • edgar,

      For me there’s just Science and then there’s Philosophy.

      in the first, you have knowledge based on your 5 senses, and whatever technology developed to enhance your 5 senses, ie. Geiger counter, Radar, X-ray machine, microscope, telescopes, etc. etc.

      then there’s stuff beyond your 5 senses, that’s the realm of Philosophy, your favourite Ethics would be in there, and mine… extra-Dimensional stuff would also be there, probably where both Philosophy and Science will merge, for sure knowledge of this will expand our 5 senses.

      So in the realm of Science, there are absolute proofs of something, either it is or it’s not, but

      most are discoveries still in progress, or beyond 100% surety , like say how the Grand Canyon came to be so wide and so deep, or Evolution, Climate Change… much is based on circumstantial evidence, where a jury is needed, or in the case of Science, consensus— even when consensus is reach there’d still exist minority or dissenting opinions.

      my point here, like what I just posted to karl above is that this skepticism game cuts both ways, yeah sure you can go for critical mass on either side (Joe’s rage against the dying of the light above), but won’t you be simply playing the same game , hence counter-productive?

      John Muir was laughed out of his theory of glaciers carving the Yosemite valley, since most high falutin’ geologists at that time were sure it was a simple case of upliftment—- having never seen glaciers further up the mountains,

      well John Muir hiked up and looked for these glaciers and found ’em, doing exactly what they did in Yosemite valley floor, yet Whitney the chief geologist remained unconvinced, Why? John Muir wasn’t a “geologist”.

      And there’s plenty of stories like that across Science.

      I agree with josephivo in that it is a continuum, that’s why I keep posting this Schopenhauer quote (therein lies the tug and pull—- if you can edgar, focus on the circumstantial nature of Science):

      • NHerrera says:

        Some heavy stuff too, including that table on Bloom taxonomy. Stimulating morning reading. Thanks Lance.

        • NH, the taxonomy I think is all yours, get your handy digital pen and start drawing your pictures and lines (my personal request, more colors! 😉 ). How do you do these drawings by the way, I know edgar does Powerpoint for his tables, but I assume youre using some sort of digital pen?

          • NHerrera says:

            It’s old stuff I got some 6-7 years ago for the sake of kids coming around for help with their algebra. It’s a cheap tablet with digital pen (brand name Bamboo), the kind you attach to your laptop USB — still works as it did brand new. Also, it acts as a mouse, I can navigate items on the screen with it. Of course, now with iPAD pro and Samsung galaxy note pro, among others, one can sketch directly on the screen itself. (But that’s me, CHEAP. 🙂 )

      • edgar lores says:

        As I understand it, you are putting knowledge items into one elongated basket. And what you seem to be doing is sorting the items out. You are saying, “Let us put true items at this end and, at the other end, let us put the false items. Let us leave the “may be’s” in between until we can verify to which end they belong.”

        This scenario of knowledge as a continuum is only true for certain kinds of knowledge. And, to a certain extent, I do agree that scientific knowledge belongs to such a continuum.

        However, there are some scientific speculations outside the continuum because we know this is beyond human knowledge. For example, consider the cosmological question: What is the purpose of the universe?

        But what I have presented is a classification of different types of knowledge, some of which cannot be sorted.

        Look again at the definition of knowledge that I quoted.

        Art is a skill and is a type of knowledge. Is art true or false?

        • Micha says:


          Science does not speculate on the purpose of the universe.

          The question of purpose is in the realm of philosophy.

          • edgar lores says:

            Micha, thanks.

            I believe I said that to you many blogs ago.

            My precise words were: “Science cannot provide meaning to life in teleological terms. It can describe phenomena but not the purpose of phenomena.”

            When I say there are “scientific speculations outside of the continuum,” I am referring to Einstein’s various speculations on spiritual matters (e.g., “God does not play dice with the universe”) and Alan Lightman’s “The Accidental Universe.” In this book, Lightman reflects on the fine-tuning of the universe that allows life to exist and whether it is accidental or purposive by Intelligent Design.

            Perhaps I should have said, “scientists do speculate outside the continuum.”

            But I say it is scientific speculation because Lightman touches on such phenomena as the nuclear force, dark energy, eternal inflation (a variant of Nietzsche’s eternal recurrence), the presence of oxygen and water, and a temperature between the freezing and boiling points of water.

