From Pine View Farm

False Idols category archive

It’s All about the Algorithm 0

Man walks along looking upward and saying,

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Devolution 0

Image of man evolving from apes, learning to walk upright, then once again walking hunched over, glued to a cell phone.

Via C&L.


Establishmentarians Establishing Establishmentarianism 0

Thom talks with Tim Alberta about his new book, The Kingdom, the Power and the Glory: American Evangelicals In An Age of Extremism.


Misdiagnosis 0

One more time, “social” media isn’t.


Originalist Sin 0

At the Idaho State Journal, Leonard Hitchcock skewers the sophistry of “Constitutional Originalist.”


The Disinformation Superduper Highway 0

At Psychology Today Blogs, The Open Minds Foundation takes a lot at the potential effects of AI-generated dis- and misinformation on the internet. They conclude that internet users need to exercise more critical thinking skills, even as they seem to be exercising less (or is it fewer?).

Here’s a tiny bit from their article; I urge you to read the rest.

Psychologists at the University of Cambridge recently developed the first, validated “misinformation susceptibility test” (MIST), which highlights the degree to which an individual is susceptible to fake news. Younger Americans (under 45) performed worse than older Americans (over 45) on the misinformation test, scoring 12 out of 20 correctly, compared to 15 out of 20 for older adults. This was in part correlated to the amount of time spent online consuming content, indicating the relevance of how you spend your recreational time.

The Europol report continues with a stark warning: “On a daily basis, people trust their own perception to guide them and tell them what is real and what is not… Auditory and visual recordings of an event are often treated as a truthful account of an event. But what if these media can be generated artificially, adapted to show events that never took place, to misrepresent events, or to distort the truth?”


Artificial? Yes. Intelligent? Not So Much. 0

The Learning and Implicit Processes Lab at Ghent University takes a look at the current state of ChatGPT (and Large Language Models in general) and concludes (emphasis added):

Returning to the question of ChatGPT’s intelligence, it is important to note that it was developed with a specific purpose: to interact with humans through a computer interface and produce coherent answers to whatever prompt it gets. With that goal in mind, its performance is remarkable.

It was not designed to be generally intelligent (i.e., capable of flexibly adapting to novel situations or problems), and it isn’t. Still, it gives us the illusion of intelligence because it mimics intelligent human language.

Follow the link for their reasoning.


A Meeting of the Mindless 0

Caption:  MTG Meets RFK.  Image:  RFK Jr. says to Marjorie Taylor Greene,

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Legends in Their Own Minds 0

Methinks Atrios is onto something.


Artificial Intelligence? 0

ChatGTP is getting a lot of play lately. It even made an appearance in my local rag’s comics page.

Before mucking about with it, I suggest that you listen to Harry Shearer’s interview with Gary Marcus on the January 1, 2023, edition of Le Show; the relevant portion starts at about the 20 minute mark. Also read this from Bruce Schneier’s website.


Taking Bread 0

Speaking of doing unto others . . . .


The Crypto Con 0

Paul Krugman skewers the central myth of cryptocurrency. A couple of snippets (emphasis added):

After all, the 2008 white paper that started the cryptocurrency movement, published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, was titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” That is, the whole idea was that electronic tokens whose validity was established with techniques borrowed from cryptography would make it possible for people to bypass financial institutions. If you wanted to transfer funds to someone else, you could simply send them a number — a key — with no need to trust Citigroup or Santander to record the transaction.

(Snip ahead to now)

. . . .cryptocurrencies are largely purchased through exchanges such as Coinbase and, yes, FTX, which take your money and hold crypto tokens in your name.

These exchanges are — wait for it — financial institutions, whose ability to attract investors depends on — wait for it again — those investors’ trust. In other words, the crypto ecosystem has basically evolved into exactly what it was supposed to replace: a system of financial intermediaries whose ability to operate depends on their perceived trustworthiness.


Tech Wreck Bros 0

Noz has an epiphany.


“We Were Only Following Orders”* 0

The “Oath Keepers” going on trial Monday for their participation in the January 6 Capitol riot plan to blame Trump attribute their conduct to their obedience to the wishes of Donald Trump.

I suppose it’s too much to hope that they will subpoena Trump to testify on their behalf.


*Where have we heard that defense before?


The Disinformation Superhighway 0

Remember, that you read it on a screen doesn’t make it so.


Originalist Sin 0

Noz has a notion, elegant in its simplicity, for calling out the orginalists’ duplicity.

Because it’s crystal clear that they are originalists of convenience. Originalism will go out the window if it doesn’t fit with what they want to do.


The Crypto-Con 0

Two men amidst the ruins of the

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“Facts Are What People Think” 0

Hal MacDonald, writing at Psychology Today Blogs, explores why persons refuse to accept proven facts. He opens his article with a conversation he overheard at the barbershop:

“COVID’s not a virus at all,” the man said with impressive conviction. “It’s actually a protein synthesized from snake venom. The government’s adding it to the drinking water of certain target populations to cull the herd.”

When the man to whom he was speaking politely but skeptically asked where he had stumbled upon that particular explanation, the proponent of the venom theory of COVID was completely unfazed. “It’s a scientific fact,” he said. “A well-known chiropractor has done a ton of research on the subject.”

Follow the link for his thoughts about why some persons are susceptible to such claptrap and what can be done about it.


Dis Coarse Discourse 0

At Psychology Today Blogs, Anthony Silard discusses the deletorious effects of “social” media. He note three negative effects; follow the link for a detailed discussion of each.

  • As it erodes empathy, social media has become dangerous to a healthy society.
  • The empathy levels of American college students have dropped 40 percent, which some researchers attribute to the rise of social media.
  • We are now living with an unprecedented level of polarization.

This is Part Two of a two-part series. Read Part One.

Remember, “social” media isn’t.


American Taliban 0

Preacher sporting halo says to woman,

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