It can be very frustrating how people can believe and say the things that they say which are one-sided without even looking at the truth. Worse is when they broadcast it on social media and are influencing people to believe the same. Today, Bill Stierle and Tom explore this Pied Piper of messaging, and specifically look at the way some people are challenging Joe Biden’s mental capacity when it’s also evident from the last four years to suggest that President Trump is off in terms of the pendulum of mental fitness. Truth can so easily get lost. Make sure you’re not following the Pied Piper.
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The Pied Piper Of Social Media: Where The Truth Gets Lost, Part 1
I’m exasperated and frustrated. I’ve got people that I genuinely like to communicate with on social media that are expressing things that I’m looking at and I’m like, “Are you kidding me?” I don’t understand how people can believe and say the things that they say and that is one-sided and not looking at truth, not even seeking the truth. I don’t even know where to start, Bill.
The binary brain wants us to find certainty in what our beliefs are about the world. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to make sense. I know that’s the worst sentence to say ever. It has to make sense from my experience. We’ve talked about this around a flat Earth. If it makes sense to us that from a naive, childish mind that the American identity looks like something that has respect, we’ve dealt with this issue before. It’s not that big of a deal. It makes us not be able to look at the real problem and say, “Why are there more African-American deaths at the hands of police or at the hands of white people than there is the other thing?” We’re not minimalizing, but we’re trying to have a healthy discussion about an equal treatment based on numbers. It’s a funny thing to say, but they count numbers. You count things. When you count things, you can say, “The problem is around these numbers.”
If I’ve got a problem with immigration, about people coming from one country to another, I’ve got to look at the numbers. How much is it going to cost me to prevent that? Is this the thing that I value? Is my truth going to go to this way.? If I have deaths in regards to social injustice and various different people acting out because of their beliefs and their bias about individuals, that’s also problematic too that my bias is in this place. The current mindset is if America is great and I’m going to make America great again, it’s making America naive. It’s making America not tell the truth. I want the sanitized version of America. Social media then turns into a pipe piper. It’s like, “I believe this to be true and then truth gets more squished and moved in the direction towards opinion, not in the direction of fact.” We have talked about how news and opinion are two different things.
That was why I was frustrated because someone on social media who I am friends with, who I like as a person posted a link to something on the Washington Post and said, “This is a great article.” I went to it and read it. It’s not an article. It’s an opinion piece. I commented on but trying to not make a political statement and I said, “I read it and I was disappointed that there wasn’t more substance to this. It was full of speculation and feeding into biased beliefs that there wasn’t an article per se.”
I got people agreeing with me but then they all seem to pivot to saying, “Most news isn’t news these days. It’s opinion pieces.” It’s like, “I didn’t say it was news. I thought it was an opinion piece.” Most people were pivoting to pile on and criticize Joe Biden. You can tell this piece was a conservative opinion piece. They pile on saying, “We have to admit there’s something about Joe Biden that’s not mentally 100% there.” I’m like, “Where did that come from?”The Pied Piper of messaging and social media work together. Click To Tweet
There was nothing in this opinion that had anything to do with Joe Biden in that regard. I didn’t understand it because I also thought it was funny. People are challenging Joe Biden’s mental capacity when there’s probably more evidence from the last four years to suggest that President Donald Trump may be mentally off in terms of the pendulum of mental fitness, whether it’s a narcissistic personality disorder or other things that are maybe scarier. We can’t even have a discussion about any truth without having people hijack the discussion. I guess that’s where you’re saying the pied piper comes in here.
I’m appreciating this discussion because the word ‘article’ is the problem. An opinion article is different from a news article. There’s still a piece of writing. One is, articulating a point of view. Your opinion thing is doing point of view which we’re seeing as a person expressing the way they see things. Whereas a news article, this is the point of observation and fact.
I guess it is important to define an article. Is an opinion article an article?