            I might add that Michio Kaku has similar speculations but I have yet to read him.

            • edgar lores says:

              Kaku is considered to be flaky?

              • I’m with Micha, edgar.

                Those are two separate things, Einstein’s interest in religion and his work, I’m sure he kept separate—– I don’t think he evoked Spinoza in his scientific work… though it couldve provided a useful backdrop, or context for his thoughts.

                But the stuff he came up with beyond our 5 senses, were based on knowledge of current science, ie. NH’s mention of Hyperbolic geometry, much of theoretical Physics (something waaaay above my pay grade) is beyond our 5 senses, but they are grounded still by what we know of our 5 senses.

                The spiritual stuff though, edgar, remains in Philosophy.

                Now I agree not all scientists are able to separate the two. It took Darwin forever to publish because he knew his findings would turn Christian understanding upside down (and Jewish & Muslim, though I don’t think Hindu, Buddhist, Jainist cosmology) hence the long apology almost in the beginning of his book;

                Newton, was still dabbling in Alchemy. Spinoza I think for the 1600s, was pretty good at separating the two spheres, he speculated on Ethics and Biblical criticism, but did his lens making separately— though he did write about the nature of light, from what I read he was pretty close or actually preceded Newton’s prism work.

                Between Aurelius’ “Meditations” c. 200 AD and Machiavelli’s “the Prince” c. 1530 AD—- two works which perfectly bracket the Dark Ages IMHO, ie. works that don’t focus on “God” … at the end of the day were still subject to the whims of True Believers.

                Ideally sure we can say that Science and Philosophy are two separate realms , but realistically people do mix the two (as did Darwin, Newton, Einstein, with Spinoza possibly the best example of compartmentalization), essentially crossing streams like in Ghostbusters.

                Perhaps I should have said, “scientists do speculate outside the continuum.”

                I guess it depends on what these scientists are speculating on, edgar. If it’s the nature of black holes, then that’s still Science; if it’s about finding God or meaning in that black hole then that would still be Philosophy.

                Now pondering to send a quarter of the world’s population to see if they survive in a separate dimension, then I can see the cross-over—- on one hand it’s an experiment; on the other it’s murder (but only if they die, but then maybe we’ll get another definition of death… and so on).

                I can understand the cross overs, but the lines between Science and Philosophy are pretty visible, ie. When Einstein’s pondering Spinoza’s God he is speculating within the Philosophy continuum, hence not scientific.

                But again to josephivo’s point, these lines blur, intersect and cross. Just talking about we’re already crossing facts to beliefs.

              • edgar lores says:

                Very good. I agree with Micha too.

              • edgar lores says:

                Or, rather, Micha agrees with me… since I said it first.

              • “that allows life to exist and whether it is accidental or purposive by Intelligent Design.”

                If the premise is that someone or something intelligently designed matter or reality or the universe, or the multi-verse , then IMHO that’s the stuff of “purpose” , hence not Science anymore, one can talk about scientific facts and theories , but when “intelligence” is injected that’s Philosophy. Do we differ here, edgar?

              • edgar lores says:

                The multiverse concept is very much science.

              • edgar lores says:

                And another thing: Intelligent Design is Religion and not Philosophy.

              • “And another thing: Intelligent Design is Religion and not Philosophy.”

                I guess until someone espousing intelligent design fesses up to say that the intelligent designer is Jesus/Father/Holy Spirit ; or it’s Ellohim ; or it’s Allah… ie. within Christianity, Judaism, Islam , or even Scientology (we’re ancient alien souls).

                But personally, I stick Religion in with Philosophy: the common definition being a system of worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods, though Jainism and Buddhism are less about personal gods—– what they have in common is that they are attempting to interpret that which is beyond the 5 senses, the act of worship and dogma making is only the initial layer.

                Early Christians took heavily from Plato and the Stoics, sure once it’s dogma , set in stone, it becomes less Philosophy, but close enough still Metaphysics.

              • edgar lores says:

                You’ve got your categories mixed up.

              • I only have two… and it wouldn’t be fair of me to simply throw out Religion. Religion isn’t Science, ergo it’s Philosophy, but knowing full well its limitations ie. prone to dogma and “the Truth”, but I’m confident that many

                who buy into Religion (whichever) have pondered it in terms of Philosophy, ie. the Examined Life, What’s my Purpose, etc.

