Tuesday, June 22, 2021
FACTS, FAKES, FICTION & CONSPIRACIES
- FACTS are what actually happens.
- It does not matter whether anybody understands it, knows about it, lies about, describes it accurately, or anything else...
- It happened.
- If a tree falls in the forest, it happened, even if no-one is there.
- Facts happen, but most facts are not easily or completely known.
- The clearest facts are those that directly impact our senses.
- It is a fact that I saw a pretty flower today.
- There is a clear process in law and in science for determining our best knowledge of "facts".
- In law, a trial before a (fair!) jury or judge determines what are the "facts".
- In science, the ability to repeat an experiment, and to rule out other interpretations of the experiment determines the "facts".
- Our ability to make good decisions depends on knowing the facts.
- Since the underlying facts are not usually known, the "facts" as determined by the legal, scientific, or other clear, fair and accurate process is the way we can best determine the basis on which to make our decisions.
- FICTION is the way we use words and stories and pictures and even mathematics to understand the facts.
- Scientific "theories" are just ways we try to understand the facts we have available to plumb a deeper truth about the underlying facts.
- A theory suggests how to use mathematics to take measurements of the current state, then calculate what the measurements would be as the result of an experiment.
- If the measurements of the result is what we expect, we can continue to explore the "predictions" of the theory.
- If the result is different from what we expect, then we have to adjust the theory.
- Theories are not facts. They are stories or fictions that tell us what facts we can use to make decisions.
- Looking out the window at flowers provides clear facts about the world: We see pretty flowers!
- But the underlying facts are more complicated.
- Everything we see, we see because photons of particular frequencies come to our eyes and are interpreted by our brain.
- We can not see the electrons and protons of the flowers.
- First, they are too small.
- They also have spin 1/2, and photons can directly "see" only objects with integral spin.
- We also can not see the infrared or ultraviolet photons coming from the flowers, because our eyes do not capture photons of those frequencies and the brain does not react to them.
- So it is a fact that we see pretty flowers, but it is a fiction that allows us to see the flowers and know that there is more going on, that we can ignore(!) while we enjoy the view.
- FAKES are evil: they are deliberate or careless ways to make us believe that something that did not happen, did happen.
- They are attempts to get us to use as "facts" things that did not happen.
- They are evil because we make decisions based on what we believe are facts.
- When we act on the basis of assertions of what happened, that are not facts, we make bad decisions:
- Bad decisions -- like attending political rallies in close proximity to others without wearing masks during a pandemic which spreads when people are in close proximity without wearing masks -- can cause lives to be ruined and lives to be lost.
IMMERSIVE INTERACTIVE FICTION and fakes IRL
- Creating immersive interactive fiction and embedding it in real life (IRL) has always been an exciting challenge for content developers.
- A famous example is Orson Welles' radio version of War of the Worlds, which terrified many and caused havoc in 1938.
- It was, by the way, a Halloween broadcast.
- Wikipedia describes some of the reaction to the broadcast, whose significance lay partly in the fact that this Martian invasion was an unstated metaphor for the possibility of a genuine invasion IRL by Nazi Germany.
- Although it was fiction, and performing a horror story may seem like a game, it may be harmless, as Welles' himself said, "Until it ceases to be a game."
- There were attempts made by the police and others, in the middle of the broadcast, to provide additional assurances to the public (beyond the one's that had already been made in the show) that this was a fictional, dramatic story and not real.
- It is not clear how much that made any difference.
- I do not know what laws if any were enacted, following this show, to prevent fictional stories from being presented to the public as if they were true.
- However, lies or fictions without disclaimers, (FAKES) used to generate revenue may rise to the level of illegal fraud, and when used for political purposes as in the rise of the Nazi party to power, they can be dangerous to the entire world.
- The conspiracies promoted by QAnon, and the narrative that Trump actually won the election, are clearly elaborate fictions using real people as the characters in a fanciful story. But, when promoted as truth, they stop being fiction and become FAKES. (See story above.)
- Even Ted Cruz, while trying to gain advantage by not denouncing the storyline that Biden was not properly elected, did not claim this storyline was true, he just claimed he was supporting the people who actually believed the fiction (as if in 1938 he had recommended that the US mobilize against the possibility of Martians, rather than saying the broadcaster should remind the audience it was fiction).
- Four lines of defense again possible real life harm from these storylines could be.
- The obvious: denouncing the lies as lies.
- The criminal: checking whether the story was promoted as truth to raise money fraudulently.
- The creative: reminding the world that the narrative is a fictional horror story, using real people, places, and things as characters, and the fantasies should not be allowed to interfere with the actual real world.
- The constitutional: Democracy always depends on the ability of the voters to make informed judgements based on accurate information, and it depends on a functional system of justice. For capitalism and commerce to function without corruption also requires truth.
- There are well defined methods of determining the truth in both science and the law.
- There need to be national laws or even a constitutional amendment requiring truth in Government, in Politics, and in Commerce, with severe and immediate remedies for violations.
- Fictions are OK, even beneficial, as long they are understood to be fiction.
- FAKES are evil.