As a communication show, we’re not looking to have an opinion even though both of us have an opinion. I can argue and I can discuss the value of self-reliance. Self-reliance is a great value set. I would like more human beings to be self-reliant if the need for fairness and justice is met, but self-reliance sometimes doesn’t take there. If you’ve got self-reliance to take place, then everybody’s got an equal shot in it. We’re good to go, but self-reliance without equality or fairness has problems to it.
It’s like saying to my kid, “I would like you to be self-reliant.” My kid goes, “I’m fourteen. How the hell am I going to be self-reliant?” It is like tying and maturity are problems. If that same fourteen-year-old has other things that have challenges to it and I’m still expecting the same level of self-reliance, I’ve got to do a mental check on what am I talking about everyone being self-reliant. That value set that we used to be a cornerstone of a Republican platform, we want people to be self-reliant and not to be dependent upon the government.
Even the word ‘opportunity’ has to do with availability for a person to lift themselves out of where they are to where they can be. I watched a wonderful video on opportunity. It talked about this Palestinian and Israel got a chance to go to Harvard through the help of different opportunities. A family in Ohio took him in for a month. The monk recommended that he would go visit Harvard. He visited Harvard and discovered that those were normal kids that are like himself.
He went back to Palestine and Israel and started studying. He got himself into Harvard and launched his career and launched his business. It was huge. The video is on NAS Daily. The pied piper part of the media that we’re talking about is that the word ‘article,’ when attached to an opinion article or a news article, notice that once you call it a news article, then there are certain factual constraints that supposed to live by. In the opinion piece, the word ‘article’ has got conflated with that. Do you have a definition for us?
This is from Merriam-Webster. There are many definitions of the word article which makes sense. Interestingly, the number one definition is a distinct often numbered section of writing like an article of the constitution. The one that applies here is the fourth definition down of the word article, which is a non-fictional prose composition usually forming an independent part of a publication, such as a magazine or a newspaper. That’s what applies here. We could probably debate some that are nonfiction or fiction.
If I’m writing an opinion piece to a Huffington Post or The Wall Street Journal, or if I’m doing opinion and I’m trying to get opinion to move in my direction, and all of a sudden I am writing an opinion piece or an article for the Huffington Post. I had put online news people here because that is where many people get their need for expression met without the constraints of journalistic rigor. Journalistic rigor has to do with, “Here is a standard of facts and accuracy. You cannot tell us Fox News has journalistic factual rigor.” I would not say that. If you’re saying something more of an opinion than something that has factual rigor, then I don’t think that gets to be called the news program. I think it gets to be called something else. It gets to be called this is so and so show and we have opinions about the way we see the world. You may agree with it and we are glad we have this platform for those opinions.
I’m thinking that maybe an opinion piece does fall under the definition of the article because when I first read it in the social media post, I thought, “That’s not an article. That’s an opinion piece.” I then started to question myself, “Maybe it is an opinion article. Maybe it’s still an article.” Now, Merriam-Webster’s definition of nonfictional prose composition, nonfiction being the operative word. This opinion piece was full of speculation and feeding into belief biases that were one-sided. I would say that strays away from nonfiction. Calling it how I see it, I think my original feeling and position that it shouldn’t have been called an article. When somebody says, “This is a good article,” a good article means that it was well written or this person did a thorough amount of research and presented it well or they have a great command of the English language in terms of their writing. This was, in my humble opinion, none of those things.The Pied Piper mindset is believing something to be true, but all it's doing is validating a bias. Click To Tweet
Let’s take a look at a thing called behavior modification to pick on something. We’ve got this guy B. F. Skinner who did this experiment on rats about behavior modification. In order to be scientific, they put these rats in isolation. Here’s what they are doing and we’re going to reward them for this. We’re going to provide this experiment this way, but there are no other stimuli around for the rat to make the decision. All it’s doing is saying, “If I do this one thing, I can get some food or drugs here or whatever the stimulus is.” A writer takes that piece and writes an article about it saying, “Scientists say behavioral modification is a way to change behavior in animals.” Here’s a problem. It is not human animals. B. F. Skinner never meant it to be for human beings. Things like behavior modification for children is terrible.