              • edgar lores says:

                Ahaha! That’s the problem when you have only two categories.

                Even with sex classifications, there are more than two categories.

              • edgar,

                there’s this popular shirt they sell in Indian country, up in the Plains too i’ve seen ’em,

                it’s cute but if I were PETA, I’d probably make an equally cuter shirt, saying,

                Running from Terrorism since the Bering Strait

              • edgar lores says:

                I like the first one and could laugh immediately. Had to look up PETA. It’s SPCA and RSPCA in Manila and Oz respectively.

              • hope this photo works,

              • Ahaha! That’s the problem when you have only two categories.

                Even with sex classifications, there are more than two categories.

                I like to keep things simple. Oh man, don’t get me started with all this gender crap! I’m not religious, but still think there’s only 2 sex— male and female,

                sure there’s mutations, like hermaphrodite or Guevedoces, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2016/03/12/the-astonishing-village-where-little-girls-turn-into-boys-aged-1/ , or “feelings” ,

                but it is still the 2 sex that come together to create life. But i’m also not cool with violence or disrespect, ie. if you’re male and you feel female, great! but you don’t get to redefine male and female—- there’s only 2.

                As for the bathroom debate in North Carolina, re-design the bathrooms, if you like pissing sitting down , go to individualized toilets; if you prefer standing up go to urinals—- it’s a design problem, so re-design bathrooms.

              • yeah, we have SPCA too, but PETA’s more militant, and tend to impose Veganism with their protests. SPCA just rescues injured, neglected or abuse animals.

    • This Bloom taxonomy makes a lot of sense, edgar! Thanks.

      This says “revised” Bloom taxonomy, but the most relevant here:

      (if you feel inclined, can you focus on the 2 middle categories?)

    • p.s.~ on 4.5, that’s the old Rumsfeldian quip,

      Just wanted to add “unknown knowns” , things we decided to forget, or destroy , or simply bureaucratically relegated away (like Thomas’ Christianity in Indian, thanks to the Portuguese Catholics’ destruction of their particular Christology, which many say involved re-incarnation); and like that Indiana Jones warehouse,

    • chemrock says:

      My head is splitting. I can see why ignorance is bliss.

      • edgar lores says:

        Sorry, Chemrock and NHerrera. I trust the morning coffee has brushed away the cobwebs of sleep.

      • sonny says:

        Mine too, chempo. 🙂 It all began with my first class in Scholastic Metaphysics and talking about the necessary Being and contingent beings. It has not stopped. I guess it will find relief in heaven.

    • josephivo says:

      Mmm, I was just trying to look how things are stored in my own head. There are some things that I call facts because others can observe them too, they can be judged true or false by human perception, some are more and some are less objective, some more and some less verifiable. Then there are things that can be deduced from observations when applying a general accepted “model” such as a classical or a quantum mechanics physical model, behaviorist psychological models, etc. Things are easier to be stored as facts when they are intuitive, counterintuitive things I look at with more suspicion. Then there are things that cannot be observed, because the measurement influences the target, or because the instruments miss precision. Then there are deductions based on newer or more exotic models. Then there are shared assumptions and so on up to my wildest individual beliefs, so exotic or confused that I don’t even there to share.

      • josephivo says:

        “Bombing as a PR stunt”, fact or belief? Could it be both, depending on the context? “Trump told us that the bombing was intended as a PR stunt” or “in my personal subjective model of Trumpian politics, I strongly belief that the bombing was a PR stunt” The first as a fact statement could be fake, the second as my personal opinion is not fake.

        • Also add the context, Trump’s character, his style of playing politics, or simply his way of doing things. Because that’s the basis of both Federal judges overturning his 7 nation ban, what he said previously, colored their justification to overturn..

          I voted for Trump, but I’m not gonna play dress up for him just because I support his action, the guy is a bamboozler at heart, so on that, a PR stunt comment is perfectly within reason.

          So doesn’t have to be purely subjective, josephivo, their using it at the Federal courts level, when argued in the Supreme Court, it’ll be interesting for sure, since you ‘ll get outside feedback of your thought process.

          But I agree with you.

