Weekly Reading: Volume 2

January 10, 2021

All of American politics is now an online fundraising maximization play

Patrick Ruffini (@PatrickRuffini) January 5, 2021

Study: Folklore structure reveals how conspiracy theories emerge, fall apart

Tangherlini and his co-authors at the University of California, Los Angeles, combined their knowledge of folklore with machine learning to analyze some 18,000 posts from Reddit and Voat discussion boards between April 2016 and February 2018, pertaining to the thoroughly debunked conspiracy theory dubbed "Pizzagate." They then used that data to produce a graphic representation of the emerging narratives, with multiple layers representing the various subplots. Relationships between key people ("actants"), places, things, organizations, and other elements were indicated by connecting lines within and among those layers.

Granted, there’s a lot of noise in social media forums, with plenty of irrelevant pieces. But the AI enabled Tangherlini et al. to tease out the hidden narratives that fed into the Pizzagate conspiracy theory and determine the difference between the storytelling elements of a debunked conspiracy and a fact-based real-world conspiracy.

The Five Crises of the American Regime

A building can rot from within for a long time, before an earthquake or a fire reveals the depth of its structural decay. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic disaster that the subsequent lockdowns have produced, no doubt have influenced the timing of the present crisis of the American regime. But the real cause of the crisis itself, I would argue, is the confluence of five crises: A political crisis, an identity crisis, a social crisis, a demographic crisis, and an economic crisis.

Emphasis added.

Of course, we can't ignore the events of January 6, a truly dark day for our democracy and our standing in the world. I think it's vital that we listen to the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Governor Schwarzenegger's Message Following this Week's Attack on the Capitol

If a lack of empathy is what we're missing in our current political environment, here's how you can improve that...

Dystopian Fiction: How Stories Transform Your Mind

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Written by Shawn Borton
Drupal and PHP expert, Christian, rabid Dallas Stars fan, devoted Texas Longhorns alum, lover of libraries, coffee shops, and quiet places.
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