Human beings have a frontal cortex and rats do not. They have tiny ones but they don’t have it the size that we do. It’s 40% of our brain up here, 60% in the back in the limbic part of the brain, and then not even the neuron connections are way different. A timeout is a behavior modification piece. You can use timeouts. You will get temporary compliance from your child, but a parent has to get ready to lose four things. They’re going to lose the truth, trust, connection, and acceptance. If you think, “Would you like to lose connection with your kid’s truth and trust?” we’ll stick them in the corner a couple of times and they will learn. They get to make a mistake. They’ll learn how to sneak around you, but you’re not going to get the truth.
With trust, they are going to say, “This big person punishes me and I can’t make a mistake with this person. If I ever make a mistake, I am not going to talk about the paint spilling in the garage. I’m not going to talk about I started a fire in the backyard. I didn’t do it. I’ll deny it because I’m going to get punished for it.” You’re going to lose truth and trust. With connection, who kid wants to hug the parent after they’ve been punished in a place called timeout jail? Let’s do this on a bigger scale in jails. Jails are about behavior modification. It’s like, “You did this crime so you get to do penitence.” That’s why they used to call it penitentiary. You get to sit by yourself and think about the bad thing you did. When you come out after 1.5 years, you needed to get your thinking done.
The answer is they can totally not think about it. They can think, “I’m completely justified for beating the crap out of that person. I went to jail for 1.5 years, but I would do it again.” Behavior modification doesn’t work. The pied piper mindset is, “I’m believing that to be true. I’m believing this article and this opinion piece to be true,” but all it’s doing is validating a bias. All it’s taking is a small piece of information from time to time, Joe Biden does not follow his thoughts in a sequence because that’s not the way he thinks. He has a synthesizing and integrating mindset and because of that, what winds up happening is that he switches gears and he uses old stories. He doesn’t make sense all the time as the President has a particular mastery of that.
It becomes, “I’m going to take the person that’s more opinionated, even though that they’re wrong or whatever because at least they sound confident.” Meanwhile it’s like, “I don’t know if that’s the strongest decision.” People want to be able to trust some certainty with strength versus certainty with flexibility, compromise the ability to work with others, being able to say and realize that it’s not one way or another. It’s not binary and that’s where truth gets lost. That’s one of the things. We can talk more about this. We can do part two about how the pied piper of messaging and social media work together and we’ve got to watch how that’s impacting us in our decision making.
It would be helpful. I would like to explore that some more and it’s probably going to tell me there are certain types of posts on social media that I want to stay away from.
If you want to engage, you empathize with the post too, and I’ve done this many times. Somebody says, “I’m not sure if you can do this because you’re biased.” I was like, “Would you be willing to consider needs are neutral and they’re universal? You have a need for respect and I have a need for respect. I think I can handle this conversation and hold the space between two versions of respect. I can have two different definitions for respect, fairness, and consideration. That doesn’t have to be binary. We can still like each other and talk to each other about the different definitions of these primary concepts that were being polarized around and we don’t need to be.”
That’s where the exasperations set in when it becomes that way.
I’m looking forward to our next discussion on how the pied piper can enlist people to follow their own biases, their own validations, and ultimately create a certainty that I don’t want to rethink my decision. I’ve made a decision. I’m going with this guy and the other guy, I’m looking for evidence that he’s not the guy instead of going like, ”Who’s the best person and what American identity do I want to be a part of?” That one’s tough when the people have to come to a reckoning on. What identity do I want to be a part of? That’s where the vote is. Do I want to keep going the identity that’s in place or what identity do I want now? We can’t go back but we can hope that a new vision’s being created to move forward. I would like some bolder communication, but they’re not in the place to do it yet,. Hopefully, in the next future, they’ll go that way.
Thanks a lot, Tom. I’ll talk to you soon.
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