        • It would not be fake as a point of information, but it could be false from the truth of why the raid was done. So the use of “fake” – chosen because it is popular these days – is wrong, making George Bernard Shaw smarter than Joe America. I think that the point we ought not rush to judgment and pay a price for emotionalized dialogue is worth thinking about.

  14. chemrock says:

    I agree generally with your suggestion on how we should not have knee jerk reactions to news and events and help unintentionally contributing to fake news. But I give due weightage to Lance’s take on ‘opinion’. I think appreciating 2 things are helpful. 1 is the ability to know what is fact and what is opinion in the narrative. The sad part is many people actually are incapable of distinguishing this, so what you say is true. If we react and add on our opinion (based on our own intelligent understanding and critical analysis), our narrative becomes knowledge to this group of people. So what happens if our opinion was wrong (as future info and becomes available) then we have done some damage. 2 is opinions are useful to those who can discern fact from opinion. Your opinion adds to the richness of our own assessment of the events. Of course I’m assuming this group is smart enough to appreciate the opinions of people that matters. Stephen Hawkins’ opinion is a world of difference from Mocha Uson’s opinions. Sometimes opinion is educational. A stock market trader explaining the charts for example. It’s just his oipinion but he is sharing his knowledge.

    In the context of blogging here, IMHO Lance is right. We should all express our opinions, but never be opinionated.

    • chemrock says:

      Just want to add this –
      So what to do since there are people who can and some who can’t discern facts from opinions?
      I think the dumb should not hold back the world from continuing to spin. That’s my opinion.

    • I think opinions based on knowledge are better than those based on emotion, if the knowledge is within reasonable reach. I don’t agree that the chaos of unfettered and largely ignorant opinion-mongering produces the best decisions. The ease of issuing opinions gives trolls an open field, and the satisfaction associated with the emotionalism of social media is like drugs for many, making the intellectual playground one closely imitating mass road rage.

      • “The ease of issuing opinions gives trolls an open field” Joe, but there’s ways to sift thru actual trolls (they either just post one and done, are stupidly rude or just repeat stuff). This notion that trolls are so dangerous I just can’t understand, maybe from a logistical point ie. filling up the commentaries (ie. those Chinese trolls last year); but from an ideas warfare point, they are very easy to spot—– hence should not be a danger at all, if anything it’s an opportunity to correct.

        Remember that pro-Chinese guy that used to comment on there, now that guy was jammed pack with information, he wasn’t necessarily a troll, just one with a very opposite worldview & agenda than many here. So I would submit “emotionalism” on the part of TSoH members should also be suspect. the name of the game is meta-data, we’re not computers, so the more data points, inputs, we get the better picture we get—- that guy, was it Primer? would’ve been a wealth of knowledge post -DU30 election, IMHO.

        • The trolls in the PH are a part of a massive state-sponsored misinformation program, funded at huge expense, with the troll-in-chief flying about the globe with the President. It is an impressive program, if it were not in pursuit of advantages for the favored, at the expense of the poor. If I tried to anticipate your response, it would be that this is quite okay, it is up to the opposition to figure out how to deal with it. Lost in the translation is compassion.

          • I wasn’t talking about the Philippines per se, but just for us TSoH and our own consumption of information (the need for variety), since we’re smarter than the average bears 😉 .

            • Most of the writings here are based on what is transpiring in the Philippines, and that is what shapes my own views of trolls and the morality of not caring about the spread of information that to my way of thinking is very damaging for the nation.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Yogi Bear, not to be confused with Yogi Berra.😉

        • sonny says:

          LC, I use interpolation, extrapolation and clustering of events to arrive at a reasonable interpretation or conclusion about a series of events. When an observer is using clustering of events as a tool to arrive at conclusion/interpretation, trolling will obfuscate the process.

          • I find it obvious to read thru trolls , though I agree if its causing clutter then it becomes a logistical issue, but obfuscation implies the trolls have done their work (either make something less clear or change peoples minds, or nudge it towards theirs) , I enjoy a good creative reasoning, but trolls by definition for me are immaterial, like small black ants (busy but in the end most times you really don’t see ’em)—- where i guess Joe would see them as Biblical locusts (as homage to your girl Miriam D. Santiago, well “I eat locusts for breakfast”).

