Think Before You Share

Jun 11, 2016

By Scott Huler

A friend on Facebook uncritically shared a piece of crazy the other day. I know, your friends do, too. But here’s the thing: This friend is a normal. He’s not one of those once-rational legacy friends from high school you would never befriend today who litter your feed with nonsense. He knows that the Earth orbits the sun, that evolution provides the best explanation for the diversity of life, that our planet is warming up. He has spiritual, political, and artistic views, but he doesn’t think any of them take the place of factual reality. He’s a photojournalist and a fine one, a fine citizen, and a fine man.

And on Facebook he shared a mind-alteringly unmoored conspiracy video about the Sept. 11 attacks, adding: “Not saying yes or no … but this is interesting!”

It was not interesting. What he shared was this video, from a conservative, crazy website called, titled, “VIDEO PROOF Showing No Planes Hit The WTC On 9/11.”

Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

12 comments on “Think Before You Share

  • I used to argue that the main harm ideology brings (and especially faith based ideology) is to truth which is squished as ideological “integrity” demands. (Male and female brains are identical tabulae rasae, God created man, etc…)

    I thought in damaging truth morality is damaged.

    I now believe it is the other way around. Morality is directly damaged by ideology. The nature and purpose of our first intentions to act are damaged. The obligations of actions between ourselves arise too often, not from our mutuality but from this ideological base.

    Now I see truthfulness and the need to acquire it and share it as the pre-eminent moral acts. This is wealth and gifting like no other.

    Nothing corrodes the talent available in our civilisation than misinformation, our self serving direct manipulation of the truth, or perhaps, worse for its pervasiveness, our indifference to it.

    Not flagging error is a moral failure.

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  • Sorry I must correct this

    Nothing more corrodes the talent available in our civilisation than misinformation, our self serving direct manipulation of the truth, or perhaps, worse for its pervasiveness, our indifference to it.

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  • Not flagging error is a moral failure.

    Absolutely. The issue raised in this post is a consequence of the fairly obvious extent of error and omission in the official publications from 9/11 commission, FEMA, NIST. Reminiscent of the JFK “magic bullet”, the lack of a complete, coherent and consistent account leaves the field wide open to all kinds of Outrageous Consprircy Theories. They’re only to be expected, like flies round sh*t.

    There’s a demand for satisfactory answers to this, the defining event of this increasingly disappointing century. Lacking an adequate official supply, the free market steps in, and competing answers vie for public mind-share without the benefit of the peer-review process essential to science.

    Most are downright looney, but, hey, pick your flavor. Some say “god dunnit”, as in Allah, who blindsided a nation’s defenses, addled the minds of those on watch, and worked a miracle with aviation fuel and steel that puts to shame any water-to-wine trick of the inferior idol of the christians.

    A foundation for science and reason, of course, would be expected to reject this explanation, and any other one that contradicts publicly available evidence.

    There are groups of professionals in the right fields, architects, engineers, pilots, and at least one high school physics teacher who are unconvinced by the official publications to date, 28 pages or not, and who continue to this day to press for a new and open investigation. I don’t see them as “looneys”, though I don’t see them likely to succeed.

    You can tell which is which, the looneys don’t need a new investigation, they already know the results, be it our Lizard Overlords, or a twisted rewrite of “The Long Kiss Goodnight” or “Wag the Dog”, or Westboro-God, because, well, god hates fags. Even Allah hates fags, ISIS says so. There must have been some fags in them towers….

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  • I haven’t looked at the video in question, but I applaud the fact-checking by the Slate writer Scott Huler. If only all the Outrageous Conspircy Theories could be publicly fact-checked like this, openly so anyone can repeat the task if they choose. That’s the proper way to proceed. Just like NIST, when they released for public scrutiny and peer review the computer model that they developed while investigating the demise of Building Seven.

    Oh, no, wait, they didn’t release it, did they? I suppose we need another Outrageous Conspircy Theery to explain why not.

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  • Deeper question – what’s a crappy Trump-supporting crazy website doing promoting 9/11 conspircy nonsense?

    Mostly it’s all up with Trump and other cute puppies and down with Hillary, Obama, and libberuls in general. That’s as far as I got before I had to abandon it and it’s nauseating Upworthy headlines. I couldn’t find the 9/11 thing so maybe that was misdirection by Slate, or is that yet another OCT. (Outrageous you-know-what)?

    Giving up now, this topic clearly is of no interest to those who promote Reason and Science.

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  • I give you the philosopher John Stuart Mill:

    If society lets any considerable number of its members grow up as mere children, incapable of being acted on by rational consideration of distant motives, society has itself to blame

    … and Thomas Jefferson:

    If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be

    So called social media, as both the above would clearly recognize, is actually anti-social media in exactly the same way as the tabloid (yellow press) newspapers they came before them.

    By all means argue the toss with your friends on social media. From a lifetime of experience arguing with people who read newspapers, it is my belief that you are wasting your precious time, you will be letting your life simply pour through your fingers like dry super-fine sand.

    If you vale freedom and democracy: Commit Facebook Suicide and Twitter Hara-Kiri.

    If you value your life: Do it now.

    The signs are not good. Europe and America appear to teeter on the brink of a new abyss, a new Dark Age. Never has the need for sharp, substantive, debate among the citizenry been more acute.


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  • If you display any suspicion that there were other people involved in the planning of the attacks other than the 19 hijackers from a cave, popular culture quickly places you in fringe groups of strawmen which believe that the planes were a hologram and energy beams from outer space knocked the buildings down. Any suspicion that a majority of 30,000 gallons of fuel were burned in the two huge 400 ft diameter fireballs is quickly insulted by non-facts from blogs such as “all the 30,000 gallons of fuel burned in the buildings”.
    Cute, simple mental pictures to understand the event are the easiest thoughts for people who need to be secure in simple answers. The NIST reports for example, ended the scenario at the onset of collapse of the buildings yet, these popular simple mental pictures include pancaking floors, independent of solid concrete columns, so that our minds are allowed to fill in the blanks where NIST left off.
    You only need to remember how many decades it took until the popular press allowed facts about the murders at No-Gun-Ri to become popular opinion to realize that independent thought is banished until media owners open the gate.

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  • It is nice to see this kind of analysis. I wish he had spent more time debunking building 7 or any other points on which the 911truth foundation is basing their claims.

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  • There is a subset of the species Homo Sapiens, for whom the gene that controls the rational linking of Cause with Effect, fails. There are very good evolutionary reasons why we constantly make Cause / Effect conclusions which overall, have brought us to the civilization (Mmmm) we see around us today, but now have become a flea on the elephants back. Before the internet, these people were the ones you see standing on their own in the corner at a party. “Gee. Is that the time… Seeya.”

    But today, they can cross fertilize their erroneous Cause / Effect conclusions, mutually reinforce each other, and allow Confirmation Bias to build impenetrable walls to all rational explanations. Now the guy in the corner of the Party has friends. They have become a problem because their squeaky wheel is loud, and it attracts larger numbers of “Normal” people who wouldn’t have even considered a 9/11 conspiracy, who now also become infected. They are now a problem to society. Global Warming deniers may eventually kill my grand children by preventing action by governments.

    My knew vocation in retirement is to seek out and destroy the comments of irrational people with rational evidence. Not because I will have any effect on them, but because I hope the drive by reader doesn’t get infected.

    For my grandchildren.

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