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Belief and Misbelief Asymmetry on the Internet

Book Description

This book discusses the media, beliefs, the news, the Internet, etc. but it should not be seen as yet another critique of the media system, exploring with indignant fascination the idea of a machination against truth set up to serve a society of domination. These kinds of theories, whether they pertain to conspiracy theories or, more subtly, to a self-styled "critical" way of thinking, have always seemed to be the expression of a form of intellectual puerility. This is not to say that attempts at manipulating opinions do not occur, or that our world is free from compromised principles, or indeed corruption; far from it, but none of this is the key issue.

In fact, reality can somehow be even more unsettling than those myths, however sophisticated they may be, that envisage the media system hand-in-hand with industry, science, and so forth, all in agreement so as to lead the "people" away from the truth. It is more unsettling because the processes described in this book and that allow falsehood and dubiousness to take hold of the public sphere are boosted by the development of IT, the workings of our minds, and the very nature of democracy. And finally, it is more unsettling because we are all responsible for what is going to happen to us.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Title
  3. Copyright
  4. Preface
  5. Introduction
  6. 1 More is Less: Mental Avarice and Mass Information
    1. 1.1. The revolution of the cognitive market
    2. 1.2. Amplification of the confirmation bias
    3. 1.3. The Seattle affair
    4. 1.4. The theorem of information credulity
    5. 1.5. Filter bubbles
  7. 2 Why Does the Internet Side with Dubious Ideas?
    1. 2.1. The utopia of the knowledge society and the empire of beliefs
    2. 2.2. The ditherer’s problem
    3. 2.3. Competition between belief and knowledge on the Internet
    4. 2.4. Psychokinesis
    5. 2.5. The Loch Ness Monster
    6. 2.6. Aspartame
    7. 2.7. Crop circles
    8. 2.8. Astrology
    9. 2.9. Overview of resutls
    10. 2.10. How can we explain these results?
    11. 2.11. The Titanic syndrome
    12. 2.12. When Olson’s paradox plays against knowledge
    13. 2.13. Charles Fort, his life, and his works in a few words
    14. 2.14. Fort products: argumentative mille-feuilles
    15. 2.15. The sharing of the arguments of conviction
    16. 2.16. A Fortean product in the making: Michael Jackson’s fake death
    17. 2.17. When Fort reinforces Olson
    18. 2.18. Would you believe it!
    19. 2.19. It is all in the Bible, all of it
    20. 2.20. The transparency paradox
    21. 2.21. A shorter incubation period
  8. 3 Competition Serves the Truth, Excessive Competition Harms It
    1. 3.1. Michael Jackson’s son, abused by Nicolas Sarkozy
    2. 3.2. A “prisoner’s dilemma” kind of situation
    3. 3.3. Presidential unfaithfulness and the burnt Koran
    4. 3.4. The IRC curve (information reliability/competition)
  9. 4 What Can Be Done? From the Democracy of the Gullible to the Democracy of Enlightenment
    1. 4.1. The hope of the astrophysicist
    2. 4.2. The bad education
    3. 4.3. When gullibility looks like intelligence
    4. 4.4. The sum of imperfections
    5. 4.5. Toward cognitive demagogy
    6. 4.6. How to keep the illusion scholar inside us in check
    7. 4.7. Declaration of mental independence
    8. 4.8. The fourth power
    9. 4.9. A new form of scientific communication
    10. 4.10. A new militancy
  10. Conclusion
  11. Bibliography
  12. Index
  13. End User License Agreement