            My issue is more on the ease of labeling people you won’t quite agree with as trolls—- it’s a long running issue for me if you notice, because I’ve seen this amongst Salafis, Haredim Jews (these guys will bring down the State of Israel one day) & the American Evangelical movement… they like to play the “Your opinions and thoughts aren’t worthy” game , whereas I fight not to (knowing full well I’m prone to this cognitive deceit also, this type of superiority complex in thought IMHO is more dangerous in the long run).

  15. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    Duterte to China: Relax, only flags, structures will rise in West PH Sea territories

    How very nice of our President to explain to China. Wouldn’t it be nicer if he also nicely explains to us issues that his non-supporter subjects are concerned about, for example, why there are apparent government-funded rallies and black propaganda to put down the VP?


  16. Bill In Oz says:

    I’ve been meaning to make a comment about this post Joe..It’s well done and made me think hard. Tahnks !

    I’ve been reading an interview with Jarred Diamond…I think his thoughts in this interview, match your perspective. Here’s what he said :
    “Jared Diamond: …. it’s clear to me that the United States faces big problems. The most urgent of our problems is our breakdown of the political compromise. This breakdown has been building up since the mid-1990s to a political stalemate…But this is part of a bigger story. ….. Americans have gotten ruder and more uncompromising to each other not just in politics, it’s more general; they’ve become rude and more uncompromising in elevators, on the roads.

    My Australian friends tell me that ‘non-compromise’ is growing in Australia as well, raising the question : why ? And here we go back to what you and I were talking about, technology, younger people over the last several decades, especially in the United States have had more and more of their human interactions go on at a distance, not face-to-face. You don’t see, you don’t hear the person. It’s easier to be abusive to someone who is just words on a screen than someone who is two feet away from you. And so I see the growth of the non-face-to-face communication as being the ultimate cause of this decline of compromise in the US.

    But if that’s true, then the rest of the first world is also going to get it. The United States will show the way, but I see this coming for other countries as well.”

    Adding to Jarred Diamond’s thought, yes it has arrived in Australia. And in the Philippines.

    • Non-compromise. Yes, or winning at any cost, the 100 percenters. That was well established in the PH before the rise of social media. Social media just sped up the malignancy. It leads to poor thinking because a constructive goal does not mean as much as winning, for ourselves. Indeed that’s the way legislators work. Compassion is zeroed out.

      Glad you found the post meaningful. Thanks for the thought provoking reference.

      • My underlying premise here per the side thread above with Joe is that Americans have since been rude (ie. the Founding Fathers, Teddy Roosevelt, etc.); I think people in general, without the luxury of Social Media, waaaay before were already.

        So let me peel off another thread in this discussion, could it be over-population? urbanization? Just people being crammed together? I remember as a kid in the 80s I still was able to bike around with friends, nowadays, you got car accidents, veh/ped accidents, kidnappings, etc. that people tend to hole themselves in, rather than go out.

        Human nature I think hasn’t changed, we can play nice or not, but maybe over-population is the cause and Social Media just the symptom? The optimal number for nice interaction for humans has gone.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Inquirer’s editorial was about Online bashing and mental health.


      Always nice to have a healthy conversation.

  17. OT for LCPL_X – Mocha in hijab:

    • Where she going, that’s more of a serious type hijab (black was the favorite colour of the Prophet)… Brunei, Aceh, Saudi Arabia? If this is now the fashion trend in Philippines, it’s a bellwether of sorts, pre-Arab Spring Syria , Pres. Assad cracked down on it in his public schools and gov’t offices, the world celebrated him (the mask with hijab, khimar/niqab combo).

  18. But who is to say that it is actually a massive propaganda campaign? If I may ask, do you actually have any verifiable evidence to support that claim?

    Because if I may offer my take on it, what probably dictates one’s stance is probably one’s own experiences. As for one example, you people are probably aware that Mocha Uson’s father was an RTC judge, which was assassinated due to some circumstances. Probably because of how our justice system has always sucked?

    =Given that, rather than condemn their ‘supposedly idiotic and uninformed’ stance, have you actually tried to understand where they are coming from? If you really want to educate them, why not work with what they already have? Because if I am to be frank, we are actually in this mess because we had always seem to deny people of their OWN experiences as we had always seen to present ourselves as the one who supposedly only KNOWS better. Yet since people seem to disagree with you guys, what may have gone wrong then? have you actually considered that?

