Article Index

Signals, distortion and feedback

In order to change belief, it is necessary to show that something better is not just theoretically possible but is actually more in tune with human nature, Part 1 was all about this. It is not sufficient. To move towards sufficiency in Part 2 both a Vision and Examples of What God Looks are described. 

There is something else going on; the inputs to the human activity system from our knowledge and in the form of feedback have a signal range and are subject to distortion 

Signal amplitude is a massive problem, we are habituated to hear reports based on the latest data points in situations where the data has a wide range, that means we cannot actually interpret it unless we can smooth it or look at a long time series. Stock prices an obvious example, the daily new tells us that the FTSE or NASDAQ have risen or fallen each day, to get a view of what is happening it is necessary to take a longer view. Hans Rosling does a masterful explanation in his book Factfulnes (Rosling op cit)

Distortion occurs for benign and malign reasons. We can just get things wrong, or not know what the latest finding are. We can also be misled deliberately we all know the old joke about mushroom management – if you are subject to mushroom management you will be being kept in the dark and have sh.t poured on you from time to time.

Feedback is fully discussed in On Power, Time Reaction and Utility, here it is necessary add to that discussion a consideration of news coverage and social media since they are key mechanisms by which feedback in our human activity system occurs. The case is that we are misled and misleading ourselves. Alan Curtis film about Oh Dearism (Curtis) puts the case as does Catherine Viner (Viner)There may be other factors in play such as the limited ownership of media and their partisanship – if they are campaigning for a party they are not searching out the truth behind stories (Note: Media bias).

There is an element of moral panic but also a genuine problem – structurally we have applied technology to the mob, turbocharged it. Misinformation and hate have always been spread – if you were an older woman in the sixteenth century and were either unpopular or the subject of jealousy then there was a real chance that you could be accused of witchcraft. Now the mob has access to the internet and acts with anonymity. See Part 2 History Overview (the recent past) and Possible Futures (Using the projection of trends).