Society problems

Technology and society: a simple explanation | Opinion

There’s an old adage that goes something like this: “For every complex problem, there’s a simple, elegant solution that’s wrong.”

Of course, there are many simple solutions that are correct, but the keyword here is “simple”.

I believe we are wired to believe and accept simple rather than complex explanations.

For example, the other night (September 27) there was a segment on the PBS Newshour in which a middle-aged woman who once believed, but changed her mind, about conspiracy theories such as the existence of secret government groups whose purpose is to control your thoughts.

When the interviewer asked him what made him change his mind about his belief in these theories, his candid answer was very interesting. She admitted her life was in shambles – an uneducated single mother in a dead-end job. In short, life gave him a hard time. So when someone comes along (eg on the internet) who gives a reason for their pain and poverty, like most of us, we are strongly inclined to accept it.

If told that her situation is not her fault but is due to sinister outside forces, she is freed from guilt when presented with a simple but baseless theory, like most people, they cling to it without further ado and they usually stick to it.

The interviewer continues with the question: “So what made you change your mind that the 2020 election was stolen or that the assertion in the 2016 presidential election that ‘the Clinton, the Obamas, and the Biden family were all involved in running a child sex-trafficking ring in the basement of a Washington, DC pizzeria? »

This outrageous claim would be funny if it weren’t for the fact that, “Although it was a hoax, many apparently believed in pizzagate – including Edgar Maddison Welch, who got four years in prison after going to the Comet Ping Pong pizzeria in December On February 4, 2016, armed with a loaded AR-15 assault rifle and a revolver, he fired the assault rifle into a doorway and scattered customers.

“Welch was motivated, at least in part, by unsubstantiated rumors of a child sex trafficking ring allegedly taking place at the facility,” the Justice Department said in a June 2017 press release announcing his conviction.

(https://www.factcheck.org/2020/10/social-media-posts-dredge-up-baseless-child-trafficking-conspiracy-theory/)

The answer of the woman interviewed was illuminating – it was easy for her to accept all this propaganda because of her miserable living conditions – that outside forces were responsible, not her. But the event that sealed the deal for his reversal was that many of his sources for these theories also claimed that the earth was in fact flat and presented him with blatantly false “evidence” taken from the internet.

Undoubtedly, it shattered his faith in these sources and all their previous outlandish theories. The happy ending to this situation was that she realized that many of her problems were due to other factors similar to those that hold the poor back and that she had to take some of the responsibility for solving them. Blaming others for our problems is the simple (and usually wrong) solution. With this in mind, any solution to a problem should be considered very carefully before making a decision.

In the interest of providing a balanced analysis, I found on the Internet that: “The Earth is 70% water and 10% carbonated water, so the Earth is actually flat!”

Although it was presented as a joke, except for 70% and 10%, it seems to be mostly true.

However, to no avail, I tried to work out the 10% figure, but there must be a bunch of carbonates in the existing water because,

“For eons, the world’s oceans have been sucking in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and releasing it again in regular inspiration and expiration. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide through photosynthesis by plant-like organisms (phytoplankton ), as well as by simple chemistry: carbon dioxide dissolves in water. It reacts with seawater to create carbonic acid. Carbonic acid releases hydrogen ions, which combine with the carbonate in seawater to form bicarbonate, a form of carbon that does not easily escape from the ocean.

(https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/features/OceanCarbon)

“Okay,” you might be thinking, “this is all very interesting, but what does it have to do with the interaction between technology and society? »

The short answer to this question is that from the early 1960s the internet has been one of the most powerful drivers of societal change, especially when it comes to people’s opinions, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there. and disinformation mixed with the information it provides worldwide.

It becomes almost too easy to spread lies and half-lies about anything and everything as evidenced by the interview mentioned above. This presents a very difficult problem to consider, but it just comes down to who you trust – – you’re always more likely to accept information from a trusted source, whether the source is a friend, a newspaper or TV/network commentator you respect and trust – you need to have some faith to swallow any point of view.

I like to point out to my very liberal friends that I wholeheartedly agree with them on topics like climate change and the causes and effects of global warming on the environment because I have “faith in science.” and this faith stems from my belief in the truth and value of viewing and understanding our world (and the universe) using the scientific method. Not to dwell on it too much, but this definition from the Oxford English Dictionary sums it up pretty well, I think:

“scientific method

/ˈˌsīənˈtifik ˈmeTHəd/

“a method of procedure which has characterized the natural sciences since the seventeenth century, consisting of systematic observation, measurement and experimentation, as well as the formulation, testing and modification of hypotheses; Criticism is the backbone of the scientific method.

Every point of view is subject to criticism which is best dealt with using science and not just faith.

Many people have faith in their religion as well as in their political philosophy. I have no problem hearing the opinions of religious or political fanatics – even flat earth proponents – but in my opinion the scientific method has borne more fruit for the growth and benefit of mankind and so far. until another point of view comes to subsume or replace this method by using reasoned accounting, I stick to it!