    • “But who is to say that it is actually a massive propaganda campaign? If I may ask, do you actually have any verifiable evidence to support that claim?”

      I asked the same question and had a long discussion with gian (another youngster) here on this very issue , a few weeks after the DU30 win , since that was their contention that like the Trump win (this was before the Trump win) the internet campaign played a big role,

      and if I know the Philippine countryside well, those folks would still be listening to talk radio, very much like Republicans here in the Rust, Bible belts and the South.

      karl, do you remember my conversation with gian on this? I believe his point was that China was either funding or helping out, with bots and stuff. Having now been familiar with the Democrats’ argument re Russian meddling , the underlying premise is I think weak,

      both presuppose that each DU30 and Trump’s base live in the internet , where reality is talk radio for them.

      I can see internet stuff, shaving off the other candidates’ votes, but doesn’t explain how it engenders, empowers and electrifies one’s base support (DU30 had 40% of a 5 man election/ though Trump had considerably less, but he won in the states that mattered, ie. electoral college win)

      Thanks for brining this up, ip… very very relevant here.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Yes,I rememeber and you refused to believe that the social media played a role.

        I never knew of Mocha Uson’s father, but to say that we do not see where others are coming from is a questionable observation too.

        • Sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that you guys don’t see where they are coming from. Rather, to be more concise about it, you probably do see it but there is really a tendency to be dismissive of another’s stance right from the get go. Most discussions are usually treated as a zero-sum game so it usually becomes a zero-sum game. As said by Bill in Oz above, non-compromise is probably one of the roots of the problem.

          I’m not sure if it is done inadvertently or not, but I’m leaning towards the former hence the reply was actually in agreement with the call for a need to be more conscious of how to approach each other. And some of the discussions above does seem to imply that as well?

          But then again, a compromise would probably mean disparaging one’s own stance and building up the opposition’s? That just seems counterproductive… But is it?

          Hmm… I think that we’ve already had this discussion before as well?

          • karlgarcia says:

            If you mean you and me, yes we had this discussion once or twice already.
            You mean having blinders, then fair enough.
            I won’t deny that we all have our biases, I try my best to be open minded, but still my biases prevail more often than not.
            But remember in our last conversation I told you that you were lecturing, if that was dismissive then sorry, but if I was to dismissive, we would not be having any conversations at all.

          • Ah, good, and yes, arguments become circular as we do a little introspection. Congratulations on reaching that point.

      • Discussion here has been wide ranging, and failure of ‘yellow’ leaders to speak to the masses oft cited. One would have to live under an intellectual rock to not know of the communications budget and Mocha Uson on the President’s airplane yesterday. As for judgmental, or elitism, I wonder if you have considered that you arrive here doing the same thing, challenging the honor and/or abilities of the messengers, rather than just dealing with the message?

        • Hmm… I think I should elaborate some more as my reply wasn’t concise…

          1. With regards to this massive propaganda campaign, which I shall call ” the dutertard phenomenon” (TDP) for convenience, this is how I process it:

          1.1. Some people (like you, sir Joe) see TDP as government-sponsored.

          1.2. Some people (like Mocha Uson), see TDP as an individual -turned collective- effort.

          1.3. People will usually imply that the TDP is either #1.1. or #1.2.

          2. Personally, I see TDP as something that started as #1.2 (still is, at present) but with some #1.1 as of late.

          2.1 Because if anything, TDP is actually an emergent behavior brought upon by the internet. Probably why TDP has similar makings to that of an internet meme, like its usual format and how it propagates.

          2.1.1 To elaborate more on internet memes, may I suggest researching about 4chan’s “Anonymous” and some of their collective activities? Another keyword is “collective behavior”.

          2.2. Given this emergent behavior is already existing, #1.2. is probably the government capitalizing on it as it does help them in some ways as it does help reach much more people.

          2.3. But is that fair and ethical?

          2.3.1. Well, before I answer that, if someone (say LP?) reaches out to different media personalities for an information campaign, would it be proper to call it a propaganda campaign?

          2.3.2. So is #2.3.1 also fair and ethical?

          3. So I guess what I’m trying to get at is: When does one draw the line on government-citizen cooperation? Especially when it comes to information campaigns? Because from what I see, if it benefits one’s own stance, people probably won’t mind.

          3.0. I guess that is why I’m having an issue with calling TDP as a Massive Propaganda Campaign (MPC) because it seems that it will paint any kind of collective effort as such.

          3.1 But then again, as of the moment, it really does paint any kind of collective effort as such.

          3.1.1 TDP? MPC. Silent Majority? MPC. Anti-Marcos rally? MPC. Palit-bise rally? MPC. EDSA anniversary rally? MPC. And so on and so forth.


          Also, something somewhat related:

          “…Mr. Duterte’s claims of inaccuracy, bias and corruption may not be true of the entire media community, or true all the time for the two media organizations he singled out for verbal abuse. But they do happen, and contrary to the pious assertions of some editors, reporters, and journalists’ groups, they haven’t earned the halos and grown the wings of angels just because they’ve been insulted by the latest example of voter cluelessness.

          Because some of them do distort the facts, are too stupid or malicious to know the difference between fact and opinion, are biased for the rich and powerful, and/or barter their independence for the usual envelope, journalists have to be reminded of the need for accuracy, fairness and autonomy from time to time.

          This is one of those times, thanks to a President’s open and loud antipathy to a community whose capacity for self-criticism is inversely proportional to its self-love, sense of entitlement and absurd claims to virtue. The regime they love to hate is unwittingly issuing the media a wake-up call. Journalists should heed it instead of getting on their high horse and declaring themselves perfection itself, and God’s gift to all mankind.”


          • So many questions, all treading the line of there being no absolute, so declaring one, as in “massive propaganda effort”, is inherently wrong. I agree it is, in the right light. So if you shine the light and find the PH is going the right direction, yay for you. We disagree. If you shine the light and find the PH going the wrong direction, then work to change it. I doubt that badgering the fine Society members does that. If you shine the light, and don’t think it matters what you see, or you don’t care what is there, then you join the troll brigade adeptly led by LCX.

        • And as for attacking the messenger, well, wasn’t the message actually about the messengers? But as you’ve pointed out, (and so did Karl from the previous discussion of the same topic) what I’ve said does apply to me as well as I am acting as a messenger as well.

          As a comment above said:
          Word of advice: Take one’s own advice.

          And full disclosure, that was actually me.

          I know that the move was very intellectually dishonest, but as a question: Would you have replied differently if “intuitiveperceiving” was the name above the reply?

          • karlgarcia says:

            Use tydefaly it is shorter.

            • “As a comment above said:
              Word of advice: Take one’s own advice.

              And full disclosure, that was actually me.”

              ip, Don’t do that next time, there was another guy that did here, it was Primer right karl? (but his excuse was that he was logged-on , but obviously he was pretending to be another person, what they call sock puppetry) the integrity of this little community is everyone has consistency. Everyone’s coming from various bias, there’s a sense that “theirs” is FREE of bias, ie. objectivity… but as josephivo’s pointed out, the slope slips both ways.

              As for your take on DU30’s army what’s your assessment of China’s culpability? Unless they actually had some funky algorithms & programs, then snarky memes and bots comments, basically more of the same troll army stuff from the Philippines, I just don’t think that has the power to change people’s minds.

              If you have more of what the Chinese brought to the table, that would greatly add to the discussion.

              p.s.~ I’m already Chief Troll here , don’t push this issue, man… but I hear your points (there’s bias, people have blinders to their bias), I had similar observations myself.

              • I’m aware of the implications of the action so I’ll accept any consequences brought upon by it. However, do let me point out that it wasn’t sock puppetry per se as I don’t think I actually assumed another persona. A different name, yes. But persona? Probably no. The comment is actually no different from what I have said from any other discussion in line with the topic at hand. I was actually expecting it to be schooled and whatnot. But it was, well… different?

                So if anything, if I may ask, maybe treat it as a situational demonstration of how people have a penchant for judging people based on names and labels? Sure I may be sacrificing my credibility here (assuming it even exists or it matters), but it is just that I felt that this is something that everyone here can gain from. Because as you’ve said, the integrity of this little community is everyone has consistency. And I really do agree with that and it is actually one of the reasons why I keep coming here. But given the action above, was a minor inconsistency not demonstrated?

              • Here’s the thing, if you notice Joe is extra polite to new commenters—- as he should be. I’m sure he simply thought you were new and extended the same politeness he extends to all new commenters.

                For us veterans, you’ve been here long enough, you already have a label (whatever that maybe), so certain biases are imposed on your comments per your consistent name. It’s human nature, and Joe’s no saint… none of us are.

                Don’t get stuck with Joe , he’s the bartender (and will kick you out gladly if you’ve had one too many), focus on your argument,

                like the Chinese connection. Make your argument , don’t worry about Joe, i7 couldn’t get pass that, and he’s now sorely missed (by me 😉 ).

              • Well said, LCX. I started out writing that people who contribute do become a known quantity, and we would naturally incorporate their character and personality in our thinking. But I gave up on it. You said it better.

            • Then probably something to ponder about?

              But I would like to apologize for the intellectually dishonest move. Though it was done with the intention of sharing another point of view, albeit forcefully, the action is still what it is: Manipulative. So with that, again, Sorry about that.

              • The blog contributions always give me something to ponder, and before it is done, I figure that I and some others here will be among the wisest people on the planet when it come to Philippine affairs. James Fallows can hold our beer.

  19. popoy says:

    It’s my bad I have not visited TSOH for weeks now, so I am unaware, am obsolescent in many issues that I just sent a DEDUCTIVE piece to Joe Am for posting or for the dust bin. God! TSOH is so deep, so analytic verging on splitting hairs SOMETIMES, I can say so inductive that in military parlance it’s like fighting a problem not a battle. To some also not only me, those deaths by chemical weapons and tomahawks missiles destroying parts of an airbase had really happened and NOT fake news. Consequences may not be as important as retrospections. It depends .. . . Eh.
    Anyway let me be irrelevant and selfish to make a pitch in TSOH : Go to amazon.ca type andy ibay and order if you like, because you might find something about you in the book’s pages.

  20. karlgarcia says:

    An opinion column about collective
    Wisdom and Collective Stupidity.

    Here is a line from the article.

    “That is the spectrum of human intelligence, from the emerging to the blossoming. Reason and intelligence may be features of the human race but obviously more a potential than a honed talent. That is why we get to see the worst, or lowest, and the best, the inspirational. Yet, everybody gets to play in the same arena, the wise as well as the stupid. And everybody is a source of learning for those who are eager to know what is wrong and avoid it, to know what is right and emulate it.”

    Read more: http://opinion.inquirer.net/103191/collective-wisdom-collective-stupidity#ixzz4eGVLLMDx
    Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

  21. Bill In Oz says:

    I’ve put this link here as it deals with the whole issue of Duterte’s Drug war & the whole issue of what are the ‘facts’ ( the ‘truth’ ? ? ) about the number of people killed since July 1 last year in the drug war.


    Again it is by Emmanuel Don Santos based in Adelaide in Australia. from Blog Watch

    • One technical note. The increase in murders in 2010 was due to a change in recording rigor. I find these kinds of articles factually informative and emotionally disheartening if I slip into the shoes of someone killed without any attempt at due process, and imagine the heartache found in so many families. One such death is horrible and the article is a huge shrug of heartless shoulders.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Joe, Don Santos is a Filipino academic attempting to present the ‘statistics’ of the drug war. It’s an attempt at finding the truth by going beyond what’s told in the media; the media which you so often criticise.

        The best way to criticise the current Duterte policy on the drug war is to have accurate, honest statistics.

        However you comment ” the article is a huge shrug of heartless shoulders.”

        Now that remark is an emotional critical response by you.

    • edgar lores says:

      I miss the inclusion of Portugal.

    • NHerrera says:

      Analysis of comparative statistics based on some rational premise and which do not intentionally leave out known cases is something that I generally like. I can count the linked article of Santos as one (with the caveat about the missing number associated with Portugal as edgar noted in his post).

      Santos’ intentional homicides based on population for the indicated years are 13.8, 22.6, 71.8, 104 for PH, Mexico, Colombia and El Salavador, respectively. I am not being facetious when I say, let us in the PH not aspire to win this numbers game with those other countries named.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        I completely agree with you N’Herrera….No country wants to ‘win’ ..But it is not a numbers ‘game’.

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